EP41 Finding Your Calling and Overcoming Challenges as a FounderCheckable Health
One way to start a successful business is to offer customers a solution to a problem, and today’s guest did just that. With no experience in product management, only a great idea and an entrepreneurial spirit, Anissa Pfeifer invented the Whiskee Straw after yet another instance of spilling her drink when trying to mix it up on the go.
Patty Post of Checkable talks with Anissa about her journey, including the struggles of starting a business during the height of the pandemic. Ups and downs are expected in entrepreneurship, and she shares her missteps in product development, packaging, and more.
Anissa also divulges her ambivalent relationship with social media, which platform is her favorite, and, of course, her viral reel. Plus, you’ll also hear about her experience with business outreach, imposter syndrome, and growing a business in a small town. If you doubt your own capabilities, tune in for inspiration from someone who knows the hard work it takes to achieve your dream!
Topics discussed in this episode:
- Balancing family and business
- The story of starting Whiskee Straw
- Hurdles creating a business during the pandemic
- Social media and her viral reel
- Imposters and imposter syndrome
- Anissa’s plans for 2023
- Business outreach and growing Whiskee Straw
- Being a role model for her children and community
- Uses for Whiskee Straw
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Find Patty Post:
This episode was Post Produced by Podcast Boutique http://podcastboutique.com
0:00:02.7 S1: Welcome to The Persevere Podcast, powered by Checkable Medical and hosted by Patty Post, a female founder, entrepreneur, wife, and mother of three, doing all of the things. The strength to persevere in business is powered by passion, grit, and hard work. The Persevere Podcast is for entrepreneurs and business leaders who set out to innovate and change the world with their ideas. Whether it's fundraising your startup, product development, marketing, branding, or scaling your existing business, this podcast is for you. We'll discuss everything it takes to persevere and build the business you've always dreamed of. Let's make it happen. Welcome to The Persevere Podcast. We help founders create awesome products and help you not run out of money. Hello, I'm Patty Post, founder and CEO of Checkable Health. And I started this podcast because I was experiencing loneliness and solitude as a solo founder. And I literally had no one to turn to, and I also couldn't find relevant content that founders of high-tech startups really needed, so like the true entrepreneur that I am, I decided to do it myself. And thus was born the Persevere Podcast. So if you're new to this podcast, I love to interview entrepreneurs and hear about their stories of how they build their business. I love to hear how they persevered through those challenging times and the lessons that they learned. If this is the first time that you're listening or if you're a regular guest, I would really appreciate a five-star rating as well as subscribing to this podcast. So with that, I hope you are inspired by the story. It is so nice to meet you. Nice to meet you.
0:01:54.3 S1: Where at, which state are you in? Kansas. Kansas, alright, so you're in the country in Kansas. And are you in agriculture? Or is your family?
0:02:04.0 S2: We have... We're a little bit... We kinda dabble in it. We have family that is involved with agriculture. We have five horses, a handful of cows, so we have stuff on the farm, like cows, chickens, dogs, cats, donkeys, we have a miniature donkey, we’ve got miniature horses, we’ve got a miniature cow, we've got big cows, big horses, we kinda have it all. So that is so fun.
0:02:31.2 S1: How many kids do you have?
0:02:33.5 S2: We have three. Brantley is eight, Oakley, she’ll be seven in March. She's like six, going on 26. And Asher, who is three, and he is a busy, busybody, he is very busy. I don’t get to sit and focus on things much because I am busy chasing him around.
0:02:57.8 S1: Well, that's good. They will be some times…I had two boys like that, and now they are teenagers and they're with me very little because they're with friends and doing life, sports... So enjoy that busyness while you can.
0:03:13.0 S2: Right, yeah, he helps me do a lot of Whiskee Straw stuff, 'cause daycare here in a small town is very, very hard to get, and so here just recently, he had to start staying with me 'cause we had like a part-time daycare, and now he's with me all the time, and it's really, it's fun, but it's hard to find the balance between being able to work and also I need to be responding, I need to be shipping orders. And I'm shipping orders and he is literally tearing everything apart. Because he’s three.
0:03:48.8 S1: I can totally see that. But these types of things for our kids to see this entrepreneurial journey, you're teaching them so many life skills that... I mean, how much of the population has never, can’t even fathom what you're doing.
0:04:05.6 S2: They have to help and learn. Here a while back, I had a Reel go viral, I guess, and we had a bunch of orders come in and it was like, my husband had to take off of work 'cause it's just me. It's just me, and I think when people see stuff on social media, they think like, oh, it's not…like, it's just me, it's me and my kids. Like, it's me and my kids, and our friends when they can... And so they have had to get in on helping fill orders and break down boxes, and I can't say that it's their favorite thing to do, but the pharmacy, the business across the street, they give away ice cream, so that’s a perk. I'm like, you can go get ice cream. And then do they sell Whiskee Straws at the pharmacy? They will start carrying them here pretty soon with the holiday. I've got stuff that I need to set up over there, so I'm pretty excited about that.
0:05:03.0 S1: Sweet. So will that be your first retailer?
0:05:06.4 S2: No, I have a few, there's another one in town, so Hill City, where I live, there's about 2,500 people, I think, that live here. To break it down, we've got one stop light. Nice. Two gas stations, and that’s it. And the Dollar General 'cause that's a staple for small towns.
0:05:30.1 S1: Dollar General, I know, I’m literally looking at it right now. So you mentioned the viral Reel, that's amazing. Everyone wants to figure that out. Like, tell us the story. You have your Whiskee Straw, how’d you even come up with Whiskee Straws, where do you wanna start?
0:05:48.6 S2: We can start with how it came to be. So it was during Covid and we were just down on all of our groceries and just miscellaneous things, I was like, okay, I really have to actually go to Walmart and go get stuff that all of our little stores here in town, they were just out of. And so I think I'll just make a smoothie because it’s just every business is different as far as hours and what not, lobby being open or closed, and I was like, I don't know what I'll get to eat 'cause it's an hour. It's an hour drive there, and then running errands, which seems to take all day, and then an hour drive back. So I made a smoothie and I was like, okay, I'm also like, I'm trying to be health conscious, right? I'm trying to get in... During Covid, everybody had goals for what they were gonna do, and I thought I was gonna take up Spanish, but that didn’t happen. I invented the Whiskee Straw, Spanish went out the window.
0:06:52.8 S1: The Lord thought, I don't need you learning Spanish, I need you doing this... Right.
0:06:57.4 S2: Right, He was like, No, no habla Español. So I made my smoothie, and I had a regular straw with me, head out the door, and as I'm doing…I'm a slow drinker when it comes to smoothies, but I cannot stand when they start to separate. So when you're mixing something that has just so many different pieces, and different pieces in a smoothie, it doesn't always... They tend to separate out, or as the ice begins to melt, it just becomes harder to mix. And so I was running my errands and still trying to mix my drink in between and it just started looking less and less appetizing. So I was like, this isn’t even mixed, this is just kind of swirling it around. I was like, forget it, I'm getting coffee and I'm going home. I'm done with my… I'm done today, I'm done with my errands. And so I go get my favorite caramel macchiato from Starbucks. I'm like, I know everybody's like, you can order a latte, but it’s just not the same. I wanna mix it myself, okay? I want the pretty drink to be given to me, and I wanna mix it myself. And I just wanna see it, I wanna move it.
0:08:12.8 S2: 'Cause I'm very visual, I'm like, I wanna watch it. So they hand me my drink, I am driving, trying to... Or I'm pulling out of the drive and I'm trying to mix it with the plastic... Well, at that time, they had just stopped giving plastic straws. So I tried to mix it, and I just happened to have an extra straw with me, a plastic straw, and so I was like, okay, I'll just put this in there and try to mix it. Well, I could not get it to mix, my lid pops off. I’m driving, my lid pops off, milk and caramel and coffee goodness went all over my car, I was like, I just... My straw to mix my drink, that’s all I want. And in that moment of being like, wow, I have a huge mess right now, and I just want my straw to mix my drink, it just needs a whisk on it. And I was literally in my car, I've never heard of a whisk on a straw, is that a thing? Did I just come up with a thing? I pulled over, cleaned up my mess a little bit, and my mind just started going 100 miles an hour. So I had the whole drive home, I had an hour to just really...
0:09:31.3 S2: I'm just in my head thinking about thinking about this, and I'm like, I can't... Like, I can't wait to tell my husband. And this is so cool. Like what this is, did I just come up with something? I just literally blew my mind 'cause I'm kind of that way already: I have a great idea, I have a great idea. I'm always telling him I have a great idea and he's like, it’s gonna involve me doing something, I know it. Poor guy, he's such a good sport. Yeah, usually my great ideas involve him building something. Yes, that's so great. Or his involvement
0:10:06.7 S1: Couldn’t do it without him, right?
0:10:08.4 S2: Right. And so I get home, my grandma lives pretty close to us, my grandparents, and so we went there for supper, which we typically do a lot throughout the week, and I'm telling them, I'm like, I had the greatest idea. I bottled this up for a few hours, 'cause I wanted to look into it, see if I could find something, make sure it was a thing that wasn’t already out there that I could find, and so I was like bubbling inside. And so we sit down to eat and I turn into my husband and I say, I have the greatest idea. And he was like, Okay, I can’t wait to hear this. He was just like, okay. I'm like a straw with a whisk on it so that you could mix your drink, and he was like, stop. And he's like, that is so cool. And I was like, I know, I literally. And he was like, how’d you come up with that? I was telling him how I spilled my drink in the car, he goes, you always do that. You get a cup or you get a drink and you start swirling it around and every time you seem to make a mess because you're like, you can't...
0:11:24.2 S2: Because every time you do that. I know.
0:11:26.6 S1: I need to get a straw with a whisk on it so I don't do that.
0:11:29.7 S2: Yeah. I'm telling him, I'm like, okay, now I have to figure out... I have to figure out how I'm gonna make it. I gotta figure out the logistics of it, so I grab one of my grandma’s envelopes, an old piece of mail, and I’m sketching on the back side of a mail envelope that she had at the table and he’s just like, I can make that. He's a welder. And so he's like, I can make that for you. And so within 24 hours, I think the very next morning, I went and bought all of the metal straws I could find, I went back to Hays, I went back and drove an hour back to Walmart and bought all of the whisks I could find, all of the straws I could find, and he just started cutting things up and welded it together. It wasn't super pretty, but it was the first prototype and it was perfect. I mean it was great and that's kind of how it came to be. I was like, I literally just wanted my drinks to mix with my straws. Because straws, although they do mix things, certain things, right, but not everything, you need more aeration and your drink to be able to move particles, move the things that are in your drink, so that actually breaks down and begins to dissolve or mix into your drinks. Especially things that have different types of...
0:13:00.1 S2: When you have different types of liquids, or even when you have caramel syrup, that doesn't always dissolve, or it doesn't mix well into your drink. So that was one thing that we really had to work on when we were just testing it and seeing what works. But yeah, that's how that was... That's the Whiskee Straw story.
0:13:22.7 S1: That is a great story. I love that he was very excited about it and that I have... I think anyone listening that is a founder-entrepreneur understands that obsession of…and being bottled up. Like, I have something that I wanna release out into the world and you just can't keep it in and then it's you're obsessed, like it’s game on.
0:13:47.8 S2: You just keep pulling the thread, and then when your partner is involved too, it's like you feel like you got a buddy in it, okay, now we can both do this. So your prototype, something that I love about the product is that it does go all the way to the bottom, too, the whisk is at the bottom, so you can get all of the goodness up. So the Whiskee Straw has to be, it's not a... It's all very manual. There's no part of the process that is automated right now, so each one is hand-welded, each whisk has to be welded onto the straw, and it's all very manual labor, and so when he's had to do a lot of trial and error, and it took us a good... I feel like the process of just getting it up and running, this was 2020 when I started it, and it's just now gaining traction. And I've had product for…which there's so many hurdles that you go through, as you know, with any business starting. Any business, but also creating a product during a pandemic, that there's just all these extra hurdles that you're overcoming, and we looked at our initial quote for getting materials or shipping, and everything had just tripled and it was heartbreaking, but also motivating 'cause it was like, wow, okay, this dream of mine, it's like this little idea that I came up with, which overnight just felt like this huge dream...
0:15:36.7 S2: I have a very entrepreneurial spirit, and I'm quick to be like, I'm gonna do it, let’s open that business, let’s start this, or let's do this. And my husband is like pump the brakes; we got three kids, and donkeys and dogs and cats, and chickens at home, horses. How are we gonna manage all this? And I'm like, let's do it. It's fine, we'll figure it out on the way. Lord, guide us. It's one of those things where this... And it was such a new learning experience for me because I had opened a boutique with my sister several years ago, so I'm not new to the struggles of being an entrepreneur and owning your own business. Creating your own product and bringing it to market or bringing it to the public, opened up this whole new world of just like, wow. There's so much upstream, right, from the time that something’s ready to go to market, people don't see all of this side of it, from the manufacturing to the packaging, to the challenges that come with product development. And during that time of 2020 when it was invented, it was, you know, I had kids at home.
0:17:02.2 S2: I had... I was teaching, or trying to teach kindergarten and it was... I have all of these other things, which then birthed something really beautiful out of something that was just so... I'm not using the word unprecedented.; it was just this time that nobody really knew what it looked like, and I was like, okay, we are gonna have to, if this is something that we're gonna do. So that was me, I'm just like... My brain just went from being like, oh my gosh, I just want a straw with a whisk, to being like, I dream this to be huge, like I envision this to be like the straw that ends all straws. It’s the straw that's really gonna do something. And so I just...it was just such a scary thing 'cause it's... We're now down to one income, and he's also self-employed, he's a welder, and it wasn't like that was a super-busy time. And so we're now pouring all of our savings, all of our funds into this new dream and this product, because we both believed in it, obviously, and it just became something that, it just started... And then once it was like, Okay, are we doing this? Yep, we're doing it. And then of course, you hit road block after block after block, and as you learn to overcome all of those hurdles, it seems like there's...
0:18:37.0 S2: At the time, it seems like they're... You're like, How am I gonna go through? How am I gonna do this? Yeah. How am I gonna do this? And then as you look back, they seem so big, but they were just stepping stones, the hurdles actually keep getting bigger as you look on. But you're like, okay, but I overcame each one, I'm just gonna keep overcoming these until I get to the top of the mountain. That's really all you can do if you want it to succeed. You gotta keep persevering. When you're at your lowest point, I think it can feel like, Oh, this is... How am I ever gonna get around this? And then…has there been a time that you've had an epiphany then when you... You figure it out. Like a light bulb, oh, I can do this. It's been funny because I feel like if I didn't have God, I don't know, maybe I'd be sulking somewhere like my dream didn't come true. But it has been one of the most awakening things for me, because from the time I'm starting it to the time of getting our first batch of Whiskee Straws, which were supposed to be like a trial run right before Christmas, we only had a few hundred.
0:20:02.5 S2: And so we get them and I'm like, Okay, I've got a deadline, this is the first big sale I'm going to have right before Christmas. And we had sold out of them, and I realized as I'm making them, or as I'm packaging them, that the whisks were breaking off of the straw if you happened to just hit it just right or if it were to bend just a little bit; it wasn't sturdy enough. And I was like, I cannot send these. I won't send them because they were all like that. But I was like, this is... I can't risk it, I can't risk it because this is the first thing that I'm sending out. And then we literally had to go back to the drawing board as they were starting, and I was like, these are not sturdy enough. These are not sturdy enough, we need to go back and go do something. And I went... Because my husband was like, well, they're just...and he's talking welder to me, and I'm like, what are you saying? What are you saying; just tell me what I need to tell them so that we know how to make And so we ended up having to do a lot more welding along, try to do an all-around weld, which adds time to making it time, and so it was like, okay, well, now that you have this extra...
0:21:23.7 S2: This extra step to making it, here's an extra cost, and it was just like, Oh my goodness, it just seems... And that part can seem just so frustrating 'cause you have to be able to make it at a reasonable price, but it's also something that's very sturdy. The Whiskee Straw is very sturdy, and like I said, it's also very manually made, but people don't... They don't know that. They think that it just gets put on this little belt, like everything else. Somebody's time goes into making each one. But not just that, there's just so many other... That was the first hurdle where I was so excited for everybody to get them right before Christmas, and show their family and my friends, and gift them, and do all of these things, and then I was like, I can't. I felt so defeated at my first go, you know? So it was humbling to also know that that was the first step of many that I would begin to make of just having to go back to the drawing board and know that it's okay if you have to go back to the drawing board. That’s how your products evolve. Honestly, the hardest thing is social media, it just lives in your head. All of these things that you have to do.
0:22:43.8 S2: Yes, there's a business side, on the back side, there's so much stuff that you have to do as far as getting out orders and whatnot, but you open yourself up to this world of opinion. Of people who will just... You're either gonna get tore down or you're gonna get built up. And what I have learned with social media, especially different platforms, is they're just geared very differently. and so I know that if I post one thing about the Whiskee Straw or a drink, me making a drink or whatever on TikTok, most likely I'm gonna tore apart because they just…always. It's always something. That I just, I'm like, okay, well, I just know don't read the comments. But if I post something on Instagram, people are very quick to be like, that’s awesome, that's great, I love that. And even when people do, 'cause you're always gonna have negative feedback 'cause I can take good criticism. What I don't do well with is when somebody just feels like they need to take it upon themselves to tell you how X, Y, and Z they think of you and your product. And it has nothing to do with the product.
0:24:08.0 S2: They're so bold aren’t they? It has been very wild to me, and I knew that I was going to have to deal with it, because I know that that's a part of the process. That's part of the process. Not everybody likes Nike, but look at how big Nike is. A lot of companies that are big didn't get there because…they had a lot of trial and error and not everybody agrees with it. The difference is, I feel like there is just this huge over and just overwhelming response when it's negative. So when people don't like it or disagree with what you're doing, what you're making, the piggybacking off of that is what I'm like, wow, this is wild. Is nobody gonna come to my rescue? You know what I mean? Yeah. I only had that happen... Well, it happened a few times, but there was a Reel that went viral on TikTok. And I was like, oh my gosh, this has never happened before. I had had one go viral on Instagram, but I never really put that much effort into TikTok, just because I feel like, I just feel overwhelmed a lot, to be honest, I'm just like, This is just a lot. Between making a Reel...
0:25:30.6 S2: I don't try to be so perfect with them anymore as I did in the beginning, where I'd be like, oh, that's not a Reel, like that transition is horrible. Now I'm just like, just post it. I don't got all day. I don’t have six hours to make something that took four minutes or or four seconds to record. Or a four-second video that took six hours to make. My husband’s gonna come from work like, what did you do today? I'm like, well I tried to make a video, but it didn't work. He’s like what’s what you did all day? I'm like, Yes. Would you like to take over? He's like, no, get that camera away from me, I don't want any part of this. But I just happened to... When it's so slow in the very beginning, as a lot of entrepreneurs know, it doesn't happen overnight, and I think it's easy, it's so easy to get caught up in social media where it does look like it happens overnight, that people put these little clips together that take years. And they're just moments in time throughout a long period of time, and it just happens to look like...
0:26:44.4 S2: She struggled on Friday, but by Monday, man, she made it. That's just not ideal. This is where you are, not where they are. And the comparison can just happen so easily in your brain, and it's not because I'm like, Oh, I need to be... It's such a long and hard process, and each hurdle that you come to it makes it a little bit, or a little bit easier to wanna be like, wow, okay, is this worth it? And then you're like…Then I feel like God's like, okay, you sulked, so let's get up, let's do the thing. You felt sorry for yourself, go make a coffee and let's do the thing, you know? Get your Whiskee Straw and let’s make something happen here. I'm thankful for that grace that I feel too, of those times where I want to give up or I’m questioning, is this right? Yeah.
0:27:42.7 S1: Turn off the comments. I'm not gonna listen to you. Yeah. So when you...no experience in manufacturing. Your husband is the welder, but you don't have experience in product management. No. So how did you, did you literally Google straws? Tell us how did you, how did you even start that?
0:28:09.8 S2: I was actually in the process of trying to... I was trying to create another product, which is funny, but it just... I had started it and it was a jewelry case, that it was something that I had done for a long time, as far as when I would travel and I hated the way my jewelry always would get jumbled up. And it never mattered what I put it in, those little things that you just put it in and then it's supposed to stay, and those things never work. And so I don't know why I even, my cousin's neighbor works in manufacturing, like that's what their company does, they do a lot of the really big, they deal with a lot of that and a lot of manufacturing, and so I had reached out to him, I was like, we had had dinner and then a few months go by, this was just like, pre-Covid, this has been like... And it's funny how God works in these little ways to know where it's like we had dinner a few years ago, and he's telling me about the things that he does, and he had stopped by, I guess, because we were having dinner and he's telling me, telling us about his projects, and we were talking about stuff, and my brain is obviously reeling...
0:29:19.5 S2: 'cause I’m like an ideas person, I just kinda was like, Oh, that's super awesome. Or that's what you do, that’s great, that's really cool. I always have great ideas, but I've never had a product, it’s usually a business. Like right now, I’m like, let’s open a bakery, and a coffee shop. I'll sell my Whiskee Straws in the coffee shop. My husband is like, you just wanna sell your Whiskee Straws, why do we need to open a coffee shop? Because I like coffee, and I want everyone to enjoy it.
0:29:46.6 S1: And there’s not one in your town. Right. That makes sense. .
0:29:50.4 S2: And so it's just... It's funny how it comes full circle, because then, several years later, I'm like, hey, can I have his number? Or months later, I'm like, hey, can I have his number? Because I have this idea. And it wasn't the Whiskee Straw, it was a different one. And we spent some time on it, and this jewelry travel bag, and we get there and I'm like, oh, this is perfect, this is great, this is what I want. We need to tweak it this way, and that way. I get on Amazon one day, and it's the same bag. The same bag that I thought I was inventing. This product that I thought was… No, they just sent me one that they were already making and kinda played it off, like I cried. I felt like the joy of that process just got snatched from underneath me, 'cause I was like, this is the bag. This is the bag that I got sent. Yeah, there's no innovation there anymore. Yeah, it’s just boring. Oh yeah, and I just was like, this is it, this process isn't meant for me like this, I'm not...
0:30:58.4 S2: Whatever. And so I'm kind of like, I'll just table it. And I just was kind of frustrated. I'll just table it for now, and if I get an idea than whatever with it, we'll just see what happens. But at that time, I was kind of over it, and then several weeks, months had gone by and I then create the Whiskee Straw, I invent the Whiskee Straw. And it's just funny how it was like, and also how that experience, that kind of carried over into the Whiskee Straw like, okay, these are the things I need to do now, I need to... I Googled, I tried to Google everything I could think of when it came to a straw. Or competitors. I didn’t want someone to steal my joy again like, no, that's already a thing. So I feel that moment, of like, wow, I felt so in that moment when I created the Whiskee Straw, that that was something that God literally was like, this is for you. This is for you. And since then, I’ve had... I think there's been a few viral videos that I've made, and which just had one was just so silly.
0:32:23.0 S2: I don't know, the ones that you're like, this is it, this is the one, it’s gonna go viral. And three people see it and one of them is my grandma. Versus the one where I’m like, man, I just need some content, just throw that out there.
0:32:36.6 S1: Just throw it out there.
0:32:37.8 S2: Yeah, goes crazy. I don't know. So I just started looking up all these different straws and just trying to think of all of the different ways, 'cause that experience of the previous product that I had thought I was creating, really nobody wants the rug pulled out from underneath them. Especially if you're like, I'm doing something, I am doing something and I am creating this. But it is so special in the way that it is yours, and it's your experience, and it's your joy and it's your hardship. But it's also yours to overcome for the beauty that only you get to really truly see when it comes to pass. And so I was very cautious when it came to then making the Whiskee Straw. And it was funny because one of the Reels that went viral, a lot of people were like, oh, that was on a... I don't know if somebody else had said that that was theirs, but I had actually invented it or I actually had patented, submitted my patent, or submitted my stuff, had already had seven different conversations with lawyers, all of these things before their little YouTube video with their five million viewers. So somebody else had this idea, which was literally the Whiskee Straw, but because they had five million viewers and I had a thousand, most of them are friends and family, friends from college or high school or whatever.
0:34:19.2 S2: Not a lot of strangers, nobody even knew that I had done that at that time, and so when my first Reel went viral, the first thing, which again, thankful for God's grace because it was a moment literally designed to wanna like, to steal my joy, you know, because the first thing a lot of people said who happened to just be, had been a follower of this certain YouTuber, was them saying, you didn't invent that, so and so did it. And I'm like…we went back. We went back and we looked and it was like, no, I really did, I really did come up with this idea. I submitted it, it was all set in stone. So good. His timing is always right. So your patents, all of your applications were already submitted by the time that video has gotten out. Right, and it was just something that I think they did for fun, like this YouTube Shark Tank-type deal, whatever, and just the amount of people that tagged in it were like, you didn't invent that, he did. And then it's one of those things where it’s like, wait, is this really? Yeah, did he? You’re like, wait, did he? Did I? And then the imposter syndrome starts to set in.
0:35:33.0 S2: Where it’s like, oh, okay, wait, because I'd never heard of it before. I had never heard of it, I've never seen a product. I'd never heard of that person, that YouTube person. And I was like, okay, well, I guess this is it. I guess it wasn't meant to be, I guess it wasn’t mine. And so I just was like, okay. I'm just like, well, I'm not gonna argue with anyone, I just don't feel like I need to waste my energy on it. You could get so caught up in the snowball. And spend so much money. Yeah, and so I'm here to see my dreams and my biggest aspirations, these things that I've created or thought about, I'm here to see the Whiskee Straw succeed. Because everything, our lives are quite literally, depending on seeing it through and seeing that we put our trust in God and that we are just, we're living at that plane. And I really had to cling to that. And it was a few days later and my cousin was like, I found that, I found that podcast or whatever, YouTube video. They were like, it was X, Y and Z date. And I was like, yeah, that was after I had had my first conversation about Whiskee Straw. When I truly...
0:36:52.4 S2: Like the moment I had amended it. And so they were like, it is yours! And I was like, victory! Victory is mine! And you needed that champion, right? 'Cause sometimes we just need someone to come, extend their hand, lift you up. Then I feel like that was God being like, okay, I told you, this is yours, don't... Keep moving. Keep moving forward.
0:37:15.9 S1: That's a great, great story. And I’m glad that you kept going with it. So now, it's very cool that you started in 2019, I was 2019 as well. I feel like there are so many good things that happened that year, and then getting through Covid, and now after all of that, it's like, now you have 2023 to look at. So what are you doing with Whiskee Straw? Where do you want it to be in the world?
0:37:39.4 S2: So Whiskee Straw, we created it, or I wrote down my first drawing of the Whiskee Straw, it was August of 2020, so technically we're still in the thick of Covid and figuring out how everybody's returning back to life or what life looks like with it. ‘Cause it was ever-changing every day, by the hour it felt like. And from the beginning, it has been... It wasn't just a straw that I wanted to just sell as retail. I wanted it to be an empire. I have the vision, but I'm like, how do I get there? Because I don't have the expertise, I don't know how to do 90% of the things that I'm doing. But God doesn’t call qualified, He calls the unqualified and He makes it work with them, and so I just... There are so many things that I just have to... That I really have to remind myself when I start feeling like, you know, this is hard. This is not easy, not just the social media, having people tell you redundant things that are just negative. But even on a business aspect, I'm like, wow, there's so many things that I'm not good at, there's so many things that I am learning and I need to know to be able to really scale it. And right now, I'm just blending in the small beginnings because I just have to learn to grow there because I don't...
0:39:16.1 S2: I know that people see viral Reels, I have ones that have eight million views or a few million views and it's not, I didn't sell out, I only had 10,000 straws. That was something that I was like, wow, why didn’t I sell out? Why do I... What am I doing? Is this not it? Is this, I feel like I should have sold out, I had 8 million people that saw it, that watched it. Or 250,000 people that liked it. Why is it not good enough? Am I not good enough? All of those things start to spiral, and my sister really had to remind me, don't despise the small beginnings. Because this is where it starts, this is where it starts. And I wouldn't be able to handle it myself if I sold out tomorrow. Obviously, God would provide a way for me to be able to learn through that, but I wouldn't be able to learn in a way that I'm learning now, if I just got that overnight success. But I'm also being reminded that I'm not... I'm not here to be an overnight success, I'm here to create something that's much bigger than myself.
0:40:22.3 S2: Yeah, giant oaks start from acorns, right? Yeah, I feel like there's just so many... Yeah, the smallest seed can just turn into something big, and when I think about Whiskee Straw and what it could do, and what I want it to do, and what I dream of it doing, at the end of the day it’s to provide. It’s to provide a life for my family, and to not have to struggle in certain ways that we’ve had to. Or not see my husband have to work so hard. He's a very hard worker, and I wanna be able to do things that you love too, because right now he just works so I can chase this dream. And for my kids to have experiences to give. At the end of the day, it's to be able to give. I wanna be able to give in ways that I never could have ever imagined. We live in a very small town that's dwindling, and I want to see it restored. I want to see all these little buildings filled up and I want to, I wanna give back to my community. I wanna give back to Kansas, I wanna give back to women, I wanna give back to entrepreneurs. I wanna have a scholarship fund for people in small towns that think that only big things come from big cities.
0:41:45.6 S2: When that's the farthest thing from the truth. Absolutely. And so when I think of the big picture, there's so much obviously for my life, but it has to serve something much greater or I wouldn't be chasing it so hard. Yeah, definitely. It's a great message. Very, very good message, and I think a lot of entrepreneurs think that just like you said, that it's like this overnight success, and then it looks so easy. And with your Reels when you look so happy, you look beautiful, successful, but then in the background, they don’t see all of the hard work that goes in, and the strategy. Like if I turned my screen and you saw the disaster that is the shipping area. Exactly, it's all about perception. And one thing that I would say is, some advice that I had gotten was people just wanna see that you're pumping out orders, and people wanna see that you're more successful than you are. And I was like, I don't ever wanna show something that isn't what's going on. Yeah. I don't wanna give you a perception that's not reality, because if I, when I get to the point to where I am reaching these different milestones, if I am pumping out, if I am able to ship out thousands of orders, I want to celebrate those moments.
0:43:17.8 S2: I don't wanna pretend like I'm having them, because it defeats the purpose, it defeats that moment when you actually get to that milestone. And so that was one thing where I'm like, no, I wanna show when it's hard. People need to know that it's not an Elon Musk journey. It's not something that I just... It's hard and people don't... Yeah, you're right. And people just don't see that, those little things that add up into what it takes to make it grow every day, and sometimes we don't even see. Even as we're in it, we don't even see all of the little things that are growing, but we still get to as long as we keep going and get to reap what we're sowing. So your Whiskee Straw…
0:44:13.1 S1: I think, when I look at where this should be placed in a retailer, it should be when you're checking out and you know it’s a perfect splurge, or they call it a basket purchase, if you're just running and you throw it in the basket. But if anyone's listening and they have a local coffee shop or a boba place that is in their city, would you sell wholesale to these smaller coffee shops? Absolutely, yeah. And there's a listener, and I won't mention her name, but she is the Chief Marketing Officer at one of the biggest coffee companies in the country, and she's a friend of mine, so I would love it if we could get you guys hooked up because I think that it should go in chain coffee shops. It'd be perfect.
0:45:16.4 S2: I would really have... That's on my dream board. And it's so funny because all of these little dreams, I have little dreams within the big dream for Whiskee Straw. On your product roadmap, those are on it. And it's funny when I've had several instances where women have reached out to me on Instagram mainly, because on TikTok, they don't. They just don’t. Now, I just laugh more or less when I get on then, like guys, I don't have time for this. I’m going back to Instagram. They're nice to me there. But I've had women reach out to me and they're like, what if the Whiskee Straw is in this store? Can you imagine? And I'm like, girl, that is on... I'm like, no, I could not imagine it, but yes, I can also imagine it. It would be... There's just certain businesses or chains that I'm like, Whiskee Straw is meant to be there. And it's funny when I’ve had some people... 'cause I'm like, I'll take a picture, I'm like, this is gonna be here. Whiskee Straw is gonna be right here on the shelf. I'm gonna visualize it so that I can be like, wow, I can't believe this happened! Manifest it. And it's funny, people are like, I’m living for this for you! Listen, when we make it together, there's enough success for everybody.
0:46:52.4 S1: Completely, and when you see, that's inspirational, when you see someone that you admire being successful, then that gives that person confidence that they can go and do it too. Yeah, there's a few. So I wanna start carrying it; we have a new retail location in the building that we just moved into two days ago, and that's why it looks like this mess because we just moved in. But I would love to put a wholesale order in and so we can carry it. We’ll be your first retailer in West Fargo. I can see it as all the rage. You should do a deal with Stanley with the cups, because I put my smoothie in that thing and it's like water at the bottom, it’s disgusting.
0:47:38.8 S2: So I never...you know the saying, you're a small fish in a large pond? I have never felt more like a tadpole than trying to reach out to businesses 'cause it just seems like you’re not reaching the right people. Or I'm trying to do all of the right things, I'm trying to reach out, I tried to set up different accounts where they're like, oh, we can get you connected to these people, but it never worked out that way. And so I've had to just be like, okay, when it feels right and I'm supposed to reach out to X, Y, and Z business, then I will. But yeah, I’ve sent so many videos, I've been turned down for Shark Tank, there's just so many things that have already happened in a short but long span of time. Keep trying though. Keep trying. I will, I will. But with Shark Tank, just because there are so many people on social media that are like, Just wait until she gets in the shark tank, they're gonna eat her alive. And I'm like, wait. Just wait, I'm ready. I'm coming prepared. Also, there's also those moments too, for any of your listeners that are either entrepreneurs, thinking of a product, thinking of doing something, maybe it's not even that, maybe it's just something that you...
0:49:07.7 S2: A hobby that you want to pursue more or spend more time on, and do all of those things, do the things that are hard, so that you can live in the moments that make you happy. Because if you stop when it's hard, you'll never truly get to live in the moment of just pure happiness, and that is when you can see something come to pass. And that doesn't matter, that doesn't matter if it's a hobby, or a knit, you’re knitting something, like when you come to doing something that is hard, continuously, there is just a level of just child-like happiness that we get to live in because we overcame something too, and that just brings us happiness. And that is something that we're all supposed to have, we’re all supposed to live in that moment. And it doesn't have to be business-related or entrepreneurial, it can just be just something that we're going through, just to keep pressing. And I always feel like I get more inspired when it's somebody that I don't know, you know, because I'm like, wow, okay, you know what, thank you for believing in me.
0:50:27.1 S2: Thank you for taking the time to just tell me, even though you don't know me. Yeah. And not that we don't need that encouragement from friends and family, and people that we do know, but it is also not to be ignored, how special it is when somebody who doesn't know you is cheering you on. And if anything, if y’all don't go buy a Whiskee Straw, that’s totally okay, but know that I am wanting the best and the most beautiful life filled with hard moments that you get to overcome so you can truly be happy. That sounds so nice, not the hard moments part. But it is hard moments, they're gonna come. It's not a life of perfectness, and in those hard moments to be at peace, that it will pass. It’s a season, or it's a circumstance that is going to move along. And I love your big dreams. I applaud that because I think that as women, we have self-limiting things that we think about ourselves and what we can achieve. A lot of times that comes with having kids like, oh, I have kids, I'm not destined for that. It's like, no, your kids…
0:51:45.4 S2: You brought them into the world and you can do what you wanna do. Show them how it’s done. That’s a very true statement. Because being in a small town, it's not something that people really, I would say they believe in me, but when I say what my dreams are or where I'm going, or where I want it to go, or what I have envisioned for it, I've gotten the...yeah, okay. Just tone it down. I've gotten that kind of reaction and I'm like, no, I can do it. I have, God willing, it will happen. I'm not going to limit. And I've really had to be like…my personality is I don't like when people tell me that I can't do something. I feel like I now have to double down. Yeah. I'm really stubborn in that way, my husband really loves it, my favorite character trait of myself. But there are big dreams for a reason, we call them big dreams for a reason, they're not supposed to be attainable to everyone. And not everybody's dreams are the same, and my big dream looks different than your big dream.
0:53:08.2 S2: But I'm here, we're all trying to achieve them, and there are always gonna be moments that feel like they're out of reach, but there are going to be moments where you start to see them appear closer and closer and closer. And that is definitely one thing where being from a small town, again, that's one of the disadvantages is when people... 'cause trying to come up with packaging, I messed up my packaging the first time, another hurdle. Packaging is really tough. No, it's so hard. And of course, I'm doing it myself. I'm not a graphic design artist. It's not beautiful. It's not the most great, it's not the most beautiful thing.
0:53:53.3 S1: Hey, you designed it.
0:53:57.6 S2: Yeah, I wish it was different, but like I said, it's hard. I can't just meet people because I don't live in an area that really does that type of stuff, this is not something that people commonly do around here. And so it does seem very limiting and it's hard to look past that sometimes. Or whether it be economically limiting or people’s vision for what they think you should be doing instead, or what they think your big dream should look like. And that's the same thing with kids. It's so hard 'cause I have eight, six and three-year-olds and they need mom all the time. We've gone through sickness and mom’s a one-person show right now, with the help of a few little minions every now and again, but they still... It's a beautiful thing for me to see though, that when we do have to go on a trip or something, or we had a meeting here or there that wasn't in town, and I had to travel to it, being like, okay, they know that this is something that, and they love the Whiskee Straw, too, they know that there are things that I'm doing that are directly for Whiskee Straw, and it's something that I have to do if I wanna see it grow.
0:55:26.4 S2: And they're learning that at a young age. And by golly, I'm sure my daughter is gonna be an entrepreneur and she's not gonna stop for anything. If I thought I was stubborn, she’s gonna be wild and I would be like, listen, I'm along for the ride. Let's go. I love it, I love it. Those girls, I have one of those, too. They're something special. They're bold. They’re bold in a good way. In the best way. Not in a mean, TikTok I’m gonna comment hate. They're bold in what they want, and I like that. For my six-year-old, not so much when she wants to tell Mom what she wants.
0:56:14.2 S1: Totally understand. How can we buy some Whiskee Straws? Give us everything. How to do it.
0:56:22.3 S2: Well, first, you can follow me on Instagram or you can follow me @Anissa.Pfeifer on Instagram and also follow Whiskee Straw on Instagram, Facebook, I'm learning how to do YouTube. We don't have anything up yet, but we're on YouTube and so you still need to go subscribe, so that way when I actually figure it out, you're ready. Totally. So all the social media platforms, we’re on tiktok, obviously, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube. Hopefully, soon we'll also start a podcast, we’ll see what happens. You can do it. And then you can buy them online at www.whiskeestraw.com or on social media as well. That has all the links for how to purchase and Instagram has made it pretty easy to just buy it right on Instagram, so you can shop our shop there.
0:57:24.9 S1: That's what I think I did. I went right to your Instagram shop. It was easy. I love that. We can't do that with healthcare stuff, so I'm jealous about that, but I love it. You're gonna have to have some merchandise too.
0:57:38.3 S2: I know I need to. Be like the Scrub Daddy. Scrub Daddy has people wear sweatshirts and hats. Stop it. Yeah, and Scrub Daddy was on Shark Tank. They were my, grandma gave us all one for Christmas
0:57:53.8 S1: I was just gonna say, these are great stocking stuffers.
0:57:58.9 S2: 100%. Perfect, absolutely perfect. And then give it with, support your local coffee shop.
0:58:05.9 S1: Get a gift card and that way you are supporting two entrepreneurs, and it makes a great gift.
0:58:13.1 S2: Yes, and the perfect thing about the Whiskee Straw, I know I make coffee a lot, but that's just because I'm a mom and I'm running on low energy all the time, and I just really need my coffee, but it's so useful for all the things. My grandma uses it to make malts, I use it to make my protein or my green shake in the morning, or it’s not a shake, but yeah, and so if you have an athletic lady or a guy…And my cousin uses it for all of his protein. He’s like, the kind that I use, it's really thick and I can't use a shaker 'cause it just gets really foamy. I use it in all my pre-workout, post-workout, my protein shakes. I'm telling you, it's a straw, that's gonna... It’s multi-purpose, right?
0:59:00.3 S1: And then you can use it if you make drinks too, like you mix your drinks. There's lots of ways. All of the little shops around here, you probably have them in Kansas too, I feel like every corner there's a nutrition shop, like a smoothie place with Isagenix, and that would be perfect. Anyone that's listening, that even has a rep group or has some connections that way so you can get out into scale. That’d be great. Get in touch with her. Well, it was so nice to meet you, Anissa, I really, really appreciate it. I'm just so proud of you, and you're going after your dream, and that you keep on dreaming and manifesting this. You had such a great message there, so keep on persevering, 'cause that's what we have to do as entrepreneurs and founders in your business. And I am here for you, so if you ever need anything, you can reach out to me or anyone, I would say. To the entrepreneurs listening, we love to connect with one another, so if I don't know someone, I'm sure one of my listeners do, so connecting is always good.
1:00:13.0 S2: Absolutely, thank you. Yes.
1:00:14.7 S1: You are so welcome. Well, that was just a fantastic episode, so if you want to be an early adopter and you love the Persevere Podcast, I really encourage you to come over to LinkedIn. I created a group where we can continue the conversation of these podcast episodes. But also let's create community, let's connect with one another. Whether you're raising money, whether you're scaling your business, whether you want to throw out a business idea, business model, come over there and let's talk about it. Look it up as the Persevere Podcast LinkedIn group. And I wanna say thank you to the Checkable Health Podcast production crew and to the Grow the Show editing team that makes all of this happen for this wonderful audience and for me. And of course, thank you to all of the guests that have been on the Persevere Podcast. I can't believe that we're almost done with 2022. It's gone by like crazy. Thank you so much for tuning in and until next time. You keep on persevering in business. Thank you for listening to The Persevere Podcast, powered by Checkable Medical. Head over to perseverepodcast.com for notes, links and additional resources from today's show. To continue hearing insights and gaining knowledge from those persevering, succeeding, and making their dream a reality, be sure to subscribe through your favorite podcast app. Now go make it happen.
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