In this episode of The Physical Product Movement, we’re joined by Heather Saffer, Founder at Dollop Gourmet to discuss her biggest challenges growing the brand, the benefits of appearing on Shark Tank and why Heather sold the business.
Ken: Welcome to the Physical Product Movement, a podcast by Fiddle, we share stories of the world’s most ambitious and exciting physical product brands to help you capitalize on the monumental change in how, why and where consumers buy. I’m your host, Ken Ojuka.
In this episode, I talked to Heather Saffer, Founder of Dollop Gourmet, a gourmet frosting brand sold in stores across the country. We talk about Heather transitioning from owning a bakery to creating a product that can be sold in retail outlets across the country. She explains how she came up with the idea for her company.
And how she used PR and prime time TV appearances to find success competing against industry giants. It’s a great episode with a lot of golden nuggets of wisdom from a wonderful founder. Who’s been in the trenches. I think you’ll find it interesting and insightful in many ways. All right. Hey Heather, how are you doing?
Heather:I’m great, Ken, how are you?
Ken: Hey, I’m doing pretty good. Uh, where are you calling in from? Where are you based?
Heather: I am in Oregon, about 40 minutes West of Portland.
Ken: Oh, cool. Cool. I love that area. Hey, uh, we’ve got a lot of content to cover, so, uh, I just wanted to just jump in, um, pretty quickly. Um, why don’t you just tell us a little bit about, about Heather and, you know, uh, just tell us a little bit about yourself.
Heather: Well a long story. Sure. I started a bakery years ago. I had never actually baked before, but I got it in my head that I would be a good business to start. And so I decided to teach myself how to bake. And I say that I went into the school of Google and YouTube, and that’s pretty much how I learned how to bake and, um, And I w and I went over there because I found out that I was actually good at it.
And. I was one of those people that I wasn’t good at anything. So, um, after failing at so many things and trying different hobbies and different careers and different jobs to find something that I was naturally good at, like baking, I thought I better run with us because I might never find something I’m good at again.
Uh, so I started a bakery. I had a lot of success. I won cupcake Wars on food network. I, you know, business was really good and I got a book deal to write a cookbook. Um, and these are really great. And then I decided that I wanted to get out of the. Bakery business, because quite frankly, I felt trapped. Um, when you have a retail shop, you have to be there all the time.
And if you’re not there, people get mad that you’re not there. So I would, I, you know, I, I had my employees and they. They didn’t want me to be there. Um, but my customers wanted me to be there and I would feel all these emails saying, where are you Heather? I brought my daughter. I drove an hour and a half.
She saw you on TV and I’m so mad. You weren’t there when we got there. And. I thought to myself, this wasn’t really what I had before organ for sitting in this box, waiting for people to come see me. Um, so that’s how I decided that I was going to move on from the bakery and create a product line. I thought. How hard could this be
Ken: famous last words, right?
Heather: Yeah. I thought I’m going to create a vegan natural frosting because one doesn’t exist and I make frosting all day for the cupcakes. Uh, I just put it in jars. Right? How hard could this be? And I discovered that it was much harder than I initially anticipated.
Ken: Okay. So was that the beginning of the developer dog gourmet? Is that, uh, when it officially started,
Heather: that that was when it officially started. That was when, um, the product line officially started. And there was a gap between closing the bakery and launching the product line into retail stores because of my mentality.
How hard could it be? I thought I’ll just. Close one and start the other and we’ll be off to the races and it didn’t actually happen that way. Um, it was a lot more difficult than I thought, and it was really hard to find a co-packer and that was kind of a really giant holdup that took almost a year and a half to find a co-packer.
Ken: Okay. So how long did you, did you run the bakery?
Heather: I ran the bakery for about three years.
Ken: Okay. And where was this?
Heather: This was in upstate New York. This was Rochester, New York.
Ken: Okay. And you must’ve been pretty young. How old were you when you, when you started that bakery?
Heather: Hm. I was about 25, 26.
Ken: Okay. Okay. Um, okay, so you run this for a couple years.
You decide you don’t like being stuck in a box. I really liked that description actually. Um, and, and I know a lot of people who feel that way. Um, and so, um, you come up with, with some recipes, I assume, you know, how did you develop the product? Tell us a little bit about that process.
Heather: It was, yeah, it was a long process.
Um, a lot longer than I thought it would be, which is kind of the theme here everything’s longer than you think it will be. Um, yeah. I thought, well, I make frosting every day, all day. I’ll just take this frosting and put it in a jar and it didn’t, it didn’t work out that way. I actually did that. And I, within a few weeks, I went to San Francisco and exhibited at the fancy food show.
Um, because this was, this was January at this time. And. I got a lot of really great feedback and a lot of great interest from retailers. Um, but one of the problems was that I didn’t have any shelf life testing. Um, so, and I was actually using butter at that time. Um, I hadn’t had the idea to make it vegan yet.
I was using butter at that time and I was like, this is it. This is going to have to be refrigerated. This just. This isn’t going to work. There’s not going to be any shelf life. I, I, um, this isn’t, this isn’t how it’s gonna sit on the shelf. It’s just not going to work. And so I went back to the drawing board and I said, you know what?
I think I want to make it vegan. I’m not going to use butter. And. Then I started playing around with different formulations and trying to convert my frosting that I was using at the bakery that everyone loved into a vegan shelf, stable frosting that could sit on the shelf for up to a year and still be good.
Ken: Okay. Understood. And so your idea was you were gonna, you were going to sell this through, through retail, um, and it needed to be, to have a better shelf life. Um, were there any other considerations about the products? Um, you know, you mentioned vegan, um, And I noticed that, that, you know, you also promoted as, as a, and I love this actually better for you, um, dessert company that produces vegan and gluten free, lower sugar frosting.
And so that’s kind of a mouthful. So, um, you kind of told us how you came up, came about, um, sort of with the vegan, uh, positioning, like gluten-free and then lower, lower sugar, uh, parts of that.
Heather: Yeah. So around this time I. I realized I learned that I was actually, I had celiac disease. And so I hadn’t known up until up til then.
I was, I was always sick when I was a kid. I was always going home with stomach aches and I. And my cupcakes that I was making had wi in them, they were regular cupcakes. And, but at this point, right, I’m 20 I’m, 26, 27, 28. And. I just assumed, I thought that everyone felt sick after they ate. Like I just I’m 28 years old.
I think that this is a normal thing by now. Like, I have always felt sick after eight. I think that everyone feels sick after they ate. I’d see people eating giant lunches and I think how could they possibly eat lunch like that and then go about their day. Like don’t, they feel horrible. Cause not everyone felt sick after they ate.
And after I closed the bakery and after I wrote my first cookbook, um, I started hearing more and more about gluten and celiac disease. And that’s when I discovered that that’s actually what I had. And so that’s why gluten free became important to me and creating the frost. Um, and lower sugar. My father’s things at the bakery were always lower sugar.
I always thought that frosting in general was too sweet. The frosting that people think of when people think that they don’t like frosting it’s because of taste just like. Sugar paste instead of, instead of a flavorful, um, frosting. And so my father things are always lower sugar just because I think that that’s how they taste better.
I think they should be more flavorful and it shouldn’t just taste like a spoonful of straight sugar. Um, so that’s how that became important and dropping it all into one package. It just became this. Better for you, vegan, gluten free, lower sugar, um, frosting. That that was a lot different than what existed, such as Pillsbury Duncan, Hines, Betty Crocker, like the traditional pre preservative filled frost.
Ken: Understood. Yeah. So, so you were having some, some shelf life issues, um, Did you, did you actually do like the research yourself to figure that out? And were you doing these mixes? Like, was this at home or did you have a partner at this at this time? Like a manufacturing partner?
Heather: I, I did not, I still didn’t have a manufacturing partner that took, like I said, like a year and a half to find someone who would do it.
Um, so I was coming up with these on my own, and I did use Cornell for shelf-life testing.
Ken: Okay. Cool. All right. So, so you’ve got some pretty powerful positioning. Um, did you, did you run with that, you know, in terms of, you know, vegan gluten-free, did you, did you run with that in your marketing and, you know, as you were promoting this or did you, did you try some other positioning, um, before, before you came to that?
Heather: No, I just, I immediately ran with that. Uh, I mean, it’s kind of funny though. Like when I would do. Um, when I would do sampling at retail stores, I, I played around with the messaging, um, to see what would get people’s attention the most to call them over to my table and get them to sample it. So while using that same messaging, I would play around with what I put the, um, importance on whether I lead with.
Try some lower sugar frosting or try vegan processing. I play around with it to see what, what got more people’s attention.
Ken: Okay. Got it. And what about flavors? How did you, how did you think about that? Um, did you just have one flavor at the time, or did you, did you launch with, uh, with a few different ones?
Heather: I launched with a few different ones. So you have to have chocolate and vanilla, right? So I had chocolate vanilla, and then I had a flavor that I called the fire bomb, which was a flavor that I did on that. I won cupcake Wars with. And that was pretty popular at my bakery. And then I did another flavor. I called peanut butter cookie dough, which again was a flavor I, one cupcake was with an, which is popular at the bakery.
Um, so that’s what I started with. That’s not what. Is available now. And there’s, I mean, there’s still chocolate vanilla, but I, I learned over time that although the firebomb was incredible and there was a group of people that absolutely loved it. It was a. More unusual flavor. That was more of an acquired taste because it was a spicy sweet frosting.
And so, I mean, it was good. It was like fireball, the whiskey and a frosting. It was it’s, it’s a really, really good, um, And it pairs really well with strawberries and, um, red velvet, but it’s not as fun everyday for us to hang. Um, so I, I learned quickly that I was probably going to have to retire that one because there just wasn’t getting the amount of sales.
Right. It’s one of those flavors that is, it has, it’s a loyal. Fans, but there’s just not enough of them.
Ken: Right. Right. So, as you’re, as you’re thinking about this business, and you know, you’re thinking about your, your frosting, uh, who is your target market? Like who are you thinking about? That’s on the other side of that purchase,
Heather: the target market was, um, People that like to bake at home.
Uh, and I always try to also tailor it to, I, I don’t, I mean, honestly these days I don’t really bake at all, but I still love frosting. So I, and I, even, when I had the bakery, I’d be more inclined to. The pretzels and the frosting and, and like banana chips in the frosting then actually eat a cupcake. So I tried to tailor it to people that loved dessert, loved frosting and wanted something, um, something delicious, but better for you without all of the junk in it that they could eat as a snack or dessert.
Um, so that. That category of people on then, and then people who bake at home pretty much.
Ken: Okay. And then, so you’ve, you’ve got your product and, um, you’re, you’re getting some sales. Um, how much of the business, um, was consumer, you know, um, direct to consumer versus wholesale and, uh, did you set up the website right away?
Heather: No, I didn’t set up the e-commerce website until, um, Until I got on shark tank, really? So I was doing solely wholesale. Um, the first customer that we had was Wegmans. So we got into immediately got into all Wegman’s locations. Uh, so that was where we were doing most of the selling before shark tank
Ken: Well, how did you get into Wegmans?
Heather: Um, I, I called someone who knew someone who knew someone and I got myself a meeting with the buyer and I went and I sat down with her and I brought my samples of frosting. This is before we even did any production runs because I had decided that I was not. Willing to do to dump the money into a production run without having that product sold first.
So I sat down with her and I said, you know, I told my story, I, I sold it to her and said, Look, if you’re interested, which you should be, um, you can be the first and we will do this production run. If you tell me how many cases you’d like to order. And that’s, that’s pretty much how it went down. I wasn’t, I wasn’t willing to just store product in a warehouse and then try to sell it. I wanted to have the sell before I did the production.
Ken: Okay. And for those who aren’t familiar, how, how, um, how big is Wegmans and, uh, where w where are they primarily located? Do you know?
Heather: Wegmans is as it’s constantly one of the top supermarkets in the country, because they have excellent stores and excellent customer service.
It’s mainly in the North. East, they do grow every year. Um, so they’re traveling a bit more down South, but it’s, it’s only on the East coast, uh, New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Massachusetts North Carolina now I think, um, and they have about a hundred, a little over a hundred locations.
Ken: And so they, they immediately put you in, in all their locations. So they didn’t just test you out on in one store or anything like that.
Heather: No, it’s shocking. Isn’t it
shocking they immediately put me into all of the locations. Yes.
Ken: Oh, that’s, that’s pretty incredible that must’ve been some sales pitch.
Heather: I am a pretty good salesperson. I think it wasn’t, it wasn’t excellent sales pitch. It’s also, I mean, a lot of it sometimes just come down to the buyer. If you are, if you’re able to connect with the buyer, they’re the gatekeeper.
And so. Um, they, they hold your future in their hands, really? So you have to connect with that buyer.
Ken: That’s true. That’s true. You have to get to them first and it sounds like that wasn’t a direct connection. You had to go through several, several people. Um, but then once you’re in front of them, yes, you have to definitely connect to them and sell your products.
Um, so, um, I, you know, the question that that’s actually in my mind is how much of, of, you know, your success with cupcake Wars and some of, you know, the media attention that you’d already gotten. How much of that do you think, um, made a difference in your ability to get into Wegmans
Heather: a lot? I think, I think I’ve, I’ve always thought of my journey as a ladder and, um, And, and kind of knowing what I wanted.
What the, you know, what was going to be at the top of the ladder and then taking each step to get there, leveraging each step off of the step before it, so cupcake was first of all, opening a bakery because you know, having a presence and then. Winning cupcake Wars. I knew I went into that, like knowing I need to win.
There are no other options I’m going to win and that’s just, it I’m going to win. And knowing that I needed that to get to the next step, I want a book deal. Well, I need to win cupcake Wars to get a book deal, and then using that, okay, I’ve got a book deal. I want to create this product line. I needed to get into a major store and, and just using all of those pieces to build on top of each other and kind of just snowball itself, um, into getting more and more attention and traction.
So I think it was. I think that if I was just, you know, had this idea for a product and I hadn’t had any media exposure, any attention or any success behind me, I think it would have been really difficult. I don’t think they would have put me into all of Wegmans stores or even any maybe.
Ken: I understand. And in fact, Heather, that’s, that’s one of the things that I was excited to talk to you about, you know, it’s pretty clear to me that you’ve got a knack for promoting your products, using PR and media, um, and you know, um, Getting on, on prime time television.
Um, so, you know, we’ve talked a little bit about cupcake Wars. I want to go into a little bit more detail there, but, um, he also got on shark tank you’re on QVC. You’ve had some book deals. Um, so why don’t we just hear, you know, just a, a quick story about how you were able to do each of those? Um, it sounds like cupcake Wars was, was first, right. Is that, was that your first sort of big media exposure?
Heather: Yeah, that was the first national media exposure.
Ken: Okay. So how were you even able to get on that and, and, um, you know, how do you think it benefited your, your business?
Heather: Uh, so I, I auditioned pretty much right after I opened my bakery. Um, I filmed an audition video.
And I got an email a couple months later saying the production company is saying they were going to pass and they weren’t going to have me on the show. So I had to wait another year. And, um, and I, I decided I was going to try again. So I filmed another audition video making it better than the one the year prior.
And I got a call from the production company saying that they were going to have me be on the show. Um, So that was, that was a big deal. I mean, it was, so it was frankly, it was just, uh, auditioning and, you know, I didn’t make it the first time. And then learning from that and asking the producer the next year, like, well, what are you looking for?
And watching other audition videos and seeing who they’ve invited to be on the show. And piecing it all together to film a better audition video that I think would get me on the show. Um, so it was just a lot of like research and learning thing. And that’s what got me on the show. Now. I, I believe that when I was on the show out of the people that I competed against, I believe that I was the only one there with the attitude that I am going to win.
And I don’t think that I, I think winning was a big deal. Like just getting on a show is good, but I don’t know that I would have had the same level of success at the bakery or getting the book dealer or any of that if I hadn’t won.
Ken: I see. So have you kind of always been competitive like that?
Heather: I don’t think so. Um, I mean, like I said before, I was never really good at anything. So it’s hard to be competitive when you’re not really good at anything. Right. You don’t even, you don’t even stand to stand a chance to, to compete if you’re not good at anything. So I don’t, I don’t think a lot of it stemmed from I found something that I was good at and I was afraid that I would never find something I was good at again.
And so I put all my eggs into this basket and I, and I wasn’t going to let the basket go no matter what
Ken: I understand. So it sounds like, um, you, uh, you got a little bit of feedback you’ve figured out how to make your video better. Are there any tips that you can maybe share with us about, you know, maybe some of the things that you did to actually make the video better? What did you change?
Heather: I, I, I actually found someone who. Is the videographer. First of all, I put together a plan instead of just kind of winging it and talking to the camera and I put together, I mean, it was a silly video. It was really, it was me, um, in a wedding dress. I bought a wedding dress from a friend and I, my brother made.
Me a giant cupcake costume mascot for my business. And I married my business. I’m married. The past has, um, so it was pretty funny, but as far as tips, I mean, it, it, it depends on the show, right? Every show is looking for something different. So you, you really have to, um, just do the research. On the show. And there were other audition videos out there that I could see on YouTube from people who’ve auditioned for the show.
Also the production company sent me examples and in a couple of the examples, the contestants were swearing in the audition video, and these were people they pay. So I thought, um, okay, I’m going to swear in my audition video, they seem to like that. Um, when my customers saw it, they, they tore me apart.
They hated it. How could she, how could she swear in her video? And this is who you want to buy cupcakes from? And I thought, well, I, you know, I did it strategically. Um, so, but it really depends. It depends on the show, right? Every show is looking for something different. So you have to know what the show is looking for.
Ken: Okay. I think that’s a pretty good segue into, um, into shark tank. Um, and, um, I found a, actually a blog post that you wrote back then, and I just wanted to read it real quick. Um, it says that, um, you said I I’m extremely excited. It took a lot of work, patience and belief in myself to get here. There were so many times that I didn’t think I’d ever see this day come, even though deep down inside, I truly did believe that I would.
I know that not everyone understands how hard it is to get on a super popular show on prime time television. So let me show you the numbers. This season 40,000 people applied to be on shark tank out of those 40,000 people. 180 of them pitched and filmed in front of the sharks out of those 180, who filmed 116 of them.
Get on air. So for 40,000 to 116. And so, yeah, I think that’s a little bit of an understatement, but it’s that, it’s hard to make that cut. Um, why don’t you tell us just a little bit about that experience and, and how you were able to pull it off.
Heather: Yeah, that’s thank you for reading that. And, and reminding me, it’s always nice.
That was a reminder of your own work things you might forget. Right? Um, I, it’s always funny when someone asks me, so I’m thinking of getting, going on shark tank. Do you, can you talk to me, give me any tips and I, I always say no, like I, um, No, I can’t talk to you and give you any tips. Just try to apply.
Like, if you can gain, if you. You know, can get on, then maybe I’ll talk to you and give you some tips, but I don’t know what you’re thinking about. Like it’s not easy to get on. There’s nothing to think about. You just apply and see if they actually want you. Um, so it’s, I mean, it was, it was a very long process.
I think I applied a couple of different times and I never heard anything back. And then. And then I applied and I got a response back and they asked me to make a video. And, um, and so I made a video and it was a lot of back and forth making of other videos and, um, talking to them, doing interviews, making more videos, doing more interviews.
And it’s, it was. A different process from cupcake Wars because of the process with shark tank was you never know the whole process if you’re going to actually get on the show. Um, so even, you know, there was, there was one point where they usually film in June and September, I think. And, and I was supposed to film in June and I was waiting for a call.
They were gonna fly me out within the next week. And I was. Waiting to hear from them. And I remember I was driving in my car and the producer called me and I thought she was calling to tell me when my flight would be. And she actually called, and she said, Heather, so I’m sorry. But at the last minute, we’ve decided not to move forward with you.
I know we were going to fly you out next week, but we’re not going to fly you out, but stay in touch. And maybe we’ll try again for September. And I was just crushed. Like I had been through a long process. I was just crushed. I really thought I was gonna, I thought I was going out to LA the following week.
So to hear that I wasn’t was just shocking to me. Um, so that was the difference with shark tank. Is you just, and even when they, you know, even when I got. Able to be on the show. They call me for September and flew me out. They find out more people than they are going to film. So, and then they filmed more people than they’re going to air.
Ken: So you still don’t know, even if you make it to LA, you still don’t know.
Heather: Right. There was, um, there was a guy that was there filming the same time I was, and they filmed for three days and they filmed us a number of people per day until they run out of time. And. Um, and they have a list of who, of the order of people in there filming in.
And I was just annoying. Like I can, if I want something I can be annoying. Um, and I, I just had this feeling that I was. At the bottom of the list. And so I kept asking the producer, where, where am I on the list? And where am I on the list? She was like, Oh, don’t worry about it. You’re, you’re fine. Don’t worry about it.
And I was like, well just where am I on the list? And she said, don’t worry about it. Just keep preparing, go to your room, just relax. And then I went into hair and makeup and I, and I looked over on the. The dressing table. And I saw that my hairstylist had the list and I peek over at it and I’m looking for my name.
And I’m like, Oh crap. I’m I think I see my name on the bottom of the list. I asked the hairstylist, I say, is that the list? She says, Oh yeah. I said, am I at the bottom? She said, Oh, I’m not. I’m not supposed to tell you. I’m like, I know. I know, but just. Can I’m like freaking out here. Can you just tell me, am I at the bottom?
She’s like, really? I’m not supposed to tell you. I’m like, I know, I know, but I’m, I’m having so much anxiety. Like I just need to know. And she’s like, yes, you’re at the bottom. And I’m like, Oh gosh, I’m the last one on the list. So I, I call my producer over and I say, I’m like, you gotta do something. And like, I know I’m at the bottom of the list.
And she’s like, how do you know? I’m like, I know, I just know. And she’s like, well, how do you know? And I’m like, well, I just don’t worry about it. I just know I found out I saw the last I’m like, you have to move me up. And I just badgered her for like the next couple hours. Um, and then eventually it was, it was the end of the third day.
It was just before seven o’clock at night. And my producer comes in and she’s like, okay. And calls me to go. That’s awesome. So I go to Phil, like I don’t like the whole thing. I go on the carpet. I pitched the whole thing. Very exciting. And I find out later that the guy that was in my spot, cause I was in his spot.
They sent him home. They ran out of time. I was the last person to pet. So I it’s it’s, I mean, it’s amazing that like, even you’re, you’re sitting out there for three days, you think you’re gonna pitch and you go home and it’s also just a lesson that you really have to advocate for yourself. Um, Um, on these shows and in general, I mean, similar thing happened on cupcake Wars and a similar thing happened on a game show.
I was on about a year ago. Um, you really have to advocate for yourself if you want it.
Ken: I think that’s a great lesson. So the show, obviously it went pretty well. You were able to get a deal with, with Barbara. Um, what, what effect did shark tank have on your business?
Heather: It was, I mean, it was big. It was definitely, especially for e-commerce, which I had just launched like a week prior to shark tank airing.
Um, got a ton of orders, really flooded with orders. Um, and then it led to a Forbes article that I was profiled in that made it on the main page of Yahoo. And I got. Just as many orders from that as I got from shark tank. So I was again, flooded with orders. Um, so it was, it was really big for media exposure.
Again, it was another rung on that ladder that I could use to leverage other goals that I wanted. Um, so it was, I have, I mean, I have zero regrets. It was really, it was really, it really is big for business. I mean, it’s not, but I will say it’s not a miracle. It’s not a miracle care. Like it’s not starting is not going to make you wealthy.
It’s made some people wealthy, but generally, most people it’s not gonna make you wealthy. You still have to run your business. You still have to grow your business. You still have to hustle. You still have to do all of the business things, um, as just a little boost.
Ken: I see. Yeah, it’s not going to suddenly turn a bad business into a good business.
Um, but it will, it will give you a boost and get you some sales, get you some exposure. Um, and, um, were you able to leverage that? Is that how, um, uh, QVC came about, uh, through Barbara.
Heather: It didn’t come about through Barbara. Um, it didn’t come about through anyone on shark tank. I had actually, I got accepted into an accelerator program after that.
And, um, Shark tank does kind of CA or not charging QVC came about just through, just through networking. I was just kind of reaching out to people. Um, and I had met with a QVC broker and, uh, through her, I was able to pitch to QVC and get accepted.
Ken: Okay. And then what kind of impact did QVC have on your business?
Heather: Um, QVC, uh, it was good for sales. It was good for exposure. Um, it was, it was good storytelling. I did not go back on again, so I, I wouldn’t say that it was okay. Huge for actually growing the business. Um, and I think that’s just because of the product that I have. Um, so I wouldn’t, you know, anyone listening, I wouldn’t take that as gospel.
I do know people that they get a lot of their business they do is through QVC. It really is dependent on your product. Um, if you have a product that fits well with the QVC. Demographic. I know people that they’re on QVC every month and they, most of their businesses through QVC. So, um, that’s just dependent on your product.
Ken: And so was it, uh, at about this time that, uh, that you decided to, um, to write a, write a couple books and get, and you got your book deal, sir. When did that happen?
Heather: I got my first book deal after cupcake Wars. Um, and then my second book deal, I got, yes, it was after shark tank. It was before QVC.
Ken: Okay. And they just reached out to you or how did that go?
How did that happen?
Heather: No, my friend, no one has ever just reached out.
Ken: I’m sensing a pattern here. I’m sensing a pattern.
Heather: Yeah, no one has ever just reached out to me. No, I had a, I had an, I had a literary agent from writing my first book and through my literary agent. Which again had not just reached out to me.
Um, the real him, I decided I wanted another book deal. And so I kind of worked with him to come up with some different. Uh, book ideas, but I wrote three or four book proposals for different ideas that he pitched to publishers before he was able to sell my second book deal. So, um, so there was, there is a lot of behind the scenes work involved in that as well.
Ken: Yeah. Yeah. I’d imagine. Um, all right. Well, I, I know that we’re getting close on time. I did want to hear a little bit about, um, the sale of your company, how, how that happened and, um, you know, and, and how that experience was for you
Heather: Yeah. Um, so did someone reach out to me? Uh, no, I, I ha I decided that I had had enough, um, but I had been growing this brand for.
Um, almost 10 years and I was ready to let it go and move on to do something else and that I wanted to sell the business. So I, um, reached out to a couple people that I knew, and I was actually talking with a couple of people, one guy in particular for almost a year who was going to buy the business and.
We went through our attorneys and wrote up the contract and we’re negotiating. And it came to signing on the dotted line. And that very day he was supposed to sign on the dotted line. He instead emailed me and said that he was backing out. So it was a very, it was a year down the drain. Um, and it was. It was, it was pretty crushing.
I had to take a moment to compose myself and get back on the train of looking for, um, a buyer. And I just, I actually put it out there publicly, like I’m looking to sell, um, and a company that was in Canada, um, reached out to me and said they had been. Following my story for several years and, um, they were interested.
And so it didn’t take quite a year. It took about six months though to, to finally negotiate and all the terms and then sign the contract and then it was sold.
Ken: Very nice. So you often hear that, uh, you know, people feel a sense of loss or sadness after sale. Did you experience any of that or, or were you, were you pretty happy to, to, to sell your company?
Heather: I didn’t feel a loss of sadness or loss or Zenas. I did feel a bit of an identity crisis though. Um, because when you’re building a business for that long and you, you kind of, you become your business. And everyone perceives you as this business. And so to not have that business anymore was a bit of a, who am I? What do I do? Um, so at, and w. It was unexpected. Like, I feel like no one told me that that’s how I would feel after.
Ken: Right. Right. Okay. Well, let’s, uh, let’s just jump into the quickfire round. I’ve just got four quick questions, uh, for you. Um, number one, um, the name one tool or resource that you rely on to run on your run, your business.
Heather: Uh, I guess Shopify.
Ken: And what is one book that has helped you the most in your product journey?
Heather: In my product journey.
Ken: Yeah. Yeah. And this whole journey. Are there any books that, uh, that helped you out?
Heather: Oh gosh. Um, I read mostly fiction.
Ken: What’s what’s a, what’s a favorite of yours.
Heather: Uh, a favorite a book I read recently is called the Nene gal by Kristin Hannah.
And it’s about the war, um, in the Holocaust that has nothing to do with this.
Ken: Well, that’s, that’s great. Um, let’s go on to the, to the next one. Uh, what is one piece of advice that you would give your 21 year old self?
Heather: My 21 year old self, I would. Say, um, don’t, don’t worry so much and keep doing what you’re doing. Cause you’re having fun and eventually you have to grow up.
Ken: That’s great advice. And, um, who is one person in the world that you would love to take to lunch?
Heather: Uh, Oh my grandma, she passed a few years ago and I just really miss her and I love to take her to lunch.
Ken: Uh, I love that answer. All right. So as we wrap up here, you know, um, I just like to ask you if there’s any advice that you’d give to people who are kind of grinding it out right now in the, in the world of, you know, creating a physical product and.
Getting it out to people, you know what, what’s a piece of advice that you could offer them.
Heather: My advice would be that you have to really believe in what you’re doing and craft your stories. Um, get really good at storytelling and. Advocate for yourself. You, you have to be your number one fan and you just have to mean Nala. Any nose bother you, or if they do bother you get over it really fast.
Ken: Yep. You get to the next no, keep out there. Yeah. I love that advice. Um, is there anything that you want to plug or promote?
Heather: Um, I do some consulting coaching for desserts, um, entrepreneurs, and that information can be email@example.com.
And I also have a passion project non-profits, um, to raise money for animal rescues that I create artwork and put it on t-shirts and mugs. And, um, and I just want to. Raise money for animal rescue. So if you like some original artwork and raising money for animals that can be firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ken: Okay. Awesome. And, um, you know, it’s been, it’s been an awesome interview. I think there’s some just amazing gold nuggets, uh, in this, in this interview. Um, I just want to thank you for, for taking the time today and sharing your story and, um, I wish you the best of luck and everything. Appreciate it.
Heather: Thank you, Ken. You’ve been great. I appreciate it. Ken: Physical Product Movement podcast is brought to you by Fiddle. To find out more about Fiddle and how our industry leading inventory ops platform is giving modern brands and manufacturers full visibility into their inventory and operations. Visit fiddle.io, and then make sure to search for Physical Product Movement in Apple podcasts, Spotify, Google podcasts, or anywhere else, podcasts are found. Make sure to click subscribe. So you don’t miss any future episodes on behalf of the team here at Fiddle. Thanks for listening.