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How this Founder disrupted the non-alcoholic beverage industry from her living room, with DRY’s Sharelle Klaus

by Female Startup Club
March 11th 2021

Joining me on today’s episode is Sharelle Klaus, Founder of DRY Soda Company. 

DRY Soda Company creates a line of beautifully flavored, lightly sweet non-alcoholic beverages made with just a ... More

doing here, we're in month two of being part of the hubspot podcast network and I wanted to take a second to shout out another incredible women lead podcast, being boss with Emily Thompson, if you're a creative business owner or thinking about becoming one. Being boss is an exploration of not only what it means, but what it takes to be a creative business owner, freelancer or side hustler, I loved Emily's episode on taking time off as a business owner, it's definitely a really challenging part of running your own business and I recommend giving it a listen, check out being boss wherever you get your podcasts. This is Cheryl Klaus for female startup club hey everyone and welcome back to another episode of the female startup club podcast, I'm your host, Dune rasheen and joining me on today's episode is Cheryl Klaus, founder of the dry soda company dry soda company creates a line of beautifully flavored, lightly sweet non alcoholic beverages made with just a handful of ingredients called dry bubbly Founded in Seattle in 2005 by mother of four.

Cheryl Klaus. Dry botanical bubbly was created to be an exciting, refreshing and sophisticated beverage that tastes great, looks perfect in a party setting and feels as elegant as a cocktail or a glass of wine, so everyone even those who aren't drinking can enjoy the party and feel celebrated in this episode. You'll hear Cheryl's story of creating this company at home as a single mom of four, her biggest drivers for growth right now and what she attributes her success to and if you know someone who would benefit from hearing this episode, please do share it with them and empower the women in your network who are starting and scaling businesses. This is Cheryl for female set up club. It's safe to say that most of us have been doing more online shopping lately, right? And if you're an e commerce brand that means you might be seeing more first time customers, but once they've made that first purchase, how do you keep them coming back? How do you keep them connected to you and your brand? That's what Clay vo is for.

Clay vo is the ultimate marketing platform for e commerce brands. Clay vo gives you the tools to build your contact list, send memorable emails, automate key messages and so much more. That's why it's trusted by more than 40,000 brands, including female founded businesses like Pearl mix hint and Campari Beauty. Get in on the action to delight customers, grow brand affinity and make some serious money. Clay Vo customers made $10.2 billion dollars through the platform last year. So whether you're launching a new online business or taking your brand to the next level, Clay vo can help you get growing faster and I can confirm the platform is super easy to use and has all the hard stuff done for you like templates, automated sequences and general email related resources to learn how to win at email marketing plus it's free to get started. Just visit clay vo dot com slash F S. C. To create your free account today. That's K L A V I Y O dot com slash F.

S. C. Female startup calm presence. Cheryl. Hi, hello and welcome to the female startup club podcast. Thank you. Good morning. I'm happy to be here. I'm so happy. I know I've dragged you out of bed really early at seven a.m. For Cheryl, which is definitely not what you'd see me doing at seven in the morning. No problem. I'm super excited to be here. Me too to set the scene. Can you tell us who you are and what your business actually is? Of course. So my name is Cheryl and I guess I already told you that I'm a mother of four, so I have four kids ages from 17 to 24 and 16 years ago. I started a company called the dry soda company. And the idea for that company was, it's a beverage company is I wasn't able to drink alcohol because I had all those kids and I kept getting pregnant and between the nursing and pregnancies, There was like 10 years where I didn't drink alcohol and I just felt really left out of this situation like I'm a total foodie.

I love pairing wine and food, but I just felt disconnected like you go to a bar or a party and it was like the only thing they offer you to drink with water or coke and I'm like, this is crazy. There's a lot of reasons people don't drink alcohol, why is alcohol at the center of every celebration and every event and every dinner you go to, why can't you have something that would pair with food and still be really elevated? So that's what I created with dry soda company. And I started out creating these four beautiful flavors, lavender, lemongrass come quite a rhubarb, which are really unusual. But I created them because I wanted to, I wanted them to build a pair with food. So it was this whole idea of beautiful non alcoholic beverage would serve in a white tablecloth restaurant and I wanted to change the way people thought about drinking. So that was my crazy mission with four kids under the age of seven in my, I mean, wow, if that's not superwoman, I don't know what it is, that's crazy. What's even more crazy to me is that you've started this brand in 2005 and it seems like you were just so ahead of this trend because you know, if you look at the landscape today, this is a booming category, there are so many brands, putting options on the market now for people in that situation or who are looking for an alternative to alcoholic drinks.

What have you seen that's changed. So I almost get teary when you talk about stuff like that because for me, I was way ahead of the game right? Like I had this concept in this idea and somewhat arrogantly I will say arrogantly naively I thought I'm going to change the way people think about drinking. I want to make alcohol not the center of every celebration would create this whole new category of beverage. But arrogantly and naively. I thought one brand could do that but I can assure you one brand cannot create a new category. I mean maybe GT's kombucha help do that. But that rarely happens right where one brand can create a whole new category. So now it's just been in the last couple years and I know in the U. K. It was before that U. K. Is way ahead of the game in this situation. But the US is catching up quickly. There's all these non optical experience and it's it has been so so exciting and for me it's not even a trend. It's like a cultural shift. Like I believe that this is kind of the new tobacco in the sense that people are very aware of their mental health, their physical health and alcohol's role in that.

And that the role of alcohol should not necessarily be a part of everything we do and I'm not anti alcohol. I do drink. I just don't drink very much and it's just so exciting to see these options because for me it is truly around how do you make zero proof a viable lifestyle because everyone I talk to my own experiences as you felt like just the spotlight was on your head, why aren't you drinking? Why don't you drink? What's wrong? You know, are you an alcoholic? Like what? Like, and I'm not, it's like, even if I was whatever, but it's just like we just have to make it a viable lifestyle for everybody because why does alcohol to be at the center of everything? Like it just shouldn't have to be, that doesn't have to be an option. So anyway, it's been so exciting to see this and I have no doubt it's a cultural shift and I think it'll surprise gen Z or the younger generation that alcohol was just everywhere because I think that's going to change like tobacco, it maybe not to that extent, but to some degree. So, and I think that from what I've seen online, the younger generation aren't drinking as much, you know, it's not what they're doing these days.

Um they're super health conscious. They're aware of the effects, they're seeing what's happening to, you know, their parents, people around them, celebrities. It's really interesting and amazing. Yeah. And I think one of the things I credit, I have some young people in my team, obviously the youngsters icon and I'm like, it's actually your generation, the gen Z and millennials who are making like, they talk about mental health in a way that we never talked about and I actually think now through Covid to everybody is talking about mental health because we have all been affected like it's almost impossible not to talk about mental health at this point. And even drinking fatigue of what's happened through Covid that I think everything has just escalated even that much quicker to be fair. There's also other things for gen Z's to do. You know, marijuana is legal here in the U. S. Now, psychedelics is starting to become a thing again. So I think there's other things, but I still think it's a mental health and how does alcohol fit into your life?

So yeah, it's just not that it's not cool anymore. Like back in our day we had paris Hilton Lindsay Lohan getting super drunk, that's just not cool anymore goodness. I want to go back, Okay, let's rewind to 2005. You've kind of had this shift in thinking you've come up with a light bulb, idea what happens now, do you start formulating in your kitchen, what's the process to starting this company? Just kind of paint a picture. So I get when I get focused I have a. D. D. So when I get really focused, I get super focused on something, but I did have these four kids from age 1 to 7 And I was actually homeschooling my daughters that were six and 7 at the time and I was just like, okay girls, I'm going to teach you how to start a business and I just became obsessed about what this idea was like I knew I had something like I was really clear on that but I'm still a mom. So like during my daughter's piano lessons I'm taking notes on slavery ideas, I actually still have a piece of paper just funny. Um and I started experimenting in my kitchen that wasn't going super well and so I just started reaching out to any sort of connections I had and I ended up having a connection to a food scientist through my ex husband, his job, talk to him, he told me this is how you do, it gave me some introductions to flavor and you just get focused, you start learning, I started reading about how different people's stories and beverage and it was very discouraging to say the least and I just reached out to anybody and everyone I could talk to.

The problem was for me all my contacts were in high tech as I had been in high tech but I knew a lot of female entrepreneurs in high tech but you just who do you know who do you know who do you know? And I just did a ton of that ended up creating the product in six months. So that was in January of 2005, July of 2005. I took it out to its first restaurants and there's a lot that went in between that right just the flavor creation was really challenging especially for my A. D. D. Brain and having four young kids but I got it out there and started going to restaurants like you know, actually what I did is I hired a pr firm, I didn't have very much money, so I used a home equity line of credit and the money I spent was on a design firm to design the packaging, but I convinced them to do it for like almost no money but I would give them credit for it. Like I was trying to get very creative on how to get this done with almost no money and then I also realized I really should get a pr firm because how are people going to know about this beverage. So it was, I'm sort of skipping around here but it was all of this stuff I did in six months and I look back on that now and I can't believe how much got done, you're finding a co packer, you're just doing all these different things.

It's really just you. But it's also kind of the most exciting time to, because anything's possible. And again, kind of before we started recording, we talked about serendipity and how you, if you have a vision and you're putting it out there, I think things just kind of keep coming to you and that's really what happened and so I launched it and I literally went around from restaurant to restaurant, got it sold in. I donated some product for an event? Just all these things happened? I got my first grocery stores. I got pressed and it kind of went from there. What was the response when you were knocking on restaurant doors and going into these grocery stores for a category that didn't really exist at the time? What was the kind of feedback that you were getting? Was it overwhelmingly positive or was it quite mixed? It was overwhelmingly positive. So I would go into chef owned restaurants for some reason did that. I don't know if that was just, it was just all the top restaurants in Seattle because for me it was this white tablecloth situation and at first I was like, oh, just for the first year, this is going to be in restaurants because I want everyone to experience in a champagne flute, like to get that whole concept before you can buy in a grocery store.

But that was naive because restaurants, the sales are just a lot smaller than in a grocery store. I learned that. But when I would go to speak with chefs, they were all like, this is brilliant because they understood I'm like, here's something that compare with your food, even when a customer can't drink wine. Now, interestingly, the small years, if I would get an appointment with small, yes, I would be impossible to get one. You're like, I'm not going to talk to a soda sales person and I'm like, listen, it's your job is to pair food with beverage. Am I correct? Yes. So then what are you pairing for your customers that don't drink? And that's when the lightbulb went off and I'm like, just taste this and you will see. And sure enough, you taste it. They're like, oh because we varied the acidity levels. We had culinary style flavors, they paired with different kinds of things. I went into the Seattle's top 30 restaurants and every single one said yes. Now it took me, you know, because by the time you got the yes right away. But then it was like how you get it in there to take, you know, that took some pushing. I knew I was onto something. And then my first retail store came to me and it was a big retail chain here called Qfc and it was like, they came to me but I then had to go sell it into each store.

But that's another story that's me driving around from store to store, putting my product on shelves. Oh my gosh, I love that early hustle wow! And what year are we talking now? 2005. So it was six months when I launched it. And then yeah, by the end of 2000 and five, I was in grocery stores here in Seattle and in restaurants as well and I believe I had found a distributor by then too. So I start selling this thing in but I'm like, I was so dumb, I can't even begin to tell you, I was like, oh make the product, go sell it. And I'm like, oh wait, how do you get the product to them? Which ironically is the biggest challenge in beverages getting products from A to B. So talking to the guy that the co packer who bottled the product for me goes, oh I can deliver it for you, thank God, he goes, but you're going to need to get a distributor because I can't do this for a short time. And I was like okay, wow! So I had to find a distributor which also was not easy And it's really funny. I do have a funny story around how twice in the 1st 18 months I had people call me a relentless bitch human, oh my God, you have to be really relentless, especially trying with distributors when you start a company, you have to be relentless and have to know that you are going to hit every obstacle in the world and if that's going to stop you, then you probably shouldn't do this.

Lots of rejection, Lots of notes. Yeah, well, and I heard it the other day from Elon musk but somebody, I texted him and said, do you have any encouraging words for any entrepreneur, if you need encouraging entrepreneur. And I was like about Amen. Yeah, yeah, I saw that tweet and I was like, that's so good, so funny, you said that you were in high tech before, do you think then that kind of work to your advantage, not having in depth knowledge of how this industry works and how to create a beverage brand. So it works in my advantage in one really important way early on and I wouldn't switch that for anything, which is, I didn't know what I shouldn't be asking for. So I asked for everything, like when I got to a retailer like, oh you need to pay a slotting fee, I'm like, oh my God, that's the stupidest thing ever. I'm not gonna pay you to put my product on the shelf, you just have to take my products and so they did like, I would ask for these giant displays and they're like who do you think you are? Like those are cold spots or whatever and I would just be like, no, come on, I'm a local product and I didn't know what not to ask for.

So I got by with a lot of stuff and I think if I knew how difficult beverage was, I'm not sure I would have done it, let me put it that way because the challenge is so it's good to be somewhat night even how difficult this will be. I did have a lot of people say Cheryl do not go into beverage, it is the most difficult and I'm like yeah, yeah, yeah, but I had an idea because a, the margins are super low, it is ultra competitive. You need, if you're going to build a brand, you need millions and millions of dollars, this is not just a lifestyle company that you can kind of get going, but I think not knowing all that is what gets you to go do it. So I'm super happy that I didn't know that much. On the flip side though, I've made a lot of painful, expensive mistakes that had I known more and if I were to ever do this again, which I will not, but if I ever were to do it, I shouldn't say that I'm going to end up doing it because you know the universe is going to be here together, but you know, there's just so much more you would know so like what, like what's one of the painful examples that you have, there's so many but I think for somebody that it's the beginning is I think the most painful lesson I learned is And it's coming back to me now 16 years later is you need to trust your own instinct and gut and I talked to a lot of young entrepreneurs and I'm always, like listen.

you're going to have really smart people that are in the industry, come to you and listen to their advice, take it in through all of this. But you also have to listen to your gut because early on I had the Ceo of Red Bull and the Ceo and founder of Red Hook on my board when I first started and there I listened to everything they said, even though my guy was like that's not right, that's not right. And we made some very expensive mistakes because my business model wasn't their business model and their experience and back in the day This was 2005 men could be a little bit more explaining to you that you don't know anything and that you should probably follow what they're saying. That certainly explains mansplaining to a huge degree and I believed it because I was like, oh I should listen to them, I don't really know, but my gut was just spending too much, we're expanding too quickly. This doesn't feel right. I feel like we should try to, everyone's like just top line growth, top line growth and I'm like, it seems that doesn't seem like a business principle to me. So anyway, it's that kind of stuff.

But there's a million of those things that have happened, who you hire, if you like, you could hire someone like, oh their resume looks so great, looks like they've done all these things, but if something doesn't feel right, do not hire them, I've made that mistake a couple of times. So it's just following your gut because as I say, this is your vision and your vision, you're the only one that's going to truly know where this has to go because it's your vision, like you can bring other people in to help you guide it. But you have to make sure you're staying in that center and following the vision. Yeah, absolutely. I've heard that a lot on the show, a lot of women say that, you know, it's really important to follow your instinct and when they haven't, that's when things haven't worked and you know, it's always a combination of data but also following that strong intuition that women seem to have nailed down. Yeah, I think we know and sometimes we try to push it away. And I did a lot in the early days because there was this really brilliant men that were around me and I was like, okay. And I didn't always, but I did two enough that I look back with deep regret on that, mm How did you get those men to be on your board?

You know, the ceo of Red Bull sounds like a big deal to have on your board. It was and he was great. It was an employee that I had hired that had been at Red Bull and she said you should meet dan. And it was great. Like I went in and he was very gracious. He's super gracious guy. And it was really funny. I was their first visitor in their brand new, giant fancy headquarters. It was super funny because we had just signed a lease on an office space and I was all excited and I went to there and I was like, oh I started talking about what I'm doing and you know, he's a smart guy, he's like, oh she's on to something here. And so he became a really lovely mentor to me and then he eventually joined the board I think about a year later. And then Red Hook, it was like his son, his name was paul Shipman, it was his son reached out to me because he didn't drink and he saw this, he's like, oh my God, this is brilliant. And so we started talking and he told me who his dad was and I'm like, hey can you give me an intro to your dad? And then paul was at the beginning of the microbrew situation.

Red Hook was one of the first of those and so he saw this category and came on and so they were really extremely helpful. Like let me be really honest about that. Like there was so much knowledge that they brought to me, but it was just those different times where it was like their experience was very different, they both had way more money than I did and different things like that. So just trying to get them to kind of come down to my level was a little bit challenging and so then our advice would be at odds, it's a tricky balance, it's taking in this knowledge that you don't have in this experience in this wisdom from all these people around you, filtering it through your gut instinct though too. And questioning, here's the thing I just thought of as just now, I think if I had just asked more questions, ask more questions, it's one of these things in my life that I'm really figuring out right now is to ask more questions. To ask more questions in my team, just ask more and get more knowledge. I was so afraid of seeming dumb not knowing enough early on that I didn't ask enough questions.

And so I think if I had just questioned them more on why some of those decisions and you know, like what do you think that will work in this situation based off of these factors and things like that, I think we probably would have been better. There's my golden pieces. It's great advice and it's so true. I think that inner self doubt and that inner voice that tells you just don't ask the question regardless because you don't want to sound dumb or you don't want to sound stupid and afterwards you're like, damn, I really wish I did ask that question. You know, everyone else seems to Well, I typically find it for me when I even when I look at people like my husband that he's confident to ask the question if it sounds stupid, like it gets you got the answer. Exactly, Exactly. And I think knowledge is king. So getting as much knowledge as you can. But again filtering it through and just asking the question until you totally feel like you have an answer. That that's right with you. Mm. Yeah. I love that. I want to talk about the money piece of things. You mentioned you had a line of credit in the beginning.

Are you able to share how much you needed to kind of get started and how that progressed? You said that it takes millions of dollars in the beverage industry. Can you dig a little deeper and let us know what the experience has been like and what it costs. Yeah I'll tell you exactly because I think this is what I needed to know back in the day, right? Like you can sort of talk about the generals. But so I did a home equity line of credit. I think of like $30,000 maybe I think it was around 30,000. And that was to get me my first production. You know just get all the materials, $5,000 for my design for all of this stuff. $5,000 for pr for a couple of months. And that was all I had and it's like it's like this little amount right? So there was nothing left over. And so we were selling through that. I was like Oh now I have to make the next. I'm like wait how do I get the money to make? Honestly this was on the job learning. So I went to the S. P. A. Which is here in the U. S. As a small business association Now I got another $50,000 loan from them. I had to write a business plan for them. I quickly did that they gave me the $50,000, I was able to do the next production.

And then from there I knew I was going to need at least $750,000 as I mapped it out. Like I can't keep doing this by myself. Like things were starting to follow off. I was very lucky. My ex husband left his job and became a consultant so he could work half time. So basically I was working from six in the morning until noon and then he had the kids and then I'd have the kids and then we'd have dinner and then I'd work again until like two in the morning or whatever. So we did it that way. But I knew I was burning out badly and so I needed to bring people in. So I started reaching out to my network of angel investors. I wanted to go after angel investors was all in tech. But I was really blessed to actually have a woman who has kind of started this. I had been in this group called the farm for women entrepreneurs that helped him in high tech and biotech. Actually, quick, quick story, I did have a family come to me originally and say they wanted to invest in the company. So we went through the whole process. We had a deal and I ended up hiring some people based off of that, which was my mistake number one because we had a deal, but it was not signed.

And the night before we were supposed to sign, they called me and they said they wanted to change the terms and I was devastated because I was like, that felt really wrong to me. I was like, I don't think these are the right people. I don't think this is, I don't think I should do this. So I ended up saying no, which is a terrible story because then I had to tell the two people that had already quit their jobs. Unfortunately I can't pay you. That was brutal. So I went back to this friend of mine, she's Australian and I presented to her and she's a tech investor. But she's like, hey, this is actually interesting. I might actually be interested. What I'd like to do is be your lead investor. So Melissa's like, I'll be your lead investor and introduce you to other potential angel investors and I had to give her some warrants and some stuff around that and that was the game changer. So she introduced me To all these investors. So for three weeks, all day, basically, every day For three weeks I went and met with people every single person said no Until I got to this one gentleman.

And he was like, oh yeah, I love it. He said yes. Which then caused every single person that had said no to say yes. So I was trying to raise $750,000 And at this time to do the 750, you have to get to the whole amount to be able to get any of it right. Like if I had raised 500,000, I wouldn't have been able to keep the 500, I had to get all 750. So he said Yes, I think 2 50 250 is what he said Yes to, so I'm on a flight from Seattle to new york and I landed and the word had spread or whatever. Somehow I have 1.5 million committed by the time I land. So I got 1.5 million in three weeks. It was crazy. It was one of the craziest stories I've heard from people out in the world, but it's because I got one incredible, really well respected investor when, when he invested then everyone else is like, oh if he's invested all invest. So that's how it happened. That's how it all began. Yeah. And it's really fascinating and it's such an important lesson and he has continued to be an incredibly supportive investor since then, like he was a game changer.

That's amazing. I love that for you. I wanna switch gears a little bit and talk about the marketing side of things. It sounds like in the beginning you were really pounding the pavement, you were going door to door, getting restaurants and grocery stores and that kind of thing involved. At what point did you start thinking, hey, I need to also sell direct to consumer through the website and start building that direct relationship with your customers or the people who were really loving your brand. Well, So remember, this is 2005, Like Amazon was built selling books in 2005. I think Facebook may have just started like 2005 is like 1000 years ago, literally like I'm like, does the internet work? I mean, Yeah, like, I don't know, it's 1999, right? Like it's not, that's, that was six years later. So we didn't have that. We didn't have a direct to consumer option. So we started selling into amazon Six years ago, maybe 6, 7 years.

So it's been a while, but it's been incredibly challenging Amazon. God bless them. They are in incredibly challenging to deal with because there's, it's all algorithms. It's all automated. You don't get to talk to a human. There is just the most frustrating experience ever. And it's just that part's been really difficult. So this direct to consumer thing is really new and we didn't start going direct direct to consumer through our own website. Well, I didn't know that's not true. We did sell direct to Consumer years ago, but it was very expensive. And we finally cut that program off because we didn't really see it growing necessarily because this was the early days, I think we're probably doing this like 2008, And, you know, people weren't used to buying things online, that wasn't a real thing. But I'm totally lying. What am I saying? We started selling direct to consumer right from the beginning, How can I forget this? Because we were selling it out of my living room. We're packaging up product and the reason we have to do that. I can't believe I forgot that part of the story. I'm sorry, it's been 16 years, long time.

I'm just thinking like, in a big mass way of direct to consumer. But no, we were selling direct to consumer from the beginning, because we got an article in bon appetit magazine, and the only way they would put it in there is if we could sell it, like, people could get it. So, I was like, okay, yeah, we got this. So somehow got us figured out how to do it online. Like, it was so archaic back then, and we were like, packaging up boxes, in my living room with my little kids running around. So, yes, we were direct to consumer from the beginning, I love that, I just part of the story. So anyway, but now we um, so that, and then we did it again, sort of in the middle years, but it was just so expensive and we weren't making any money on it. So we stopped doing that, but then when Covid hit, we got back into it and we now are selling online again direct from our website. So I'm going to tell the kids the company that story, totally. Their involvement in the early days, key to the success of the business. Clearly little assistance running around.

So when you've started the recent director consumer through your website, what have you done to kind of own those customer relationships from the people who obviously enjoyed your products from the store or the restaurants or whatever, but what have you been doing to bring them into your community and have them coming direct to you and what's working for you? So that's the million dollar question and there's just different things that we're doing. So for us, it's, I think it's really around if you stay very true to your mission. So our mission is social drinking for everyone. We want everyone to feel like they're part of the party. And for me personally, what I think about with my mission to is just how do you make zero proof a viable lifestyle. So actually last year we invested in one of the first sober bars here in the United States called Sam's bar. That's a long lovely story, which I won't get into. But our relationship with chris has been amazing. And we were the first product to reply to any of his emails when he came up with this crazy idea. So we've been working with him for a couple of years and then we invest in the bar and in him, we started doing a tour so that we were out in the US and we were going around to all these different cities and doing pop ups for us.

It's around, how do you have direct connections? It's expensive. Like how do you directly kind of meet all these different people? But I worry less about is that creating sales and more, is that helping the mission? And I know that sounds a little weird, but I think that has truly helped us. So this is our guide to zero proof cocktails, which at the beginning of covid when are so chris and I were on the road doing these, you know, pop ups and I was like, oh well that's over. And so my team was like, well how do we keep elevating this mission? We're like, well people are going to be at home. So they came up with, let's write the guy does zero proof cocktails, let's make this an accessible viable thing that like, hey, don't just make cocktails make zero proof cocktails too because right, we all need the ritual of the end of the day stuff. So we did the book and we launched that. So we're doing things like that were supporting different kinds of people. Like we have sort of target consumers that we look after. So, you know, it's home hosts because we want every party to have a zero prove option at it. Right? So we deal, we work with home hosts and we work with people in the silver space, the sober, curious basis.

That's a huge and growing space. So we work with different, sober influencers and then really, it's also the cocktail enthusiasts, like we're looking directly at them because we're like, hey, this is a new space. We want to challenge you because making zero proof cocktails is really exciting. And there's all these opportunities you get with, you don't have alcohol to sort of base it on. And we have found that these amazing mixologists are like, oh, you're right, this is a new sort of challenge for me. And so we focus like you obviously, you have to focus on who that consumer is and you could have a whole bunch of consumers, but you've got to narrow it down and then I think just working with them, reaching out to them finding ways that they want to work with you. But for us, it just comes down to me with my team. I'm like, you guys, it's really about this mission, let's just focus on this mission and the rest of it all come totally and I love those different, you know, things that you said you're working on, especially the book and it actually reminds me of when the founders of away in the beginning the luggage company, they didn't have their product yet but they needed to start getting money in.

And I remember the first thing they did was they actually created a travel book or something like that that they are able to put out and people loved the book. Everyone bought it. They wanted to support all that kind of thing. And then those people then came back and supported them when the luggage came out and you know something along those lines. And it's those kind of like important, nice things that brands put out that people are able to buy into and be part of that community. Yeah, I mean even with this book like there's recipes with dry in there but there's a bunch of recipes without dry And we also talked about substance. You don't have to use dry because again, it goes back to the mission of how do we just make zero proof a viable lifestyle so that everyone gets to enjoy. Right. So I think being focused on that is in a bit of a game changer for us. Mm genius. It's a really great way to approach it. And to think about a big picture for sure. When you look back over the last 16 years, what do you think you attribute your success to? So it's always interesting when I get a question around my success because I'm always like, oh wait, you think I'm successful?

Thank you. Because sometimes as an entrepreneur, you're not necessarily successful in your own head. And I would say that that's an important lesson to learn to appreciate the success because for me it's like, well it's not where I thought it should be like, do you know what I mean? We're not at a revenue size or whatever. But I would say though, in reality it's a success in that. I definitely feel like I have accomplished what I set out to do. I would say it really comes down to, I think two things for me it is connections and community. So I think one thing I've done really well is create a network of people. What I didn't do well though at the beginning is reach out for help, meaning like, Like having kind of a support group, like I was always heads down just get this going. But it was like, who can help me find a distributor? I find a contact or whatever. But recently I joined an organization called entrepreneurs organization. It's a worldwide thing and you have a forum of like 10 people that you become very close to and you meet for four hours a day once a month and my next door neighbor Fran is in that, I mean I knew her before that, but she's a part of that and then that's how I got here with you and it has been a game changer for me of having a tribe of nine other ceo founders and they're all different industries, different sizes, you know, we've got $100 million companies and smaller companies and it has been an absolute game changer of having that support so that I would say getting support because being a founder is a lonely experience and you need support and I didn't recognize that really enough.

So I think that has contributed a lot and I think will contribute to the success that's about to come because I know there's a bunch of success, it's about to come from my company and it will be because of this group of humans that are in my life helping me. But the other piece I did do well though is just help create a community, I do have a community, it's not just this group of people, but like that is really important and just networking and communication. I think the other one is this just relentlessness and it's a relentlessness to your vision and I doesn't mean you have to struggle and fight all the time, but it is keeping your eye on where you know your company is going to go because it is gonna be like you're thinking you're going from here to here and you're gonna go over here then you're gonna come over here, then you're gonna come back and coming back and that one and then finally, but you got it, you can see where it's gonna go and I think just putting it out there constantly like this is what's going to happen for my company will lead a lot of stuff to happen to you because you're going to get knocked down a lot.

I was interviewed by a woman who has a magazine called Good Grit out of the South. So she started this magazine a few years ago and she said to me, I've decided what this is like is like being an entrepreneur every morning you have to wake up and let someone punch you in the face and I'm like, yeah, I think you're exactly right. I'm going to get knocked down so many times as you have to be relentless in your vision and stay true to your vision because it's not even something we got into. But this vision I had at the beginning, we got away from that for years, like dry was the better for you soda and all these different things and we did get away from that and sometimes that's a good thing, but not really, you've got to make sure you're always coming back to that, that original vision of what you had and you might need to adapt different things, but there's a vision you have at the beginning and if you keep your eye on that, you feel pop back up like those weeble wobble guys because you're going to get knocked down and goodness, you just are, you just are and you've got to know that going into it so that it doesn't discourage you, like if you know you're gonna get knocked down, if you know you're gonna make a bunch of mistakes, you know, you're probably gonna go backwards a few times, okay, I would have known that so that I didn't beat myself up so much.

Don't beat yourself up, just keep moving forward and being a relaxed, which is an incredible compliment. I actually someone made a t shirt for me now and you've got to be proud to be a relentless bitch, 100% goodness. I also feel like it's a funny thing because I imagine people aren't going around saying that two guys, that's a woman thing for sure. Well I think as a guy, you got to be a relentless bitch too, like you gotta like whatever it is, it's going to make you feel empowered for me, like you can call me that. I know you meant that as a derogatory thing, but hey dude, I got this because it's not, it doesn't who's going to do it so totally or not whatever, don't just be really just be relentless. That kind of blurred into my next question and your answer might be the same, but what is your top piece of advice for women who have a big idea? So there's that. But I would also say that um just start moving forward. I think sometimes as women, we think we have to know it all, we have to have all the pieces in place.

And I'll say even yesterday I was talking to one of my employees, she's kind of new, and I said, hey, how's it going? She goes, I'm just really overwhelmed and I'm like, okay, we'll kind of explain that. And she said, I just don't know what I don't know. And I'm like, well let's hope for this to make you feel better. I got into this. I didn't know anything. You don't know what you don't know, but you've got to keep moving forward. Like you're not going to know this. Like that's the thing that I think stop so many women and all the women I talked to and I they're like, well, how did you know when to take this step? And I'm like, you just take it Like, you're going to have to get sort of fearless in that step that you're going to have to take a step without knowing what that next step is gonna be. We all want to know what those next 20 steps are, we're going to have to take you're not going to know that. And if you're waiting for that to happen, you're gonna be waiting a really long time and it's not that you don't want to be careful and get your data and get all of your stuff together. But it's that you are going to have to take the step without knowing maybe where the next step is. So just moving forward is the best advice I can give you because momentum brings momentum. Like one step gets to the next one and it gets easier.

It really does. That. First step can be the hardest. Maybe you even said this, but I think I read it's the be comfortable with the uncomfortable I did. And yes, it is like what I just said that to a woman entrepreneur that called me the other day, she's like, I'm a perfectionist, I'm like, yeah, that's not going to work. You got to kind of sit in the uncomfortable and I just read Ray Dalio's what principles the other day. And he talks about how Paine is a good thing. So you have to start thinking about pain as a good thing because it's just learning thing and it sort of sounds cliche but boy, if you really think about that when you're in pain, it's good because this gets painful but it's a good pain totally. It's a good thing. So at the end of every episode I ask every woman the same six quick questions, I'm conscious of time, we're creeping up there. So we're gonna whiz through it and some of it we might have already touched on before. So question number one, what's your why?

Why do you do what you do? Because I believe in a world where we get to just celebrate and connect. I just want to see that really. I want everyone to feel included. I just want people to feel included Inclusion. That's a strong one. Love that. Question Number two is what do you think has been the number one marketing moment that made your business pop? Um that's a tough one. There's been so many things I know for me personally, the most exciting one was when french laundry, which is the mecca of all restaurants for me brought our product in and we're proud to have it. And for me that's when I made it was when french laundry brought us in. Mm must have been a great day. I bet you went for dinner there that night. No french laundry. It's like impossible to get into. It's thomas Keller's restaurant. But I finally did get to go to it and it was an incredible experience. I'm very proud of that view. Question # three is where do you hang out to get smarter? What are you reading or listening to? I know you just mentioned Ray Dalio's book. What else is good.

So I do love podcasts. I have a what fuels you that podcast? It's actually a friend of mine who does it. But she actually interviews a bunch of entrepreneurs in all different industries and I think that's actually really cool. But I do love reading, I read a ton of nonfiction, but I've also started reading novels of late. Like I used to read novels. I'm reading a lot more novels now. That's been great and really is hanging around where I get my smartest is with my tribe of entrepreneur friends. I have lots of them. I tend to, I think most of my friends now are all entrepreneurs and it's hanging out with them. Like they are the smartest people I know and they teach me all sorts of stuff. I don't know. I'm also like, I'm reading astrophysics for people who are in a hurry right now, which is a little over my head, but I'm trying well introduce me, that sounds way more impressive than it is, but I just want to learn about space for some reason right now. I don't know what it is, but I'm just fascinated. I'm always trying to learn some, I love, that sounds interesting question Number four is how do you win the day?

What are your AM or PM rituals that keep you feeling happy and motivated and successful. So my morning routine is my favorite because of covid that I've been able to start doing this, but I get up. I drink coffee. I read, I read in the morning sort of better for you books then I meditate than I journal then I work out and that has just been a game changer and I know everyone says to try meditation and like what I would say and I've tried it over the years is just keep there's all these different meditations out there now and it's like now it's my thing, it's like Almost 30 minutes a day. I do it now and it's like a total game changer. So I'm all about that. That's been my favorite thing about COVID is I have mornings now and I'm, I don't do meetings, I don't literally try not to do. I mean that doesn't always work, but my team knows that I don't love doing meetings before 10 am. Yeah, that sounds really nice. A really nice way to start the day. For sure. Question number five is, it's a hypothetical if you only had $1000 left in your business bank account, where would you spend it?

Digital advertising? Good one. And last question is, how do you deal with failure? What's your mindset? So it has evolved immensely over 16 years. But now how I deal with failure is think about it again when I sort of just talked about Ray Dalio is talking about pain is what can I learn from this? There's always all this stuff to learn in failure. What I didn't know early on was that failure is a part of this. I didn't know that that when I did fail, I was like, what is wrong with me, but it's part of this, like I told this employee yesterday, she's like, I don't like dropping balls and I'm like, you're going to drop a ball and it's going to be okay. First off, you have to tell yourself it is okay when I'm not literally saving the world here, it is going to be okay. There's always a tomorrow and it is like, what did you learn? What happened? What were the decisions you made? Like look at it from every angle and then try to get really clear on what not to do again? And if I had this all to do over again, I would literally write about every single time I failed and I would write it all out because then it sticks in my brain more like really dissect it, not just in your head, but like in writing amazing sounds like very radar leo.

Well, Cheryl, thank you so much for taking the time to speak on my podcast today. Female startup Club and share your story and all these incredible learnings. Thank you, thank you and good luck to everyone out there, keep going. Mhm Hey, it's just me here. Thanks for listening to this amazing episode of the female startup Club podcast. If you want to hear more, head to my instagram at Dune rasheen to see my filmed interviews with incredible female founders, like Erica from fluffy beauty Greta from drop bottle and Sammy leo from breeze bum and if you like what we're doing here, visit our website and sign up to female startup Club dot com to get all of the good stuff delivered straight to your inbox and lastly, subscribe to the Female startup Club podcast. Mm.

How this Founder disrupted the non-alcoholic beverage industry from her living room, with DRY’s Sharelle Klaus
How this Founder disrupted the non-alcoholic beverage industry from her living room, with DRY’s Sharelle Klaus
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