One of the most unique makers I have the privilege of knowing…and being inspired by her when I had my product business…
Kristin Fraser of The Grapeseed Company
I have followed her journey (she started her business on a sailboat) for years and she’s the only one I know who has literally dug her hands in and made a product from what’s left over when the winemakers make wine. The wine trash as Kristin calls it.
But it’s really known as…the grapeseeds.
At Kristin’s company, they dry and press the seeds themselves to produce a rich grapeseed oil full of resveratrol that, well, no other product maker has. It’s their own. It is the basis of every product they make.
And THAT is the unique mechanism (to use a marketing term) that sets The Grapeseed Company apart from every other natural product maker.
And their marketing! Let’s me say, you’ll just have to listen to Kristin and her creativity that grew her business and the biggest ugly cry I’ve heard yet…and how she’s overcoming that.
So pull up your chair to the kitchen table with us and enjoy the show.
Savor the Success now Savor Life Planner
Hey there, Kristen, welcome to two hands made this.
Thanks for having me, Christine.
It’s great to be here.
I am so excited to have you here. And, you know, in our little notes area, we’ve done quite a bit of chit chatting before I hit record. And I want to make sure we capture all these little things that we’re talking about. Because you, you know, I followed your journey for I mean, as we were saying earlier, it’s been quite a few years now. It doesn’t seem like it’s been that long, but you had like, such a great such an interesting, such a journey with your business. So I can’t wait for you to share, like all these things that you’ve been through, and you’ve had an amazingly different start also than most people and your adventure life that led to what you’re doing in grape seed. So as we’re starting out, you know, I like to start from that kitchen table epiphany. And then we’ll get into all those fun conversations that we were having before which I hopefully I remember. But you know, really, what were those things that you remember or that that epiphany that said, this is the thing I want to do?
Well, I think to start, I come from a really creative family of makers. My mom is an amazing quilter she knits she’s now into pottery, she’s like, kind of like a jack of all trades. As far as crafts, she loves crafting and getting into stuff and expose me to a lot of that growing up. So you know, I’d make clothes for my dolls. And even my brother made a full bed sized quilt by the time he was like 10 years old, it didn’t you know, she did this with boys. Girls didn’t matter. We just made stuff.
So cool. That’s amazing. Yeah, so
I think that to start, like that was kind of from birth, part of what our family was all about. So um, I came from a pretty traditional family, you know, you
go to high school,
you go to college, then you think about what you do, or I went straight to grad school, actually after college. So I went, I didn’t leave, I think I had like a week in between graduation. And when my grad school
program started, I’d only go back into school, I
thought, Okay, this is the path you go on. And then I became a teacher in public education. And after that first year, I was like, What am I doing? This isn’t anything creative isn’t what I’m into. And at the time I, I met my first husband, and we started dating and he had a sailboat that he was fixing up. And we were like, got this idea to sail to the Caribbean. So
you’re not just sailing from the Caribbean to the Caribbean from like Florida or somewhere.
We were we were leaving from Boston, Massachusetts. I don’t know if I started off with anything. You did the whole intercostal waterway, and then went down
to Key West and then across to the Bahamas. And yeah, through the Caribbean island chain. So it was it was an amazing adventure and definitely learned a lot during that time and got into a lot of creative projects during that time. And that was actually when we got down to the Bahamas was when I really got into making soaps and skincare products because you don’t think about this with the Bahamas because you think of like NASA as like, you know this huge resort, which it is NASA is one of 500 I think islands in the in the entire Bahamas. So once you get past NASA, it’s actually very, like Third World world. They get some pretty crazy weather at the Rhode Island. And if the mailboat doesn’t make it to the island, they don’t get groceries. They’re just living off the land and what’s there so, you know, people actually make soap from hand and stuff like that, because sometimes soap doesn’t get delivered on the mailboat they have to how
I learned to make soap from watching women down in the Bahamas, like at the farmers markets and stuff like that. So that was my first like jump into like, Oh, this is super cool. Like you’re these ingredients that are nothing like soap to start with. And it can turn into all these different things and down there. coconuts are their natural abundance of what grows around everywhere. So everything was made from coconut oil. So that was a lot of and a lot of soaps are that’s a that’s a major ingredient in artisinal skincare, as you know, so yeah, so that was my god
everybody gets it directly from the coconut.
That was my original like jump into Bath and Body and learning to make skincare products and then I just started getting my hands on as many books as I could. And I read them during the night passages when we were sailing and stuff like that. just buying and experimenting different things that I came across and working with what we had, because there were only certain ingredients I could get down there. So um, yeah, it was just I did for us for use personal use while we were on the boat. And
I have a question, how do you make soap? And how do you use lie on a boat?
So and even now, like we go outside our warehouse, when we mix the lie, we go outside the roll up door of the warehouse with the buckets, and we mix it and let it sit out there. And still, that’s,
that’s how we do it.
That’s amazing. I can’t believe you can make soap on a boat. That’s just, that’s, that’s the part of your story that I truly find, you know, unique. Most people would never think to do that. So that’s really cool that you you know you did that. And not Not only that, but just taking all those natural resources from wherever you were. And using those.
Yeah, I mean, it was it was a very different way of life. And I’m glad I got to do it and experience it when I did. I was 24 I think when we first left to go sailing, so 24 to 26.
We were gone for two years. Amazing. Two years. Wow. on a boat, my dad Oh God, who would have been all over that. My dad was a sailor, and everything was about you know, let’s get on the boat. Let’s go. He wanted to do a single handed around the world sail. Oh my gosh, he never got to that. But yeah, I was like, okay, but he used to do like, like Ontario, scotch bonnets and the single handed so I so get the whole boat thing. Yeah. But never thought of making product of any sort on the boats. or creating anything. So that’s very cool. So then, so you had this to your trip. And you know, you’re making products for yourself. So what inspired you to kind of move and do move into the Grapeseed company? Because that’s another adventure in itself. What your what you know, as far as your raw materials, and
definitely so we decided, you know, we couldn’t do this live forever. We actually we actually kind of flirted with the fact we could stay down there as as American school teachers, and I interviewed and got offered a job and we almost we almost stayed down there in St. Barts and I just kind of thought, okay, I don’t know, this isn’t I knew my my ex wanted to go back to school. He wanted to go to grad school and stuff like that. So we said, okay, top three places you would want to go and we knew grad school program played into it and everything. First place that we both agreed on was Santa Barbara. So we put the boat up for sale. The next day, we literally like wow, Sharpie paper, wrote out stuff, went to marinas and posted a sign like with our phone numbers and email. sold the boat within two weeks.
Oh my god. Yes. Well, that’s incredible.
And next thing we knew we were on to this next stage of life and went back and we both we had stuff in storage and Boston, got a u haul sold both of our cars. No, no, we sold one car so we could get a truck to pull the U haul. And then I drove my car and we had walkie talkies.
Santa Barbara, pre cell phone.
Camera. And so this was Yeah, this was crazy. This. The first job my ex got offered was doing bike tours up through one country and it happened to be in the fall during harvest season. Oh, this is when they’re pressing all the grapes. And then they put all the grapes out in these big heaps back into the fields and they just let them naturally rot back into the ground. Really big wineries have to pay trash trucks to actually come and haul it out because they have too much waste. So I started researching grape seeds and grapes and found out it has this amazing antioxidant called resveratrol. That’s super wonderful for your skin. And it’s great for all skin types and has all these wonderful benefits. And I thought wow, I could just start making skincare from grape seeds instead of coconuts. And grapes the company started.
That’s that’s the best story I think I’ve ever heard. Because, you know, again, you’re really, you know, so many of us started in, you know, we’re buying our raw materials from, you know, our resources and whatever that we find. But I, at this point, you think you’re the only person I know that really has like taken those raw materials from the area that you’re living in, has created something from them, which I think is truly amazing, because, you know, there’s really no books written on how to do that. Right. Yeah,
I mean, I just I just started going in and introducing myself to winemakers. And this was before, wine had really taken off like the whole. So this was like 2004 2003 2004 before the whole, like, boom of wine tasting and becoming alternity and all that kind of stuff. So I literally would just like go walk in and be like, Hey, can I take some of your grape seeds? And they were
like, yeah, they like laughed at me. They like thought I was crazy. They’re like, yeah, you want to take our case,
we just started doing some experimenting, we found out I needed to pick up within 24 hours of the press to get it going in my process. Because we actually go through a whole sun drying process and then milling seeds and all of that. And we only work with the red wine seeds because that’s where there is very tall as is concentrated not not in the white wine grapes. So, um, so yeah, we just got started really small. And we still do that we still just work with a few local producers to source grapes. We started working with others just because up in the Willamette Valley in Oregon, a big resort there wanted stuff made from their estate, so they actually send us grape seeds from their state in Oregon, so we can make it for their spa from their state. Oh, that’s
incredible. Oh, wow. Yeah.
So it’s, it’s really opened up a niche for us that no one else has, because we developed the knowledge ourselves. And we’ve developed the process ourselves on how to do it. And it’s, it’s been
mean, it’s it’s crazy. I’ve been doing it this long since 2004.
How time flies, you know? Yeah, seriously.
18 years, it’s
gonna be 17 years in June since we became an official company. That’s, that’s insane. I
can’t even say, I know. And it’s, it’s funny, I think, you know, so many of us started right around there. I think I started in 99, with my aromatherapy certification and then product making around 2000 2001. And it’s like, it seems like yesterday. Yeah. You know, how much time How can this much time have gone by?
I knew you from two different organizations, I think from both in the business and from savor the success of that. Oh,
God. That’s right. I forgot about saying, yes. Yes.
Yeah, way, way, way, back,
way, way back. Right. So and those will be in the show notes. So make sure that we link to Indian to Sabre. Right, right in with that with Angela, because, you know, I mean, she was a maker, also skincare maker. So, you know, that was another good resource, which, you know, as we kind of were talking beforehand, you know, we didn’t really have a lot to go on, when we first started as far as business know, how free
Facebook groups and all of that kind of stuff. I mean, we were just, we were finding our own groups.
Yeah. We’re finding our own groups with nobody. Really. I mean, there was only maybe a couple of books, if you could find them on how to make stuff. Yeah, mine was Donna Maria’s book. Yeah.
I started with a lot of us found her was her book and yeah, that like, Oh, my gosh, yeah. She she had a store and her little book.
Yeah, yeah. matches, you know, and I love that too. Because, you know, marketing, you’ve got to find your way marketing, what you know. And so for us, that was a big resource, that book. And so that’s what, what led me into this whole thing of it, as far as two hands made this and, you know, especially around marketing, because we really didn’t have people that we followed. I tried the SBA, I tried score, I tried, you know, some of those, those organizations to try to help, but nobody really knew. product manufacturing like this. Yeah, you know, at least on the small scale that we all started in, then, you know, fast forward to becoming an e commerce business. No one was really, you know, could really help us as far as marketing your e commerce business like this as a product maker, you know, because you weren’t selling someone else’s, you know, stuff. So. So that’s what really sparked me into doing this and then speaking to people like you, because I mean, you have come from, you know, the days where you started gathering grape seeds. Yeah, you’re taking out the trash, right? And using something and you’re doing something when it was just still to this day astounds me that you figured that out. And I guess we’re pretty resourceful when it comes to, you know, knowing how to make things just kind of cool. So, so as you started Grapeseed, you know, I talked about, you know, again, marketing, and we all start by creating our brand voice basically, like, what do what you know, what is not only the business about, but how does it come across to people, basically, as far as brand voice so how did you How did you come about this? Like, what did that feel like for you when you started out? Well, I
think it was kind of a neat little coming together of learning about and appreciating wine at the same time that I was creating the skincare company. So it really became a passion at the same time because I loved going and tasting the wine and learning about the wine and learning about the process. And then thinking like, Oh my gosh, I can take this to create something else and then that it has so many incredible benefits for the skin. So that was really my whole way I marketed when I started I started Santa Barbara has something called the Sunday arts and crafts show on Cabrillo Boulevard, which is right along the water Long Beach. And that’s how I started. I got I, you basically audition for it and get picked. And they have some pretty strict rules. It has to be handmade. It has to be made by you. You can’t be selling someone else’s work, blah, blah, blah. But you know, a lot of a lot of the real handmade shows and stuff have these types of rules. So yeah, so I started started that way, just selling on Sundays, and I was a teacher in the local school district during the week, and you’re still
teaching while you started. Okay,
I was teaching while I started. Yeah, I think it was 2000 2005 or 2006. a year or two. After I started, I went part time teaching. And then by the end of the 2017 school year, I was able to leave teaching go full time at Grapeseed. And I still had some kids I tutored on the side I needed I needed a little extra cash flow that way. But yeah, so I had a I had a progression over about five years of kind of transitioning from what my you know, what my Bs and Ms were in to what my passion was with Grapeseed company.
Yeah, and that
like going from it doesn’t have to just be a Sunday craft show like this could be a real business
within six months, I really realized that because Santa Barbara is very much a weekend destination for Los Angeles, San Francisco a lot of other places that people love coming to Santa Barbara for the weekend so and a lot of the tourists would come walk the arts and crafts show and that’s how I met a lot of spa owners when weekending in Santa Barbara and oh, I have the spa in Los Angeles and we could you create a scrub could you create a some oil? Oh,
that’s how I got
started with working with spas and wholesale was within that first six months of just selling the first three products we started with were scrub lip balm and massage oil. That’s it I had three different fragrances of those three products. Well, the nine nine skews we started
and you had that you had really bad the the Grapeseed knit niche that was I mean, probably really helped you stand out from anything.
Okay. And that was another thing too. A lot of people came to Santa Barbara to experience wine tasting it was right after sideways the movie. Oh, yes. Right. That’s and that’s all based in Santa Barbara wine country. So that was like everyone from LA was like, gotta go to the sideways country and see what’s going on. So it was a really and it was also when organic green had really had the boost of becoming more widespread, more trendy, things like that. So I had a lot of things coming together for me that I say it was just handsome luck. Because it if they happen to be my passions, but it was chance and luck that all those things were kind of coming together with what was going on in the world at that time. Yeah, we’re becoming more interested in those things that the wine industry was growing, but the green organic industry was becoming more more mainstream. Yes. Yeah. I
mean, yeah, right. I mean, like, the early the early days,
yeah. Like, whenever there was an ad that was that was no man’s land for if you were manufacturing organic skincare, and no one was doing that. And if they were they, there were very few very, or they were they were, you know, still, you know,
you know, on the the hobby end of it not really looking at it as growing it as a business which, you know, again, left a lot of, you know, a lot of room to try to find help, you know, try to find somebody that can Hey, how do I do this? How do I market What do I do? Do I just do a show, do I? So let’s move into those little marketing things that you’ve done. Because, you know, of course, I’m looking at your website and going through things and I see you know, your long list of press and your events and all that but that certainly didn’t start that way.
So what were some of the things over the years like what you first started, you know, over the years and then we’ll get into the ugly cries and then the sweet successes but you’ve tried a
lot. Yeah, I think what I can really pinpoint a lot of the marketing and press coming back to is Discovering Donna Maria, and indeed business network. And she had a press training program back at that time. I don’t remember what it was called, but it was something you paid a little bit extra for, like not much.
I feel like 25 bucks a month or something like that. I back at the time was like, Oh, am I gonna invest that
in just this and
you know, a lot of money, oh my gosh, right. Oh, my gosh, he really
taught me how to write and pitch editors. And then in talking with her and getting to know her, she was like, Oh, my gosh, she’s like, what you’re doing is so different. And such a niche. And you need to be pointing that out, make a video about going to the wineries make people really experience it with you. So she really helped me zone in on. This is what makes me different. This is what my story is. And once I started doing those things, people found me that’s when the wall street journal called me up and said, We want to write about you and put a color photo of my product in, like I was I was I’m still Mind blown that that happened that they like, people asked me that all the time. How on earth did you did you pay for that? How did you get that? I have never paid for press in my entire life. It’s all been because people want to write about the story, because it’s interesting. So it’s something I resonate with, it’s something they can see like, the passion behind it’s something that they go, Wow, okay, you know, like, so just getting out there and figuring out like, how to tell my story and realizing that it really was a story because for me, I was just living it. And Mendota Maria is like, no, this is like, you need to start telling people this, which is
probably the most important piece of anything as far as your business, your business growth and marketing is finding that real uniqueness about you, you know, because, you know, again, especially, you know, back then, you know, being one of the first brands out there and manufacturing, you know, now, it’s a very crowded market, and it’s very different. And people are not, you know, they’re trying to do what everybody else is doing. But you know, back then you really had to do the, you know, play the story of your uniqueness. And again, you have such a unique brand, the way you started the way you do things, the way you’ve found your raw materials. I mean, everything about it is unique. But the fact also that you were able to, that you knew to reach out to press and pitch and get those stories, especially without paying for them. You know, that is that is something that most people don’t know. And it’s certainly not taught in a lot of places.
Yeah. And that was one of the first things that like, I also you know, I came from a very creative family but I also came from a family of educators a lot of teachers and things like that. And one thing that my dad always instilled in me was never stop learning. So still to this day, I’m trying to find like different courses to take to figure out like because I’m I’m not I still like to do a lot of the business myself I it right now. It’s figuring out what can we afford to pay someone else to do? What makes sense to have someone else to do? What do I need to be focusing on? But there’s still areas I want to learn and grow. And as different things change with technology, especially there’s ways to grow like, I just got a new iPhone for Christmas and like Jesus, I need to figure out how to do so much and I know so little.
Exactly. It’s just changing so much. And yeah, oh, yeah. That No, the new camera on the video iPhones. Amazing. Yeah,
it’s a really good product. I just, I’m not taking advantage of it, because I don’t have the knowledge base yet. So
yeah, so learning and I think that’s a big part too, is always, always learning and trying to figure out how can I How can I make this better? How can I grow it to be what I really want it to be this year? This year opened up a lot of that to me, I think for a lot of us, it made us realize like, okay, we’re gonna have to make some changes, the way we’re doing things is not gonna go.
Oh, my God. Yeah, it’s definitely not business as usual, for the past year. So I mean, some big pivots, some big changes. So let’s talk about that a little bit. Because all right, we’re gonna get into some of those ugly cries and you know, some of those pivots, because we’ve all had them. Yeah, those things. We’ve tried that I mean, really ugly cries. I can’t tell you how many I had. I was thinking, and I had wished somebody
past five years doing this. Yeah.
Exactly. So can you talk a little bit about those because, you know, the one thing I’m also finding, you know, there’s a lot of, you know, like you said, You’re always out there learning there’s a lot of marketing out there to teach people but there’s a lot of it all looks really good on video. Yeah, but when You get to the back end of it, and people aren’t telling you the truth. Or they’re not just like giving you all the details, not necessarily the truth. Which is why I want the ugly cries in here because they happen.
Oh, sure. And a lot of it’s trial and error and learning as you go. And I’ve definitely I can, I can think of like too early on right off the bat, were horrible. And I totally remember like, Ah,
my dad said, My parents are sailors too. And once we were visiting my parents back there at their boat in Marblehead mass, and I was sailing with them. And I remember getting this phone that we were, we were gonna get sued.
yeah, it was from someone that I had, I had done a private label project for. And we had sold them the formula, and I had given them the formula before getting the third part of the payment, I’d give him the haul. And then they were suing for the whole concept, which was only agreed upon if they finished everything. Oh, anyway, I find out all about this while I’m on my like, week vacation from California, I
remember running down to one of the cabins and just throwing myself on the bed and just screaming and like, like, you know, sometimes you wish you had a padded room. That’s kinda like, it’s just as bad.
Oh, my god, these are the real stories of being a maker.
But yeah, and be like, what the hell did I get myself into? Like I you all I was trying to do was sell finance. Basically, I was I would take on private label projects. So I could finance to the next stage of growth for grape seed. It was part of how I grow early on. But yeah, I Oh, I learned a lot from that one.
I bet. Oh, I bet I bet. And, you know, unfortunately, they happen. And we have to learn from them. And yeah, you know, make sure we don’t make that mistake again.
Yeah. I think you know, so much of it. Like, some people talk about it. Some people don’t, I’m usually pretty open about it. And definitely, if people ask I’ll talk, because it’s, it’s part of getting to the steps of getting to where you are, it’s Yeah, we all fall down. And you just got to get back up and try again.
Yes, totally. And making mistakes. I mean, if we didn’t make them, we wouldn’t, we wouldn’t have learned on to the next thing we wouldn’t have been like, Oh, you know, again, oh, I won’t do that again. Or, you know, that was so horrible that I mean, and a lot of it too, is the persistence and the, like you said, you know, the the passion for doing something that makes it so you don’t quit? Because it’s so easy when things like that to be like, Okay, I’m done. Yep. And you gotta love it,
because you are putting everything into it. And when you think about what you’re sacrificing on the other end to that’s when it starts like, that’s when you start getting into like, Oh, is it worth it? Like, you know, those head games? And
yes, the mindset yet, oh, it will be having an episode coming up. In the next couple of months that talks about mindset, I have a guest that will talk about mindset, because you know, that’s part of it, too. And again, we didn’t have we didn’t have people like that when we started to help us do that. But those mindset issues except for the cabin of the mattress, or the pad of room.
So yeah, I still like I can still picture that whole scene in my mind. And that was really early on. The second one I can think of was just about three years ago. Yeah, it was three years ago. Now the Santa Barbara had, what, back three years ago was the biggest fire in California, the Thomas fire followed by the Montecito mudslides where we’re literally shut off from everything though. The mudslide went over the freeway, the only way to get from you can’t you couldn’t even get from our warehouse to our store in Santa Barbara, because Montecito is right in between Carpinteria and Santa Barbara. And it was just a really tragic time where lives and homes and all sorts of things were lost. It was just it was horrible. But that also was the time that I had decided to go really big with Grapeseed and work with some really, really big chains. And the thing with working with big chains is they have big contracts and lots of you know, there’s lots of you’re shipping to six different distribution centers in the United States. And it’s getting out distribution to 1000s and 1000s of stores and it was a really exciting time for us growth wise. But it was a huge turning point for me because the mudslide happened and for the past two years, we had delivered an order January of The next year and it was always a big kickoff of the start year because it was like a 50 to $100,000 order, it was, yeah. If you can’t deliver the order within their date, the order gets canceled. The mudslide, we had a almost $100,000 order get cancelled, it was like $89,000, I think we had made all the product, I, whenever we did these big orders, I would actually hire double our staff to come in, I’d have all my staff like, I’d have them have their friends, their roommates, we’d hire temporary people to come in for about a month and crank this stuff out. And we’d have double the side have people that knew that what they were doing, and then someone next to them, that was just a temp person, you know, I had maybe six people on staff and we’d go to having 12 or 15 on staff, and I you know, we had already invested all this in, and then all of a sudden the order gets cancelled, and I get this product. And we’re shut off where like, we couldn’t even get to open our stores because we were shut off where we couldn’t get between point A and point B for a few weeks. So it was a real turning point where, you know, it really made me evaluate what am I doing? I’m an artist, no brand, why am I trying to be this huge? No, in Whole Foods and home goods in TJ Maxx in you know, I was in all these huge chains. And I’m like, why am I trying to do this with a with this cool need from frickin grape seeds in Santa Barbara County. So I really, that’s when I really went back I roots of like, what we were about what we love doing. And I love making things. And I love all the incredible artisanal brands that are in our area. And it’s just this incredibly creative artistic plates, you know, there’s just, it’s beautiful. It’s very inspiring. But there’s so many amazing companies here small businesses and medium sized businesses. And that’s kind of when I got the idea of like, okay, retail is changing. I think that just Grapeseed company store might not exist for much longer, like I don’t know how much of it, we’re going to be able to sustain in a really expensive place like Santa Barbara. So I got the idea to start seaside makers, which was bringing together all these amazing artisanal made products and local art into one collective store and a little bit bigger of a space. And yeah, two and a half years ago, we started that so that was a huge crying moment of like, literally losing so much and not knowing like I think we still have product I’m like literally getting away from that order. Because a lot anymore because it’s
take a shave gel.
With all that product. brand. What are you gonna do with 10,000 mohito man shave gels? Like, what are you gonna do with them? You know, it’s Yeah, me bad if you’re not working with a bigger place and Right, right. Well,
that’s a huge, bigger, bigger, huge shift, huge shift. So Wow. So then Alright, so So I mean, and and yeah, those the fires in the mudslides were horrific. I just couldn’t remember, you know, watching your feed every day and just feeling like oh my god, you know? How can we help? You know, what can we do? And it is sometimes those those moments that really, like you said, bring us back to our roots. Figure out how can we, how can we have a sustainable business the way we want without? I know, I know, a lot of people love the idea of Oh, I can’t wait to go into a big store I can’t wait to and you know,
when a lot of us, a lot of us I think especially that started around when you and I did we saw that as making it like when you got into see that was making it and you hadn’t made it until you’ve got into a big store. And that’s so not that that’s so not what it’s about. But I just I just got chills. Yeah.
I love that you said that. Because again, so many of our minds, we want to be like the big brands. Yeah. And we had to do the same thing. And so, so this is what moves us then into those sweet moments of success. Like those, you know, those not only those marketing things, but also staying true to who your brand is and who your real customers are. And you know, being able to market to your true customers. Because again, you know, and it’s and it’s fine for those brands that do want to go back. You know, it just changes the way you market your business. Yeah, it changes who you talk to it changes everything. You know, because as the brand that you are now I mean you have such loyal such I mean your cost Words are so you have nice customers, they’re so loyal. You have a way you can speak to them. And they’ll be like, you know, I mean, they’re your customers forever. Yeah. So what were some of those sweet successes other than I mean, yes, you have all the press that you’ve gotten, which is really cool. Yeah. That’s, that’s amazing. As I looked through all your, your, your logos between the Wall Street Journal and women’s health in Los Angeles Times, I mean, that’s amazing.
Yeah, I mean, that’s, I think that really clues into some other big successes and led us to some other big successes we started part of the stores, I have sent bars where you can create your own products. And that’s really where my passion lies. I like I tell people, if I could just play at the bar all day and not do all the other things that you’re doing the business, I would be the happiest. But we all love doing that. All of us that that work in the stores and work for Grapeseed. And it’s just, it’s become a real thing that we’re growing with the company. So we we got some of our biggest breaks through that working with some really big event planners and even visit California, the tourism agency for California. Last year, we did the visit California events where they brought people in from all over the world to promote tourism in California. And it was they released the Michelin awards during that,
oh my god, that’s good. Then Snoop
Dogg came on stage, I was like, and I’m here with les. Like, this is crazy, it is crazy, some of the things that I’ve been exposed to and been able to do. I feel so fortunate that it’s you know, I started making soap on a boat in the Bahamas.
That’s pretty crazy. And that’s what and that’s the beautiful thing about all this. Because when you have that passion, and you have that vision, and who knows where you’re going to be down the road, but as long as you again, as long as you stay true to who you are, and what your vision is, and that passion, and do those things that you feel called to do. I know it sounds a little woowoo. But you know, like, again, like you have the scent bar and you have the events, you know, people think, well, I’ve got to do trade shows, but you didn’t do you you did your own thing.
And look where it’s right here it shows like once or twice, and I was like, Why on earth am I doing this, you’re spending all this money. It’s all this work. And like, getting yourself out there and not being afraid to tell your story. I think that’s a big part too, is getting over the fear of putting yourself out there and actually just saying things. And I think, you know, realizing like once I started doing that, and doing it in a really authentic way, I got good support. And then I started doing it more. And that’s really how I marketed myself and mark that the business was just kind of being honest about what happened and telling what happened and going from there. And it’s it’s much better than doing Oh, God. Yeah.
You know, and people love your story for it. And I think I think that’s probably the hardest part is, is being able to tell your story that way, like being really true and honest about you know, you’re about where you want to be and how you want to do it. And hey, this worked for me, and this didn’t work for me. And that’s all okay, you know, so that I and I love that about your story. And I also love so we’re going to talk about your scent, your scent bars. I love that, you know, those were the neatest events I think I’ve ever seen. Because it really gives people an experience. And that’s what you’re all about to is giving people the experience. I’m sorry, but your coolest thing is scent camp and your mobile.
That’s the coolest thing. We’re so excited for that. Yeah, that’s that’s the newest thing too.
And I’ll make sure that I put a picture of it in the show notes because you literally have a mobile, a little camper thing that you’ve created to take you to these events. So we
A lot of times when we go on site to resorts, we’re in a big event room or something like that. And with COVID happening that all got shut down. You’re not doing any events and you’re certainly not doing them indoors. So this is funny because my sister, we took her out to dinner last week as it was a Christmas present we gave her was an experience at this restaurant that does different pairings with the food and everything. So we’re we’re very into experiences as gifts. Yep. So we fight you know, restaurants finally opened up here a few weeks ago. So we took her out to dinner and she goes How did you get the idea to set the trailer? Like, did you wake up one morning and be like, Hey, I’m gonna build. But actually, that came to be because a year and a half ago, we were pitched by a producer in LA to do a reality TV show that was going to be kind of like, The Amazing Race, but Oh,
And my entire pitch for the show was the seminar trailer, oh, my God as a part of your business and growing it in a way. So this was pre COVID, pre anything like that. But I realized during COVID, like, Oh, my gosh, the events are an enormous part of our revenue stream, like they we make a lot when we go out and do these big events for a day, there are a lot of work, but it’s a big part of our business. It’s also a big part of marketing for our stores, because it exposes a lot of people to what we do. And then they know, Oh, my gosh, the sad part is at the store, I can come bring my sister in, or my cousin when they’re visiting and do the sidebar. So it’s, it’s also, it’s also marketing for us every time we do one of those events. And I quickly realized that was going to be gone with COVID. The thing about the cifar trailer is we designed it so it opens up and we actually have plexiglass shields and stuff. So we’ll be able to go anywhere on site on a on a resort outside or the vineyards around here, the wineries will be able to go on site and do an outdoor event anywhere and we’re not reliant on someone Manning something in a space in a room, it can just be something we roll up and do.
That’s so innovative. I mean, really, you know, when you think about all those things, again, you know, through those hardships, you know, how can we how can we change and evolve to do something that we love doing? Yeah, I think it’s pretty genius. Honestly, I just love the idea
that I was crazy. She’s so she’s totally laughing at me. She’s like, you know, like, everyone wants to ask you this. Why did you decide to build this? But, but it’s so exciting, because like all the event planners that we currently work with know about it and cannot wait to go do stuff with it, because it’s going to be the first way they’re going to be able to do events is Oh, yeah.
So it’s really a collaborative effort to which is, you know, another really cool thing and why, you know, again, you know, thinking outside the box, you know, and being different and being unique is, you know, just embrace it. I’m just for everybody listening to, you know, embrace that about you and yourself. And you know, your idea of it like your family members, our family members on our ideal customers anyway. Sorry. I love it. I love it. Before we get into the last part with your three tips for rising stars. I do want to ask you so through all this, because you do have a big online store as well. Yes. So So how did that change for you over this year,
I just focused a lot more time and effort onto it. We went down. We are a six person staff. So five other people and myself. And we went down to just me and Helen Helen runs our warehouse. She’s basically our production manager does all our shipping makes all the product. When the first shutdown happened in March we we had to shut off stores. And really there’s no need for the rest of those employees when we don’t have retail stores open. Right, right. So we went down to just Helen making and shipping the orders and me doing absolutely everything else to run the business. So I really that’s I built a whole seaside makers store within grape seeds so we could promote to all our, our grape seed following is huge. And it’s all over the country world, whatever. Whereas seaside makers, because it’s a lot newer, it’s only two and a half years old. And it’s it’s a newer concept. And it’s so artisinal that we didn’t really have anything besides Instagram and an informational website. We didn’t have a way to purchase any of the products online. So the first thing I did was building the whole entire online store.
Wow. Yeah. And
then just started cross marketing to my Grapeseed customers. Good. Then understanding the story then understanding because I think they still didn’t quite understand Wait, did she closed her stores or Oh, yeah, this they didn’t. We weren’t really like when we first launched the site makers because we were launching it as its own brand. We didn’t make a big deal about Grapeseed. And during that time, like March to April, that’s like every single thing we wrote about and said it was like grape seed is the owner of grape seeds going to keep these stores open because we’ve been around since 2004 people know us they trust us we had that loyalty. Right? Yeah. That really helped. I think with bringing, bringing more of our loyal customers in that maybe just didn’t know that we were the ones behind that.
Oh, yeah. The stores. Yeah, right. Right. No. So
that’s a lot of what I did the first few months was just throw all my time and energy into first building an online platform for seaside makers. And then how am I going to make the stores that I’m trying to save succeed? Right, right.
Yeah, and they’re still here.
They’re still here, we’re still kicking through. And I, you know, I hope, I hope we still will, because like you said, we are about the experience, it’s not just a place to shop, people, people come there, because they know they can create something unique on their own. And with the sandbar trailer, we’re going to be able to do even more with that, because we’re gonna be able to do little pop ups outside where we do different events. And, yeah, I’m really excited for all the different things that we can do. Integrate. Because I think that that is really key with with
it is, and I think this past year has done has done that with people, you know, people are going to stay home people being online, more people looking around more and realizing that you know, how important their local community is. Yeah, you know, not only that, and how really cool it is that I didn’t realize I have these cool brands that are people that are my neighbors that I can buy from right, you know, and I think it really set that up for a lot of people to think differently, and to think differently about business. And then people who, you know, have been out of work are also thinking about, wow, I can, if I can make something I can sell something, you know, so I think there’s a whole lot whole big shift that’s happened from this past year. For sure. So speaking of as, as chefs, and as we wind up here, so what are your top three marketing tips for rising stars, because we do have a lot of new people coming on the scene. Now we have a lot of people that have really had to shift whether they were brick and mortar and going fully online, or combination of everything, you know, really having to think, again outside the box. And those you know, how am I going to market my business differently now?
I think that’s an that’s a really easy one to answer. Passion, what’s your passion, it’s got to be something that you’re passionate about. Because you’re not, you’re going to have to embrace marketing in a way that you get excited about it. And if you get excited about it, it’s easy to talk about something that you’re passionate about. So make it easy on yourself and fix something.
Totally. Yeah, if you feel that you can’t talk about it. It’s not the thing.
Yeah, exactly. Yep. Number two, figure out your niche. So identify what is my niche? What makes me different? What makes me stand out? And then how can you How can you grow that? How can you be, you know, take that niche and become the person people go to no matter if you’re just a one person show a five person show, whatever, how do you become the expert in that area?
You know, those are such good tips, those three and they’re simple, and they’re doable, and you know, talking about you know, your your last, your last one is like how you did you know, try different things, you know, marketing isn’t always about oh, my God, you know, the the next great thing or the big turn, you know, you really have to do what works for you, as you get out. You talk to people, you introduce yourself, you tell your story, you, you know, do cool things. Don’t be afraid to do that. Kristin is the person that if anybody’s done it, not been afraid and just gotten out and done it, it’s definitely you.
I’m definitely afraid sometimes.
It doesn’t show right. I
mean, just push through,
you push through. And sometimes we fall sometimes people make fun of us. It’s all good. It just is.
Okay, as long as as long as you feel strong and confident about it. Just go forward with it.
Just go forward. That’s awesome. Christina, I want to thank you so much for being here today. This has been such an awesome, awesome time talking to you not only catching up, but just like really hearing you know your story and the evolution of Grapeseed and where it’s come and you know, all the all the new and cool things are going to be doing. So believe me in the shownotes there’ll be all the links so people can follow you because it’s going to be really fun to see where you go to from here. So thank you so much for being here with me today.
Thank you for having me. It was really fun to talk to you.
And we’ll see you all next time. 2 Hands Made This!