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How Drizzle Honey’s Aja Horsley landed a sweet partnership with Queer Eye’s Tan Frances

Hi everyone and welcome back to the show! It’s Doone here, your host and hype girl! If you’ve just found us - we are SO grateful and happy to have you here. Every week on the Female Startup Club podcast I interview some of the world’s most successful founders and women in business to understand their blueprint to success. And today you’re going to meet the founder of Drizzle honey, Aja Horsley. Drizzle started 5 years ago when Aja was working as an environmental scientist on an urban beekeeping project. She quickly realized there was a major issue in the honey industry. Not only with a lack of really quality honey, but bees were dying and beekeepers were unable to keep their businesses afloat.

Aja decided to start Drizzle to address all of these concerns and more. But of course all good stories have a plot twist, and Aja’s was pretty major. We talk through the forced pivot, how she landed a partnership with Queer Eye’s Tan Frances and why it took 5 years to nail down the path to proven playbook.

Before we jump into today’s episode I want to introduce something called the Girl Code! Which is what I’m dubbing the equivalent to a gentleman’s handshake. And the easiest way to explain a gentleman’s handshake - as we will now reference as the Girl Code; is that it’s like an informal handshake deal, unwritten but backed with integrity. If you’re listening to the show and you’re a fan of what I’m building at Female Startup Club, I’d love for you to take an action for me. Now of course, I won’t know whether you’ve done it or not - that’s the nature of the Girl Code - but it will make a huge difference to me and my team at Female Startup Club. Now an action could be, leaving the podcast a review, or sharing some of our content on Instagram or generally just helping to spread the word to your friends and colleagues. In all honesty, this year has been a bit tricky for us - we’re feeling the pinch of our usual partners and sponsors not having the same budgets they did these past few years and it means that as a small bootstrapped business, for our community to help take tiny actions that all add up In the future - is a big support. So I guess what I’m really asking is for you to be my hype girl, because I really need it at the moment. I want to keep bringing Female Startup Club to life - keep bringing you these episodes and to do that, I need hype girls that understand the Girl Code.

Please note, this transcript has been copy-pasted without the lovely touch of a human editor. Please expect some typos!

Aja. Hi, welcome to the female startup club podcast. Hi, Doone. Happy to be here. Thanks for having me. I'm so happy to be here with you. I didn't realize it was a holiday in Canada. How's your day so far? It's really good. A three hour nap this afternoon, having a baby in seven weeks. So, uh nap, Central all the time. Every time I can get a nap. And that's what I'm doing. Especially on a long weekend. Oh, my gosh. I love that for you. I love that for you. Whereabouts in Canada are you Calgary? Alberta? So, it's sort of on the west side. West Central. Mhm. Wonderful. We always like to start these episodes by going back to, you know, before you even launched the business to understand what was getting you excited about working with bees and in this particular industry, I think I read that your brand launched about five or six years ago. But what was kind of happening in your world in the lead up to starting a business? Mhm. So my background's in environmental science and I had a really great position at a college here in Calgary. Uh and I was working in applied research, urban agriculture. So it was really about how food is integrated into cities and urban environments. And uh we ended up getting a rooftop beekeeping project as part of that research that I was doing and I fell in love with bees and I fell in love with honey and I noticed a really big gap in the market which is really in the end why I ended up launching drizzle. Uh But this, this project was fantastic. We were able to integrate the honey from the rooftop hives into the culinary students curriculum and then teach a bunch of the students about where the food was coming from and why bees were important and also got to sample a lot of delicious food that had honey that they had uh honey in it that they had created. So, uh that was sort of what was going on in my world. And I was learning a lot about sustainable beekeeping. There's a lot of issues with bees as most people know about. And uh there's just things that could have been done differently within the industry that I really felt somebody could do something about it. Uh and also put a really beautiful brand around it. Like, what, what did you think could be done differently as a, as a non, non expert in this space? For sure. Yeah, I think it was, there's a lot of issues with the bees. So it's really about where the hives are placed that can make them stronger within their hives. So if they not to get too scientific for everybody. But, uh, essentially if they're on floral source, it's really diverse. It gives them a diverse nutrient variety. First is if they're on just a mono crop, which is like the same type of crop all summer long and they just don't get that diversity as much. So, we like to put our hives on wildflower fields where they just get all kinds of different nutrition and then in the end they're able to combat um, pests and all the disease that they've been up against these last 10 or so years. Quite, quite badly. So to paint the picture, your, you're kind of in this environment where you're teaching and you're learning, how does that then change to side hustle? Are you kind of, you know, investing in your own hives at your own property or like, what are those early steps to you being like, oh, I'm gonna go out and do something myself. Yeah. That's almost exactly it as I did get some backyard hives myself. And the main thing I remember is I went to the grocery store after our harvest had been done and I had run out of the honey that we had that one summer and I was trying to find what drizzle is like what our product and our brand is and I couldn't find it, which was like a really beautiful, um, raw honey, locally sourced and nice packaging. I wanted to be engaged with social media on it and have this sort of like millennial spin to it. And there was nothing like it on the market. So that's really my light bulb moment was like, someone's got to do this and if it's not me then I don't know who it's gonna be. I'm perfectly positioned at this time to be able to do it. So, yeah, I talked to one of my friends who happens to be uh a designer, a marketing designer and, and could do my logo. She said, yeah, I was like, I'll do it for you 350 bucks at the time. Oh, wow. I get really like, I love that but yeah, set the brand in motion and I had these backyard hives that I was pulling honey from at the beginning and started selling it at a local artisan market here. So it wasn't a farmers market. I chose to do uh an artisan market which is more of like where you'd find jewelry and paintings and more like hipster art is gonna be there versus at a farmers market because I just felt that where I wanted to position the product, that audience was gonna be at those types of markets. I love that. I have a few questions here. So when we talk about the hives, what's the investment? Because, because it sounds like you're able to kind of start, you know, very bootstrapped, very organic, you know, kind of producing your own things and selling them at markets that doesn't require a lot of upfront capital. It sounds like besides, you know, the bottles and the market stall that you are paying for. But what is the investment around hives? Well, so there's a plot twist to all of us. But let me tell you, let me answer the question first with the hive. Ok. Ok. At that time, you know, six or seven years ago, uh, it was about $1000 for me to set up these two hives, uh, and get all the equipment. I had some of the equipment, I got some of it used and then you have to buy bees for it in the spring and overall it was just over $1000. I remember. Uh, and I had plans to get more hives and do more backyard beekeeping. But then plot to that. I got allergic to bees that no summer. Yes. Oh, my God, I'm laughing. But I'm so sorry. That is so unfair. What the heck I feel like I'm trying to help you. How is this happening to me? Oh, my God. How do you become a lawyer to be though? I thought that you were either allergic or you weren't. Uh, well, this does happen with people. This does happen that you, you know, if you're stung. So I know beekeepers that are stung every single day and they just have great immunity to it. And then there's people like me who are still kind of getting into it and weren't getting stung all the time, maybe every, like, two weeks. And I think your body just gets confused at that level. Maybe because I do know some other hobby, beekeepers, quite a few that have become allergic to bees as well. Oh, wow. Yeah, I think some, I, I'm not totally sure how it works but just all of a sudden, yeah, you can become allergic. How many markets had you done at this point? Like, you know, were you months in, were you a year in? Was it really early? I was probably, like, five or six months in and I had just quit my job the week before. So I was like, I'm doing this full time and it was literally the next week and I, I was devastated. I almost emailed my boss or, like, called my boss back and, like, begged for my job. But then I realized because I had done this project. I, I knew a lot of beekeepers and I thought there's gotta be a way around this. And so I reached out to my beekeeping network and people in the honey industry and started putting together a different way that I could run the business, which was sourcing honey from other beekeepers that had larger farms and pushing it through a facility which I had to do anyways. And it, it ended up being probably the best thing for me because then I was able to actually focus on building the brand doing the marketing and sales instead of playing with bees all day, which would have been really nice, but it's not a great way to scale a business. Yeah, absolutely. It sounds like one of those things that it's the worst case scenario in the moment, but there's a very clear silver lining and, and a very clear blessing in disguise there when you say you quit your job, you know, six months in, at what level was your revenue around then from doing these markets? And was it just the markets or were you already doing D to c it was just the markets at that point? And oh gosh, I don't know what our revenue was. It was low like maybe 50,000 or something like that. But the way the honey industry works is that you, so I was selling product at the markets that couldn't go onto retail shelves if that makes sense. Like I needed to get to a certain level with our food safety because it's a food product. And so it was at that brink of kind of doing all the leg work to get all of that, the facility approved and the, the product labels and all that. It was taking up so much of my time and I was getting all these retailer requests. That was the biggest thing was I had so many retail requests and I couldn't get, I couldn't sell the product because it wasn't approved yet. So that was the main driver, not the revenue, which maybe was a little bit backwards for some people. But it was really like, how much time can I focus on this while also focusing on my actual full time job? And I just felt I was doing both an injustice at that point and there was such a pull coming from the market for drizzle that I felt like I could really just jump into it at that point and focus on what I needed to do to get it on the shelf and fulfill some of these retailer requests. And how are these retailers finding you? Is it discovery through the markets or is it word of mouth or were you actively kind of in networks talking to buyers? What do you think? You know if anyone's listening and they're trying to be like, OK, how do I replicate something like that? What do you think it was? Yeah, it was social media. So Instagram then was everything and the markets. Uh people were finding me at the markets and also I was starting to drop samples off even though it wasn't approved. I was still like courting people. I guess I would say like here's a sample that like it's coming soon. This is at least what the logo looks like. This is what our branding looks like a little bit in our Instagram and just like stay tuned. Because I'll come back with the actual product in a few months. So it was just getting our name out there organically at that point. Mhm. So kind of a mix of markets posting organically on social media and dropping off products wherever you could to kind of get in front of buyers in an easy kind of approachable way. How long does the process take to get, you know, a food product approved in Canada? What was that kind of timeline? Well, it can be very quick depending on the product honey though is an agriculture product. It's a raw agriculture product and that's where it becomes a little bit difficult. So it doesn't have to just go through like a commercial kitchen, which most food products you can kind of spin them into a commercial kitchen and spin them out of there. Uh Whereas this, we needed to find uh the honey that was extracted in like a Canada food inspection agency, which is sort of the top level uh facility. And then it had to be packaged also at a separate facility that was Canada Food Inspection agency approved, which had to have a facility number. And then our labels had to have this registration number on them and adhere to like honey specific labeling. So it took some time it just for me to figure out where I should package it and who could have their hands on it. And uh then where could I sell it. So I would say because I had quit my job at that point. I mean, it was probably about three months. It took me just fiddling around with and speaking to the different government levels about how to do it, which can take a lot of time when you're speaking with the government. I'm sure, I'm sure lots of red tape. Yeah, we love to kind of try to understand that kind of organic bootstrapped piece of the puzzle that gets you from, you know, your 1st, 100 orders, 200 orders to a first the 1st 1000 kind of or not orders or other customers, 1000 customers and then starting to scale from there. I'm wondering what your kind of pivotal moments that leap you forward in those early years. Well, I think a big piece for me is I was accepted into a business accelerator really early on. And uh there's one here in Canada run by. I don't know if you guys have Dragons Den or Shark Tank in Australia. We have Shark Tank. Yeah. So it's like she's, she runs it. It's like that and she's got this business accelerator and then you can potentially get an investment. So getting into that was really a huge thing for me because you get mentors, you get courses, uh you're in there with other entrepreneurs that are at a similar level as you or higher. And uh you get introductions to a lot of all kinds of people, distributors and just the right people to talk to. And do you go on Dragon's Den as well or it's just another offering that they have kind of under the same umbrella? Yeah, it was another offering that they had that I had to apply for and applicants came from across Canada and I just happened to get selected, which was fantastic. So I would say that like, it really did change things for me. It made me take the business so much more seriously and I just had those connections to go off of. And then I think the biggest piece is the other people in the cohort that I was in the other entrepreneurs because this can be a little really lonely road if you're trying to figure this all out on your own and you, yeah, you just don't have anyone to talk to in a similar place as you. And it gave me that foundational group of, of friends and other entrepreneurs to bounce ideas off of. Um So that being a pivotal moment, did that then change kind of the way you were marketing or, or your approach, you know, to direct to consumer ecom versus, you know, retail and things like that. Yes, very much. So I didn't even know what a distributor was before going into that program. I had just been reaching out to retailers and working very much with boutique stores, lifestyle stores, gourmet food and specialty and gift shops, which was great. Uh But the program really showed me, like, if you get a distributor, they're gonna warehouse it in multiple warehouses, then they're gonna sell it to multiple retail entries or thousands of retail entries. And that's really where you could build capacity in your business and scale it where it's just sort of reaching out on your own. Yes, it can be done. And sometimes I think if I could go back, there's certain aspects of that, I'd probably end up keeping a little bit closer versus pushing it all out to distributors and other people to do it. Like what I think that the core group, your core employees and the founder themselves could sell the product way better than any sales rep or any distributor that also has 1000 other products that they're representing. And it can just really solidify a relationship and partnerships with retailers so that they, you know, continually or thinking of you. If you're the one calling or emailing, they really feel like they know you and they're gonna give you special treatment if you're their friend versus if they just know of you through some large distributor and some sales rep that also talks to them about other 25 brands of their portfolio. It's just not personal and they don't know your story and they don't know you. So for some of that, I think I would have kept some of those relationships a little bit closer and maybe built out the business a bit more uh direct than push it through. But that was what our business accelerator was telling us to do. They were saying like scale, scale, scale use. All these distributors try and get this investment, a pending investment if you can. And it's not always the right way to go. It, it leads to a whole bunch of uh other things and it really just depends what does the entrepreneur wants and um what do they want their business to look like? And how do they want to grow it? And for the distributors that you got, what do you think? Like, what was your pitch? And how did you kind of get them on board with your products? What were, what are the kind of like key takeaways that you can share to other small business owners that are like, hell, yeah, I wanna get a distributor or many distributors. Yeah. Yeah. Know your product, like know your differentiators and like just have a good brand. Like so the pitches and the presentation is really, really important in having a solid brand when you approach those distributors and retailers. Uh I got that advice, I think where everybody said it doesn't need to be perfect. You just need to show up or you just need to put it there. Whereas I always felt I'm going to have this, I want it all to be perfect first and then then I'll approach and I'm glad I did it that way because those buyers can see sometimes five other honey brands that week and you got to have your ducks in a row to be able to really, um, floor them and to be able to get that product on shelf. Yeah, absolutely. And I think today, like in today's world specifically, of course, it's a lower barrier to entry to enter. Now, these kind of, you know, creating ad to C brand, you can create so many beautiful pieces of packaging and design and everything online that of course a buyer would expect something to look quite put together and quite beautiful if they're seeing a number of brands on the shelf. Yeah, for sure they would. I think it's just an expectation now. And so yeah, don't mess that up because you may not be able to ever get a meeting with them again if they turn you down that first time because they're busy and they've got lots of other brands that are just as eager as you are to get on shelf. Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. And so the accelerated program. Did you get the investment? What happened? I did get the investment. Yeah. Yeah. So went through that program, I think about a year later, the celebrity investor, her name is Darlene Dickinson. Uh she came back and offered investment to a small number of us. I think there was six or seven that had gone through previous cohorts and she asked us to come back to a new cohort and that one was one that had, uh, it was a really small, it was like a micro or we'll call it like a preceed round 100 and $50,000 for equity stake in the business. And, uh, that was sort of what kick started the whole thing becoming like something bigger. And that was in 2018. So five years ago and from there, you know, did you use that money? I imagine, you know, working capital to not only produce the products but also to expand the team. I'm wondering kind of from there. What was the, the leaps forward? Yeah. Yeah. So first thing I did was get a broker. So it's a sales broker and they had a team of 25 sales reps on the ground across Canada. So you pay them a commission or a retainer on each sale that they make. And that was my first hire. Um, well, actually I think I did a social media person before that and sort of all, it's all a mish mash of what happened in those first few months. I know I got an operations manager in there at some point as well. And those were sort of the foundation was myself, operations manager, digital marketer to do social media and then started building out having sales reps and other marketing partners that we've outsourced over the years that take on sort of the bigger communication pieces. And when we kind of reached 2020 the pandemic, did that impact you being in, you know, so many retail stores? Yeah, I did. So that's really when we started becoming more of an e commerce brand, actually, still most of our sales, it's about 80% is wholesale and 20% is e commerce. But uh prior to the pandemic, we were really just doing wholesale, like very few online, uh, orders coming to, we just didn't focus on it. It just wasn't a big part of our business model and then stores shut down. Everyone changed how they were purchasing and buying and we had to quickly ramp up what we were doing on the e-commerce side and, uh, we've been able to hold steady where we were at, um, through the pandemic, sort of percent of sales still that we're doing on e-commerce and also got them to Amazon in Canada and the US and just, yeah, tried to do as much as we could to make sure that those customers could still get the product even if they were, couldn't get into the store at that time. How's Amazon been as a channel for you? It's a, uh, it is interesting. I'll say that. Oh, I don't even, I don't know if I can bash Amazon on this podcast. We'll probably, we'll probably get kicked off. But, um, it's, it's a, it's hard because of the fees they do they're extremely aggressive partner if you can even call them that. Uh, and you really have to, you really have to spend a ton of money to be able to get to a certain threshold if you can get over that threshold. Great. But things changed so rapidly too on Amazon, like during the pandemic, of course, and then as people started going back into stores, lots of visitors to the site dropped off and how the ads were working changed and you know, fees never have changed if anything gotten more expensive. So it's our lowest margin channel, but we still keep the product up there because Amazon is important for people to go and just search for brands. And if yours comes up, like I do this all the time, I don't buy from Amazon a lot, but I go on to search like hot sauces and see what comes up and then I'll go and buy it from somewhere else. A lot of the time I just do comparison shopping on there and it's like a comparison platform for me. So we want to have a presence on there, but we also don't want to put all of our eggs into one basket for Amazon. Totally. So it's kind of like viewing it as more of a marketing channel versus a sales driver. Yeah, in some ways, it's good for revenue, not good for margin and profit necessarily, but good for revenue and marketing. And those are important pieces of building a business too. Yeah. And maybe that, like, first customer acquisition moment and hopefully they come back to your site directly. Yeah. Which I think they do. I think they do. Yeah. What are the kind of revenue drivers that shift the needle for you now? And where do you kind of allocate your, you know, marketing, spend, marketing energy, all of that good stuff? Yeah, that's a great question because really those first five years of business, you're just trying to figure out like, where do I spend my money? And what like what's the R O I on this? And you're just kind of throwing, what is that needles at the dartboard or whatever that saying is and you just don't know what's gonna stick and what's gonna work. And so we're lucky now we have a bit of like an understanding of when we should run promotions and when we should run advertising, advertising for us is really good around in Q four. So around the holidays when it gets colder and people are consuming honey more especially in North America where, you know, there's real seasons here and it gets cold and people go inside and start drinking hot drinks. They love to put it in their tea and coffee. So we do notice also, I think people are buying honey from farmers markets during the summer. So there's just a little bit of a fluctuation there and then they're gifting the product a lot too in Q four. So we're really pushing things with advertising and promotions then and then of course, any sort of like gifting season, like Mother's Day, Valentine's Day, we're always going to run ads and spend more money during those periods of time. And we do a really big Pollinator Week event in June where we're promoting pollinators both in store, doing giveaways and running sales in store and also online, there's a big event on our website and through social media as well. And so we've kind of picked out these things that have worked for us. And at the beginning, we had no idea. So we were just trying everything like everything under the sun of spending and wasting a lot of money. So it's nice to know now like a little more strategic about things we know where the Roi is going to be on it and we Sprinkle it in, of course, with in store in some of our grocery accounts, we're doing promotions and sales certain periods time in the year and we get to select when those are versus just randomly not knowing which one they should go in. So, yeah, it's a, it's gotten a lot easier to do marketing at this time. Yeah, it's such a good point because I feel like, you know, in the early years of building a business, you are just like, oh my God, I'm overwhelmed. Where should I spend my time where should I invest money to make things work and you are just throwing things at the wall, seeing, seeing what can stick. And it's interesting to hear that it actually did take a really good five years to kind of find, find that specific blueprint and be able to double down on what's working. I'm wondering for you. You know, it sounds like in the beginning of your journey markets and that kind of R A L experience where you were directly across from your customer, talking to your customer all the time was a big part of what you do. Is there any kind of R I L experience that you still weave into your marketing strategy? Yeah, we've actually been thinking a lot about this lately as a team that we'd like to start doing that again is both for kind of like personal reasons is like it's energizing for the team to be in person and talk to customers and just to like where are they at? Because you know, there's one thing on Instagram, people can message you all kinds of things or tiktok and reply and comments and things. But really when you're like there sampling the product in person with someone, you could see their face when they're doing it and talk to them about the brand and their reaction or some of our new flavors, it just makes a really big difference. So we're, we're actually thinking of like peppering some of that in over the next year doing some more in-person events just now they're available as well. Like, I think COVID is now quite behind us. I'd say it's been a year or so where everything was opened back up. But we're still sort of like getting used to doing that stuff as well. Whereas we used to be at yoga festivals and we used to be at women's events and markets and that stuff is now it's coming back and, and we would like to get back. Yeah, it's back on the table for sure. I think it's a really good marketing move. Yeah, 100%. And I can see that being, you know, fun to just be out from behind the computer or kind of in those feeling like you're almost isolated in a way where you're like, oh, I'm just here in my bubble doing this thing. But then you step out and you're like, wow, this is so exciting talking to people and getting that, you know, seeing people's reactions and, and all of that kind of thing. Totally see that. Where is the business today? And what can you shout about? Ah, where are we today? Yeah. So we're actually just doing sort of a mass grocery launch, I would say so, really solid and quite saturated in all the large lifestyle and gift stores and independent health food stores. And now we're trying to take a few of our products into like major, major chains and that's been pretty exciting because it's been good uptake. People are excited about it. It's just going to be available to more people. It's also challenging at the same time because we want to maintain our brand as being premium and special and high quality. And how do you make sure that that happens when you're in potentially every grocery store across the country? So it's just a lot of figuring it out Uh making sure that customers are responding well to that. Um We're also, I mean, I, I would like to also say I'm expecting my second child. So uh seven weeks, I'm, I'm due with my next Oh my gosh. So yeah, yeah. So there's, there's pieces of me too that are scaling back in some way, like there's pieces of the, I would say for my part that I'm going to be in, we put a bit of a pause for 3 to 6 months on anything major. So this is the reality of being a woman entrepreneur and making sure that, you know, you're not doing anything that's like the founder is necessarily going to require and I do, of course, have back up to be able to take over my possession and everything is gonna run perfectly smooth. But there's still, it's maybe it's a control thing too on my side, which I should let go of. But it is, it just, things can run and run quite well for 3 to 6 months without doing any major crazy changes. And I'm really setting us up right now for, like, entry into the mass grocers and more stores in the US and just maintaining our e-commerce. Um, and really, you know, going off of what we already know that we do. Well, uh, before making any insane changes to the company, the proven playbook, the path of the proven playbook. Yeah, that's right. So, in no way, are we scaling back? I think if I said that that was incorrect, we're not scaling back in any way. But posting for a few months, I think makes total sense. Yeah. What's your key piece of advice for other early stage founders, business owners, entrepreneurs who are out there building the business? I would say getting in as I, I kind of talked about before getting in with a group of other entrepreneurs, some sort of like founders group, especially if they can be within your own industry, like really try to get out there and network and put something like that together because it can mean huge changes in your business and just the difference between feeling isolated and feeling like you have a whole group of people to talk to about it. I'm going to shamelessly plug our community here. It's called Magic with AJ for anyone listening who needs that founder network, who needs hype girls around them to help in the journey, come, come join us. Yes, I would say that's my number one piece of advice, for sure.

So question number one is, what's your, why? Why do you wake up every day and work on drizzle? I really care about the food system and the impact that sustainable agriculture has on, on what we eat and how that impacts the environment and sustainability and the health of people in general. Mhm I love that question. Number two is what's been your favorite marketing moment so far? Oh, we did a collab with France from Queer Eye. Oh my God. That is so cool. It was really awesome. It was so much fun just to work on a product with him. So it actually launched through Etsy. Um He got to approve the designs that were going out and then it was over Christmas. Well, before Christmas, it was meant for Christmas spending uh launched this uh two pack of honey that said tan Frans with drizzle and uh he put it up on his Instagram and said all amazing things about the brand and that was definitely the highlight. Um We need to unpack this further. How did this come about? How do you get connected to someone like that and do a colab. Yeah. So actually reached out to us, I had done an Etsy market like years prior to that and just became friendly, I think with the Etsy team and I remember one of them flew in from headquarters at this market and I just, I kind of had her on Instagram or stay connected with her or something like that. And I think she just thought we need a food product. I've always loved this brand honey is kind of trendy. And she reached out to us and initially I thought it was a fake email. Like, you know, when you get so much spam, I just said, oh, it's one of these things where they're trying to charge me $20,000 to like do so like I just thought it was like nothing and I wrote back and just said, sorry, we're really busy right now like we can't do it. It's a no for me. And she wrote back and said like, no, like we really, this is actually a really great opportunity. Can we get on a call? I can't believe like I was so close to that never even happening because I just didn't think it was a real email like a real request. So anyway, she called me back and we talked through it and she said we're in a huge rush you to work on this right away. This is exactly what's going to happen. This is the plan and we just got started on it and flipped the product around and got it approved by 10. And did you get to meet Tanda? I didn't, I go, oh, I wish I would have been able to future future. Yeah. Yeah, we got to talk on Instagram. So that was cool. What was the impact of that? You know, are we talking thousands of products sold? Are we talking hundreds? Are we talking just mass awareness afterwards? What, what's the impact of working with someone at that level? Yeah. So it was hundreds of products. It wasn't in the thousands and that was Etsy told us to kind of expect that that on their platform like this is they told us the maximum to make as that was sort of based on our previous collaborations, they didn't want us to overproduce anything. So we made that and we were able to achieve Etsy Topshop within the first couple of days of that sale happening. And I think Etsy has never been a channel that we've necessarily continued to focus on. However, that just that collaboration, I think really elevated us and let us stay elevated ever since then because it was just something like a big stepping stone or a milestone that we got over of having this collaboration and being able to always refer back to it in our pitch presentations and mentioned it on the website like it just, it was just such a key moment. Yeah, the ripple on effect. I can imagine. Crazy. And, and you didn't have to pay for it, right? Like they were coming to you with the opportunity. That is so good. Yeah, it was awesome. It was, yeah, it was so great moment. It was. Yeah, for sure. Question number three is, what's your go to business resource if you're learning something when it comes to like a book or a podcast or a newsletter, my go to, you know, see, I keep talking about my network and mentors. Honestly. That's, that's it for me. I'm in a food founders group. So it's a group of Canadian business, food business owners to get into the group, you have to have revenue of over a million, that's sort of like their threshold. Uh So there's, you know, multimillion dollar business owners in this forum, it's a Slack channel. But then we also have monthly meetings where we talk about best business moments, worst business moments. We also dive into our personal and we dive into topics and also can bring forward topics that we have questions on. So that in combination with the Slack channel, just asking like day to day questions to this group of really high achieving entrepreneurs in our space. Uh That is, that's where I go. It's my resource. It's changed everything for me, but you can do it on a smaller scale too. Like I've talked about before. It's just getting like you could start your own slack tunnel. If you're brand new or you're a year into your business, just start a channel and get people involved in it. And that's how you make your own network. You never know what it's going to turn into. Love that question. Number four is how do you win the day? What are your AM or PM rituals and habits that keep you feeling happy and successful and motivated? So great question because I'm a mom and I do not have the time to do ice baths and constant meditation and all these things, which I wish I had the time to do. But my routine is really like about getting my son out the door and then I always get like, once I sit down at my desk, I don't check my emails for the first bit and I just go through like, what do I have to get done that day? What are my priorities for the day? I even have a uh an agenda. It's like a sheet of paper that is um top priorities, like would be great to get to and probably won't get to list and chart through that in the morning. Um And I do always make sure I have time for exercise. I think that that's really important even if you're just getting out for a walk um or doing a yoga class or um chasing your toddler around also when they're learning, they're learning to ride a bike. You do a lot of running behind them. So, um that counts too and uh healthy eating like these are simple things that, you know, I, like I said, I don't have time at this time of my life to do ice baths and red light therapy and all these meditation classes. But I can do smaller mindful things throughout the day that help keep me focused. And I'm, I'm good at that. I would say it's just concentration and focus and attention when I need to. So that's part of my daily practice I guess, is focusing and concentrating. Hm. Yeah, it sounds like you're a monster at prioritization as well. You have to be, you have to be. That's right. Question number six. No question number five. What's the worst money mistake you've made in the business? And how much did it cost you the worst money mistake? This is fairly recent. So we launched a spicy honey product into a large format because that was all during COVID, it was hard to get bottles and it was just hard to secure supply chain resources. So I just put it in to whatever bottle we could get and launched it and now going back and it does need to go into a smaller bottle, but it just, we're still having trouble sourcing the right bottle. We also realized we kind of screwed the pricing up because people are expecting that like a large amount for a certain price but the margin on this bottle, it's just very small because we're selling too much honey and a big bottle for too low of a price. So that was if I could go back like that is probably our biggest and that would be 100 and $50,000 or something in that range of just, yeah, just the difference between, if we had put it in the right size bottle, the margin difference we probably could have made over the last few years since it launched. Uh but it can be, it can be changed and it's also we were still making money on it. It just isn't an ideal scenario at this point because now it's gonna take time to go back and switch that product out in all the stores that we've got and that can cost money as well to get that price pricing. Yes. Yeah, exactly. It, it was just one of those things that came on the pandemic that we just had to get this product out because we didn't want to be a me too product or coming out later than everybody else. Um So I made that as a business decision that I was, it was more important to get the product out than it was to have it in the perfect bottle at that time. Goodness, last question. Question number six. What is just a crazy story? Good or bad you can share from your journey in building drizzle, honey. This is gonna be a tough one. Nothing's coming to me at the top of my head can be a beautiful moment with a customer. Can be something to do with your supply chain. Can be something to do with the bees be community. I don't know because our thing is like a really big deal getting the investment was a really big deal. That was just such a crazy time in my life. It was before I had kids and it was, I was working crazy hours, like 60 70 hours a week at that time. Now, I don't have to work that much because the brand is more established. But uh, just trying to figure out how venture capital works and whether this was a good choice for the business and was I going to get ripped off and screwed over later through venture capital because there's all kinds of things that can happen with it. And that was, yeah, and talking to lawyers for the first time about this stuff and just, it was a stressful and crazy time. But overall I'm glad that we did take that investment. I think it really kicked the business off. Will you go through the process of raising again? Yeah, I think so. Yeah. Yeah, looking into it right now, starting conversations on it. The capital markets right now are quite quiet. So it's not a great time to raise capital, but we're also not desperate to get it. So kind of waiting until the time is right on that. But yes, I think we will, Asia, thank you so much for coming on the show. This is so great hearing your story and your learnings and your insights from this journey. And I'm so excited to cheerlead you through the next part of your journey, raising capital. How exciting. Yeah, it was so great to be on. I'm so glad to speak with you.



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