Joining me in today’s episode is Christina Stembel, the Founder of Farmgirl Flowers.
Farmgirl Flowers reimagined the way people shop for flowers, plants and non-perishable gifts by offering fewer, better options and a best-in-class unboxing and customer experience. Christina started this business in 2010 and is the only sole female founder & CEO of a large scale e-commerce floral company, who bootstrapped the business into $60+ million in annual revenue.
In this episode we’re covering how Christina went in pursuit of disrupting an industry she had experienced a problem in, how she bootstrapped her brand from a $49k investment into a business that will do more than 60 million in revenue this year, the strategies that she used to acquire customers without a marketing budget and why this year has been her biggest year of growth.
I so enjoyed this episode and came away feeling so invigorated in my own pursuit to build Female Startup Club - and I hope you get that same energy too. As always, please do subscribe, rate and review the podcast if you’re loving these founder stories.
Please note, this transcript has been copy pasted without the lovely touch of a human editor. Please expect some typos!
Christina: Yeah, absolutely. So I am the founder and CEO of E Commerce Flower Company called Farmgirl Flowers. We are similar to what you think of when you think of online flowers. The better we like to think than the traditional the traditional guys. So we do all of our business online and we are we do it a little different.
Christina: So instead of having hundreds of options like our competitors, do, we have fewer better options. And this is very commonplace now. But back when I started in 2010, that was not the case. Also, something this is really special and different is that we're bootstrapped. So we've never taken any outside capital, the only large scale e-commerce company in the United States that can say that. And we've just built it the old school way of reinvesting the little amounts of profit we have and spending less than we make, which is just a very novel concept, it seems like anymore. And we've grown it to about 250 people. We are located in two countries now and a revenue about sixty four million this year.
Doone: Oh, my goodness, what an achievement. Holy moly, that's incredible. I want to go back to life before you started Farm Girl Flowers to find out what you were up to and why you were thinking about starting a business in the first place. What was getting you interested in entrepreneurship?
Christina: Yes, so I've been interested in entrepreneurship for at least a decade before I actually started, I was that person that would carry a notebook around with them a hundred percent of the time. And I would put so many ideas. I still do. I still have probably two to three new ideas a week, which is down from probably 10 to 20 that I had before. But my goal wasn't to start. I think as women, I get really passionate about this, this part of the discussion, too. I think any time that a woman goes into a creative business, there's this natural assumption, which I think is just years and years of conditioning where we think that that must have been her passion in life. And like, you know, I must have grown up in my grandmother's garden and loving flowers and flower crowns and flowing flower dresses. And that was not the case at all. I just wanted to start a business that would take off a few boxes. And this was the first idea I had in the first industry. I found that didn't have any recent disruption in the boxes I wanted to check off or I wanted to do something really different. I didn't want to just take somebody else's idea, tweak it one percent and then basically copy it. I wanted to actually disrupt an entire category. And so a lot of the ideas I had weren't able to be big enough to do that. Even if I could get only a small amount of market share, I wanted to be able to grow really big. And flowers was an industry that I found that was a huge industry. And the most recent innovation was years ago in the mid nineties. And it wasn't great innovation. It actually made it a more generic industry. And so in I live in Silicon Valley and so I was seeing everybody around me like disrupting everything, like toothbrushes to potato chips and everything in between.
Christina: And I was like, well, if they can do that with toothbrushes, I can do this with flowers and I can make a better mousetrap, basically. And then I wanted to be able to do something good in the world and being able to build it. I think you could do this. And if you're selling toilet paper or anything, you can do good in the world. You can definitely right now. Good you can. Just building a really good company is what my mission is now, one that I would want to buy from and sell to and work at. And so that's something I could have done in any industry. I didn't know it at the time, though. But looking back, that was not a big check box. That was hard to do.
And then the last thing was I knew it was going to need to be bootstrapped.
I don't have a pedigree like most people, especially where I live, everybody that started business, most people that are getting it, getting investment capital, you know, they went to one of the Ivy League schools are a very significant school. I didn't go to college at all. They worked at one of the big tech companies. I definitely didn't do that. So I just knew it was going to be possible. And a lot of my ideas, like software based or something, was going to need millions of dollars of investment capital.
So to go back to your original question, sorry, I go off on tangents, but the tangent I usually can remember to loop it around.
So but I, I just wanted to start a business and I wanted it to take these boxes and the flowers allowed me to do that. And I just think that's really important because everything in entrepreneurship has a female before it, but it doesn't have a male before it. And so like nobody calls the male entrepreneurs, but I get called female entrepreneur all the time.
And so nobody's questioning whether all of our competitive set are all one hundred percent owned by men, mostly tech guys that stop working at a tech company and then start a company look strikingly similar to us. They all are able to go get or get investment capital pre revenue before they've even sold a single book. And I've gotten one hundred and four no's not been able to raise capital at all. And the story line with them if they say I started a flower company, is it. Oh that's cute. You started a flower shop, which was always the narrative with me and that's not the case, which is why I'm really adamant about making that point.
We need to stop. We need to actually just check ourselves and understand that it's coming from conditioning. There's nothing wrong with it. It's just we've seen all these images. We've heard them for so long. But we need to start a new narrative now, I think.
Yeah, that's so true. Goodness. So I'm wondering about the light bulb moment that you actually stumbled along. Flowers' Like, what was it that got you interested in that particular category? I mean, aside from the fact that they hadn't been the innovation. But were you, like, going through a list, being like, all right, pens, cups, flowers?
That's a great measure. That would have been really smart if I did do that. I want to make a list, but I have a really good idea.
No, I worked at a university, actually, which is really ironic that I didn't go to university, but I worked at Stanford University and one of the departments that I oversaw did the events for the law school and during the economic downturn, about eight, seven or eight.
So nine, we everybody's budgets were cut. And so I was taking a deep dive into our panel and saw how much money we were spending on flowers. And why in the world are we spending between one hundred and twenty dollars per percent or fees for these events where we're having.
Tables and just like, why do they cost that much and it doesn't seem like a good use of money, and then that quickly, like I started researching the event space in the floral industry and I quickly moved to e-commerce because all of my research showed no one. That's where all the money is.
There were three companies that made up three quarters of the entire three billion dollar market just in those those companies, all that almost a billion dollars a year, as little as four billion at that time just in e-commerce. And all of them I used before when I would send my mom flowers in Indiana or I grew up.
There's not a flower shop nearby. And I hated the whole experience. So when I was researching, I found that like every other young consumer hated the experience, too. They created hash tag, fail or fail and stuff like that. Yeah, I was getting really worked like that happens to me. I spent an hour going through two hundred options to find the least ugly option I check out.
I think it's going to be fifty dollars. It ends up being one hundred dollars. But I'm like OK, my mom's worth it, she's worth more than that. And then it gets delivered to her. And before there weren't nobody had phones that have cameras on them and now everybody does, including my mom who still finds all of her text messages left mom.
So she doesn't quite get the hang of this, but she does have the hang of it enough to take a picture of what I sent to her and send it to me. And I would always get really upset because if that looks nothing like what I thought I was sending true story, the last thing I sent or was supposed to be an all white OK. And I set her guide, Kelly Green Daisies. And I'm like, that's not even close to an all white, OK? And I spent one hundred dollars. I felt ripped off. And so I feel that way. And I was thirty one or thirty two at the time. Thirty one. When I started the research on it, I was like every other consumer that's relatively my age probably feels that same way because we're smarter than more tech savvy than previous generations, that we believe that if we're going to put our money into something, it's not the thought that counts. You want it to actually have that hundred dollars of worth for what you just spent. So it's not just, like I said, a card or picked up the phone and had the thought that counts. So I just thought, let me just test it out and try it. Let's see if consumers feel the same way. I did one focus group before I started the company or I just asked friends to bring their friends and even I asked one of my frenemies that I didn't even like some friends. So I figured I didn't want to be in a bubble and only get my friends that might do things like me. And in that group.
Eighty six percent of people there had the same experience as me. And when they were shown a prettier bouquet for the same amount of money, they all went for that bouquet, of course. And so I thought, let's try it. So I quit my job when everybody thought I was crazy. In early 2010, the economy had rebounded yet here and to start with, everybody cleaned a flower shop, even though I would just constantly try to be like, no, it's a flower company at a flower shop.
Now, there's nothing wrong with flower shop, but they do an average three hundred fifty thousand dollars a year in revenue. I was trying to build a billion dollar company.
And when you quit your job, so you were bootstrapping it, you were like, hey, I haven't gone to college, I don't have any training in flowers, what happens next? How do you actually start the flower company?
Can you learn everything yourself so, you know, what I was building had never been done before, so it wasn't like I could just go. There was there's one public treated by our company, large scale e-commerce flower company, so I could go through their reports, quarterly reports, earnings reports and things like that that were public. But they don't give you a lot of detail. They don't show you how to make a flower arrangement. They don't. I had to figure out where am I going to get flowers and how am I going to make a buck and what do I want it to look like? And then I would read some flower arranging books and I'd be like, you process the flowers and process the flowers. It's just like a machine I put it through, like, what is that? So then I'm like Googling what is process? So I say now, you know, there's no excuse not to learn anything because you don't have to the library. You don't have to go look at books written 20 years ago. You just go to Google and it's the best research tool out there. So I spent hours and hours and hours on Google and then just practicing. I go the firemen, I get flowers, I come home, I practice and I very quickly throw all those flower books because I realize I'm trying to build something different and better. Why am I like copying someone else's designs? I don't like. So I just threw them all away and said, OK, what would I want to receive? And started building a book that looked like that.
And when I started there was a lot of hate in the industry. There's still a lot of, you know, armchair quarterbacks. And, you know, when you're doing something different, there's taxicab companies don't love Uber and Lyft. I had to think of it that way. So in the industry were not well liked. And that's OK. It's totally OK. But at the beginning, it really got to me because I there are all kinds of people in industry talking about how I didn't study this and I didn't go to school to get certified.
There's like certification programs, floral design and stuff. But I'm like, that is ridiculous. I'm not cutting someone's school open and doing surgery on them. I don't need to, like, go to school to learn how to, like, take greenery off the stem of a flower. I can do that myself from Google. I have recently changed my story a little bit because I used to say that you can learn anything from Google or YouTube. I did a lot of YouTube, but I recently tried to to do the plumbing and electrical in my house myself.
And I've learned that you can learn everything, but if you Google, leave some things to the professionals. So I don't say that anymore. The flower arranging, you can learn everything that you need to do.
Oh my gosh. Next minute you'll like representing yourself in the court of law being like, I Googled how to be a lawyer and I'm here to represent myself.
I wouldn't ask me, oh my goodness. I read that you launched the business with forty nine thousand dollars in savings. What did you use that money towards building the company?
You're asking really good questions. Some of the thank notes, so, yeah, when I started, I had saved forty nine thousand dollars, which I thought was a ton of money back then. I have always worked before, Standring. I work in hospitality and I worked at a lot of coffee shops and restaurants and a lot of wage level jobs all at the same time. So forty eight thousand dollars was a lot for me. I don't come from money. I grew up on a farm.
I've never had that kind of money. And so I was I'm just saying that because I hear people like I don't have enough money to start it and stuff like forty eight thousand isn't a lot and it goes very quickly.
But if you're really scrappy and frugal, you can make it go like that was for me to live on for two years too. So I gave myself a two year window. I did a little spreadsheet, really embarrassing to look at and it's like seven lines long rent. And I literally have like, you know, I remember when I started getting press, my publicist was like, can you go buy some clothes that don't have holes in them? Because literally, like, I was so frugal, like all of my clothes that holes and I was eating ramen, I switched from coffee to tea because it was cheaper.
The tea bags are super frugal, but that money goes really quick and I made some mistakes with it. So if I'm giving advice to what I would say if everyone told me early, I'd go get a lawyer. So don't represent yourself. But I did think to your point, like, I was like, I can Google that and figure out what I need to do. You can't you don't have the expertise. And if you have any idea at all anything that will protect what you're doing, you need to get a lawyer early on because there are people that will copy what you're doing in about a microsecond and then you'll have nothing that will defend it. And so I didn't because that would have probably taken half of my forty nine thousand dollars. And I was like, I'm not going to go spend. I should have probably went and get a small loan to see if I could do that because we didn't have much. But we had the burlap wrap that I created and now you see that world wide. You probably see where you're at. Everybody is using burlap wrap around the flowers. That was my invention. Fourteen different ideas.
I tested them all I the pictures to all my friends to see what fun they like the best. And it really became a brand trademark. It became like our swoosh, our Nike swoosh. And that was important because I really wanted people, especially social media, started to take off even more. I wanted people without able to see the tag to note with ours. So it gives a lot of brand equity and that's worth a lot of money. And so I should have gone and done that. I didn't if I could go back, I would spend twenty five thousand dollars probably of that forty nine thousand on legal fees. But I didn't. And instead I used it for practicing the flowers and taking flowers that had to do all that, building a website, doing all of those things and living, paying my rent every month as well.
And it just it goes quick. But I probably would have made different choices had I known then what I know about.
Yeah, absolutely, and I think as well, like when it's your your own money, not money that you've had from an investor or friends and family around or that kind of thing, you are much more personally attached to that money and how how it's being spent and how long it can last for.
I want to talk about still in that early time, the launch strategy and how you actually started finding people who were going to pay for your flowers and getting the word out there about your business.
Yes, so I always worked in operations before starting from real. I never worked on the sales side of an organization and I literally thought they were fluffy and nice to have but not need to have people like they would go out for fancy lunches in the middle of the day.
And I'm like, we're here working. What are you doing? And I'm like, oh, there were, you know, my first financial model, seven lines a spreadsheet. But I said I did. I think for marketing I had twenty four cents per unit allocated for marketing, which is not enough adviser. Ridiculous. The first two years I have a single dime to spend on marketing. So what I did, which people sometimes laugh, I want to make sure everyone knows that this is like the real way to do it. In my opinion. I literally took my product, I took a flower arrangement and I put it out at coffee shops all across the city in different neighborhoods. And I made little marketing cards myself that looked a little bit. Well, they got the message to start somewhere in these ninety nine cent little card holders. And I would make friends with the baristas who then would give me free coffee too. So I didn't have to just for tea, which was amazing. And I would get let me put it on the bar, the place that was really important, not like behind the scenes but like on the bar where everybody's waiting for their coffee. And Starbucks was a great partner. Plus they got a new district manager a couple of years in which she did not allow me to do it, unfortunately.
But I like to get Starbucks a good setup because for two years, some of the busiest Starbucks and successful would let me put this out and I would go back every week and I count how many cards were taken. And if there were 40 or 50 cards taken, I was like, yes, that's worth another 20 dollars across to another range bound. But is there something like ten or twenty cards? I might need to find another coffee shop, maybe this one site because of the traffic, which now is crazy because for twenty dollars I got twenty five take in a dollar per card that a great customer was across the board, 20 percent of them. But back then I was like, I don't think it's worth it. So I did that around like ten to 12 coffee shops around the city and one hundred percent of our growth was due to that. I did nothing else. I mean sometimes I would go to paper people's cards around Valentine's Day and stuff, which is totally illegal, but like people's windshields and stuff like that, I did all kinds of things like that. But I just hit the pavement, basically, and I didn't spend any money on any kind of traditional marketing at all.
And we went from telling you earlier, like, I can give all numbers because I have no board to report to, so I'll just dive in. The first year I did fifty six thousand dollars in sales the entire year, which is hilarious looking back. And I went the next year to two hundred and seventy six thousand, which I thought was amazing because it's five EPS growth rate and then that next year I went from from two point seventy six to nine twenty, I almost hit a million and literally until we got at almost nine twenty, we did no marketing. So we did almost a million dollars in sales just from word of mouth, from putting beautiful putting your product. If you have something that's the thing, like we'll never have to spend in marketing even today. I mean, this is not a good example because we literally turned off marketing for eight months and still had one hundred percent growth year over year. That's not normal. But even last year, we've never spent more than ten dollars on customer acquisition costs, which our competitors are spending like 80 to 90 to give you some time and even like, wow, thirty to forty. So we're never going to have to spend as much as them on marketing because we have a better product, in my opinion, and a better customer experience. So if you have a great product, put it in front of people and then they'll tell their friends, especially if you're in an industry like ours where 80 percent of the consumers are women, women will tell other women totally, yeah, they'll want to support you with their dollars. And so just being real and putting your product in front of them and telling them you help someone's app and social now just being like, hey, we need some help here, like work with covid. That's literally what helped us this year. And they will rally around you and vote with their dollars. And as mean as women can be to other women, there's a whole nother set of them that can be really lovely and wonderful as well.
Ain't that the truth, Serger, I'm wondering, like in those times when you were going from, you know, the 270 up to the nine 20, I've forgotten the specific numbers, but, you know, those big jumps. What do you think the step change was that like? Obviously, it was word of mouth, but something really shifted.
Yeah, really, the only thing was with word of mouth, that was also the year we moved out of my apartment, not by choice, but I had a corporate attorney, landlord that found out I was running a business illegally from the apartment, which turns out a garage startup is not actually legal. So I got a pink slip and in San Francisco are so expensive to live, you don't want to get kicked out of your apartment. So I had two weeks to get it out of the apartment. And I actually was super scared because I wasn't even making profit at that point.
I was like, now I have to add rent and utilities to that. And that was just it was just a defining moment for me where it was another cliff I had to jump off.
But that helped because that visibility of getting out of your apartment and also just having that fire like of I'm going to run out of money in about four weeks. I've got about four weeks ahead of me, like, that's it, what do I do? And so it made me hit the pavement harder, the networking events every night. And I would take flower arrangements to this networking events and pretend that they'd ordered them and put them on the tables with little flags. Then so far, more flowers or little cards around the flowers. And I just doubled down literally. I just doubled that. I was like, OK, if I four weeks before I got a business and I got down to four hundred eleven dollars my bank account that year, at one point I just doubled down and I would go find every event right and meet up and all of those sites I would go and find any kind of business networking type thing that was going on.
I would sneak in to a lot of them. If they required a fee, I would not pay a fee and I would take flowers. Every pretend that going to a reception table, I mean, like, oh, here's the flowers. And you put them down and people be like, oh, those are beautiful and know.
So just doing things like that, just being really scrappy. And I would attribute that to just doubling down. The next year we were able to add a little bit of marketing dollars from nineteen twenty to one point nine million that year and I didn't realize it at the time. What a feat that was, because I learned the fact afterwards that only two percent of female owned companies ever make it to a million dollars in revenue. And it's like sucker punch to the gut. When I heard that I'd already surpassed that. But I'm like, that is not OK. When it's four and a half times larger for a male company, it's just not OK. And that's why I'm very outspoken about that now. But that was by the next year was was really pivotal for us because we had more than twenty four cents. We I think we were spending like a dollar fifty the order on marketing.
And we I rarely use the word luck, but we were really lucky that here in the truest sense, because it was it was back when Facebook marketing was just taking off and the large companies like Nordstrom and all the big companies are all vying for the twenty five to forty four year old female like we were, hadn't yet transitioned from their marketing spend from traditional channels to social and digital channels.
And so we lucked out because we were acquiring customers for nine days. That's in the early days. You can't do this anymore.
Well, and so there's been obviously a lot of years in the in the middle of and we reached this year where you've done sixty four million. I think you said you're on track to do sixty four million.
How does that evolve your marketing and how do you get from one point nine to sixty four. Oh yeah.
A lot of work. I don't want to minimize how much work it does, especially bootstrapped.
It's too much work for most people. And so I think that's the thing that really sets me apart and my my team apart is that Will Smith said it best him and messed it up, I'm sure.
But when I read what he said, it just like summed up my entire journey. He said that he's never going to be the smartest person or the best looking person for acting roles. He's never going to be better than everybody else around him. But the thing he will do is he'll he'll at work anyone. If he gets on a treadmill, he's not getting off to the person next to him has already fallen off. And so that's me. I will work harder and I get a lot of flak and you might get some flak for this. Makes it into the podcast. A lot of people like to criticize and say you need to work smart, not hard and all these things and you need to work smart and hard as you're going to bootstrap. There's no way around it. You can't work smart enough to not work hard when you're bootstrapping a company and you're trying to get to hundreds of millions and then eventually a billion dollars, there's just no way around it.
It's the hardest thing I've ever done to not run out of money.
There have been so many nights that I haven't slept because I'm worried about payroll the next day and I'm still the CFO of the company for a reason because I know where every dollar goes, every single dollar goes. I don't have an internal accounting team at all. I'm me and my assistant do all of that because I need to know where every dollar is going so I can make sure that I know when we're in trouble. I've heard so many on the failed network and all the companies that have failed that.
I don't know why we're glamorizing it about like, you know, when they'll say, like, I didn't even know their burn rate was a million dollars in July, the slowest month of the year for flowers. I'm like, how did you not know that you had a million dollars? But I would know that they want like being in trouble of spending more than I make.
And so that's really important, but that's another diatribe, another like so back to your question, how we got there originally was by adding graphic regions. So to be very tactical and let you know exactly how we did it, we were only in San Francisco for five and a half years. I thought when I started farm, I was going to be able to get national shipping going at a very early time. I thought, like two years, I'll get national shipping going. Well, if it was that easy, everybody would be doing it. I found out there's a very large barrier to entry and e commerce, and that's called shipping rates. And we still subsidize over a million dollars this year, probably about a million and a half this year. We subsidize over three million dollars last year and shipping. So we are paying the shipping carriers, our partners, way more than we are charging our customer. And we have a twenty five dollars shipping. Even so, we're the highest shipping rate of any e-commerce company. I know. And we have to go because we'll go out of business if we don't. So every year though, after 2015 I was adding area. So we first added just in the Bay Area some different. We went further out. So instead of just being on go this little seven mile by seven mile radius, then we added the North East Bay, South Bay Peninsula on that and did that for a year.
And then we added California shipping and then we added national shipping. And so it was always like making sure my numbers worked. So this is another thing you can't just say, like I want to be a national company and launch national shipping. You need to make sure that you're not gonna run out of money. And there were even when we launched National Shipping, I can only do 50 orders a day because our subsidies were almost 40 dollars per order. So if I did more than 50 day, I knew I was going to run out of money. I knew exactly how many days of money I had in front of me to keep my team safe. At that point, I think we were like 19 team members and I have 19 people who their rent and their bills are dependent on me being able to pay them on time. And I'm one of the most proudest things that I'm most proud of is that I've never paid anybody ever like we are. A lot of entrepreneurs will put their teams needs after the business and we will never do that. But it's it's been hard to do that. And so and you have to know your numbers inside and out. And I hear a lot of especially females say that just not good at math.
I don't really like numbers. I hate numbers. It's the worst part about my job. I'm usually doing them at two in the morning. I'm doing all the accounting and finance because I hate it and I procrastinate and work on the fun stuff like product development and stuff during the day that I should have been doing accounting. But it's that important. You need it doesn't have to be fancy. But if I showed a CFO my financial model I have in the past, they literally are very nice about it. But I know on the inside they're laughing their ass off. They're like that, or because I can read it and it works for me. So don't be intimidated by making it look super fancy or anything. But just know, like if you have a product, a sweater, like how much does it cost you to make that sweater and then how much does it cost you to transport that sweater? How much does it cost you to market that sweater? You have to know every no, you can't just say like, well, it's ten dollars to make it. No, it's actually fifty dollars to make it because you put all those things into it. And if you don't, you're going to run out of money. And so I did that and I just added geographic areas.
And then after I added geographic areas, then I added the amount that we could take every day. So it went from fifty to one hundred orders that we could do a day and then to two hundred orders day like Mother's Day, that first year of national shipping. We sold out in four minutes of our national because we could only do two hundred orders. That's it, chips. We could do more locally. But for the shipping program we didn't even announce it on social or anything for a long time because it was selling out so quick. We don't want people do that. We just let people go and then check to see if there's a code of work and then what would they put the order in because we just didn't want to control our customers and make them mad at us for it. So that was the strategy, adding geographic areas. It's still a strategy I have. We're looking to try to add Canada next year, which would help us a lot at another geographic area where you already have customers. So what that does is, you know, when we added national shipping, we didn't have to spend any more on marketing. We spent way less. Our cost per order on marketing went way down, actually, because those people were already out there waiting for us. They'd already heard of us. There's already low hanging fruit that had heard of you. So in Canada, there's already a lot of people that have been asking us to come to Canada. So I don't need to go spend a bunch of money marketing in Canada. I'll just get the low hanging fruit, have them tell their friends, ask them to tell their friends about it and for the first year, not spend a dime more in marketing.
And then we can use what we sell in Canada to help us be able to afford marketing for the next year.
And so that's what bootstrapping is. You can't you can't go spend a ton of money before you have it like you can if you're funded. But it makes you a much healthier company long term.
Oh, yeah, for sure. Do you think your superpower is out working or that you've nailed the numbers?
Who everybody should take a lesson from you on questions, because these are really the best, I would have always said it that working, but I think it's also knowing the numbers.
I think you're absolutely right, because I just hear that all the time and that people don't know their numbers. There's a really great article in the news last month where the founder of Outdoor Voices who have a ton of respect for, was just really vulnerable and honest about how she just thought that if she raise enough venture capital, everything would be OK.
And that I think it creates a false safety net. When you have a bunch of money in the bank and when you have these pretty smart people, I won't say they're the smartest people because that's something I've learned, that these CEOs are not always the smartest people in the room.
But you have these people that have done this before kind of guiding you. And so you just think you have the safety net. And when you don't have that, you're really critical of everything. You have to know everything. You can't get away with not knowing things. And so I couldn't I would never come out and say, like, I just thought I had enough money. And I was like, no, I always think I'm going to run out of money. Always I always think, how am I going to make the next payroll? You know, this is the first year I haven't been like that because the way we've changed the company, our distribution model, we completely changed this year after covid has put us in a much healthier place financially where we actually have a buffer for the first time. And I'm not exaggerating. Last year, because you said you like hearing numbers. Last year we did thirty two point seven million in revenue and we did thirty four thousand dollars in profit. So we've never had any buffer that's like way closer. And that's not even real profit. We were actually a million dollars in debt. That's just what the government says. We didn't profit because of the tax code is written to make sure we pay the money, but we were as close to zero and have always run as close to zero as humanly possible in order to be able to grow the company. You can't have 50 to 100 percent growth year over year and have money in the bank. You just can't you have to spend spend it to make it and you have to be able to to reinvest it. And that's it's definitely a juggling act to make sure you don't run out of money and you're not overspending, but you're not under spending. And then you could have borrowed more that year.
That's so interesting.
Does that mean you're working towards super profitability now, or is the strategy more just keep growing as much as possible and potentially exit?
Or how does the planning for the future work in that sense?
Yeah, it changes a lot, it depends when you talk to me and what my life is there, if I have one of I mean, I always have many, many plans for it.
But, you know, I would say so just to be really honest, last year and our nine year anniversary, I kind of had a come to Jesus with myself. I was like, I am working way too hard to not make any money. I paid myself I didn't pay myself for five and a half years. And then when I did, I paid myself sixty thousand a year. So I just be really clear with that because a lot of people be like, oh, you just pocketing millions of dollars every year. That's not the case at all. Executive compensation was less than our basic managers made. So it was it was definitely a moment where I was like, I can't do this for another ten years. I'm coming up on my 10 year anniversary, which just I probably put too much stock in. But I think it's because every financial model I ever did, ever planning I did this company was ten years and like, OK, I'm at the end of the ten years now. So now what? And do I want to do another ten years of making sixty thousand dollars a year, which is so much less than I made before my last job even.
And to work one hundred twenty hours a week to not sleep before payroll, to have so many team members upset with that you're not getting enough and not paying enough and you're like I'm literally trying to just make it. And so I kind of made myself a deal at your 9:00 or I was like, I have to get your ten. I have to have a path to real profitability to 10 percent. Profitability is what net profit or I'm going to sell. That was my inner dialogue and dialogue that I actually wrote down, even though my goal list I was like, this is this is it.
And I'm not going to do ten years. I well, on the outside, everybody thinks this is hugely successful and we are growing it really well. But I just got my hundred fourth no last year on raising capital. I truly, as much as I believe in myself, I did not believe that I could get this company to a billion dollars without outside capital. No one's ever done that. Nobody's done that in perishability, period. The only company I think with any product is like Patagonia that's done that to hundreds of millions of dollars. And so you can't be what you can't see. Right. So I had I couldn't find anyone that had done this. I'm like, I am not better than all these people like that. I'm not I'm not better than all these people. And there's only twenty four hours of the day for me to work. So I if nobody has done this, there's a reason and I need to get out. But then the most miraculously weird, weird thing happened. It happened and covid stuff right for all of us. It just sucked.
And I gave it like we had to shut down our services facility in twelve and a half hours is all we were given by the city. And I had to furlough and then lay off one hundred ninety one people at one hundred ninety seven in a day. And it was horrible. And I came home and after laying off all those people and trying to figure out what I was going to do to keep to stay in business, and I called my eyes out because I was like, oh my gosh, I just walked ten years and I didn't pay myself anything. Even I have nothing to show for this. And personally, I'm going through a divorce at the same time. We're literally the only thing I kept was my company. The only thing I was able to keep in a community property state was my company. And so I was like, I just gave up everything, my house, everything. And I have nothing and I what am I gonna do? And so what it did was this amazing thing where I only gave myself gave the company like I'm a numbers person, like I hate numbers, but I always like to know my numbers. Right. So I was like, OK, I give us a ten percent shot of making it through this. So if I only have a ten percent shot. What am I going to do? And with an escort, so personally, I'm tied to this bankruptcy as well if we go out of business. So what do I do? Will you just go for it? You just do everything. I just decided at that moment that I'm not going out without a fight. I'm going to do every possible thing I can to try to save this company. And if I still go out of business, the great part about that is no one's going to blame me because covid like it also took that level of fear of the perception of failure around you off the table because so many people are going to go under this year.
So I'm in good company.
So I all those things on the spreadsheet that I went and pitched to one hundred and four investors saying this is the path to profitability, all the things I did on her ninth birthday where I came up with my plan for how it's going to get to profitability over a span. I've done that over five years to get to the 10 percent with what it's going take me. I was like, we're going to do it in one year. We're just going to do all these things. Because the reason that I I'm done these things yet is because they don't have a million dollars in the bank. And I'm scared they run out of money and not to take jobs. Well, I already lost my job. So what am I gonna do? I'm just going to go for it. And so that's what we did. And I brought back team members as I could very quickly and the best ones. And we just went for it and we opened for distribution centers in five weeks. I had planned to do one a year and thought I needed a million dollars per. Nope, we just did it. We got in our cars, drove to Miami like literally like did it just as scrappy as it comes, opened in Ecuador via WhatsApp, a second distribution center, and just went for it and got really transparent with our customers as well, telling them what was going on, because we also need to ask for their help in still supporting us with our dollars and also waiting for their bouquets because we had to move everything to Ecuador when we got shut down here, and it took longer to get them their bouquets and things like that.
And what I saw was everybody rallied around us are amazing customers as well. My team rallied so hard, working right alongside with me and we did it and we got the company where I thought we would be in year five we're at now. And so all that's a loop. Back to your question is now. I'm at the place where I don't want to sell. I am so excited about the future of our girl. And I'm also really excited that I am one hundred percent the company or ninety nine point six percent of the company and don't I can take care of my customers. I can do what's right for the company. I can work on benefits for my team. That makes sense for them, even if it doesn't look good on the bottom line, like on site child care that we're working on right now, we are backing for one case. We do all the things and I can do that because we're not we don't have investors and I'm super excited about the future. Now, where you're nine. I wasn't because literally it was just always a struggle, such a struggle and it's still a struggle. It's but now this year, we're going to probably do ten percent of it in one year as opposed to taking this fight to get there.
It's a pretty big silver lining, very big for twenty twenty.
Zip it, zip it. Don't complain. It's been hard. It's been the hardest year of my life. But I like to clean my years and this year is the best, worst year ever.
So yeah, that's a good one. It also kind of sounds like you got that renewed energy that you had in your first year where you were really hustling, hitting the pavement, just doing all those things.
And you've brought that back and you've just done the same thing. You've you've repeated that in that in different movements with different plays kind of thing.
Absolutely. That's a really good yeah. That's exactly what I did. It was in what my team that we all like started a new company within the company.
Basically love that for you. I also love that it sounds like your community really strengthened and it's built something really, really special. I'm sure it was special before, but people rallying for you. I saw that photo where, you know, you had to throw out one hundred and fifty thousand dollars worth of flowers, which obviously would have been a really tough day. But all the comments of people just being like I just bought from you, I've just ordered I'm here to support all those kind of things. I guess that's what keeps you showing up every day and being like, well, then people people love us still.
Absolutely. And and the hard days, actually, just last night, I was reading some of the comments on for a ten year anniversary. I shared some memories over ten days, like the top ten memories. And the comments were the most loving comments, which I know sounds weird to say about business, but just so loving. And, you know, when I have our days, you know, I just look at those and I'm like, oh, my gosh, people love us. And that is, I think, a testament to my team and what we've all worked so hard to build. And you can't fake that. And so really, that was the equity we had put into the company for the nine years before covid every day just. And like my customer service team, I just can't see enough amazing things about they have the hardest job in the world, especially right now. Like you, in some days, 30 or 40 percent of our orders are delivered on time because everybody shipping everything and they're dead when they arrive and because it's perishability. So they are just so amazing and make sure that they take care of every single customer. And then nine years of that coming back to us, we got to see it firsthand this year. I'm like, if we were just this corporate I don't know. Everybody likes to use the word authenticity, which I love the word and hate it. I love the real real definition of the word authenticity. But we really are authentic where we admit it. When we make mistakes, we take ownership for it. We talk to our customers like they're our friends because they are anybody who's like when we pull the top 50 list of the top customers that have bought from us since March, some people are so many, but twenty six thousand dollars worth of flowers since March from us. Yes. Like, you know, my first reaction was, is that fried?
Because we are going to look like, no, it's a real person and it's not fried.
And just look, that's amazing. That is absolutely amazing. And I am so grateful and I'm so grateful for our customers and so grateful for my team because that's nine years of them, like, really building that for us. So that way, when we need it the most, we we we got it.
You know, we got the support. Really. Oh, gosh, that's amazing. What do you think is the biggest learning you've had throughout this year and what twenty twenty has been.
Yeah, so much learning, I think I always used to say, like, we've even we have pins that secret in wall hangings and secret and like that was our our our secret was that we're just greedy. We're like a pretty company and always talk about resilience and grit being those being my superpowers, basically. And I don't think I knew what that was until this year at all. Like, I think I thought I knew what it was, but I had no idea what that really was.
And I think.
It sounds really elementary to say this, but the biggest learning that I've had is that you just have to get back up like you literally just have to get back up. I used to say that, but I didn't know what that meant in order to make it. That's the only thing that separates you from someone else, is that you're willing to get back up and try again. And whether that means you fail at the company, you start something else or whether it means that you just literally have to go back to eating ramen for a while or you have to work twenty two hours at a twenty four and not sleep at all. And you just have to get back up. And there's no other there's no other thing, there's no other thing that's going to nobody plans for a national pandemic. There's no way you can. And what I think this year taught all of us is that you can't always plan things. You are always going to be things out of your control, which every entrepreneur I know is like a type A personality where they, like one of you, have control of things. And it's really just being able to get back up.
And that's what we did this year and that's what we've done for the last 10 years. But this year it was it felt like daily being like daily. There'd be even right now, I'm not sleeping a whole lot because I'm so worried or to be shut down again here in California with all the hype every day, there's new restrictions. And unfortunately, our government doesn't see the value in giving notice to business owners. Unfortunately, and I'm even thinking later on I might go into politics, but I've been so disheartened by the way things have happened with us where we need to keep jobs. We can't kill the whole economy and we need to keep people healthy. And so there are better ways that we could have done this. But I'm worried all the time that when we shut down and I now have spreadsheets that show scenario one, scenario two, scenario three, if that happens. But then I also know. Something else is going to happen and I'm going to be like, we're going with scenario two and then it's going to be like no go scenario two that we're going to know now. We've got to go back to the drawing board and try it again. And so I think that's the learning this year, just just getting back up time and time again.
Relentless perseverance, it sounds like. Absolutely. Absolutely.
I'm conscious of time, but there's two other things I want to ask you. Before our six quick questions, I read a nifty thing about a thing you called the cash back strategy. And I just wanted to get you to tell us what that was and how it helped you, because it sounded really great. And I'm sure a lot of people could benefit from hearing about it.
Yes. So we are on a Capital One commercial here, even though it's and it's not know it's funny because it's not a lie. Like I am the biggest cash back freak there is.
I know every credit card in January, I use this credit card because up to fifty thousand dollars, you get five dollars back for one. And then once you pass that fifty thousand, I switch to this credit card.
But the one that has worked the best for me is just finding the highest cashback card you can, which here it is, Capital One Spark Small Business. It's an amazing credit card. And it's funny because I am not someone I didn't even have a credit card 30. I hate debt. I just my husband at the time, he was like, you need to get a cash back credit card. And it's like, oh, what? I can get like ten dollars that year. That was hilarious. This year we're probably getting back like six to seven hundred thousand dollars, I would say back in cash back. So yeah. So the strategy is you find the car that has the most cash back on everything, which is that once you get two percent on everything and you put everything through credit cards, now any CFO or accounting person listening is like the screaming at the top of their lungs because they love to be like, oh, you need to float, you need to do all this stuff. And I'm like floating. It's not going to get me six or seven hundred thousand dollars this year floating. I can postpone paying people. But what does that really do? Come on. It's like the interest of my make and waiting 30 days to pay is going to surpass six or seven hundred thousand dollars.
So you do the math yourself on that one. So I put everything through credit cards, everything, and then I save that money for a rainy day so either you can pay yourself with it. So I give that advice to people. It's also tax free and that will probably change in the next couple of years, especially as I've been about it. I'm sure the government's working on that right now, but they can't tax you on that as income. And so even if you I talked to a lot of entrepreneurs, especially ones that happen to be female, and there's like, how do you pay yourself? And I'm like, yeah, you can't you can't know how do you eat? Like, yeah, it's interesting. It's a dilemma. So this is a way that you can eat. So even if it's like twenty thousand dollars a year, that that's that's like essentially thirty to forty if you're paying taxes on it and you can pay yourself with that or you can, it is like saved my butt so many times and girls but so many times because you know, we'll have an unplanned expense which is my least favorite term ever.
But every year there's about a million dollars of expenses. Right. So and you're supposed to budget it and you do kind of.
But then you take from that bucket because it's not a real bucket where it's like sitting there, you know, so, you know, so there's always something that comes up like a tax audit where they've passed the new sales tax thing, but they haven't let any of the business owners know because according to them, you're supposed to tax accountants on your staff, which every small business I know has that right. So and they'll pass a new thing that's like, oh, you were supposed to charge sales tax on local deliveries if you if your bike couriers are actually employees.
But if they were independent contractors, you wouldn't have to.
So you owe us four hundred thousand dollars for that. And that would be enough to put us out of business if I didn't have that slush fund. And so put it away. Don't touch it. Don't use it for anything else. That is literally a bucket. And even a lot of times I'll leave it in there like I. The last time I passed it out last month, it was one hundred and. One hundred eighty five thousand, I think, sitting in there, so I leave it there because if you put it back in your account, you're going to spend it and leave it there and then use it for whatever unplanned expense comes up that's going to bail you out. And then if you don't, you can pay yourself with it. If you don't use it at the end of the year.
So you will probably end up using it. That was always going to make it to like November. I'm actually going to get a paycheck this year. And then I'm like, oh, no, there's a lawsuit. Well, OK, great. So but it's literally saved me every single year.
Gosh, that is such a great tip. I'm going to look into that from the love that for us. What advice do you have for women who have a big idea and want to launch their own business?
The biggest advice, I think, in the best advice is to just do it. So I spent 10 years with that idea notebook and well, I'm grateful for that 10 years of learning that I had the job I was at previously, that I was out for seven and a half years. I did learn a lot, especially about people, management and things like that. I also don't know if all the the things had lined up perfectly. I don't know if I ever would have started a company.
And so I think.
I heard something recently that I just thought was so profound, when people say that entrepreneurs are not scared of failing and that they're just a different breed because they're not like everybody else, that they're so scared of failing. And this person was saying, no, that's that's not actually the case. We're just more scared of regret. And I find that to be so true like I am. I feel every single day of things here, every single day. And I'm not scared of that at all. And when I even if I think about failure at all, it's never because I'm worried about how I'm going to feel about myself. It's always about the perception what other people don't think about me, which is just stupid anyway. But I'm really scared of regret and I'm really scared of being at that rocking chair moment. I like to call when I'm at 80 years old, sitting in my rocking chair on my front porch overlooking the ocean, hopefully. And I'm looking back at my life and I'm like, you know, we only have one life. At least that's my belief system. Lot of people think differently if we only have one life. Do I really want to waste it by not doing what I really want to do? And so I would just say, if you're thinking about starting a business, first of all, make sure it's viable. So I would say I would do a focus group or something like that.
Just give yourself a little bit of like just making sure it's not in your head is a great idea. I had many of those ironed pockets for your suits. I had all kinds of stuff that I thought was brilliant. But when I asked my friends are like, take it or leave it, you know, so maybe do a focus group or so with your friends, but then just do it.
Just do it. And don't be scared about sailing, because literally you're probably just scared about what people are going to think about you. And one of the other my biggest learnings that took me till I was 40 to figure out in life was that I need to care about people but not care about what they think of me. So don't become that jaded person that's like I hate people, they're horrible, which I sometimes can get like that when I get all the hate mail. But I care about them as people really don't give them any weight to what they think of you, because they're probably sitting there dissatisfied with their life, thinking, I wish I had gone for something more and I did. And so I'm going to project that onto you instead and then just do it. And if it fails, big deal. You'll learn a lot from it and you'll go do something else.
But just do it. Absolutely, for sure. I love that. All right, question number one, what's your why?
My wife is kind of what I just said, my wife is not wanting to regret not going for things in my life, and so I'm always going to be willing.
The hard things so that we later on, I'm not sitting there thinking, why didn't I?
Totally, absolutely. Question number two is what do you think's been the biggest marketing moment that made your business pop?
Whoo hoo! Good one. I don't know if I could say just one. The earliest one, though, was an article in The New York Times that really just so PR, I used to think was also fluffy and like I'm going to spend how much a month NPR. And it was it's still one of the best investments we make. We have an amazing PR team that I love dearly. I love them as people. They're amazing, amazing people. It's called Jennifer Beck Communications. If anyone is looking for one, they're great. And they've helped put us on the map in ways. There's just something about the credibility you get when people see you in print or when they see you on TV. And even my own parents, I think, didn't fully understand what I did.
I think they thought it was just a little flower shop. And then when they saw the second one, I would say would be the Capital One commercial, when people saw a commercial, they're like, oh, this is legit. It's not just a little flower shop, but I'm like, how many times I'm telling you that? But there's credibility in that.
And so I would say, don't underestimate the power of PR and to budget for it, it'll seem like what I'm going to spend starting at five thousand one, it seems like a ton of money and then 10 and then 20 million to spend that. But it's it's immeasurable, really, because you can't really tell how many people come from it. But it's a lot and it just lends credibility to your company totally.
Question number three is where do you hang out to get smarter? What are you reading, listening to where you subscribe to?
Yeah. So I wish I had a better answer for this last year. I used to listen to audiobooks constantly, like at least one every other week, sometimes one a week. I'm also at the commute. So many podcasts, but now that I'm home all the time are a lot of the time I don't nearly as much as I used to. And this year I literally have had zero minutes free at all. So I would say this year that the place I go to get smarter is my network of other entrepreneurs. I'm in a couple groups. I'm the one that has been really helpful is one called YPO Presence Organization. And being with other entrepreneurs that are facing the same things and having a network that I can call and be like this is going on like the way fair Bill, what the heck is that?
You know, like and how do we navigate this? And or we had a data breach years ago and things like that.
And so that's where I go to get smarter because there are people that have you know, there's people that I also just like gobsmacked and like in a fangirl way that are in these groups that I'm like, oh, my gosh, like that is so I can call them and be like, they're already at one hundred million or two hundred million or three hundred million. And where I'm going to hopefully. And so I can be what I can see then because I have them in my life. And so I would say that's where I go to get smarter. I also I read a lot of articles. That's the amount of time I have now instead of books. And so I read Starting Out, I will say, like being someone who didn't go to college. I read every business book I could get my hands on everything from. I found the lean startup to be amazing and figure out how to do it in a scrappy way and not being afraid to get a viable product out there.
You know, I literally read everything a hard thing about hard things, like everything that I could get my hands on. And so I highly recommend that. And then one thing that I listen to every pro, I listen to all of Rene Brown's books every year, again, at least once and sometimes twice for the ones that I like that I really, really need to hear. So I'm going through something hard. I pull out and I love her podcast, so I can't recommend Rene Brown enough. I definitely am her biggest fan. And what I'm having a hard time. I just listen to her audiobooks yet again. I should have the memorized by now and it helps me a lot.
Yeah, I need to listen to her audio book. I haven't had it yet. I'm going to get onto that after this episode. I love her question number four and I'm interested about this one. Given that you work one hundred and twenty hours a week, how do you win the day? What are you doing to keep happy, fulfilled, productive, motivated to keep showing up?
Yeah, I love that question. I used to not believe and I hate the word self care, it's like it's like nails on a chalkboard to me. And it's probably because I grew up on a farm in Indiana.
And so, like, self care was just it was also very much like an evangelical background where it was like you do things for other people. And so self care was is really hard for me. And I still will probably never use that word in a facetious way. But I do believe in and doing things for yourself and putting yourself caring about yourself, which is the same thing as self care.
But I just can't call it that. And it's also self care is usually used in a way where we're basically chastising or judging someone else for their choices. And so there was an article that came out about me last year. And of course, everybody wants click bait. And so the title was The CEO Only Sleeps Four Hours a Night. And the hate I got from that was huge. It was huge. Like, you should not be recommending this. And if they had read the article, I was saying, I love it when I get seven or eight hours of sleep, but I just can't right now. But I know that I'm healthier when I do sleep more. But right now I'm at a three to four hour because that's just what necessitate this year's necessity for me. And so, like, if you read it, I don't believe in that. But that's just how is how is that all that to say? The thing I did for myself right now is I work out and I have a pelletised and a reformer you can see behind me right now because I have no other place but my little one bedroom apartment. But I have found that I'm happier when I'm healthier. And that is something that I can do for myself even just 30 minutes a day that really makes me feel better. And then the other thing I do, which is not a super healthy habit, is I like shop.
So if I have truth being told, if it's so bad, the real real is an obsession of mine. And so and I love Julie Wainwright as well as a founder.
So I'm also like I'm supporting one of my idols and entrepreneur Idol. So but I don't need to support her that much by Mizo usually reward myself like, OK, you're going to finish the six hour project even if it's three o'clock in the morning, and then you're going to give yourself 20 minutes and X amount of dollars and you're going to buy whatever you want to reward yourself. So I rewarded myself way too much this year and need to, like, dial that back and work out for love that for the good for you.
I'm into that question. Number five is if you only had a thousand dollars left in your business bank account, where would you spend it?
So that has happened many times to me, where I've had less than a thousand dollars in my bank account and my answer would be I wouldn't spend it.
So the first thing I did when covid, when we found out about shutting down services was I turned off all the credit cards so nobody could use a credit card. I turn off all auto space on our bank account. I basically did everything I could to protect every dollar because that's what's going to get you to it. So you don't spend it. You do everything you possibly can to not spend that thousand dollars.
Great love, yes, clever. And last question, which I think we've also covered a little bit, but how do you deal with failure?
Yeah. I allow myself to wallow a bit if needed, I let myself cry in the shower when I need to, I go for walks on the beach a lot. I live at the beach. The beach is very therapeutic for me. And then I get over it. I give myself time to feel those feelings and to that day and March 16th that I will never forget exactly how I felt, where I was sitting, what I was wearing, and just the deep sense of grief that I felt just having furloughed one hundred ninety one people and not thinking that I was going to make it through it. And, you know, I just. Allowed myself to feel those things and didn't beat myself up for it because it's a very natural reaction. You're going to feel things when you fail. And that felt like a very acute failure to me. Not that I could have done anything about the pandemic, but I could have done things to set myself up better. And I felt a sense of failure to myself that I had just worked so hard for so long without paying myself. So now I'm a big proponent for people. Don't do that. Don't be the martyr. Don't be like figure out a way to pay yourself, get the credit card, cash back and pay yourself. So you're not sitting there thinking, wow, I would have made six times more money or eight times more personal revenue if I had stayed at Stanford University working a middle management job than what I just did in the last 10 years.
And so just let I let myself feel it and then I give myself an end date to like, OK, I'm going to give myself till midnight tonight and I'm going to go for a walk on the beach. I'm going to eat ice cream and I'm going to not spend a dollar because I need every dollar right now. But I'm going to do I'm going to let myself do that and then I'm going to get over it and I'm going to realize how lucky I am and how fortunate I am. And I'm blessed. I am in life to have a roof over my head and food to eat for now. And I really, really focus on gratitude. And that's the next step after grief is just really feeling like, oh, my gosh, even on my watch, I think the reason I love to walk on the ocean is like how many people go their whole lives without even seeing the ocean. And I get to see it every single day and I get to live here next to it like that. That's enough to make me feel really grateful. So then I just try to focus on all the things that I do have and the, you know, and then get over, get over it, move on says stuff I hear.
Well, I have so enjoyed this so, so, so much. Thank you so much for sharing so candidly and so much of the real side of your story.
I am so thankful and I'm really grateful that I got to meet you and hear it. Thank you so much.
Thank you so much. And I wasn't joking. You had some of the best questions I've ever been asked, and it just shows how in tune you are with this. And just thank you for having me. I'm really, really grateful.