Tell us about your business. Now available in over 6,000 grocery stores in the US & Canada, Slawsa is a unique, primarily cabbage-based relish with heat undertones that is addictive. All-natural, fat-free, cholesterol-free, gluten-free, low in sodium and kosher, you may never eat another pickle relish again after you try Slawsa. In fact, not only is Slawsa healthier and tastier but far more versatile too. From topping your grilling meats such as hot dogs, brats, burgers, pulled pork and fish, all the way to using it within recipes (think egg/potato/tuna salad or in deviled eggs), it can also be used as a dip for tortilla chips. We are proud to be the gourmet topping without the gourmet price.
Please tell us what being a business owner means to you and why you became an entrepreneur in the first place? For over a decade, I worked my way up the ranks in the male-dominated industry of sports marketing and ultimately helped build an agency for someone else from the ground up. I don’t know if it was my background in working with brands for my long-time client or the fact that my efforts helped grow a business from nothing, but there is nothing more fulling in the world to do….grow a brand in the hearts of consumers. I have to credit my husband for really encouraging me to take that leap of faith to become an entrepreneur.
What or who has been your greatest influence in business and why? So many people in my past have touched me and I think I’m always learning from those around me. I try not to assume that someone who has a great reputation always has great character so I probably look more up to people in business that I know personally and I know possess those character traits that I see in myself. There is a quote by Benjamin Franklin that is very near to me and I think rings true for those who are successful in business: “Well done is better than well said.”
What would you say is your greatest professional accomplishment to date? I still feel I am lightyears away from achieving my goals but there is a certain satisfaction with getting both the nation’s largest grocery retailer (Kroger) and the nation’s largest retailer (Walmart) to carry Slawsa pretty early in the game. It’s very rare for major retailers to show that kind of confidence with a young company/brand but I think it’s a direct reflection of the uniqueness of Slawsa as well as tremendous hard work in marketing it and generating sales on a shoestring budget. We’ve also received some high compliments from many within the food industry, from Food Network hosts, industry writers, chefs and the like. To get that kind of feedback from those influential people really reinstates that Slawsa’s flavor is very cutting-edge and embraced.
What’s the best advice you have received in business that you wish to pass on to our readers? I wouldn’t be where I am if I hadn’t read/listened to advice from others who are further along in their entrepreneurial journeys. I’m a big advocate in giving back and do so by writing business articles, many of which I have linked on our website. If my advice is able to help someone else who is just starting out, then they’ll achieve their goals faster, and hopefully with less headache. My advice is to not be afraid to ask questions as it can help you avoid costly mistakes.
What has been the most effective marketing initiatives or programs you have used to promote your business? The specific marketing program that I use for promoting Slawsa may not necessarily work for a different type of product or for another grocery item in my category necessarily. I think one thing that is very true across all businesses that will help is to not be afraid to put a personality behind your brand. People connect with people, not brands who are just starting out. Ultimately that brand will build it’s own personality over time….because of the type of person the owner is.
What one thing have you learned as a small business owner that has served you well over the years? You will make mistakes…don’t let those mistakes defeat you. Instead, learn from them and keep moving forward.
Are there any resources or tools you’d like to share with other small business owners that have helped you run your business? Now that “entrepreneurialism” is becoming a popular word, there are several “groups” on Facebook that people should look into joining. You’ll find a great deal of resources, free advice, connections and support from these groups.
Do you have any new projects coming up? A few weeks ago, I launched, through Slawsa social media, a “Be Slawesome Today” campaign. At 9:00 am ET three days a week, I share a #MondayMotivation, #WednesdayWisdom and #FridayFocus thought of the day. They are little tasks or gestures that we can all do in our everyday lives to make the world a kinder place. I hope it grows and people share these quotes to inspire both themselves and others to pay it forward.
What do you do for fun/relaxation? In all honestly, I usually work at least 14 hours a day, 7 days a week because that’s just the reality of launching a grocery item, but I think it is important to have balance in your life. If I can make 30 minutes to an hour each day for vigorous exercise (running, Insanity workouts), that helps. Also, I absolutely love cooking so spending time in the kitchen with a little Dinah Washington, Ella Fitzgerald or Michael Buble tunes playing in the background….that’s bliss.
What is Number One Business Goal you plan to accomplish over the next year? I am hoping that by the end of 2015, we’ll have coast to coast distribution. As great as distribution is, it does no good if people don’t know about your brand so generating double the awareness and trial is a goal. Slawsa is a very “communal” product in nature so it does get shared more than most items in the grocery store and has the opportunity to get there.
You want to write a book on… “launching a brand” based on my experiences over the years of launching Slawsa. It would include all of the hurdles because I think it’s important for people to know it’s not an easy thing to do….but possible.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers? I think the one thing I want to get across is the power of ones voice. When we have a customer email into our website thanking us for Slawsa, it’s a very humbling thing because you know they didn’t have to take time out of their day to write in. I always make a point to send a very personal message back because the best compliment we can ever hope to receive is their voice in helping us spread the word to others. I personally try to make a conscious effort to promote other small businesses because I know how important it is for a business like mine, fighting for space and awareness amongst the Goliath’s of the industry on a tight budget.
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Visit her website: http://www.slawsa.com