“You may not have the right tools, but you can find a way to make it work.” – Sarah Lemmon
Today’s episode with Sarah Lemmon is gold. As early as grade school, she saw that life is not always the good stuff and that it’s very important to look at things in different perspectives. Her “Gray Crayola” story turned out to be one of her most valuable lessons in life.
She decided to slow down and think about the business, what marketing works best, how can she differentiate her business from others, and simply, why did she choose this business. All her business tips and advice when you listen to this episode.
Sarah’s website: https://3rdbirdcollective.com/
Katie Brinkley 0:02
Hi friends. I’m Katie Brinkley and you’re listening to Rocky Mountain marketing. This podcast is all about helping Colorado based small business owners, entrepreneurs, realtors and professionals discover the strategies and systems that take their marketing to all new heights. Let’s dive into today’s episode. Welcome back to Rocky Mountain Marketing. Today, my guest is Sarah lemon. Sarah is the doer and the Brewer of third bird kombucha. Although third bird hatched as a way for Sarah to use her science background to help lessen her son’s GI and sensory processing issues stemming from autism. Third bird quickly became more than just about physical well being is about connection and dedication to oneself in the community that you choose to call your own. When not experimenting with fermentation or trying to figure out QuickBooks. Sarah can be found hiding from her three kids reading a good book and joining me on podcast. So welcome to the show today, Sarah.
Sara Lemmon 1:01
Oh, thanks so much for having me, Katie.
Katie Brinkley 1:03
I’m really looking forward to today’s conversation before you know we hit record here, you and I had a great discussion about what you do and where you came from. But you know, I should have hit record sooner so that everyone could hear. So tell us a little bit about what life was like growing up and where you grew up.
Sara Lemmon 1:19
So I grew up in New Jersey right outside of Princeton, New Jersey. And I actually attended an all girls Catholic school called Stuart Country Day School of the Sacred Heart. And it’s an exactly how you would imagine it would be uniforms, nuns mass on Wednesdays, the whole thing. And in second grade, I had a teacher named sister Cox and sister Cox was four feet and a couple of inches of pure fire, like you did not mess with a woman. I remember being so frightened of her. The once I left her classroom, I learned that she probably was the most caring and present teachers I’ve ever had. And she also taught me one of the most important lessons in my life. I don’t remember when it was or like if we were doing like social studies, or science or math, you know, in elementary, you just kind of do all of the classes all the subjects in once. Either way, there was a drawing we had to do and there was very specific colors we had to use. And one of the colors was gray. And I didn’t have gray at all, in my Crayola box. And it’s honestly it was one of the first memories that I have that I can pinpoint. Just sort of like shame and anxiety. Like I was desperately searching through my desk for the great cran observing like all my friends who were like coloring like the way they should be, and they’re following the directions and I am stuck. And I’m frantic and remember trying to like, do the look, you know, when you look over at a friend be like, Hey, can you help me? While I’m trying to like be under the radar. And everybody’s eyes were like averting like nowhere in SR. Cox’s class, we’re not going to help you. And as the seconds ticked on, I just remembered that, like, my anxiety was building all over this gray cran. And I heard sister Cox’s blunt heels walking towards me. And she called me up to the front of the room. And I remember being like, Oh, crap, she knows she knows what’s going on. And I walk up, all of the krans stopped moving, like everybody just stopped and looked, because they’re like, oh, man, this is bad. Like if sister Cox calls you up. And she spoke loudly for everybody to hear. And she asked me she lips, Sarah, you know, what’s, what’s the problem? And I just started like snot and tears and all the things, you know, everything’s coming out of me. And I told her, I didn’t have a great cran. And what am I going to do? And like, this is the directions and everybody’s got a great crown, and I don’t and she just nodded. She looked at me nodded, and she walked over to a student and demanded a black crown. And she handed it to me. And I remember looking at this cran really confused and being like, What in the world is this? cran about? It’s black, it’s not gray? How is this gonna solve my problems? And without speaking Sr. Cox demonstrated how black cran when used correctly, could produce the color gray. It was all about how you chose to use it. And that lesson has carried me through my life, finding innovative ways, creative ways to solve problems to handle being a mom of three kids to being a middle school public school teacher for 14 years to starting my own business. You might not have quote unquote, the right tools for the general public but for the general masses, but it’s used what you have You make do with it. And it’s all about perspective.
Katie Brinkley 5:03
Sarah, I love that story. That is, that’s on the podcast now that is great. I think you know, it’s so true, it is all about perspective. Because, you know, I look back and, you know, I was never thinking, you know, like that I’d be an entrepreneur and you know, but it’s, and I was devastated when I lost my job. I don’t know what’s next for me. And, but it’s all about perspective. I mean, like having that opportunity to then just see what what would happen if I went ahead and tried, you know, and I didn’t have all of I mean, I didn’t go to business school, I was going to be a radio reporter. I was a radio reporter, I went to school to be a radio reporter. You know, I take a ton of business classes, but it is all about how you want to use the tools that you have in your wheelhouse, and how you’re going to use it to your advantage to help get the job done into how how to help grow your business. I love that story. Tell us more stories like this. This is well.
Sara Lemmon 6:01
Well, the best part of the actual story is like what happened like many years later, is that I came home to my hometown. And there’s a bar called the tiger’s tail. It’s a local tavern, wood paneling the whole Jersey vibe. Love it. My husband’s like it’s the most Jersey place in Jersey. And I’m like, yeah. And there was sister hawks, and she was sitting at the bar, drinking whiskey and smoking a cigarette. And of course, she’s like, wow, we all got vices. And I’m like, that’s true. So she’s like, you know, there’s nothing, she’s like, this is what I do. And I sat with her. And I told her the story about the great crown. And she remembered it to to a certain degree, she’s had a few whiskies, you know, but then she reminded me kind of the most important lesson of that day was more so that there’s a lot of gray in the world, just like we can’t take things as black and white, like nuns drink and smoke, you know, and life just gets way more complicated. Sort of the older you get. So you got to learn that there’s just not one way to do things. Yes, there’s no, and there’s no, like, you don’t go from like a to b mentality, you know, of like, Hey, I’m going to go to school, and then I’m going to graduate, and then I’m going to go to college, and then I’m going to get a job, and then I’m going to be there, you know, you know, there’s so many more paths and life throws things at you. And it’s whether or not you are willing, and open to sort of the the luck that happens. Jim Collins has a great chapter in his book, beyond entrepreneurship 2.0. And if you haven’t read it, you should all read it. It’s a great book. But it’s all about the idea of everybody gets the same amount of luck in this world. But it’s whether or not you capitalize on the luck that happens whether or not you see things as lucky. And they could be just small things, or they could be big, massive things. But whatever, however you choose to see the luck that’s around you, and you use that luck is how you’re gonna, what determines your success? Well,
Katie Brinkley 8:06
sir, I mean, you mentioned it briefly, you know that you were a high school teacher, and now you know, you have your own business, you know, you decided to go into the path of entrepreneurship. What is something like, you know, I said in your, your intro here is to try and figure out QuickBooks. Tell us a little bit about what made you decide to become an entrepreneur and for people that are thinking about doing it, if they want to become a business owner, they want to go out and get away from, you know, the corporate side of things. What’s the biggest piece of advice that you’d want to give them? Well,
Sara Lemmon 8:44
those are two big questions. I think the first thing is I didn’t think I was starting a business. Honestly, I thought in my brain that I was brewing kombucha for my son, because he had GI and sensory processing issues. I was enjoying it, people liked it. I had a really good friends who own a pop up market called the horseshoe market. If you haven’t checked it out, you should totally check it out. They’ve been fabulous holiday market that’s coming up in November. And they’re like, hey, you know, I know when you’re done with school, the school years always wear you out. You should come and sell kombucha at our markets during the summer. It would be awesome. I was like, Yes, great. That would be fantastic. But it could be a way to like dip your toes into things. And so I was out for brunch back when we all brunch and we were fun. For those days. Katie when we did things I remember that. And I was out with my one of my best friends Jess, and Jess is a marketing Maven in the tech world. And I my whole plan was that I was gonna sit down with her and I was gonna tell her all about how I was going to start this business that brewed kombucha and it was going to be awesome. And I was going to sell kombucha at these farmers at the farmers market. And she was going to help me like kind of come up with like my like logo and tagline. And we’d be sipping mimosas in like no time. And it was going to be just amazing. And she’s like, and the whole time she’s gonna be like, stare. You’re so smart. This idea is so great. Kombucha is amazing, like, share validation, because that’s why you know, your friends, right?
And Jess is listening to me. And she’s she’s nodding, she’s nodding. And finally she just is like, stop. She said to me, I’d hate for you to spend all of this time and energy selling kombucha a couple of weekends at a few farmers markets without fixing yourself. And Holy Moses, that cracks me open. Because she saw me she saw that here. I was I was 38 at the time. I was, as I said, a mom of three kids. I was working full time as a middle school science teacher. I was team lead. I wrote curriculum. I coach teachers, you know, I did all the things that you know, we’re told to do. I was checking all the boxes and following that straight line. Katie, we were talking about you know, and I was like, What do you mean, fix myself? And she’s like, Well, why aren’t why kombucha? And I started listing off the health benefits. She’s like, No, no, no, anybody could look that up. But like, why you? Why kombucha? Why this? And what her advice or what her feedback forced me to do? Was it forced me to slow down something I’m not very good at doing and really start to write out what is my story? What is it about me? What is it about my brand that sets me apart from everybody else? Why is it why am I doing kombucha? Like, I could have been doing a million other things. I didn’t have to start a business. But what was it about this venture that I found worthy. And really what Jess was asking me to do is not just why was this endeavor worthy, but why was I worthy? Why was I worthy, you know, like I need to trust myself, I needed to trust that I had all of the tools and resources available to me, I had all the right color crayons, if you will, to be able to make this successful. I just had to take the time and coalesce it into a vision. And it was the second best piece of advice I got outside of SR Cox because I spent months just writing and rewriting my story. My why, like why do I do this? And why is it that? I want to share this? How do why do I think that my Kombucha is worthy of being at your table with your family. And that in and of itself, then gave me the foundation for every other business decision. I have made contracts I’ve decided to go into or not go into. It provided me the gut check that I have needed when offers come in. Or people ask about things and me saying this doesn’t feel right. Because it doesn’t go back to why I do this. It’s really easy to kind of get snowballed by all of the things that start to happen as you own your own business and people start coming out and being like, You should do this. And then there’s this and then there’s this and then there’s Oh, and then all of a sudden you’re just you’re swamped and you forgot, you start you burn out and you hate it. You know?
Katie Brinkley 13:48
So I think that that is one of the things is when you’re just starting out. I know that it’s not and you’re not alone. I think that that’s one of the hardest things is saying no money or no to opportunities because other than you’re like that’s that’s potential business that you’re doing. That’s money that could be coming in. But I mean, like, it is so important for you to know your your why What are you most passionate about? Who do you work with? Who do you find that you enjoy working with the most? What is your ideal client mean? Once you start saying no, the yeses feel so much better.
Sara Lemmon 14:24
They feel 100 times better. And there are so many times you know, when I first started, I didn’t set up to be a delivery service. The pandemic kind of forced us to and it’s one of the best parts of my business. I love it like honestly, it was you know, I signed the lease for my commissary or my commercial kitchen and then like I kid you not at like three days later, everything shut down because of COVID. So what I did is I just brought bottles of kombucha around to like neighbors and just like knocked on their door. I was like, Hey, how’s everybody doing? Do you need anything? How’s the dog? Here’s some kombucha. Try it out, let me know if you like it or don’t. And it was just first of all it, I got really great feedback from people people got, more importantly, I got to connect with people. And that’s been sort of the the word of mouth that started spreading. But then it became, oh, I have a friend all the way up, you know, at the past 140/4 on i 25, can you deliver to them? And I’m like, Sure, of course, I’ll drive one bottle of kombucha all the way out there. Because you think that that’s what you have to do? And yes, I did it. I’m not gonna lie. And finally, I was like, What am I doing? And so you start saying no. And then I’ve had businesses who come up and said, Hey, we want to work with you. And this is and and I just left there being like, you’re not my people, you know, I work with really great businesses that are give back to their communities are socially conscious, treat their employees really, really well. And those are all things that I value. And so I partner with people who value similar things. And I think once you know that law of attraction, when you start finding those right people and those right connections, again, that sort of luck, whether you take it as luck or not starts to happen for you.
Katie Brinkley 16:08
So I’m curious what what does your model look like for finding and engaging and in selling to your ideal clients and customers these days, what marketing works best for you and your business?
Sara Lemmon 16:17
So I, so before I was a middle school science teacher, I actually worked in a nonprofit. So I am super grassroots. In my approach to things. I also target families, I target moms and dads, and grandparents and caregivers of kids. And so a lot of the people that I reach out to don’t necessarily buy on social media. So that’s not really my biggest place where I find people. So when people order off of my website, I always send them a postcard like old school postcard, I haven’t pre printed and I just say, like, hi, and I’ll fill in Katy. And then I give them a discount code, tell them that they can share it with their friends, I sign it, I mail it off right away to people, I utilize my email list really well, I respect people’s email. But I have found that by having really engaging content, content that shares stories a bit about myself and my families, and my own my own struggles, and how I’m sort of seeing, connecting the dots between things, has helped connect me with with good clients, I have found that giving people the space to like, talk about my product, like to other people, like you know, if somebody says, hey, my friends would really like this, you know, and I really go well, here, here’s a little sample bottle, you can try and, and pass it that way. I mean, we’re waiting
Katie Brinkley 17:44
for mine, Sarah, to try.
Sara Lemmon 17:49
I will give you some. So that’s been a big part of it, uh, you know, with, when I’m at events, it has been having an email, sign up, you know, I do have a social media presence. I spent a lot of time in the beginning thinking that that’s what I really needed to focus all my energy on. But when I look at, you know, where my income generates from, it comes from my email lists. So investing in good software for that, you know, I use square and so every time somebody swipes a card, I can send them an email, following up saying, hey, thanks so much for meeting me at this market. Here’s a discount code, or here’s where you can find me next. And just engaging people in that sort of realm. works way better. For me.
Katie Brinkley 18:35
I love the fact that you give that personal touch. And I think that, you know, that’s it goes a long way. I mean, there really is something to be said about sending out that follow up postcard or sending out like that, that little thank you. I love that you also utilize your email list. I think the email lists are so important. And you know, a lot of times they get lost by the wayside. But once you have that email list, oh my goodness, that is gold in your pocket, everybody. I mean, you got everyone knows I do social media. You know, that’s what next step social does is social media strategies and posting and figuring out what is the best platform for you to be on. But really, it’s, we don’t own our social media followers, LinkedIn, they got all 1800 of you, you know, Instagram, they have all 5000 of you. clubhouse they got you know what all of those followers that I have on those platforms could be gone like that if clubhouse shuts down or if Facebook bias tick tock, they’re all gone in an instant. Whereas with email, it is a way for you to consistently show up in front of people who already said, I want to know more about you or I’ve already done business with you. Tell me more. Those are your warm leads and you can show up in front of them once a week once a month. I mean I’m on the once a week bandwagon but I You can show up in front of them consistently to build and nurture that relationship. And like you said, you’re sharing a story, you’re not just going in and saying, hey, here I am, again, by by by, you’re sharing a story about what you are doing with your business and how you are out there in the community. And oh, by the way, if you are at a farmers market, you can come and check us out here. I love that. Absolutely love it.
Sara Lemmon 20:23
And the nice thing also with email lists, too, is that you can tailor it. So I can, you know, make an email for just people who haven’t purchased in the last, you know, three months and something you know, to them. And I do try to make it so for every, you know, I don’t ask for a purchase for you know, like, I’ll send an email, a story, like, here’s what’s going on, here’s the inside scoop of our business, this is what we’re doing. This is what we’re creating, here’s a new flavor we’re trying, before I ever pitch for people like I try to give, so it’s doesn’t always feel like they’re asking me to buy something. They’re asking me to do something. But it’s more of just like your part, we you know, our value is is that like this flock flies together. And so you’re part of the flock, you are with us and you are a part of our story. You’re part of our success. You’re the reason why we do what we do. And just showing that gratitude towards people helps out a ton.
Katie Brinkley 21:14
So this has been an awesome conversation before we finish up. Is there anything that I didn’t ask you about during today’s discussion that you think is important to share with the listeners?
Sara Lemmon 21:23
I think probably the most another really, like everything’s the most important Katie ever know, be willing to ask questions. I just had my state health inspection. I’ve never had a health inspection before. So I before they came, I was like, So tell me, what is it I need to have? And people like you just ask them? I’m like, Yeah, I’m going to and so the woman like led me through everything she was going to do and what it’s going to look like and the questions she’s going to ask, so that I felt prepared. I have found people want to help you. And so ask the questions. Take down the notes. There’s never a stupid question that you can ask. And it’s amazing what connections can happen once you start reaching out to people and saying, Hey, I need to understand this. And you do this really well? Can you help me? Or I don’t really understand X, Y and Z. I people want to help. I have found that those partnerships especially work really well when you’re looking at people who aren’t necessarily in your same line of business. Like, for instance, like when I want to ask questions about certain equipment I might need or certain like lab testing stuff. I sometimes look at Brewer like beer brewers. So there’s so many people who are rooting you on you just don’t know it yet. So just ask.
Katie Brinkley 22:40
It’s so true. And I think if it were not for so many people helping me and just giving me the gift of their time, when I started my entrepreneurial journey, I wouldn’t be where I am today. That’s the basis of the podcast here is to give back because I mean, there were so many people that just the things that they learned the mistakes that they made. It was the Cliff’s Notes version to getting up and running. And it’s it’s so important to know that there’s other people out there that just want to help you succeed. So love that love, love, love that advice. Well, Sarah, if people want are in the Denver area, and they want to buy some of your kombucha, where can they go online to to sign up for it? Where can they learn more about you?
Sara Lemmon 23:23
Yeah, so you can find me online at third the number three bird collective.com Third bird collective calm. You also can find me every Saturday at the City Park Farmers Market till the end of the month. If you haven’t been to city park farmers market it’s incredible. Margo and Peter from Jubilee, roasting have done a phenomenal job of revamping the market and it’s awesome. You also on my website, you can see that we’re in a ton of local bars and coffee shops. And if you have a coffee shop or a favorite spot that you’d love to see some locally brewed kombucha. Drop me a line. Most of our ingredients come right here from Parkhill. Currently, we’ve got an apple clove on ready available for folks. The apples all come from my neighborhood people just keep dropping off like bushels of apples to my front porch knowing that I’ll use them and pears too. So we try to source as locally as we possibly can. So thanks so much for having me. It’s been so much fun.
Katie Brinkley 24:25
Well I’m so glad you joined us. This has been a great episode. Thank you again, so much for coming on to the show today.
Sara Lemmon 24:32
Oh of course take care.
Katie Brinkley 24:34
Sarah’s story of sister Cox. absolutely floored me. I love that story. I wish that I would have had a better comeback for that we could end the podcast now. But it was so important because it is so true. You You never going to have all of the right tools but learning to make do with the tools that you have is everything. Like I said I didn’t go to business school there. There’s been different things that I’ve had to Jigsaw my way around and learn throughout my entrepreneur journey. But knowing how to use the tools that you have in your wheelhouse, that’s everything, whether it’s just having the black cran and trying to turn it gray, you’re not going to know everything. And whether it is you. Then delegating tasks out to people that do know how to do have the gray crown, or do you learning how to reinvent the way that you work? So that yet black crown is going to give you that gray color, absolutely loved that lesson that Sarah shared. And I also love that, you know, you never know exactly what path life is going to give you. She was was was a teacher. And now she’s got this grassroots marketing for her kombucha and showing up at farmer’s markets and in coffee shops. And it’s changed not only her life, I mean, this is her business now, but it’s helped her son in the process. There’s so many great lessons from today’s episode, whether it’s finding your ideal clients and saying no to different business opportunities that just don’t feel right or making do with that gray cran or that black crown because you don’t have the gray cran absolutely loved having Sarah on the show today. I think you need to make sure that no matter where you are with your business and your business journey is not always going to be exactly black and white. You’re not going to have all the answers you are going to make those mistakes. But as you grow and your business grows, you have to be willing to take the chances. Thanks so much for listening to this episode of Rocky Mountain marketing. As always, I’d love to hear from you. You can visit my website at www.nextstepsocialcommunications.com. Connect with me on LinkedIn or check me out on Instagram. Let’s keep taking your marketing to new heights.