BiggerPockets Business Podcast

BiggerPockets Business Podcast 70: Turning a Hobby Side Hustle Into a Full Fledged Family Business With Sabrina Rosenberg

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Is family front and center in your life? Do you dream of the day you can truly put family first while generating income and creating a lasting legacy? Would working alongside your loved ones, building together, be the icing on the cake? With all the uncertainty we are all currently facing, there’s no better time than now!

Sabrina Rosenberg — new owner/operator of A Childhood Store, a kid-focused company in its early stages of growth — spent 15 years building other people's businesses. Although a hefty salary, impressive awards for her accomplishments, and strong influence among staff members kept her going, the 16 hours a day, 7 days a week schedule left her missing out on what really mattered. In early 2020, enough was enough. She didn't have a solid plan for what to do next, but was confident that her depth of experience in building systems and processes, utilizing her resources wisely, and digging deep to research, push forward, and problem solve would serve her well.

In this episode, Sabrina tells us about the steps she took to join forces with her incredibly creative sister, who started a kid-focused product company several years prior. Its eco-friendly, sustainable offerings drew the attention of Whole Foods — and Sabrina’s knack for building businesses was exactly what was needed to take the company to the next level.

Sabrina provides us insight to a roadmap of steps she has taken, and that you can take as well, to start operating a side hustle like a real business. She shares incredibly valuable tips on entering into key distribution and wholesale channels. And best of all, she gives us some heartwarming inspiration about involving the entire family every step of the way.

Make sure you listen all the way through to the end for Sabrina’s simple yet powerful 3 words of advice for anyone in the early stages of building a business. Follow this advice and it’s impossible to NOT make progress.

Check her out, and subscribe to the BiggerPockets Business Podcast so you won’t miss our next show!

Click here to listen on Apple Podcast.

Listen to the Podcast Here

Read the Transcript Here

J:
Welcome to the BiggerPockets Business Podcast, show number 70.

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Sabrina:
But you can figure it out easily as long as you do your research. You have to put your mind to it. You have to actually want to do it and figure it out versus just saying, “Oh, I can’t do it now.” I hate that answer. My kids do that all the time. There is no I can’t. You can, you just have to put your mind to it.

J:
Welcome to a real world MBA from the school of hard knocks, where entrepreneurs reveal what it really takes to make it. Whether you’re already in business or you’re on your way there, this show is for you. This is BiggerPockets Business. How’s it going, everybody? I am J Scott. My voice is cracking, but I’m still J Scott, just maybe going through puberty. I am here once again this week with my amazing and beautiful and lovely and intelligent and just my favorite person in the whole world, my wife and cohost Carol Scott.

Carol:
What do you want, honey? [inaudible 00:01:09]What was that for? I’m glad you’re going through puberty though. It’s about time.

J:
My voice is cracking.

Carol:
That is so funny. Seriously, can you believe how much is going on right now? It’s crazy. It’s absolutely nuts. One would think that what? Six months into COVID that it would have slowed us down massively, but it’s entirely the opposite, right? We’ve pivoted all over the place many times, busier than ever, and it absolutely seems like just about everybody we talk to has the same exact situation going on. So whoever would have thought that this is where we’d be right about now.

J:
Yeah. We’re all struggling a little bit trying to figure things out in this, I hate to use that term, new normal as that so overused. But it is. It’s a new normal where things have changed and we’re all trying to figure it out. One of the people trying to figure it out is this week’s amazing guest on our amazing podcast. Amazing, amazing. Well, she’s amazing, the podcast is amazing. Anyway, our guest this week, her name is Sabrina Rosenberg. She is the co-founder and currently the sole operator of A Childhood Store. They make organic nontoxic, eco-Friendly sustainable crayons for kids. One of the most common pieces of feedback that we’ve gotten on this show from our listeners is that we need more businesses that are in their early, early stages.
That’s why we’re really excited to get Sabrina on. Sabrina took over this business and she’ll talk about who she took the business over from and how that all worked out in the episode. But she took over this business basically in February, March of this year. So she’s only a few months into growing and building this business. This is a great episode. We talk about everything from the struggles of trying to do everything yourself at the most difficult and the most important time in your business, and that’s the beginning of the business. We talk about learning to navigate all different sales channels. So Sabrina and A Childhood Store, they’re trying to sell through Amazon and Whole Foods and on Etsy and through their website.
So early in the evolution of the business, she's doing everything herself and so she talks to us about how she navigates doing everything herself and how she manages and budgets her time. We talk about scaling and how it can be difficult to scale early in a business, but how it's so important to scale early because that's what really sets your business up for success. Then towards the end, we talk about probably the single most important yet single most simple piece of advice you're ever going to hear, but it's a piece of advice that we all need to keep reminding ourselves of over and over. So listen for Sabrina's amazing piece of advice for any entrepreneurs out there that are getting started, that are hitting roadblocks, but are potentially struggling. So just a great episode.
If you want to learn more about Sabrina, about A Childhood Store, about anything we talk about in this episode, check out our show notes at biggerpockets.com/bizshow70. Again, that’s biggerpockets.com/bizshow70. Without any further ado, let’s welcome Sabrina Rosenberg to the show. Let’s welcome Sabrina Rosenberg to the show. How are you doing today, Sabrina?

Sabrina:
I’m great. How are you?

J:
We are doing fantastic.

Carol:
Now tell you what, we are so looking forward to chatting with you today. You have such an awesome story, so much wonderful knowledge to share and so much great expertise that our listeners are going to absolutely love. So we’re going to dig into your background, in more about your journey, but before we do that, Sabrina, will you please set the stage for our listeners? What is your company, A Childhood Store?

Sabrina:
We are A Childhood Store. I make handmade soy and bees wax crayons. So we make them in all different shapes and sizes. I have bunnies and ladybugs and fish and triangles, and we also make create-your-own-tool kit. So their tote bags that are screen hand printed, we do cramps with them and they actually are a kit so that you can then seal the coloring on the tote bags and people can then take them to the farmer’s market or the grocery store, or eventually I’d like to do lunchboxes with them. So something cool to do.

J:
Excellent.

Carol:
That is really cool. Go ahead, J.

J:
Yeah, I was just going to ask. We were talking earlier, and your involvement with the business … You actually didn’t start the business yourself. Your involvement with the business has been sincere at the beginning, but relatively recent. So can you give us a little bit of backstory about how the business started and your involvement as business has evolved?

Sabrina:
Totally. My sister created the business actually in 2012. So it’s been a while. She created the business, she was recently stay-at-home mom. She was working as an art teacher previously before that, and she is the most creative human I’ve ever met in my entire life. So she was trying to find some fun things to do with her kids as activities, and she came across crayon-making I’m sure online somewhere because my sister is the queen of being able to figure out YouTube videos and finding all kinds of fun stuff on there. So she started making crayons, and in 2015, she officially made it a business. So based out of Baltimore, she started online only, mostly at C stores or did a lot of craft fairs and that sort of thing. For her, it was something to do at home.
She has three kids and she needed an outlet of some sort of job that didn’t revolve solely around her kids, something that was a little bit different and so she started branching out and doing that over the years. Because she is a stay-at-home mom, her life definitely being as having kids takes over, so there was a couple of years where she didn’t do as much in it and then would come back to it. In 2019, she had actually thought about stopping it altogether. But then in 2020, she was approached by Whole Foods, and Whole Foods had asked her about carrying her crayons into different stores in Whole Foods. When that happened, she wasn’t sure what to do. She actually said she wasn’t even sure if she was going to do it at first, because it was a lot of extra time on her hands that she didn’t have.
As much as she is the most creative person in the world, she’ll always tell you she’s not necessarily the first person to jump into business. So she decided that she was going to do it, and then I decided at the same time simultaneously that I was going to leave my corporate America job, and we just decided. She had called me up after she heard I quit my job and said, “Do you want to come help me run a business?” And I said, “Yes.” That was in end of February of this year, actually.

Carol:
Oh wow. That’s-

Sabrina:
Super recently.

Carol:
That’s super recent.

Sabrina:
Yes.

Carol:
What were you doing? It sounds like she started this back in, I think you said, 2012 and then made it officially business in-

Sabrina:
She actually made it-

Carol:
’15.

Sabrina:
… [crosstalk 00:08:16]2015.

Carol:
Great. What were you doing those years, 2012, 2015, leading up to this job that you eventually left in January, February of 2020?

Sabrina:
I graduated from Drexel University with a hospitality major in food, and was it for me. Food is the love and my passion, and I thought that that was what I was going to do for the rest of my life. I worked for hotels, restaurants. I mean, you name it, catering companies. I did it all. Most of what I did for most of those companies was actually help start and develop their catering programs for them. I loved doing that or something. I guess, startups are that I tend to do a lot of, so I ended up working for catering companies that had not even established themselves. So they were trying to develop a catering branch. One was a restaurant that had a lot of catering inquiries, but then never did anything with them.
So when they hired me, I then took it to the next level, and we started doing massive catering, whether it being drop off or it was full blown parties and weddings. I did that with them and started their full blown catering company, and this was in Atlanta at the time. Then I got approached by a very high end event company in Atlanta, who I then stayed with for about six years and did a lot of celebrity events, high profile events, designed to core food. I got to do some amazingly fun things, and I loved it, and then I had kids.

J:
Okay. I guess that leads me to the next question. So you’re doing these high profile catering events for celebrities and stuff. Sounds like you had a really cool job.

Sabrina:
Awesome job.

J:
Yeah, personally, anything involved with food I would love. But then you had kids and so clearly come 2020 beginning of this year, you made the decision that it was time to move from this catering world to working with your sister in a startup crayon-making business. So what was your thought process? What was the difficulties you went through, if any, making that decision to transition your life from the thing that you had been doing for many, many years to jumping into a startup business?

Sabrina:
It was petrifying, honestly. I, for a long time, was miserable. My entire family saw how miserable I was, the hours. I was making amazing money, six figures doing really well for myself. I was running peoples’ catering company. We had moved to Florida at that point, so I’m in South Florida and I was doing really well for myself. I never saw my children. I was working seven days a week. Even on my days off, I would be on phone calls the whole nine yards, and it was just not a life … I wasn’t being the mom I wanted to be, and I was really struggling with trying to figure out how to balance life and my husband was really good. One day I just, honestly, I cracked. I called my husband and I said, “I can’t do it anymore,” and he said, “Okay, let’s figure it out,” and I did.
Beginning of February, I left my very corporate high paying job and had no idea what I was going to do with the rest of my life, but I was going to figure it out and I was bound and determined to be home and around for my kids. That’s what happened. Then when I left, I took two weeks off of … I was not going to do anything, but I am very much a workaholic and I don’t sit very well and life takes over. So my sister approached me and then I also do books for people on the side. I just kind of … I do a little bit of everything because I don’t sit.

Carol:
Great. Well, and it sounds to me … Correct me if I’m wrong, Sabrina, but it sounds like in your catering world, the jobs that you had, you were really running the business anyway. Right? It sounds like you were going in in the beginning of a catering operation, really doing whatever it took to streamline and build your processes and build your systems and manage people and so on and so forth, which ultimately it sounds like would be really incredibly helpful for starting your own business. Does that sound about right?

Sabrina:
Very much so. Business, I love business. I love the form of business, I love establishing a business, finding its procedures and how to make things move along, and then sales has always been something I’ve done. I’ve always been on the sales side of it. So selling was something that I love to do, and I was passionate about it. When I left, I took all of that and knowing that I was going to join Katie, she knew how much I was good at business and how much I enjoy the research aspect of it. There’s a lot of research that goes into putting and developing your own business. I mean, there’s so much work into it that you don’t even realize until you dive into it. But I thrive on that. I love that. That makes me super excited. So trying to find new things and learning new things every day is my motto in life. We make it work and we learn it all and we figure it out from there.

J:
Okay. Let’s fast forward to January, February of 2020. Your sister, you had mentioned, had been approached by Whole Foods and you were looking for a new outlet, something that would allow you to focus more on home life and kids. So you said, “Okay, I’m going to join my sister.” What did that look like? What was the arrangement? What was the partnership look like? Were you an employee. Were you a partner? I mean, how did this all come about and what did the first incarnation of this working together look like?

Sabrina:
We decided … When she called me, we had a lot of long conversations. My sister’s in Baltimore, I’m in South Florida. So obviously we aren’t close to be able to work together side by side, but we’re really good at communicating virtually anyway. So we had decided that I was going to handle the sales and business aspect of it. There was a lot of things that needed to be done, steps to take in order to get into Whole Foods. She had already had her business license established, but then she needed to get insurance, and there had to be other things in order for us to even be able to be considered a vendor at Whole Foods.
So I did all of the research and made sure that we got all of those things together and we decided I would handle the front end of it, the business aspect of it, the computers, the orders, the shipping, et cetera, and she would be solely production. So she would be the one producing the crayons itself, and then I would be doing the rest of it. Then that morphed into a little bit more of she would be doing production and I would then handle shipping where she would then ship all of the items to me from Baltimore, and then I then ship them out from Florida. We then morphed into other forms of it too.

J:
Basically what it sounds like is even though she had started this business in 2012 and had been running this business for eight years, this was still a hobby. It doesn’t sound like, and I don’t mean to demean your sister, but basically in 2020, after eight years of running this business, she didn’t have insurance and she was still figuring out all the fulfillment processes. So it was like she hadn’t really taken this to a full fledged business at that point.

Sabrina:
She had … I think it was more for her, it was a side income.

J:
Got it.

Sabrina:
Not necessarily a hobby. I think it was more of a side income because she definitely worked her butt off in seasons and made sure that she was fulfilling orders, and much like any hospitality, which is what I’m from, crayon business runs in seasons. Just like any product sort of thing, obviously holiday seasons you have a lot more inventory, summer months tend to be a little bit slower. Any product pretty much seems to run that way is what I’m finding, and obviously product world is very similar, which I didn’t realize to the events world and the hospitality industry. It’s something that I’ve learned that because I know this, I now figure out how to know this world too.

J:
Got it. Okay. The original arrangement was she was handling the production and the product development. Then she would ship you the products and you were doing the marketing, the sales, the fulfillment, basically all the backend stuff and running the business. You were the business person behind the business, she was more of the product person by the business. Is that about right?

Sabrina:
Correct. That sounds … Yep, exactly.

J:
Okay. That was earlier this year. How did that morph and evolve? Is that still where things are today or did things change?

Sabrina:
Things changed. Obviously when COVID hit, it threw us for a loop. Everybody else in the world COVID has affected everybody I think in so many different ways and for A Childhood Store, it affected us a lot. We were trying to really jumpstart this company from being somewhat of a smaller company to helping it grow to be what it is, what I’m trying to get at it today. I had plans to go to Baltimore every month, we were going to fly, we were going to do this and COVID hit. I had to cancel the flights I had already booked, and we had to figure out how to do it not seeing each other and not being able to get it all together. I think because of that, it caused strain for sure. It was a delay. We were trying to do things, but trying to do things when I don’t know how she’s even making a crayon or what the production part of it is was very difficult.
We spent a lot of days on FaceTime as I watched her make crayons and ask all kinds of questions so that I could understand what goes into production to figure out time management, to figure out what the cost does. Because when I came on board, the first things that I did was develop a business plan. Obviously, first thing you do in a company in general is develop a business plan. Then from there, I had to get the insurance for Whole Foods. I had to do a cost analysis. We didn’t have a cost analysis, so there was no understanding what our profit margins are or what she needed to make. Was the pricing of the crayon that we had online even correct? Was she even making money? Was it worth it?
So I ended up doing all of that when I first started and come to find out that, yes, she runs a great profit margin somewhere between 60% and 75% profit margin on an individual retail item is awesome. Then what she was also doing is she had recently just started doing wholesale, which is a huge market for this store in general. We do a lot of wholesale and that’s not something she had been doing previously before, but she joined a website called Faire which is a wholesale for people like us who are smaller business shops trying to sell their items.

Carol:
Interesting. Okay. In the beginning of this year, it sounds … There’s a few things I want to touch on, but I specifically am curious throughout this journey, it sounds like you’re doing the vast majority of all the business and of the entire operation at this point, and it sounds like you might even be doing a bit more than that. So is your sister still involved or if not, how did that transition happen?

Sabrina:
We came to the realization, I think my sister came to the realization, gosh, in June so it hasn’t been that long. It may have been in May, June or may, that she was burnt out on production of crayons and she needed to do something else with her life, and I totally appreciate that because I was burnt out on the life of hospitality and I needed to do something different with my life. After much discussion and much love, we decided that she was going to step away from A Childhood Store and that I would take it over altogether. So now I am the sole owner and runner and production person and marketing person and everything for A Childhood Store, which is a super exciting.

J:
That’s awesome, and I want to hear all about what’s happened since you’ve taken it over, but I do have a question because I know that anytime you’re dealing with partners and family and business, things can get icky. It doesn’t have to, but I know it can. You basically came in and you’re partnering with your sister that she’s had this business for eight years, and then she depart, what did that relationship … What did the agreed … I don’t know if there were agreements. I mean, what’s the agreement now? I mean, do you own the business 100%? Does she still get some amount of royalty or does she own part of the business? What was the agreement when she decided to step away?

Sabrina:
Being that the business … 2019, really didn't have any sales, the business itself hadn't made a tremendous amount of money. What we agreed upon was that I was going be the sole owner, I would take it over. I've actually changed the LLC and established everything in the State of Florida now, so it's all under my name in the State of Florida and no longer in Baltimore. We agreed that I would definitely, as I grew the business and made more money, I would pay her royalties 100% because she is my sister, she developed it, she's the creative. This whole concept would not be where it is today without her. That is something that I would … I love my family and family comes first for me, no matter what. It was one of those we agreed upon that we were going to work it out. There's not really set in stone writing for sure yet, but it's something conversations that we've just talked about, and as the business grows, we all just start paying her royalties.

Carol:
This is such a great story. I love the arrangement. I love how your sister, Katie, started this. It became a bit of a hobby than it was a side … It was a hustle and then it was a side income. Then when the time was right, you’re working together and now you are taking over the business to really turn it up a notch and help it realize its true potential, which is just absolutely awesome. I have to say too major kudos to your sister because it sounds like back in the beginning, she got a call from Whole Foods and clearly that’s a really big deal, so-

Sabrina:
Huge.

Carol:
Right? That’s huge. So-

Sabrina:
Huge.

Carol:
… I’m curious, I suspect our listeners are curious, how did that all come about? What was the appeal? What was the arrangement? Just talk to us about the whole Whole Foods experience from the beginning, and then specifically I’d like to know, Sabrina, what you had to do when you stepped in to begin fulfilling the orders for that relationship.

Sabrina:
I’m not really sure exactly how Whole Foods approached Katie. I know that they had found her, I believe, in some stores that she was selling locally in Baltimore and they were trying to find some local vendors basically that would have product that would fit the Whole Foods brand. Being that A Childhood Store, we are very sustainable company. We pride ourselves on providing eco-friendly, non-toxic. Even down to our packaging is completely recyclable. So it’s something that I take pride in and I know that she did as well. Both of us live a very similar lifestyle in making sure that we care about our planet and I want to make sure that for my children and my children’s children, that I at least put my part into it. I feel like that our brand aligned with what Whole Foods aligns with, and that’s very much what they consider themselves as well. So it was something that I think that because of everything that we believe in, I think our brand fit very well with what they are too.

Carol:
That’s awesome. Sabrina, I’m curious. Along with the sustainability and eco friendly characteristic of your product, I guess I have a two prong question, number one, how did you go about making that just part of your product and your packaging and everything overall? And in that, I mean, I’m curious from your catering and food service background, did you necessarily have any experience in that or was this just all an experiential errand? Where did you do your research? How’d you figure out how to get all the eco-friendly components into your product, into the packaging, all that type of stuff? Secondarily, I’m just curious if you’re suspecting or your research is additionally shown that that component of your brand, that component of your business is one of your main reasons that people choose your product because it does seem to be such a strong important trend right now.

Sabrina:
I do think … I know that in terms of the packaging and the product itself, when my sister was originally researching how to make crayons, really I think it came up as a lot of people do a bees wax type crayon. That’s somewhat of our competitor in the market. There’s a crayon companies called Honey Sticks and some other different ones that make those type crayons, but there’s not a huge market for it, and really the crayon market is … I mean, you think of crayons, you think of Crayola. But the difference with Crayola and what a lot of schools and a lot of people are having a hard time with is that there are toxic stuff in those crayons that if a kid puts some in their mouth, obviously it’s not good for you.
I think that what she was looking for when she designed it was trying to find something that was kid-friendly and safe for young artists, for young learners who … Like my son who’s two, find my crayons very interesting. But yes, occasionally there has been a time he put it into my mouth and I’m not going to freak out because there’s nothing in there that did it. So when she did the research, it’s solely … There’s three components to all of our crayon. It is a soy wax, it’s a bees wax and it is a nontoxic pigment. The pigment is your only … what brings your coloration into it, and then the other parts are softer. So our crayons are actually a softer crayon and makes it a little bit more of a pastel like when you’re drawing it, so it blends really well together.
It’s not as vibrant as when you think of Crayola writing on a paper, but we don’t want to be. So in terms of the market, we ended up finding that there was similar products to it, but none of them were soy and beeswax. They were either beeswax or soy, and so it was the kind of … I guess, you’d put in a combination. Then she went through years of different packagings, and I think that when she finally came down to the packaging we have now, which is a tube, it’s a paper tube, part of when she was doing the research was looking for things that are sustainable that went with our concept because that’s something that really believed in.

J:
That’s awesome.

Carol:
Very cool.

J:
Okay. Here we are. You’ve taken over the business from your sister, and now you’re responsible for everything. It sounds like you’re responsible for production, you’re responsible for packaging, you’re responsible for fulfillment, and you’re also responsible for figuring out the trajectory of the business, the sales and the marketing. What is your plan for doing all this? Did you hire people? Did you bring in other people? You’re doing all this here … Here’s the crazy thing. I assume it’s at least March of 2020 now, so COVID has hit, and so basically you’re now in the middle of a pandemic. So I assume that makes everything else more difficult. Where and when are we, March, April of 2020, and what’s going through your mind? How are you going to grow this business?

Sabrina:
Obviously with COVID, no a lot of the crayon and small business aspect, a lot of people do craft fairs. Obviously those don’t exist when there is COVID. A lot of that got taken off the plate, which is a good resource of income for my type of business. So what I started doing was finding virtual things, trying to figure out how to virtually get us in the market a little bit better, and then obviously what better to do that than Amazon. So I have actually recently gotten myself on Amazon. I’m in the midst of fulfilling everything so that I can get it to their fulfillment centers so that we can be on Amazon as well. But it was really pushing a virtual market. There’s been a tremendous amount of virtual craft fairs that I am starting to participate in because it’s a big source of income.
We actually did one in March. When all of this hit, we had signed up for a regular craft Faire and then COVID hit, so then they transitioned it over to be a virtual craft fair. Within that day, we booked $1,500 in sales for crayons, which is awesome for us. So that was something continuing to grow and do those things online. It was having an online presence, which unfortunately, when you are one person such as my sister, trying to do the production, do everything, marketing tends to fall a little bit to the wayside, which is not great because in any company, marketing is the number one thing to be able to get your name out there and get sales for you.

Carol:
Excellent. To follow up on that a little bit more, and first of all, you glossed over something that is, again, a really big deal. You set up an Amazon store and I want to dig more into the nuts and bolts of that. But before that, right? That’s, again, a really big deal.

Sabrina:
That was a full time job in itself. So to figure out Amazon fulfillment and how to do it. I mean, it took me a solid month trying to figure out how to input all of our items and what I was doing wrong, and finally everything’s in there, which is very exciting, and now I just have to make enough product to ship to them.

J:
Yeah, I know a lot of people that sell on Amazon and literally learning to sell on Amazon, and these are people that are buying products from China or buying other products. So just learning the fulfillment and the marketing and the entry data entry side of things is ridiculous. Then on top of it, you’re actually running the rest of the business here. You’re not just importing somebody else’s product. That’s crazy.

Sabrina:
Dealing with Amazon was definitely a learning curve, for sure. It was definitely a full time job of trying to figure out implementation, what products, how to even put it in their Excel spreadsheets. I’ve read more YouTube videos and online, anything to try and figure out what I was doing wrong. I think I even signed up for some free classes to show me how to do Amazon fulfillment, just to try and figure out what I was doing. Eventually, one day it just clicked and I got it and started adding in all my products, and now all I’m getting ready to do is fulfill it enough to be able to send it to their fulfillment centers. I chose to allow them to ship it, so one less thing I have to deal with.

Carol:
That’s really cool. I think there is so much valuable information in this whole … well, so many things, but specifically this whole nugget about Amazon right now, Sabrina, and it sounds like you had a big learning curve. And you mentioned that, for example, you signed up for some free online courses. Can you make some recommendations to other listeners who might have thought about doing something like setting up an Amazon store? A few things like what type of steps did you take and what would you recommend other people do? What type of learnings or what challenges did you have that you can advise other people to avoid? Do you have any of those little nuggets that might be really actionable and useful?

Sabrina:
I ended up doing … What I found most useful was the YouTube videos. They literally took me a step by step of how to input each product, what I needed to do with it. So that is what I up using the most resources is finding YouTube videos, and that really helped me figure out what I was doing wrong because it is you trying … They give you an Excel spreadsheet template basically, and then you have to fulfill, and it is this huge, massive thing that you don’t even know what they’re talking about. So then you have to take their index and try and figure out what each individual code is to then try and input it in to try and figure it out.
Finally, after watching several YouTube videos, I found it much easier. We only currently have 15 products, 15 things that we offer. So it was just easier instead of taking their Excel spreadsheets and trying to figure out the inputs and what the code was and why it was wrong, I just did it step by step and just did an individual product at a time. Even though that takes a lot longer to input, ultimately it was shorter than trying to figure out their spreadsheets.

Carol:
Great. That’s an awesome tip. Go ahead, J.

J:
Yeah. So I was just going to say, it’s … Again, I go back to the fact that you’re now doing everything yourself. You’re developing, it sounds like, 15 different products. You’re doing the sales and the marketing, and now you have to figure out the technology side and dealing with how to input your products on Amazon, and you don’t … It doesn’t sound like you have a team around you. So what does your typical day look like? How do you organize your time? How are you being as efficient as possible?

Sabrina:
Wake up early, very early. I mean, I also am a stay-at-home mom. So I have two kids home with me. I have a three-year-old and an eight-year-old, and right now, obviously no school, no camps, no napping. So we’re home a lot. I wake up with two kids, I get them breakfast. I make sure everybody’s good, and usually at that point I start making crayons right away. So I do all day production. I am also super lucky my mom lives very close to me in Florida. So she has been a saint and is better. I mean, I don’t even know what to say. My mom is the most amazing human in the world and I couldn’t do life without her. She comes over every day and she helps me package crayons all day long every day. She sits here and listens to her music and she packages boxes while I make crayons.
Then I get online and I started doing all of my emails and sending out my lists. I get all of my orders together. Right now I’m putting them in spreadsheets or writing it on my whiteboard that sits next to me so I know what my to-do is today. So I give her her to-do every day of what she needs to package for me, and she packages them for me. Then I have luckily recently within actually the last week, very good friend of mine is helping me now. So he’s being able to help me with my website development and making it a little bit better. We sell currently on Etsy as our retail, and then we also do wholesale, like I said, via that Faire portal. So that’s kind of … He has been helping me really expand that.
So within the last week I’ve gotten help, but prior to that it was me waking up doing crayon production. Then switching over to the computer. Then at night, my husband would sit here and help me package crayons all night and cut squares and do all the things that needed to do packaging. So my poor husband who works a full time job comes home and then he packages crayons with me all night. I have even gotten my eight-year-old daughter to help. So there is no shame in my game of being able to get it all done.

Carol:
I love this though. I mean, Sabrina, this is so phenomenal because like you said earlier, family is truly front and center to you and that’s what’s most important, and you made a very conscious decision to leave this corporate world where you were working seven days a week, a ridiculous number of hours, like you’d mentioned not seeing your kids, and now you’re providing another source of income for your family, with your mom by your side, with your husband there with you, and you even have your eight-year-old involved, and I’m sure that, what? The two or three-year-old is going to be well on his way next and joining it in some capacity. So I think that’s just great.

Sabrina:
He already likes to … His favorite thing to do is go to the post office with me and we drop off packages. He asked me every day if we’re going to go to the post office really because it may be our only outing for the day, but at least it’s something.

Carol:
That’s great. So you’ve not only have something different, but you’re involving everybody. You mentioned all these different channels you’re still selling through with everybody’s help. Right? So you mentioned you’re still on Etsy. Are you still doing the Whole Food selling as well?

Sabrina:
Definitely. So Whole Foods, actually, it took a long time for us to actually even get our products into Whole Foods because when we started with them in March really, then COVID hit right afterwards. So at that point, their slowing process of getting new vendors in their system took a lot longer. So what should have been a shorter process was definitely a longer process also because of the insurance portion of it. Getting insurance through Whole Foods being that we sell what they consider their whole body part of it, which is not their food portion of it but their soaps and that sort of stuff. We as a crayon product are considered in that part of their stores. When we had to do that, our insurance, they wanted a very high insurance rates, which us as a small company could not afford.
So we had to do a lot of back and forth with them and trying to lower the insurance premium to be able to be affordable to a company like us who is much smaller, but also to cover any incidents that Whole Foods needed as well. So we did end up finally reaching an agreement with that and changing it, which was great, and then once that finally got sorted, that ended up taking us to May which was a long time. So we didn’t start doing first Whole Foods orders until the end of May, maybe June, somewhere in that range. But so far we’ve done a couple of different orders to both of their stores that were selling in Baltimore, and then hopefully that goes well enough that I can get into the other Whole Foods [inaudible 00:37:36]

Carol:
That’s awesome. So I’m curious too, again, it sounds like you’ve been through a lot of just trial and error and negotiating and figuring things out. Again, what would you recommend for other people? Did you already have some insurance connections or did you just get out there and start researching? How should people go about doing these big daunting yet absolutely necessary tasks? What do they need to do to get those things rolling?

Sabrina:
Use your resources. I can’t say that enough, and it is one thing that I used my resources. Everybody has them, no matter what you did in your past or what you do now. Use your resources. When it came to insurance, I reached out to a friend who … it’s just through family friend that they had a business, they offered insurance so that’s who we went with. I did that throughout my entire everything that I have done to learn this business. Also, I’m a learner. I love to learn. I want to find new things, so every day, regardless I’m learning something new and I enjoy it. It keeps me on my toes and keeps me [inaudible 00:38:39], but it’s fine. I do a lot of research.
I mean, Google is probably my best friend at this point in trying to figure out because the world of doing products and sales and shipping internationally and all these things I had never done before. But you can figure it out easily as long as you do your research, and you have to put your mind to it. You have to actually want to do it and figure it out versus just saying, “Oh, I can’t do it.” I hate that answer. My kids do that all the time. I can’t, I can’t. There is no I can’t. You can, you just have to put your mind to it.

Carol:
That is one of our favorite pieces of advice too, and I’ll tell you what, this man sitting across the hall over there in that other room is the biggest one. Whenever anybody is like, “I can’t,” he’s like, “Instead of saying I can’t, why don’t you just figure out how you can.”

Sabrina:
Can.

Carol:
Right? I mean, have you found, Sabrina, there’s realistically any challenge, any obstacle that came up in front of you that you have not been able to solve through research in some capacity?

Sabrina:
I have taught myself how to make molds. I did a whole lot of research on making molds to make my crayons because what we were running into is the lack of being able to do massive amount of production at a time, and being that I come from a catering world, that’s what we did. I would do … we would have 1,000 of whatever that needed to be done. So I was really good at figuring out the procedure to do mass production. But what limits you is you have to have a mold of a crayon in order to pour the wax into to then be able to make the crayon itself. So the molds that we had only made two or three crayons at a time, which when you’re trying to sell thousands of crayons at a time, doesn’t work obviously. The math would never work.
So we ended up … I self taught myself with, again, a lot of YouTube videos and questions to my sister and my best friend who was helping me as well. I figured out how to make mass molds basically, and so now every day my husband comes home and he goes, “You’re making another mold.” I said, “Yeah, we’re make making another mold,” but it’s a really fun process. Honestly, it’s kind of scientific and you get to see … You have to mix these two components together, then you pour it over the crayon, but you have to make sure the crayon doesn’t move, so you have to glue it in place ahead of time, and then after you pour it, it is a 24 hours of waiting, drying, and then heating again in the oven to solidify it and make sure that it seals so that when you pour it into a crayon mold, you’re not then leaving lots of the pigment colors, which then would come off onto the other crayons.

J:
I love this story. The thing that resonates with me as we talk to a lot of entrepreneurs that are a few years ahead of where you are, and they’ve started to blow up and seen tremendous success and we talked to them about their early days and we hear one of two stories. It’s either I was so focused on getting product out there that every day I was just doing these repetitive tasks over and over again. It took me a long time to scale because I was so focused on just dealing with the issue of the day, and then we talked to other entrepreneurs who they have this attitude that from the very beginning I was focused on how could I scale? How could I replicate? How could I create tasks that would allow me to go faster and more efficiently in the future?
Those entrepreneurs by far are the ones that say, “It took more work at the beginning, it took a lot more time at the beginning, but it allowed me to scale a whole lot faster because I was getting out of my own way and I was figuring out the systems and the processes.” So I love the fact that you’re starting early on in the business with figuring out those systems, figuring out those processes and thinking about how can I set myself up for future success? When a million orders start coming in, I’m already prepared to be able to fulfill those. yeah,

Sabrina:
Yeah. No, I am lucky enough to have a lot of chefs in my life being that I have a background in that hospitality industry. My chefs friends were the ones that were like, “No, no. You need to do it like this. Just like you would make a chocolate mold or anything else,” and that was really what’s fun from there, which was awesome.

J:
We love that.

Carol:
That is really cool. I’m sitting here picturing to side note. J, remember when we went to the Jelly Belly jelly bean factory in California a couple of years ago?

J:
I certainly do.

Carol:
Right? I’m picturing Sabrina in her kitchen with these huge molds that just do tons of crayons over and over and over just like the bugillions of jelly beans that were produced simultaneously where you walked into that factory and it was such a massive sugar rush that just hit you in the face. Now of course, I’m thinking about your friends who are the chefs who are talking about the chocolate molds and how you’re able to take all that knowledge and those resources and those connections and bring that into your crayon business. It’s just fascinating how life sometimes comes so massively-

Sabrina:
Full circle.

Carol:
… [crosstalk 00:43:52]circle. That’s an [inaudible 00:43:52]I just love that component of it. You mentioned earlier all these different avenues you’re selling through. Will you talk to us a little bit more about, I think you mentioned it’s called Faire or something, that’s wholesale? I’ve never heard of that. J, have you heard of that before?

J:
I have not heard of that.

Carol:
This is so massively interesting to me. Can you talk a little bit more? I think this is just so new to the space of what we’ve talked with people about. Talk to us more about Faire. I think that’s an interesting … it’ll be an interesting nugget for our listeners.

Sabrina:
Faire is a wholesale market for retailers basically. A lot of people sell on Faire, which is what I do, and then a lot of people buy on Faire. So it is a way for smaller businesses to connect with each other, to purchase each other’s products basically. They are meant for smaller businesses. I mean, they’re meant for your moms and pops type shops, not necessarily the Whole Foods or those sorts of things. You can get resources to find bigger retailers on things like RangeMe which is a much larger to be able to connect with large retailers like Target and Bed Bath & Beyond, and that sort of stuff. But then Faire connects you to smaller people basically. How Faire works is you don’t pay a monthly fee for them like you pay Amazon. Amazon, you have to pay the $40 a month, and then you pay the commissions from that.
Faire is just solely commission-based. So basically what I sell, they’ll either take a 25% commission from the sale, and then also they include the shipping portion of it with that. Or if you resell to somebody multiple times, they take a lesser commission, so it’s only 15%. But then they also have something called Faire Direct, which is you reach out to these wholesale retailers directly, you don’t pay any commission to them, but you can still do it through Faire. There are other resources. There’s something called [Candid 00:45:48]. I think is out there. I’ve done my research on some of them, but honestly I think Faire does a really good job, and I’ve gotten a lot of business from it.
I mean, at this point she … Katie had just started Faire, I think this year. It was a very new thing for her. Previously, Etsy had actually done a wholesale component to it, which I don’t think she liked very much. So when she decided to come back into the business in 20 January 2020, she I think ended up on with Faire, which has been an amazing resource in order or getting our name out there in general too. I mean, I sell to all kinds of places. [inaudible 00:46:26]mostly West coast, California and Oregon, and I do a lot in middle America to businesses I would have never been able to get in touch with without this.

Carol:
I think that’s so powerful as well, because I think a lot of times businesses that are just starting out, starting to really grow in that, they don’t necessarily realize there’s a middle ground as far as retailers, right? They see the Whole Foods, they see the Costco, they see the Bed Bath & Beyond-

Sabrina:
Big guys.

Carol:
… they see the Target, but I would suspect that’s really not the easiest thing in the world to make happen.

Sabrina:
No.

Carol:
It sounds like this is a great step in between to get that growth, to get those systems, to get those processes so that eventually you’re even more attractive to those really big box type of outlets.

Sabrina:
Correct.

Carol:
Very [crosstalk 00:47:09]

Sabrina:
The good part about Faire is you set what you want your bottom line to be. So you can set what you want your price … minimum order amount to be so you don’t get screwed basically. I mean, we said it to make sure that I have a minimum order so that I’m not just sending out two crayons. That would be silly. I might as well just go retail for that. If I’m selling wholesale, it means to be a larger quantity to make it worth it.

Carol:
Great. It sounds like it’s really collaborative.

Sabrina:
Definitely. Yeah.

Carol:
Excellent. Excellent. You mentioned that a bit earlier that you've had to figure out international shipping. You're talking about you've been on the West Coast or the Midwest. You're wholesaling to these different companies through Faire. You got a lot going on in just this first year, and what's coming next? What is coming down the pipe for the Childhood Store?

Sabrina:
Childhood Store is growing and will continue to grow, and I am bound and determined to make this a successful. The next thing you know you’re going to see us and be a Crayola of the organic world, and I’d be good with that. We are working on it. Really holiday season is something that we are working on tremendously. I’m trying to get out all of my holiday stuff. So trying to do Halloween, so the next thing you’ll see is I’ve got Saturday coming up. I’m doing promotions starting September for my new Halloween line. So there’ll be a new Halloween line. I did a sneak peek preview of it on Facebook and Instagram. I do a lot of my posts on Instagram and Facebook, just trying social media getting my name out there.
Then holiday season, I’ve got some virtual craft fairs. So please visit my website. There’s some awesome virtual craft fairs that I’m going to participate in over the holiday season, and really after that, it is trying to get into larger markets, trying to use my resources. Like I had mentioned before, there’s a website called RangeMe that gets you in touch with large retailers. It’s not cheap. You actually have to pay for it. So I did put some resources into that so that I can get in touch with some larger retailers to be able to grow my markets beyond just the Etsy [inaudible 00:49:14]

J:
Love. Absolutely love it. Okay. Well, this has been amazing, but we are about to that point in the show where we want to jump into the four more segment, and that’s where we ask you the same four questions that we ask all of our guests. Then the more part of the four more where you tell us where we can connect with you, learn more about your product, learn more about your business. Sound good?

Sabrina:
Sounds great.

J:
Excellent. Well, let’s start with question number one and I’ll take that one. So Sabrina, what was your very first or your very worst, I’ll let you decide, job and what lessons did you take from it that you’re still using today?

Sabrina:
I’m going to go with my very first job. My very first job I worked at Greg’s Bagels in Baltimore, Maryland, and Greg’s Bagels was the most amazing job I’ve ever had in my life. Actually somewhat forward-thinking, it does a lot of what I do now. It was I sat in the back and I was the person that formed and dredged the bagels, and so we had a gentleman who made the bagels and then we would then go ahead and put them in the boiling water and take them out and form them. I did that for four years. Actually, all my high school career. I started at 14, got my worker’s permit, and then I worked there until I graduated high school at 18. It was the best job I’ve ever had. I still keep in touch with some of the people at Greg’s Bagels and it was a community there, for sure.

Carol:
That is so much fun. I love that. Okay, I will take question number two, Sabrina. What would you say is the best piece of advice that you have for small business owners or young entrepreneurs that you haven’t mentioned yet today?

Sabrina:
Don’t give up. I mean, really honestly, every day is a struggle. I don’t get it wrong. There are days I cry, there are days I scream, there are days I laugh, but I’m not giving up because if you don’t give up, you’re going to succeed. I mean, you just have to put your mind to it and actually make sure that you make an effort for it.

J:
[crosstalk 00:51:13]Love that. I think it’s funny how simple that piece of advice is, but there is no successful person out there that gave up. By definition, if you give up-

Sabrina:
You are not successful.

J:
Exactly. Question number three. Any favorite books, business books or books related to your business that you might recommend to our listeners?

Sabrina:
Books these days, I don’t get to read a lot of. I will be very honest. If I’m reading anything, it’s we are wonders or some kids book that my children are reading. That’s what we read these days. I have been doing a podcast. It’s called The Product Boss, that I would highly recommend. Honestly, it’s been super … It’s really been super influential to me. It’s been something that really helped me be like, “Light bulb. I need to do that. This is a forward thinking.” I will say that these ladies really got my mind thinking and I would highly recommend them.

J:
Well, I’ll tell you, these days a podcast recommendation is often just as good if not better than a book recommendation. That’s great.

Carol:
Excellent. Thank you. Okay, this is the fourth and often my most favorite just because it’s a fun one. What is something along the way in either your personal or professional life that you’ve splurged on that was totally worth it?

Sabrina:
God. Personal life … But that was more for my husband. I did end up … At 30, when I first met my husband, he was a very avid motorcycle rider. Then when we got together and we moved to Georgia, he sold his motorcycle. So then on his 30th birthday, I splurged and surprised him and got him a motorcycle and had them ride it up to our front porch store and pull it into the driveway, and he about had a heart attack. So that was … My loving husband now, fast forward, what is it? 10 years later or something, that motorcycle is long gone. We had children and it went out the wayside.

J:
Wow. Your splurge was for somebody else? Wow.

Sabrina:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Carol:
Seriously. No wonder he’s up at night cutting squares making sure they fit properly.

Sabrina:
He does still tell me about the motorcycle every once in a while.

J:
He’s still-

Sabrina:
[crosstalk 00:53:34]I’m going to get a new one, eventually. [crosstalk 00:53:36]

J:
He still working it off.

Sabrina:
Right. Exactly.

J:
Nice, nice. Well, that was the four. This is the more part of the four more. Tell our listeners where they can find out more about you, more about your business, more about your products. Where can we find you?

Sabrina:
Check us out. It’s achildhoodstore.com is our website. A lot of that is in the midst of being updated. And just since recently, obviously a lot of it has Katie on there, so we’re transitioning over that a little bit. But Facebook and Instagram. Facebook it’s also A Childhood Store and Instagram is also @achildhoodstore. So please check us out on all of those websites, and we do a lot of … I’ve been trying to post as much as possible on the social media networks, and then the website you are able to shop directly on the website or you can visit us on the Etsy shops as well.

J:
Awesome. Are you live on Amazon?

Sabrina:
Not yet, but we will be. I live, you just have nothing to purchase yet. So you’re live, you’ll see me if you look me up, but then as soon as I send everything out to fulfillment, you will be live on Amazon.

J:
Okay. So in the meantime, achildhoodstore.com or Etsy, and then pretty soon, amazon.com. Awesome. Sabrina, this has been fantastic. Congratulations on your growth and your recent success, and I would love to have you back in a year or two, because I want to hear about how the business has grown and evolved because I’m really excited for this one.

Sabrina:
I would love to be, so thank you guys so much for having me. I thank you so much for giving me the opportunity.

J:
Awesome. Thank you so much.

Carol:
Thank you. [crosstalk 00:55:06]a ton. Thank you again, Sabrina.

J:
We’ll talk to you soon.

Sabrina:
Thanks so much, guys. Have a good day. Bye.

Carol:
Bye.

Sabrina:
Bye.

J:
Carol Scott, what did you think of that episode?

Carol:
Oh my goodness. You’ve got to absolutely love the way Sabrina realized she was spending all this time, all this energy away from her family to build businesses for other people, and she just had enough, right? She was just like, “I don’t see my kids. I love what I’m doing, but it’s just not worth it anymore.” Then she partners up with her sister and then grows this into this whole new business in which she has her entire family involved, right? So it’s just, you love to see everything coming full circle, you love that she’s still challenging herself on a daily basis and just continuing to persist in research and do whatever it takes to get this business off the ground and create something awesome. I just absolutely love her story.

J:
Yap. I agree. I have a feeling that we’re going to be revisiting this business in the next year or two, and we’re going to be very pleasantly enthused with the story as it progresses because there’s no doubt that Sabrina is not going to quit and this business is going to grow and I can’t wait to see how. Everybody, get out there and support Sabrina and A Childhood Store. If you have kids, go buy them some non-toxic, some eco-friendly and sustainable crayons.

Carol:
They can put them in their mouth and it won’t even hurt them.

J:
Yeah.

Carol:
I mean, come on. What a great project for during COVID?

J:
Although let’s be honest, I mean, it wasn’t the best part of our childhood chewing on toxic crayons.

Carol:
You’re so … J, that explains so many things, so many things. That’s all crystal clear now. Now it-

J:
Me too.

Carol:
… all makes perfect sense.

J:
Eating too many crayons.

Carol:
You’re ridiculous.

J:
That was just-

Carol:
You’re truly, truly ridiculous. All right, come on. Let’s wrap this up.

J:
Okay. We’re going to wrap this up.

Carol:
Wrap it up, wrap it up, wrap it up.

J:
Okay, everybody, thank you so much for tuning in again this week. We appreciate you and we appreciate your feedback and we appreciate you listening, and stay happy, stay healthy and thank you. She’s Carol, I’m J.

Carol:
Now go find ways to get your whole family involved in your great stuff today.

J:
Nice.

Carol:
You like that?

J:
I like that. Very nice.

Carol:
We all have to appreciate our families and being together because that’s really what matters. Everybody, thank you for tuning in. We’ll see you next week.

J:
Thanks everybody.

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