Any of you out there feel like there MUST be a certain product you are looking for, but when you search you can’t find it? For most of us, after we come up empty, we find the next closest thing. But today’s guest is not like most of us! Ashi Jelinek was looking for a vitamin infused drink for her kids instead of watering down the juice that was on the market. When she couldn’t find anything, the woman MADE IT HERSELF!!!
Ashi talks to me about her life pre Kidsluv and how she slowly starting making iterations and diving into flavors for this product. She dives into how she worked on the branding and really figuring out her audience — I was blown away with how foreword thinking she has been throughout this whole process! She then talks about how she had these grand visions of launching and having a huge success, but that wasn’t the case, and what she did next just blew me away. Instead of giving up, she really dove into making things better and figuring out how to build relationships with retailers. We then talk about the identify crisis you find yourself in as a founder — where do you fall into this crazy founders world. We finish off with her telling me what a typical day is like and what her biggest tips are for developing a drinks, and then she hits me with a big admission — she was so naiive as to what building this would entail at the beginning, and looking back she isnt sure if she would do it again!
Ashi was SO SO easy to talk to — she opened up, was honest and really introspective on her journey. Weather you have kids or not, you HAVE to check out her products (and be on the lookout for new ones soon). Head to their site or instagram page to learn more and enjoy 20% off 16pcks with code LUVVIP20 on Amazon.
KidsLuv is vitamin-enhanced, zero sugar functional beverage, and the first product from certified women-owned, The Luving Company, which was founded in 2018 upon recognizing a growing demand in the kids’ beverage space for less sugar and healthier products. Created by a mother of three, KidsLuv is designed to give kids a healthy dose of vitamins and minerals their bodies need, without the harmful sugars. It’s the product that parents have been looking for to replace sugar-packed children’s vitamins and juices. KidsLuv’s three fun-luving flavors, Flying Fla-Mango, Peach Me I’m Orange and Starstruck Coconut, are Certified Non-GMO, Vegan, Kosher and Gluten-Free, and served in an 8-oz., recyclable, resealable, straw-free drink carton. KidsLuv products are currently available online at KidsLuv.com, Thrive Market, Amazon and can be found in Natural Independents Markets, United Supermarkets, Walmart, Target, and H-E-B stores. For more information about the company and to find a store, visit www.KidsLuv.com and follow on Instagram and Facebook.
Dana: Hello everybody and welcome back to another episode of amidst the chaos. Today I am here with my new friend Ashley Jelinek, and she is going to tell us all about her company and how it came to be. I love that she has created a product that there was a need for it, there was a need in the marketplace and we talked about that on this podcast, all the time, and I am so excited that she found the need and capitalized on it. So we are going to hear her story about how this business came to be. So welcome, Ashley, thank you so much for being here.
Ashi: Thanks so much for having me so happy to be here.
Dana: So give us a quick overview of what your company does now and what you do day to day for your company.
Ashi: Sure. So, kids love is the first zero sugar vitamin enhance beverage for kids, it is non GMO vegan kosher and gluten free, and we also RNA recyclable resealable drink carton and the first straw free kids drink to hit the market.
Dana: So she checks all the boxes in case you’re wondering.
Ashi: Yeah we give a full dose basically of, you know vitamins vegan vitamins and a drink, can’t overdose on the vitamins because it’s watered down, and I’m the founder and CEO and I run sales for the company as well.
Dana: Amazing. So this is a obviously a huge brand you have going on. There’s so much that goes into making our product especially for like, with the intention of a child ingesting it. Like that’s, that’s the whole thing. So I want to hear about your life, pre your startup and how your company’s grown to be but how did you even think of the idea and what did your life look like from a work perspective. Prior to becoming a CEO and founder.
Ashi: Sure, so I was not working, I had had my first son and then consequently then obviously had another one, now I have three, but at the time who yeah now I had at the time two little ones, and really my daughter was about two years old so my son was five at the time, and I was at home taking care of them and then really had the yearning and calling to want to do something else besides be a stay at home mom, I had worked for most of my, you know, in my 20s and just really felt that calling again. And I had the idea because at the time of taking care of the littles, I was very focused on what were they putting in their bodies, not like from a food perspective but also a drink perspective. And notice that were a lot of families when I go to parks or birthday parties or playdates that they were taking juice and pouring water in it to water down the sugar content, and I thought it was just an interesting phenomenon I noticed everywhere, people still do it now, but I wanted to kind of maybe there was an alternative that I hadn’t thought about or known about in the market that offered a way to reduce sugar or have no sugar at all. And then this other idea came to me because my son at the time was starting to get cavities, and I just didn’t understand because you really didn’t have a lot of sugar. We brushed his teeth last did all the right things but he was still getting cavities and the doctor, dentist pediatric dentist at the time, told me that while you’re giving him, you know any of those chewable vitamins or hard chewable vitamins they like kind of sediment on the teeth, and unless you’re immediately brushing them off and even then it doesn’t always work because it’s against the cracks and between the teeth that essentially they’re going to be getting cavities. So I had this these two thoughts kind of struck me as interesting and then I came up with the idea to you know have a to go form of vitamins and a drink that was zero sugar and then often a way I was looking at, If there was this on the market, there wasn’t, and then I started to unravel what it would look like to develop something like this. Amazing.
Dana: I mean, honestly, like the persistence that it must take to also have two kids running around and to be even able to form coherent thoughts is difficult for me, let alone like come up with something that doesn’t even exist and put it together and make it happen. So, what were your first steps like obviously this was a great idea. There’s nothing on the market, you did the research and you’re like, Wow, this could definitely be something. How did you even know where to start, where did you begin.
Ashi: So I started actually by working with someone who was very well versed in business and he had a background kind of looking at startups and understanding kind of pain points and and doing kind of mapping on like, if this is like a desirable product, you know, is there a market for it so I kind of did like really like almost like college level homework on if this idea even had legs because I just really didn’t want to waste time on something, and at the time I actually had another idea for something else. And so I was kind of doing both at the same time to see what made sense, but really where it started was okay, what can I find that is similar or somewhat similar on the market have an idea what is in that product and how could I improve on it, so I kind of, you know, went down the vitamin aisle for kids looked at different things are there liquid vitamins for kids but shockingly there really isn’t many that don’t taste very medicinal and then I really started from there I knew I wanted it, you know, clean labeled vegan non GMO I knew I had to hit those marks. So through a family friend actually I found somebody who had done some formulation in the past, they weren’t necessarily well versed in like the kids sector but they got what I was trying to do. And so we worked back and forth on how we could get this and really went through many iterations over probably a year process of the product to make sure I kind of, you know, got what I was looking for, but also from a flavor perspective which was interesting for me. Yes, that’s like a really interesting whole world because you have to be, you know what you might like is not what everyone’s gonna like, obviously, and especially little kids what they’re going to like so I really had to come almost into the mind frame of like how am I going to try this out and I don’t have the money to do it so I ended up, after I’ve gotten a couple samples of what I thought the iterations were that I was interested in, I started to go after trying to target kids without paying for these, you know, marketing agencies that charge you hand over fist to really set up, You know, places to get kind of consumer feedback. Right. I set up my own little stuff so I went to taekwondo studios, I went to like, Mommy and me play gyms, and I had samples of the product. I had like had them sign like kind of liability waivers so like we weren’t really love it, you know, yeah and really it was like Do you want to try this. I mean, I’m shocked that anybody did.
Dana: Yeah I was gonna say I don’t know that I would, I don’t know how many people I know that would do that I would do it.
Ashi: Right, I mean, maybe, and especially now, no one’s doing that but right seriously right but back then I, you know, people were curious, I got a lot of parents that would try it for the kids and then maybe they tried to go on, it’s interesting. Do you want to try it. And then I even brought over like packaging designs I had like I had ideas already I came up with the name myself and then I had ideas of what I wanted that to look like and so I brought like three iterations of those package designs to those taekwondo areas and gyms to get feedback from both the kids and the parents on what struck out to them as a package design because I was very torn on even what I thought. So it was a very interesting fun time, real brand discovery. I did work with somebody who had a lot of branding experience and we went through some exercises really to dial into what is that, what is it that I’m trying to do what, what am I, what is the consumer I’m trying to talk to, what is the feel for the brand, because it’s an evolution of brand right and right now I have this one product line kids love but, you know, the goal is to make it into a family brand so you really have to start with that thought process like how far do you want to go with something, and how big do you want to think so, it was definitely, it was a little bootstrapped beyond, and it was also a little. It was a little you know guerilla style marketing I guess that’s what they call it these days you know that’s really what it is, and I think now it’s harder in the world of COVID that we live in, to do things like this and to really get that feedback from person to person, you know, I know now, for example, I’m doing a mailing with somebody on on some products. And so that’s an interesting way because people seem a little bit more open to doing it that way these days so like if you want to just start a brand I mean, that’s a suggestion I would make is maybe if you can’t do something in person, you can always mail it to people and people will usually, you know, accept it and if you can email a survey or add a survey and you know that always helps to kind of get some feedback on what you’re creating.
Dana: Yeah, I love that and the fact that you were able to be like okay, what can I do now for the rest of the things I’m testing like how are we going to do this because I couldn’t use and and you know what, that’s not there because you just started a business, not that long ago right you figured out how to make it work, how to get the testers, how to get really great feedback all in your own way you did all this like boots on the ground, hard work, and then it was like, Oh, we’re gonna have a pandemic, and you’re gonna have to not be able to use any of those techniques that you taught yourself for those next round, it was like a I can’t imagine the like level of character building that you had to go through mentally to have all of this happen, amidst building these this brand and making it happen. So, how did you work through like the mental aspect of getting this off the ground because obviously that’s a lot of testing that’s a lot of approvals, that’s a lot of, you know, legal compliance like there’s a lot happening so how did you keep your mind in the game to keep going.
Ashi: So I really, honestly, am very good at asking people, things, so I asked a lot of questions, I pretty inquisitive I feel like the more feedback I got about different things now, you know, obviously, everybody has their different opinions on where you spend money. Looking back, I think I could have saved some money but at the end of the day I feel like I spent money where I thought in the future was going to be useful and it’s proven to be, and I was thinking big. I mean I definitely, I’ve always thought very big and very ahead of, oh, even where I am or where I see myself going, and I continue to kind of try to like push boundaries and limits within, I mean, even to this day like no one’s doing what I’m doing in terms of the product, I have on the market. So I really have to almost educate people, and whether it’s a buyer or customer into what I’m doing, why I’m doing it, what is the value add, and how it really will make a difference, you know in your life and, more importantly your kids lives right. So I think that for me it’s been, it’s always been a mental I think being an entrepreneur in general and it’s almost like being a being a mother to it’s almost the same, it’s very similar. I do have to sometimes you know you hit rock bottom, you have to bring yourself back around mentally, and really get yourself in the game and kind of, you know, take a deep breath and reset is really more and more part of it, I would say definitely the hardest part of building a brand for me, launching it, the year of the launch was very disappointing for me because you build this thing, and you think you’re going to put it into the universe, and everybody’s going to respond all at once, and it’s going to be like the most amazing year of your life, and I did not have that experience I had quite the opposite. It was like, not so great. I spent two years of my life creating something that nobody cares about. And then you start to kind of again, take your head out of it. Take a deep breath. Look at what you’re doing. I scaled back a lot, and I just started then hustling to get into stores, because at the time. This is 2019. I really realized like, okay, to pop off on EECOM, you have to have a lot of money for marketing, and I just don’t have it. So, and on top of it, my products of water products it’s heavy to ship. So it was like, Okay, what am I doing let’s like rethink this. And I started kind of, you know, getting into distributors slowly and then slowly got my first online account in 2019 which was Thrive Market, and they were big supporters of the brand, and then slowly, they’re, you know they’re a name people know them, buyers then wonder if you’re on there, what does that mean you’re the only kids drink on there, so that sticks out to them, and slowly but surely I started really to build the business.
Dana: Amazing, honestly so so impressive. I did not know any of this about like the struggle and the launch not being just crazy right off the bat because I obviously have kind of sought you out and I was looking for something kind of similar in this vein and we ended up finding you through it and I just like assumed you, it was like a success right from the beginning and I literally can’t imagine the mental stress that must have taken you and to even now to say like yeah it was really hard at this point you’re saying that when like, you’re really through it means that it probably was way hard on your mental health stuff like when you’re that discouraged.
Ashi: Yeah, I think, you know, I think it was to slim down my team, I think you know at the time I had hired some people to help me with sales and other things and I just started to really get very lean and bootstrapped about things and say you know what I’m just going to do this myself. Let’s see if I can get more done if I do it myself. I’ll give myself a year. If it doesn’t work, then there you go, that’s the answer. So, I started kind of again myself doing sales making those calls I had the list of where I wanted the product to be and slowly but surely I really started kind of, you know, knocking on those doors and opening them, and I started to realize that sales was what I was good at I think when I launched the brand I really thought my strong suit was marketing and brand building, and all of that and then I as I was in the process of running the company and where is my value add because it’s interesting it’s like, even though you create a product and you might, you know, be the founder of something or your own business, sometimes you can feel like what is really my value add do I bring something Do I not, I mean some people don’t feel that way I know I question that a lot to define what is my niche in all of this, where do I like to be right because at the end of the day, you also want to feel like if you’re running a company, you want to like what you do otherwise, why are you doing it. And I know a lot of people struggle with that and being an entrepreneur is definitely not for everyone, it’s very high stress, it’s very high demand, it’s a lot of ups and downs, a lot of, I don’t even know and to this day it’s like that so I found sales to be my calling card, and I really took that on and then at the end of 2019 I had presented at a conference basically for you know other beverages and spoke at it, and it was in like kind of a competition, which amazing. Yeah, I didn’t win, but then Walmart approached me and had some interest in the product and I really stayed on that and in 2020 we launched with a test with them, which was like, you know my first really big deal account and it was really exciting and it still is, it’s a great partnership. And then from there, you know, then in 2002 1020 We got approached by target. And then we’ve this year built out into the East Coast and Stop and Shop hgB. We just launched into central market as well, you know, looking in talks with some other big retailers for next year. So, once one bites the other one bites and then it kind of starts to roll a little bit, but then it’s about you making sure you follow up, everybody has their own style and sales. Mine is this that they’re busy, they don’t have time. There’s a million emails they get every day and so what’s going to make them respond to you over somebody else. And I think it’s really being consistent and persistent without being without being completely annoying, which is a very hard line to walk and a lot of people are very uncomfortable doing that.
Dana: It’s a fine line it’s so you know two things. First off, you saying you’re like oh yeah I didn’t win that competition, you couldn’t care less because you did win because you got Walmart’s attention so obviously Walmart are winning a competition with Walmart, and then the second thing, and it kind of loops back around to what you just said about how some people aren’t comfortable walking that line, I’m one of those people like that sales is not my calling. I’m like a creator like I’m a creative like I build the thing, and I do the branding and I figure out how to make it work and what really people really want, but like, No, you could sell me sand on a beach but that’s not my niche but I think it’s really interesting what you said because so many entrepreneurs who are innovators right who have invented something who have created a tangible product. Those are the kind of entrepreneurs who have that, you know, kind of inner conflict of like wait what do I actually do now, right, because they had this great idea and they had the persistence and the drive to make it happen and to make it actually come to fruition but then once the company is up and going, they’re like, hold on, like, I made it, and then now it’s made so what do I do now, and I think that’s really really interesting and I’m realizing too because not every entrepreneur is an inventor, not every entrepreneur is a creator of a tangible product or something, you know, along those lines and so some people bring a specific skill set to their business like for me like I’m a photographer. I know how to photograph kids like that is a skill set, it’s very clear what I do in my industry, and within my business, but then as an entrepreneur you have to wear every single one of those hats, right, and so I have to I have to now. Like you figured out sales is what you’re good at, like, I also have to figure out how to be better at sales like you have, at a certain point, had to be all the things and so I love that you’re kind of showing the other side of the business where you’re at a point where you’re like, Okay, this is what I’m good at. This is the thing I’m going to be able to tackle in the business and the rest I can hire out for the people who are good at that. And I think that’s a good like reminder like, here’s the pot of gold at the end of the entrepreneur rainbow, like you can niche down to do the part that you’re really good at in your business and find people to do the rest. Does that make sense.
Ashi: Yeah, totally makes sense and I absolutely agree with that for sure, for sure, and you can’t take on. I mean, you know, in my business right now I’m still, I still dabble in almost every part of the business and I think that’s pretty normal for most people, totally. I think that it’s just where are you going to spend most of your energy and really as a business owner, it’s, if you need to fundraise it’s on fundraising and then it’s on whatever that other thing is, and that’s more than enough probably for most people to handle any.
Dana: Yes, talk so true, so true and I think it’s just nice to see people at every different stage of their business, right, because you’ve gone through so much of the sock, you know like you know what it’s like to have those feelings not feel like you totally fit, you know, a square peg in a round peg in the square. Yeah, exactly. I don’t know, you know the phrase, but I love that so, so talk to me about how you built this whole brand that’s a Target or Walmart and all these places with having to and then birthing a third child, like, like, how did your logistics of doing all of these things. How’d you manage, I don’t understand.
Ashi: Yeah, so number three was definitely a surprise, a welcome surprise but a surprise for sure. And I definitely got a lot of flack from people that have invested in the brand kind of being like, I don’t know how you’re going to do this like this is just because it was really the beginning stages of the brand I mean I had are in 2019, I launched at the end of 2018 so 2019 I mean, at that beverage conference I was pregnant and I was like four months, three months along. And so I was bringing a little baby everywhere with me, I mean I had my Walmart meeting with the baby, and my mom came with me she stayed in the hotel with the baby target, freezing and Minnesota, took the baby with me. She really like came everywhere with me. So, someone was joking with me that she’ll become a businesswoman just by mere fact that she was just always with me throughout the whole process, but I did ask Moses, yeah. I didn’t really have a choice, thank goodness. It wasn’t easy baby because I think she knew when I prayed every day that I was not going to get a difficult child but I knew it was going to be really intense to run this business with a child that probably wouldn’t be hard, especially with traveling, and then obviously with 2020 and COVID things really slow down, you know, for everyone and and I had so many trips booked for 2020 and it just came to a halt. So now I’ve really kind of moved everything online. I took my first business trip last week. Since the pandemic, but everything’s been online and everyone’s really adapted that way actually in my industry so that’s been very fortunate that now I’m in a situation where, you know I can lock myself in an office and at home and, and get pretty much everything done that I can but in the beginning it was pretty wild and it’s really about staying organized, and I think learning when to start and stop work I’m really bad at that. I never stopped. I work on the weekends I answer emails on Sundays I think it drives a lot of people crazy I’m always on a phone, but it’s just the nature of what I’m trying to build, I basically feel like the company in a way is my fourth kid who maybe needs a little love and support than another kid does unfortunately right now just at the stage I’m at at the business and it always is a juggling act and I think that you’re never going to be the perfect mom or the perfect business owner and it’s gonna come and ups and downs and I think you have to just be patient with yourself more than anything else, because it’s just it’s hard. It’s really hard. Any other way but it is really hard.
Dana: Well, there’s so many days where you’re like, I know it’s times when like my kids are struggling, that’s when it’s the hardest for me like they’re not because I’m not paying attention to them but just for whatever reason, like, you know, Shauna just left again or whatever, you know, they started school or whatever they’re going through the, they’re just having a tough time with. That’s when I’m like, but I just have to quit everything, like I can’t do anything else because I have to be there for them because they’re losing it, you know what I mean and just send you into this spiral but I think after going through that so many times and not quitting like you can sit back in that moment of panic and be like okay, I know this is a cyclical thing like it comes right back around and you’re right back on top of it where life is good in both areas, you know, and but that’s really hard to remember especially those first few times of meltdown, right where you need to clone yourself times 10 to be able to make everybody in your life happy and feel fulfilled with your relationship with them. And that’s hard.
Ashi: Yeah absolutely and I would say like even with the business there’s times where things are beyond hard, and it’s like okay, I’m trying the best I can, I’m pushing every in every direction. And then, you know, at some point there is like, you gotta have to also learn how to kind of give up control sometimes and say like, you know, roll with the punches and see what comes out on the other end. But yeah, it’s been a very it’s definitely been a learning curve on how to balance things, but I also think it’s great for kids to grow up in a situation where they see you know I grew up with a working mom, and I think it’s aspirational and I think it’s a great thing for kids to see you know especially if you work really hard and you’re running your own thing. i There are days where I wish. You know, I would get hired by someone and I could just like, you know, get my paycheck and have my days off and. Yep. and it’s a definitely a different level of commitment, a depth of unpredictability and kind of trying to organize around the unpredictability, as well, you know, and I think that that can be sometimes hard for a mother and entrepreneur as well.
Dana: Absolutely and I and for you too. I’d love to hear how you manage that transition for your family because you are not someone who was working full time you weren’t working 40 to 60 hours a week prior to starting this very very demanding entrepreneurial endeavor, like you were not doing that you were kind of taking care of everybody else right you’re spending your time taking care of their needs so how did you how did you manage that transition and manage your kids through it and the rest of your family because I know stay at home moms like they’re pulled in every direction already, so for you to be able to find the time to do this and transition them is, is pretty remarkable. So I think we need to know how, because that’s, again, you’re a mystery to me and I love every second of it.
Ashi: I honestly think that I didn’t know what I was doing with the business, I think I was literally day by day one step at a time, discovery, I’m gonna do this every day I started learning more I became more interested in what I was doing. If I had known what I know now, I don’t know if I would have done it. I think I would have been like. That seems like a lot of stuff to do and who has time for that, maybe I should do something else. I don’t know if I honestly I’m being completely honest I just don’t know if I would have done it, because it takes that much so I almost think I’m, it’s interesting, I’m like, I’m discovering this about myself and other areas of my life that I’m really naive. I really am like I’m oddly at mostly glass half empty person but I have this like weird naive t about me like a child where I’m like, always kind of curious and discovering and so I think that helped me with this, otherwise I would have never done it I think I was like yeah sure, this sounds great and let’s just walk through the process and see what it’s like and so the hours didn’t get to what I’m working now until really 2020, and then with the pandemic and then you know obviously homeschooling kids and thank God I had some support with, you know, with my husband, but also we have a, you know, we have a live in nanny otherwise I would have jumped off a bridge, I just really don’t know what I would have done. But, you know for me now, thank goodness, the kids are back in school, things are a little bit more back to normal, at least from where I am, I’m in California, in that sense, so things have kind of started to even out in that regard but really I think the answer to it is, is from going from, you know, maybe a 60 hour work day but just taking care of kids to maybe 80 hour work day because between kids and work, and then where are you trying to find personal time for yourself, it’s a real struggle and I think if I would have known that I don’t know. I don’t know if I would have done it. I’m so happy I did, and I’m so happy my naivete, like, definitely served me but I don’t know if I would have done it.
Dana: Yes I, it’s so funny, I’ve had this conversation with, like, and I don’t have with everybody, but I think you’re the third guest recording in a row that we’ve had this. They’ve said this same exact thing, because you just don’t and it’s and it’s perfect metaphor for motherhood, because, oh my gosh like even just now just for everybody listening like I just had to pause this recording because it’s bedtime here in Turkey and my kids were not already asleep one kid was not already asleep. And you know what, like, I didn’t. If I had known that like, sometimes they’re just really not going to do what you need them to do like I mean I would have of course still had children, but it’s the same kind of concept, like, it really is.
Ashi: And there are definitely days where I hit a wall, where I’m like, I just need some time out. I need to not work, I’m so over it I don’t want to do anything anymore. I just want to walk, run away and it’s like, I don’t know, then you pick yourself back up and you think about different things or something happens that’s exciting and you never know what’s going to happen in a day. I always say that, and you never know. You know what’s in front of you, you know, we can only see really what’s right ahead of us we can’t really see far down the road, so we really just don’t know what’s gonna happen.
Dana: Totally, totally, totally So, speaking of days walk me through like what a normal day for you looks like including like family stuff so how are you doing both.
Ashi: Yeah so typical day is I try to wake up early, most days. I like the quiet time in the morning to get work done before the chaos hits then usually, my son is up the first He’s the oldest he’s nine and he’s up first, and he is pretty self sufficient and trying to make himself breakfast. Fortunately, my mom is here right now so she’s been super helpful with helping with the kids in the morning but they’re up that’s the best. Yes, and we’re out of the house, usually by, you know 745 On the way to school, I usually do or my mom does school drop off these days, and then we’re back home and then I’m usually starting, you know, my full workday, that I’m, you know, the baby is here. She usually wakes up on the later side, and you know, it’s a little bit of a struggle, having a baby at home when you’re working, especially in a pandemic because I get yelled in a lot of the time when I walked downstairs into being with her, she’s like two and change. So she’s also going through like major mama missing out kind of draw high level drama like when she sees Oh yeah, she really like kind of goes for it and and it makes me feel very guilty. So I tried to spend some time with her in the middle of the day, and then most days I’m ending my day so if I start early, which that’s what I try to do I try to end early so then I can have some downtime with my kids when they come home from school or after school activities to do stuff with them because otherwise I’m in the throes of making dinner, and then bedtime process, and then I’m ready to collapse. So for me, I’m like, become such a morning person. I mean I was never a morning person, and now I am such a morning person, and a night, I’m just so exhausted from the day, and I really like relish weekends like I look forward to them to not have to like wake up so early to do the whole day and get it all done and lunches and everything you know so for me that’s like that’s kind of my typical day, I mean I really try to wake up in the morning and if I’m on some me time or exercise I really tried to do that around like 6am or even maybe earlier, just to be able to squeeze that in before again before the chaos starts you know to have some, it’s so important I find to even have like 1520 minutes with yourself sometimes just to like recalibrate and, you know for every person that’s different, there are people that love to do that at night. I just think you my eyes open. I’m so like an early bird.
Dana: I know it’s funny, I saw this meme that was like, I’m not an early bird or a night owl I’m a permanently exhausted pigeon, and that’s me. But it’s, I mean it’s true, like, all the really successful people like it’s the mornings, that’s where the magic happens and I think I think waking up the days where I can get up before the kids and get my day started just might even if, like you said, 1015 minutes like you have a way to kind of reset yourself and prepare for the chaos that’s about to rain down on you.
Ashi: Yeah, and I feel very like in the mornings I have to say like, I’m exhausted by like three or four when I wake up that early, but I don’t like a nice exhaustion because I know I’m going to go to sleep.
Dana: Yes, and it dissatisfied, like you’re accomplished you’ve done something
Ashi: exactly like people who struggle with sleep, I’m always like, okay, maybe you should wake up early and then you probably wouldn’t have that problem, you know, people who stay up late at night I just I don’t have that issue and I just try not to have any caffeine after three o’clock, otherwise I’m going to be up for sure.
Dana: Yeah, that’s my, that’s my cut off time to this move to Turkey has been really interesting because we’re seven hours ahead and we will be eight hours ahead when daylight savings hits in the US and so for me it’s actually beautiful because as an entrepreneur like you get pulled in a million different directions all day long and so I have pretty much the whole morning and like to like one at the earliest maybe to where I don’t hear from anybody, so you can like you’re not getting any emails you’re not getting like you have this time to like actually just crank out work and the actual stuff you need to be doing. But then when I go to record podcasts and do things and have meetings with my team and all the things like that where you’re actually communicating with people back in the States, I can’t do that until the evening time. And so with my husband back out of town, it’s like you have to wait till after bed and I’m like oh no, like, we’re coming out, it’s gonna be late tonight.
Ashi: I went to Spain this summer. That was like my first trip without the kids, and I went with a girlfriend, and then I had some meetings with target and people and I was doing meetings at like midnight, and it was like kind of odd because it’s like here I am trying to have a vacation like I had a couple glasses of wine and then it’s like up nope, I’m gonna have to get on Zoom now. And I was like,
Dana: it is it’s a total it’s a total mind weapon it’s in it’s hard even like when you have people on the East and West Coast like that’s it that’s a three hour time change which is in a workday if your workday is only eight hours like three hours is a big change so even with that, but it’s really it has its pros and cons so okay so talk to me about how you actually went through with developing a product that was going to be ingested by kids I talked about this earlier but what were the steps that you took to go through like safety and you know all the legal things that have to do with that and how did you even know where to start. And what was the most helpful thing during that process.
Ashi: Okay, so I think having a formulator or someone who’s worked on stuff like that is really important because they understand the the labeling regulations, they understand things that you possibly just can’t even understand so I would say that was the most helpful thing, once I understood kind of daily dosage of items and granted we are not a full daily dosage of vitamins right because it’s watered down. So it’s really a diluted form of vitamins, if I wanted to push it to the point where you were only drinking like one of those a day. I mean it wouldn’t be in an eight ounce bottle, it’d be a lot smaller, it almost be like a shock, a shock drink and then kids aren’t going to drink that because it tastes like a vitamin. So exactly, I would say that for me that was the most helpful was working with somebody who really has the bandwidth scientific understanding and knew what those requirements were from a regulatory standpoint. And then the other thing that we did was when we first launched, we called ourselves a juice infused water. As I was selling, I started to realize like, we’re not a juice infused water and like what does that even mean, and people are now so confused, and then they don’t get the most important about being about this product is the zero sugar but is the vitamins, that’s the, that’s the functional aspect that’s what’s the better for you aspect that’s the thing that makes this product different from any other juice on the market or any other water on the market for kids. So then I was like we got to change the labeling, like we can’t be calling ourselves this. So, in a way it was not even a brand refresh, it was really more of like, what are we going to call ourselves. So, someone on my team who Jen who does all my marketing. Her and I sat down and kind of did a brainstorm with a couple other board members of like what would that be called, and we went through many iterations and came up with finally zero sugar vitamin enhanced beverage. So that’s kind of then, what we decided to go with, and then we had to go to regulatory to make sure we can say that on a bottle right and and our ingredients back that up, and vice versa. So that was also very helpful to go through that because it just makes you feel more comfortable. I now get most. Look, I get questions all the time from parents, some of them are very intelligent, some of them are not so intelligent, and in a way, you have to answer them. And you have to be able to pack up your information, I mean I recently had a situation where somebody was saying that the you know the vitamins in it were, like I was overdosing on the vitamins and no choices, and the person was thinking about it as a supplement, and it’s not a supplement, we’re not trying to be a supplement, hey down the line I might make supplements but right now that’s not what we’re doing. And so I had to respond to this person, and we had a little bit of back and forth and then I just backed it up with paperwork, which like at the end of the day and this is a customer, this isn’t, you know, so it just makes you feel like it’s money well spent, in the sense that you feel like, Look, I’m not going to give anything to other people’s kids that I wouldn’t give to my own kids. And at the end of the day with my brand I that’s one thing I feel very confident about and I feel speaks to my consumer is that I’m a mother who made this product I’m not Pepsi, I am not Coca Cola, you know I’m not some person in a lab who had an idea, like I really was looking for a solution for my own problem. And I think that at the end of the day, people who, you know, follow our brand and have have had, I’ve tried the product, know that. And I think that has been, you know, but for me the most helpful definitely is just regulatory dotting your eyes crossing your T’s and making sure you, you’re really can stand behind the product or putting out there.
Dana: Yeah and you know what it is such a great like call to action for people who are, I mean feeding their kids, even just as simple as, what are you putting in your kids mouths and where are, where is it coming from because you’re right, like there are a couple brands that I know of like a vitamin brand off the top of my head and a couple of other things that like I know their mom. Mom created for kids like do you think, like, do you think that this brand, created by a mom that’s done all the testing and has all scientific backup verification is cutting corners. No, she’s feeding it to her kids like do you think this is a place that you would cut corners I just love that you can find a product like yours with a mom like you that so I mean it’s very much a part of your brand to I mean it’s, it speaks very much to your life and your background and how can you not trust that you know and I think it’s so important to sit back and be like okay who did make this wasn’t Pepsi like, I don’t you know this is somebody who actually cares and did this for a purpose and for a reason.
Ashi: Yeah and I think if you think about across like all brands, whether its food its beverage its health care or its I don’t know, its, its makeup its beauty. Right. I think a lot of the things that especially these days I find more and more those stories are what compels someone to buy something, I think it’s what you know you’ll just have so many options of things when you go into the store, so many. What are you choosing Why are you choosing it, like what are you thinking about and I think, you know, and now, obviously, more than ever, I’m really conscious of that when I go into a store it’s like I’m studying the store which is kind of not so great sometimes because it’s like sometimes I would just want to like, just go in and naturally pick up things but there are brands I’m just drawn to and there’s others that I’m not and then there’s things that I have tried. I’m so open to trying anything and then I’m not convinced right so, you know, there’s, there’s, I’m not a big. It’s funny because I’m in the beverage industry but I’m not like a beverage consumer, like I’m not a person who buys a million different sparkling waters and tries them or a million different kombucha, or whatever protein drinks like I’m just not like I know what I like and I probably, I don’t really try other things, that’s just
Dana: so funny. Well, and that’s probably great for the sales aspect of your business right because you’re like okay I would never try that like that wouldn’t have been my go to to be like okay I’ll go seek that you know I’ll go pick this up off the shelf just because it looks interesting. So I think it’s probably great for your sales background you’re like okay I have to sell to someone like me. Great that isn’t wouldn’t necessarily do something like that. So talk to me a little bit about the work you did prior to being a stay at home mom did it relate or correlate to what you’re doing now at all.
Ashi: Yeah, so I studied acting in school, funny enough, that’s why I went to college, and I have a background as, I’m also a singer. I was an opera singer when I was younger, so I am very like creative actually that’s really it’s interesting that that didn’t I and ended up not doing anything in those fields. I do think it’s helped me in terms of public speaking and terms of presenting to people I think I’m like very good in front of buyers I’m good in high pressure situations, I don’t get scared of things like that I enjoy it. I enjoy podcasts like I, I feel like that’s helped me a lot. Yes. And then in terms of like a work background I was managing hotels and restaurants. So, you know, really when I decided that I wasn’t going to pursue continue to pursue a career in theater, and in music I really decided that I wanted to be in the food industry that was something I just have such a passion for food and drinks and it’s just something I really love and I love the culture around it and so for me, actually I wanted to go to culinary school and that was really what I wanted to do and I cook a lot, everybody knows that about me, and I’m very into cooking, and so that was really what I thought. And then, you know, having little kids, I was like, how would I ever be able to do that, how would I have original work in a restaurant. Now I realized that, like, my mom was saying to me last night. She’s like, Yeah, how would you have done that, I’m like, actually I think I’ve totally moved on that
Dana: actually sounds easy comparatively.
Ashi: Yeah I mean I just want to, you know, still walking out probably really early, you know, or actually gone to sleep probably super late right it would have been crazy, but I think I could have done it or done I’ve been a personal chef, so I was always interested in that, so I think when I decided not to go to culinary school, it then percolated after having my first son of wanting to do something in food and beverage or in a consumer product goods like I think that’s just where my passion is for sure.
Dana: No so cool I love it, it all kind of comes back around. So, how does your family feel now, like now that you are kind of in a groove at least the school getting back set up and the business is launched and doing really well like How does everybody feel about you becoming an entrepreneur like have minds like Did, did they start kind of skeptical or what, how did that work.
Ashi: Yeah, I think I think actually everyone was very supportive of me doing this idea, I think they thought I had something and ensure run with it I think everyone’s interested to see my evolution I changed a lot over the last few years, just as a person within the business, and in so many ways I’ve learned so much, I mean I really feel like I’ve gotten my like Harvard MBA in the last couple of years doing this business, and I’ve really enjoyed that process and so I think everyone’s super kind of supportive and impressed and I mean they understand how crazy my life is so I think that sometimes shocks them how, how much I’m going all the time, and they don’t even know probably the half of it if they saw right, day to day I think my mom knows right now for being here, how much I work, but I think people are just, you know, always shocked I was visiting on a business trip, but I was also with a friend, and I was up on phone calls at like 7am, and he was joking with me saying, Wow, you’re so funny. You’re like, up at 7am, and then you’re muting the call to talk to me about coffee and then you’re unmuted, to like, finish the conversation like, you’re very good at multitasking. So everyone’s super supportive and I think, you know, I think that you know everyone knows I took on something really big. And again, like I said I didn’t know what I was taking on was so vague and I’m excited for this coming year because I’m planning on launching another product line. And yeah and so it’s gonna be an interesting, I think, ride over the next few years to see where this all goes,
Dana: Oh this is so exciting my marketing consultant and I were just talking about doing like a, you know, where are they now type series like in the next couple years of podcasts that we had on you know really early in the, in the podcast and it would be so fun so you’re definitely going on the list, you’ve now officially volunteered yourself, but okay. Actually Tell everybody where they can find you on social media on your website all the things.
Ashi: So, on Instagram where kids love drinks so it’s K IDs, l UV drinks, and on Facebook also kids love drinks, and you can find us on Thrive Market online. You can find us on our own website which is WW Dodd kids love ki IDs Luv calm. You can find us on Amazon, walmart.comtarget.com and at your local Target and Walmart stores, or if you’re in Texas AGV or Central Market and on the East Coast. Stop and Shop.
Dana: Oh, it’s so exciting I can’t wait, I need to go and figure out if Amazon, Amazon only ships certain things deep, actually I don’t think we can get liquids, I got to figure that out, I’ll come home at the end of November so I’m gonna, I’m gonna have to stock up and bring it back in my luggage so
Ashi: it’s a thing I’m we’re looking to potentially do business now in Canada. So there’s a whole other, you know slew of requirements there and different things but you know I do a couple things in export right now which is kind of expanding and it’s very interesting with regulatory and each country is very different.
Dana: It’s so different and wild how to get yeah it’s just, it’s a whole different beast in itself. Well thank you so so much for for doing this and chatting with me today I know so many people are going to get so much out of it and I can almost guarantee everybody’s going to go brush and find this product because it solves so many, so many problems so thank you so much for being here.
Ashi: Thank you so much for having me. I love that the conversation.
Dana: Alright we’ll talk soon. Okay, bye.
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