Krista Woods was trying to get rid of the odor from her son's sports gear and discovered the smell was caused by bacteria growth. After testing home remedies that were chemical-free Krista started GloveStix to sell her deodorizer for athletic gear.
Going from mom to business owner, Krista stepped out of her comfort zone to pitch to national TV programs like the Today Show and Shark Tank.
In this episode of Shopify Masters, you'll hear from Krista Woods of GloveStix on how she created a physical product, sold during live events, and pitch on national TV programs.
It’s like winning the World Cup every day for months and months and months. That’s that feeling. It’s something you can’t trade it, you just can’t.
Tune in to learn
- How to use your Facebook friends to launch your business faster
- Why it’s important to know how much you’re willing to lose when starting a
- How this entrepreneur prepared to pitch on QVC in less than 24 hours
- Store: GloveStix
- Social Profiles: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram
- Recommendations: Bold Recurring Orders and Subscription Box,Shipstation, Product Reviews, Sales Pop,Free Shipping Bar by Hextom
Felix: Today I'm joined by Krista Woods from GloveStix which also sells the StankStix. The StankStix and the GloveStix are placed inside your glove and skates, and cleats, and more they absorb moisture inhibit bacteria and deodorizing started in 2015 and based out of Virginia. Welcome, Krista.
Krista: Hi, Felix. Thanks for having me.
Felix: Excited to have you on. So this all started with your son playing school sports. What did you realize about sports gear?
Krista: It stinks. That's exactly how it started. It really got bad when my son started playing travel lacrosse was his sport and he started playing travel in middle school. And I was like, it was so bad. And we were stuck with the gear in the car and then we'd be stuck with the gear in the hotel and all the parents would talk about it. Like, what do you do for this smell, the smell we try everything nothing would work. So that's how my product came about.
Felix: Got it. So you had this problem. You couldn't find anything existing in the market that was solving it. What were the first steps that you took to try to solve this for yourself?
Krista: The first thing I did was I actually tried all the products available that were on the market. So once I figured out that none of them worked, not only that most of them were hazardous, they had all kinds of warning labels on the bottles. Which we were selling them for children sports gear and so I was really disappointed. Some very popular pharmaceutical companies that sell all these chemicals. So between that and them not actually working for a very long time, I was like, I'm going to invent something myself that actually works and that's actually safe, and chemical free.
Krista: So I started obsessing, literally obsessing. I googled everything that had to do with odor and stink and how it stinks and why it stinks? I asked everybody I knew that played the sport, what they had tried? What they had done? If anything had worked? I googled tricks and basically spent about a few months researching products and what worked and what didn't work. Until I came up with the actual product that I have today, which is actually really cool that the prototype that we first came up with is the actual product that we currently sell four years later.
Felix: Awesome. So this first prototype that you're talking about or the one that you still have today. This was basically you made it yourself, it wasn't like done by manuf ... Am not sure will get us a bit but it wasn't done by like a manufacturer or anything-
Felix: Why like you're done doing this at home?
Krista: Right. So I came to find out, find out pretty quickly that the reason why nothing had worked because most of them were like sprays that you would spray on. Well, what causes the odor is bacteria. The kids sweat it gets trapped into their gloves or shoes, they throw it in a gear bag and that humidity and moisture breed bacteria babies, which is actually what you smell inside the gear. That's what makes things smell so bad and why you can't get rid of it. So I knew right away that I had to make something that reduces bacteria. So if I could reduce the bacteria and also reduce the moisture at the same time, I also realized there was nothing currently on the market that did that.
Krista: So there were sprays that you could spray on something that would get rid of the bacteria, and there was stuff that you could stick in it to absorb the moisture, but nothing did both. So once I figured that out, we made the prototype in the garage. I contacted a company, I found a company that actually puts a product called silver ions inside of hospitals, so they put them in everything in a hospital. 60% of the hospitals around the world is who they work with. So they were nontoxic, chemical-free, they didn't absorb in your skin. So it's an antimicrobial solution that goes in all the plastic. And once I found out that I could use that in my product, that's when our product went to the next level. And when I actually started manufacturing.
Felix: Got it. So do you have experience trading a product or running business before this?
Krista: So that's the interesting part. Everything I do right now in my job is brand new. So I totally taught myself everything from how to invent a product, how to go through manufacturing, how to start logistics, how to open up a website, how to do any sort of e-commerce or Facebook marketing or Facebook pages, everything was just trial and error. And I have zero experience in any event and I had very little money. So I pretty much had impossible odds going into this.
Felix: Got it. So this is I think a very entrepreneurial, right. Where do you have a problem that you're facing and you learn the pieces that you need to put together to make the next step happen. I think the challenge that is for a lot of people they don't know what they should be spending their time learning next, how do you know what is the next thing that you should focus your time on learning on mastering?
Krista: Well, one of the things that I did was ... That worked for me is number one, my only focus was on the product. So that is all I did for the first year to be honest with you even when I got like a year later when I got my first units in hand. I kind of was like, great, what do I do now? I mean, I spent that much time focusing on the product itself, not the actual business model afterward. And I know a lot of people don't do that. But there were things that I wanted to make sure about the product. That number one, that I could sell it, obviously that I would have a big enough market.
Krista: But number two, that I could sell it at an affordable price while still having a good margin for myself to make money. So I also knew real quick I was like, Well, if it's too expensive we're not going to buy it, nobody's going to pay for it. So I had to be inexpensive enough price. And I think that was something that I really learned in the beginning. But not only that I wanted to keep it nontoxic and chemical-free so that it was a good selling point for the parents as well as the kids.
Krista: And I also didn't want to make it overly scented. So that is something I took all the users so the end-user and what they wanted, I interviewed all my son's friends who played the sport and what they liked or didn't like about certain things that they... Their parents would currently use. And so I tried to make it boy approved and I tried to make it effective for the end-user as well. So that is something that was really important to me.
Felix: So lots of factors took to balance like there is affordability, making sure the product has features the end consumer wanted, that the parents cared about, making sure you're healthy profit margins. I guess what is your process to make sure that you're hitting all of these targets? Because some of them could be conflicting, right?
Krista: I wouldn't say necessarily that they're conflicting, but I definitely feel like some of them were a lot harder to hit or you weren't really sure I just had to go based on faith. And trusting the fact that I could do this and that more people would want it if my son and his friends wanted it. And they thought they were cool that more people would want them in that same market. And what I didn't know is I knew my market was lacrosse or that's what I thought. But what I didn't realize is every sport had the same exact problem. So my market was actually millions and millions of people bigger than what I initially even possibly dreamed.
Krista: We did not have ... My husband didn't have a stinky shoe problem, but millions of men who just wear normal shoes have stinky shoe problems. So my market is much larger than I initially intended. And I did not focus on like, a lot of people start the business and they say, "Okay, well I have to have a million-dollar business or I'm only going to do this if I can make a lot of money". For me, my goals had nothing to do with money. My goal was, can I actually invent a product that works and people will buy? Maybe, it's only 1000 people that will buy but it didn't read that part didn't really matter to me as much as that was the challenge to invent an actual product like that was the coolest part to me.
Felix: Right. And then the money part that does come in when you want to think about, can this be sustainable there, right? Because you can create a product that somebody will buy with then sync a bunch of money into it and it was not sustainable. So it seems like you did care about things like again, like profit margins, making sure that there was a healthy business behind and that was part of the kind of chase that you're going after. So this, you mentioned earlier that the R&D process took a few months, only took you a few months to really nail down the end product. The End prototype that hit that list of criteria for you.
Krista: Yeah, so I spent about three months researching. And then I spent on my husband and made the prototype. So we drew out the designs and then he actually made the prototype in the garage. And then we tested a few different products to absorb moisture, like what was lightly scented? What was absorbed the best? And then my son would use them during practice and after practice in his gear. So that's kind of how we tested it and that was about three to four months. And then in January of 2015 is actually when we went to manufacturing. So I found a manufacturing partner, no joke through that six-month process. I literally must have posted on Facebook a million times and I think people don't do that enough. Like one of the things I think that I did really, really well was I used my friend group that's on Facebook. I mean, what's the point of having 1000 friends if you're not going to use their resources? And I was like, Hey, does anyone know anyone who does this? Does anyone have any connections with anyone who does this? I'm trying to invent a product. Has anyone ever done that before? And I would have friends of friends of friends. Like, I would get a friend who would comment and say, "Hey, yes, my friend does this". "Let me you want to reach out to them". And I'd be like, absolutely, please. And then they would connect me.
Krista: So I used my network of current friends that I've known for years, via Facebook to actually get to the manufacturing process, I would not have been able to do it. If I did not do that. You can read all you want on the internet and that is your network of people. So I feel like for me, that was essential to how fast I was able to do it. I mentor people all the time, I'll be honest and they'll tell me, " I've been working on this idea for five years". And I'm like, Okay, well, are you ever going to do it? Because if you wait too long at some point you just talk yourself out of there are a million reasons why not to do something.
Krista: I do think people who do this have to be a little bit crazy. Because it's kind of insane to think I'm at 41 years old, I've never done any of this before. But now I'm going to invent and all the sense sell a product. But if my fear, I was not afraid that I was going to fail. I was afraid that I was going to have this awesome idea and never do anything with it.
Felix: Right. So I think that that makes sense about how you want to really speed up you're efforts because you wait too long you give your brain enough time to rationalize why this is a crazy endeavor. And you really use your network because you want to share data, you want to share and put yourself out there and like say-
Felix: You need all these things I think a lot of entrepreneurs that might take a lot of time is because they take the approach of kind of hiding in the lab and the working but I says, I think a part of it is something you alluded to, which is about this fear of failing, and not just failing but failing publicly. Because you're going to go out there and saying, "I'm trying to put this product to try and start this business, I have this idea that I'm trying to pursue." And all of a sudden you don't ... You're not even able to accomplish it. People might be like, hey, what is that thing that you were talking about six months ago, but you never had the fear or did you have it but you're able to somehow work through it?
Krista: To be honest, I never had that fear. I absolutely, I never had the fear that whether I was going to do it or not that people are going to judge me for that. Like I literally didn't. It's kind of like every time I look at it like this when I'm going on a diet, I tell people I'm going on a diet so I can be held accountable. It doesn't mean that if my goal is to lose 20 pounds and I only lost 15 and then gain back five, that I'm a big loser. I don't look at life like that. I want the accountability to keep me to my goals knowing that people lose weight and gain weight.
Krista: And I kind of looked at it like this, like that. It was like, Okay, here I am world can you help me get there? And I think that's a mistake a lot of people make is they try to keep it to themselves. And I also did so much research on the path and process and how hard it is to get a patent. And I read so many patents. And I think so many people are afraid to share what their product is because they think someone's going to steal the idea.
Krista: And when I realized how hard it was to actually go through the manufacturing process. I was like the odds of people stealing idea before it's even born and is even prove in that it can sell or literally slim to none. They only steal the ideas after you've proven you have a market and it can sell and you're making money then they go, I can steal your idea. But in the beginning, very few people would actually do that. So I was not afraid of that either.
Felix: Right. That makes sense. So we talked earlier about how you're solving this problem for yourself, how did ... When did you realize that there was a business behind winning that kind of switch gears in your head from trying to solve this herself to let me see if I can invent a product and then turn it into a business?
Krista: So I knew if I was going to invent a product one thing about me I'm actually ... I'm a pretty big ... I'm a risk-taker I would say socially but absolutely not financially. So it is not something I do not like to spend money, I'm not a shopper, I'm totally a saver. And so that was the hardest part for me is when I realized, okay, this is going to cost me money. How much money am I willing to lose? And my husband and I sat down and we were just kind of like, all right, we need to go in, I need to go into this thing is really cool. It's an idea I'm ... I feel like I'm completely nuts for doing this.
Krista: But we really think we should do it. So how much are we willing to lose? So that's kind of how he went into it. I know that sounds absolutely crazy but for me, it wasn't like, I can make this a million-dollar business or I can be Uber successful. It was just like, I have this really cool idea. I need to be able to sell 1500 units in order to make my money back. So how many should I order and that's how I figured out how many to order is what I needed to sell in order to make my money back on the initial investment that we were making, between the mold and the prototype and all that. So it was 1500 units and that's what I ordered to see how it go.
Felix: Have you asked an important question to ask yourself, how much are you willing to lose because you are going to need to invest something upfront if you want to build an actual business that can scale that you can work manufacturers. And I think this is going to be a deeply personal answer. But how do you know if you're being realistic or not with the number that you have in your head?
Krista: I definitely think it's very personal. I think it's everybody has different financial situations. My husband and I both had good jobs at the time. It's not like we had a lot of money, but we didn't live paycheck to paycheck, we were able to save a little bit, but we had a huge expenses coming up. We had just paid off for our daughter's education. And our son was about to go to college. So for us, we felt very fortunate that we had some money saved for his college and we had some money set aside and we decided that's what we're willing to lose because not everybody pays for their kids colleges, today's world. It's very expensive to do and not everybody can afford to do it.
Krista: And we were blessed we felt like we were blessed. We were able to pay for our daughters and then was our sons turn and we were like, you know what? Let's take this money and let's go for it. And if we get back great, if we make more great, but at least I could say, I tried it. It was just, I obsessed for such a long time doing research. It was kind of like, I spent so much time doing it. I had to do it. I worked really hard. I've always had a job and really good jobs. And so I felt like we would still be above water if I lost that amount. Does that make sense?
Felix: It does.
Krista: And I think that's different for everybody. So I wasn't quitting my other job and doing this. I still had my other job so I was still able to pay my bills. My husband had his job. So it's not like I was quitting everything, leaving everything and then starting new I was actually taking savings to do it.
Felix: Right. So let's talk about that, what did you find that are the benefits of taking this safer path, you hear the typical entrepreneurship advice about quitting your job and just going full into it even if you don't have everything planned out but you took a much more I think, a safer approach than what you would typically hear keeping your day job and working on this thing basically on the side. What kind of benefits that you find came out of the safer approach that you took?
Krista: Obviously, I think it helped a little bit with my sanity as far as the first six or eight months there's a lot more money that went into starting GloveStix than I ever even dream. So we took the initial investment to make the product but then you need the investment of the marketing and then you got to have a website and then you have to do this and everything costs money, right? So one of the things that I didn't plan on is all the marketing money that it would cost to get my product out there in the world.
Krista: And because we did not have the money saved for that part of it, that was definitely a shocking revelation when we first realized we okay, great. All of our friends shared, everybody shared, we had several hundred sold when they first came out but then what? So we relied on hard work. And I think that hard work if you can work hard we have no problem with that. So it's truly a family business. And what I mean is we had it delivered to we save money on every avenue. Everything you can think of I learned and had taught to do so I did my own accounting, which by the way accounting is not math.
Krista: So I thought I'm good at math, I can do it. Well, that was a real challenge. So that was the first person I hired when my business start growing was a bookkeeper. Because I could not stand it, but I did it anyway I taught myself how to do it. I taught myself how to manage my website, I had a friend put my website together. And then like, taught her... No, she taught me and then I taught myself how to keep going with the website and how to fix things on it and how to change the pictures. And same with the Facebook I taught myself how to do Facebook marketing, I taught myself how to put the products on Amazon.
Krista: So I just would watch blogs like listen to blogs like this. I would listen to podcasts, I do my research on the internet. And I fill myself with knowledge so that I wasn't costing the company any more money by keep hiring these people. And I think that was really important for me because I wanted to know how to do everything I could, so I did everything on my own. Everything I could so that I didn't have to pay anyone a salary.
Felix: You saw that you guys are going to deeper territory past how much you're willing to lose. It sounds like you guys didn't account for like you mentioned that the marketing all of a sudden how, you asked yourself how do we even sell to those people that don't know who we are? Like outside of our friends and family. So at that point how did you guys rationalize like, maybe we can extend this a little bit further and take a little bit bigger risk? Did you had to make ... Did you have to have that kind of conversation?
Krista: Definitely, I mean, I felt it. So what I always looked at it this way, what is the definition of insanity? It's doing the same thing over and over again, with expecting different results. So I felt what we had done in the beginning as we tried to do as much on social media as I could, but then we would work on the weekend. So we go to all kinds of sporting events. So during the week we worked our other jobs then on the weekend, we'd pack up and we drive to a lacrosse tournament or a hockey tournament or somewhere. We drove up to 18 hours when each way one weekend to reach a different market for hockey.
Krista: So these were the things that we did that sometimes we would make money. Sometimes we wouldn't, but we didn't look at it like, how much money did we make this weekend? Because our other jobs paid a lot more than GloveStix did. We looked at it like, how many people did we get to share our product with this weekend? And then we would notice, so we would sell a bunch of stix set at an event. And then we noticed that whole following week, we'd sell more and more and more, we'd start to get customer testimonials, reviews, emails to the site that I could then share it via social media. And then I made a customer testimonial book, and I go to more events and more events and that got exhausting after about eight months.
Krista: So, of course, that insanity kicks in again, because it's not all ... It's not all about easy. It's not like we went to all these events and we were like, yeah, we're rolling in the dough. No, we were just thinking even, we were just trying to deliver our message about our products. So it was a lot, a lot of hard work. Several times we got rained out of events, we actually drove through a blizzard. One event got canceled because the blizzard, like so many things, happen in the beginning. And that's when I was like, Okay, I need to do something different. And I need to think out of the box. So that's when I applied for the Today Show's Next Big Thing.
Felix: Got it. So I want to touch that in a second. So I want to understand more about when you were in the middle of all of this. Were you thinking to yourself like this is going slower taking longer than I expected or did you feel like it was moving faster than you expected?
Krista: I felt like there was so much excitement and joy when the product first came out. Like I was so proud of myself. I know that's sound silly but I actually like had a product for sale in my hand and I was like, my gosh I invented something, are you kidding me? So I was so proud of myself and so was everyone in my community, so it was everyone in my friends, all my Facebook friends they would share for me and so the initial sales were awesome. But a month later you can't rely on friends and family after that, right? They did their part in the beginning. So I think for me it was like that was the only option was to go out and work hard and find other ways to share the product.
Felix: So I think a lot of people that come on this show are either single, no family, you and you have a family when you're starting this thing out. You had young ... It wasn't like you had a young kid you had kids that were had expenses right. They were going doing sports, they went to college. They were more grown-up kids. What kind of ... I think we understanding the club had challenges with this what are some of the more surprising challenges that came along with starting a business with a little bit older kids?
Krista: Honestly how much my kids and other friends helped me for free. I will never remember, I will never forget these things that my kids, my husband, my friends, and my kids' friends, how they helped in the beginning. They would lift boxes, I get shipments, they'd help me pack up orders, they were just so curious about what I was doing. And it was like this really cool thing. My kids were so proud of their family business and they would come to events, and they would work with us and I couldn't pay them. They knew they work for free. That's what family businesses do. I wasn't getting a paycheck. My husband wasn't getting a paycheck and either when my kids and I think the most wonderful thing that I have learned was how people really rally around you when you do something like this.
Krista: When you go out on a limb and you risk people will support you and people will go help you. But the most important people were my kids. And they realize the value of hard work at a very young age because they worked for many years, still to this day I actually, I don't pay them. They work for many years for free. So I think it was like, No, you have food on the table. I drive you to wherever you're allowed to do your sports. You can spend a few hours on a Saturday and work this event.
Krista: But not only that, they helped me with the technology part of it. They helped me with the social media part of it. They helped me with learning how to run a credit card scanner. They helped me with the customer email lists and things like that maybe I wasn't so great at. And I think they learned, and they grew and they matured by also watching what I was doing and they learned that they are so much more capable than they ever thought they were. Because they watch me doing things that I never thought I was capable of.
Felix: Right. I think that's an important lesson about how you've been able to integrate your family into your basically your home life into your business and getting your family involved rather than trying to keep it to separate. And it seems like kind of a theme that you have going in your life about getting your net worth, whether that means you'll meet a family or children or your friends and your professional network to be involved in this kind of endeavor, that you're starting getting them excited about being part of it.
Felix: I think that's an important almost like a hack right to get towards success faster, getting more and more people involved. So when you are going to these sporting events initially early on to promote and sell the products. What were you doing so you shop to like a few hot across event, you said some hockey events or hockey sports, sort of sporting events. You guys appointed parking lot. And what were you doing? What was the goal?
Krista: So I grew up in the sales and customer service industry. So that is what I love to do. I love people. I'm not really good behind a computer all day. That's not really my gift. I love to talk to people, meet people, and I sell by just making you my friend. That's what I enjoy doing. So there's no pressure. It's just like, let me explain the product. If you like it great, if not here's my website buy it later. So when kids play a travel sport, they'll be hundreds of teams. Each team has about 25 kids, and they go to this tournament where they're playing ... The kids are playing three or four games on a Saturday, three or four games on a Sunday.
Krista: And hockey works the same way soccer, baseball, every sport has certain tournaments that they do and the kids all the parents go and the siblings a lot of times and you literally go and set up a tent, their food and stuff like that for each team that there are team parents that set it all up. And the kids are stuck there most of the day waiting for their next game. So there's always like a vendor area. So I actually just ... We just became vendors. And what we used to do we used to attend and relax and like walk through the vendor area to see what was for sale or what people had.
Krista: And instead, I was like, Well, I know that I can just become a vendor and that's how I can get my product out. So I would start contacting, I started by contacting all the events that my son's lacrosse team was playing in that next summer. So I was like, we're going to this event, that event, that lacrosse event. Let me contact the tournament managers and see how much it is to vend? What do I need to do? And so that's how it started.
Krista: So I ended up going to every event that I would go to with my son that he would normally just playing. I ended up working those events and then I bring my other kids to watch the tent for me while we ... My husband and I could go watch our son play. And then we come back to the tent. So we go to the vendor area we got a tent, a table. Now with the stuff, I created on Vistaprint, and I have pictures of it, and I laugh hysterically because it's so bad. Now we have professional signs made but again, when we first started we didn't have money.
Krista: So we created stuff on this to Vistaprint like one little sign and little postcards. We created everything ourselves. So the graphics weren't great. It wasn't perfect but we did it. And we showed up and we were able to demo the product and put the product for sale to all the people that walk through the vendor village. And we just go to more and more events.
Felix: So the way that you mentioned that it wasn't perfect like the branding, the images wasn't perfect but you guys did anyway. Did you know that at the time that it wasn't perfect. And I guess we'll start there. Did you know that at the time that it wasn't perfect or we're just looking back on that you recognize that?
Krista: To be honest, I knew, I mean, looking back I definitely look back and I laugh I can't believe I went to events like that. But back then no, I knew it wasn't perfect but I didn't realize how bad it was in comparison to what I have now. But I knew it wasn't perfect because I couldn't pay a graphic designer at the time to design these for me. So I had to do it myself. And I've never taken a graphic design class or a marketing class. So I've no clue what I'm doing. And I just went on Vistaprint and tried to buy the cheapest ones possible.
Felix: And the reason why I ask is that I think a lot of people will see ... What will account you the same situation as you and see okay, this is not perfect. Let me just skip this weekend go to next week's events or go next month's event after spend some more time perfecting this. But you guys move forward anyway and kind of move forward with imperfect action-
Krista: What we did a lot. Felix you know we'd love we laugh at ourselves. Like, we would literally laugh at ourselves be like we'd sometimes we'd show up and we'd forget certain things and instead of like freaking out and stressing, we would just be like, you know what we got to wing it. Let's wing it. We got to wing it. This is we're here we got to make the best of it. And I think we didn't have any of that like, my gosh, my weekends ruin. The only time it was ruined. It was like it was canceled for rain or whatever, then that was disappointing because you pay for the hotels, you pay for the event to go there and then you can't sell any product so you lose money. So that was really hard to overcome.
Krista: But as far as overcoming our mistakes, we looked at it as a learning process, like, Okay, well next time we should make a list. I remember the first event we did, we didn't bring change. We didn't realize people actually paid in cash. So we didn't even have changed like dollar bills, and people would be like, and I'd be like, sorry I don't have to change. And so we literally one of us had to go run to the bank that morning and go in and get change, right during the event. So the next time we knew guess what, we better bring cash for change. I think it's little things like that, that you can ... You just learn as you go, it's never going to be perfect. You're always going to make mistakes.
Felix: I think nearly all mistakes that entrepreneurs encounter are almost all of them are recoverable and or are not nearly as big as it's put into your head or you that you can grow it into your head. I think that's usually what there's almost a fatal blow where they see a mistake. And instead of using as a learning opportunity, as you said for things they should do next time they think, this is it I'm a failure I'm going to just quit and kind of quit on themselves rather than letting the market essentially, cause them to fail. Which is usually much, much, much later.
Felix: You don't encounter those kinds of mistakes that in your business, like ever raise more of these things that you run into yourself, and you give up on yourself a lot. So I think that's important and why I wanted you to talk about it because I think that if you are always trying to be perfect and are expecting perfect results. I think that kind of expectation is what burns to allow and get them to give up sooner. So I'm glad they spoke about that. So we'll talk about that but the market because you've mentioned that, originally, you believe that it was lacrosse because I believe that it was this the sport that your kids played. How long before you expand it beyond lacrosse, because you mentioned that you recognize that there were other sports that this makes sense is how quickly were you able to see that?
Krista: Pretty quick and that was due to mostly customer feedback. So as the product was coming out as I started my social media pages and things like that. So I initially had GloveStix. So that's what they were called because they were for Athletic Clubs and real quickly like my daughter was dating a guy used to be soccer goalie and he was like, my god soccer goalie gloves stink too. And I was like, my neighbor's a soccer goalie.
Krista: So then we would borrow that, I borrowed my neighbor's son's soccer goalie gloves to see if they worked on those. And then I had ... My son had friends who played hockey and we kind of grew in the glove market that way, but it wasn't until the products actually came out, that I realized there was a huge market for shoes because customers were buying them going, do they work in shoes? And I would say to be honest with you, "I have no clue, I never tested them in shoes".
Krista: I had absolutely no clue, but people bought them and they would say or they bought them for their like lacrosse gloves or hockey gloves, or soccer goalie gloves and then they would email me or call me and say, "guess what, Krista they work amazing in the shoes". So it was my actual customers that were saying, I tried them on my son's helmet or arm pads or knee pads, the cleats, the this that was that used product that were telling me that they worked in so many other things. So it wasn't until a year and a half later that I came out with my second product so that I needed it worked and it works in everything but the GloveStix are still my flagship product.
Krista: Then there's StankStix, which is for everything else and they have a removable handle because there were customers who were using them in boots, like ski boots or riding boots or even Ugg boots. And they would say they'd have they cut the handles so instead of having customers cut a handle off, I actually made my second product with a removable handle. So they still will keep you can use them with the handle on or the handle off and they work the same exact way.
Felix: Yeah, I love how much you're ready to adapt to what your customers are telling you. Because I think the other potential approach to people coming up to you and telling you, "hey, I want to use this for goalie gloves". You might be like, "no, that's not what it's for". And then kind of just try to almost force the product into a market. But you were constantly into customer feedback and more like going with the flow with what they were saying. How do you ... I guess how do you remain receptive to this.
Krista: Real quick about that. Because I think this is really important is I would meet these customers ... These are customers, a lot of them strangers. And they'd asked me does it work in this? And I'd be like, to be honest with you I'm brand new, I have no idea. But if they bought them, I would say, "look if they don't work you can try them, If they don't work I will happily give you your money back". So I think that that quote is my customer service side of me. So my customer services side which I've done my entire life. So I've been in sales, I did sales training, so I'm used to speaking in front of people. And I also did customer service for many years. I was a manager, so I'm used to working with different personalities.
Krista: All those skills really came into play when starting this business, and you're working events and you're talking to customers because they knew I was genuine right away. They knew I was genuine because I would say, "I don't know". I never made up an answer, I never said I did something I didn't do, I never oversold. I didn't have to because I knew that they worked for what I intended them for. And then it was up to the customer then to report back to me. So I'd say, "just please do me a favor, I'm a new business, I'm a small business, we don't know what we're doing we're trying to grow". "So all I ask is if they work you let me know or you leave me a review or you email me, but if they don't work, to your satisfaction to what you're trying to them in, I will happily refund your money".
Felix: I think this is a really important distinction because I think that when anyone is starting out, they might also have the inclination to say, yes to everything. If someone has a particular problem that their product might be able to solve, they oversell like you're saying is to say, yes to everything.
Felix: But you are setting up in a way where you open the door for this kind of dialogue for feedback. Because a lot of times you might just say, yes to a particular problem that your product might solve. And then it might not be exactly what they were looking for. But then they may never tell you because you can't close the door on getting that feedback because you are so direct and said yes, of course, it works and then never begin that kind of conversation with the customers. I think there's a really important nuance to the way that you are saying, yes. You're saying yes, I believe a show work where you kind of remove all the risk from them trying out but your main goal is not to get the sale. Your main goal is to get feedback back from the customer.
Krista: Absolutely, and I asked for it. And so I think that's why I got so much feedback and because I asked the customer. I explained to them we are new, we are trying to grow. And what was amazing is when you explain people this story, or your story, or this family business and they see my kids helping at the tent in the tournaments or whatever, and my husband. They see this and they go you know what? These are real people, are normal people, how cool all that they're doing does work as intended or whatever I will take the time to email them, I will take the time to report back to them and give them my feedback. Because and I use that customer feedback to then create my next product.
Felix: That's awesome.
Krista: And not only did I want it, but I actually used their feedback to grow my business to the next level.
Felix: Right. You're not just kind of asking for it empty where you're actually are trying to use it to influence the direction of your product. And speaking of that when you do get this kind of feedback and you find new problems that your product can solve or you release new products solve similar problems. How do you change the way you talk about your product especially early on when you thought that your market was lacrosse and all of a sudden was all these other sports? Did you have to quickly change the way that ... I'm sure you did. But like, what did you change about how you spoke about your product?
Krista: I just would like the things that it worked in, I would just add so for example, our displays at when we'd work events or displays which show mostly like gloves, lacrosse gloves, hockey gloves. So then I add shoes, or boots, or Ugg boots or ice skates if I had enough customers telling me how well they worked in their ice skates. So then I'd add all these things to my display area and put pictures on social media as well of them working in these other things. For example, I have tons of arm pad, knee pads. Like I didn't even know there was a whole market in volleyball and I have so many volleyball knee pad customers like that they just put these stix in when they get off the court and put them in the bag.
Krista: And so I would just ask customers, will you please send me a picture of your knee pads with the glove sticks in it? I'm not kidding you. I asked customers and friends who were using them in different things or if I get a testimonial, or a reply or review from a customer that said something that maybe I not seen before like, for example, volleyball knee pads. I would email that customer and say, "thank you so much this is amazing, would you mind taking a picture?" And I would tell you 90% of the time they responded, Yes. And sent me pictures.
Felix: So the transition between you mentioned that you went to all these different events. But then there's a certain point where I think it'd be much more scalable if you started the approach of PR. Tell us about this. What were the very first things that you've tried to do to get PR for the business?
Krista: To be honest when I first started I wasn't even thinking about PR. I was just thinking about boots on the ground, hard work every weekend, go to events and deliver my message. Share my products with people and they will grow by word of mouth. But that got exhausting working two jobs, working I do nights on, I GloveStix and weekends and then my other job during the day and it just really got exhausting. I'd 14 year old, a 17 year old and a 23 year old and who was home from she graduated to college but came home that year and it literally I was like, I was like this is much harder. Then I thought it would ever be possible.
Krista: So again I was like, I need to change it up. And I think I learned about my personality. I've learned a lot about myself in the last four years, I'll tell you that. But one of the things I really learned about my personality, I constantly have to be striving to the next goal or to the next thing. So eight months in I felt that insanity thing happening again. And I was like, I feel like I'm doing the same thing over and over again expecting to make a profit. And yet I'm just still breaking even. And not getting paid and I'm working harder than I've ever worked my entire life, my husband, as well because he joined me.
Krista: So that's why I was like, let me think outside the box, let me do something different. And one of my friends had texted me and said, "Hey, Krista do you know there's this thing called the Today Show's Next Big Thing and they're taking applications". And I was like, please honey, I was like, please there's no way that my product would be selected. That initially I was like there is not a chance, there is no way I'm going to pitch this product on the Today Show I'd never been on TV before I had no clue even how to do an elevator pitch or anything like that and I was like no way.
Krista: So it was about like, every single night I'm telling you I started Googling it, I look it up, I read on the website and every day all day. It just there was like a little birdie in my head. Which was like just apply, apply, apply it like I couldn't get it out. With when I was trying to go for GloveStix, when I was ... When the same feeling it was like, do it, do it, do it. Like that urgency or that push inside my head. My little angel was saying do it, do it. It was kind of like those that same feeling. So on the last day of the applications, I filled out my application and I applied. And I remember, maybe three or four weeks later getting a call. I was bringing the groceries in, and I get a call from the QVC rep and I was like What? what?
Krista: Like I hadn't even told my family or anything. So I made it through the process. It was probably about six weeks later, I went to the Today Show pitch live. So it was a contest. There were nine of us that made it to the actual Today Show to pitch. I pitch live, I made it to the finals on the last day there were three of us and then I got picked the winner. So America voted me to the finals. And then the Today Show and QVC reps voted me the winner. What that got me was a trip to QVC the next day. So QVC put a big purchase order in and I was able to sell live on the Saturday morning queue on QVC and I sold out in seven and a half minutes.
Felix: This all happen with it like 48 hours.
Krista: No, so yeah. So Thursday was my pitch day, Friday was the finals, Saturday I went to QVC.
Felix: Yeah. So obviously the Today Show you mentioned that here the yet several appearances on QVC other new shows and of course you talk a bit about Shark Tank. What do you think makes your story or makes your business attractive to these large platforms?
Krista: I think it's really cool when someone actually has an idea and invents a product that did not exist in the world. And I think having my story as a mom solving a problem is very relatable to a lot of people because there are tons of moms who have tons of ideas and nobody ever does anything with it because of their fear. So my story of fighting my fear and kind of going for it despite the fact that you had no clue what I was doing, and I had zero training. I think that's what makes my story so appealing. And once I realized that I was good at these, like pitch contests or whatever, and I went to QVC and sold out and then QVC bought ... Invited me back several times, I was just on last month again.
Krista: And like once that started happening, it was this adrenaline rush that I'd never felt before. And it was like the coolest thing ever and it was like you're so scared out of your mind scared like, me shaking want to throw up armpits sweating, freaking out and then you nail something. And it's this glorious feeling like I'd never felt before. So then I realized that I was really enjoying that. Like, I enjoy that thrill. And that scared part of like, challenging myself to something new. So that's how the whole PR thing started. So after the Today Show in QVC, I that feeling of needing something new and pushing myself to the next level is what kept me to applying for certain awards.
Krista: Like, why I would even apply for to win an Entrepreneur Award for Sam's Club, like I won one of their awards for Entrepreneur of the Year for my business of GloveStix, which it's a nationally recognized Sam's Club and score why I would even think in a million years I deserve that is crazy, but that wasn't the point. It was the challenge of getting it that I was really starting to enjoy, the challenge of going after it. And the challenge I would get from like, and the spike in sales that I recognize that was getting from this free PR. So I would say the first few years I spent zero money on advertising.
Felix: So this QVC pitch I think you might have been one of the first ones on the show that has had this opportunity to get going QVC, you said you mentioned you've done it several times already. Now I want to talk about the first time because you basically have like 24 hours to prepare a pitch on TV that which was so successful that you sold out in seven minutes. So what did you do when you found out that you're going to be going on QVC to do a pitch and this essentially be very life changing for you and the business?
Krista: Yes, and it definitely was and I think the today ... So what happened was when I won the Today Show on that Friday. My husband was with me, they actually with this off to the out the back entrance of this Today Show into a car and they drove us to QVC so it was a few hour drive. We went right to key QVC or we went right to a hotel they checked us in and this was the QVC people and then they took me to QVC, I got a tour of QVC so there's like a video live Facebook video with we're Jill Martin, who is ... Has her own brand on QVC and she's also on the Today Show. So she was like touring me, like touring me through the QVC building Jill Martin who's ... Has a lot of followers and a lot of social media and she's on the Today Show like three times a week and I was like, this is insane.
Krista: Like literally I just kept saying to myself, this is insane. It was actually insane. And so there really was no time necessary to get my pitch down I guess. But what they did was they put me through training. So once all the cameras were off, I sat down with QVC with their reps and their sales people and they kind of put me through a mini few hour training. Now mind you, I was coming off of three days of no sleep. So it's not like you sleep when you're about to pitch live on the Today Show, right? You don't you don't sleep. So I was coming off of like three days before that with no sleep. And then I was sitting listening to this training. And I remember absorbing, like none of it. And it was for about three hours. And I was like, I'm just going to do the best I can.
Krista: And I think that's my faith that comes through, like my trust in myself to know that if I myself, people are going to like me, if I pretend to be somebody else, the camera is going to see it and the people on the other side of the camera are going to see it. So if I'm myself and I don't really need training, I just need to be myself. Like, what do I do when I'm selling at an event? I had been selling it at events for eight months before I just did the same pitch I would do then, I didn't do anything special or different. I just was myself and I think that's why people liked it. And I think that's why people enjoyed my Pitch even from the Today Show to key QVC.
Krista: It was a lot harder though QVC is a lot harder than people think it is. That was much harder than the Today Show. Because I have like eight total add issues. And so you have an earpiece in your ear, you have to look at a camera, you have an earpiece with the producer in your ears telling you, "repeat that or say that again". And then you're talking to the host, who's also having a conversation with you that you have to answer questions. And then every time I look, there's a different camera with a red light that I have to look at. So I literally-
Felix: Massive coordination-
Krista: Got used. Yeah, that was so hard. But again, I just tried to be myself and I was just like, I mean, I'm pretty sure I said like, this is amazing, this is so overwhelming. I have no idea what I'm doing. I pretty much said that like 800 times on national television.
Felix: I think what you're saying is like, it's a lot harder to try to be someone else. That's kind of obvious. But you're saying that if you just kind of go on autopilot and kind of be yourself, you get to go on autopilot and you don't have to like filter think about how you should say things. And that definitely removes a lot of stress from because you feel confident in just putting yourself out there. Like this is me, this is who I am, like it or not, just kind of go with that approach. I think that by doing that you don't have to think about, am I being consistent in my messaging? You don't have all these kind of marketing terms as much by just be just focused on being yourself.
Krista: And I think that is extremely important especially if you are trying to get PR on a national level. I think it's really important because so many people go and try to act like something that they're not and the people on the other end of the TV or the newspaper or even behind the scenes at QVC. All those people were like rooting for me and wanting the best for me because I was totally like giggling in myself and I'd make a mistake. And I'd be like, Well, good thing. Nobody knows, nobody's been on QVC before. They don't know about my mistakes. And I think that's really important to remember. I remember that from like team building and train, sales training that I did before.
Krista: And one of the things I taught myself was if I say something, or if I don't say something that I was supposed to say, or if I forgot to say something, the people that are in the room are not going to know. So don't stress about it. Just keep going. It's and I think that's the one approach that I tried to say like if I forget to say something I shouldn't have said, it's not the end of the world because the other people on the other end listening don't know that you were supposed to say that. Only you know.
Felix: Right. You're the only one that has like the behind the scenes access like no one else's peeking behind. You're in your brain.
Krista: That's right.
Felix: Hearing the inner dialogue that makes a lot of sense. So let's talk about the biggest I think I would argue the platform that you've been on which is Shark Tank. How did this happen? How did you get on Shark Tank?
Krista: Shark Tank was like no way never, never, I'm never doing Shark Tank. That's insane. They're going to pick me apart, I'm not a business person, I'm literally like, just winging it having a great time. And it was kind of one of those things where I felt I was starting to get into slump again and I was starting to not feel necessarily challenged. And it was one of those things where I was like, this is the big time like, everything I thought I had done was every time I would try something new or go out for an award or try a TV thing or go back to QVC I was filled with this joy and excitement and I leave on a high and that would get me through the hardest days.
Krista: Because I would look back and go wow, like I did some really cool stuff. So when I struggle with something, those highs I had would get me through those lows. And so again, I was starting to like a downward cycle. We're spending a lot more time in my office, I'm a people person. So I spent a lot less time in my other job doing sales training, more time doing GloveStix and more time in my office. And I just felt like it was finally time to I was needing something else to try for, even though it was a long shot. But the kicker the thing that did it for me was I everybody I met everywhere always asked me, when are you going on Shark Tank? And my answer was always like, never. I'm never doing that. I never would don't want that pressure, I can't do that, I can't do that.
Krista: And once I had said it so many times and I realized that for the last two and a half years, I literally overcame every fear that I had. Why can't I overcome this? I actually just googled it. So I got invited back to the Today Show. So they invited me back to do like a follow-up. So I was born in New York City. And I just kind of was like, I wonder when the open casting call is for Shark Tank, I'm just curious. So I went on the website and the day after I was going to be in New York City for the Today show. That morning, three blocks away was the open casting call for Shark Tank.
Felix: So when you got on the show, what did you come into Shark Tank asking for and what did you leave with?
Krista: So Shark Tank has several months process to actually go to LA to film and I really wanted something realistic, but I also wanted something I couldn't negotiate with. So I went in asking for 10, 150,000 for 10%. And I knew I would go to 15% for 150,000 without asking my husband. So I left like a 5% leeway. I knew I didn't want to give away too much, because I felt like this is my business. I worked my butt off. I'm not just going to give it away, but I also knew I had to be realistic about what my company was worth. So I went in a little higher but not too much knowing that they would negotiate with me. And we ended up doing 17% for 150,000 but I got two sharks. I made a deal on Shark Tank with Lori Greiner and Alex Rodriguez.
Felix: That's awesome. So it I guess what is life like after making it on the Show like Shark Tank? What were the results of that kind of peers? How did it change your business?
Krista: I have to say that Shark Tank was probably ... Has to be hands down the hardest thing I've ever done, just preparing for Shark Tank. Just going through the process, the adrenaline, the afterwards, you're dealing with highs and lows like, did I say something wrong. Will I get aired because you don't know if you're going to air like that It's kind of like a six to nine months emotional roller coaster that is completely overwhelming outside of yourself. Like insane. And I look back at that experience and when I finally did get aired on Shark Tank, I did in two months after Shark Tank. I did more business than I did the entire year before and that included the Today Show in QVC sell out. So think about that-
Felix: It was huge platform.
Krista: It was a huge, it was a huge bump in my business. I had a great edit and so I'm very appreciative to Shark Tank for that. So even though for out so the way it works is right, so you make a deal on the show, and then you go through the due diligence. So even though most companies don't close or a lot don't close and I didn't end up closing mine. The bump for my business and the hundreds and hundreds of people that emailed me in support of my story, and my business was probably the most incredible moments of my life that lasted forever. It's like winning the World Cup every day for months and months and months. That's that feeling. It's something you can't trade it you just can't.
Krista: There's no money amount of money that can give you that, for me. It wasn't about the sales it was about the hundreds of people strangers that would email me because they watch my episode. And that who said I touched them or inspired them, or who just wanted to wish me good luck. And it was complete strangers. And I go back to those emails sometime when I'm dealing with some issues now, I'll go back I have a whole folder of emails. I'll go back and read some of them just to remember that feeling that I had, and that I'm on the right path and what I'm doing is bigger than me. And so that is my mission, that is my goal. It has nothing to do with how much money I make, although we've done a few million in sales now. That has never been my goal, has never been my mission.
Krista: I don't do monthly forecasts, I don't do yearly forecasts. I know I'm against the grain. But what I do is how ... What is my passion? Am I getting closer? Am I a good person? Am I doing the right things? Am I afford to give back? And the bigger I grow the more I give back. I donate part of my sales to the military, to veterans, to first responder organizations. I do all kinds of different fundraisers and sponsorships and that's how I choose to grow with my business because it really isn't about the money for me. I know that sounds crazy. I mean, I want to make money. It's not fun not making money. But I also want to be an inspiration and I want to do good things with what I've been given. And I'm just very appreciative of all the support that I've had.
Felix: Awesome. So GloveStix.com, G-L-O-V-E-S-T-I-X.com. I leave this last question. What do you think needs to happen for you this year, for you to consider the year a success?
Krista: Okay, so I actually just got one through one of my hardest storms or that I've been through and it's July. So I sold out, I change manufacturers, I have manufacturing issues, they showed up wrong. I do recall a bunch of products. I just went through, what I've been through at the beginning of 2019 was so mentally challenging and frustrating, even though I thought I was already through like the hard part. I realized that it doesn't stop getting harder, you just keep getting stronger. And I made it through what I've been through the first few months of 2019.
Krista: And it was really, really, really tough making it through it and I still have a profitable business. And I'm still inspiring people, and I'm still selling. And for that reason, I think my year is already a success. Maybe it's not what other people would consider their success but I still drive the same car I drove seven years ago. Even though I've had the financial success that's not what's important. It's more like me challenging myself and I've really challenged myself this year, I really went through some hard things. And I realized I'm so much stronger than I was four years ago when I started this and that's a success.
Felix: Awesome. So such an amazing inspiring story. You have such a hunger for the challenges which I think is as amazing and a great message put out there for entrepreneurs. So thank you again, so much for coming on and sharing your story and your experience, Krista.
Krista: Thank you, Felix, for having me. I really appreciate it.