Ashley Kinkead is the Founder and CEO of Private Label Mastery, an online masterclass that teaches entrepreneurs how to make a substantial profit from selling products on Amazon. We talk about Amazon FBA sales techniques, how to market yourself as an entrepreneur, when to make your eCommerce business a full time job, and much more.
What is Private Label Mastery?
Ashley Kinkead: Private Label Mastery, Alex, was founded out of a desire to help other people have success that I've had on Amazon FBA. So I built a pretty successful company on amazon.com five or six years ago and, and grew it to a multi-million dollar company and then took those funds and decided to start PLM.
So we basically are a coaching education and consulting company for Amazon sellers, and we are kind of describe us, Alex, as the invisible hand behind Amazon Private label. So when you shop on Amazon, put those things in the shopping cart for Christmas. A lot of those products are our products or our students products.
We have tens of thousands of products on Amazon, so it, you wouldn't know that when you check out and shop on Amazon, but those are many of our products and our students products, so we really enjoy just launching products on Amazon. You know, helping people kind of get their feet wet and grow with e-commerce. It's a really exciting time to be an e-commerce.
So that's what Private Label Mastery is all about. And I love to, you know, come on, shows like yours, Alex, and not only share my story of how Amazon and e-commerce has changed my life, but introduce other people to do this opportunity too. So that's a little bit about what we do.
Alex Bond: That's very cool. So you guys are kind of, you know, the man behind the curtain and how products get branded, developed and pushed in front of the, the necessary target audience for people who are going to buy these specific products.
Ashley Kinkead: That's right. There's a lot that goes into, you know, launching a product on Amazon. A lot of people don't even know when they shop on Amazon, Alex, that those aren't products. They're from third party sellers. People like me, mom and pops, just everyday people that have launched something. So there's a lot that goes into that development and those ideas and the, you know, the sourcing and the manufacturing.
So it looks all pretty and packaged on Amazon, but behind the scenes, gosh, there's a lot of work, a lot of time. You know, someone's real money that goes into that. So we take that really seriously and we've been doing it so long that we've really like dialed in a process. We have a big team, about 40 people that basically dedicate their lives to launching products on Amazon.
So it's really exciting and it's really exciting us to be a part of Amazon. The plan that Amazon has for third party sellers over the next 10 years is super exciting. So a lot of people think, Alex these days, like, oh my gosh, you know, how can I launch a product on Amazon? There's already too many how every, everything's already on there. And it's just not the case.
We literally are launching products today on Amazon that aren't even there. Like they literally, there's so much search volume and we go in and launch a new product that's not even on Amazon. So there's still so many opportunities out there for new people maybe while watching your show, Alex, who wonder if they can make money on Amazon.
It's just a matter of kind of jumping in, taking action. And it's always easier when you have a plan, right? When you have someone to kind of guide you through that process and make it faster for you. And that's where we kind of come in.
PLM Master Class
Alex Bond: So let's talk about that class a little bit. So what does the syllabus kinda look like?
I mean, what are some of the tips and tricks that attendees can expect to learn in this, you know, PLM?
Ashley Kinkead: That's a great question. I love how you said the word syllabus. I love that. I think we're always lifetime students, right? As entrepreneurs. So, you know, usually it's really cool, Alex, people come to our program, PLM and most of them have never done this before.
You know, they click an ad, they find out about our company on somewhere like Facebook or LinkedIn or, or Google. They click an ad, they sign up to speak to our team. They have a conversation. They decide they wanna do this they wanna start an Amazon business in a matter of days. And they go from like, never been an entrepreneur to suddenly like creating a business entity and getting this set up.
So they come in, it's about a six month process. We've launched tens of thousands of products on Amazon now, and we've found a process to kind of get someone from zero to to 60 in like about six months. So from the time they come in, like nothing. Six months later, we're gonna get you a product on Amazon.
It's gonna be making it, bringing in money. You're gonna create like a long-term asset. So sometimes it moves a bit faster than that. It really depends on, you know, Alex, if people have an idea already, which they usually don't, how complicated their product may be to manufacture if they're doing anything custom.
Usually we try to get people just to get moving fast and, you know, to get their first product on Amazon out there, and then to refine it as they go. So they come in. They learn our training, they learn our program, our coaching team basically dive straight into their Amazon account. We approve every product on all of our clients sell, which is amazing across our tens of thousands of products.
So, you know, a lot of people, Alex, are nervous of investing money when they're starting an Amazon business. Wow. You know, 3000 or $5,000 into like my first inventory. But we make that process foolproof because our whole team is so invested in our student successes. We approve their products, help them match them with a supplier.
We even have done for use sourcing. If people don't even wanna do that, you know, they don't wanna go to China, they don't wanna talk to suppliers. We just kind of fast track that whole process for people. So they're basically just the business owner and everything kind of moves along a bit quicker.
So there's finding a product, you know, making sure it's gonna sell well on Amazon, working with our team, getting it launched, getting it sent into Amazon's warehouses, listing it on Amazon, and then manufacturing and advertising it. So this whole process from beginning to end takes a few months. And then their basic people are off to the races.
You know, they can make that one product really big on Amazon. We have some people who make 10 or 20, $50,000 a month from one product on Amazon. And then we have a lot of people more typical, that have like five or seven, you know, five or seven different private label product listed on Amazon making 10 or $20,000 a month in revenue.
That's kind of the typical person that we see come in and do. But we've got people making millions of dollars. You know, we have people who are, you know, stay at home moms thrilled to just make $3,000. It really just kind of depends on that person and how focused they wanna be on their business.
But that's the journey of kind of launching a private label product on Amazon. It's knowing how to source, it's knowing what sells on Amazon, knowing how to use the tools, you know, just sticking with it over time.
Alex Bond: No, that's impressive. And honestly, one of the major benefits that I see as an onlooker, I can imagine when launching a product, let's say my company, there's kind of that nervousness of am I making the right decision? Is this the right product? Is this the right name for it? Is this the right copy?
One of the biggest benefits that I hear you say, Ashley, is that your team of people actually helps guide, you know, these students in the right direction a little bit.
Ashley Kinkead: Yeah. We actually approve every single product they saw on Amazon. We're very invested, almost like partners in our students' businesses. And you know, some of our students do their own sourcing or we even match them with their own sourcing agents.
So it's kind of like a done for you sourcing model. It really just depends. But yes, the biggest thing, because someone would wonder, Alex, oh my gosh, is my idea going to sell on Amazon? Will I lose my money? Am I gonna make a good investment?
Alex Bond: And they don't know until they try it, if they don't have a coalition like you're providing, right?
Ashley Kinkead: So a lot of people come into this, Alex, on Amazon and get out of the game their first time. I can't tell you how many people I talk to who will go buy like 5,000 watches or 5,000 gloves and think, oh, well this sells on Amazon a lot, so I'm just gonna buy it. And they don't know how to really sell on Amazon or how to actually do that.
And so then they lose their money. We don't, like, we never see that happen with our people. We have a really different strategy of how we launch the products on Amazon. We test products in smaller quantities, so we like to be a little bit more of a slow and steady approach with people so they're not coming in and start and investing that much money right away. So a little bit more of a slow and steady approach we have found works better with people.
How Private Label Mastery started
Alex Bond: So your experience started by selling books on Amazon. Which you then quickly succeeded at reaching about 2 million in sales in just under three months. Why did you decide to pivot and start PLM instead of continuing on the already successful path that you were on?
Ashley Kinkead: Well, I started off as a book seller because I didn't know better. I didn't know that people could be really successful, successful with their own brands. I was a newbie. Like a lot of your listeneres kind of just trying to figure out how to make money on a business.
And so I heard people made a lot of money selling used books on Amazon. I thought, wow, that's a really cool, I love that. I like books, I like finding books. I found it really fun. So I started off my business kind of reselling going to, you know, book sales and garage sales and yard sales and Goodwill and those kind of places.
And I heard that, wow, you can buy a book for a dollar and flip it on amazon.com for like 10 or 15 bucks all day. And I thought, wow, that's pretty easy business to start. And so I started doing that, built a huge team at one point and making great money. Really profitable business, but very tiring. A lot of work to maintain, kind of like created a full-time job for myself.
So that's when I learned that you could private label products on Amazon. You could actually make your own product, find a supplier, find and actually call it your own brand. Create something sellable. So that took me a couple years to get to that place. But that's how I started PLM was I had my own private label products on Amazon, and the market has changed on Amazon.
You can still be successful selling books today, but it's a lot harder than it was like in 2017 or 2018. We still see people really successful with that, but we do recommend today to have more of a private labeling approach, building your own brand, creating your own assets, your own trade. I mean even your own patents in some cases. It's just a little bit more of a long-term play with Amazon today.
Alex Bond: And kind of like the flipping of products that I own but didn't create, feels kind of more like an eBays alley. That's how I always remembered eBays going on to buy something that I need, that someone was. It's throwing on an auction. It wasn't necessarily something that they created top to bottom, like what you guys are doing now, right?
Ashley Kinkead: Yeah. It is kind of like reselling eBay style and there's still a ton of opportunity for that on Amazon. Gosh. But if you really wanna build something that you know is scalable, something that makes you real income, six figures, seven figure. It's just a lot more simple to have.
I went from 25,000 different books listed on Amazon, down to like seven private label products. My business got much simpler, simplified the business, and then made, made more money over time. So anytime you can figure out how to kind of find your niche and private label, you create something long term.
You know, a lot of our students' products will sell for a year, two or three years even. All they have to do is just restock that same product on Amazon, essentially when it runs out. So it's a pretty scalable business model. And then a lot of our folks usually will end up exiting. We teach them how to exit. We teach them how to get you know, actually evaluate their business on Amazon.
Believe it or not, you can sell an Amazon business. You absolutely can. We do it all the time. A lot of folks do that. They keep it kind of as a a long-term play. It really just depends on it, but ultimately it's a little more difficult to sell a book selling business or to pass it on to someone. And you wanna create those assets, you know, you wanna create a trademark, you wanna create a website. All of these things that just will help you have success off Amazon too.
Benefits of attending PLM master classes
Alex Bond: Another thing that I find interesting in this free, like you're giving us now is that on your website you actually have an extensive library free videos and blog posts and you know, they give really helpful advice on how to garner sales on Amazon.
So with this access to free knowledge on your website, why should people still sign up to your masterclass? What else do you provide in there that you don't give on your website for free?
Ashley Kinkead: Awesome. Great question. Well, gosh. Yeah. We love free training and free content. We think that's the best way to help people in the beginning to, you know, learn if this is right for you.
So, you know, take all the videos you can go out there and learn. And eventually, most people who are really serious, serious about this, see the value in being a part of a community. You know, we have a whole community at Private Label Mastery, you have about a thousand active Amazon sellers that we are working with at any one given time.
So not only do you get access to a whole like full-time Amazon coaching team, people who have made millions of dollars, but you're actually gonna get access to you know, the whole community of sellers around the world who are doing this. So there's a lot of value and watching videos and certainly so much great training that we have out there to help people.
But at the end of the day, it's your product, it's your business, and you're gonna want someone to partner with you to really . Walk beside you. When you encounter those roadblocks, you encounter those ditches that do come when you start an Amazon business working with seller support. You don't wanna get tripped up on each of those little roadblocks.
You wanna have a more straight and narrow path. And so we created our program to basically give people access to our amazing. Our amazing coaching team. So watch those videos, go on YouTube. All the training is really, really great for someone starting off.
But when you're really serious about doing this, you can shorten your learning curve a lot by, you know, finding mentors, finding advisors. They've been really key in my own business. You know, I've, invested extensively in those over the years, so it just kind of shortens your learning curve and gives you that team beside you.
Alex Bond: That's great. These tools in this masterclass, can they also be used for other retailers outside of Amazon, can they be used on like an Etsy sort of platform as well, or are they pretty particular to Amazon?
Ashley Kinkead: That's a great question. We typically recommend just the average new person out there to start with Amazon. You know, my rule of thumb is you should be making at least like $10,000 a month in revenue on Amazon before you try to to move to other platforms.
We do see some people come in who have a lot of success on a website or an Etsy or on a shopping cart type of Shopify store. It's pretty rare though. Usually my journey, what I recommend and people do who are new to e-commerce is to start with amazon.com. It's still the easiest place to make money.
It's still the easiest place to get your feet wet to, to get revenue coming in. You don't have to generate traffic, you don't have to figure out code. You don't have to figure out how to get customers on your website. They're already on Amazon, so we do some training, more advanced training with our, we call it our boardroom program for people who are trying to get off Amazon and build a brand.
But most people we work with just really need to maximize the Amazon opportunity before they start to venture out just because yes, there's today just an amazing amount of opportunity. We, you know, put lots of people on Walmart, lots of people on Etsy, eBay. Those are really great platforms and eventually you wanna diversify across those streams.
But still today, you know, most of our training does apply to Amazon sellers. We just know that's the best opportunity for most people.
PLM success rate
Alex Bond: What sort of success rate have you seen in the people? Signed up for your class in terms of their increase in sales or other sort of quantitative values like that?
Ashley Kinkead: Well, we have a really high success rate because of how we teach. You know, we don't teach how most Amazon courses teach. Most Amazon private label courses kind of teach a go big or go home model, meaning you get started with your business and then you just do one big launch.
You know, you come up with one product idea, maybe put in, you know, 5,000 units of say a watch, like a, you know, product all in, on one product. Go big or go home. Sometimes that works and sometimes it doesn't. So we've worked with thousands and thousands of people and what we've found is it's better to test. Small take a little bit more time to get going and have more long-term success.
So our success rate is super high. We always say that the only reason you wouldn't be successful in our program is if you literally don't do the work or don't follow the program. So it's just a matter of staying persistent, staying consistent. We have literally generated over a hundred million dollars in revenue across our students.
So success rate is super high, but of everyone's business is ultimately up to them. You know, our most successful students have been at this for years. Gosh, we have people who, you know, it took them two or three years to hit their first a hundred thousand dollars. We have other people who made that their first month.
It really just depends on the entrepreneur and, you know, how committed they stay through this process. But it does take time. You know, our program is six months. It may take you a year to hit that first milestone, but it's just a matter of staying committed and you will see success.
Alex Bond: Do you have any people who were in the class and say, graduated, succeeded, and then come back and teach as part of the class where they're kind of like, this is how the class works for me and it kind of works like I don't know, on a more of recursive level like that?
Ashley Kinkead: Oh, absolutely. A lot of our client success managers actually went through our program went through our program, came in just like our students had a really, you know, built a really successful business and now we're grateful enough they come back and teach. So we have a huge coaching team, a huge client success team, and we're always really grateful for that because I always say, Hey, these people don't have to work here.
You know, they don't have to help others, but they generally choose to choose to come back. So yes, we have a lot of our students come back and teach some of them. We have a lot of our team members actually go through our program who, you know, come here and work and never thought they would sell on Amazon and now they do. So it really just depends on that person. But yes.
Alex Bond: That's awesome. So, I know this is gonna be a major hypothetical, but I wanna see how good this class is. So let's say I've been selling a product right on Amazon successfully for we'll say a couple years now. How do I know, like you did at one point in time when to quit my job and take it full-time? Is there kind of like a certain set of things that I should be looking for. What are your thoughts on that?
Ashley Kinkead: Great question. Gosh. Well, I think it's always a good idea. There's never a right time to quit a day job. There's never going to be a right time. It's not like, you know, the angel comes down and says it's time right?
So it's just something that you decide to do and it's individual process for each person. I mean, as a good rule of thumb. I think it's probably wise to have like six months of expenses in the bank before you do something like that. But I can tell you I didn't when I quit my job and a lot of other people I know didn't either. Doesn't always happen like that.
But I think it's important to see like consistency in a business for about three to six months at least before you would decide to do something like that. And hey, not everyone wants to. Also, I think it's important to recognize not everyone wants to quit their day job to be an Amazon seller too. You've got a lot of folks who are supplementing their retirement, paying their kids college tuition side. I mean, we literally have a lot of students in our program who put in about five hours a week into their Amazon business.
So there's not necessarily a lot of necessary requirement to necessarily even quit the day job until you have that. But absolutely, I think it's just important to see that consistency and then eventually, if you just really have a process in place, you can absolutely do that.
Alex Bond: Well, we definitely live in a gig economy where most people, at least in my age, have some sort of a secondary. I know I have two or three different sources of income, and that's just the way I've always known it, honestly, and I don't know, it's fascinating to see this could be a very easy side hustle, if you will.
And to make the most of it, you could put five hours into it with this class and get more out of it than if you put 10 or 15 hours. This side hustle. So it's kind of like, you know, investing in your bottom line long term I can really appreciate that.
Ashley Kinkead: Yeah, I have a hard time thinking of many better side hustles than selling on Amazon. You can do it remotely, you know, it, it doesn't take a lot of time. Gosh. You know, like I said, we've pulled a lot of our clients and they're putting in like five to 10 hours a week on average, on Amazon FBA. So it's not super time intensive especially the way that we teach it. We teach people to automate a lot of outsource things to our prep company, to a logistics company.
So it's kind of laptop lifestyle. You know, you follow a few hours a week in the course, a few hours a week sourcing and, and, and kind of running the business. That's all it really takes. So yeah, we are in a gig economy, so I think it's so smart for people to have that second source of income.
Future plans for Private Label Mastery
Ashley Kinkead: Well, we're in a really exciting time. We just know how many Amazon sellers are coming into the industry and how much, how many people wanna do this. So we're really excited just to continue to offer more products.
Ultimately, we only care if our students are successful. That's why we're here at the end of the day. So we're always brainstorming and trying to figure out what our students need to be better. Amazon sellers, how we can support them. We would love to have a software tool. It's eventually one of our plans at Private Label Mastery.
There are some amazing software tools out there for Amazon sellers that we send people to every day. Jungle Scout, helium 10, you know, shout out to those companies. They're really, really great at what they do, but we'd eventually love to have something like that as well. But right now we've really found our niche in like the education, the sourcing space.
So we wanna just continue to build out those tools and Amazon's changing all the time, so we always have to stay on top of what Amazon's doing, how they're changing rules, how they're changing policies. So we kind of see ourself as like the intermediary between Amazon and all of our clients. We are the experts. We're in this every day. We kind of translate it and make it real to our students and, and we're like the first notice when things happen or how to, how to deal with them.
So that's kind of where we see ourselves going, have a really big plan over the next three to five years to expand and just continue to be like that industry leader, Amazon coaching and education. So it's an exciting time. It's definitely an exciting time for people. It into this and learn.
Keeping up with Amazon
Alex Bond: You brought something up that I thought about and actually wrote down is how you guys have to keep up amazon's updates and rules and regulations and you know, technology moves so exponentially quickly nowadays that I can imagine there's gotta be some sort of trouble in teaching someone material that could be outdated a year or two from now. Have you found any sort of trouble with that and how do you alleviate that?
Ashley Kinkead: Absolutely. And that's really where our team comes in. We are constantly updating our content, our training. It's all in real time. So you know, if something, we have a very active community, so if something changes, we almost tell our students before am literally before Amazon does.
It's a matter of just keeping our content constantly updated. Things don't change constantly with Amazon, but they do change frequently enough that we have a responsibility to keep our course content incredibly updated, not keeping our community just updated with changes. Not only the changes, but how we update them. But yes.
Any Amazon seller will tell you, you know, if something happened six months ago, it might not apply today. Amazon can change policies or new categories, or gosh, make it more difficult to get in a category or even make it ch different to become an Amazon seller. They'll sometimes change their requirements and things like that.
So we generally don't have that problem just because. Our whole team that creates our whole program. Most of them actually sell on Amazon too, so they are in it, we have connections with Amazon seller support, and so we're able to kind of give that frontline of communication directly when those things do happen.