Kathy: Raise your hand if you love receiving chocolate dipped strawberries. [LAUGH] You’re in luck because today we’re networking with Shari Fitzpatrick, the creator of the original world’s famous line of gourmet dipped strawberries, known as Shari’s Berries, which can now be found at therealsheri.com. Shari is the author of the book Buried in Chocolate, How I Built a Multimillion Dollar Business by Doing What I Loved and How You Can, Too. She travels nationwide as an inspirational speaker, sharing her down to Earth, heartfelt business story. And encouraging others to follow their dreams even when business and in life don’t always go the way we planned. For over 25 years, Shari’s story and her creations have attracted international attention. Through appearances in O Magazine, on The Today Show, on Food Network, The Apprentice, InStyle Magazine, People magazine. And shows like, get this, Wheel of Fortune, QVC and Chicken Soup for the Entrepreneurial Soul. I met Shari at the Women in Automotive Conference in California, where she was the keynote speaker. And I was so moved by her message. And her epic life journey, and the trials and tribulations of her tremendous berry business. Shari, welcome to the show.
Shari: Thank you.
Kathy: We’ve given our listeners a glimpse into your background. Please tell us a bit more about your journey and what brought you to start your own berry business.
Shari: Oh, well, I was destined I think to be in the berry business, a gift business. As a little girl, I’ve always love giving gifts, and I grew up in a small town in Southern Oregon called, Klamath Falls. It gets really hot there in the summer, and my dad always had a big garden which included is strawberry patch for me. And somehow became my job to go out and pick the berries, but I didn’t mind too much. I developed a really cool system, it was like, one for the bucket and two for me, and one for the bucket. And I’d bring the strawberries in, and my mom would make these amazing fresh strawberry pies. And ah, that’s where my love of strawberries began, right then, I just have always, always loved them. And I graduated from high school, from the same high school my grandma did.
Shari: Small town, my dad, and my whole family, and I had no idea what I wanted to do when I grew up. Just seemed like everybody else was going off to college or knew what they wanted to be. And I just wanted to have fun. [LAUGH] I was raised by a stepfather who worked hard and played hard, and I just wanted to. It wasn’t about money or anything like that, I just wanted to enjoy my life. And so I went away to college for a couple of years, just took some general classes, thinking maybe I could figure out some ideas. And I always wanted be a flight attendant. I interviewed as soon as I turned 18 with some airlines. Thank God for some unanswered prayers cuz later in life, I realized I love to travel, but I wanna get the hell off the plane.
Kathy: [LAUGH] Right.
Shari: So anyways, when I was 20, my older brother invited me to come to Los Angeles and work for his mortgage firm. He was really busy and need some extra help, and I couldn’t pack fast enough. I always wanted to be a California girl and loved the beach. And so I moved to Los Angeles, and I was there for four and a half years. And did really well as a mortgage broker, for my brother’s real estate firm. I grew up really fast. And my sister-in-law, Emily is this amazing cook and had a catering business. And she introduced me to the concept of dipping my beloved berries in chocolate, and wrapping them up. And introduced me to cellophane and bows, and all that. One of my very first jobs, in high school was being a gift wrapper at Christmastime. And I loved it, wrapping presents, it’s always, so wrapping up my berries and I’d bring them to the real estate agents. And chocolate and strawberry gift baskets became my signature marketing gift as I marketed my mortgage loan offerings to real estate agents. And it really blew me away how crazy they’d go over these berries. Man, I mean we’re both happy, I give them strawberries, they give me mortgage loans, and we’re happy.
Shari: But it’s pretty simple concept, you dip the chocolate, dip strawberry in it, and wrap them up. And, so I just kinda had this light bulb come on. And I could remember being up till two in the morning just rocking, having a great time dipping those strawberries. And so after four and a half years, I enjoyed dipping the berries more than the mortgage loans. And it was during that time of my life I learned the importance of loving our job, loving our career, and being passionate about our work. I mean, I can remember coming home from vacation and can’t wait to get back to work. And I knew that was a sign. If you can take something that you love to do and make money out of it, we’ve always heard that, but it’s true. And I had no business education or experience but I think when you add passion together with hard work, anything is possible and that’s really when dreams become a reality. I mean, the first time I was called an entrepreneur, I really didn’t even know what it meant. But I think entrepreneurs are born that way. It’s not something you become. It’s in your blood. You’re a risk taker, and I was a natural guerrilla marketer. I never had a big budget. So I always used low cost unconventional ways to market by business. So anyways, I moved to Sacramento and decided that I would start my berry business in Sacramento cuz I thought I’d be here a long time. I was a little homesick. Wanted to get a little closer, north to home to be closer to everybody in Oregon. And my high school sweetheart, this guy named Clay Fitzpatrick that I was madly in love with. He had moved to Sacramento while I was in LA. And if Clay was here, he’d be telling all the guys that I was stalking him. But it worked. So I held out. I have a picture of Clay and I on the day I graduated. And I would of married him that day. But God was gonna start teaching me patience, and I’d have to wait practically ten years.
Shari: Yeah, so I’ve got a $1,500 cash advance on a credit card, brand new town. Got a card table and a small amount of chocolate, and I just started pounding the pavement. I think I gave away more berries the first year than I sold. But it was like giving away potato chips. Give them one and then they want more, and you let them know where they can find them.
Kathy: [LAUGH] Yes.
Shari: But I had my work cut out for me cuz nobody had ever given a chocolate dipped strawberry as a gift before. I mean, they’ve been dipping them in fancy hotel rooms, hotels before I was even born. But it was just a confection. It wasn’t ever a gift. So I turned a chocolate dipped strawberry into a gift. But it was hard because no one had done it, and so I thought well maybe, I could get my strawberries to look like a flower. Because when I would explain to people we’re like a florist but edible. You know, they show up and they look pretty, but you can eat them, and so I designed a patented, I got a patent on a bouquet of strawberry roses, and that became a signature gift as we did some expanding. So, they look like flowers, you can eat them, too. You know, the women were complaining that their roses were dying real fast so, you know. I’d convince the guys to send mine instead cuz she could wear them around on her hips for like three months.
Shari: Hers lasts a lot longer.
Kathy: That’s hilarious. Well, what a wonderful story, thank you for sharing that with us. It sounds like it was your destiny, growing up surrounded by berries. I mean, that’s fantastic and really just having the gift of giving, and giving presents, and wrapping presents, it seemed like that was kind of a passion of yours. And it sounds like you tried a couple of different careers that didn’t quite stick, and then, all of a sudden you’re an entrepreneur, and entrepreneurs are people that find a need and fill it. And it sounds like you created a whole category of giving chocolate-dipped strawberries as gifts.
Kathy: Fantastic, and I love the idea of the roses, and you got a patent. That is an all-American success story.
Shari: [LAUGH] Yeah, again, I never had any business education or experience, but I wanna do something fun for your work, then it doesn’t really seem like work, and your life becomes much more fruitful. [LAUGH]
Kathy: There’s so many puns. [LAUGH]
Shari: I know, I know.
Kathy: Sherry, I’d like to hear from your perspective, what do you think is the most significant misconception regarding running a successful business?
Shari: Well, again I’ve I think later in my career, as a berry dipper, we’ll go into that later, and it turned out I really should have had some business classes, cuz that came back to bite me. But a lot of people don’t start, and I always like to encourage people just to start. And for example some people mortgage a home and put all the money up to do this dream, like maybe they wanna own a restaurant, that’s their dream, but they never worked in a restaurant, so.
Shari: Make sure you really, really like it. Work at one. I worked at a balloon company for a couple months at five bucks an hour learning the ins and outs of delivering balloon bouquets that helped educate me on how to run a gift business. So just start, get in it, make sure you really love it, try it out, work for somebody else. Look at it as a boot camp, try it out. And then don’t think that everything has to be perfect, just like having kids, never gonna be a perfect time. You’re never gonna have enough money, or experience, or time available, so just start. Get some business cards made up, Vistaprint for ten bucks, and start bartering, using your product or service, trading it with friends and family just to get it out there and try it. And then you’ll know if it works and you can just start building upon that. So just start. A lot of people don’t know how to start, they’re afraid to start, or they’re afraid if they put their idea out there someone will steal it. And that’s the worst thing. If it’s a good idea, it’s gonna be good for you, and just rock and get it out there. And I’m like, you know, I’m like a sponge and I would always ask a lot of people. I mean we have to make our own decisions ultimately, but sometimes hearing us talk about it and explaining it to people helps us to justify it is it’s a good idea if we should do it or not, but just start.
Kathy: Well, that’s great advice. Just start, and don’t wait for things to be perfect. But also I like what you, said get your feet wet, work in that business and try to gain some knowledge of what you’re gonna be doing. But you do just have to get started and I think that’s great advice.
Kathy: And I think what listeners would like to hear from you how your brand gained such broad appeal. You’ve got the attention of celebrities, you’ve been on TV and the news, how did you do that, Sherry?
Shari: One day at a time. It was 22 years, blood sweat and tears, and you just build upon it. But I just always tried to think outside the box, being different than everybody else. See what other people are doing and make yours a little different. I’ve always been kind of funky, I’m a innovator, I love creating new ideas, and campaigns and projects. And when you name your company, or your effort, or your service, it’s always good to make sure you name it a name that’s easy to remember, fun to say. That’s really important. We would just think outside the box. One time I can remember having a brainstorming session, it was like let’s send berries to everybody who has the word, berry in their name. So it was like, Barry White, Halle Berry, Darryl Strawberry. I mean, we worked and found their agents, whoever, and sent them gifts and we got a hook, Halle Berry became a huge customer for us. So when she won that Academy Award we were like, yay, we’re gonna get a lot of orders tomorrow, and sure enough, man, she was sending them to Revlon and everybody else. So, yeah, and I’ve had to get really creative, always had a small budget. When we started our national expansion I had a lot of people tell me I should be in Sky Mall Magazine, have the berries, remember that magazine that was on all the airlines and had the expensive, funky things in it? So I called up their corporate offices down in Phoenix and ask them, what was their least expensive ad. They told me well, you can’t just be in our magazine, you have to send us a sample of your product and then we’ll let you know if you can be our magazine. It was like, okay, so, sent them a sample, next day get a phone call, and they’re like, we love your product, we think you’ll do great. And once again I’m asking him well what’s the smallest ad? They said, this was years ago, and they said it’s a quarterly commitment, you gotta be in all 21 airlines, and we have this little tiny ad in the way back of the magazine, and it’s $21,000, and that was a huge amount of my budget. So I learned as a mortgage broker not take no for an answer, cuz you had a lot of responsibility on your shoulders, you had to work things out. So I pitched to SkyMall, well, how about you do a deal with me? For the first quarter, instead of charging me 21,000, just charge 7, and then take a 25% cut of every order we get, that way you get your money, we can try out your magazine for a quarter, and they about laughed me off the phone. They’re like, we’ll never do that, can’t do that, don’t even know how to do that. So, I graciously hung up the phone, and let them know I’d continue to try to figure out a way to get my berries in their magazine. Well, a couple months later to my surprise, they sent my berries to all their corporate sales, it’s like 150 orders.
Shari: CEOs of airlines, it was beautiful. I mean, they’re a gift magazine, and I’m not even a client. We got the business, I didn’t understand it, but I wasn’t gonna argue, so-
Shari: As the berry boxes started arriving all over the country, the SkyMall corporate offices at the time was just inundated with people going crazy over them, so I got another phone call saying we’ll do that deal, but we weren’t in the back. We were on the cover, we were on the right hand read when you open it up, and we ended up getting three cover deals over our relationship with them and it became priceless to us as we did a national rollout on a tight budget. The end, so, again, if there’s a will, there’s a way. Don’t take no for an answer, figure out a way to do it a little differently to get rocking, get moving.
Kathy: What a spectacular story with you and SkyMall, oh my gosh, that is incredible. And it seems to me that your personality has played such a tremendous role in the attention that Shari Berries gets. Let’s talk a little bit about your personal brand. Can you describe that for us?
Shari: Well, I’m definitely a living brand. I’m not very shy so you can put me in front of a camera or a mic, or something like that and it works pretty good. I am a living brand and today that’s a little difficult because another company owns a Shari’s Berries brand. There was like a hostile takeover, I trusted people I shouldn’t have, broke my heart. And so for the last eight years, I haven’t even been associated with Shari’s Berries, and now the product is completely different than mine. It’s a discounted in every way kind of product, and so I never agreed to a non-compete. So we do have a new berry and chocolate brand which is the title of my book so people can get the real thing again. I’ve been a speaker for a long time, I used to speak at the university, every rotary club, every Chamber of Commerce mixer, to market my berries, and so I was out there in the public eye. I started my business here in Sacramento, and Sacramento really kind of put their arms around me and embraced me, and watched me grow up and was a huge support. I’ve always been really blessed by having amazing people working with me and for me. And that’s a blessing because our brand isn’t the logo. Our brand is how the phones answered, that’s our brand. And I once learned the importance of taking care of our staff. Our employees are gonna take the same care of our customers and our clients that we take care of them. So just, we always had open door policy. I’d give you $50 if you had an idea and we used it, any kind of idea. It just, I made everybody feel like it was their company. I never asked anybody to do anything that I wouldn’t do or I hadn’t done a million times. One time we’re moving into a bigger factory, and somebody is gonna have to scrape all that chocolate off the floor in the old place. So I came in, ready to roll, and I was down on the ground scraping all that chocolate, and everybody loved it. So just a great morale. Have a great company to work for. Take really good care of your staff cuz we’re only as strong as our weakest link. So then just the customer’s always right. Just simple one on one stuff. The customer’s always right, no matter how wrong they are, you never argue with the customer, especially in front of another customer. In fact, there’s people out there, they’re gonna complain no matter how good your product is or what you do cuz that’s just how they are. So those were the best customers because I’d go overboard. I’d give them their money back, I sent it again anyways, I’d give them a gift certificate so it’s free the next time. So here’s Mr. Crabby, going back to work, telling everybody how great Shari’s Berries is. So word-of-mouth is so important and I took advantage of that. I also took advantage of press releases. People are gonna read editorial 20 times more than they’re gonna look at your paid ad. My husband used to tease me that I’d send a press release if the wind blew. I just always had something especially around the holidays when we’re really busy. I always had a new product, or a new, like with the strawberry roses. One year is Valentine’s, needed something new. So I said, we’re gonna do a two-dozen rose bouquet, and I remember walking out to my staff with the first prototype. And it was like five feet long, weighed like 30 pounds. And I saw it, and I go look at this. We’re gonna call this the yes bouquet.
Shari: We [INAUDIBLE] for his Valentine this year, no matter what his question is, her answer is gonna be yes. So just having something wonky and fun, and different, at your busiest time, everybody always wants to know what’s new, so I always did a lot of product development. We have a caramel apple wedge. It’s amazing, it’s a nice, neat slice of caramel apple with chocolate on it whenever you want. And I couldn’t find out a name for those but my son, Hogan, who’s a little entrepreneur himself when he was 13. He said mom, I’ve got the name for your new apple wedges. I said what? He said call them wedgies.
Shari: It’ll be the best wedgy they’ve ever had.
Shari: So we did, and I give them out when I speak, always give somebody a wedgy in front of everybody and.
Shari: It’s great for social media. The event planners love it. Everybody can post, hey Shari, that strawberry girl gave our president of our company a wedgie in front of everybody at lunch today. So just, you can play on that and play on your strengths. And we’ve talked before about strengths finders. And I think that’s really important. There’s a Clifton strength finder test. I suggest anybody go to that, I went to it at my church for Saturday for a few hours and I learned so much about myself. And the importance of building up, and working on our strengths about ourselves. And we can be more successful easier if we’re doing things that we enjoy, and we’re good at. If we have a job or a task that we hate, and we’re bad at. We put so much more energy into it and we’re still not good at it. So if you could talk all that energy, more of it and put it towards the things you’re good at and you like, you can just catapult your success faster. The first thing I did was hire a bookkeeper, hate that. Next thing I hired was an HR person. Cuz if anybody ever left my company, I took it personally. I got hard on my sleeves. So the things you’re not good at, if you can, I love product development. I love marketing and PR. So I would spend the most of my time doing that as I could. At first year, one woman band and you got to do it all. But as you can, you start letting go and that gives you more time, and it keeps your tenacity going cuz you’re gonna have hard times. But if you’re doing what you enjoy and you’re like, it’s not as bad, as it can be, you can get back in there. You can have enough in your little toe.
Shari: Valentines day used to ruin my life, a bad, bad, bad, you worked 36-hour shifts, four months pregnant. It just about wipes you out, and really, really hard, but because I love my work. And I had a little bit of tenacity left in one little toe, I could make it through the night. So just again, do what you love. Can’t stress enough to do what you enjoy and what you love.
Kathy: Well, I tell you, you are definitely a master marketer. I’m so impress with some of the things that you do in the guerrilla marketing tactics. And the fantastic product development that you have, and the naming is really fantastic, and I like hearing how you say that your brand is everything. Sometimes people don’t understand that you’re right. Your brand is not your logo or your commercial, your brand is everything that people touch and feel, and think about it. So, the way you pick up the phone, the way you handle complaints, the way that you treat your staff, and your staff treats your customers, that is all your brand.
Shari: That’s your brand.
Kathy: And you are master at that, and the piece about strength finders is great because I agree with you. That book says to focus on those things that are your strengths. Don’t try to fix the things that are your weaknesses, that’s when you find your team. You find somebody in your team that has that strength.
Kathy: And you need to become a team as a whole. I think that’s a really good lesson. [CROSSTALK] Today is fantastic. [CROSSTALK]
Shari: Yeah, cuz when you surround yourself with experts, and people that do what you don’t like or do what you’re not good at. You get the benefit of all their expertise and their experience added to your umbrella. Nobody knows that you’re not managing that. So, I’d taken a class not that long ago about getting the right people on your bus. But not only getting the right people on your bus but getting them in the right seats on your bus. Critical.
Kathy: Getting the right people on the bus and the right people in the right seats. That makes a lot of sense.
Kathy: Let’s talk a little bit, I know when I heard you speak, you had a fantastic story and a lesson for us, and some of the things that you’ve gone through in your business. And so I’m wondering if you can share with us a time in your life when you had a challenge and how you worked through it and overcame it.
Shari: Well, when my business was in it’s ninth year, I was overwhelmed, business was booming. I had three stores, a factory, I had two little boys, a third one on the way. And there was this brand new thing called the internet. And I knew nothing about it, but I wanted to take advantage of it, so I could expand my territory from just the greater Sacramento area to nationwide. And so I was thrilled, and I mean, could hardly sleep excited. When I was approached by a young, entrepreneurial, tech-minded lawyer, who made me the deal of a lifetime to come in as my partner and take this thing nationwide real fast. And I didn’t do my due diligence. I didn’t have any business education. So I didn’t know the 51% rule. I was a little naive to all of that. I am not afraid of hard work and I loved what I was doing. And I just was trusting. I trusted the wrong people. It took me about a year to realize I had trusted the wrong person. So over the next 10 years, I was still with the company, but got chipped away at and bullied, and it was the most difficult time in my whole life. And there was small print and different things could happen and dominos fell certain ways. This was in the early 2000s, during the dot gone era, where that bubble burst and the board brought in a new CEO. See I didn’t know, that I was supposed to have my own lawyer. I thought he was my lawyer and I agreed to a really bad business deal. And it broke my, I didn’t even imagine anything like that could ever happen, but eventually, I fell below that 51% line. Different things happened in the company, and the new CEO put together a deal with ProFlowers in San Diego that if he could come along as the president of the company, he could get them Shari’s Berries brand and company for pennies on the dollar and that’s exactly what he did. And so 22 years of blood, sweat, and tears was gone. I completely lost my company, and it broke my heart. I was broken. I grieved the loss like I had lost one of my boys. I mean, there can’t be anything harder than losing a child. But next to that, I feel like that’s just how I could explain the pain of it. And it has my name all over it. I birthed it, I created it. 22 years of blood, sweat and tears put into it, and it’s still out there. Now, it’s like a missing child.
Kathy: Oh, right.
Shari: And then, on top of that, I had a lot of pride of the product and the quality of the customer service, and the product. And I lost all control of that, obviously, and so now there’s a product out there with my name on it still, but it’s nothing like the product that I made. They’re a 1999 version. They’re mass produced on a machine with a little, they’re old and small and I don’t know. Once in a while I hear somebody, they like theirs and that’s always good to hear, but it was really, really hard. But during that time, I realized that mistakes aren’t all bad if you can learn from them, because we get so much strength, our character is built, and we become stronger people during the difficult times in our life. Not when everything, you’re footless and fancy free, and there’s nothing, you’re all rocking and everything’s good. But when you’re in the ditch and crawling out, during this time I learned that dipping strawberries in chocolate is not who I am, it’s what I do. And that disappointments in life are unavoidable. We live in a fallen world, and disappointments are unavoidable, but discouragement is a choice. And it turned out that God was much more interested in my character than my comfort. When my boys were young, I became a Christian. And my faith has been very important to me. I learned when my boys were young to put my priorities in the right order. And it was a battle at first. I went through that guilty thing. When I was at work, I felt guilty. I should be home being a better mom. And when I was at home with my kids, I felt guilty. I should start working on that thing that’s due on Tuesday. And it’s just that battle. But I had a very wise, older, Christian woman tell me, young in my career that as long as I always put my family first, all that guilt goes away. So you do have to prioritize. We have the rest of our lives to work, but we have one shot to be a really great mom. And I just hoped that somehow, I would find some kinda beauty from this brokenness, eventually, and a reason for it. But I’d read this article during that time also, of this woman who was doing research on successful entrepreneurs in our country, and if there is any common denominators amongst them that maybe wasn’t obvious. And what her research and her article told me, was that the majority of all successful entrepreneurs have their biggest success right after their biggest failure. So that was proof to me that entrepreneurs aren’t quitters, so I really didn’t have a choice. And I learned a lot about forgiveness, and I have a little riddle that’s helpful because un-forgiveness does more harm to the vessel in which it is stored, than the object on which it is poured. So we have to forgive people that hurt us, in order to heal and move on. Otherwise you just sort of keep percolating and being hurt you more and I decided I need to respond rightly to what God had allowed in my life. So, I started following my own advice, okay. I’d been preaching for years the importance to doing something that you loved, so now, what am I going to do? So I was blessed with a book deal by Pelican Publishing. I’d always wanted to do a book, but I always imagined that I’d do it when I was an old lady, and bored, and in a rocking chair, with the end of my story. But, I started speaking a lot more, taking my speakings more serious. And I was on a lot of panels and it just seemed like everybody had a book but me. Everybody had a book but me and my story was better.
So, I did another crash course. Took a crash course and hired a consultant, again surrounded myself with wisdom. Surrounding yourself with wisdom and getting people that are good at things that you don’t know anything about is just, it helps you to catapult projects. And she took me to New York City to a book event, and I was prepared and worked really hard, and I got a book deal there with Pelican. So they sent me out on a book tour. And the book was published and I started taking my speaking more seriously. I did research and I was accepted into the National Speaking Associations Academy in San Francisco. So, I traveled to San Francisco, once or twice a month, for 11 months. And I took my public speaking and catapulted it to a professional level and today, I’m a accredited member of the NSA. I travel internationally. Here I just wanted to be a very different, have fun. And now God’s given me this platform, where thousands of people a year I’m encouraging them to follow their dreams, never give up. Remember life is short, have your priorities in the right order. And it’s just really, really a blessing back. And my book’s been a huge inspiration back to me. I constantly hear from people how much it encouraged them and inspired them. One particular message I received, an email a few years ago from a young gal. Her nickname is Neat, she lives in North Carolina. And she sent me an email really late one night with the subject line that you saved my life, with all these explanation points. And I don’t know if it was a joke, or spam, or what, but it got my attention, and I read her roundabout, long letter to me. Who told me that somebody came alongside her that wanted to encourage her to market her mind and not her body, gave her a copy of my book. And she told me that she escaped human trafficking. She told me that my book was her business school. And that as a young girl, Neat loved watching her aunt bake. And so she opened up a cupcake bakery, and so today Neat is winning awards. She helps other young girls escape human trafficking. She gives a copy of my book and helps them open up their own cupcake bakeries. So there is my beauty from my brokenness. I have to trust my story with what God has planned for me, and I like to take control, kind of a control freak. But I just have to go with it. It wasn’t my plan, but it’s just the way that it’s working out, and it’s amazing.
Kathy: Wow, what a fantastic story, and it so warms my heart to hear about that. And I think we all need to hear stories like yours, Shari, and I just thank you for sharing that. Because the thing that resonates with me is that your biggest successes come right after your biggest failures. And discouragement is a choice. I mean, all of that is things that we need to hear every day. Because we all have challenges every day. Sometimes they’re really big, like the one you talked to us about with your business. And being involved with some unscrupulous people that did some things that you weren’t aware of. That’s really big, that was your business. Like you said, that was your baby.
Kathy: But to talk about how your inspiration from that helped you write a book, become a speaker, and wow, save this woman’s life. There’s beauty from the brokenness.
Kathy: What a spectacular story that is.
Shari: Yeah, yeah, and it’s still evolving. I got enough stuff for a second book now, still working on it.
Kathy: Oh my gosh.
Shari: Today my book is actually dipped in chocolate.
Shari: The book’s shrinkwrapped, and it’s dipped in chocolate, you can see it on the site. I meant to bring one today with me, but I didn’t.
Kathy: Oh my gosh.
Shari: But it’s trademarked as the first book in the world with calories. You can eat my chocolate and read my story. And my Berried in Chocolate book is a dozen chapters, and each one’s a different lesson that I learned while taking my passion and turning it into profits.
Kathy: My goodness, I can’t wait to eat your book, Shari. [LAUGH]
Shari: Yeah, don’t let it melt.
Kathy: [LAUGH] Well, I have a question for you. Knowing what you know now, is there anything that you wouldn’t get into that you did before, anything that you would change?
Shari: Well, it all comes down to, I recently read this quote by Warren Buffett that says, you think being an entrepreneur is a risk taker? How about working for a company for 30 years and going on Social Security for your retirement? Now, that’s risky. But again, know that 51% rule really good, and try not to get in partnership with anybody. I joke that I’ll never bring in a partner ever again, unless it’s my mom, and that’s even iffy. I mean, just try to do it on your own. Surround yourself with wisdom and get consulting, but keep control, button it up, so it’ll always be yours, and you’ll have control. You have no idea someone that you trust could stab you in the back, and you need to know that that is possible. I had no idea that anything like that was even possible. I was just so, and I wasn’t greedy about it. I gave a lot of the company away because I wanna encourage these professionals to come in and help me. I just wanted a piece of the national pie. I didn’t want it all, I just wanted to be a part of it. But I was horribly taken advantage of, and yeah, hindsight’s always 20/20. But again, just because I saw my future a certain way doesn’t mean that I try to tell God how things, I think, will be best. But we don’t always know what’s the best plan for our life.
Kathy: He has his own plans.
Kathy: I’m curious to know along your journey, have you ever come across a mentor that helped you, or are you mentoring people now, or have you mentored them along your journey?
Shari: Mm-hm, I was never afraid to ask a superior or somebody in the space I wanted to be in for advice. I think a lot of successful people have been in that boat, and they’ve asked for help or advice from someone that they look up to. And I’ve never been afraid to do that, and I do that a lot now. It’s kinda gotten out of hand a little bit, so that’s one of the reasons I wrote the book, was to. If I had a nickel for every time I told this story, I’d be retired already, so I wrote the book. That’s always everybody’s first homework, to read the book. But I do do a lot of consulting, one-on-one, small, young startups. I’m consulting a gal right now, via Skype, who’s in Germany. And in May, she wanted to send her mom chocolate-dipped strawberries in Germany, and nobody’s doing it, so she’s hired me to help consult her. And we’re gonna meet about every six weeks at first. And I can do a little or a lot. And I can consult people, and give them my 22 years of what I learned, and put it towards what they’re doing, and help them to catapult and just start. In fact, there is a chapter in my book called, Just Start. So that’s always the first thing that you need to read. But I do, I have always surrounded myself with wisdom. And everybody doesn’t always have the answer. I wanted to share something from Proverbs 3:13 that’s always been important to me. And that is, happy is the person who finds wisdom, for the profit of wisdom is better than silver, and her wages are better than gold. And then it also goes on in 16 to say, commit your work to the Lord, and then your plans will succeed. So yeah, prayer and faith, I’m surrounded by an amazing group of girlfriends. Girlfriends are important a lot of times, and it’s good to brainstorm. But get your ideas out there, don’t be afraid to ask people to help. Just be really considerate of their time and know they probably get asked a lot. But be aggressive, don’t give up. I’d always send them berries, and suck up, and then I’d-
Shari: Give me half an hour. So whatever it takes.
Kathy: Yeah, you have that secret weapon, don’t you?
Shari: I do.
Kathy: You have that secret weapon of the berries.
Shari: I do, and everybody is my customer, too.
Kathy: So what’s on the horizon for you? Tell us about your speaking engagements, what are you looking forward to in 2019? Where is your career going, where are you taking all this knowledge that you came by over 22 years?
Shari: Well, I have a lot of different things that I’m working on. We were chatting earlier today, for the last five weeks I’ve been in a different city, speaking every week, I love it. I speak to universities, to entrepreneurship and business. I am a keynote speaker at a lot of conferences, both men and women business. I do chocolate and wine pairing events. I live up in the Fairplay wine region, we’ve been here 15 years and we have our own wine label and it’s dipped in chocolate too. Chocolate breaks off the bottle and you have chocolate wine [INAUDIBLE] at the same time. But I live in the Fairplay wine region and so speaking is my main objective and I’m pretty good at it. We got a lot of humor, very interactive, and travel nationwide, I serve the entire audience berries. No matter how many hundreds or thousands of people. Or, how far away we have them shipped in, flown in with me on the plane, and everybody is served one of my real famous chocolate strawberries right before I go on. And, I make sure everybody likes me right away. So, then, over the last few years, I’ve heard people asking me how they could get berries from me, like the ones that we serve when I speak. And I had to say you can’t, you can’t, you can’t, but so I’ve never agreed to a non-compete. That’s the thing I would never agree to with the Sherry’s Berries name. And so I launched Buried in Chocolate which is the name of my book and so you can get the real McCoy from Sherry again. Always fresh and hand dipped, big red, juicy berries, just like I used to enjoy. And I’d be a horrible entrepreneur if I was here today and didn’t remind everybody holidays are coming up and make sure you send the real thing.
Shari: And then just creating new gifts, I have a new product that I call Grapeful cuz I am just grateful. And I’ve learned to be grateful for what I have, not what I don’t have or what I want, but for what I have. And we take a full cluster of red, seedless grapes and dip the whole cluster, wrap them up beautifully. They’re dusted with golden dust you can eat, so we ship them nationwide. You can tell somebody how grateful you are for them, or if it’s for a business gift you can tell them to have a great day. And then I’ve always had a dream of having a bed and breakfast. And we have a beautiful estate on five acres where we raised our family, a beautiful place. And so I have bedandberries.com, it’s just another BNB. There’s wine and chocolates waiting for you, and again we live in the Fairplay wine region in the Sierra foothills, which we’re just below South Shorelake Tahoe and above Sacramento. And I love hosting and putting on events, you can have events or weddings. And so we will have five rooms and each one will have their own bath and balcony. And I’m your guest to take you all around my hood for VIP wine tasting right out of the barrel and caves and help you to set up your time. So that’s going to be opening pretty soon and then I’m pursuing a Master’s degree at William Jesup University. It’s a University, just north of Sacramento. My oldest son, Paxton, graduated with his degree there in Psychology. And I’ve become very involved with the college. With speaking at Chapel, and to some of their marketing classes. And so, the President read my book. And, when they launched this new Master of Arts with a concentration in leadership, they asked me to watch them and be in the program. And I was so embarrassed because I’m a typical entrepreneur. A fly by the seat of my pants, street-smart girl. I don’t have a bachelor’s degree or anything. So they went to committee and I was granted an honorary bachelor’s degree from William Jessup. And so I had to at least try, and it’s been one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. But I finished seven classes and I’m just rocking and I’m loving the content and it’s been messaging my heart to do some kind of a ministry. And one thing lead to another and I have a lot of ties in Porta Varta, actually live there and sold time shares in the beach, during one time in my life, for a few months. And I love the Spanish culture and I wanna learn Spanish, and I’d learned that there was some children and families that live in the dump there. So a year ago, I started my research and I went down there and got connected with an amazing group and am helping very poor and disabled children in Puerto Villarta. That’s a huge new passion of mine, and I called it Boysenberries. The logo was a boysenberry with a kid’s face in it. But it’s boysandberries.org.
Shari: All my boys grew up and left me, so I got me some new ones.
Shari: But it’s for the [INAUDIBLE] so when you stay at my new B&B, you’ll support my other B&B, which is my ministry, Boys and Berries.
Shari: So part of, and then we’ll also host, missionaries or pastors for little retreats. Complimentary also when the rooms are available, we’ll do that as part of our ministry. But staying at one, BNB, support the other one, and I’m really excited about that.
Kathy: My goodness when your life is filled with beauty and passion and I can just tell. I can see it in your face and you’re such a joy to talk to and you’re such an inspiration for us to hear your story and hear about the great things that you’re doing. And the way that you don’t let failure keep you down. You have to keep going and you keep reinventing yourself. And even going to college now, getting a master’s degree, I mean you know with your street smarts and learn as you go mentality. The master’s degree part of that is gonna be, boy, what are you gonna do next with all that, I can’t even imagine. It’s been fantastic to hear your story.
Shari: Thank you.
Kathy: And thanks for sharing it for our listeners.
Shari: You’re very welcome.
Kathy: I’d just like to know, in closing, is there any advice that you wanna give to women out there that wanna turn their passion into a business? Anything that you wanna leave us with?
Shari: Wow, I think we’ve covered a lot.
Kathy: We have. [LAUGH]
Shari: Yes we have, I don’t know what else I can share. But just to reiterate to just start, take some things that you’re good at, or you enjoy, and take them for a spin, just test it out and try. I think about the famous hockey player, Wayne Gretzky. He always said, you’ll always miss 100% of the shots that you never try. You don’t wanna be in your golden years and being a what if girl. Then, for the young girls out there, Clay and I just celebrated our 27th year anniversary. So, I just always, you know, one of my friends said, I’ll never forget you told me there’s three secrets of a great marriage. And, i’m like, yeah. She goes don’t tell me, let me. I’m like, okay. Because, I really can’t remember what they were. [LAUGH] She goes okay, you once told me don’t ever share a closet. Don’t ever share a checking account, and never share a bathroom.
Shari: Okay, yeah, that’s pretty much the secret-
Shari: Of a happy marriage, but-
Kathy: Final words of wisdom, that’s fantastic.
Shari: Yeah, it’s been-
Shari: My hope for everybody out there today is you find sweet success. And just if nothing else, remember that there’s a big difference between making a living and making a life.
Kathy: Thank you for those closing words, that’s perfect. Sherry, thank you so much for coming on the show and sharing your story with our listeners. Have a great day.
Shari: It’s been a pleasure, thank you. Thanks a lot.
Kathy: You’re welcome.
Kathy: That’s our show for today. Our latest interview and shownotes have been added to our Showrunner hall of fame at the showrunnermarketingpodcast.com. Don’t miss an episode by subscribing now to the Showrunner Marketing Podcast on iTunes, Stitcher or Google Play. And to network, motivate and gain some more wisdom from the top, follow Advanced Marketing Strategies on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and LinkedIn. Keep learning and growing, and thanks for listening. [MUSIC]