I'm Sari Kimbell and I've done just about everything in the food industry. I have helped hundreds of packaged food business entrepreneurs and now I want to help you make your delicious dream a reality. Whether you want to be successful at farmers' markets, online, or wholesale on the store shelves, Food Business Success is your secret ingredient. I will show you how to avoid an expensive hobby and instead run a profitable food business. Now let's jump in. All right, everyone! Welcome back to the podcast. I have such a fun guest with me. It's a real honor to be here with Brady Stewart of J. Brady Seasonings. So first of all, welcome, Brady.
Thanks for having me. Good to see you.
So fun to do this. We've been wanting to do a podcast for a while but I wanted to kind of hold off and I think this is a great time to do it. But I will say you and Katie were my two first clients ever.
Yeah, we've been together a long time.
You're just collecting the merit badges back there. I like it.
I know, right. So it started with jam and seasoning blends. Here we are. So 3 years or? I don't even know.
It's like, yeah, we're like going on because it'd be five years that I started my company in February. And I think it was a year and some change after that we met.
Yeah, yeah. It's been so fun to be on this journey and we both changed and grown and evolved so much. And so why don't, with that, why don't you Brady introduce yourself a little bit and your product like what is your business? Tell all the people.
Yeah, of course. My name is Brady Stewart. I live in Fort Collins, Colorado. And about five years ago, I started a food business called J. Brady Seasonings. Literally out of my home kitchen. I get started with the cottage food laws in Colorado. If you're listening and you don't know and you're thinking about doing it, it's really cool. It's a great state to do it. Definitely check into that cottage food laws act. Anyway, I knew I always wanted to start my own business, I thought it would be food oriented. Digging in the food industry and I have a degree in food engineering from Oklahoma State University. Worked for large food manufacturers. I've done anything in a kitchen restaurant, you know, my younger years and so, I was trying to figure out what to do and my wife always noticed I was blending seasoning blends in the kitchen. She's like, you know, why don't you do that? And so I just kind of ran with it from absolute ground level. You know, started looking where to buy bulk, what could I do, started coming up with my blends, and my branding, and my labels and really just piecemeal that at a time. Kept my full time job but I've been doing it on the side and just trying to grow it ever since. And Sari has been a big part of that journey. Helping with business consultations and coaching and just figuring out you know, literally how to go from hey, this thing's being in my kitchen to how do I sell it to the public at large? How do I make it profitable?
Yeah, we did some, a little bit of rebranding. We got some updated labels. I mean, we're gonna talk all like about successes and wins and also pivoting and the F word, right? The failure. The learning.
Yeah, that's a big one. That's one of the biggest piece of the equation.
Yeah. So it's such a good time to have you on because your journey has been filled with really positive things like we've definitely been like, oh my gosh, oh, we got into Safeway and you're on like, was it 90 some stores in Colorado?
It was like 130. And then it always fluxes because between the distributors and Safeway, they kind of play by different rules. And so yeah, well over 100 stores total, probably close to 150.
Yeah, gotcha into distribution. We kind of leveled up those main labels, but I guess just yeah. So maybe take us a little more on your journey in that you started cottage food and then what was your next? You started, everything you started doing for one little farmers market, right?
I started over in Windsor, which you guys are familiar with the northern Colorado area. It's kind of a bedroom community to Fort Collins and Loveland here. And at that point, again, you know, we're starting from no knowledge at all of this. I really just started hitting the pavement. So on weekends, I saw these gift stores that had kind of similar products. And, you know, I was pounding the pavement literally up in Estes Park, Colorado and one guy in particular, I met him and he just said, hey, I like your product, but you can't sell it in the store. You have to, you know, have wholesale licensure and there's all sorts of stipulations that come with that of you know, you need to have made in commercial kitchen. And so I kind of was like, oh, wow, that's a large step. You know, everybody should become scared of that, it happens. But at the same time, the guy gave me a card and said, hey, my son owns a seasoning's co packing manufacturing and storefront. And finding out, you know, there's different ways to go, you may not have to rent your own commercial kitchen and warehouse your raw ingredients. You can go the co packer route. So what I did is I worked with a guy named Shawn Godbey, who owns Old Town Spice shop here in Fort Collins. And we figured out how to develop my flavors on a large scale. You know, sometimes when you scale up your weights and volumes, and there's a lot of trial and error. In the first few I did, one of my flavors had so much acid it actually burned by mouth. Definitely worth the trial and error.
Yeah, and we get away from teaspoons and cups.
Oh my gosh, yeah. Volume. And yeah, it was cool. And so really, you know, the win there was networking and just being open to what came my way because it was a bit of a blank slate. I didn't know the direction I wanted to go. I didn't know, honestly, some of the regulations, the rules, what's allowable and so just asking the question, you know, you'll be blown away with what you find.
Yeah, Food Business Success wasn't around yet, it's okay. You're forgeting.
And so it's, you know, it's the Google search and then asking somebody who's doing it at a farmers market. But that was a big win, just because I do still have a full time job as an engineer, you know, between the cost of running a commercial kitchen and warehousing and the time commitment, it just wasn't for me. So if I can have somebody still bottle and label my product to my specification, and basically cover all my bases I need to from a regulatory standpoint and it's still on the cost point that, you know, that's the direction. All I want to do was a huge one.
Yeah, no, 100%. And not all products are destined for co packing or right away, but I think I've worked with a number of seasoning blends now. And it makes me actually use Shawn for a couple of them. So it makes a lot of sense because the shelf life is long on those. And yeah.
Well in here, you know, one of the things kind of highlight you, Sari, we built up a costing model, right? We made sure that hey, can we go and make the product, still be able to sell it and make the profit? Right? We figured out our margins. That was, you know, just from a business standpoint, the work upfront on that was huge because that told me how many do I need to sell to remain profitable? How many? You know, can I sell to go scale up and get better margins from the co packer? Where do I need to set my price, you know, for online sales or if I go to distribution for a store? You know, how do I ship it at that size? And so that was huge building that costing model. You know, those are the real nuts and bolts of a business. Sometimes people just don't know, you know.
No, yeah, people are excited. They just like get their product out there. And I'm all for that. That's farmers markets are for. But when you start going into stores and wholesale, yes, legal, all the, you know, the licensing and legal aspects of your business, your label, your product. And then, you know, let's not write a check every time we, let's make sure we're profitable. Right?
Exactly. I mean, that's what business is doing every single day, you know, and learning a little bit about that even just a surface level is huge, right? It just gives you an insight of like, how does it work? Because somebody might have the most amazing salsa recipe and have no idea about numbers. And so having that knowledge just enough shows you hey, is this a real thing that we could run with? It takes a lot of the fear out, right? Numbers and uncertainty are subjects most feared of.
Yeah, take out the drama. It's just math, just numbers. Now we know. So we got the co packing where you're rocking and rolling. Then you start hitting some local grocery stores where, you know, in Fort Collins and getting on store shelves. And then you kept doing some farmers markets. So things were growing, kind of getting bigger at that point.
Yeah, absolutely. And I think a lot of it, you know, Colorado is a very unique state. I moved here, six and some change years ago from Oklahoma. The general environment we talked about the cottage food laws earlier here are very conducive to starting a small business and especially a small food business. You think of all the farmers market, you think of the crunchy granola, independent grocers. Those are the guys that are your friends, you know, they're the ones that are willing to take a chance on somebody who hasn't been in business for a long time. Someone who doesn't have a lot of backing and money and distribution. And so really the big step and the next one, and it was a lot of footwork was calling and going to and getting samples to these independent grocers who want to say, you know what, we'll take a shot on you, and see how your product works. And so, you know, you're getting them samples, and you're having to do the follow up, you know, you got to put on your sales cap and a lot of people don't like that. Sales is just a natural part of marketing. You know, it doesn't have to be this taboo sleazy thing, it's really not. It's here's my product, how can I benefit both of us and getting it out there. It's just a natural part of it, you know, and if you're not good at it, try and get better or figure out somebody who can help you. But that was a big piece was getting some of the smaller grocers on board. Because then what that signaled when I wanted to go to a distributor and get in the safe ways in the larger retailer chains of the world was, hey, this person has backing, I've got a little bit of legitimacy because products are in competing stores and they stayed in there and they'd made sales. And that was the big piece is getting your product out there especially in kind of a local regional area building from here out, you know, I do have stores in 20 some odd states now. Gift Store, a small grocery store, find me online, or I've met somebody here, there, but really going to each store that you know, that could carry your product and is willing to, hitting those and just making those connections. And it's time consuming but it's totally worth it. And again, that's my, you know, that was my journey. Some people it may be purely online sales, some people might have satisfied with just the farmers market or the holiday markets. But I knew just with the volumes I needed to make and my profit margin again because we spent the time upfront. Putting the business model together and financial models together. I needed to be in retailers. I needed big volumes of sales, right? Making $1 to $2 off a bottle of seasoning, that's a lot of bottles you got to sell. And so I just knew that was my path. And then yeah, I got with Loco Foods, it's a distributor at Fort Collins. And basically what they do is specialize in local producers that distribute to not only some of the independent grocers, but Safeway, their distributor, Safeway here and work through them. And again, you know, they had metric side to hit, right. So going back to getting in all those independent stores, they said, you know, you have to sell X amount of units a month, you have to gross X amount of profit and once you do, we'll get you, you know, on with us, and that's been a win not only from Safeway, but all other grocers and retailers that they service. So it's really, it's building blocks, like if you can tell from what I'm saying, you know, you do this step, and you work out and work at it and then you get this step, when you meet some people, you might catch a break here, and so it's definitely a long journey. There's no silver bullet home runs usually. You can tell unless you have tons and tons of money, which so many people don't.
That's what I love about your story. And that's, I just thought this could be a nice, like, feel good, but also a real I told you, I'm like, let's just be real about it. And I always appreciate your willingness to be candid. And, because, you know, when people are like, what's the recipe, just tell me what to do. And it's like, you know what, I can tell you the foundational pieces but how it comes together, you know, that's the gift you get at the end, like you look back and say, oh, that's all gonna come together. Like, you know, we looked at distribution but we didn't have the numbers yet and then you kept hustling. And it seemed like, oh, and then you would meet somebody so and so and, you know, you were you were putting together stuff with that magazine. You were doing interviews and recipes. You were doing the radio show. I mean, you were really just, you're willing to try a lot of things.
And those things are fun and that's, you know, so many people like you said they want the recipe. And it's the, you know, I hate to do, the only recipe is hard work. It kind of is, but you're playing the odds, right? So if you have a good financial model, and you're networking, and you've got a good product, and you're really playing the odds, you're giving yourself the best chance for something good to happen. And I just so, I like to ride, I like to food ride. I got in with some, met some people that, you know, to have local publications. Use social media, it's your friend. I mean, you wouldn't believe how far a message on Instagram goes, just saying hey, I like what you're doing. I do this. You know, maybe we could benefit one another. But it's setting yourself up for the win, right? It's not, if I do ABC, it's guaranteed that this is going to happen. Because nothing at all is guaranteed. I got into Safeway like three months before COVID blew up. And so it was, it was like, oh my god, I'm in a major retailer. And then we have 100 year...
Which everybody was grocery shopping. But...
You would think, yeah, that's a whole lot.
But it didn't work out quite that way.
On part two of this podcast, we'll get into that. But it is, that's the recipe is, it's meeting as many people, being passionate about it, just going at it and playing the odds of having the best possible chance of this piece. And the best possible chance of this piece, the best possible one. So someday, somebody is like, yeah, we'll do that, we'll buy you, we'll put you on our shelf. And that's really my advice is you have to do that. Because if not, you're never gonna get there anyway.
Yeah, what does that I'm gonna probably totally butcher this. But it's like, luck is basically where opportunity and preparedness meet, right? Like you just happen, you know, you've done all the work, you've been putting, it's that compound effect of you just, you're showing up, you're doing all these things. And then, you know, because people might look at and be like, oh, you're so lucky. Like, things just fell in your lap like no. For your overnight success.
Exactly. And there's a podcast I like called How I Built This with Guy Raz. It's an NPR, I believe, it is big question to all these entrepreneurs, you know, these are Mark Cuban entrepreneurs, those type of folks, Jim Rubio, and his question is, was it luck or was it hard work? And you know, they always have varying degrees of one or the other. I'll say this, it is hard work but you have to have a little luck. It's a combo of the two, right? There's no, only one of me, you can go and break rocks all day long.
It's doing bold act. I was just talking to Food Business Success client yesterday and I was like, I really want to encourage you to do a bold action every day, like DM somebody, reached, you know, send an email to somebody like you can do all this hard work in the background. But if you don't actually tell people and put yourself out there, there is no luck. Because that's where luck comes from is that energy and the meeting of people and connections.
And how lucky we are to live in a time to where, you know, you got one of these, you can send a message to somebody and it can turn into an amazing job opportunity or business opportunity, or just a connection, just a cool connection that leads somewhere you never even thought I mean, it's so easy and so, I know not everybody's not as extroverted as me, people person, but part of business is you kind of have to be, right. You really do because business is a function of how do people benefit one another, right? That's, it just is, you know, you have to get out there and make those connections. Yeah.
It's an exchange of value, right. So yeah, you have to be willing to get yourself out there and be authentic, you know, you don't all have to be exactly like Brady.
And you don't and you know, I hit on it earlier like I think there's such a taboo with the idea of sales and networking because we have this idea of like, the sleazy car salesman, and it's, that's not it at all, like, every day, you know, advertisement or billboard, or again, you know, social media, watching television. It's people marketing because that's how business is run. That's one of the big, you know, foundations of a business is connecting to people, showing them the value you're bringing to it, and why they should, you know, give you money in return for that product or service. I mean, that's just part of it.
Yeah. And, okay, so you've been but you built it up we've been slowly building it, you're putting in the work, I know you, we got the, you know, got in with local, got into Safeway, I remember we had conversations around financing and how are you going to make that work. Because you know, it was a big, you know, PO for 90 plus stores and so we did all those pieces. We did the label, we worked with a local artist, kind of some of the feedback you were getting, well actually tell us a little bit about what your kind of branding intention was and then we can move to adjust it a little bit but I think it's still relevant.
So I've always really liked the craft beer industry and you know, it's a it's a giant player here in Colorado. I love their artistry, their playfulness on their bottles, the branding, the different flavors. And I just thought that'd be cool for seasonings and especially with my blends and the things I use them for, you know, my flagship seasoning is called the Cowboy Shake. And so originally, we wanted some imagery of cowboys, American west, shaking hands. I've got one called the Outlaw Shake, it's kind of a chilly line, you know, these are kind of American West, you know, rustic American feel that I was really going for. And I mean, I'm not an artistic person visually, by any means. And so, you know, I hit up a person at the time and they helped me out with some graphics. But going to larger retailers, you know, they kind of made the point, hey, your product's good, it can be great with better labeling. And so we went that direction and I've made a connection again, gentleman who I really liked his artwork, he does a lot for publications and local businesses here and so kind of worked through him and figured out, you know, the direction we wanted to go and this kind of rebrand and, again, it's just a step by step process. And there's not an answer. You know, there's a lot of ambiguity too. And so which progression should we want and, you know, you go and ask five friends, hey, what do you think of these? You know, that's what's cool though is even though I'm not a visually creative person, I get to go through that creative process.
Yeah, that was really fun to do that.
It was, it was awesome. I wish I could show you up in my office here. I actually have the original like watercolor prints that the guy did to became the labels for my...
That's right, because he was a real artist, true artist.
It was kind of cool on those. He actually paints it and then does a digital like high high res image. You know, he didn't do anything electronic. It was gorgeous.
It was fun. Yeah. So the labels turned out awesome. But I think you still kept that capturing that kind of micro craft. You know, microbrewery craft brewery feel that you were...
Exactly, it's personal touch. You know, these are the flavors I use in my kitchen. I think they're great. I think other people think they're great. And that's the touch I wanted. Kind of put my stamp of approval on it. So,
Yeah, I love it. I know the gal who Peggy who introduced us. She might see her, she's like, oh my gosh. So amazing!
That's power right there. That's what I'm talking about.
I know, it's pretty cool. So you got the big order, Safeway did some label updates and then COVID hit. That's about to the turn your life took.
You know, the big thing and what I've been pushing towards was getting into a major retailer because a lot of it when you come to food brands, it's a banners game, it's what it's called. So you get Safeway, to be able to get King Soopers in Kroger's, to be able to get Wegmans, to be able to get ATP. And the game plan was, hey, I push the boulder up the hill enough to get it over that first kind of hump of like, we've got the first one. And then COVID hit and it became this very close thing of retailers were really going to Staples, you know, people were buying long-time American name brand stuff. People were cooking at home because restaurants were closed. They weren't really wanting to take a chance on new products, which is really ironic because there was also shortages. People just like me could have absolutely helped make up the difference and give a little bit more food security.
Like we can put some product on the shelf. No problem.
But you got over my head, right.
But demos really drove a lot of your product sales to you. We're doing a lot of demo.
Absolutely. We're doing demos, I had our third party out to do demos for me. I'd Safeways, Lucky's market. And then so those got the couple off. So I couldn't do demos to market and drive sales in the stores. They weren't reordering at the time again because they were focusing on keeping their shelves full with the big names that they knew people would buy because that was the volume at the time. That's what they're doing. And so really the year of 2020 kind of hit a halt. And so we kind of had to pivot a bit from the standpoint of how do I make sales in order to pay my bills? I have bills. I have COGS so Cost of Goods Sold, that's me paying my co packers for the product that all that marking up and selling. I have business loans that I've taken out, you know, there's other operating costs and GoDaddy isn't free neither Shopify, in case you guys out there don't know that. It's so really, you know, it was how do I keep it going. And that's another one of the big things is, you know, it's not always going to be win after win after win. I mean, you think of like great baseball players. Like, if you're batting over 300, you're doing awesome, right? So, you know, it's these little wins, how do I keep it alive? And that's really what we went into during COVID was, how do I drive online sales? So we've shifted to some more email marketing, is there anything I can be doing to set myself up so when retailers are ready to go, you know, it's all the spring clean stuff of what can I be doing just to help myself be set up for success? Kind of got through COVID and, you know, we're still alive, we're still kicking, I'm not I haven't gone under yet. I haven't had to, you know, sell the farm and start selling plasma down the street. We're doing okay. And luckily, again, you know, my wife and I, we both worked full time jobs outside of this, which is great. But, you know, I really said, hey, what are my next steps? Because we kind of get the end of the 2020 and I was like, where's this going? Is it a hobby that pays for itself? Or do I really want to continue to grow and at the time, I made a connection again through social media with a group out of Los Angeles, California that did a lot of social media marketing, they also had a distributions and brokerage group. And so I thought, okay, you know, I have a large banner and Safeway, maybe it's time to try and scale up and make a big play and hire a broker to try and get me into new retailers, new larger retailers. And so, sat down, actually got Sari in some of the calls with the guys and, you know, their game plan sounded good. I think their model sounded good as far as how they were compensated versus, you know, I put money in a black box, it goes away, and hopefully something happens. And so I ended up taking out a business loan to hire those guys because it's, you know, they have to keep the lights on as well. And hire them on and had them for about a year trying to get a new retailers.
Yeah. So you were making a big play, you kind of said, well, alright, do I just keep this a hobby? Do I kind of just let it limp along? Or do I take a big risk and just see how it plays out? So I mean, I appreciate your, you know, your candor in this, I think it's super helpful for people but we can say that ultimately decided to end that relationship. And so it wasn't what you had hoped it would be, it didn't produce the results that you'd hoped. But tell us a little bit more about kind of learnings or what you do differently?
Yeah, of course, you know, so you know, hired these guys on . They really sold existing connections, you know, that one of the owners had a background as a buyer for a large retailer, and hey, here's our connections, here's how we can get you upfront without going through lots of different channels, and the calls, and saving you time. And that's my thing is, I'm willing to spend a little bit of money to save myself the time and use somebody else's connections. And so that's what we were really going through was, you know, month to month they're making the connections to retailers, sending samples, and really trying to get in and ultimately, I think, really, what would what we got lost on was, what our true day in and day out gameplan was, and what the money that I'm spending is really going towards, right? I think our goal was a little bit broad in general, in that pay, you guys are trying to get me into large retailers, it should have been, how many calls are we making a week? How many follow ups are we doing? How many emails are we doing? You know, what is our goal for this month to be able to get in? And I think, had we done that upfront? A, we may have been more successful, but B, it may have flush itself out early on if like, hey, they don't really have as good of a game plan, as I think at least for my business, right? They were successful in other ways. I mean, they were a good, you know, business model for other folks. And I think they were upright guys. And it's not some shady online Nigerian prince type scenario.
We've added them it was...
Exactly. But just knowing, you know, sometimes you throw a Hail Mary and it doesn't land, right. Like it doesn't happen and so, but that's okay, I think I still made some good connections. I did still get in some smaller retailers and other stores. And I kind of learned what to look for if I do want to make a play like that again. How do we set better goals? How do I know? You know, I'm in their best interest and they're working for me and, you know, and it's okay, and now I'm kind of we're always a year ago, like, what's the next play? And that's okay. That's part of it, you know, how do we keep going? I'm paying my bills. Oddly enough, I've got about six months till one of my bigger business loans is paid off. And then all of a sudden that payment each month either goes to pay other stuff off, but that's profit. And so, you know, it's kind of a patience game and just figuring out what's next and I'm excited for it. My stuff in Safeway has been amazing. My sales are like tripled since I started with them. They put me in other display locations in the stores I'm in. I'm talking to the other large retailer here in Colorado, which is Kroger's King Soopers. And that's been a very long, you know, you're just talking about a long game. It's one of those like, every time like, we're right there, finally sent something to a real buyer. Oh, that buyer got a new job. And so, but we're talking again, oh, the guy called me out of nowhere this summer and said, hey, I want to rehash the conversation and maybe see if we can get you in, you know, because that's a whole different distribution group. And so, you know, it's just hey, reassessing, keep the lights on, keep paying the bills and set yourself up to where if you do take a risk like I did, you know, again, it's a numbers game, the more you have things set in place, the less of a risk it is just like, the more you have things set in place, the better your chances of success. You're mitigating a risk the same way.
Yeah, I love that. Sounds like just setting up key performance indicators, right. KPIs or some benchmarks and how would you set up reporting better and just feedback. So I think those are all really good. And that's always the the number one thing you hear with brokers, I mean, for I guess, people who aren't familiar with brokers, they're basically gonna go help shop your product around and help you get into new stores. And you know, people either have like, amazing stories to tell or like, pretty horrifying. It can be all across the board.
And there were successes like I said, there were some smaller retailers. Right before I ended up canceling my contract with them, I sent samples to a main buyer for Publix, which is a large grocery retailer chain there in the southeastern United States. This buyer was over 160 stores or something like that. And so it's still out there, they're still doing resets, there's still a possibility of that. And so there's positives. I really think some of it, I didn't know what I didn't know, right. And so, now I know to ask, hey, what are you doing weekly for me? What is your game plan? Give me a, you know, outlined how are you going to contact them? How are we going to get in front of them? How are we ultimately going to get samples to him and get a purchase order? And I think, had I known to ask those questions, but sometimes you just don't know. But had I known that? I think maybe it would have been a better success. Or I could have known that I should have gone a different direction, right? But hey, you know, it's a lesson learned.
Absolutely. And you didn't, you know, you weren't like mortgaging your house to do this, like you were taking a calculated risk. And what you knew you could do and that felt a little uncomfortable, but you know, wasn't gonna, if this didn't work out.
Exactly. And I think, you know, I think a lot of people get scared with the money part, you know, making an investment in something. And, you know, just to put it in perspective, I've yet to spend an actual dollar of my own money. You know, that's the beauty of loans and banks and all that if you take a calculated risk, you know, debt can be your friend. Using debt as a tool to launch you in. You know, there's no way I could have gone and, like, gotten cash or pulled out of retirement, or what I really wanted to, to be able to scale up. But, you know, I have my ducks in a row. And I had a bit of success, right. And so I was able to go to a bank and get a small business loan. And, you know, there's opportunities out there. So, you know, don't ever be afraid to invest a little money if you believe in something because you're not going to make yourself poor, you're not going to be living on the streets, you're not going to have a debt collector beating down your door. It doesn't work that way, you know, and I think people get scared a lot of like, I want to do it, but oh, God, I may have to pay $300 for a Shopify account for the year. You know, it's like you're willing to spend, you know, $300 on clothes on weekends. There's so many tools out there, financial tools and institutions and groups, that you can figure out how to finance. Businesses do that, that's what they do.
You want to open a brick and mortar, you're not pulling that out of your savings account most likely.
I mean, this is how it works. And again, you have to weigh it out. And there's a lot of times a time commitment, and you do have to make sales and to be able to get a profit and pay off your liabilities. But, you know, don't ever be afraid to take a little bit of a chance again, if you've done your research and you feel passionate about it, and you've set yourself up in these areas and mitigated your risk, that's just part of that. That's business at all. That's everything. You know, that's every business. So, yeah, I just wanted to throw that out. I was scared too early on, right?
I love that. And I love that there were some wins, it wasn't a total loss. And there's also those strategic byproducts like, what do you think, it's not just the financial success or anything like that, but like, how do you think you've changed as a person through this process?
You know, I think I've become less risk averse. Is that the correct thing? I'm more willing to take a risk because again, I know how to set myself up to give myself the best chance against it. I know the questions to ask going into a risk. I'm a little more risky in my networking and stuff and asking a question of, you know, hey, would you be willing to give me a shot at doing this? Or would you be willing to hear me out, you know, pitching myself in a lot of different areas? It makes you open to that, it's pretty cool that way. There's things that I would have never thought I'd do that aren't even really in my educational background or things that I've done. And I've gotten to do them because I asked the question, right. And so just the taking the chances is something this is only up. And I've done a lot of cool people like that's one thing, like I hit on it earlier, Colorado's food and beverage industry especially at the small level, it's so many cool people who are passionate about the things they produce and making your quality of life better and just loving what they do, and that's really cool. You know, all these people that do these awesome things, at the end of the day, they want better food, and better beverages, and better lifestyles, and care about where beverage comes from. That's what's been really cool. Super cool.
I love that. So then you took a really big risk and you decided to make a baby.
Yeah, my wife and I, our baby just turned. She's just over a month old. So welcome our daughter, Sterling.
Thank you. It's pretty crazy she looks like Dad. It's kind of sweet but I hope she grows out of it.
Poor thing. And then you also decided to go back to school and get your MBA. So you know, you got a few things going on.
Got a few things going, yeah. I always wanted to do a master's degree, I just didn't know what. There's a program through Colorado State. It's an evening MBA. It's kind of set up for working professionals but you still get the cohort group that I'll go through with the whole program. And I'll be done by the time my kids 18 months old. And so it's been awesome. You know, especially starting a business from scratch and not knowing anything and doing everything, I feel having an interest in business, it was part of why I did it. You know, it's like all these things that you and I have worked on. I've seen I'm like, yeah, that's cool.
Yeah, you kind of earned a mini MBA.
Exactly, making me a little more formalized because it's funny I'll be in a class and it's like the, you know, the meme where the guys like, oh, I've seen that before, you know what it's like, but it's in a textbook, and it's got the actual, like, bold print of what that means. And so that's been kind of cool. And, you know, again, talking about connections and getting, you know, getting lucky in some places. One of the deans of the College of Business hit me up, he found my LinkedIn account at random was like, oh, you're in our MBA. Oh, you have a seasonings company! And so he's like, hey, I'd love to buy some seasonings, try them out and give them as gifts. And who knows what kind of contacts that might make? It's just little wins like that. It's really cool.
So fun. So you have a yeah, kind of life changes. And so I think a lot of times people are like, oh my gosh, I mean, some people could look and say, well, you didn't have kids when you started this and you just had one job, you're going to school but you did. I mean you had a full time job and yes, you had the bandwidth to do farmers markets, and do some demos, you know, you decided not to manufacture your product. So I think you've always been balancing, you know, work, life and you and Nicole like to travel a lot. And so you guys have done. It's not like you're just married, like chained to the business.
No, not at all. And you know especially now that I'm kind of trying to recenter it and figure out next steps. One of the things that they really preach in the MBA class is scheduling your time but you kind of schedule it around, here are days that I'm only going to do stuff with my family and I'm not going to do work or that. And then from there, build out of when you know, you do have to work on the stuff. And I think when you schedule your life, right, like the good parts of just living and cooking dinner and being with your family and traveling and going downtown, and, you know, whatever that is, if you start there, and that's the reason you do it, everything else will kind of fall into place. I like to be busy, my wife and I both, we get a little stir crazy. We're just people living a full life is, having things to do, and having good obligations, right. And, you know, if you build it that way, I think it really helps and right now again, I'm figuring out, you know, how do I keep it going? How do I keep it alive? And not spend so much time on? So, you know, that's my strategy right now, how do I increase online sales so I'm not having to go and sell? How do I make sure that the places that sell like Safeway are doing well, and I'm taking care of those, it's kind of a Pareto thing if you do the 20% and get you 80% of the results, trying to really tie that in right now. And then that way, when another opportunity arises, I'm ready to take it.
I love that, I love that concept too, that 20% . The Pareto, right? Yeah, but that you're just, you're in maintenance mode, you're in maintaining, let's spend 20% of my available time to kind of keep this going on the things that the wholesale and the things that are already in place, and you're not doing a lot of go out and get new accounts or take some big chance right now. Because you got a kid.
And what's funny, is even those little maintenance things, they compound on themselves, too, right? Whereas, you know, if I wasn't doing any email marketing, not get one, maybe two online orders, you know, a week. Now it's like four or five, right? And here's these return customers, and here's people that they buy stuff without me having to go and market to him anymore. And so, you know, it does have enough momentum that where, you know, you may not see these big leaps and bounds every day. But I look back on and I don't have to do a lot right now. And I'm getting online orders from people who have ordered before and they loved it as a holiday gift. They loved it during the summer season, or whatever it is. And so don't ever just count these steps, right? Don't ever discount those. Because it's a compounding effect, right? It's not just you, it's compounded. And so we're gonna be using business terms, MBA.
I know, I know, I was talking with April and Earl, we were talking about the compound effect. And it is the work you put in up front to get the flywheel going. Momentum, get the ball rolling. And so you're taking a little breather, not completely away. But how do you see like, what do you see in the future for J. Brady Seasonings?
You know, I think I keep pushing forward with trying to get in retailers. I think my next step and if they're listening, I want to get with you guys. I would love to get in King Soopers. So I am in all the large retailers in Colorado. And figure out how do I get in front of buyers next? Is that going to be through another broker? Which is very possible. Is it me working my way? I don't know, you know, do we go back and say, hey, maybe online is a good enough business plan for now to give me some better profits so I can go and take big chances here, there. Or maybe I'm fine with it for a while. That's the beauty of it is again, everybody wants the recipe. It's your recipe, right? It's whatever works for you. And so again, maybe something falls out of the sky and somebody with heb in Texas is like hey, somebody gave us this for a stocking stuffer, we'd like to carry you. But it's taking those shots, you got to take lots of shots. But the more you do, those things happen, but I think right now is get to the holiday season trying to sell as I can. I have gotten lucky with a lot of people buying for like businesses for Christmas gifts, right? So I'm thinking like financial advisors, realtors, vendors, those guys you know, buying a few gift packs here and there, and all of a sudden you know you've made pretty good sales for the month. Really trying to push so when they do resets for King Soopers next year, getting my products in front of those guys and said hey, I've got a great track record of success in your closest competitor in the state, I think we need to talk and I think it's time. And you know, pushing the agenda with him because I know that, like we talked about before. I know my numbers, I know my product and I know how that performs, and so I can go to them with a lot of confidence. And then at the end of the day trying again to say how do I get in the bigger retailers in Utah, New Mexico, in Texas, and Oklahoma, and just keep building out this way. I think that's my game plan.
I love it. I love it. And it's okay. I think this is such a good message for people who are maybe like, oh, once I start, it just has to be a certain momentum. Kind of pull the gas back a little sometimes and then put it on again.
Well, I think you know, you asked me one of the big takeaways. And something for me was I expected that it was going to be kind of a linear, that future wins are all dictated by bypassed ones. And it's really not that late, right? Just cuz I got Safeway, I was like, oh, well here's the gravy train. You know, it's going to be King Soopers. And then I'm going to be out Ralph's in California, and then I'm going to be in Walmart within a year, you know, and it doesn't work that way. Just because this succeeded doesn't necessarily mean this would. Yeah, a lot of times it might. But it helps. But there might be this other one on the way and then you might lag for a little while, and nothing happens. And then, you know, I'll have some people will be like, are you still doing the seasoning thing? I'm like, yeah. And then I'll have some people like, oh, my God, I saw your seasonings on this thing. And so, you know, can I get rid of all the fuzz and the static out there and just stay focused and say, hey, I like this. I started it for a reason. I want to keep it going. I know, there's gonna be ups and downs and just keep at it.
Yeah, I mean, it's important that you design a business around your life to and that life is business. Business is life, I mean, yes, at the beginning there will be more hustle, there will be more that, you know, the momentum, the energy that it takes to get something started is more, but that it doesn't always have to be in the hustle, hustle, hustle, and that you can create a,
Brian culture idea, right? It isn't always that way. And you know, when you're at it for a little bit, you start to pick up on when you gotta hustle more, right? Strike while the iron is hot. Like, if there's an opportunity that comes your way, that's the time to really go on. If you're pushing, pushing, pushing, and nothing's happening, sometimes that's a great time to say, hey, I step back, maybe let it come to me, you know, work on things that aren't just monetary wins, and see what happens, right?
Yeah. Well, I think you embody such a great couple of things, you know, we finished up a Sales Series, and I talked a lot about sales equals certainty plus connections. So you're clearly very certain in your product, or certain in your numbers, and the business aspects of it, how it all comes together. So that's amazing. And you have the connection piece, you're very good with people, you're easy to talk to. And that's a skill that not everybody has, but certainly one that we can all develop.
You want to talk about indicators? How much you develop your networking and connections to people? And again, it doesn't just have to be business, it doesn't have to be money, that is one of the biggest indicators. If you're going to have success, and you're gonna have momentum, and you're gonna have growth. I can't say any more about it. Like that's, you can know, you can be the best pasta maker in the world, you can know the numbers, the best. But if you can't make a connection to other people and display value in what you do. You'll never ever get that far.
Oh my gosh, you probably have tons of case studies and things like that. And like, you know, the top five people you surround yourself with are like, determine of your future, your net worth, and just growing your connections, you're like I said, your network, which is why I have been loving the group program inside Food Business Success. So we have now and the people are talking, you know, people are talking to each other now and creating like, oh, I could do this and what if we did this together? And it's just so cool inside.
Oh collaboration is awesome! It's cool and it's ideas and I think some people get a little weirded out when the here collaborative because, you know, going back to some of the social media stuff. I think there's bad with the good people here the common influencer, social media marketing is, you know, the girl that takes a couple pictures by the ocean side. But that's not what it is, you know, it's people who, how do I set up a true in real business model that can be profitable? How do I make my product better and produce it better in a local sustainable way? How do I make this more artistic and visually appealing? You know, those are the real business pieces, not just, you know, a pretty picture and somebody saw mine for you know, the half second and takes the scroll. And so being aware of what real business coaching is, what real business consultation is, I think when people see the difference, they're like, okay, wow, that's actually how things get built.
Yeah, yeah. So I can't encourage people. I mean, if you were to put a number on it from, you know, just in your engineer job, pre J. Brady Seasonings to now, how much would you say your network has increased of just people you know and connections?
Maybe tenfold? I know that sounds crazy. But just whether those are quick acquaintances, whether those are small business acquaintances, so I talk to him, you know, once every few months. It's just insane.
And that has to be so fun to look back. Whoa, my life got bigger, because I did that.
I don't want to be the guy who like to be the guy who knows a guy, right. So I always like, I know a guy. So if somebody needs something I like, you know, that's one of my, from an engineering standpoint, I'm a problem solver. And just because it's not number, sometimes I know how to take this person and this person, put their abilities together, create something new. And so I enjoy that part of the networking.
Yeah. And that I think that's where you offer, yeah, you're able to offer value, you're always connecting people to me and be like, you gotta cut, you know, farmers markets. And I always appreciate that. But yeah, so I think you do the sales piece of connection piece really, really well. So that's always been very inspiring. And I think just, you're willing to take the shots, right? What's like Wayne Gretzky quotes like, You Miss Every Shot You Don't Take, like to that effect.
But it's a volume. I mean, business, in general is a volume game. You're having to make a lot of connection, you know, out of 100 connections, maybe one person helps you advance something or you make a strong personal connection to, you know, out of 100 sales calls, maybe five look at I mean, Bill Gates is always big on like, you know, our success was like, we have 100 businesses and 11 responded and 3 said yes and then 1 invested. You know, it's a volume game, every business, anything you do, nothing is a one for one shot. It'll never be.
I think so many people are like, I'll get started and then you like, you know, reach out to three people and nobody says yes, and then you're like, all right, it's not gonna work. And I've always really appreciated it. You're like, let's try this. Let's try this. What about this? And sometimes we have to rein in be like, okay, what are our goals and where are we going? And why is this important? Is this align? But I love that you're always like, looking at opportunities and not, you know, you're willing to take some risk and to do something.
Brainstorming, basically. You know, and that's, I mean, that's part of it, though, you know, you got to have all these ideas, and you got to try. You know, I mean, I think that thing of like, you live the way of like, you tried one thing and like, God didn't work, and you just quit and like, never rehash it. You know, nothing works though. And so, I don't know, it's been a cool journey, you've obviously helped me out a lot. And figuring out especially the nuts and bolts piece that I just didn't know, right, your background in food. I didn't know how to set up profit margins and like how to know for my category how to target that. That was huge. You know, we had a lot of fun when we're figuring out what my target market was and doing different surveys online. Always my target market was essentially me, but come to find out it's like, early 30 stay at home moms, and like retired men in their 50s who liked to cook on a trigger. So it was cool to find those things out and then the people who like, you know, you meet along the way.
So yeah, very cool. Love it. Well, where can people find you if they want to go check out your brand of seasonings?
So you could find me online at www.jbradyseasonings.com. And then if you live in Colorado, we're carried in Safeway Grocers throughout the state, as well as Lucky's Market. A lot of boutique grocers think of Alfalfa's in Boulder, The Cupboard in Fort Collins, smattering of stores, like I said in 20 some odd states but you know, if you're looking from out of state, definitely check out the website at www.jbradyseasonings.com. But yeah, I hope you guys try it if you want to. And again, I love my product, like my business, and it's been a great journey.
It's a staple in my cupboard, the Cajun Pops, Cajun Shake is amazing. Yes, you have some great ones. So thank you, you make my cookie easier and better. So all right, any last words of wisdom Brady, before we wrap up here?
No, just keep, you know, if you're out there and you think you want to try and start something, do it now. You know take the risk, mitigate your risk. It set yourself up for success and just go at it. And part of like a fulfilling life is doing things where you struggle and you have to overcome it and you get those little wins. And then there's some failures and you learn. Don't go into it cuz you want to make a ton of money, go for it because you just want to try something. You're gonna be a better person or learn. And maybe you do get some wins out of it.
I love it. Alright, Brady, well, I would like to get back to your Sterling, your little girl and get back to schoolwork. But I appreciate you taking time out of your day to have this conversation and check in.
Yeah, absolutely. Thanks for having me. And, you know, any viewers out there if you ever have any questions for things I have done, definitely hit up Sari. I'd love to pass along any advice that I can.
Awesome. Thank you. Always been very generous with your time. That was so fun. So good to catch up with Brady and I hope you got a lot out of that interview. I appreciate his candor and willingness to share his journey and lots of good lessons to learn from that. As you guys know, Food Business Success is closed for 2021 for enrollment. But if you are thinking about starting a packaged food business in the new year, I want to encourage you to get on the waitlist, we're going to be doing a really cool startup workshop in January. So you want to be the first to be notified about this because it is going to be limited enrollment so definitely get on the waitlist. You can go to www.foodbizsuccess.com/start-waitlist. We'll put the links in the show notes so that start dash waitlist. Alright, you guys until next time, have an amazing week.
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