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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 farmer's 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. This one's a really fun one. I'm really excited to introduce you to Sara and have a conversation with her. There were a few delays and whatnot in our zoom recording but I think I got them all fixed in post editing. So it should be high quality. If there's any little glitches, it's not a problem. Just keep listening. The content is amazing. Sara Lemmon, yes that's her real name, is a former middle school teacher and a mom of three turn kombucha brewer. Sara has found wellness and a sense of community in unfamiliar. She is the owner of 3rd Bird Kombucha. Sara sets out to craft them the most drinkable kombucha that appeals to the youngest birdies in the flock and to those who are young at heart. Sara describes herself as the brewer and doer of 3rd Bird Kombucha. So welcome, Sara!
Thank you so much for having me!
So fun! So you and I have been working together now for about four months. I think we just wrapped up our coaching package, which has been so fun to be part of this journey. Yeah, I love your story. It's like, and you know, I was a former middle school teacher too. So we share that in common.
Yeah, us teachers, we got to stick together, right? Yeah, it's been a heck of a journey, right? Like so it. It honestly started in sort of a place of not knowing and feeling kind of lost. My son was experiencing a lot of GI issues and sensory processing issues which manifested in a lot of different ways. And it just it affected our quality of life as a family like I picking him outside was hard. I had like a bag of just like changes of clothes because I knew he would be throwing up on me. His sisters had a hard time engaging with him because they're like, well, he's gonna scream and cry and it's all going to become a thing. And when things don't make sense to me, I just started doing a ton of research. And so much was coming back to the brain gut and how important it is that you have a healthy gut, you can have a healthy brain. You can have a healthy body. And my husband, my dear husband brews kombucha or brewed kombucha, and I thought it was absolutely disgusting. I thought it was the grossest thing in the whole wide world. He kept it in a plastic fish tank above our stove and he would take it like a shot every day. And I thought he was like trying to like, kill himself slowly because of the madness of having three children at home. And I was like, I don't know what's going on. And I had had kombucha before like it was like a one off thing. Like something I buy like it was like at the grocery store or like at a deli and I didn't want like another sparkle water or like sweet tea or something, you know, so I'd grab it. I never like really knocked my socks off. I was like, oh, you know, and then see my husband take it I was like ugh. However, I decided to revisit it based on the research that I was doing with Silas, my third bird. And the stuff I was finding in the store had a ton of sugar. I didn't know how long it was out on the shelf so it could be fermenting for a really long time. It had ingredients that I didn't necessarily want him to have or was in a can. And as a mom, cans are the worst because the moment your kid opens a can you're like, well you're gonna take two sips and now that whole thing is racked. And so it wasn't practical.
I did not think about that.
Yeah, it's ridiculous. Like the number of like cans that end up in here. I was like, I can't deal with this. So I figured I could start brewing myself. And the reason we went with kombucha, or I did, was because at the time Silas was really only having a liquid diet. And I was like, well I'm going to try. Whatever I'm doing gotta be better than what my husband's brewing right now. And, you know, the crazy thing was, is that, you know, I'm a 40 year old woman, I'm proud to admit it. Like, yeah, and, you know, I had spent so much of my life being a people pleaser, like, I guess whatever you need, okay, got you. And, you know, you're a mom, you're a teacher, you're a wife, you're a partner, you're a friend, you're a daughter, you're a taxi cab driver all of the time. And brewing kombucha was something that I did that was purely for myself. And it used my scientific brain and it used my creative brain. And it's just time I set for myself and a magical thing started to happen is that I just started to trust my instincts more. I started to trust my feelings, how I felt about things. I got a lot more clarity, which was really good, because in the next few months my son was diagnosed with autism, I had some family issues that came up that were really hard, and it gave me sort of the buffer that I needed to sort of take in all of these really extreme situations, things that I didn't really understand. And so really, 3rd Bird is about like taking something that you don't really understand, or maybe you have a preconceived notion about like, whether it's kombucha, or autism, and realize that what you think is true isn't actually it. There's lots of different ways. And, you know, we, it's kind of the ethos, you know, I try to live by is like, there's this third way to do something.
Oh, it's got chills, like, we've never talked about that. It's like, my dad was always like, third solution. What's the third solution, right? Like, it's not one or the other, can be and, or there can be a whole other.
Yeah, I love the idea of like, and yet. Like the idea of like, you can think of something and, and yet, what about this or and yet. It sometimes drives my husband because he's like, can you speak right now in the moment and I'm like, and yet. Which, you know, I mean, maybe that's what makes me a good entrepreneur. Because I was thinking about, and yet.
That's true. So you, you were brewing kombucha and then when I mean, I love it that you were just, you were finding a solution both for Silas like, you know, you describe your kombucha's not too sweet, not too sour. It's like a nice happy medium. So it's very drinkable, very family friendly. So you're doing this activity, it's kind of filling you up, giving you some space, having that little bit of like, personal time. So good. And then why on earth would you start a business?
I mean, yeah, why would I start? I didn't mean to. That's, that's how it happened is I did not mean to, which just like so many things, I like didn't do and then here I am. No, I started brewing and then, you know, with any ferment, you just start getting more and more and more of it, and I started giving it away to friends. And some of my good friends run the Horseshoe Market, Doug and Amy Yetman, and they are some of my favorite humans. And they're like, hey, you know, you should sell at the Horseshoe over the summer. Like, I know, summers can be hard, you know, like, you're coming off of, you know, intense years of teaching, and you're home, and you've got the kids, we've got this, you know, feeling of like, get everything done. And then it's like, you know, it might be like a nice thing just to like have your own thing. I was like, cool, I can do that. So you again, back to research, realizing like I can't just do it from my home. So I had to like be street legal and get a Commissary Kitchen, which I did. And I signed my Commissary Lease in March of 2020. It's a great time because then everything shut down. Yes, super cool. Super cool. And as a public school teacher, it's going to shock you to realize I do not make a lot of money. You know, and I had to, I was about to take, like have a monthly expense and then not be able to afford to take that from my family. And so I just started going door to door essentially with my kombucha and taking it to people and spraying it down with like lights. Remember when you spray things with Lysol? You know.
Oh yeah. Where everybody's lockdown.
Like, I'm like, I'm really not crazy. I'm not gonna give you COVID. Like, here you go. Like, I'm just for this. I just want to know what you think. Just here you go. And that's how it grew from there.
Oh my gosh. And then you started at farmer's markets, and I just thought you were just telling our group a little bit ago of that you launched under a different name. I love this story.
Yeah, so I launched in June of 2020. I sold my first bottle, I was like, I got my website up, I got, you know, it was like a very simple website, you know, my, you know, I had a logo, I had all these things put together, my husband's an artist, he was drawing things out, you know, I thought the stickers for the bottles I get, I got my cases, I was ready, you know. And I launched, press send out to the universe. Here we go. Waiting for all like the cool emails to pile up, pile and all the orders. And instead, I got an email from a lawyer in Boulder giving me a Cease and Desist letter and saying that their client had rights to the name, and I could not use that. Now, there's a lot of arguing about who was right, like I could have gone down that rabbit hole really easily. You know, that would have been very, it would have been an easy step to do that and argue for it. Instead, I was like, well, what's my loss? Okay, I lost, you know, 10s of hours of my time, you know, and I lost probably like 500 bucks and stickers. Because that's all I bought, you know, like, I didn't have like banners. Like I didn't do any of that others. Yeah, like, and so I was like okay.
Beautiful. That's why love you starting out small. Those things happen.
Yeah, I cringed at that time, it was detrimental. Like I was like, I can't believe this, this is the worst. What am I going to do? I'm never going to be anything else. If I'm not this name, then what am I? You know, there was a lot of.
And people know, I also got a Cease and Desist. So I've been through it as well and the crashing of that.
Yeah, it's, it's hard, right? Because like,
It's hard, it's terrible. You're like, oh, I've done all this work and time and money. But you could have quit, I just want to point that out. One option would have been to say, I'm out. But you didn't. Kept going.
Yeah, I didn't. And you know, it was it, you know, like struck my soul because it's like, you know, somebody again, reformed good girl, like, you know, like, had the lawyer like, look, she's like, lawyers like, yeah, this is crazy talk like. And it forced me to sit back and go like, what really is this about? Like, what am I doing? What's my why? Why do I care about? It's yeah, and the name kind of came to me, actually it didn't, it came, I was working with another coach, I highly, anybody listening, get a coach, get lots of coaches. I had a coach before you to help, who helped me sort of realize like, you do have all of the skills that you need to launch best. And, you know, so what if you didn't go to business school? Or so what if you like worked two days, you know, in a restaurant and got fired because you dropped all of the wine bottle of wine glasses all over? Somebody says, oh, that anything about right now you can do.
None of that past means anything about your future, right?
And she's like, you know, and that, and that helped. And you know, and we sat down with, you know. And we were just going through things and just, you know, brainstorming, and I was like, you know, she asked a question she like, well, what's this about us? Like, it's about my three kids. She's like, you mean like your three birds? And I'm like, oh my God, third bird, and that's how it started. And that's how it happened. And I like my logo better. I like my branding better. It's more me. It's more authentic. It feel, again, you know, we've been able to encapsulate imagery that is appealing to a broad range of people and not just a small subsect.
You've fantastic branding as well. So. Okay, so you launched in the middle of a pandemic. I know you did City Park, Farmers Market, you were crushing it, right?
Yeah, yeah, it was great.
What happened there?
Um, so again, it was, so I didn't, I started City Park in 2021. And so 2020.
Okay, so that first summer, you didn't, you were just doing door to door.
Yeah, so first, doing door to door. I think I did like one Horseshoe Market. And if you like look at my setup, you'd be like, bro, that is like intense, like there's a lot. Yeah, not feasible at all. And then I did one. But really it became people just coming up to me being like, hey, like we go online and your stuffs always sold out. Can we just like have a reoccurring order? So that's how the subscriptions grew. And so we launched that in November of 2020. And then, in 2021, Peter and Margo, who ran City Park reached out to me about, that they're starting this new farmers market, and they're revitalizing it. And I really should think about it. And I said, no. I said, hell, no, I can't do it.
I'm teaching school, because you're still teaching, right?
I'm teaching full time. I've got three kids, the business, business is out control, I can't. And they were persistent. They just call me up. Are you sure? Like, we really feel like you're the person, you just need to, like, come on. And I'm so happy I listen to them. Because, you know, I didn't know then what I do now. But it's like, you know, our online sales. Like there was a huge spike in online sales through the pandemic, those slowed in 2021, they're back up again. But they slowed. City Park reminded me once again of like why I was doing it, because I got to meet people, I got to talk to people, I got to share my story, hear their story. Get invaluable feedback from people about what they liked, what they didn't like, what we should do better. Learned about, you know, managing inventory and price points and learn from other vendors, like, what system are you using? And what works there? Oh, my gosh, why are you using the, you know, QuickBooks free POS because you're not collecting any emails. And like, you could be having emails and, you know, marketing from these people. I'm like, oh my gosh, so many things you didn't know.
And that's okay. You don't have to know all those things at the beginning.
It's better, you're never going to know everything.
And that's the thing that has been so great about this journey is that you start, I have remembered, I'm reminded that more people are cheering you on and want you to succeed than trying to wish you harm, or like trying to tell you what you're doing wrong. And coming from an education background like, you know, we're used to being like, you know, nudging you to, like, be better, or tell you what questions you got wrong, or, like, give you a score on this, you know, like, that's sort of like, that's the, you know, critique your argument and break it down into it's like, you know.
I think education and entrepreneurship are at complete opposite ends, like one is very prescriptive, there's a right and wrong, here's the path, do this, do this, do this, do this. And then entrepreneurship is like, we don't know, just start and we're going to figure it out. And your path is gonna be like, windy, and you just have no idea what's gonna happen.
You have no idea. And so that, I mean, it's just been so reassuring of just like, oh my gosh, you know, I had people who helped me with, you know, with my branding, my friend Greg did that. I have my friend Belinda wrote my first SOP before I even knew what SOP stood for, you know, I've got friends now, you know, Denver, city and county of Denver who've, like helped me, you know, figure out all my licensing requirements. And, and this, I remember talking to you before I ever hired you being like, you know, like, you could, you know, get a waiver for nutrition labels. And I was like, tell me more. Like, they're just like, bits of information that like, people bestowed upon me and just being curious and just being like, I don't know. So I'm going to ask lots of questions all the time.
Curiosity, willingness to be wrong, willingness to just ask, ask for help. Ask people for ideas. Don't make it mean anything about you.
No, it doesn't and in fact, I'm like, I'd rather know now. I'd rather like, you know, ask the dumb question now than to like, have it cost me later, or, you know, it's like, like, this didn't work or that. And there's so many of those like moments where you're just like, oh, I didn't check this, or I didn't ask about this, and then you're kind of stuck. And you're like.
And you're still gonna have plenty of those moments but you might as well try to alleviate.
Or it can have it paralyze you and be like, I have to know everything before I take the next step. So there's a balance there but trying to use your network.
Yeah. Well, I mean, you and me have talked about this a lot about the idea, you know, what does it mean to be? You know, very, like ruthlessly fearlessly persistent on what we prioritize, you know, like there's so much you can get done. You know, there's so much, there's only so many hours in the days like, what is it you choose bend your time on? And what do you choose to say, hey, this is going to be c plus work, right? It's going to be okay. Let that go. And then how then you communicate that now to my staff, like, what's really important. And like, the things I needed to know a month ago are not the things I need to know today. They're very different actually. There been so thinking that I needed to know everything before I started. I would never have started.
Right. And that's a big thing that I feel like coaching, or what I offer is like, there's times where I'm literally like, stop, do not, like we're going to put that on a list somewhere and we don't not need to talk about that for another six months. Because I think sometimes it's easy to just be like, well, somebody told me I need to think about da da da da. And you're like, yeah, you do, but not now. Like, it's taking up space in your brain. So let's get it off, like helping you discern what's priority, and what you're going to focus on, because we all have limited time, limited resources. So good. So I love that you decided that you were like, I'm going to replace my salary as a teacher and make this my thing. I mean, I kind of just want to know like, what was entrepreneurship giving you? Because you, I mean, you layered on something else. We know what kombucha was giving you but now you're like, I'm gonna be a crazy entrepreneur, give away my whole summer as a teacher and do this crazy thing. And then also have teaching. So like, what was the poll? What did you like entrepreneurship?
I think it's just crazy enough honestly. You know, like, it is. It's something where it's like, you know, I've learned, like the only risks that's not worth it, like the only risk that's bad is the one you don't actually take, like figure out, like, take the lead, see what happens. It's very much at least for me a scientific process, right? Like I do something, I take some sort of action I like, look at the, you know, what happens? I look at the data and I try it again, like and then you just keep kind of like spinning this wheel, you know, fly rod, you know, or like, what just Jim Collins call it? The Flywheel. Yeah. And I liked that. And I liked, you know, I liked being able to go to the bathroom on my own time, actually took me a lot to get used to, like actually, like not having to, like plan my life by a bell, like that was very hard.
I remember that.
That's very hard. I also liked that at the end of the day. However crazy, however beautiful, however messy, however, whatever came at the end of every day, it was something that I did. It was something that I could own and I could say, yep, this is, I could have complete ownership of it. And I liked that. I liked knowing that I was responsible for, you know, creating something that had never been created before in this day, and that it was making the world's, you know, my little worlds slightly better. You know.
I love that so much. You are the captain of your ship and and you're directing it for better for worse and like crap days from the good day.
Yeah. And I mean, honestly too, which is also like, you start to learn like you're like well, you live once, right? Well actually, I think that, I just saw a really good quote was like you live every day but you only die once. So, right? So you live every day. And it's, you know, I've just become more of like, what's serving me and what's not serving me? What do I need right now? What do I not need? You know, like, we were talking about this the other day, like will I do kombucha the last night, I don't know.
But yeah, we were talking about your big future, why the.
The future, my big why. And might not be. But I've learned that what I've gained from this and continue to gain from this experience is like, you know, I have the skills and I've got the network and I've got the the curiosity, and the knack, and the persistence.
You know, and just make something from nothing which is like, which is a great model for my kids to see, you know, like they're able to say, wow, mom built this in like a really short amount of time like that's pretty cool. And like she's without any outside investors or 100% of the company.
And I like to say, I mean, there's no better here than there. I mean, I didn't know you when you were a teacher, I can only imagine your like, your aura or your like energy then because I've seen some evolution just even over the last year, year and a half or so since I've known you. But I mean, it's not like you didn't have problems as a teacher even though you got a steady salary, right? Like there's still relationship issues. There's still family, there's still craziness. You just have you like, now you have new drama over here.
Yeah. And it's, you know, but it's also like, I get to choose it, right? And like, I get to choose what it looks like, you know, it was hard to leave a profession that like, you know, I've multiple, like advanced degrees, you know, I have a Master's Degree, I pictured myself in the classroom for a long time for, you know, that was gonna be it and to leave that was hard. And to imagine something different was challenging.
You were creating a future slowly, you know, we don't, we don't do it overnight. Usually. I mean, your whole identity shifted from a teacher to an entrepreneur. And so when did you make that shift? Tell us about that.
Um, you know, I think the, you know, COVID really helped on some ways because of having to figure out how to do online teaching. And I was teaching science and like, how do you teach science which is so hands on, remotely? And, you know, how do you find innovative solutions that don't make sense? You know, it's like, we were, you know, we've put together science kits for all of our students and like, for every single unit, and like, got them delivered out and like, figuring out like, you know, pickup spots for people to get them. And I mean, which was no small feat because my school had like 600 kids per grade. And, you know, it was realizing, you know, when I got that Cease and Desist letter being like, that's not going to deter me, actually, like, okay, that sucks. And now what? It's, you know, it's realizing, you know, when you like, when I first, you know, back in 2020, I did apply to farmers markets, and I didn't get it, because I didn't know what I was doing. You know, I didn't know how to apply, you know, I was just like, I'm this girl who's got kombucha, and like a part like, yeah, before, like, no, sorry, like, we're also in a global pandemic, we don't know what we're like, you don't know what's gonna look like. It's also just trusting that, like, it's gonna work out. And so I think once those things started to hit together, I had a better idea. I mean, it also helped that, like, I talked to my financial planner, and like, did all the, you know, all those pieces. And, you know, when my principal asked me to teach more for this coming up school year, I just said, actually, no. You know, and people tell me all the time like, you know, you always can go back to teaching, it's always there. And I'm like, I actually don't think it is for me. I think there's other things that I'm going to do. Yeah.
It's helpful to think, well, worst case scenario, I go back to teaching. I mean, they would have me back in a heartbeat, right? Like, worst case scenario, I have a teaching job, I can go back. But it doesn't mean that you would even if this didn't work out, you might do something completely different, which is so freeing, right? Like you have so many options.
Yeah, it's also freeing to realize that like, you know, you have so many more, you have the, every one of us has the capacity to learn so many different things and be able to figure them out and there and the things that I now know, that I didn't know before, it's incredible, and I'm like, okay, like, who would have thought that I could, you know, figure out plumbing for bright tanks and electrical for labeling machines. And in the same breath, you know, be learning about, you know, SEO optimization and like, you know, how, you know, the various supply chains and like, it's crazy.
Yeah, I love it so much. So you left teaching in fall of 2022 No, fall of 21. We're not in fall of 23.
What year are we in? No, 2021.
We're in 2022. This is crazy. It's a shorter timeline than I realized.
I know. Do you ever find yourself though going like, oh, it's like 2002 because like in my brain, that's where we're we actually at?
I know. I did a study abroad in Paris in 2000. And I'm like, yeah, I mean, it was like, a couple years ago, and then I'll be like oh wait actually. Twenty two years ago, I did a study abroad. So, um, so you, you got a new facility, you're outgrowing, you're going gangbusters at the market, you have these subscriptions, you decide to you're like, okay, it's going well enough that I'm going to take a jump and quit the teaching job. And then, so that's fall of 21. So I'm so curious. We started working together, we started talking.
We started talking early 2022, at the end of 21 in the 22, we started talking, because 20, the end of 21, I found our facility, so I've been looking for a facility for a while. Just because again, I'm working in a commercial kitchen with food trucks. And you know, caterers, which again, learned so many things about, but here I am like pushing, you know, like 55 gallon drums behind people with, you know, like, who are deep frying and like, you know, making an, and I'm like, this is not safe at all, like, not. No. You do. You get through it, you figure things out but it was not an ideal situation. And, you know, trying to problem solve, you know, refrigeration was my problem like that was my bottleneck, and how do I solve for that? And what do you need to do and so I had gone and looked at a bunch of different places to rent, trying to find them. And it was just really hard. I mean, as any, Denver right now is just insane. And it was hard for me to go into like another commissary because kombucha again, people have a hard time with understanding any sort of ferment. Um, and then. But again, I think it comes down to just being willing just to talk your story constantly to people. And I found out that Regis University or not Regis, Johnson and Wales, which is right by my house was closing down. The kitchen network was purchasing it, which I was like, awesome. I'm going to get into one of those kitchens. And so I just kept calling them up being like, hey, here I am. Like, hey, we're not ready. We're not ready, we'll let you know. And once they were ready, I went to go tour it, it's beautiful facility, y'all should go check it out. It just wouldn't work for me. And they said, hey, actually, we just closed down our bottling facility, you should go check it out. And I was kind of sour about it because it was across town and I didn't want to drive across town. And it was perfect. Like it had everything we needed. And it was already licensed. And it was already permitted. And it was like it had a walk-in refrigerator and a kettle and my landlords are like just amazing people who like just want to do good by the world. And it's just I walk in and I'm just like haaah.
The nest, as you call it.
The nest, my nest. It's so great. And so we're, we're just working on that. And so. So yeah, I quit my job. Had a few months of like, I wouldn't even call it calmness, which is like finishing up farmers. And then and then it was moving. And then it's like, okay, how do you scale this?
Yeah. Yeah. So tell me about. I mean, besides I know, I'm, we're helping you with your website and some other emails and things like that. But what, what made you reach out again? Because we talked a while ago. And so what was the impetus there? Like, why did you feel like you needed coaching?
I think for me it's, you know, it was recognizing the role of, I had just my coaching relationship with my prior coach was coming to an end, it's realizing that there's an accountability piece that's really important. It's one thing to say that you're going to do it but then having somebody to like hold you to like, did you actually do it? There's, for me having that routine was really important. It was like I don't know where I am, I'm gonna make sure I can get on my computer like this is happening. These times are very sacred. And it is a mix of like therapy like let me tell you all the things like let me just download and then you just saying, okay, like, going through all of the like almost like a like a sieve. Well, you know, and like, what are the big rocks? What's the thing that's sticking out but we'll focus on? And most of the time that the rock wasn't actually what I thought it was. Like, I thought it was something totally different. And you're like, oh, have you thought about, you know, the fact that, you know, your farmers market display is actually like could be improved upon? Not all these other things.
We can just improve sales here.
Or like, what about you? Like, you know, or you know, when you're looking at like hiring and it's just like, okay, instead of thinking like, putting the cart before the horse, like how about you think about all of the different things that you might need? And what like, figure out the times? The nice thing too is that like you already had so many of these reasons, it wasn't like, you were recreating the wheel. So it was nice just to be like, oh, okay, like, I can just take this and like, figure out, like, how does this fit? And like, oh, okay, like, this is the next step that I need to take. And it was like, pretty. I mean, you have shepherd me through like a pretty gnarly season, like starting a business is no joke. But I think starting a business is infinitely easier than scaling a business. Because scaling a business, it's all of a sudden like, oh, this is real, like, oh, I've got like, rent like real, like a rent pay. And I've got like, you know, taxes, and I've got, you know, things that.
Employees. I mean, this is the first time like, I'm like figuring out, like how to raise money and like how to keep my systems in order and like communicating to people and like, it's my job has shifted so dramatically, like my role has shifted so dramatically. And having somebody who has helped sort of, get me out of the nitty gritty, and pull me back out to see sort of the forest has been really helpful.
Yeah, so good, because it is about, I think when you start you have to wear all the hats, and you're figuring it all out. And I want people to do that like that is part of the process, getting your in it up to your eyeballs in kombucha and all the things. But yeah, to keep growing into ultimately, you know, I'm not saying that you can just stay at farmer's markets, and, you know, have a great little business. But I think what you are wanting is something bigger. And so you were going after bigger things, and you get to this point where you're like, I need help getting to the next level, like I've sort of exhausted the tools of Google and some of my networks. Like, like, now I need real help. And it is a shift of the doer and brewer to a CEO, right? Like we talked about that like putting on my CEO role and stepping into. We can call it had flocking to like, I don't know, we don't have to call it CEO.
Yeah, I don't know what it's gonna be. But yeah, with the head bird, the head check. I don't know what I'm gonna be. But yeah.
Want to transition your title, honestly, now that I'm thinking about it, you are identifying still as the doer and brewer of all things, and you are in transition.
Yeah, it is. It's been an interesting transition, it's, you know, it's again, like learning how to set the expectation. And anytime you set an expectation, it's an expectation for both yourself and then for the person who you're setting it for, you know, and then it's like, okay, I told this person, like, this is what is getting done for the week, or this is what your job description is. And then it's just like, learning to, you know, provide the tools and the resources and the mentorship, but then at the end of the day, they've got to do it or not do it and learning to recognize like I hired people so I wouldn't have to do the work. And being okay with that. And being like, okay, they're gonna do it in their way, or they're gonna do it in their, with their style or their finesse, or with their speed. You know.
And we talked about your employees are only ever going to be 50% as good as you like. So that's going with that baseline, and that's on a good day.
That's on a good day. And that's on a day where it's like, okay, but it's again like my job now is, you know, it came up today is like, okay, my job really is like, what's our, like, what's the vision and like, keep bringing it back to like, why are we doing this? What's the point? Like, what's the point in the flavors we choose? What's the point in the message we bring? What's the point in the fact that we're in bottles and not in cans? What's the point of, you know, us having, you know, like, you know, doing any of the other things that, you know, to people, it doesn't make sense. Because there is, there's a reason and reminding people of like, this is why you're doing this. It's like setting the course. And it's giving. And then it's finding like, you know, it's being the first one out. It's like charting that territory of where we're going and keeping people engaged and feeling validated and motivated to want to show up every single day to do the work.
So good. Yeah, let's talk a little bit about hiring and that kind of work. And I love what you said about accountability. And I think scheduling too, because, I mean, literally, your life revolved around bells that told you exactly where to be.
And now you're an entrepreneur, you're like, there's this expansiveness of time, but also all of these crises coming up all the time. And then, are you working in your business or on your business, right? So you're always in the crisis, and then the real things that need to happen to move your business forward aren't getting done. So I think a coach can be very helpful in helping you figure out priorities and how do you use your time and creating an account.
Yeah, it's hard, because I think in the beginning, you spend, or at least I did, I spent very much a lot of time on my business, like, you know, why am I doing this? What's my why? It's not the product, nothing's our product, right? Like, you know, there's more to it than that, you know, like, what's the thing that sparks you and gets you up? You know, and so I spent a lot of time thinking like flushing that out and figuring out my story. That's before I ever had a product.
Of course, you had all the time in the world. In theory.
You know, like, I had a product but I didn't have anything more like I didn't have like, yeah, didn't have anything else to it, you know. And then once you get into it, and then like, all you're doing is like you're working in the business, in the business, in the business. And then you get to a point where you're like, oh, wait, like, I'm growing like, there's some bottleneck, there's something that stops you in your tracks, and something that says, what, like, you think you're doing okay, like, get your head back up, what is it? For me, it was refrigeration, it was trying to figure out, there was just not enough refrigeration for my product. And I couldn't, I didn't have the funds, I couldn't figure it out just the way we were doing things, the logistics, the management. That was that's how it all kind of came. And that's what eventually led us to our new space.
And then you had all the space in the world and then you decided I'm going to do 8 farmers market?
Yeah, so you went from one?
Yeah. It's been a lot. It's been a lot, you know, and like some big ones right? Like so City Parks, you know, Boulder has been great and Longmont, Grand Central Park over in Central Park neighborhood just northwest, and then Arvada which has been super fun. So yeah, learning the logistic.
But then some have multiple days. So you're, you also were like, oh, crap, okay, we're growing like now we have kombucha or close, you also had to get tanks but.
We should, we need to have kombucha.
We should have in theory a lot more kombucha, let's go sale like now I'm gonna go sell but I can't do this by myself, right? So now you're no longer a one woman show, if you're gonna really scale it. So a lot of the work we did together, not all but a good chunk was around hiring, creating some foundations, and systems, processes, things like that. So, so where are you at?
Yeah, you know, I think I had been really fortunate in the very beginning of like, having people to sort of like, show up and like help. And they and, you know, they had two women who drove for me and they were great. And, and that kind of happened and this, you know, but once you start that worked when you were small, right? Like and then once you start to scale and once you start realizing like oh, these people are going to be speaking for the business or they're going to be interacting with customers or with vendors or with, you know, my sublessor or it could be also I also sublease part of my business, part of our space as well. You have to get really clear with what type of people you're bringing in. Like it's not just having a body, it's like who's somebody who like understands our values, understands what we're trying to do, who gets jazzed by that? And understands like what it is because again, like the skills, I can teach you, or I can find somebody who can teach you, you know, like I can, you know, I mean, I'm learning it along with you. So you have to have somebody finding the people who are okay with, you know, the ambiguity or the, you know, the startup culture and have a sense of willingness to try or you know, can be, have taken initiative, like, and how do you measure, interviewed for taking initiative? And how do you? How do you really quantify that and like make that a thing. And I was so hesitant about hiring because all I heard was just like horror stories about like, oh, it's so hard out there, there's nobody good, like you're not gonna find anybody or, you know, and it's like, you drive past the grocery store and they're offering like $22 an hour plus benefits. I'm like, I should go work there. You know, like, it's just like, it's crazy. So it's like, you look, there's and then it's like, another is another can, like another bucket that I'm now like carrying, it's like off now. It's like, HR stuff. And so, but you can't do it alone. And so it was really helpful for just to think through of like, all of the different things that I do, like what does it mean to really be the doer and the brewer and like, how does like what are all even down to like the minutiae things like just trying to thinking through like, okay, what is it I do? What are the things that like, I could easily like outsource to somebody else? Like get a bookkeeper and outsource that, like I do not need to do that anymore. Great, awesome. But then what are the things that make sense to have in house? And what would that job title started to look like? And how many, like literally, I think you and I put down like, how many hours it was for every single activity? Like, is this a full time job? Is this a part time job? Like what does this start to look like? And then, once I had that, it's like, okay, I know what I need, you know, in terms of like a job description, but like, what type of person do I need?
Yeah, ultimately, we wanted to hire on your culture as well. And, you know, we won't get into the weeds on this but you had a couple of guys that were helping you out and you had high hopes for them. But you didn't do any of this work ahead of time. And then you come in, and you just have expectations, right? If like, just do it like I would do it.
Just do it. Like I don't even care what you do. I'm like, I'm just do it or like, ask a question or like, and you start recognize that the things that are so, I think, innate in me around like people who are entrepreneurs, or even people who are teachers, like we ask a lot of questions, we want to understand. And that wasn't, I didn't hire for that. I hired for oh, I need help. Just come in.
I just need a body which, I mean, ultimately, would you, I'm just curious, would you have rather not have had that like, looking back, do you think it was good that you had them?
I'd rather not have had the body. No, I woudn't.
Even though it was exhausting, and there was so much work you had to go back to do and.
Then there's a lot, there was just thought of. And granted, I wouldn't have the people I have now if it wasn't for those experiences, and like, they wouldn't be available and like all the things. But again, it was, you know, like, I got into this position with like, one where I was like, he needs to go like, I just need him out. But then it's like, oh but like, he is a body and he is helping and it is releasing some, you know, pressure on, you know, like my relationship with my husband because like if it wasn't him, it was gonna be my husband, and he's got a full time job, you know? You know, as well. And it's like, we can't work 24 hours a day. As much as I think we should. That doesn't work. And no, don't don't do it. It's terrible.
And I would never suggest that it was a bad or it was a worthless experience at all because you learned a lot from it.
Yeah. It's learned, you know, and it's just like, trust when it's like, don't keep, yeah, like, don't keep the people. If it's not working. It's just not working. And that's okay. It has nothing to do with you. You don't have to own that. You can just say, hey, right now in this process, so I've gotten really good at having tough conversations with people and just being like, yeah, they might be upset, and also like they're gonna find something that they're better suited for, you know, like.
You are not doing anybody any favors by keeping somebody on that isn't a good fit, like kind candor better just to cut it, cut it there and have them move on and move on. But now we have a framework and we have tools but because what we want to do when we hire is fail fast or succeed, like we want to like put it under pressure a little bit to see, but with clear expectations and things set up ahead of time, you know, like tell you like, yeah, people can't read your mind unless you put it down on paper. So they can if you put it on paper.
Yeah, and be also willing like, you know, something that's, you know, I've been learning to do is like, hey, like this was on your list like, you know, for today or for this week and it didn't get done, why? And just let it be.
And it's interesting, I've seen a lot of growth in you, would you agree from when we first started working together, and you were really scared about having some of these conversations and setting boundaries? And now you're like, I'm setting boundaries!
I know. Well, I think also, again, coming from, I didn't really have great role models of what leadership could look like, right? Like I had, you know, very much leadership that was based on like scarcity and based on power and like, I will like, that like fear, essentially, you know, and like, a little bit of bullying tactics. And I didn't know and then they didn't know what my leadership style was going to be. I think I swung too far the opposite where I was like, just get the work done. I'm cool.
Yeah, I just want to be the cool boss.
You know what, I'm not cool. I'm actually not a cool. I'm not a cool person. It's like it when people are like, oh, I want it like I'm so laid back. I'm like, I'm not. I wish I was, I'm not. And so like, calibrating like what my expectations are? And like, where I fall? And like, you know, like, yeah, I can have very high expectations of you, I have very high expectations of myself. And I want you to also then ruthlessly prioritize, like what's the most important thing? You know, at the end of the day, what is it? For each member of the team, you know, it always comes down to like brewing the best tasting kombucha. And that might look different for like every single person at the end of the day what they're getting done. Just holding people accountable, giving them enough space to innovate, enough space to say, hey, I see this way you're doing things, I think we could do it this way and do it differently. And be like, cool, that works. And modeling, trying to models on, you know, your values of being, you know, authentic and balanced and innovative. And, you know, being willing to say hey, like, I'm out, I'm out of like, I haven't had good balance like before, a few months, a few weeks ago, like I was like May was really tough. Like my, like, you know, it's the end of school. It's, you know, we're like, in now all five farmers markets, it's, you know, bringing on two new people like, it was just, it was a lot and I was working on.
Yeah, and there was some rough days and thank goodness for your, your, your husband. Yeah.
I was, I was out of balance. It was very, very rough. And it was a lot of tears. And it just, and sort of recognized like, okay, like you can only be so good.
And we kept saying like we're gonna get through this. Like you're in this pretty rough transition, you're bringing on new people, you end up hiring three people, you're training them, like it takes a lot to train, you have to plan hours. For every hour of knowledge you have, gonna take you a lot longer to train somebody. And so you have to plan in that and we were doing it all at once and we just knew it was going to be a little bit of a cluster.
It was painful and it hurt. You know, like there's a bit of like, oh my gosh, like that first, like time I ran payroll. I was like, oh!
Yeah, makes me wanna vomit.
What? Okay, you know, like, yeah, it makes you want to vomit and like I still like I'm like, okay, that makes me want to vomit a little bit like can I do this? But I've took my first vacation.
I know. That was a really big step.
And I was able to like leave my nest and go out and do something which.
It did not fall apart.
And lead people and they did great. And they did awesome. And I didn't need there to oversee all of the little things anymore. And that felt really refreshing. And it's nice to be able to then like be able to then come back and be like, oh, okay, like.
Yeah, you're finally, you're starting to get the benefits now of the hiring.
Yeah. But it's also like, it's like, okay now I can like get the benefits of hiring but also like get back to like what we were saying earlier about, like thinking like, what does it mean to be a CEO? Like what does that look like? Like I can come back in and be like, oh, I can, I now do have like the mental headspace to think about these, you know, explore these different ideas that I've had and like how to bring them into fruition. And I do have now like, I do see what my role actually needs to be and how does that take things away? And really, just craft like, you know, it's not just, you know, selling the brand out to the, you know, to the public. It's like, keeping, like that internal brand. And like, keeping that really strong and alive. And like why is this important? And really connecting that. So it's a fun place to be. It's, yeah, it feels nice.
I feel like hopefully you're able to at least be like, okay, I'm in this place, I'm enjoying the journey. And you're gonna, you know, years from now, you're gonna look back at you, this person and be like, that's so cute remember?
Yeah, like that was so funny. Like, what? I mean? Why? I mean, yeah like why did, I think you said it best, you were like, you just took a whole elephant down in like a month and, like quit a job, moved to a huge facility, you know, take on like, all these, because it's not just like, you know, moving to a facility now I'm like, you know, a property manager for two other businesses. So like making sure their stuffs all in order, like hiring people, like yeah. We can go small.
All these things. That's amazing. I'm so glad that you gave yourself the gift of getting a coach to help you work through these things. It's been a pleasure for me to work with you and can't wait, were you haven't gotten rid of me yet?
No, you haven't gotten rid of me yet. That is, I mean, that's definitely not going to happen, you know, so. Yeah, you make me like, make me better.
You are, you're a better person. I mean, you were always a great person but you were a better entrepreneur. And I just love entrepreneurship that it gives you so much opportunity to grow as a person like this is your vehicle for evolving and for contributing.
And who know? So it's been, it's been really great. And, you know, and like learning to bring people on and understanding it like, yeah, being a boss, like that's really like you, like taking on some of those coaching roles and in leadership and figuring out like, oh, you know, years from now, and they're gonna look like, oh, I want to be like this boss.
I know, you're gonna be coaching others soon enough.
Yeah, it's cool. I feel good. You know.
I love it. What is, what is your future statement? Did you craft like, that we talked about the other day?
I kinda slugging around at it. And I don't know if I've landed on anything quite yet. But I do. I like this idea of, you know, how do you redefine like work and work spaces for people. And, you know, part of the vision of being in the nest is that it is a space where like each business is bringing something unique, and we're building something new. And I do see this kind of as like the next sort of evolution of 3rd Bird is like having a space where small beverage companies can come in and like use our space but also use like our resources that we have available, whether that is, you know, like, you know, helping with like shipping and purchasing of items and ingredients, like helping with whatever, like marketing and media and helping with some of these, like sort of ins and outs components. And then how do you give people this space to create and innovate and make a product that they're really proud of? And they're really proud of themselves. Without hustling so much, you know, like I think when we get into the hustle mindset, I think this is another great thing about having a coach is that you constantly reminded me that like I'm enough, and this like, don't worry about all the negative self-talk like the moment you start thinking that you need to hustle, or you need to sell, or you need to do this then becomes harder. But if you just believe that you're like, you are enough, you live in a world of aplenty, and these things will, these things will work out. It's just, it's a game changer.
So good. Oh my gosh. Well that's a great place to wrap it up. I love that. Did you make it, actually when you were talking, made me realize like, you name this 3rd Bird Collective?
Yeah, we're Collective.
Hearing that vision. I'm like, oh, wow, you name those perfectly. Whether you knew it or.
I know, so that's actually my LLC. Well, yeah, so there was like a small like, there was a time there where I was like, oh my God, I can't like rent a building. Like I should just buy a building. And I'll have like, I'll create 3rd Bird as like a nonprofit and like, I always have different ideas. Turns out, I could not buy a building. Still a great idea. Maybe someday, it's like the someday thing. But yeah, it is. It's this idea. Like there's so many.
And doesn't mean it can't happen. No, no rush.
It's just not a right now moment. You know, it's just not right now. It's in down the line. But I do think that there's space for people like, you know, people who do want to keep things more in house, people like who are doing, you know, who are making a product that isn't served in being in like a traditional Commissary Kitchen and there's quite a few at it. It's art. You know, again, unless you have connections or unique space, or like know somebody, or like you just have lots and lots of money.
Amazing. Sara tell people where they can find you. You mostly just stay your products are available in Colorado Denver, Boulder area, but tell people where they can find you if they want to look you up.
The best place to find us is online at 3rdbirdcollective.com. So that's the number 3, R, D, bird, collective.com. Or you can come visit us, we're at City Park farmer's market, Boulder, Longmont, Arvada and central park on the weekends. Or we're located a bunch of different coffee shops and breweries around the Denver Metro area, which are all listed online for you.
And the Instagram, is that 3rd Bird?
3rd Bird Kombucha is our Instagram. Come check us out. And we'd love to serve you and your flock.
Love it. Thanks so much, Sara, for your time. It's been really fun.
It's been good. I like it.
You have to come back and listen to this when you need a little pick me up. When you're remembering why you're doing all this.
I hope you guys got so much from that. Sara has so many good nuggets of inspiration and how coaching has really changed her business and helped her to feel more confident and step into being the leader of 3rd Bird Collective and 3rd Bird Kombucha. If you are curious about what one-on-one coaching would look like and how that could help you, I want to encourage you to go over to foodbizsuccess.com. I have reworked the website and you really just have two choices. You can either join Food Business Success, or you can explore one-on-one coaching. I have found coaching to be the key to my success personally. And it has transformed many, many business founders, relationship with their business, and helping them to get more done, to get to that next level, to put themselves out there and really develop systems and foundations to help you be strong as you grow. And that accountability piece, working on your mindset and helping you overcome that negative self-talk that slows all of us down. Coaching is so valuable. And if this resonated with you, I want to encourage you to take the next step. Go over to foodbizsuccess.com Until next time, have an amazing week!
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