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Why you shouldn’t take stupid money, JLO and the Shark Tank effect with Poppi Founder Allison Ellsworth

by Female Startup Club
August 19th 2021
00:52:42
Description

On today’s episode we’re learning from Allison Ellsworth, the founder of Poppi. 

There’s some seriously cool insights in this episode... We talk through her approach to raising money in th... More

if like me, you're fascinated by how really successful people think then there's a podcast you should check out called Secret Leaders. You can learn how top entrepreneurs have built businesses like Manz oh natural cycles last minute dot com and jo Malone. Secret Leaders takes you deep inside the world of these founders and half of them are women. What were their childhoods like? What was the spark for that great idea? What was the worst moment like having to fire your mom? Yeah, that really happened to one of their guests. The podcast is called Secret Leaders and I think you're going to love it. This is Allison Ellsworth for female startup club. Hey everyone, it's doing here, your host and hype girl on today's episode. We're learning from Alison elsewhere. She is the founder of Poppy. Now there's some seriously cool insights in this episode. We're talking through her approach to raising money in the early days and why you should not take any stupid money. Her recent moment of partnering with J Lo, which is mind blowing stuff and her explosive growth after going on shark tank plus everything in between.

This is an episode that shows you the power of having a truly, truly great product. I've come off feeling so inspired and really charged for my own journey. This is the kind of thing that really likes me on fire. So I hope you love it too. If you haven't heard of Poppy before, it's the leading prebiotic soda and the fastest growing non alc beverage brand in the US after appearing on shark tank in 2018 Poppy launched nationwide and retail and quickly became an amazon bestseller. Now before we get stuck into it, just take a moment, give yourself a pat on the back for wherever you are in the journey, entrepreneurship is tough and it requires so much hustle so wherever you are in the journey, well freaking done, you deserve a pat on the back. Let's get into it. This is Alison for female startup club. Okay, customers want more from brands, delivering more means owning the customer experience, taking control over data acquisition analysis, creative and delivery.

Clavijo calls this owned marketing and believe it's the best path to growth for more, visit Clavijo dot com slash F. S. C. That's claudio dot com slash F. S. C. One last thing before we jump into this episode, I want to quickly shout about our course the ads, M. B. A. Although I'm totally biased, I'm told by so many of the hundreds of women who have taken it so far that it's amazing and they've been able to increase their revenue in their business using the methods taught the ads. M. B. A. Is A. D. I. Y. Course to help you master the technical skills needed to run profitable facebook and instagram ads by yourself. We've partnered with leading performance marketing agency amplifier to create the best online program out there and these guys know a serious thing or two about performance marketing. They've spent more than $100 million in ads during their time. You'll learn everything from winning ad creatives to identifying your target kPI S implementing retargeting funnels and deploying scaling strategies to increase your revenue to upwards of six and seven figures per year.

It includes six modules with more than 30 video lessons and you can learn at your own pace. But what we're most proud of is that $30 from every sale is donated towards girls secondary education through the Malala Fund, a charity that champions every girl's right to 12 years of free, safe quality education and is working for a world where every girl can learn and lead to learn more. Head to female startup club.com. Female stock up Capri, since Alison Hi, welcome to the female startup club podcast. Thank you so much for having me. I'm excited to be here. I'm excited to have you here. I don't know if you know this, but today your episode is number 200, so it's a bit of a celebration for me and I'm very honored to have you kind of join me for this special milestone. That's so exciting. # 200 200. It's crazy. Can you introduce us to who you are and for anyone who might not know yet who your brand is or what your brand is rather.

Yeah, of course. So like you said, my name is Alison Ellsworth and I am the founder and chief brand officer at poppy and you might ask you know what's poppy? Well we are a prebiotic soda and it is infused with apple cider vinegar, but we like to say our vinegars and stealth mode. So you can taste the vinegar but you get all the functional benefits. And so it tastes amazing where 20 calories are less 4 to 5 g of sugar for the entire can clean ingredients, all natural, nothing artificial, all plant based vegan kosher, all the fun not do most stuff, right? But it really did start and the reason I created this came from a personal health story of mine. So I did not ever think I was going to own a beverage company and or be running one, but here we are, that's amazing. I am. I'm a big fan of apple cider vinegar just as a side note, so I'm sure I would absolutely love your products and I was actually comparing your drink to what a can of coke has in terms of sugar and a can of coke has something wild, which I didn't realize of like 39 point something grams of sugar.

And so yeah, that blows my mind. That's so cool that you've got the strength, it's like kind of like positioned as a soda, but it's like healthy, it's you're drinking something that's good for you. Well, we see if you see kind of the evolution of soda, right? Like our goal is to take on big soda and eventually replaced like a coca dr pepper, Pepsi, you know, Rupert and every household across America and eventually the world. But I would say like if you look at the evolution of soda and kind of how it went, but back in the sixties you have the refreshment was like high sugar and it's in that iconic bottle and then you get in the diet craze and then, you know, the seventies and eighties where like diet coke hits, but it's all artificial. It's like really bad ingredients. They're like finding out, you know, cause this cancer like all of these things, right? And then it moves into where they tried to do like the zero sugar but it doesn't taste good. It didn't like hit right. People were just kind of like, what's this? I'll just drink diet coke. And so now we really see like everyone's ready for disruption, like the soda category, they aren't raising like I'm not raising my kids on coke right?

Like we are the next generation, the current generations like next soda and but the best thing is we taste amazing. We have full flavor and on top of it, like you said, we're 4 to 5 g of sugar and so I give my kids poppy, everyone drinks it it's great. Just in general. You don't have to drink it just because it has health benefits, but it's just people are desperate for something different and I think it's just a movement across everyone's just like wants better for you, especially with Covid hitting people like health and wellness really think it's top of mind for a lot of people and so just people may be typically wouldn't go there so quick or kind of like maybe I should reevaluate like what I'm putting into my body. Absolutely gosh. 100%. Yeah. I imagine actually Covid was kind of like, for lack of a better word, like a good time for you because you essentially, we're able to provide something that people could consume daily without feeling guilty about, right? Yeah. And you know, and I think it's interesting just like, I can kind of jump into how we actually got started, but I previous to this used to work in oil and gas research, so, so far away from where we are today and I was traveling on the road I myself, I didn't feel great all of a sudden and I maybe was, you know, working too hard.

I wasn't really painted into what I was putting into my body, but on top of it, I just like, my stomach always hurt. You know, that bloating feeling and you're just like, I'm tired, my skin was breaking out. It's just like, I think it does hit a lot of women, I know this can hit mint too, but it's just like something that I just like, you always hear him like always bloated or I can't eat this or do that and you know it wasn't anything like crazy but I just didn't feel good and so I would go to doctors and they'd be like yeah, yeah, yeah like here's a pill. I was like this is not working. And so I went to the internet like you know everyone does google d Yeah. And um I just started researching like how do I heal my body through food? Like I started looking at my diet and one thing that kept coming up over and over again was drinking apple cider vinegar to detox and reset your body. And I had heard of it and I was like okay maybe I should do this. But I started kind of getting to the point where I was like really desperate to just like feel better. And so I just started drinking at every single day and within two weeks I was shocked at how amazing I felt like my stomach felt better.

I also had more energy. It was like all of these things started kind of just like lineup. But one thing that kept like hitting me in the back of my mind is like I can't drink this every single day like this is not sustainable. Anyone that's had straight vinegar like it's not enjoyable. Well I was like I put it like a big thing of water and you drink it all day. It's just like I am also a big fan of balance in your life. Like I like cookies and I like having a pizza from time to time. Like I don't want to be just so restricted and I think like fad diets are not amazing like any of that stuff. I was like is this sustainable? Like am I going to drink this big thing of vinegar everyday? Like probably not like it's great for now, but I don't think I'm gonna do is forever. So I went to my kitchen and I was like, how do I create something that tastes good? Like how do I make this tastes good? But I also didn't want it to be 39 g of sugar, like a coke, right, right. Yeah. And so I spent like three months in the kitchen and just started playing around. I loved to cook. It's like my happy place.

It's literally always been like all of my extra time and I just started cooking and playing around and I kind of came up with the first version. Looking back now, we call it our rocket fuel. Like it was way too much vinegar. I was like, it was just like, it was still pretty strong but you know, I started giving it to neighbors and people were just like really interested in and I'd have a neighbor combined, give her mason jars and she's like, well I've been doing this for a week and started seeing results and she was feeling amazing. And so she's like can I just start buying it? We make it and like add a full time job. So this is full hobby, you know, for myself, for friends, family. And then I was married with my husband and we decided sick of traveling and we wanted to settle down. And so we built a house in Dallas texas and I was like, okay, I don't want to go back to work, I'm pregnant. Like I'm going to start selling this, the farmer's market on the weekends, just like a total like hobby. Like let's take it. And within the first week we sold out like I was like, okay, we'll make double. We sold that triple within this is the crazy part.

The third weekend we had the whole foods buyer come by our booth. She was just there with her mom, you know, whole foods in Austin, we're in Dallas and she's like, look, I don't do this often, but here's my card. Like you guys have to be like a fantastic product. And like I've told that story a few times and nobody's, I've never heard that happening to anyone else. It was like one of those moments that was like really life changing for us. And I looked at my husband was like, literally that was the whole foods inspire, they want to be in whole foods. We didn't have you pcs, we didn't have nutrition. I mean I'm like putting these in big jars, you're like bottling this yourself at home in my kitchen, like straight up grassroots style, you know? But there was just something that I think you get as an entrepreneur, you're doing something like this gut feeling that you just know you're on the right path. And I told them we got like a job offer and I was like, I'm not going to take it, like, I don't wanna go back out on the road, like I'm pregnant, I'm quitting and I'm gonna do this full time.

And he was like, you're crazy, we just bought a house, You're pregnant, like you can't quit your job was like, no, I'm doing it like, I believe in this. And so it's something like, just as women to like, I think it can be really scary, you're like, I'm starting a family, like I have to choose and I think that's so 1950s, right? Like you can do both. You can like, I started the company pregnant, like it just didn't even like face and I was like, yeah, I can do this. Like women are superhuman. Like, I don't know, like I honestly, how did I do show me Yeah, exactly, right? Like give yourself a pat on the back sometimes and just like you can do it like you can be amazing and like have everything. And so I will say though, it kind of got to the point where I was like getting even more pregnant and it was like six months in and I was like okay now husband who is now ceo and he's my partner poppy and everything like in life I was like you got to quit your job and he's like you're crazy like we're literally, that was maybe like you can't and so like wrap it up, you got to wrap that up.

Yeah. I convinced him to quit as well. We did something like a little crazy where we immediately took our life savings, maxed out our credit cards and we opened up our own like little production facility and we set it up so much like a brewery. We had a friend at the farmers market was like that ran like a local brewery in Dallas and he's like I'll give you a list of equipment. And so we just started like sourcing equipment. I think we spent like 20 or 30,000 of our personal money credit cards type of situation. And we opened up our own production facility. I think we were in like 1000 maybe 1500 square feet. Was this like teeny place warehouse and like the hood of Dallas no air conditioning, you know? And we were just like let's do this. And so we started manufacturing, we got into whole foods so it took us about from the time to give the farmers market to the time we got into whole foods, it can take a while, it took us about 10 months. So by that time like I had the baby, everything like I remember like being on the bottling line, going into labor strapping the baby to me and being back on the bottling bottling line like two weeks later, it was just like, oh my God, a whirlwind, you know, my husband got a second job to pay like our mortgage at night, like it was just a full on grind of startup life, but you just like, don't, it doesn't faze you when you have that gut feeling, you know, you're doing something right, like just take it a day at a time, know that you are doing something right and like don't give up and don't let people around you bring you down either like just just go like hustle go, it's like, you know, just go so always try to tell people that because it's hard.

Yeah, I mean it sounds hard two weeks later after having a baby. That's a mate, That's incredible for one. But it's kind of funny that you're talking a lot about like you had this gut feeling and then you have this brand that is also for your gut and like to make you healthy from the gut inside out. Like that's so cool. That's like a little bit of magic there I feel it is and it's just like things like kind of doors like open for a reason and some stuff, you know, doesn't happen for a reason, it's just like, it's, I don't know, I hate to say that some of it can be luck, but I think it's a lot of combination of luck and hard work and perseverance and then like just staying true to who you are knowing when something's working, like stick with it. But I mean it was one of the things that like, we got to a point where we put our life savings in and we were like, okay, we need more money. We're growing in the Dallas area just like locally were in like all the coffee shops have gone into all the whole foods and like central markets and just like all the key accounts in the Dallas fort worth area and so I did, what a lot of people do is you go to your friends and family, Right?

You just reached out and I had my sister and my dad, they invested $60,000 And so open to this point within the first year and a half we've had about like $90,000 that got us through like their first, almost two years to where it kind of took us to the point where allowed us to grow, we still didn't pay ourselves like anything, anything that we made at the farmer's market to be invested back in two bottles labels, ingredients manufacturing. Um, we still delivered stuff. I mean I did deliveries with babies strapped to me with the boxes and things like it was just like, it was just like one of those things that people was respected, it's like, wow, look, these guys hustling, this is a fantastic product. Like no one's ever going to like fault you for that, right? But you do get to the point where like, okay, you know, we need help, we probably need to take it up a level, be a little bit, probably more professional, you know, that stuff. So we got to remember like, okay, we need more money.

And I was online one day and I saw an open casting call for shark tank and I was like, okay, like it's like make or break, we're to the point where we're doing really well, but if we didn't have money, we're either going to have to like stop or like figure out or what we take on is what people say is like stupid money where we had people interested, they weren't gonna bring any strategic to the table with it. And I think that people can get a little bit blindsided by stupid money sometimes where it's you, when you take on investment, it's different with your friends and family is like my sister and my dad, like I'm stuck with them for life already was, I knew what I was getting into, but when you start just taking on investment from people that just have money and they don't bring any other value other than that, it's not a great partnership, right? Maybe like later on, once you're an established brand and it is all you need is capital because you've kind of figured everything out. But at the beginning it's almost like a marriage or a partnership and you want to be really careful with that. Don't get blindsided by the fact that people just are trying to give you money and it almost happened to us, we almost took on an investment right before being on shark tank.

And it was one of those things too. It's like this just doesn't feel right. Like this guy is great. He was fantastic, a fantastic person but he couldn't bring anything to the business. And so other than money. And so we went on to shark tank and it's it's quite a process. It can take like six months or longer to get onto the show and they keep you very blind the entire time. They're like okay thank you. That was great. And then you two weeks later, like you made it to the next Now we need you to do this, this and this. I imagine it's costly to, right, you've got to like commit to getting ready for that, especially if you get onto it and have to build a set and all that kind of thing. You've got to really take that leap. Well no, so it's great. They have it all um like you do all the prep stuff to get on. It's like oh we'll do some interview now, film yourself like routine. So like that part's not bad. They didn't cost you money and then you actually fly out to L. A. And then you film it like in L. A. And by this time we were you know we started back in 2016 when it was like in my kitchen and we got into whole foods too really growing.

So by this time when we were going on shark tank, I was pregnant with my second once again we were husband are crazy and always tells us like you know but I'm just like we believe in family, we believe in business. So we kept like powering on and so like as the process of shark tank kept taking longer and longer and longer we kept it to the next stage. I'm like I'm getting very pregnant here so we were like okay you're going to be on in june. I think it was like 26th of like 2018. It's like okay cool I'll be nine months pregnant but I'm still going so ended up flying out. But the good thing about being nine months pregnant on national tv is it keeps you really calm. Like I was like I can't go into labor, I can't let myself like go there because you know I wanted to make sure the baby's healthy and all that's holding on. Yeah so but my husband on the other hand, Stephen, he was like sweating bullet was very stressed out. Like if you ever see our episode, he's just like his face and he's just like he's just so embarrassed, you can't watch it back, like he can't but the whole process is like they don't tell you the sharks until the night before and then we found out the night before that Rohan Osa was going to be on the show.

So for people that don't know who that is, he is just the sharks of all sharks for beverage industry. He's behind some of the biggest deals like by and vitamin water. He used to be head of marketing at coke, like this guy, like they call him the grandfather right? And so he just has years and years and years of experience has built his career on building brands and he just understands the beverage industry. So I was like, okay, he no matter what he offers us like we're going to say yes. Like it was like one of those moments, you know when we go on and looking back, he told us like that he knew the second he tried our product of course he is like one of the best negotiators I've ever met still to this day. And so we're like, we're definitely not getting a deal, like the way if you look back on the show and like every single shark started falling out and then he like offers still were like deal, we'll take it, you can't take it back, take it back, we're busy is exactly what is this exactly.

And it was funny because after the fact I guess, you know, Mark Cuban dropped out and were like kind of bumped with Cody's Dallas, that would have been nice, but Ron said that it's your in there for like 45 minutes and they're just yelling at you and it's really like crazy. But I guess like Bethany frankel is on the episode and Mark Cuban had asked him like how you want to do a deal together? And Rohan was like no. And so they were like, oh francois can invest, we're all going to drop out there, dropped out, but in return he wanted it all for himself. So he was like, he said that he had been looking for a shelf stable soda, that he himself knew that it was the future, right? And he knew that before we even knew that. And so he said that he had been searching for years and years and years for something like Poppy, well at the time it was called mother beverage, but poppy and so little did we know that? So he said the second try didn't hurt it. He was like, oh, this is like what I've been searching for because he loved the taste but our branding was not great, you know, I was working at it before this episode, very different, very different.

The name was mother beverage and I named it after the mother of vinegar, you know? But we learned really quick that you couldn't brand or you couldn't trademark the word mother right? And then on top of that I think there was like, we had found out like later on there was a brand called like mother kombucha and it was just like one of those things that we weren't really like married to that name, like it wasn't like a global name kind of a thing. So Ron was like look we love the liquid but we need to go through a full rebrand. So we got the deal and then we literally took the next eight months to go through a restructuring of changing the name, changing the packaging, changing the logos, changing just like everything about the company we worked really close with bro, on his team from, we did Consumer studies and a lot of people go back and forth and whether you should do like consumer studies and you definitely want to do it when you feel like you're in a good place not just to do it to do it. We did it for, do we be in bottles? Should be stoned to cans. Like that was like we weren't sure what to do there but we found cancer more sustainable hands are on the rise now they're like cool and fun, it was the right decision but then we were like okay do we do color or do we do white because white really has this like healthy halo, like vibe to it, but color, it screams taste, it screams fun.

And so for me I was like, well vinegar already has like that thing where people are like and it pops literally on the shelf. Yeah, it pops, it literally pops on the shelf. And so we were like, okay, well what do we do here? And so we went back and forth for a really long time with what to do. And we finally came down to um the name poppy, which to your point, it pops off the shelf, It's a playoff of soda pop, like that old school soda pop and then I love that, you know? Yeah. And then it's just poppy and fun and so we decided to go color and all those things, but it was all the right decisions and like we took the time, I always try to recommend people take the time to figure out what your brand is, even if you know you're trying to hit dates to launch, but you want to come out the gate, like really strong and previous mother wasn't a brand, it was just packaging, we threw on, I was hustling and trying to get at the farmer's market like that's okay too. But you do want to get to that point where you have like serious guidelines that you go first. Like what we talked about like brand guidelines are we have certain colors, like for example, like our strawberry lemon here?

Like it's yellow and pink, yellow, pink is the only thing that will ever use with these two colors, never going to put the pink with the orange, you're not going to put the pink with blue, like you want it to be super strong and iconic, so when someone sees this pink and yellow they think oh poppy, strawberry lemon and I know it sounds crazy but think of like Nike and they're saying like just do it, like everyone knows that saying and you have to brands like you have Nike and you have a six, write a six are both fantastic shoes, but who has the better brand Nike does. And so you want to think of how important branding is when it comes to your product, you really want to spend the time and really focus on what's your brand voice for example, Poppy, you want to think of it as a person so we think of poppy, like it's the cool kid at the party but it's not the kid that's too cool that you're not friends with them, it's you know the trendsetter but you're not the mean girl translator, you're the one that's like just happens to be cool, you want to be like were funny but Leslie cool, I've heard the school you wanna be funny but you don't want to be juvenile, right?

Like you really want to think of, like what's your personality, What's your tone of voice, What are your tag lines and you want to stick to them and you internally feel like, Oh my gosh, we've said this 500 times. Our tagline here is big a happy, right? Like how many times you say it? You just keep saying it like, just do it for a night. It's like a jungle, right? You get it into the people's head and then exactly, a million times over. Then someone will remember it exactly like a jingle. Exactly. And you don't want to stray. You don't want to like do crazy stuff now on instagram. You can have fun with memes and you can do different stuff, but in general and you're like retail, you want to have like your pos be all the same. So it's recognisable. You want people to like, oh, I know that right versus wow. This is different everywhere we go. So all those things are really important when you're building a brand and I don't think people realize how important a brand is versus, you know, just kind of doing what you want and just taking that time to really get it strong will elevate you over your competitor.

So I love to always give that advice two. Hey, it's doing here. I'm just popping in to bring you a quick message in every episode of the FSC show, You'll hear women who were just like, you trying to figure it all out and hustled to grow their business and I would know a lot of you might be sitting there asking yourself, but how do I actually scale my revenue and get to that next level from where I am now? You also know that so many of the entrepreneurs I speak to have mentioned facebook and instagram ads as a crucial part of their marketing mix from today onwards, I'm really excited to be able to offer our fsc small business owners and entrepreneurs and no strings attached. Our long chat with leading performance marketing agency amplifier, who you might also remember from our course, Full disclosure amplifier is my husband's business.

And what's really important to know is that I've been able to witness first hand the transformation of so many businesses going from as low as $10,000 a month All the way to 300 $1,000 a month and in some cases upwards to seven figures. So if you're listening in and you feel like you're ready to take your business to the next level, jump on a no strings attached call with amplifier where you can ask all the questions you have about performance marketing and whether it's the right time for you and your business to get started. Go to female startup club dot com forward slash ads. That's female startup club dot com forward slash A. D. S and booking a call today, I really feel like at the moment you guys are, you're obviously in a phase of growth because you're doing all this amazing stuff but it really feels like you're focusing on brand versus like hard sell shoving your face. And what I mean by that is like when I saw your recent party at the Hamptons which looked so cool and so fun and so colorful and then when I think about the J Lo thing, which we also need to talk about and when I think about your Tiktok, like everything feels like created for community created for brand awareness and not like hey here's my products, like here's an ad, you should buy it kind of thing, like it feels brand awareness and brand building is this phase that you're in at the moment which is so cool.

Yeah and I think you literally like hit the nail on the head with the what everyone is running right now is like to be authentic and that's what's really important to me, like as a founder and chief of Brandon, head of Creative is I want us to come across as authentic and not like just a product, we're building a brand, we don't want to be a product and so that opens so many doors for people to want to be involved and be part of your journey and just like to talk is something that's really scary for brands because they're like, oh it's just a bunch of kids on their dancing, but me as a founder, I just knew it was like the way of the future. And so we did start off by doing a lot of the trends and trying to dance with the cans and I was like, this just isn't working. And so one day I sat down and I told my story of like, hey, you know, my name is Alison and I got a deal on shark tank for my product, poppy and it started because of health issues and I just kind of went through that whole story and I posted 10 o'clock at night.

I went to bed and I woke up the next day and it had like over a million views. Our sales on amazon went through the roof and today I'm still like one of the highest converters we've ever worked with. And I'm like, oh, that's crazy because I was just being authentic and real, that's authenticity for you. And so we cracked the code for us on Tiktok. Now that doesn't work for every brand and you have to find what works for you. But we found just like on Tiktok in particular just being ourselves and talking about the product, why I started the company, why we picked the colors, right? Talking about these little how twos and stuff like people really connected with it. But then you might need a different strategy on instagram, right? We're really curated. It's pretty, it's photo shoot, like high gloss a little bit more, but that's more what instagram is used to. And so you have to be okay with trying new things and not quite listening to like what everyone else is doing and having a little bit of fun. And that's the fun part of a startup is you can do that and you don't have to be part of the corporate cog to get everything approved and you know, test approvals.

Yeah. And all that stuff. So like have that fun when you can and I'm always like, yes, no death of joy 100% like as being a founder and like my husband is Ceo like that something is really important to us with company culture and building coffee is like, I don't want us to ever be that even when we get really big and continue to grow. Right? So totally, totally. It's just, it's a crazy ride. It is a crazy ride. I want to talk about the recent crazy thing that is J lo I was just like dying for you. That's the coolest thing I've ever seen. What happened there was this like a planned thing or did she just like pick up a poppy and dance with it. I don't understand. So it's kind of like, it was a combination. So we honestly just been so lucky with so many celebrities, organically becoming fans of Poppy here. We focus a lot on influencer marketing. We see a lot of people. So we send out a ton of poppy and just like, like how much are we talking like hundreds or thousands of months.

I mean there's sometimes we'll do like 1000 a month and then the next month maybe like 500. And then if we're doing a big launch will do like 2000 or something like that. Okay. Right. And it depends, you'll do like a curated mailers, what we call them for like a certain like celebrity. Like if you're giving it like Madonna right, Like you don't just send her a box. So it just depends. But with J Lo was funny because we just have so many organic fans. And so it was one of those organic things that she kinda, her team reached out and we knew that she left Poppy. I wanted to get it on set for her music video camera. El paso video. And it was a Miami, Miami is one of our big markets. And so we made some calls sound like Get Poppy on set. I know she likes and knew she was a fan from us, like sitting before like and sometimes usually never know what's gonna happen. And so we got a call, it was like, hey, we got some pictures and there's like XS on, it was like, look, J Lo is like drinking the poppy because they don't want to like use the pictures, right?

And I was like, how do we work with yellow? Like I was like, how do we make this happen? And they're like listen like most of the people that we work with one, they have to love Poppy, like I don't want to do it just to pay someone and its contractual like it's one on it's an authentic and so you found out she loved it. And so then just at that time the conversation of a partnership came up out of that, but it was not like a big endorsement campaign. It was like, hey we're on said she loves Poppy, she did this really cool content like you guys don't work with her. And so it was like a really quick thing because it was easy because we knew she loved it. So we're like uh yeah it's J lo she is $170 million on instagram. Amazing. Let's make this happen. And so it happened like over a weekend, like every woman's dream. Yeah. I mean it was just like I was just like who doesn't love J lo like I don't know if you can get better. Like honestly are you allowed to share? Like when you say you work together from that, like you you agreed to work together? I assume that means you paid for it to be able to use that content. Are you allowed to share? Like ballpark what that kind of thing costs or is that off limits unfortunate is off limits.

I try to like how they always say like don't kiss entail because yeah, okay, within the business of what we're doing, it's not necessarily about the contracts and who you work with it, it's relationships and working with people and I love to work with J Lo again someday. And so it's like once you get in the nitty gritty of like what you paid for this, like I'm sure she's doing all sorts of deals and it's very dependent on, I'm sure she's a product she loves versus private, she just wants to get paid for which, you know, you never know that's between her and her team, but we really get to the point where you build relationships and that's the more important part. And so we tend to not talk about price when it comes to those things and it's fair enough, fair enough. I just wanted to try my luck. No, I know it's fine, I get it. That is so cool. I think that is like, I guess as an entrepreneur, you hit so many lows, but you also hit so many highs and that's surely got to be up there is like pinnacle poppy moment. I mean it really was, it was funny, it was just like opportunities like that just are really natural and easy and I know it sounds crazy, but I think like a deal with J Lo would be like natural and easy, but when you are doing what you believe in and you have a strong brand and you have core values and you have good company culture like that just gets out into the universe, right?

And I feel like that's something that people continually say about working with us is like how much they enjoy it and pop is one of the favorite partners and they truly enjoy the product and why we get so many people to naturally post versus paid and so just like keep all those things in mind. I think for anybody out there when you're building stuff like it doesn't come overnight. I mean like I talked about at the beginning where we're hustling and not paying ourselves and babies strapped to us to now where the fastest growing non alcoholic beverage in the nation and our categories the fastest growing. Yeah, incredible. It's like they say it takes 10 years to reach overnight Success. Exactly. And you're just like you don't see all the hard work but it doesn't feel like hard work if you're doing something that you love 100%. So there's many a time that I would have loved to have given up. But I just kind of have that personality where I'm just like screw it, let's see what happened endurance. Because I think a good word for that. Yeah. And I love having a partner.

Like I don't know I wouldn't be able to do this without my husband. Like he is the hate to say like typical ceo but like he is like such a perfect ceo in the way of like he's great with the finances and the pros and cons and the contracts and like the boring stuff and I love doing the brand and the marketing you like you need some person and whether it's your partner, but like when hiring people like you need to find those people like that fill in those gaps that you're not good at, it doesn't have to be another founder or whatever. But like it's okay to let go of the reins. It's okay for you to not be good. Everything. I have a degree in sociology from a art school, like the university of texas. I was a dance major for the first two years. I was like, oh I don't really need to agree and dance to teach and or to dance. I was like this is silly. So I went to my counsel and was like listen how do I get out of college really quick and graduate? And they're like, well sociology if you take summer school may master. So I signed up, I got out and I was just like, so I'm not like one of those people yet.

I still I started this company and we've grown and it's like that's okay that I don't I don't have an M. B. A. From Harvard, right? And I think that it's nice to hear as well is that you don't have to have all of these things like perfectly lined up to be successful as long as you have drive. Yeah, and hustle, it's so important for people to hear that because you know, I think that can get lost. People see like all these shiny things and they're like, oh that that person, it just makes sense for that person and they need to understand that that's not the journey for everyone and you don't need to have that NBA like you said, I wanted to ask you if you were to go back and start this business again tomorrow, what would you like do more of in the beginning and what would you have done less of in the beginning? Yeah, I think us opening our manufacturing facilities so quick, there was a lot of pros and cons behind that one. Now, as we're scale and we have five different manufacturers across the us and we're growing really quick.

We understand how to make our product, like we've made it ourselves, we know it like Stephen to this day is still on site like onboard our manufacturers because he understands it's more than our operations manager who worked for Pepsi for 20 years, right? We know that, but I will say it is a lot of capital to do your own manufacturing and and we used to always say if we could have spent more time building the brain and the business from the beginning rather than putting caps on bottles, which we were in doing deliveries ourselves, Could we have even been further along. And so you can look at it both ways like oh wow, this great thing came out of that, we know how to make our product, but you don't want to get stuck in the weeds. And I think a lot of entrepreneurs think that it's like it's okay to bring on people to help you. It's good to find manufacturers that can make your product for you and you always think that there's some obstacles to get there, but it's probably one of the steps you want to take quicker or sooner than later because you don't want to be stuck in the weeds so you can close your business and focus on that.

That exact totally, totally. Yeah, I really, I think that's it's good to hear that that's kind of like what you would do differently if you would have to do it all again. So if you were to paint the picture of where the business is today and what fun things you want to shout about that's coming up in the future, what does that look like? Like how big is your team? What's going on? Yeah, we're growing so quick. Like going back to the fact that truly are, we're the fastest growing beverage in the nation right now. Like no big deal. Uh Crazy. It's crazy. I think we hired like 17 people this month february. My God, wow. Yeah, february of 2020 it was mean Stephen now we have 60 people that work for us and they're all over the U. S. We have 30 of them in new york right now blitz in the streets, my husband's out there with them with our president and everyone's out there like let's see and I have a marketing team that's amazing and it's just like crazy crazy with how quickly we're growing. But I will say it's still really hard to find great people that get what we're doing and you know I love taking time to hire the right people right?

So you want to find the right people take your time but we're going so quick and I love to see like the Poppy family grow, it's really fun to see that. And the crazy thing with like Covid is like there's some people in our team for like a year and I've never met them, I've seen them on zoom 100 times but it's been like crazy, it's weird with that so I'm ready for that to be over. But we launched three new flavors in May. We call it like our classics line, we did a cola root beer and a dark pop like a dr pepper and it was so successful. We sold out like 30 days were like oh it's fine we'll make some and then you have Covid restraints with manufacturing right now and it's hard to get line time. Just sourcing is just stressed across all categories in all industries And so we haven't been able to like producing again. So we're producing it this week. I'm so excited. So it'll be hitting the market again in about 30 days and it was so successful that we sold out and people are wanting Our same product but in the traditional flavors and so I'm really excited for that for their horizon.

And then just, I think our growth, I think we're on track to be like in over 25 locations next year, going from like 2000 last year to 10. So you'll be in the UK not yet. Not until after the, I know not till after Covid, we're looking and going and doing a test in Canada at the end of this year, but it's a little easier because we're connected. But maybe we can, you know, we have a great relationship with whole foods and you guys have a few up there. We do, we do, I can see you in whole foods. I will be lining up. Maybe that's where we have to like that might be like the one way in before we get going to do it. Please look into that. I know we'll have to, we'll have to ship you so many ways if you haven't, if you haven't tried it yet, you truly don't understand. Oh my gosh, I really want to try. You don't understand each other products so good. I, the thing is, is that I'm an apple sided feeling a drinker like daily drinker and I went from doing the whole like shouting it, which I then became like, hey, I actually can't do this is too rough on my stomach too.

Then just, I drink a glass really, really quickly. But my husband, I tried to get him to drink it too, but he just hates the smell. He cannot stand it. He can't be near me when I'm drinking it and I'm just like, this is what we need. Like this is fun. I so want this in my life. So true. Please come to London. It's so true and it's, it's so funny because there's a couple other brands out there trying to like think like even like trader joe's is trying to do and I'm not ripping us off in general. People see the value of having an apple cider vinegar drink. But something I still pride myself on to this day is the fact that I still personally make every single new flavor. So we don't use a formulation house. I have a little lab here in our office and I will spend four months on a new flavor or two weeks depending on where it comes. And so I know it tastes good, you know, not to toot my own horn, but like, I know like our product tastes fantastic. We've done a couple studies, we've done like surveys and stuff like that, people will say like our product tastes amazing If kids drink it, it tastes amazing.

These kids won't touch things that don't taste good. I know right? It's true. It's so funny. Like our little, we have a, we have a three and a four year old and I give them drinks like to try all the time and like try this like your competitors nearly poppies better or you know the mom, do you make this? I'm like, no, I don't make every beverage out there, but really they have no idea what is your key piece of advice for women who are on the entrepreneurial journey, but a little bit earlier on. Yeah, I think, I know it sounds crazy and it sounds, you know, like my favorite saying is doing something is better than nothing by an infinite amount. So whether it's just at night or the weekend or you wake up an hour early, like just doing something is better than nothing. So you don't have to just start and quit your job and go crazy like we did. But you also have to know that could be in the future if you truly believe in it, but just doing something, just try and I know it sounds just so common.

It's like every advice you ever get, but you just got to just do something is better than nothing. Yeah, 100% the compound effect of doing just a 1% action every day. You're going to look back and be like whoa, that was crazy. Yeah. And get help. Like don't you don't have to do everything by yourself, but get help from people that believe in you and don't bring you down. Like you don't need that necessary, like telling you, it's like, that's silly. You don't want to do that. Like you don't want to start yourself with that. But like it's okay. Like, hey girls, like I'll buy you guys pizza and wine, like come over, I need help like throwing yourself with a community and people that love you and love what you're doing and just having a support system is always really nice. You don't have to do everything by yourself. That's so cool. I love that. We wrap up every episode with a series of six quick questions, some of which we might have covered, some of which we might not have, but I asked them all the same. So question number one is, what's your, why? Why are you doing what you're doing? So I, for me, it's my family, my kids, I don't understand how people can work so hard if it's not for something like that.

But that's me personally for their future. Amazing question number two is what has been the number one marketing moment that made the business pop poppy was definitely are viral. Tiktok moment. You know, I think that video has over 15 million views over 400,000 comments, which means people are actually engaging with. It changed our whole strategy in the company and it was a major moment in the company's history. Gosh, everyone needs to get on Tiktok immediately. It's just crazy. The power of Tiktok, it blows my mind blows my mind. It's insane. Powerful question. # three is where do you hang out to get smarter? What are you reading or listening to or subscribing to? So something you might not see me, but I am obsessed with the news. Every morning I listened to to podcasts from both sides of the left and the right. I love to know both sides. I don't want to be blindsided by just what one person is saying. I want to know all views and I think that's really important to make my decisions in life.

And I love podcasts on marketing like Pat lynch Tony at the table like stuff like that. Anything you can do just what you're doing the dishes is listen to those type of things or even like a good audiobook. But I like to do more of that kind of stuff than like a watch trash tv or something, which I know a lot of people have to do to. So that's okay, totally. So I'm going to link that podcast that you mentioned in the show notes. I haven't actually heard that one before. So I'm going to check it out. Question Number four is how do you win the day? What are your am or PM rituals and habits that keep you feeling happy and motivated and successful. Mm You mean like actually taking me time. Yes, that's a hard one honestly. And I think I get blindsided by it a lot because I do have kids and I want to focus on them and then the company. So for me it's probably like getting my nails done or something simple like that to taking in that meantime in the morning it's my coffee and at night I'm all about balance and I love to have like a little dessert every night.

So live your life. Love that for you Have some balance. 100% of that journey, right? Love that journey. Yeah. Question number six is if you were given $1000 of no strings attached grant money, where would you spend that in the business? And it's kind of like obviously for the stage that you're at $1000 isn't a lot but it's like where's your most important spend of a dollar? Yeah, I think if it was not attached, we're not worried about like with marketing, I would probably give back to my team and like do something fun with going and doing like a team building event or a cultural building event too. I think having those relationships and building that marjorie like it within the company is really, really important and can get lost especially with everyone worked from home. Mm Absolutely. That's so true with the whole remote thing now, making sure that you're bringing people together. RL to bond no matter whatever it is. You know, whether we send them something cute, we do is zoom happy hour or something like that.

Like I definitely would love to get, I love giving back to the team and rewarding for hard work. The Poppy vodka slashes. I know, hey, I'm all about it. Pop is a great mixer. I'm excited for the day. I can try try. I will have to try and question number six. Last question is, how do you deal with failure? What's your mindset and approach when things do not go to plan as they inevitably want all the time. Feel and feel quick. It's okay and I failed multiple times, but Crying is okay. Getting upsets okay, but don't stay there long and just pick yourself up and keep going because it will 100% happen and it's not the end of the world. For sure. Alison, this was so cool. Thank you so much. I am just, I love what you're doing and I think you're amazing and I think poppy is amazing and I'm just so excited to be following your journey from here.

Hey, I appreciate so much as wonderful talking to you today and you know, UK Poppy, it sounds like some great goals to me. Absolutely. Hey, it's doom here. Thanks for listening to this episode of the female startup club podcast. If you're a fan of the show, I'd recommend checking out female startup Club dot com where you can subscribe to our newsletter and learn more about our D I. Y. Course, the ads. M B A. I also truly appreciate each and every review that comes our way. It might seem like such a small thing, but reviews help others find us. So please do jump on and subscribe, rate and review the show. And finally, if you know someone who would benefit from hearing these inspiring stories, please do share it with them and empower the women in your network. See you soon. Yeah.

Why you shouldn’t take stupid money, JLO and the Shark Tank effect with Poppi Founder Allison Ellsworth
Why you shouldn’t take stupid money, JLO and the Shark Tank effect with Poppi Founder Allison Ellsworth
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