Good People, Cool Things
Good People, Cool Things

Episode 102 · 9 months ago

102: Running Businesses and Knowing When to Pivot with Sadie Higgins

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

An entrepreneur at heart, Sadie Higgins experiences "hurry sickness," or a need to constantly keep doing the next thing. She founded her first business three months after having her first child. The day before the pandemic forced us into lockdown, she had started the idea that turned into her current business Gleam, which helps relieve the mental burden of giving gifts.

Sadie candidly talks about the pivots she's had to make throughout her businesses, strategies that have and haven't worked, and the best ways to be thoughtful.

She also touches on the elements of life we’ve all experienced during the pandemic—namely, family distractions (including background TV noise, which you may hear as you listen) and how she still manages to get work done. One of her kids even makes an appearance during the episode!

Good people cool things. As a podcast feature and conversations with entrepreneurs, writers, musicians and other creatives. Get inspired by their stories to do your own cool thing, and here's your host, Joey held. Well, Hey, they're welcome to good people cool things. Today's guest is Sadi Higgins, the founder and CEO of Gleam, which is an even her first business. SADIE's had experience starting multiple businesses. She's an entrepreneur at heart and we're talking all about what that life looks like. We've been having to do a lot of shifts, a lot of changes, a lot of updates, a lot of pivots. My basketball training, staying on the pivot foot, really coming in handy with the life nowadays. Literally the day before the lockdown, Sadie had the idea that would eventually turn into gleam. So we're talking about how that's evolved over two years, what the next steps in the business look like for her, as well as working while she's got three young kids at home, while her husband is in the midst of renovating their house and she's living with her sisterin law. Sometimes that sounds like people run it around where you're trying to focus and concentrate. We're getting a taste of that on this episode, because that's how life is in this fun, pandemic world that we find ourselves in. If you'd like to get in touch with the show, you can reach out joey at good people, cool thingscom. You can also follow the show on facebook, twitter or Instagram at GPCT podcast. And we're talking about writing a book in this episode. I just wrote one. It came out in October of last year. It's called kind but kind of weird short stories on Mife's relationships and it has gotten rave reviews. So you can head out over to the good people, cool thingscom website and pick up your copy from your favorite book store of choice. For now, let's hop into this conversation with sadie. For people who don't know who you are, what kind of businesses you've done, can you give us your elevator pitch, but can you also tell us the type of elevator that you're writing on? Oh, I you know I always love a glass elevator. Kind of scary, but they're also just so cool that you can see anything. Oh, I said scary and Siri popped up. Series always so willing to help. Yeah, a large glass elevator like kind of like the ones you see in them all, but I don't want to be in them all right now. So you know, maybe outside in a cool place. I have had a few businesses in my life time. When my son was born about seven years ago, I started my first business called pluck, and it was an on shape, on site brow shaping service for companies in and around the Boston area and it was awesome. It was really fun. I had three kids during that time span and so it just gave me enough of freedom to work when I wanted to too. Can have my own space when I when I wanted to as well to help raise the kids. And you know, I created that too too. Perhaps franchise. At some point. I created a training manual, but because my time was largely focused on raising children, I just kept it as is and really just me. But it was set up as a legit business and I was eventually going to be training some people and then this little thing called covid hit. So that have and I was thinking about an idea in the text space right before covid hit and I met with a developer who was a friend of a friend and he was really lovely and we chatted for a while and I started moving forward with this idea and the next day bossoms on lockdown for coronavirus. So I thought, wow, I have all this time to work on a business, which is laughable because when you're home on lockdown with three children and a husband, time means nothing. But I went ahead with that and at the time was called Pollnca, and Pollanca was essentially an online card that all your friends and loved ones could fill out and send to...

...a significant other, and that could also be in the form of an actual physical book. So it was a way to get people to sign a card and add pictures and photers and videos from around the world and send it to someone and want to feel swoop for a special event. It was a really cool, nice idea. It felt good. There was no real way to make money with it. So I started thinking of other ideas and pivoting and that led into another idea because as I'm working on this business full time with all the kids home, my husband's working on renovating your house and living with my sister in law, who became a head of too ice floors for covid in a major Bosson hospital life was chaotic. I was not remembering most things in life, and one of them's birthdays and anniversaries, and so I let birthday slip by without sending gifts to really important people in my life, namely my Godson and a couple of my nieces, and so I thought, you know, this is great for busy people who need to be reminded of a loved one's birthday or anniversary. They can get a notification and curated gifts suggestions for those events based on what they really like. And so as I started pivoting and working on this idea, I'll be real quiet, I would quite honest. We started with Amazon because it was an easy way to just quickly send out links and it just didn't sit well with me. I wasn't I really wasn't sleeping at night. Just felt kind of ICKY, and so it quickly turned into I want to do this for small businesses, because small businesses, as we know, were really hurting across the country during the pandemic, and so so I started looking into the the coolest small businesses I could find, focusing on ECO friendly, it sustainable goods as much as possible so that idea turned into gleam and that is what I currently have right now and in your small business research, because I agree, I think. I mean I use Amazon a lot, I'm not going to lie, but I agree. I think supporting small businesses is always very important and especially like I think you could have more fun with it too. So how did that process look like a partner with small businesses and finding ones to send out research? You know, I think I think we think we are very good at Oh, it's someone's birthday, okay, what does a twelve year old like? You've go from there. So I was looking into the you know, best gifts for seven year olds, the best gifts for babies, but from small businesses or ECO friendly or sustainable. So all these Google searches led me to some really cool companies and then I contacted, you know, the owners of these really cool companies and chatted with them about what we were doing and and they were happy to come aboard. And then some of that, too, was you know, we make money on affiliate links, and so I joined a few affiliates and I just searched through the affiliate links to try to see if there were any great fines throughout that process as well, but I think that's a best part of what I've been doing is connecting with small business owners. It's kind of like a play within a play. You know, I'm a small business owner as well, and so chatting with them, we had a lot of the same struggles and the same goals, and so we kind of became a team and working together. So it's been a really cool process and Amazon has its place. I'm not distant the Amazon, but for a birthday, when you want something special, when you want something thoughtful, when you want someone to feel and put the thought into the way you feel about them,...

I think it's the best to go with something like this, like a small business. And unless, of course, they just have to have that Nintendo switch, you know what I mean, like it's something very specific like that. Amazon's great for, you know, home goods and whatnot, and you know, toil the trees and all that, but it just didn't sit well with me to base a business off of that when I could be supporting small business owners. And Amazon always good for the queue for discover five percent cash back. That's what I'm doing the booth Amazon shopping. I'm like, this is so sweet getting money back. Wonderful, Wonderful Times. Love money back. And in a related vein, you mentioned doing some affiliate link research, which I'm a big proponent of affiliate links as well, especially, I should say, really, only if you are a fan of the product that you're promoting. Like I wouldn't Esiliot link for, I don't know, eyebrow wax or or whatever. You know something that I have no familiarity with or anything like that? In your research, I could tell you of stuff about that, let's say. Let's go down that route perhaps with the next question. But First Bitch for affiliate links in particular, you mentioned you try it out a few different if you dinner avenues for that. was there one that you liked more than another? We're a filly at least Um. Yes, so there was one affiliate company we do work with, and I honestly I can't even remember the name, because we have one company who signed up with with this specific affiliate service and I didn't love that. You couldn't track who was clicking on what links, how many people are clicking on it. They didn't have a lot of statistics, and I'm all about statistics when it comes to business. So I didn't love that, but I worked with impact and I really liked that. And share a sale is just one of the mega ones. That's really easy in a ton of companies sign up with that and and that's been great to work with two. So those three are the major ones that we've used, but impact and impact radius and share a sale of the two that we really want with. Love it. Love it, and we were talking before we started recording, before the Zoom Lady told us we've been all right, it wasn't a time. Yeah, she's very friendly that you're actually kind of in the midst of a pivot for the business. So covid already kind of have a new pivot, one business and now, two years into the Pan Emch, pivoting another. What does that look like so far? Oh, it's very stressful sometimes. Such a me third pivot, because I went from pluck, which just stopped. I mean it just had to theres as stancil. There's no way to socially distance someone's brows, so that just stopped completely. And then with Polanka, having that business for a year and realizing there's no real way to, you know, make this financially successful with what it is pivoting then to a almost a completely different business at that time and then now pivoting out of stopping and thinking about what the company means and what the company means to me. And when you start a business sometimes you're like wow, this great idea, I'm going to go for it, and I'm notorious in my life for jumping right in. I'm not afraid of jumping into new things. But in that there's some haste. I should I should have stopped at some point to really monitor do I want to spend the next five to ten years of my life doing this minimally an order for it to be at a place where I could walk away if it was financially appropriate to do so. And with Polanka, I loved that business because it was actually something I used to do. And you know high school and junior high...

...and we are involved in church retreats and people would give you a just a stack of these beautiful letters called polongcas from your loved ones and you just got to sit and read all these really thoughtful things that people had said about you and it's a wonderful moment to kind of connect to your family and friends. It felt really great and I just thought at that point, if I'm doing something that feels great, money will come. But the money wasn't coming with it and I couldn't find a way to make it financially feasible to continue to do that. And now there was only a year. But I think that's a good marker to stop and assess where have I come from, where am I going? And I knew that wasn't going to be a great business plan moving forward. So when I thought of this new idea gleam, I kind of jumped into it because now you know this is also a personal to joey. But have you ever heard of something called Harry sickness? But if I have, it's not really something you can die notices, but it is a phrase. It's a term that's used for people that are always on the go, people that always need to be busy, people that make up deadlines in their heads, that just just constantly need to rush around, and I realized in this past year or so that's me. I have to be doing something at all times. There's not a lot of down times, not a lot of relax saying everything's high energy. What's next, what's next, what's next? And so in that I realized when it comes to when it came to starting in at the business, I was like, I'm in the middle of something. I had this idea. It was a great idea, but now I've learned all this stuff about being in the text space. I can still be in the text base. How am I going to stay in the text base? Okay, I have this problem. I think I can solve this for people. Okay, let's move on to this new thing instead of stopping to say, okay, that idea didn't work. You don't have to do something right this second. You can take some time, you can think about what you're going to do for the next five or ten years and the next five or six weeks instead of the next five, five or six days. So when starting gleam, it was a wonderful idea and I still think it's a great idea and I still think the future of shopping is going to be sustainable. I still think that the future of shopping is going to be an Amazon that is sustainable and small business friendly. Do I want to stay in that space and spend a lot of time and money into creating something like that? I'm not sure, because you have to have a big team and you got to have some some big dough behind you in order to tackle a big project like that. So I stopped at the end of the year to assess what gleam was how bloom is doing. Gleam was growing. Gleam is making some headway. People like the idea, just not enough people like the idea and we are only making money on affiliate links. So that's great if you had a ton of users. Right. It's not a subscription base. It's if somebody likes what they see and they click on that and they purchase it, we make some money off of that and it's a small percentage, usually around ten percent, which is about a sigh as it goes. So in stopping to assess and and pausing on my social media manager, my developer, my pr agent, it felt really good. It felt really good to instead of push every single day to move forward with something I wasn't one hundred percent sure about, especially really solow. It was me and a developer working on this. It felt good to pause. What is this next pivot going to be? Doesn't make sense, doesn't make sense for my life and doesn't make sense for the good of the world, because I don't want to just create something to create something. I want it to feel good and I want it...

...to make community base and I want it to make sense for the global community. You kind have alluded to this during the pandemic of having three kids and a husband while also navigating running a business, and I think throughout throughout the podcast, I think we your kids are making an appearance every once in a while we can oh for sure, yea, so they're they're helping. They're helping with this appearance. Do you also have them help out with the business or how do you navigate being a mom and wife with running a business? So it's really cool. It's that part has been amazing and and you know, I actually did a very candid video on instagram a long time ago, a very vulnerable you know, about failing as an entrepreneur. Well, nothing is a failure if you're trying and you're doing something to move forward. You're constant learning and that's what these past few years have been wonderful, even though they've been very challenging. And one of those is because of my kids, because you know, one's peering around right now looking at who I'm talking to and smiling and laughing and they're also asking questions. So when I did a headshot for my linkedin profile and for my about me, I got a ring light and I had an old Canon camera and my son took the photo for me. Instead of paying, you know, five hundred dollars or some on out to a photographer, my son took the shot and now he gets to say he took Mommy's head shot. They've asked me what an Roi means because they hear me talking about it. They ask me questions about the business. They know what it takes because they've been here. They've seen me through a lot of this and they'll be on calls with me sometimes. You know, I'm a part of a bunch of business groups, a lot of them for women, and they'll, you know, sit and talk to me. There was a woman who said something about of she creates get personalized gift wrapping paper and also wraps gifts for people, very professional, beautiful looking map and favorite, and my son said, mom you should pair with her. I make a lot of sense and huge, you know. So my kids are listening, there watching and it's invaluable for them to see that and witness that in this so they've definitely been a part of it. They've been a part of some of the reels I've done on instagram. Like I said, he's taking the picture for me there in meetings. One is playing with my head as we speak. So yeah, the in it and I love that we're in a time where that's okay because that is part of my life and and it's hard to get around that, especially, like I said, my we started a renovation right before the pandemic it and it got it came to a complete halt and so we've been lived my sister in law for two years and so my husband works a fulltime job in person and right from that job he goes straight to our house to work on the House and he's doing most of the work himself. So I really don't have a lot of child care, especially during the pandemic, so they're constantly around. So having them be a part of it and and people who I'm associating with and speaking with knowing that that's okay is huge and it's I think it's huge for the future of employment and the way people do business. We're talking and before start a recording, that over the past few months you've been writing every day working on a book. Can we get a scoop? What's the book about? I have a couple of ideas. So I'm writing kind of we remember how we talked about how you can't just write one book. You have to write to correct so I'm kind of working on too at the same time because you know, it's kind of what my life is going through right now. So one is a cand of look at starting and operating businesses and what that looks like, especially during...

...a pandemic. So it's going to be high of about the past two years and what the pandemic has done for our lives and what that's going to look like in the future for us, and and how mental health has become a huge priority for people. You know, I was getting my brains on. That is yet that's my daughter and heels walking around. She's free. It's a circus. I get my grains often and with everything going on, it was getting them quite frequently and so I downloaded an APP and the APP was basically about journaling and and and that has become hugely helpful and healing my headaches. I have gotten maybe two in the past six months where I was getting them like once a week. So delding into mental health and and I feel like when you say mental health, that's I go. You must be depressed, you must be really anxious, you know, when it's really like we all have stuff, everybody has stuff, and just working through that stuff and how you can make yourself better. But why? You want to make yourself better, not just for you but for the people around you. So talking about generational healing with mental health and and pivoting and business and working through businesses during a pandemic. So so pretty much memoirs, some short stories thrown in there, Joey, and you like short stories. I do, I do too, but that was part of the thing too. Is really stopping to assess. You know, since I was a kid, I mean I used to read the dictionary as a child, and I'm talking that big one that was like bound in brown leather and gold on the outside and like waged more than a sofa. You know, I read those dictionaries when I was a kid just for fun and I love to read and I love to write and I think I ran away from it for so long because it's terrifying, as you know you're an author, scary to put yourself out there. It'scared to go for your dreams and I feel like in life, you know, when we're thinking about businesses, when we're thinking about what it is that we want to do, a lot of that is money driven and and fear based, and so getting rid of those things and moving forward without fear and without out being so concerned about what money and when money is going to come has been pretty liberating. So those types of things will all be mentioned in the books to come. Looking forward to reading them and in the meantime I have to ask, because I also enjoyed a good dictionary now and again. I think for me it was probably more from a spelling side of things, because I love I mean, I consider myself a good speller. I was in the seventh grade spelling be I got second place. I mean that's really the peak peak of life right there. And then went and I played the second half of a basketball guy for our basketball team. So a busy afternoon, very all around March, March Day or whenever, I don't know, and I always remember. I PNEUMONA, ultra microscopics, a a volcano, kaniosis being one of my favorite words. I don't think I ever really made the definition was, but I remember my classmate and I had like the spelling of it on like our desks faced each other and we were like in a big row and we had like a piece of paper with the spelling on it and we just practice every day and I don't know if she ever learned how to spell it, but I did and I will, lord go for her forever. Oh No, I'm not going to spell it right now. I don't, but you needed to be used in a sentence. Well, I don't. I don't think I do what it was, but it's like a lung disease and really it's biggest it's biggest claim is that it's like one of, if...

...not the longest word the English language. So all of this is a horrific prelude to did you have a favorite word when you were reading the dictionary? The words I feel like that had the most impact on me were one of them was when I was very young, must have been probably five when I first started reading, was Sham, because my maiden name was Sadi Sham and when I looked up what Sham meant in the dictionary I was horrified. I remember going to my parents and be like, oh, we sake, but we're real, this is really our name. Okay, you finally found that definition. I remember being really proud of spelling elasticity when I was in sixth grade, and I mean it's such an easy word to spell, but I thought I was so cool. I also remember misspelling environment. My Dad showed up, I was in the middle of the spelling be and he just made me nervous enough to forget the end and environment so that I remember that word well. And tets, like tets fly, which is spelled Tsi, Tsi, I believe not at all like it sounds. But yeah, I remember being in the back of an English teacher's car on the way to the spelling be going over words and saying, how do you even say this word? Yeah, tets, I haven't. I haven't thought about that in years. I'm glad we're nerding out to the spelling bees. What this is, what we're here for, this is what the people come to listen to, is dissecting individual words and their spellings. That's what the cast is all. I love it. I can't wait to hear they're their favorites. Yes, please, if you're listening, please share your favorite. Oh and on Amanopeia as one of my favorite words to say. And Shenanigans are Shenanigan's nonchalance. Those are just fun to say. I use Shenanigan's probably, I'd say, at least once a week in conversation. It's fun. Shenanigan's great and it's yeah, it's so versatile. I've got lots of lots of good things. HMM, all right, we'll say to you. You're almost off the hook, but we always like to wrap up with a top three and for you, what are your top three ways to be thoughtful? Knowing a person, listening. If you want to be thoughtful, you have to listen to somebody and really listen and then remember what they said. That's probably the hardest part, is listening and then remembering the figs Ay. I don't think it's hard to be thoughtful. I think you can do something as simple as pick up the phone and call someone or send a really nice text or really go to old so if you really want to be thoughtful, send a letter. That will completely make somebody's Day. And then another way to be thoughtful is say out loud how you're feeling. You know a lot of people think something and keep it inside and they don't say it to a person and then you know years down the road, I didn't I say that I should have said it. Or, you know, being kind, being thoughtful, as my husband always says, it a'll cost nothing and if really done, you know you really can just say something out loud to somebody that will make their day by a listening and really truly knowing a person, sending something. It doesn't even have to be a gift, just a thoughtful text or phone caller, letter card and and saying out loud how you feel about somebody, even if it's as simple as you know, hey, like what you're wearing today. Just make somebody stay fantastic. Will say thank you so much for hopping on the podcast. This was delightful a great way. I mean this one are, so I probably shouldn't even say about this one. Are Is the first episode of the year, but it is the first recording of the year for good people. Cool things well strong. This is a good start to the year. Thank you. I appreciate it absolutely. If people want to learn more about you, that want to see all these reels that we've been talking about, where can I find you. Oh, okay, so I have reels at Sady Sham Higgins on instagram. So at Sady Sham higgans and at Gleam Glam and the website is gleam giftscom and and Sady Sham higganscom and it's real.

The shamshist is real. It's not a sham. It's not. You know, I met are when they, my ancesters, moved here from Romania and Russia. They came in as Shampan Sky, so we could have been that, which actually means Champagne's going to set. Kind of shows my son Year's Eve. Yes, so it's Yiddish for champagne and my birthday's new years save. So it clean. You know, kind of is cool. Maybe it should be sadie champagne. That Sadi Champagne wheld' have been really cool. It sounds like another business idea to okay, let's let's get on it, you know, fourth business. Here we go, perfect, perfect, funny. It's right. Yeah, before we wrap up, we always have to end with a Corny joke and I tried to even make it gift topical. Oh, I can't wait to hear this. Who Delivers? Presents to baby sharks at Christmas. Santa Jaws good after it today, people, is very cheesy, but I like it. I do like it. Show. Good people cool things is produced in Austin, Texas. If you're a fan of this episode, go ahead and hit that follow button. That helps more people here the show. You can send me a message Joey at good people cool thingscom. Thank you to all of the guests who have been on good people cool things and check out all the old episodes via good people cool thingscom. As always, thank you for listening and have a wonderful day.

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