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About The Guest
Kelsey Moreira is a passionate entrepreneur who, after getting sober in 2015, ditched her decade-long tech career with Intel and followed her sweet tooth to open her own cookie dough company: Doughp. With her infectious enthusiasm & business savvy behind her, Doughp experienced monumental growth in their first 4 years with revenue increasing on average 295% YoY.
In 2019, she appeared on ABC’s Shark Tank and named a Forbes 30 Under 30. Kelsey is using her platform to reduce social stigmas around addiction recovery and mental health through her #Doughp4Hope initiative.
- 13:47 — Leaving Intel and starting off as an entrepreneur.
- 15:03 — How to start a d2c brand.
- 17:49 — Substance abuse and entrepreneurship.
- 24:20 — Becoming an authentic, mission driven company.
- 30:47 — Pitching your product on Shark Tank.
- 39:19 — Scaling a brand successfully.
- 41:35 — Navigating startup struggles.
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What is the Success Story Podcast?
On this podcast, you’ll find interviews, Q&A, keynote presentations & conversations on sales, marketing, business, startups and entrepreneurship.
The podcast is hosted by entrepreneur, business executive, author, educator & speaker, Scott D. Clary.
Scott will discuss some of the lessons he’s learned over his own career, as well as have candid interviews with execs, celebrities, notable figures and politicians. All who have achieved success through both wins and losses, to learn more about their life, their ideas and insights.
He sits down with leaders and mentors and unpacks their story to help pass those lessons onto others through both experiences and tactical strategy for business professionals, entrepreneurs and everyone in between.
Machine Generated Transcript
people, dope, sober, cookie dough, business, company, life, drinking, e commerce, mental health, alcohol, recovery, create, feel, hubspot, kelsey, years, moved, pandemic, happen
Scott, Kelsey Moreira, Scott D Clary
Scott D Clary 00:00
Welcome to success story, the most useful podcast in the world. I’m your host Scott D. Clary, the success story podcast as part of the HubSpot Podcast Network. The HubSpot Podcast Network has incredible podcasts like the martec podcast hosted by Benjamin Shapiro. Each week, the MAR tech podcast tells stories of world class marketers who use technology to create lasting success with their business and their careers. If you like any of these topics, you’re going to like the mahr tech podcast, how science is changing advertising, how to set up a CRM, so you actually use it. private equities take on digital transformation, by big social is focused on newsletters. If these are topics that resonate with you, go check out the martec podcast wherever you get your podcasts or you can also listen on hubspot.com/podcast network, everyone. Just take a second and thank the sponsor of today’s episode, Long Shot leaders. It’s a podcast that reached out to me that I just started listening to because I absolutely love them. It’s hosted by my good friend Michael Stein. It’s edgy, it’s different. He interviews absolutely everyone under the sun and speaks through their journey. unpacks the biggest obstacles they’ve had to overcome to find success in whatever it is they’ve done in their life. So he interviews Academy Award winners, ex cons, Holocaust survivors, sports heroes, you name it, he interviews them, and he himself also has a really interesting background. So Michael Stein’s a host. He’s an entrepreneur, writer, actor, filmmaker, he’s also a stand up comedian. So he kind of puts us all into the interview. And then he gets into the how the why the secrets of why people do what they do. It’s really cool. I actually love the show. He reached out to sponsor but I don’t take any sponsorship space for podcasts unless I actually like them listen to myself, so I listened to it highly recommend you check it out. That is long shot leaders with Michael Stein. today. My guest is Kelsey Moreira. She is the founder and CEO of dope an edible cookie dough company that is growing at 295%. Year over year. She was at Intel she left she was selling cookie dough at San Francisco’s Pier 39 And inside Oracle Park, She then moved to the Las Vegas Strip, she raised some capital $1.6 million. She had the pivot to e commerce and direct consumer because of COVID. She expects to close 2.7 million in sales by the end of this year on track to do 5 million. She was a Forbes 30. Under 30. She was a Vegas 40. Under 40. She was also featured on Shark Tank. And on top of that, she struggled to overcome substance abuse issues, which is now part of who she is and what she what she basically evangelized within our company. So we spoke about entrepreneurial lessons, we spoke about her Shark Tank experience. We spoke about transitioning from brick and mortar to e commerce. We also spoke about some addiction issues that are not discussed enough in startup culture. So how calci created a startup culture without any sort of drinking or mind altering substances, how to permeate your values as a founder into the company culture so that it actually means something. And then of course, there’s some just straight business lessons in here as well, which are pivoting from retail into online how she transitioned 100% online during COVID. And sales skyrocketed things that a lot of companies have struggled with. So let’s jump right into this. This is Kelsey Moraira, founder and CEO of dope
Kelsey Moreira 03:28
How much time do we have? No, I’m just kidding. I love this question like origin story. I feel like I’m in like an X Men like How did I become? Kelsey modernas morphing story. But in all seriousness, yeah, it is kind of a wild story. And it does start a bit back. You know, I was born in Dallas raised in Northern California, I have a family that just like loves food, all the women in my life always love to bake and to cook. So as a child did spend a lot of time in the kitchen, eating along the baking journey. And then also learning a lot about you know, baking from them as as a child, but when I got into grade school, I really like threw the pressure on myself. My parents had gotten divorced when I was six. And I think I just wanted to make them proud wanted to get that approval and very self fueled, wanted to be the best at anything I did. And that caused a ton of anxiety for me perfectionism issues, and it would turn into workaholism issues from there, really fueled by that desire to just be all on all the time and be performing at the highest level. When I was 16 years old, I got the opportunity to work at Intel. And so I was jumping from you know, being a kid to being an adult really quick. And this corporate life. I mean, I was leaving high school at like 1030 in the morning to go to Intel and work with people who were you know, 3040 years my senior in some cases, amazing for the experience side of getting to learn from these amazing individuals and see people making strategic decisions at those levels and whatnot as I would go through what would become a 10 year career at Intel from that point on But it was very hard on my mental health and I wasn’t doing the things I needed to do to keep myself grounded to work through childhood traumas and issues that I had, and really be able to live a more full life and I was leaning on alcohol through that time to to deal and to cope. And alcohol was sort of this quiet for me, I drank for the first time when I was 14, and drank till I blacked out. And I remember feeling, you know, though I was hungover the next morning, it was a feeling of just peace, like quiet in my brain, you know, I didn’t have to be on I could just pretend to be like everybody else carefree and relaxed and having fun and trying to fit in. And that really just escalated over the, the next years of my life, as I would go through college and beyond never really able to get a hold of my drinking, I was not just the once in a blue moon, problem causer it was, you know, pretty reliably if I was going to drink, I would always drink to access and had a really hard time stopping myself. And it was difficult, because everything else seems so Okay, in my life to say that it was a problem, you know, society really has it so coded that, you know, it’s just, Oh, it’s fine. You know, it’s just whatever it’s happened a few times here and there. And really only you and those super close to, you know, boyfriend at the time, for example, who was just getting battered with four years of all these alcohol issues for me, other people on the outside, think, well, you don’t have a problem, you know, look at your great job and look at the grades you’ve been getting. And it’s very tough for me to come to terms with that. But in in late 2015, September 14 2015, to be exact, I had my last hurrah and got sober, decided that enough was enough that I really wanted to be the Kelsey, I knew I had to offer to the world. And that was being clouded by alcohol. So my choice to get sober really changed my life opened up everything that I am and have today, and namely, getting back in the kitchen was one of the kind of the first big changes, I started to bake again and really figure out like, who is Kelsey? Like, what do I like to do? You know, there’s so much free time when you’re not hungover or drinking all the time. And I was like, Yeah, baking like crazy nights and weekends from work and bringing in those baked goods into the office and getting enough nudges of like, you should sell this, you know that I kind of got that lightbulb of like, oh, like Shark tick, you know, I was like I literally only had Shark Tank as an example of entrepreneurship back then I don’t have any entrepreneurs in my family and I just sort of had that inkling of, like, maybe I could make something that would be mine, you know, something of my own, that I could create, and I love making baked goods or people baked or unbaked in my case today with cookie dough, but I just love giving something that I’ve created someone else and watching them take a bite of it and light up, you know, you really can change someone’s mood with a sweet treat, and just that moment that they take for themselves to have something sweet, or share it with another person and what goes on over that. Just really an exciting moment for me to think about creating something of my own
Scott D Clary 07:53
by creating something of your own and, and and basically, you know, putting something out into the world that eventually turns into a business that’s a that’s a big jump from Intel. And that’s that, you know, I know a lot of people that do get these career moments and then they do pivot and entrepreneurship and they just don’t make it because they think that oh, you know, I have big company experience I’m sure I’ll be good but then they actually go into it and then it’s difficult but even just walk me through the mindset so what what gave you the courage? What gave you the What gave you even the courage to stop drinking when there was nothing negative going on in your life? Because that’s a that’s a pressure situation, especially if it was a social thing. But then also what gave you the courage to jump from Intel? How do you like manifest this and bring this forward in your in your in, you know, the ideas and the decisions you make?
Kelsey Moreira 08:38
Yeah, two big, big jumps in my life, you know, the choice to say like enough stuff, I got to get sober and I think though everything is put together and perfect on the outside seemingly right. You always know you know, the individual knows how their relationship is with alcohol and like I mentioned those close to me who had gone through the ordeals you know, right alongside and my poor parents like through college and beyond constantly being like, okay, like let’s see what the phone call is from Kelsey this weekend you know or if she’s using someone else’s phone because she lost hers but you know as she hospitalized again I got hospitalized twice for overconsumption of alcohol you know carried out of a party on a stretcher because I was blacked out um you know five foot two 120 pretty much was all through my college career as well and like that you just can’t take the levels I was drinking out at that size so those things happen and getting tickets for minor in consumption drinking I lied to a police officer I told them information from a fake ID so got false reporting to law enforcement these little you know, tickets and issues throughout the time and and then the way I would treat those close to me, you know, when I was drinking just weren’t a reflection of who I wanted to be. The final hurrah have come into the decision to get sober sober. I’d gotten sober for four months when I was 21. This idea of like a reset. I was like maybe if I just stopped drinking for a few months. I’ll be out Okay, you know, and it’s really, you know, this is the the joy of alcoholism, you just are trying however you can to navigate a path that lets alcohol stay in your life. Because you just don’t want to believe that you’re going to have to be different, you’re going to have to be the one that doesn’t drink. And, you know, why is this happening to me? So after that failed attempt, and then now I’m 24 at the time, feeling like, you know, it’s been about six months since the last episode, if you will, of acting out drinking, and then I’m going on a business trip to Barcelona. And from the moment I got off the plane, basically, you know, I got to the hotel and they gave me a half bottle of wine is like the welcome gift, you know, so I started drinking at like, 1030 in the morning, and on it went, and I came to at 330. In the morning in a stranger’s apartment, I had cheated on, you know, my boyfriend of four years and had to have that phone call the next morning to explain all these things that I was just horrified by and couldn’t even had to pick the pieces together even remember what had happened. And yeah, just feeling this absolute, utter moment of clarity of like, I never want to feel this way. Again, I’ve had so many mornings apologizing for stuff I barely remembered. And now here I am, you know, where I should be in my, I’m in this career, it’s been already in nine years, at this time, I believe, nine years with Intel and feeling like I should be in this new phase of life. And this is happening, you know, still, I’m still having all these issues. I just said enough’s enough, you know, alcohols just not worth it. And I found an English speaking a meeting in Barcelona that morning, and I’ll be six years sober this September. So the Recovery One is many chips away at the iceberg. You know, you’re like this stiff thing that’s just like, I don’t want to accept there’s a problem, I want to find another way, you’re just like, holding on tight. And it’s like enough little chips away of these nights of these incidents of letting down people I loved of letting myself down. That finally, you know, enough was enough. And I broke into saying, I got to make a change. So that’s the recovery jump, the Intel jump is a another story on, you know, having that decision to say, my happiness and joy was worth the pursuit of that risk, you know, it was worth the jump to see what what could happen. I honestly as the idea started to grow with for dope in my head, I started to think the bigger risk was like, what if I didn’t do it? How sad and upset would I be if I saw someone else, you know, down the road, trying this idea that I have, and me not having done it. And always wondering what if and the corporate life though it has its cushions, you know, there’s all these nice cushy things around the organization, the structure and the support that you have. I always moved like a bit too fast. You know, I always felt like I was running like at a speed 10 on the treadmill. And Intel was like at a four, you know, it’s just is a slower pace of things to get stuff done. Or people many layers above you making decisions that your program has cut, you know, the budget that was for this thing you’ve been working on pouring your heart and soul into? Yeah, it’s not going to happen anymore. We’re moving this way. And you’re like, Well, I like by child. You know, I just wanted I thought, What a cool chance to have the ownership over. If it works or not, at least it’s gonna be on me. And that was that was worth taking the leap. So February of 17. I got the idea. April 20 2017, was the first day of my sabbatical with Intel. And that was the launch for dope. That was my first day selling dope cookie dough and made 100 pounds of dough at a commercial kitchen in Oakland, carted it over to San Francisco and went to Dolores Park set up this cart I’d had built for like 500 bucks. And we sold out in three hours and I was like, oh shit, people really like cookie dough. This is gonna be a thing. Let’s go you know.
Scott D Clary 13:40
So you you when you take a sabbatical from Intel? Is that cutting your paycheck day one?
Kelsey Moreira 13:47
No, you no more 10 weeks paid? Yeah. So 10 weeks paid. And usually people travel right. I actually had a like backpacking trip through Southeast Asia that I was going to go on, of which my dad was super freaked out about. But then when I told him that I was gonna start this cookie dough company and potentially quit my job. He was like, What about the backpacking? You know, maybe we should just do that. I’m sure you know, those thoughts crossed his mind. He was a little, a little nervous about this. This concept I had, but the 10 Weeks was a gift, you know, to be able to say, with a safety blanket of sorts, you know, that I could go back you know, if it really didn’t work, but at the end of the 10 weeks, I was like, I couldn’t even come in to turn in my laptop because I had two events in San Francisco that day. I was like I’m gonna have to come down to Santa Clara on Monday. You know, this this thing is really happening and I’m going to pursue it so my manager at the time you’re super supportive and and all that so I definitely felt like they got to watch me spread my wings and you know, it’s been fun I came back to speak it until earlier this year and share my journey which was really cool full circle.
Scott D Clary 14:52
That’s amazing. And and the first iteration of dope was it. It was obviously brick and mortar or was it you were selling at like events, tradeshow? goes, yes, that first step, like first
Kelsey Moreira 15:03
step of dope was like I will literally sell dope wherever I can. wherever anyone will meet me to buy some I’m there. So very first thing was we got into a food Park in San Francisco and so setting up a tent and table seven days a week. You know, I wrote them with this idea just after the Dolores Park Day said, you know, hello, I’m Kelsey, I this cookie dough company, like, you’re always sort of acting like a few steps bigger than you really are. And I’d love to sell at Spark social and they wrote back within two hours, and we’re like, oh my God, we love cookie dough. What a cool idea. When can you start and I was like, Okay, how to get you know, food permit for, like, trying to figure all that out, like, as quick as I could. I’m like, I’ll be there in two weeks. So yeah, I got everything I needed together in those two weeks to start there. And meanwhile, catering, tons of corporate catering, you know, anywhere I could get in for an office, Happy Hour birthday celebration. Uber, Lyft, LinkedIn, Google, like all these awesome companies are there in the bay and got that opportunity to yeah, go up and down San Francisco Bay Area and spread some cookie dough joy to those offices. And in about, like four months, five months from starting the company, got my first opportunity for a physical location. And this is just prior to our Pier 39 storefront that we opened in the very start of 2019. Sorry, 2018. But it was a yeah, this kiosk was going to be my two year sobriety anniversary was the grand opening for it. So this is the interweaving of like my journey into sobriety and my decision to bring that into dope. I put on the Facebook event, if you come up and say it’s dope to be sober, you’ll get 20% off, you know, come to dopes first first location. And the line was like for one just like around the block. I’ve never been so happy filming this like video of like everybody cheering around waiting to get in at the opening and the response that we got from the mention of sobriety and me saying, you know, it’s my two year sober birthday come celebrate, at this grand opening people asking for advice, you know, saying they’re a few weeks sober? Do I know of any good meetings in the city? Or sharing? They were many years sober? And yeah, and saying that they hadn’t told anyone publicly like this. So it was cool to see me sharing it. And I just had this like lightbulb like, wow, if like these kinds of conversations are happening in these DMS, how many more people out there are wanting to talk about it are curious about getting sober, are thinking about their own relationship with alcohol are feeling like there’s no way I could get sober in my mid 20s. What a chance for me to share what my journey has been like and the joys that have come from this decision. Yeah, and this this new way of life and just make it a bigger conversation. So I started the dope for Hope initiative with the company and that really has become at the center of everything we do to try and raise awareness and break the stigma around mental health and addiction recovery.
I want to I want to while we’re speaking about it, let’s let’s be on that and then we can continue your story. I think it’s relevant because that that dough for hope, and that that the mindset of supporting individuals that are having these issues, of course, alcohol is one, there’s other addictions, there’s especially in startup space, I’m sure there’s enough people that have mental health issues, overworking. Even like during the pandemic, just people being always on always working. Like there’s a ton of things that are really eating away at people. So what is what is dough for hope? What is it trying to accomplish? How is it accomplishing it? And what are some of the what are some of the ways that you feel that people can take better care of themselves? When they’re overworked? Or turning to substances?
Kelsey Moreira 18:33
Yeah, or before they get to those stages even right, like the idea of how could we help people recognize that this is for everybody. You know, before the pandemic I used to have some people say like, oh, it’s really nice, what you guys are doing for people with mental illness? And I was like, yes, but it’s actually for everybody, you know, like mental health, I think through the pandemic has become really an understanding for everyone that like we all have this responsibility to work on our mental health and to try and keep ourselves balanced and in that state so that we don’t fall into you know, substance use so that we don’t fall into overeating or under eating or, you know, even there’s all these things that people use to distract from the feelings, right? Like trash television, or dropping yourself into sex addictions, love addictions, like there’s so workaholism even just anything to not have to sit and feel and think about how you’re feeling and be touched you know, in touch with that. So mental health is is really at the core for me of like getting everybody to think about it. And for those in recovery this other hand here is like those in are seeking recovery how can they feel more supported? So dope for hope coming to life at my business and what I mean I feel like it’s like dope as ours now this like community concept, right? Like what is it doing for everybody is one straight for the community through mental health Mondays so we post information stats and a little dose of hope on a Monday morning through our social, we also send that out there our email list dedicated for mental health tips sobriety tips like how to go to your first party. So we’re really keeping it as like a content engine for us as well to be shared,
Scott D Clary 20:09
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Kelsey Moreira 21:54
and resources and info on this. The next is for inside the company. So there’s so much out there, everybody knows about B Corp and whatnot. And it’s like, it’s amazing. What are you doing out for the rest of the world? But I often ask like, how are those employees? Like how is it inside that company. And that’s really, really critical and core to me. And what I care about today is like trying to make more recovery, friendly workspaces, trying to make more mental health policies come to life and just open that door from employer to employee to be able to have these conversations. So often the last place someone is showing up is work. And what if we could, you know, make it a more open conversation for managers? When they ask, how’s it going at the start of the one on one? It’s really like, how are you? You know, how are you really doing? How’s the balance this work from home life? All these things going on? Right? Like have you touched in on a real, true heart to heart basis with your employee, and have you been thrown vulnerable with your staff about how you’re doing and be able to open that door that it’s okay to talk about the tough stuff in life, the things that are going on in your immediate family. And this level of vulnerability inside the workplace is I think, really what’s going to change the future for all of us and how we’re able to bring our full selves to work and to get the help we need when we need it. The last area from dope is really for nonprofits working in the space, I am such a big proponent that I don’t need to recreate the wheel, there are amazing people working on these issues. So for 2021 Our beneficiary is the she recovers foundation for women that are in or seeking recovery. They are amazing. It’s a great, you know, many paths to recovery for people, but at the core is community. And so they’re really, really great community, we donate a portion of every single sale of dope to she recovers, which is in excess of $20,000 Already this year. Super exciting.
Scott D Clary 23:37
That’s amazing. How do you find this has impacted the culture at dope? Like, I’m just so I think I’m young. And I’m going to go work at a startup. Because if I’m not mistaken, I’m doing some research and you’ve tried to create a culture that doesn’t include drinking or other drugs or other things, right. That’s what that’s one of the tenants. But if I’m young, I want to join a startup. Well, I don’t I don’t really get why I can’t have drinks at a company party. That doesn’t make sense to me. So what’s the what’s the what’s the end result? Is it has it attracted talent? Has it pushed talent away? Has it attracted potentially the right people that you want to work with? I’m curious what the the the actual implication is for a company that champions this?
Kelsey Moreira 24:20
Yeah, I mean, I think at the core of any authentic mission driven company, you want to have employees that are super bought in on what the mission is, right? You want to have employees that are like living and breathing into some regard or at least are super passionate in understanding the value of what you’re trying to do. So for me the idea that what we do would push anyone away is certainly like they probably shouldn’t work here because it’s a big part of the impact we’re trying
Scott D Clary 24:44
to have elsewhere. It’s a good takeaway. Yeah,
Kelsey Moreira 24:45
yeah. So I feel like you know for us in in my eyes and through our journey with dope even from being a brick and mortar storefront, you know, having to interview more regularly right to get hourly staff working in the stores, to now being a remote company with a You know, social media side, we’ve got customer support. And then obviously, like, the director roles on operations and marketing, it has helped immensely, not only to attract the best talent, but to retain them, you know, to make them feel like they are able to be their full selves at work, they’re able to talk about what’s really going on, we have a mental health Monday Slack channel, where we all share one high and one low from the last week, and like, I keep that real, like I really share with my staff when something’s not going right, and I’m feeling out of balance, or I’m feeling super anxious, or something else is happening. And it’s not a place of, oh, feel sorry for me, and it’s not a place of, oh, I’m weak, and I’m not able to run the company. Now. It’s like, I’m in touch with what’s going on. And here’s what you know what I’m doing about it. And it’s okay, those though, I think those moments when I’ve been able to share something going on with my life, have really opened the door for them to share. So we have a number of employees that are in recovery, which is awesome. And, again, I think there are some companies in this old school mentality that say, they would be an at risk employee, you know, some, you know, with sober dates in 2020, even and it’s, it’s like and 2021. And I’m here for it, you know, I want to be supportive, I want to be that employer that can be there. Even if people are looking to get into recovery for the first time, or relapse and need to get back on the right track, pushing them away is a disservice to humanity, you know that someone struggling in your company, at that moment is when they need you the most to say and to see through the issue and see that there’s someone a human struggling with something and that you have an opportunity to help. So for employers out there, like we did share a policy on our mental health policy, like a template version of the mental health policies on our blog. So that’s something great to look at. There’s also recovery friendly workplace initiatives in I think 13 states now. So really cool to see these structured ways of showing how real the problem is how pervasive it is, what cost it’s really having to employers to ignore it, you know, loss of productivity, etc, turnover rates, all of this. And, and things actionable things you can really do to change those, change those ways inside your company. But it’s like you said, it has to be a culture change the decision to not have alcohol at client events, or, you know, when we did a client event in San Francisco, and it was like, we had a cocktail bar, we had a bunch of fun mocktails all with cool dope names and stuff, and then had kombucha there and like the whole thing, so there’s fun ways to, to bring that around. And it’s very important, even for companies who do allow alcohol to be present, you know, at events, really try to not make it the focus, you know, really think about how isolated that is for someone who’s struggling to feel like they need to drink or they need to be a part of this drinking activity to get the inside scoop. You know, that is that is a really scary place for someone in early recovery.
Scott D Clary 27:47
No, I was just thinking through as you’re as you’re describing the culture, I’m just thinking as to the reason why people do drink a company event. And it’s because they don’t have that rapport and they don’t feel that connection with other people. So they drink to allow them to have this almost like this false sense of comfort, right? This this false, almost is this, you know, liquid courage, right? So if you have if you have a call, if you have a company culture that actually has people that feel like they can talk all the time, and they know what people are going through the highs, the lows, the bullshit, the good stuff, then all of a sudden, like, you don’t have to have a drink to talk to your best friend. Yeah, and that’s, that’s the kind of like, I’m not saying, Listen, it’s still work at the end of the day. And like, you know, I’m always a big fan of saying, like, you know, work as a team, not a family, and if you are working together towards the objective, but like you can, you can have, like friendship, camaraderie there, that’s more than just surface level, if you feel like you can be comfortable, you can speak your mind, you can say what’s on your mind, and you understand what other people are going through. And that alone is probably a healthier environment, cuz I can only think back to all the horrible things that have happened at company events, client events that are alcohol related..
Kelsey Moreira 28:54
Yeah And I had an idea. Yeah, an ex boyfriend of mine in San Francisco, you know, telling me these stories of the drugs present at all the parties, and it’s, you know, its superiors offering the drugs in the bathroom at the event, and it’s like, wow, what a bad situation to be put in to feel like I have to accept this to, to have his you know, because if I say no, that was gonna think I’m gonna rat on him or tell on him or, man, it’s just, it’s such a bad cycle. And it’s very pervasive, you know, with a second you, as an employer, as an owner of a business. Second, you start to hear or see some of those behaviors. I mean, cutting it off is like the only way you’re going to get it to stop because it really starts to I mean, you’re creating more addictions down the road. But, you know, it really starts to propel itself. So it’s really important, I think, to just be more considerate with how you’re trying to shape your company culture. And it’s like you said, the idea that you need the alcohol to bond or to hang out. The friendships that I have today, like work is one thing, right? But it’s a parallel of like, the friendships I have today are so much more meaningful than the friendships that I had when I was drinking. I maybe had more friends quote, air quotes here, right acquaintances, drinking buddies. I had more plentiful, but we weren’t really friends like when we were together we were talking about what we were drinking or we were talking about just BS you know nothing. And now it’s like the time you spend with your friends you know in recovery or those who just choose to drink less it’s like really much deeper relationship and I find that same thing is coming true in the workplace. Yeah.
Scott D Clary 30:21
Let’s keep going down your story because there’s a there’s a couple other points like the Shark Tank is a good store I want to I want to understand what your experience was with that even like the the pivot from brick and mortar to e commerce so so what’s next in the dope in the dope timeline dope story, you you now your first brick and mortar you’ve moved to Las Vegas, the Las Vegas Strip you’re selling there let’s keep going from there.
Kelsey Moreira 30:47
Even pre selling in Las Vegas we actually went on Shark Tank to raise funds for that Vegas store so Shark Tank came in it was May of 2018 so I’m just over a year into the business and Shark Tank was coming to town with a casting call I don’t know anybody in show business similar with like I don’t know any entrepreneurs definitely don’t have any famous relatives to get me onto the show and so I went to an open casting call and sat on a curve with like 500 Other people all waiting to go in and shoot their shot you get like 90 seconds to pitch why you’re going to be the most amazing entrepreneur for this and made it through that first round and on and on it would become a six month ordeal through all these videos submissions and phone calls and information to be provided contracts to sign I was like pre understanding how important a lawyer was just like okay, I mean it’s shark day I was like I guess I just have to sign this you know if I want to be on the show they’re not gonna negotiate with me but always negotiate is my takeaway there you can always negotiate a contract. So I wish I had read that but everything worked out just fine and I was chosen to film for the show in September of 2018 Another amazing like alignment with recovery it filmed like the day after and it’ll get sick that day cuz it was either day after day before but the day after my three years sobriety anniversary so really cool like alignment of like you’re doing the right thing you know, sobriety kept giving me these little reminders that like look another year in and like this awesome freakin stuff is happening like keep going so when on the show I mean I had an amazing time going through that process and so cool to get to shoot my shot to you know these amazing people who could dramatically change my life there through the ordeal you know, I had practice like crazy like I’ve never you know, I told you I was a little over the top in school. You think I was taking like the LSAT again because I had like flashcards with all my business numbers on it like you know cogs in this profit none of all the years sales like I’ve been just everything like to the deepest levels that I could I probably had like 50 flashcards and I memorize them all by the time I went to film so that and my pitch I was just so prepared that I was not going to get caught off guard as the entrepreneur up there going like well I don’t know I think it’s around blank or whatever I was like super sharp so luckily thanks to that I did have some amazing stuff got you know feedback from the sharks around my skills as an operator Barbara Corcoran said I was the most sophisticated store owner she’d ever met and and Yeah Mark Cuban said you know everything about this says it’s amazing. But then the conversation turned into like cookie dough is not healthy and the obesity epidemic and like I’m sitting there going Hey, and it’s cookie dough like it’s dessert you know, it’s supposed to be a snack you
Scott D Clary 33:31
know, it’s not it’s not meant to solve the obesity epidemic is meant to just be fun.
Kelsey Moreira 33:38
Like the mental health epidemic like take a moment have some self care you know, treat yourself
Scott D Clary 33:42
you’re doing you’re doing all that you’re doing that already. You already know that like how many things can you take out a cookie dough? You already are solving mental health. You’re solving addiction. You don’t have to solve a BC at the same time like that can be someone else’s.
Kelsey Moreira 33:54
Yeah, like can we share this at all? Or do I get all the weight on my shoulders? So yeah, it was a little you know, almost like almost like built for TV because like there was Twitter was like blowing up afterwards like what are you talking about? This is the best pitch I’ve ever seen in Shark Tank but we had a number of people tweeting that like this is the best we’ve ever seen how did she not get a deal? And like look at all these other you know, people bringing up other suites companies that they’d invested in so it was it was really jarring I kept my cool in there you know I was like thank you guys so much. I wish I was hugging one of you but thanks for letting me you know you get to hug when you make a deal or whatever but thanks for letting me come up here and turn around like waived clicked my heels and then I was like gonna walk down the hallway and I just lost it like the cameras like right here like six inches in front of you and I just totally broke down you don’t see this on TV like thank you editors. You guys cut all this out but full emotional like Cliff dive you know, you just go from like thinking one thing is going to happen and like it’s going pretty well. They’re saying all this nice stuff. And then it’s like, I’m out. I’m out. I’m out. I was like, oh my god like it didn’t And the way I thought and I took a mental health day the next day, you know, I told my staff I
Scott D Clary 35:04
believe them say anything when they saw you crying the sharks? Yeah, did they hear you, they see the bass.
Kelsey Moreira 35:13
The second you turn and start walking, those doors closed, like right behind you and the camera guy is like right in front my face and I’m walking towards him as I start to break down and then I get through the back doors and like just started like hyperventilating, you know, like really trying to get the camera out of my face, like that escalates it a lot because you’re just like, I just like, you know, I just kept saying, like, I just need a minute, I just need a minute, you know, you just want to be able to regroup. But they like want to capture at all and I was so prepared. I’m like, Okay, this is gonna happen. I’m gonna be the girl sobbing in the Shark Tank trailer. But thank goodness, you know, they didn’t they didn’t hear that. So I really,
Scott D Clary 35:48
I don’t think they wanted to make an example out of somebody who’s already doing incredible work so that I it wasn’t like you were the the bad option. It’s so that’s fine. So, okay, so incredible shark Tech experience. And obviously, that probably they probably do get some exposure, but all this all this all the growth, the pivot to eat, none of that’s funded. You’re still here. Are you still bootstrapped at this point?
Kelsey Moreira 36:14
No. So I had gotten funding. Two months after filming, I found another investor and got funding for the Vegas store. So I opened that in March of 2019, which was luckily like, it wound up being three months before I got the notice that we were going to air we aired in May. So very fortunate that the store was open by the time we aired, because so many people like go to check you out and see like, Oh, are they still around, you know, but we really weren’t so focused on E commerce at the time, you know, all of 2019 we sold $50,000, online, late 2019. And, you know, 2019 ended 1.2 million for the business. So you can see most of it was in our brick and mortar focus. My husband joined the company in late 2019 Great like ops and finance brain and he’s like Kelsey 2020 needs to be the year of focus. And we sort of looked at all these things, you know, I like I said at the beginning, I was sort of like all sell wherever I can sell right? So we were Hilton Union Square, you’d find us in the lobby of that hotel, like we were doing catering, so a little bit of wholesale stuff catering, a little bit of ecommerce and then the stores. So it’s like how can we refine all this down and he’s, you know, with all of us look kind of way in these options, even looking at franchising, and you know, whatnot, e commerce just made the most sense to focus on which would be like the best decision ever knowing what would happen in 2020. Not knowing what would happen in 2020. Rather, you know, being able to have that. That decision come to light gave us the ramp time we needed to get the retention marketing in place and get the ad started and really start to optimize the site. We moved over to Shopify.
Scott D Clary 37:42
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Kelsey Moreira 39:19
and get all those engines going and just absolutely crazy sales for us to go from 30 boxes a month in November of 2019 to 3000 a week in April 2020. Real grow up Yeah.
Scott D Clary 39:35
Yeah.That’s insane. And you manage that no problem like you you didn’t have supply chain, like you could staff up like, I’m sure you had some
Kelsey Moreira 39:43
no problem was maybe a little far. Like, literally I have PTSD over this period of my life. You know, it was very trying, you know, and it is sometimes people ask, like, what’s entrepreneurship to you? And it’s like, entrepreneurship is those months of that scale and being so committed to what you’ve created that like there’s nothing that will stop you like you will find a way to make it happen is was helping through on the operations front right so we were doing graveyard shifts at the store. And we’re both having to still run the business during the day but going to this graveyard shifts at night and one time is was literally gone for I think it was like 38 hours straight, no sleep, because it was graveyard and someone didn’t show up for the the shift at the store during the day, like you just have all these all these pieces riding together. And then the pandemic would happen you know, in mid March getting our notice that we had to shut down so we had 12 hours notice to move our entire we were doing all of our production all of our packing graveyard while the store was shut. And now that the store was it’s in a casino part of a hotel, right? So they were gonna be shutting it down 12 hours notice to find another kitchen, get a U haul load everything we can think that we might need for the undetermined future that is before us. You know, no one knew how long the shutdown was gonna last. So we tried to get everything you know and loaded up into a U haul and I mean just pure madness we it is a crazy time to look back on but it’s that that grit and grind and determination that you’re going to make it happen you know, there’s just nothing that will stop me from making dope successful and and that that’s how I’m here today. Yeah.
Scott D Clary 41:20
And and then let’s let’s move into E commerce because you You handled like again, looking looking back, I’m sure it was stressful. But it looks it looks graceful. It looks graceful. Because you made the pivot and your success. So what was e commerce play? How did you manage that?
Kelsey Moreira 41:35
Yeah. Well, for one, we had a lot of learnings from what was, I suppose three years at the time of, you know, two and a half years at the time of learnings from what people liked and what they said in the stores? What questions do they ask most often? So when I started to develop our E commerce strategy, and, and the website itself, right, it was like, Okay, these are the top four flavors, we have like, let’s kit those, you know, operation side, like let’s make it more simple to have a kid set. So we just did two sizes, four flavors, and would do those kits in the beginning, trying to keep it as streamlined as we could, you know, those common questions that we get from customers, we got to really make that clear on the site. So tons of learnings there and then really moving into paid ads to try and grow the acquisition of new customers. So that was the main focus for the strategy on on E commerce growth components. Getting our retention marketing was another thing that was like, you can do everything you want to do to keep the hamster wheel going of new customer acquisition. But if you have this like leaky funnel, where the customers aren’t coming back to buy again, it’s a very expensive game to play. So we had some great success with the ads definitely fueled through the pandemic, you know, April of 2020, we were getting like a 6x row as on her Facebook Ad Account. Unheard of right? unheard of, especially in our industry. So just amazing, like results through that time. And then it’s really about continuing right once you got to that that, you know, just absolute crazy peak from January through April, it was like more than doubling our sales every single month. Once we hit sort of this 400 $500,000 Mark, it was like, Okay, how are we going to keep these monthly sales steady, and the retention marketing was a huge part of that. But, you know, thankfully, through all the scaling and growing move into a co Packer fulfillment center, you know, all those jumps happen through through 2020. While the supply chain world was just crazy with the pandemic as well, we started a co Packer without even physically being able to go and visit because of COVID it was shut down. So I taught someone how to make buy products through FaceTime. Just craziness, you know, but we wound up doing 2.5 million online in 2020 200,000 in brick and mortar and I made the decision when things reopened, that the store was not going to be the right path for us anymore and closed down the brick and mortar business it was down 82% year over year. And you know, we’re having that on one hand while looking at these crazy ecommerce numbers. And though the emotion side right, as a founder, you’re always so emotionally drawn to what you’ve created. I mean blood, sweat and tears. I was like out here to oversee the construction of the store from the ground up. And it was just so beautiful. And I loved it. But it’s like boom, like, ignore that set your emotions aside, let’s look at the numbers. Does it make sense and yeah, made the decision to close that store. And it was the best decision we could have made and now gearing up for our launch into retail later this year. And we’re just so excited by this opportunity to continue with another great scale opportunity with what I’ve learned from all these different business channels and ways to run. Run a food, business ecommerce. And retail is gonna make the most sense for us.
Scott D Clary 44:34
What is your number one recommendation for because I’ll tell you where this question is coming from. So you’ve pivoted multiple times you’ve gone through multiple things you’ve eventually been successful at most and you just attributed to okay if I love this and I’m passionate and the grit and the grind and the perseverance and tenacity, I’m going to figure it out. But when you are starting something new when you first had to figure out ecommerce, how did you figure it out? What are the what is the mindset the steps You take where do you go to learn? Because that is the most important skill I think that anybody can pick up on.
Kelsey Moreira 45:05
Yeah. And I mean, through all of the things that we’ve learned, right, and we’re going through it again now going into retail new channels to bring up and like, wow, distribution and like all these contracts, and what’s this going to be like and trying to be safe on it, there’s some big, like, some big cost risks you run into here that have put companies under going out too far into retail. So yeah, I think for me, it’s a tip I have for anybody starting a business or running one. I never say no to an introduction, if anybody thinks I should meet somebody else, you know, along the way, also, and says, oh, you should meet so and so. And you’re like, gosh, I don’t know, like their company is whatever or like, I don’t know, that doesn’t seem related. Take it, you know, just take it I take 15 minute introduction calls and it really has changed the game, there’s been some introductions that I otherwise would have passed up on face value, and they’ve just had that perfect person that they knew you should meet or the investor that was just perfect to line up at the right time. So yeah, never say no to an introduction. Another thing is hire for what you suck at. So if you’re going into something new and you do have the capacity to hire or contract like a consultant in that space, I highly recommend it you can learn an incredible amount in a rather short period of time from a consultant who can come in and give you the rundown on what what it’s like to scale into this this new arena. There’s more content coming out particularly around DTC even his has, you know this on his To Do List aside from us running the company, but to create a, you know, Crash Course and consultancy for people trying to get going in E commerce because it is just so much knowledge that was packed into our last year and a half. We want to be able to pass that on to other people to learn but you know, reaching out, never be afraid to ask for 15 minutes on someone’s calendar on LinkedIn, I did a lot of that in the beginning would just reach out and say I love what you’ve built. You know, I have five questions. If I could just get 10 minutes of your time. I’ll meet you wherever, you know, back when in person things are doing and like NSF, I’ll literally be like, anywhere you’re gonna be really walking between two meetings at this time. Like, I’ll come and meet you. I’ll be there. Yeah, it’s like that. So yeah, just really always reaching out try to get connected. There’s great like CEO networks, even for seed stage companies shout out to one world, I’m still a part of a CEO network for my stage. And it’s amazingly helpful to just be with other entrepreneurs who though in very different industries, sometimes we all have such similar issues were facing like running a business and still structurally a lot of the same things you’re gonna run up against. And I’ve had great success with that. So getting a little cohort and network of other CEOs that you can share and learn from is huge to
Scott D Clary 47:37
amazing. Okay, I want to ask some rapid fire career questions, professional life lesson questions. But first, where do people connect with you on if they want to reach out? Where do people go find information on dope? What’s the website, socials? All of that?
Kelsey Moreira 47:51
Love it? Yes. First things first. If you’re hungry and you want some cookie dough, go to dope.com it’s do you ghp it’s like dough with a pee on the end.com. We’re at dope on Tik Tok. I’m sorry, at eat dope on tick tock. We’re at dope on Facebook and Instagram. Hit us up. We’re very active on social, real awesome people from my team running those accounts now. So say hello to Bella and then the crew. So definitely get connected there. And then with me personally, I’m very active on LinkedIn. So Kelsey, more data. It’s more IRA. m o r e IRA. Yeah, hit me up. I got complicated words. I have to spell everything.
Scott D Clary 48:33
Yeah, just testament to the to the horrible intro that I have to redo.
Kelsey Moreira 48:39
It should be like this cut you should that skirt like rewind. or something?
Scott D Clary 48:43
Yeah, no, I have I have an idea already. How funny because I can’t pronounce anything. No, that’s very good. Okay, so let’s go through a couple of quick, rapid fire. You mentioned a few challenges in your career. professional, personal. What was the number one that sticks out in your head? The biggest challenge and how did you overcome it? Hmm,
Kelsey Moreira 49:03
the biggest challenge I faced. I mean, yeah, just getting sober. Right? Like, I mean, it was it was affecting, it’s all part of that personal professional is so blended these days. So definitely this decision to say enough’s enough and get sober and find the courage to like, you know, share that with my employer and, and be able to go on from there. The beginning is really hard. So it took a lot to try and overcome that and say, let’s do something different here. And it affects every part of your life but just committed and went through it.
Scott D Clary 49:36
Amazing. And that’s a that’s a good one. That’s not that’s something that not everybody’s comfortable talking about, about how difficult it is. So I hope somebody listening takes that to heart and feels like it’s okay, because I don’t think I’ve ever had this conversation this topic on the show before. So very good. One person who had an incredible impact on your life. I know there’s probably been a few of you have to pick one. And what did they teach you?
Kelsey Moreira 50:02
I got it Elizabeth with roe is my Nana It’s my dad’s mom and she was just an incredible human for our family like the rock of our family and she was 21 years sober when she passed away so getting to see me at one year sober before passing and she was that first person that you know, second person maybe that I called that morning after deciding you know, I want to get sober and encouraged me to go find in a meeting and was just so supportive and along the whole journey to the decision to get sober you know, like I talked about it takes so many things to finally get there and you know, a number of letters from her over the years saying how concerned she was and that she thought it’d be a better path for me and yeah, she’s just amazing she was such a light and joy in our life. So definitely my Nana
Scott D Clary 50:53
a book or a podcast that you’d recommend somebody go check out
Kelsey Moreira 50:57
you know, I always recommend this book because it led me to starting dope I kind of the beginning stages of the idea right kind of boiling in my head and I read the book you are a badass by Jensen cero at sprite yellow cover very popular a few years back and just a great book really changed up the mindset around like risk taking and you know, this idea that you have the propensity to create wealth, if you just are focused on it and letting yourself fully dedicate your your time and energy towards it, you will be able to create and sustain you know, life reassessing risk. Amazing.
Scott D Clary 51:34
What, what would be one thing that you would tell your 20 year old self?
Kelsey Moreira 51:40
God, yeah, give it up already with the alcohol. You know, I think it was at the core of it, right? It’s like, go back to therapy, work through stuff, childhood issues don’t go away, even when you get sober. Many people think like, okay, that’s the trick, right? If I just stopped drinking, everything’s fine. But there’s always a reason why you’re drinking. And I think at 20, I was just really struggling with this desire to fit in. And not not having that confidence that I have today to say, I’m awesome. I love myself. And if someone wants to hang out with me cool, and if they don’t cool, you know, like, that’s gonna be okay. And it’s hard and those younger years to feel that confidence to just be sure that you are enough. You have enough to offer the world and yeah, 20 year old Kelsey needed to be told she was enough.
Scott D Clary 52:23
What does success mean to you?
Kelsey Moreira 52:28
This question is interesting. I’d like changes over the years because some people are like, Oh, do you think you’re successful? Now, you know, and so I really feel like, there is no end to me. Like there is no final success point. So success has to be about the journey. Success has to be how much are you enjoying today? I’ve made this life wraparound where I get to talk about cookie dough, mental health and addiction recovery every day. Like that’s freaking cool. And it’s so hard to feel to not feel like oh, I’ll be successful when blank happens. But instead, like, this is success, you know, today is success. So it is just kind of a reframing, I think for people to consider successes, the journey itself, what you’re learning.
Scott D Clary 53:13
Amazing. That’s perfect. That’s all I got. Amazing. Thank you so much.
Kelsey Moreira 53:17 Thanks for having me.