wow! So much has been going on. We are in our new space. The move was
so much easier than I thought it would be and we had so much support. We
have been working really hard and everyone that comes by is amazed that
we are up and running so fast. I totally credit Ian for his drive. He
just amazes me and he can make anything happen! After some searching I
finally found this video that I made when we first moved in to our old
kitchen space in February 2009. I almost started crying when I saw
it..we had so much less stuff and I was so excited! I took another video
of the old space before we moved out last week and the change is
amazing. What a cool way to acknowledge all of the progress that we've
made! Please watch both videos...it is way inspiring. Also, my
commentary on the older one is really funny...I am so happy that Ian's
dad, Bill, still had this around!
Ever since we started our business, I have
dreamed of a time that we can contribute to organizations that I believe
in. We were approached last month by a lovely local Ithaca lady, Megan
Begert. She runs an amazing program here in Ithaca called The Fresh
Fruit & Vegetable Snack Program (FFVSP),
which provides a fruit and vegetable snack grown at local farms in our
area. The program has been very successful in one elementary school.
There has been a lot of demand to take the program to a new school and
we are helping to make it happen! We are now one of the sponsors for the
program and we could not be more thrilled. We are big time believers in
healthy school food and sharing locally grown food with our community’s
To donate to the FFVSP’s current indiegogo campaign please go here:
I have a lot of business conversations. Every time I leave town the questions often revolve around Ithaca. How does it work, being so far away? How can anyone find you? How will you ever find a capitol investor in Ithaca? Etc etc. The truth is, there are some downsides to operating a business in a place that is at least 30 minutes from a major highway. First one is shipping and receiving. We have to pay a local distribution company to deliver our orders to our distributors. If we were in New York City, for example, the distributor would simply pick it up from us for free. We also miss out on certain marketing/promotion opportunities. It is often a big “to-do” to pack up the car and attend events in larger cities. Same goes for packing up an event set-up to send somewhere and paying someone to do it. We still do it sometimes, but it could be easier. Yea sure, there are a lot of perks for running a business in a major city, but what are the values that are important to you that will help you and your business run well?
We attended two meetings yesterday that confirmed with me that we are running our business in the most perfect place for our business. First, we attended the final class of an Ithaca College Public Relations graduate level course. They took our company on as a “client” for the semester to create a Public Relations plan that would work for our business within the very tight budget that we have currently. The presentation was amazing. There were about 12 students working on the project. They all spoke eloquently and created a beautiful projected presentation. They also created a proposal booklet that illustrated their ideas and included sample press releases, survey results and media contacts. Their ideas were so great, I am sure you will be seeing us take many of them on in the next few months.
After Ithaca College, we attended a small group meeting of small manufacturers based in Ithaca. This was an informal dinner at a local restaurant where we met for the first time. We all went around and shared about our companies along with some of the challenges and successes we have had. There is so much wisdom to be shared among us, I am looking forward to the ideas that we will exchange and what I will learn from this group!
Last night re-affirmed to me that there are some things here that you just cant get in other places. There is such an abundance of resources here with mentors, free services, affordable rent, universities, expertise and more! What it boils down to is what your goals are. Ian and I are truly enjoying the ride. We are learning something every day and honestly we discover a new reason why its great to be in Ithaca just as often.
Wow, one month since my last blog post. I wanted to give a “shout out”
to my recent White House experience which is beginning to feel more and
more surreal. Did that really happen to me?
Many of you have been extremely supportive and excited and I cant thank
you enough. What an honor, an experience that I will remember for the
rest of my life.
I received an email on March 31 (a Saturday) inviting me to attend President Obama’s signing on the American JOBS
Act. It also asked for my social security number, place of birth and
some other very personal information. I immediately ignored the email.
My social security number? Over the internet? I put it in the back of my
mind thinking that this was spam. It wasn’t until I received a follow
up email on the following Monday that I began to realize that this might
be for real. I sent an email to Slava Rubin, CEO of IndieGoGo
(which was the amazing sight that we used for our Crowdfunding
Campagin), and asked “Is this real?” I got a quick response back saying YES and that I better be there. This was Tuesday now and I had to leave on Wednesday.
Now many of you have the question “Why were you invited??” The reason
for my invitation is mostly because of our crowd funding campaign with
IndieGoGo. Over a year ago, Ian and I launched Gift to Greatness
, where we raised $15,000 so we could re-design our packaging and print
custom bags for our product line. Needless to say, it was a huge
success. Friends, family and fans all contributed small to large amounts
of money until we reached our final goal. It was amazing to see so many
people SUPPORTING our business. We were left
eternally grateful and inspired. Even during the campaign, we received a
great deal of support from the folks at IndieGoGo themselves. Even one
of their founders, Danae, donated to our campaign. They shared it on
their newsletter, on social media outlets and sent encouraging emails.
When the campaign was over, they used our campaign as an example for
media stories that requested them. One of those media outlets was The
White House Blog. In Obama’s American JOBS
act, there is a major portion that talks about crowd funding as a way to
raise capitol for small businesses and this bill will allow people to
raise higher amounts of money in exchange for shares of a company
(rather than lovely gift boxes of macaroons like we did…). There are MANY
other pieces to the bill, but this was the piece that our campaign was
used as an example for. See that original blog post from the White House
HERE (click on “these bakers”).
So, being that Ian and I are both very resourceful with our money while managing a quickly growing company, I got a ride to NYC
and then took a direct bus to DC. I promise you, I was the only person
who was invited to the White House who arrived to DC by bus…I was lucky
enough to stay with a friend just outside of the city that night. Right
as we got to my friend’s place, I received another email from the White
House. I was invited to come to a roundtable discussion about the pros
and cons of the bill with a few other entrepreneurs and members of the
White House. I, of course, said yes, but admit that I was incredibly
nervous. When I arrived and went through security, I quickly found Slava
and some other entrepreneurs. There were maybe 8-9 of us and then a few
members of the White House in the roundtable. We had a very interesting
discussion about the American JOBS Act. The
risks involved and also the opportunities that it provides to smaller
I was able to share about how we had taken out a business
loan but we weren’t ready to take out another one and how using IndieGoGo
was the perfect solution and a wonderful experience for us. I was in
that room, with an understanding that I was representing the smallest
business there. No questions asked. But what was interesting was that no
matter the size of the business, there were common threads, issues and
needs that we all brought up. That was one of the best parts of the day,
getting that we are equal players in this business game. We may have
less money and less employees than the other companies, but we are all
out to make things happen and that has its challenges. I should say that
I THOUGHT this was going to be the best part
of the day until I was asked to stay in the conference room after the
roundtable. I just got a “You stay here.” So I stayed. It was me and
three other entrepreneurs. I had no idea what was going on so I just
talked to the other people and enjoyed myself. Slowly but surely I
noticed that some of our country’s congressmen started to walk in. I
went over to one of the White House staff members and asked “Why was I
asked to stay in here?” He replied, “Oh, because you are going to stand
behind the President as he signs the bill. He’s about to come in here to
greet you all before the ceremony.” My eyes widened. I was not
expecting that! Soon enough President Obama came into the conference
room. We were all standing in a line and he started to make his way
down, shaking everyone’s hand. He came to me, I introduced myself and he
replied with a lovely “Hello Samantha” and moved on to the next person.
It was a brief interaction but a powerful one at that. His serious yet
kind nature was obvious and it was such an honor to be so close to him.
After this we all walked out to The Rose Garden where the ceremony was
about to take place. We were lined up according to height? I think? And I
was placed right in front (being short has never paid off so well!).
There was press, cameras and a full audience. It was very exciting. The
President came to podium and gave a few remarks on the bill and then
walked to the small table where we were standing. I watched as The
President signed this bill into a law. How many people get to say that
in their lifetime?? Not many. When he was done, he turned around, shook
all of our hands again and left. After that I made my way to a small
reception at a hotel nearby, talked to some of the other attendees, then
found a taxi cab and made my way back to the bus station. In shock. As
all of this was happening, Ian started getting phone calls from the
press about who I was and what our company does. I teased him and said
he was hired as my new publicist.
Since I have been back, I have been sharing this story and pictures on our facebook page
. I have received so much support about my adventure!! I have also been
contacted by a few media outlets and already had the opportunity to
write a guest post on The White House Blog.
Not only was this a wonderful opportunity for me, but it has been a
great way to get our name out there. We are grateful. Thank you again to
IndieGoGo and all of their support. If you have ever thought about doing a crowd funding campaign, I highly recommend using them!
Please feel free to post any comments or questions you have below here.
The last thing that I want to say for now is ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE.
Talk to you soon.