Just be Genuinely Helpful with Prerna Malik

Prerna Malik is the gourmet copywriter and community manager for time starved entrepreneurs for Content Bistro. She loves crafting great content, reading good books and drinking gallons of coffee which is probably why I feel a strong connection to her.

Tell us a little bit about you and what you do.

I’m an SEO copywriter, a business blogger, a community manager and I’m also a mom, wife and I bake very good brownies. I also work with entrepreneurs to help them craft strategy for their blog, to help monetize it for their business, to help grow it; I’m a consultant as well.

Why are you so passionate about helping women in business?

It would be easy for me to say because I’m one. Here’s the thing, I work with my husband, were very blessed in that way that we can both work together on this business and together we gotten this where we essentially we want to help both men and women entrepreneurs who feeling stuck or slow down because they may not have the time or even the budget to grow their businesses. We’re passionate about helping women or men so that they can reach the full potential of their business without feeling that they need to mortgage their house or max out their credit cards.

I love your story about how you got started really on a budget. Can you talk a little bit about that? And then why it’s so important to help people to save time and money?

When we started, my husband and I, I’ve been blogging at my personal blog for a while and we had few clients who started reaching out to us via that blog asking if we can help manage their social media or write blogs for them. We have a few clients, not many, and my husband got really, really sick. He had this chronic inflammation and was really painful and he had to quit work and he was our sole honor at that time. We had medical bills and we had nowhere else also to take him and so we talked, “Let’s just do this.” We had really very little money to spend. The only things we invested in were hosting for the site because we wanted like a self-hosted site and not like a wordpress.com or something like that and paying for the domain. Our site was designed probono by a friend and it wasn’t the prettiest, I’m sorry for listening, but it did its worth. We stuck to that budget and we discussed this with each other and we said that our focus is going to be delivering great work and just getting the word out there about ourselves and it doesn’t matter if you don’t have a fancy website. It doesn’t matter if you’ve not done any high-end courses or we’re not making enough great big mastermind, groups or something like that but we just need to focus on doing great work. We started investing 10% of what we would earn back into our business so we stuck to that since. You shouldn’t let a budget stop you it’s what we believe in.

What do you think every website needs on it to drive traffic and convert customers?

Personality and authenticity. Good SEO always help.

Do you have 2 or 3 tips on how that can actually translate to your website or your social media channels?

First, just start by being who you are. Sharing parts of yourself that you would want to share with someone you will meet in person. One of the things that I would say is social media is all about being social. How would you interact with someone if you would meet them in person? You are not just going to whip out business card and say you already give them your product and say you need to buy this. Similarly I don’t see why people on social media will always go buy this… Instead of really taking out the time to engage and connect. Start by engaging and connecting your audience, start by finding out who they are, what they want and sharing more of who you are as well. Letting yourself be open, letting yourself be real, letting yourself be just out there and it may not work with everyone and that’s okay. You want to essentially hang out with people who actually get you. The second thing I would tell someone who would say starting out and wondering how do you start by being authentic or showing that you’re passionate of what you’re doing is by genuinely helpful with your content, with your posts on whether it’s on Facebook groups or whether it’s on commenting in other people’s blogs. Just be genuinely helpful it works wonders. And finally focus on building relationships. Relationships where you may or may not get anything in return.

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Prerna Malik

Tell us why great content is so important.

Great content is a lot like your legacy online. It’s what you’re putting out there, it’s what going to remain for a very long time unless of course you have decided to just leave your site to something like that but great content on social and great content on your site is how people get to know who you are. It’s how people get to trust you. It’s how people come to respect what you do. I’m not just talking about the written word I’m talking about podcast, video blogs; great content is what sets you apart from the rest. You would add your own personality to it, you would add you own unique spin to it, you would add your own special value to it, great content is pretty much an essential for any business, any blog.

What does every product description need to have?

Benefits. Product description need to showcase how a product is going to change someone’s life or how a product is going to make a difference to them, how a product is going to make things easy for them, how a product is going to solve a problem that they’ve been struggling with and you do that to benefits.

Tell us about your Facebook Mastermind group.

We have a Facebook Mastermind group for Parent entrepreneurs actually call the bistrol. The reason why we created it it’s because parent entrepreneur is facing unique challenges that entrepreneurs may or may not. You have to juggle meal planning and school pick up and drops and volunteer work and projects along with planning you marketing strategy, launching a product, the usual entrepreneurial stuff as parent entrepreneurs ourselves we realized that a Mastermind group where we could discuss things that make life simpler both at home and business hold each other accountable for whether making a personal change or achieving a professional milestone would be just so perfect.

What has it done for our business?

A lot. It’s big but intimate. We know each other, people are helpful and from a business perspective it’s really helped us build relationships with entrepreneurs all across the world.

Would you say that the mastermind has been a game changer in your business then?

The greatest game changer, I would think being out there and building relationships.

What would be some advice on how to get started with guest posting/blogging?

Start by being who you are, identifying blogs that would be a great fit for you. If you’re just starting out I would advise you to not just go straight for this really big blogs but start by places that feels like more comfortable to you, smaller blogs probably the same size as yours or slightly bigger than yours and then just reaching out to them.

Tell me your favorite social media platform for entrepreneurs building a business.

Contrary to popular opinion I would go to Facebook.

Do you have a secret online tool?

My latest love is ConvertKit.

Tell us one thing you do in your day that contributes to your success.

I use a planner. A real paper planner. I’m using a passion planner to be precise. I’m so much more productive, I’m more focused, and I have a clear idea of how my goals are getting accomplished.

Share one thing that you want our listeners and your audience to know about you that you think they don’t know yet.

My 8-year-old daughter and I have the same shoe size. I have tiny feet.

 

Find Prerna and the Content Bistro

Prerna Malik is a gourmet content chef, copywriter and community manager. She is the co-founder of Content Bistro , a full service
content marketing agency serving up scrumptious SEO, social media and content solutions to time-starved entrepreneurs. Prerna has worked with over 200 clients, in the last 5 years, helping them to double and even, triple the sales and traffic they get from social and search. She brings with her a wealth of “kitchen-tested” experience and strategies that guarantee results. 

Click to listen to Prerna Malik Blissful Bites Podcast in iTunes.

NEW podcast giveaway! (2 Bags Blissful Eats granola, 3 pack from Healthy Human Life, sample pack from My Super Foods, CLEAR by Annick Magac.) by filling out the form below AND/OR writing an iTunes review and sending a screen shot of it in an email to me!

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Best of Blissful Bites: 20k Download Episode!

Hi! I’m just popping in here to share my BEST OF episode! I reached a HUGE milestone of 20,000 downloads last week because of YOUR support! I’m immensely grateful. Each episode has been an absolute joy. Connecting with these women and listeners has been so much fun and SUCH a learning experience.

Please fill out the listener survey here.

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I hope you enjoy. I want to get to know YOU better. Please fill out the listener survey here.

I have SO much more fun on the way! Stay tuned for more from guests and a deeper dive into some awesome content! Who would you want to see back? I want to hear!

Anyone Can be an Entrepreneur with Danielle from Nuttzo

When Danielle started Nuttzo she wasn’t thinking small. She thought why not blend a bunch of nutritiously dense nuts and seeds together to maximize the vitamins, minerals and protiens that these little bodies need? Nuttzo’s mission is to inspire a new way of eating, living and being on this planet. Plus sales of every jar of Nuttzo help support Nuttzo’s nonprofit of choice, Project Left Behind helping orphaned children around the world.

Tell us a little bit about you and Nuttzo

We adopted 2 boys two different times not biological but of course they’re brothers. The first little boy we adopted was in 2002 and Romania closed down unfortunately so you couldn’t adopt internationally. We went into Ukraine and we said that we wanted a child that was under the age of 4.  Greg was 3 and half years old. He spent his entire time in an orphanage. I’d heard about different scenarios and he didn’t seem to any of those. He wasn’t a hoarder. He actually didn’t like to eat. It was this big stressor because he was in the 5 percentile in height and weight. He would refuse to eat and so he would just chew, chew and chew. Being a lover of food I was trying to wrap my brains on how to create these flavorful meals where they would be super nutritional and as well as giving him all of his minerals and vitamins. The hardest one for me is protein because he didn’t like anything. I got this idea because my sister and I loved Jiff when we were growing up, we would eat it so much that we would have a stomachache afterwards. I never saw a nut butter that I did not like and I got into organic and the natural nut butter. I knew that if I combine peanuts because they have an amazing source of protein, almonds and Brazil nuts and other nuts and seeds it would have a wide variety.

I was creating this masterful piece of nut butter spread in my food processor. I was making it frequently in my food processor and one day my husband was like, “Danielle, why don’t you just buy this stuff?” I would make these great meals and he would do the dishes. I guess cleaning a food processor, nut butter out of a food processor is quite lengthy. So anyway that was the “Aha!” moment because I was like, “Of course you can’t find this seven nut seed butter. It doesn’t exist.” So that was the kind of the “Aha!” moment and really catapulted us to start my company.

How do you think having that strong why helps your company?

For me, like it has to be more than just making nut butter or like making money. We can put it all into one thing but you have to love what you do. For me such a bigger purpose because when we launched Nuttzo, my husband and I had this tax guy actually try to deter us from starting our own 501C3, but we really wanted to take that on because we wanted to really be able to control that 100% of the donations from Nuttzo would go to the kids. I wanted to create a nonprofit so we could go in and help 50 children with their education, with food, with primary things but education being the key component to help them lift themselves up to the next level and kind of break that cycle. Project Left Behind and helping orphans is what I’m meant to do.

If anybody comes to me and says they don’t have a passion, they do. They just have to dig deep. What makes you on fire during the day? What makes you just want to go out and call ten people and tell them the story. For me it’s helping orphans because I think they don’t have a voice. It’s a shame and we’re all just lucky where we were born.

I read on your website that you brought your sister on to work with you. How did that kind of come about and how does that work for you?

It’s just my sister and I we grew up on 140 acres together and survive. We’re extremely close and what’s awesome about working with somebody that you’re that close to you don’t even have to worry about things. I don’t even have to worry if she working, I don’t have to worry what is she doing, she’s always got my best interest at heart and what’s awesome when we’re so much alike it’s almost like having myself on the east coast because she lives in Philadelphia as well and when we go to events because we have some big expose that we have to go to it’s like a force.

What has been your most proud moment so far?

There’s nothing that can take away the Dr. Oz moment.That was pretty phenomenal and I was really blessed by that. It was in 2011. It was just a lot of tenacity on my part and kind of big dream thinking because I had reached out to Dr. Oz in 2009 before he even had a show and kind of connected with him. I had big idea thinking and then I reached back out to him 2 years later because he had his own show. I saw that he was featuring items on the show and he featured it on September of 2011. I didn’t know what it was going to be, how big it was going to be featured and it was phenomenal. It blew us up and put us in the east coast because he was doing a feature that was the top 10 things you can’t live without. They kept teasing the show of the number one thing you can’t live without and that was Nuttzo.

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What do you we can learn from you actually just reaching out to someone?

Don’t be risk adverse, for sure.

Danielle from Nuttzo

What has been your biggest flop or disappointment to date?

When I first started Nuttzo, I really had this idea that I was going to put them in single serving packets and that’s was the way I wanted to launch it. I was not doing any 16 oz, no jars, nothing because I really felt like I was always on the go and I wanted to put nut butter in this little to go thing. I did some research and I was little deflated because I found out that Justin’s had been already putting them in single serving packets in Colorado. It still didn’t deter me. I was like, “This is a great idea and he wasn’t that big yet,” and so I found a co-packer but the thing that just couldn’t work out was the minimum and the amount of money that it would take. The product that would be spoiling because it was just a crazy amount, (250,000 single serving packets) that you had to order. I eventually was like, “Well, either I’m not doing it or I’m going to switch gears,”.  I decided to put it into 16 oz jars but I thought about something to do differently. That’s when I got the idea because anyone that knows natural nut butter, knows if you put it upside down in your pantry the oils separates to the bottom of the jar. To make it easier to stir, you store it upside down, so that’s how the label went on, upside down. It was kind of just changing our path but still moving forward.

How did you come up with your sales strategy?

I have a Bachelor’s degree in business, which definitely helped, but my background is really in sales and marketing. I’ve been doing that my whole life before I started my company. I do believe a sales background is huge and it also helps you to be successful. There’s so many elements of being in sales that you have to be able to do on your own business. I honestly think it’s getting good consultants; people that are already been there. It’s brainstorming with likeminded entrepreneurs in the same stage or maybe a little bit above you. It’s a bunch of things but to me the number one thing that was super helpful is sales and being able to problem solve because every day, trust me, is a new problem.

How did you decide to do a co-packer vs. starting your own commercial kitchen and doing it all yourself?

I live in Southern California and to be honest, you can’t ever make food you sell in your home. If you didn’t use a copacker you would have to be in a commercial kitchen and you really need equipment for grinding the nut butters special equipment. Just to do it on a food processor that would just be ridiculously time consuming. The hardest part of finding a co-packer is finding someone that will work with you and be small enough to meet your minimum so that you can actually afford it, fortunately for me I did.

Tell about the moment when it went from hobby to business.

That was probably when I quit my full time job. I still wasn’t on the shelf at all. I was just kind of at my wits end of being able to be mom,  trying to launch my own business and still be doing an A+ job at my sales job. I have a great husband who was supper supportive and he was able to say, “Listen, the worst case we downsize and the other worst case is you’re going to have to go back into your sales position that I knew I could get if I needed to. That was the moment of jumping in 110%.

What would you say your biggest piece of advice is to someone who is just starting out?

My biggest piece of advice is just to try. Just push it forward and be open to changing your ideas slightly but never giving up.

How do you find a way to stay balanced?

It’s kind of like brushing my teeth. I need to do something whether it’s yoga, hiking, I’m big into weight lifting or boot camps or running. Just something almost every day. Just carving out that moment so that I can go and recharge. It’s super powerful because I think as entrepreneurs a lot of times we’re going 24/7 and it’s no joke really. You have to be able to disconnect even if it just for 45 minutes and be able to have me time.

What has been a successful marketing technique for Nuttzo?

Partnering with company is always fun. It kind of introduces your consumer with somebody else’s product that probably has the same integrity.  The one thing that we’ve seen a lot of success with is when we have followers tag a friend on a giveaway. The other thing that’s really been super popular is to have ambassadors.

Share one thing you want your customers about you that you think they don’t know.

Just the fact I came from this place with my sister and my parents on 140 acres on a mountain top, spending my summers barefoot and daydreaming big and climbing trees and look at me. This is where I am now. My point is those experiences helped me to be able to be where I am now.

Find Danielle and Nuttzo:

Danielle Dietz-LiVolsi is revolutionizing the nut butter category, Danielle has developed and implemented the strategic rollout of the NuttZo™ brand, as well as, managed NuttZo™’s rapid growth over the paste 6 years.  Danielle has more than 20+ years of sales and marketing experience. Previously, Danielle held the position as Senior Account Manager and Director of New Business where she Founder of Nuttzomanaged station accounts in advertising sales. Danielle is also the Founder of Project Left Behind; a project-based 501-c3 non-profit that supports the educational endeavors and health/nutrition needs of orphaned children worldwide.  She is an avid runner, health nut, traveler and yogini and resides with her family in San Diego, CA.

Click to listen to Danielle Dietz LiVolsi on the Blissful Bites Podcast in iTunes.

NEW podcast giveaway! (2 Bags Blissful Eats granola, 3 pack of Healthy Human Water Bottles, 3 jars of Nuttzo, variety pack from My Super Foods and CLEAR by Annick Magac  by filling out the form below AND/OR writing an iTunes review and sending a screen shot of it in an email to me!

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Get rid of the overwhelm and SIMPLIFY!

Let’s talk about simplifying your life. So often I feel overwhelmed and like life is super chaotic. I’ve been working on simplifying things. We have so much information delivered to us. It’s information overload. Everywhere you look there’s an amazing freebie to download, or a business development course to take. I get it. I’ve been there and totally fallen into the I NEED MORE EDUCATION trap. It’s so tempting. My inbox was overflowing with offers, PDFs, courses and more. I wanted to know how to grow my blog, social media following, email list, how to get more clicks on videos and MORE MORE MORE. If I’m doing this, then I bet you are doing this too.

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Let’s simplify. It will help us in our personal life AND our business. We need a clear path and direction. Let’s pair down and get rid of things that drive us crazy in our life. How can we take control of the overwhelm.

If you have the mindset of “I could never”. I could never buy a house in that community. I could never have a 6 figure business. If you’re thinking that then you are putting constraints on your business. By simplifying your thinking…and you’re life, you will hopefully change your mindset.

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How can we simplify?

Let’s take those negative constraints and use it in a positive way. Todd Herman talks about the Prada Protocol, which is basically just simplifying. What are frustrations you have? Is it your inbox? Laundry? The piles of paper in your house? ‘

Write down 5-10 things that really bring you overwhelm. Start with one of those things, reduce it down and simplify it. Something that has made me crazy is setting up interviews for my podcast. My fix was setting up calendly. Now I just send my scheduler and they pick from my available times.

Other examples: set up streak in gmail.

simplify

Make systems, streamline things for you and make life easier! If it’s a pile of paper, make a system for filing and disposing of mail right away. What else?

  • I implemented theme days! Every day of the week has a specific theme. It made my life a lot simpler. I was al over the place. Theme days made me way more effective.
  • Set your priorities. Say no more than you say yes. If you have your priorities in place it’s easier to say no.
  • Simplify colors on your website or pictures on your instagram.
  • Simplify the social media platforms you use. If twitter isn’t working for you, give it up. Use MeetEdgar.
  • Batch work. Take a ton of pictures at once for your platforms. Batch blog posts.
  • Meal plan and prep once a week.
  • DO things that are going to make your life EASIER.

Focus on what’s going well and do more of that. 

Go to your list of things that are frustration you and think HOW can I simplify this. THINK about your constraints and use them in a positive way. Set up systems and SIMPLIFY. Take control of the overwhelm!

Click here to listen to Get rid of Overwhelm and Simplify on the Blissful Bites Podcast in iTunes

I want to hear from you! What are you going to simplify?

This episode was sponsored by Make Media Over. Use code BLISSFUL to get 10% off your package.

NEW podcast giveaway! (2 Bags Blissful Eats granola, 5 Pack of Not Ketchup, sample pack the Granilla Bar and variety pack of mixes from Among Friends and Smart Cookies from Bitsy’s Brain Food) by filling out the form below AND/OR writing an iTunes review and sending a screen shot of it in an email to me!

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Success isn’t about fortune with Ashley Horner

Ashley Horner is an absolute power house she has a lot of roles wife, mother, works with body building.com, has a training facility, editor-in-chief for train for her magazine, has a clothing line ebook and it keeps on going. Besides having complete training plan she offers inspiration and motivation on the daily on Instagram. I had to have Ashley on to really ask her how she does it all.

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Tell us a little bit about Ashley Horner and what you do.

Right now I’m in Virginia Beach and I have a training facility out here called American Sled dogs. It’s a free training facility we offer classes and it’s an open gym membership availability and we offer this facility to anyone who has a deployed spouse. They can come train here for free and really let out their emotions out on the gym. We kind of guide them and walk them through that deployment. I’m a mother, I have 3 little boys, I’m a tri athlete, power lifter, ultra runner, pro body builder. I have the Unbroken Foundation which is a foundation that helps battered and abused women find beauty in their strength once again and I have a clothing line called Valkerie.

I love that you’re so passionate about helping women and helping military spouses. How did you get the idea to go in that direction?

It’s awesome that I have the platform that I have in social media and to be able to be that voice not only in the fitness industry but on a broader aspect internationally but I don’t just do it for likes or for follows. I feel like there’s a bigger purpose of what I’ve been building for the past couple of years some might like to call it my empire. I feel like in the last year I’ve been searching for that greater purpose. Not just being a fitness person or just a trainer but how I can reach the broken people who truly need help and military is close to my heart. I’ve always been a huge supporter of the military. I have tons of friends who are spouses of the military and not only that the battered and abused women. I have no personal stories or scars that could even compare to what they have been through but I know there is some building blocks that have to happen from the moment they reached these shelters to building themselves up, to be whole again and to really feel beautiful once again and find beauty in their strength.

To be able to have an impact on people’s lives, that’s true success. No matter what anybody wants to do, as far as an entrepreneur, if they’re passionate about it they will be successful and they’ll realize along that journey that success isn’t just about fortune, it’s not about fame but at the end of the day it’s going to bed knowing you gave 100% that you’re fulfilling your passion, you’re changing lives.

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ashley horner interview

How did you actually start out and how did you take the leap to start so many different businesses?

I literally was broke. I had no money and I had just $5000 saved up. I put most of that into creating an online business and online store. I wrote my first ebook, Becoming Extraordinary. I was so nervous when I first launched that because who’s going to believe in my training and my philosophy.  I was using social media as the platform in terms of marketing myself and showing these trainers bits and pieces of it but I was so scared and I kept telling myself, “Ashley, you just have to trust yourself, you have to trust your vision, wanting to help other people. You have to trust what you have believed in this entire time.” And so I did.

I think there’s a difference, people can have dreams and they can sit on them and think about them for years or they can go and chase down that dream and never stop until they have reached it. That’s what I do. I don’t just like think about something in my head and think, “Oh. Maybe that will work…” I find a way I want to do that. I am going to find a way to make that work.

Can you share specific moment where you just felt super proud of your business and all the things you’ve grown?

It’s been awesome working with bodybuilding.com in creating the training program, Charlie Mike which is something that I wanted to do with them from day 1. On launching that training program, going out to the bodybuilding.com headquarters and standing in front of the entire staff and facility of bodybuilding.com, members and people who have been with me from day 1, like my managers and Daniel and Keith. To be able to stand up and tell them thank you for always supporting me. That was a surreal moment, to stand up in front of all those people. Another one was I recently signed with Reebok. I have 2 girls that work with me directly and they help answer emails and correspondence with some of my bigger companies that I represent, and Reebok was super impressed with the professionalism of my team that I have.

Can you share a disappointment or flop?

One of the things I really struggled with was finding individuals who have the same work ethic as I have.

 How do you even to manage an account like Instagram that has 380,000 followers?

There’s really no rhyme or reason to my Instagram or my social media feed. I just try to post and be as transparent as I can and real to my followers. To really try to self reflect and remember why I started in the first place and I let my viewers really try to see that through social media.

What would you say your best tip for growing your Instagram?

I would just say make sure to at least post three times a day. Being transparent is always key as far as branding, in a world full of gold fish, how will you stand out? How are going to stand out as an individual? And what makes you different and what makes you unique? I think that is really important and what people are forgetting. They think that just because they take a picture, have a professional photographer take their photo, they’re automatically a fitness model.

What is the one thing you do in your day that contributes to your success?

Well, definitely the quiet time I have in the morning is really important. I try to have open communication with my team. There’s not one specific thing that contributes to my success. I think it’s important to have weekly team meetings. That’s something that we do in the gym that’s with my coaches.

How do you juggle everything?

Every moment of my day is my planner. I use my time very wisely. Every moment of my day is scheduled and I am very busy.  I don’t think there’s a specific formula for balance. You just have to play everything as the week comes and stick to that schedule but you also have to be really flexible and know that it’s okay if you missed a training session or if you have a meeting you absolutely cannot miss. There’s ways around things just to make everything flow together.

Do you believe in balance?

Yes. I definitely believe in balance. I have a specific time where I’m not on my phone anymore. Whenever I get my boys I shut off work until they go to bed.

Tell us a little bit about your Unbroken Foundation.

The Unbroken Foundation is a brand new foundation.  I will be running from Virginia Beach down to North Carolina which will be 280 miles in efforts to raise $15,000 to 20,000 to rebuild them a house. Hopefully their house will be fixed and then I can come in there and build them basically like a weight training room with one of my training programs Breaking Boundaries or Recreating New and help them with that.

Click here to listen to Ashley Horner on the Blissful Bites Podcast in iTunes

Connect with Ashley:

Ashley Horner is a wife, mother, and unbelievably talented athlete. She also owns a training facility in Virginia named American Sled Dogs and is the Editor-In-Chief of “Train For Her” magazine. Ashley is also the founder of the Unbroken Movement Foundation, owner of the Valkyrie clothing line, and author of 13 ebook trainers. Ashley is undoubtedlyone of the most well-known and respected female voices in the fitness industry.

This episode was sponsored by Make Media Over. Use code BLISSFUL for 10% off your package! 

NEW podcast giveaway! (2 Bags Blissful Eats granola, 5 Pack of Not Ketchup, sample pack the Granilla Bar and variety pack of mixes from Among Friends and Smart Cookies from Bitsy’s Brain Food) by filling out the form below AND/OR writing an iTunes review and sending a screen shot of it in an email to me!

Blissful Bites Podcast Giveaway

 

ashley horner interview

Attitude is Everything with Bitsy’s Brain Food

bitsys brain food smart crackers

Bitsy’s brain food is on a mission to make great food that’s start with a simple belief: Healthy bodies and healthy minds are connected and learning to eat smart should be fun. Every day they work to make mega delicious, ultra nutritious foods to nurture little bodies, minds and imagination and to inspire them to learn and grow. For Maggie and Alex it has always been all about the health of kids from your family to theirs.

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Tell us a little bit about Bitsy’s brain food.

We met working together in non-profit over 10 years ago. We both just have always had a lot of shared passion that comes back to the health and well being of kids. We spend a lot the early part of our career working with schools with different after school organizations, running a national youth organization together that the mission was to empower kids to make the world a better place with their own actions Through volunteering and service we ran a child obesity program together that was one of the first federally funded programs to address the issue of children’s health and wellness in terms of their physical fitness. That program really inspired us. We have been working to try to take the angle of making it fun and thinking like kids. We felt there weren’t really many foods out there that were made for kids. They need their own brands. We just felt that someone needed to do a better job making organic, healthy eating, fun and  live in the place of reality that we moms all live in. Not every moment do you have fresh fruits and vegetables on hand.

How did you get the idea for your products?

Our idea actually first started out in the belief that every moment in a child’s day is a chance for learning. We felt there was a lot of mindless eating that went on. The idea for our product actually initially came out of trying to come up with clever ways to weave education into snack time. We thought of this whole idea of brain food and making food that is smart for kids to eat. We said, “Well, if it’s going to be something that they’re learning while they eat, it should be packed with the nutrition that’s good for their brains and bodies. We want that nutrition to come naturally from fruits and vegetables, so we bake fruits and vegetables into the product.

How was it starting a business with your friend?

Alex: It’s a real gift I think to have a partner especially both just being busy moms. Sometimes we joke that for us, one plus one equals one in terms of arguably to get things done and really function effectively.

Maggie: I just read Amy Polar’s book and she talked about her work wife and Alex is definitely my work wife. We’re each other’s work wives. I was talking to a friend at pre-school drop off this morning who was just saying how she has to take time right now and make time to see her friends and see other people. I said, “Well, actually Alex fills that need for me…” It’s actually still amazing because it makes it easier to do the job and to do business, but it also like really fulfills that side I think that every mom feels where that need for friendship. I think we get the best of both worlds.

bitsys brain food

Do you have a clear delegation?

We have the best team in the Universe, so it actually starts there. Our team focuses a lot on the operations and distributions side of the business.  Alex and I divide up; I usually focus more on sales. Alex’s focuses a lot on working with the rest of the team in terms of our finances, legal and our marketing. Like we said we’re kind of one brain and the team is really everything.

 

Tell us your proudest moment so far in running Bitsy’s.

Maggie: I think our proud moment was really was learning that we had become part of the made-to-matter program that target for 2016.

Target’s Made to Matter program focuses on innovation, design and wellness. The brands that you see part of the program are really handpicked by Target. You have to meet a lot of standards around organic, non GMO, non toxic. It’s really the best of the best in health and wellness. There are products that you’ll only find launching at Target initially.

Can you share the product that you’re launching with that mission?

We’re launching a product called smart crackers. They are actually crackers that weave in our whole educational mission. They’re puzzle piece shaped crackers that are made in the shape of tan grams.  They’re organic and what’s really special about them is that they’re made with a half serving of vegetables per serving which is really unique. I don’t think any other product out there for kids in terms of a cracker  has that much vegetable baked into it.

Can you share something where you have a flop or a disappointment?

So many of our mistakes when you look at it, have been the result of our failing to follow our instincts. In the moments where we listened to an outside expert or some piece of logic that seemed to make a little sense, but we had a gut instinct in the other direction and we didn’t follow it. You need to trust your instincts.

Early on, I think one of the most painful moments, was when we ended up hundreds of pounds of organic carrot and we were not able to use them because we had too many. That was really painful. We tried to sell them.

What is your biggest piece of advice for someone who is just starting out?

I think one of the biggest things we learned is that there are so many people out there who have more experience and want to help. It’s been really amazing how willing people have been to share their stories and their experiences and that’s been a real gift.

Do you have a company or business owner that you really looked up to?

We actually met one of our favorite entrepreneurs at our trade show booth when we were very first starting. Daniel Lubetzky who started Kind Snacks. He has young children and took an interest in our brand. He was kind enough to really offer advice to us and take time to sit and talk with us. He just believed in us and I think that that has been really wonderful.

Where do you see yourself and Bitsy’s Brain food in 5 years?

The big transition that we want to happen is that more families really understand what our company is about because I think that’s what really makes this company special.

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How do you stay balanced?

Balance to me is a tricky word because I think parts of our lives are balanced from time to time, but the whole landscape of what we’re trying to get through rarely feels that way.

Is there something that each of you do to make sure your day is successful?

My kids are my happiness. The big thing is perception and realizing we have this one life to live. Enjoy it, be happy and stuff is not going to go your way but either you let it get you down or you stay an optimist. Attitude is everything.

What has been a successful marketing technique that you guys have tried?

We did a really fun program this summer with Alex’s lemonade stand. We sent kids lemonade stand kits and gave them the cookies to sell as well. They raised money for Alex’s lemonade foundation and it was great because families posted pictures on Instagram that had our cookie boxes in it that talked about Bitsy’s. It showed families what our company is about and we were able to raise money for pediatric cancer.

Share one thing that you want your customers to know about you that you think they don’t know.

There’s definitely not a day or moment that every single person that works at Bitsy’s isn’t doing their best to try to do right by kids and to do right by our customers. Things don’t always go perfect, but we’re really trying to make better products over what is out there and to do something good. I hope that people know that we care and that were definitely giving a thousand percent every day to try to bring people the best we can.

Click here to Listen to Bitsy’s Brain Food on the Blissful Bites Podcast in iTunes

Bitsy’s brain food is on a mission to make great food that’s start with a simple belief: Healthy bodies and healthy minds are connected and learning to eat smart should be fun. Every day they work to make mega delicious, ultra nutritious foods to nurture little bodies, minds and imagination and to inspire them to learn and grow. For Maggie and Alex it has always been all about the health of kids from your family to theirs.

Maggie and Alex are the co-founders of Bitsy’s Brainfood, a natural foods company that believes that healthy and fun go together like Bitsy's Brain Foodkids and playgrounds. Before becoming moms, they spent a lot of years working with kids and schools, studying child development and education. Together, they built nationally recognized programs that empower young people to live healthy, successful lives.  One of the biggest issues they saw affecting kids was the growing epidemic of childhood obesity, and that’s when the light bulb when on. Wouldn’t it be better, they thought, if instead of teaching kids how NOT to make the wrong choices, we made it a little easier for them to make the right ones? Then they became moms and said, SOMEONE had better do this.  And no one did.  So… they launched Bitsy’s. Making healthy fun! Both Maggie and Alex live in New York City with their families– featuring the four kids between them, who range in age from 2 to 5.

Connect with Bitsy’s Brain Food:

This episode was sponsored by the Bloggers Gonna Blog Community! Join here! 

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NEW podcast giveaway! (2 Bags Blissful Eats granola, 5 Pack of Not Ketchup, sample pack the Granilla Bar and variety pack of mixes from Among Friends and Smart Cookies from Bitsy’s Brain Food) by filling out the form below AND/OR writing an iTunes review and sending a screen shot of it in an email to me!

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Are you an imposter?

Are you an imposter? Today I want to talk about something that I’ve been feeling: Imposter Syndrome.  I don’t know if you ever heard of it but if you are someone who sets really high expectations for yourself, you are a high achiever and you don’t settle for mediocrity then I am guessing that you’ve probably felt like an imposter before. Imposter syndrome is basically feeling like you’re an imposter or a fraud and everyone is going to find out. It’s like you have this secret that you’re not really as good as everyone thinks you are or your not really the expert that some people think. Let’s chat about how we can get over those feelings of being an imposter because if you are saying, “Oh yeah! I’ve totally felt like this before,” then I’m pretty sure you are a really high achiever.  I’ve heard about this from celebrities like Tina Fey, Kate Winslet and Don Cheadle just saying they woke up in the morning and they’re thinking, “How did I get here…” “I can’t go off to work because people are going to find out that I’m not who I say I am…”

I’ve been experiencing that for a little bit recently especially from this podcast because I’ve had so much amazing feedback and so many people, listeners and friends have been saying, “I love your podcast. I can’t believe you’re doing so much. You are really rocking it. I’m so proud of you. You’re so successful.” And I’m kind of like, “Me? What are you talking about?” I have been having a little bit waves of that and my husband is really, really good about helping me stop and kind of smell the roses and he always says”You have accomplished this…” My downloads have been increasing every podcast release and honestly I am proud. I have been trying to take time and celebrate it a little bit but I am the queen of just blowing through successes, not stopping and really appreciating them and feel like an imposter.  You’re going to find out that I’m a normal person who wakes up early, just works hard and has a goal and a vision. There’s nothing really special to what I’m doing or there’s nothing really I’m doing that you couldn’t be doing if you wanted to be…so Imposter Syndrome basically. If you feel like this then let’s talk about some ways we can get over it.

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imposter syndrome

Ways to get over imposter syndrome

Take ownership of the successes you had.  I have a hard time with this one but I’m really working on it. Accept that you created your success and you deserve it. You obviously did something right to get where you are so take time, stop and appreciate the success.

Stop thinking so much about yourself. Have you ever just thought, “What are other people going to think of me if I put this out there, if I put this product out there, or this recipe out there or share this story. What’s everyone else going to think?” Stop thinking about what everyone else’s going to think about you.  Just stop making it so much about you. No one is really worrying that much about you. Just focus on giving, sharing out value and sharing your story. People will really appreciate that and resonate with it. If someone else has something to say then they shouldn’t be part of your tribe and they can just move on.

Appreciate the people who are supporting you.  I’m sure you have a little tribe or a community of people who really take the time to build you up. Go back and look at those blog comments or those reviews you’ve had or anything that you have that can build you up. For me that might be my Amazon reviews for Blissful Eats, that might be Tweets or emails that you guys have sent me about the podcast and links that you’ve posted about the podcast. Go back and look at those things that really build you up and make you feel really good. That will just kind of help you get grounded and focus on the fact, “Okay. I am where I am supposed to be and I am doing this. I deserve the success that I am having.”

Stop comparing. You are on your own journey; your chapter 40 is not going to be the same as someone else’s chapter 40 so stop comparing yourself…especially to someone else’s highlight reel. We tend to share our highlight reel and don’t share our failures. We mostly just share successes. You don’t know what the next person has been through so only compare yourself to yourself.

Share out your story. Be authentic, stay true to you and share what you’re comfortable with. Share the high’s and the low’s. This podcast is to share other entrepreneurs ups and downs so you can get a tiny little glimpse into what they’re doing. I hope you can find something tangible that you can kind of walk away with and also see that other people obviously have failures too. If you share out your highs and low’s people will kind of be drawn to you because you are just being honest and putting yourself out there.

Everyone Has Doubts

Everyone has doubts and everyone started somewhere. I personally love Chalene Johnson. She is someone who just always shares her truth and doesn’t ever try to sugar coat her story. I was listening to one of her podcasts this morning and she was just sharing about how she used to be a personal trainer with a broken down jeep. She used to go to people’s houses in her dream community and eventually now obviously she lives in that dream community. She totally doesn’t have to share about her start  when how she used to work out of her jeep. The point is everyone started somewhere and just because you aren’t having all the success that you want to have right now, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try.

Be authentic, share what you know and share what you don’t know. Also regarding Imposter Syndrome don’t let that hold you back. Stop avoiding things just because you think that you’re not good enough. Just believe in yourself and tackle them. Maybe you haven’t started a new job or maybe you haven’t written the book you want to write or write a certain blog post or develop a physical product like granola or nut butters because you don’t think that you can do it or you don’t believe in yourself enough. Well you CAN do it. Make a plan and start and tackle all those things.

Imposter Syndrome can be very real and it can definitely hold us back. I hope  by doing these 5 things: accepting your own success, stop thinking so much about yourself, appreciate the people who support you, stop comparing and share your story (the high’s and the low’s) that you will get over this Imposter Syndrome. Your message is so important and you’re trying to just make the world a little bit of a better place and that’s so important and we need people like you.

Stop the Imposter Syndrome. You are doing an amazing job.

I would love to hear from you. I want to hear what has been holding you back and how you have glimpses of Imposter Syndrome. If you try any of these 5 things then definitely Tweet me or find me on Instagram or Snapchat. I think a lot of times even just saying it to someone can even help us get over that. Share out your story, share out your message and stop being or feeling like you are an Imposter because you’re not.

Click to listen to Are You an Imposter on the Blissful Bites Podcast in iTunes

NEW podcast giveaway! (2 Bags Blissful Eats granola, 5 Pack of Not Ketchup, sample pack the Granilla Bar and variety pack of mixes from Among Friends and Smart Cookies from Bitsy’s Brain Food) by filling out the form below AND/OR writing an iTunes review and sending a screen shot of it in an email to me!

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Find me on social media and tell me how you’re working more on your business/blog!


Together We Grow with Amanda Brooks

Today’s post is all about growing your business on social media. Our guest today, Amanda Brooks, shares her strategies to growing her blog and business. Over the last few years she is doubled her readers and following on each social media platform without pulling her hair out. She’s created the lifestyle she wanted thru following her passions, making the right choices surrounding her brand and strategy.

Did you have a particular growth strategy to building your social media accounts?

I’m someone who loves research, so I will read everything there is and anything that I can get my hands on. I researched some of the tactics and strategies that people were using and if I’m spending the time pouring my heart and soul and effort into writing blog posts that I think are actually valuable, I need to get them out there. I need more people to read them otherwise why am I doing this? One of the things for me that I knew even before I started was together we grow. Too many entrepreneurs and bloggers come at things from a very competitive attitude and I just don’t believe in that. There are enough readers for all of us, so I love sharing other people’s great content and that paid off for me. I think sharing other people’s work was key. Another one was really just taking the time every once in a while to read some of the latest industry news on what tactics are working and then continuing to test the map.

What was the social media platform that really launched your blog growth?

I have done pretty well on Twitter for a very long time but I think Pinterest has really evolutionized blogging in the last few years. The amount of traffic that it drives is mind blowing and I’m a little terrified if we ever stop using it.

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Amanda Brooks

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Do you have 3 quick tips to maximize people use in Pinterest?

    1. Make sure you’re using vertical pins. You can have the most beautiful food picture but if it’s horizontal when someone is scrolling through Pinterest, it just doesn’t grab their attention.
    2. Re-pin other people’s content. People want to follow people who are sharing great content. If all you’re doing is pinning one blog post per day from your website, you’re not building a Pinterst board that people want to follow.
    3. Pinning at the right time of day. There is a number of studies that show that the evening is when people tend to be on Pinterest, so that’s when you want to be putting your best stuff into their feed.

 

Do you have a Pinterest scheduling tool that you like?

I use Ahalogy and got in when it first started.

What do you think is the most underutilized tool that entrepreneurs need to babe using?

I really think that tracking and scheduling are sort of huge things. When I say tracking I mean setting up a spreadsheet where you literally track every dime that comes in to you. You track it from the perspective of what did you receive as a service? What did you receive as a product? What did you receive in terms of actual cash money. I think just seeing that every month is super helpful to keep you in the mindset of making money. You can think about how much you could make or should you be charging more if you have a different goal. Track that right along with your expenses, so that you know if you’re really over investing before you’re bringing enough income.

Do you have any suggestions how to craft the pitch?

In the early days I pitched brands like crazy because I knew that working with brands was (at the time) one of the fastest ways for me to grow. I think what’s key is look around at what brands are already sponsoring other people. It means they’re open to the idea. Consider what brands you truly absolutely love and talk about. When you first write to them make that clear and even provide them a link to a place where you already talked about them because 8 million people are reaching out to them. Instead of focusing on your numbers especially if you’re a smaller blogger you reach out to them, “Here is my audience and here’s how it’s going to benefit you if I talk about you.” I think that’s the biggest key from any PR person is when they get your email what do they want to know? They want to know how it’s going to benefit them to work with you, not how it benefits you.

How has what you do change over the past few years?

Definitely my writing style has evolved over the years. For a while I looked at what some of the big blogs were doing. They were sharing their personal day to day or what they  ate and I tried that a little bit and then I tried doing very specific reviews of a product and those things didn’t feel quite right to me. I started looking around and realized there was really a couple specific types of content that people love to share. They love to share things that are educational, they love to share things that are funny and they love to share things that really set them apart in some kind of light, whether it’s showing that they’re an expert or something that’s emotional and really connects with them. I started focusing on that and thinking about that every time I went to write a post.  I started posting less and by posting less I got more readers, I got more shares and my actual views went up quite a bit.

What is the best way to make money on your website and just online general?

There are the ads on the side, those might be very small income until you start driving more traffic but it’s a way to get started. Working with brand sponsors is a great tool if you can figure out what it means for you. What I mean by that is do you want to be a site that just does reviews? You can absolutely do that all day long. For me when I work with the brand I still like it to be a very informational post.

How can we maximize our time without feel like we’re spinning our wheels?

I think the key is not feeling like you need to do it all. Figure out which platforms you enjoy and which platforms are actually driving you traffic. Get really, really good at one of them and you can start to leverage that one to grow another.

What works best for you?

Pinterest, like I said, is absolutely the top traffic driver. I love the interaction though that comes from Instagram now.

Do you have a few tips on how to grow your following on Instagram?

One is to look at why people follow you. In my case, obviously I write about running, my channel needs to be all about running and fitness. If I randomly post the photo of my cat, it’s all right but if I do a whole bunch of cat photos and random here’s my kitchen and here’s this and here’s that, people are confused. That’s not why they followed me so when they find your photo because you’ve used a great hash tag and then they looked at your feed and then they’re like, “Wait a second. She was talking about food and has this beautiful food photo but the rest of her feed is like her kids and her cats why would I follow her?” Now Instagam has made it easier to have multiple accounts if you want to be able to share photos of your kids and stuff maybe you’ll have a personal account and then you have an account specifically for your business and it’s focused entirely around whatever your topic is. That is huge for growth.

What about hashtags? Do you think you should be using them and how you should go about finding them?

Hashtags are key for Instagram; it’s how people find each other and how they figure out who to follow. One of the things you can do is look at someone in your niche who is doing well, see what hash tags they’re using and start using them. I try to rotate through different hashtags so that I’m not using the exact same ones all of the time. I have a note file on my phone so that I can copy paste the hashtags and put them in. I don’t have to remember them off the top of my head.

What is your social media pet peeve?

It’s the automated message when I follow someone on Twitter that says, “Hey! Thanks for following me. You can connect with me here, here and here…” It really, really bothers me and I always immediately unfollow them.

Why do you think people need to have an editorial calendar as opposed to just flying by the seat of their pants?

When I am brainstorming ideas it allows me to write things down. I can easily build on something that pops up here or there, so I’m never forgetting all of those ideas. It also helps me to stay on track if I’m doing sponsored posts. I know exactly what day it’s due so that I’m not working on it the night before.

What does balance really mean to you?

I don’t believe in traditional balance. Because balance for most us means that every day is this perfect ideal world of I spend exactly this much time working, exactly this much time with family. You have phases where you have a big project and you might be working lot. You have phases where things are easier and so you could step back and really invest in time with friends and family. For me balance is looking at things as a whole whether it’s food (“Did I generally eat well this week?”) or whether it is work. So, finding that space of knowing what’s your priority right now and leaning into those periods when you are a little bit less busy. It’s really easy as someone who works for yourself to just make yourself always busy. It’s choosing to see those moments where you can step back and really utilizing them to enjoy the life that you’ve wanted to create.

How do you manage the juggle?

Juggling for me is a matter of priorities. I have a notebook and every day I write down what I call my sacred 6. I write down 6 things that absolutely must happen that day and everything else if it doesn’t happen, that’s just life. My sacred 6 might include meditating and running.  I’ll look at what are 4 things that are going to move me forward in my business today because it’s super easy to get bogged down in the 8 million things that we need to do. If I can break it down to just focusing on these individual things today then I’ll know I’ve done what I need to do and tomorrow I can keep going from there.

How do you manage to stay healthy while you’re traveling so much?

Travel is never an excuse to skip a workout, it’s actually the best reason to work out. I love running in new places even when I’m on press trips, which means that your time is not your own. I will find ways to get up early or after dinner to go run because I know it’s going to give me more energy. It’s exciting to see a new place in a different way. I also really make sleep important.

What is the one thing you want our listeners to know about building a brand?

I think one of the things that is really key is to decide what you want to focus on. As soon as you decide who you’re writing for and what topic you really want to become an expert at that’s when you’ll start to see growth.

CLICK to listen to Amanda Brooks from Runtothefinish.com on the Blissful Bites Podcast in iTunes

Amanda is an eight time marathon finisher who has turned her passion for running into an online business through her blog amanda brooksRunToTheFinish.com which has become a destination for running tips, motivation and nutrition advice. Over the last few years, she has doubled her readers and followings on each social platform without pulling her hair out! She’s created the lifestyle she wanted through following her passions and making the right choices surrounding branding and strategy.

Amanda provides digital strategy coaching to fellow bloggers looking to create a stable income from their site and grow their following on social media. Learn more about her services here.

 

NEW podcast giveaway! (2 Bags Blissful Eats granola, 5 Pack of Not Ketchup, sample pack the Granilla Bar and variety pack of mixes from Among Friends and Smart Cookies from Bitsy’s Brain Food) by filling out the form below AND/OR writing an iTunes review and sending a screen shot of it in an email to me!

Blissful Bites Podcast Giveaway

Find me on social media and tell me how you’re working more on your business/blog!

Amanda Brooks

Innovate from what you know with Among Friends Baking Company

Suzie and Lizann started Among Friends over a cup of coffee and a cookie. Their goal is simple they want to help people fill their kitchens fresh from the oven baked goods made from the best ingredients. Their mixes make baking easy for people on the days when treats from scratch are impractical or impossible and what I loved most about their products is that each of their mixes is handcrafted and named someone they loved.

Tell us a little bit about both of you and Among Friends Baking Company.

The business started as a natural outgrowth of spending time together raising young children. For the first time we were out of the conventional workplace. We were doing quite different projects such as decorating all of the tables for some event or designing birth announcements, children’s bedrooms, just so much fun. As the kids were getting older they were starting to want more treats that had sugar in them and so I found this great oatmeal chocolate chip cookie recipe that was so easy and loaded with oats and I made some and took them to the lake and the kids just gobbled them up. From there Luzan really started tinkering around with the recipe and making them whole grain, getting rid the white flour and that’s really what we’re all about is creating whole grains for everybody that are so easy to make and are delicious.

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(Lizann)I am a born tinkerer. I cannot leave a recipe alone. I have notes in all my cookbooks. I am somewhat of a nutrition zealot, I like to think that I’m open to all kinds of ways of eating but I certainly was very adamant that I pass on some of this to my children. I have 3 boys and they were gobbling everything in sight and much what was available ten years ago was not good. When Suzie came to the lake with this cookie and I saw the kids gobbling it up and I thought, “They’re getting a decent amount of oatmeal.” I just have to make this even better. I think it was a couple years ago when I heard my kids say, “Mom we need more flax seed to make the smoothies,” I almost cried. It’s finally happening, they want to eat healthy and that’s really so satisfying.

How did that first conversation go when you actually decided to go from making cookies as mom to becoming an actual business owner?

Lizann: Because I was a writer who was very theme oriented and Suzy as the designer we moved very quickly from making cookies to concept. The concept in that part came actually quite easily for us. We really wanted something that symbolized our friendship and offered friendship to other people out there. The truth is you can’t do everything you want for your kids, so sometimes you have to find some good shortcuts. One of the things that I read was, “One of the nicest things you can do for your kids is to make them homemade treats because you know what’s going in them…” I really took that to heart and Suzie did as well.

Suzie: I actually said, “Oh my gosh! Our mom friends are going to love these…” And that’s how it started. We just put all of the ingredients in a clear bag with the bow on it and said, “Would you be interested in these for 5$?” Everybody loved them. We couldn’t keep up with demand.

Do you think that when you went into business it made it easier having a partner?

Suzie: Absolutely! There are just so many facets of the business that you cannot even comprehend, so to have someone else to bounce ideas off of it’s just wonderful and Lizann is like a sister to me.

Do you have clear assignments and delegations? Or do you blur the lines and work on the same things?

In the beginning the lines were blurry. We worked on everything together from the concept to packaging to writing to the recipe development. We couldn’t sustain that. At this point we actually are in very separate spheres, we have to make time to get together just to have fun.

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We focused on sales initially. I started taking the mixes door-to-door to smaller stores and now I focus on the natural stores like Whole Foods, Sprouts and retailers such as that. There are a lot that goes into sales instead of just not knocking on the door and say, “Hey! Do you want these?” You have to make sure they’re going to sell and you have to make sure that the store that you go to has the right product mix. It’s just critical to your business.

In all the things you have done in the past few years, what has been your most proud moment so far?

We decided Among Friends was the name of our company and we had to submit that and wait for it to be approved. When got the official certificate in the mail that was a big moment.

My nieces a couple of years ago were so cute. They were sitting at my counter, we were baking and they turned the package around and they said, “Wait a minute! Aunt Suzie is that your picture on the package?” They said, “You’re famous!” That just warms your heart.

Can you tell us specific time where you did something that was like a flop or just a struggle you went through or a disappointment?

I made a hundreds of cakes, gluten-free cakes before I got one to rise because when you take the starches out of a cake you recognize how critical it is to get the exact combination of dry ingredients to wet ingredients.

When we first started we need to get new UPC’s for all of these products so what did I do? I went on the internet. You can buy them inexpensively. I got ones that had been previously owned which is not a problem when you’re in some smaller stores but as soon as you become larger and at a national scale you have to have a family owned code. We had to change all of our UPC’s. So live and learn.

How did you come up with your sales strategy?

Initially it was a door-to-door or a back door to back door. We used to go to Whole Foods and drop off our product. Obviously overtime when we really started to translate our business into a sustainable model we knew that wasn’t going to work. We can’t be in all these places at one time so we talked with several people. I had a close friend who was a business consultant who worked in the food area so we captured his talents and opinions and eventually he became part of our team for a short period. We had no business background but we knew what we didn’t know. We also availed ourselves of my husband’s knowledge, he’s a businessman and has lots of good insights. We made a lot of mistakes until we really brought on someone who is now our CEO with 35 years of experience in the food field and operations.

In all your growth what was the hardest part or the biggest struggle with growing?

Finding employees who have the same passion and work ethic that we do, to help us grow. The other thing is the distribution model for natural foods is a hard one to capture because you need to be with some very big distributors to get into certain places. Then you’re too small for them to pay much attention to you plus all the fees and other things associated with being involved with them are very burdensome. We started out with the gunshot really going out into that world and then we had to step back and do it more strategically.

What would you say to someone who is right in that cusp? Do you have some tips just to help them go from that small business to getting into more of a major distribution?

It’s really important to make sure that you have the support of the retailers before you go into distribution because if you go to let’s say a Whole Foods and that buyer says, “Yes. I want to put you in all my stores.” It’s much easier to go to the distributor and say, “look I’ve got 40 stores for you to put my product in.” It’s going to work a whole lot better than taking it to the distributor and hoping that it sells.

I say something even in the beginning, “Depth before breath.” I think you really need to use your test stores to figure out what works and then once you know that you can expand.

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Your products are named after people you know how and why did you decide to do that?

That came up very, very early on. I’m not attracted to anything that doesn’t have meaning. They’re associated with people because you associate recipes with people. It was also a way of honoring the people we love.

What would you say is your biggest piece of advice to someone who is just starting out?

It’s really important to stay focused on the end goal and not to get too high not to get too low. You’re going to have ups and downs it’s just the way that it goes. You’re going to have struggles along the way and you have to choose to learn from those instead of beat yourself up about it.

 

Among Friends

 

Where do you see yourself in 5 years from now?

(Suzie)I would like to be the leader in the whole grain world. I want to make it easy and affordable for everyone to have whole grains incorporated into their lives and have a wonderful treat that’s easy to make and brings their families together.

(Lizann): I would like us to be part of the resurgence of Michigan and the Midwest and be able to offer a place to work that is fun, creative and where the learning never stops. At the same time have a good enough business model so that we can not only make money but offer employment to people in this area.

How do you stay balanced especially both of you being moms as well?

Suzie: Every day I make sure I begin with prayer and meditation and help I can make a difference in a positive way each day. And also I have to make sure I get my work out in.

Lizann: We stay balanced through fresh air, outdoor exercise, friendship, fun, we all have to put some of that in our day. For me reading is very important that also gives me a perspective.

What has been a successful marketing technique that you have done with Among Friends whether it was a giveaway, a promotion or a partnering with a company?

When we get customers writing to us, we personally respond to those people. That has gotten us so much ground with people because they realize I’m hearing from a real person, they’ve taken time to write me and answer my question, sometimes it’s a compliment and sometimes it’s a complaint.

Share one thing that you want your customers to know about each of you that you think they don’t know.

Lizann: Our customers don’t know that I am addicted to listening to books on my CD player. I go to the library and get CD’s. When I’m baking at home I’m always listening to something that enriches my world. I love memoirs, particularly food memoirs, and actually I first heard about the Gluten-Free Girl when I read her food memoir. Last week she published a blog about us and it was such a thrill to be able to talk to her.

Suzie: I love to dance and I can still do the splits. Lastly, I still illustrate and paint in my spare time.

Click here to listen to Among Friends Baking Company on the Blissful Bites Podcast

About Among Friends + Suzie and LizAnn:

About Suzie Miller 
Suzie Miller is a passionate entrepreneur, creative graphic designer, energetic small business owner and devoted mom and friend. She co-founded and co-owns Among Friends, a hand-crafted baking mix company that seeks to help people fill their kitchens with fresh-from-the-oven baked goods made from the best ingredients. Suzie is the mother of three children and focuses primarily on Among Among Friends Baking CompanyFriends’ brand identity, business development and retail relations. Previously, she serviced as a graphic artist for an advertising agency and a fine art consultant. A native of Toledo, Ohio, Suzie holds a BFA in Graphic Design from Bowling Green State University. She currently serves on the leadership committee for the Harvest of Thanks for the Toledo Northwestern Ohio Food Bank, where she helped to serve millions of meals every year and has supported fundraising efforts that secured more than $300,000 in additional funds over the last several years.
About Lizann Anderson 
Lizann Anderson is a creative entrepreneur, persuasive writer, and committed mom and friend who used her professional experience and passion for sharing stories and healthy recipes to co-create the rapidly growing business, Among Friends. In keeping with Lizann’s love of storytelling, each mix is named after someone the founders love. Lizann is a native of Toledo, Ohio, and resides now in Ann Arbor, Michigan with her husband Gerry and three sons. Lizann holds a BA in English from the University of Notre Dame and a MA in English Literature from the University of Chicago. She helped launch the Neutral Zone Teen Center in Ann Arbor, Mich., which serves as a diverse, youth-driven teen center dedicated to promoting personal growth through artistic expression, community leadership and exchange of ideas. Lizann currently volunteers at local Ann Arbor public schools to teach students about whole grains and good nutrition.

NEW podcast giveaway! (2 Bags Blissful Eats granola, 5 Pack of Not Ketchup, sample pack the Granilla Bar and variety pack of mixes from Among Friends and Smart Cookies from Bitsy’s Brain Food) by filling out the form below AND/OR writing an iTunes review and sending a screen shot of it in an email to me!

Blissful Bites Podcast Giveaway

 


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Without Failure There is No Success!

In business, there are ups and downs. It’s just the way it goes. We have failures and then, hopefully we have success. I know that it so easy to get on social media and caught up in the comparison trap. With Blissful Eats and the podcast I have been sharing a lot about my success.  In general, it’s really hard for me to stop and celebrate little things. I’m the type of person that just is like, “On to the next thing.” Something I’m trying to do is just stop and celebrate.

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After I posted a recent success on Facebook, I realized that my Facebook is totally my highlight reel. I haven’t shared many of my struggles, but at the same time that’s what social media is, isn’t it? I’m such a positive person and I’m very optimistic. I’m totally a glass half full person. I like to say I’m a realistic-optimist, so it’s not in my nature to just really share any of the huge struggles we have with Blissful Eats or as an entrepreneur in general.  I try and keep it real in other ways especially as a working mom. I just wanted to stop and take a second and just be transparent. When you see all the success that someone is having, really what you’re not seeing is all the failures that they have had along the way.

No one is having success after success after success without having even more failures. I’ve gotten so much support from everyone and so many people saying congrats and I appreciate EVERY single comment (TRULY!) but I just wanted to take the time to say that without the failure there is no success. Chalene Johnson shared one of her recent struggles she had in her business and I basically recorded this right after I listened to that. It was already on my heart and I took it as a sign.

Just so you know that I’m a real person with failures as well as successes,  I will tell you that we did have a pretty big setback. We lost one of our biggest accounts with Blissful Eats because honestly we were taking a loss every time we sold to this big company. They wanted very low pricing to pass off low pricing to their customers and we just couldn’t do it anymore.  We tried to raise our prices so we would actually make a (SUPER SMALL) profit on the sale of each bag and they dropped us. I was super, super bummed about it for a few days because I felt like it was a great way to just get in more people’s hands. The reality is when you are in business you need to make money Especially in the food business where there is a ton of overhead, packaging, ingredient cost and so on and so forth. To have a loss and have it cost money on every bag is just insane.

Without Failure There is No Success #blissfulbitespodcast Click To Tweet

After having that realization that I need to move on and focus on accounts that do make us money (so we can survive and grow as a business…and stay around!)  I’m moving onward and upward. After that “failure” came a purchase order for Whole Foods Union Square which was absolutely amazing.

failure

The point is, I just want you to know that social media is everyone’s highlight reel. I try to be transparent, I try and share my struggles. Even still on social media you are really going to see all the successes and wins, so get out of the comparison trap, don’t compare your chapter 1 to someone else’s chapter 26. Be positive and look at your own journey and look at how far you’ve come. Don’t compare yourself to the next person. I hope this helped you just stay positive where you are in your journey. If you are in the middle of a failure or you’re feeling high from a success then just ride it out and keep going, put one foot in front of the other and keep a positive light.

Click here to listen to Fast Friday Without Failure There is No Success

NEW podcast giveaway! (2 Bags Blissful Eats granola, 5 Pack of Not Ketchup, sample pack the Granilla Bar and variety pack of mixes from Among Friends and Smart Cookies from Bitsy’s Brain Food) by filling out the form below AND/OR writing an iTunes review and sending a screen shot of it in an email to me!

Blissful Bites Podcast Giveaway

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