32 minutes | May 1st 2014

041: Susan O’Brien, Founder of Hail Merry

Susan O'Brien’s story started on the island of Maui where she fell in love with Superfoods and the Raw Foods lifestyle.  For the devoted daughter, wife & mother of three boys, this new way of living seemed like a natural progression from her decade long yoga practice The origin of food is in her DNA given that her grandparents were farmers growing heirloom vegetables and fruits in the small East Texas town of Grand Saline.  Her uncle (whom she adored) would continue the family farming tradition growing citrus fruits near the Mexican border town of McAllen Texas where she frequently visited as a child and has fond memories of picking fresh fruits from the trees. College would take her to UT Austin where she studied design and was a regular customer at Whole Foods Market at the original location on Lamar.   Her design skills and professional career of designing clinical laboratories would serve her well as the owner of a food company specializing in the unique techniques of food dehydration rather than typical baking. Upon turning 40 years old, Susan wanted to explore ways in which she could look and feel better as a sort of birthday present to herself, so she adopted the raw foods lifestyle entirely for 9 months and as a result, never felt better.  She studied the popular raw food chefs of the time and even trained with the famed raw foods chef, Juliano Brotman, of Santa Monica. In Dallas, she would later turn her home and back cabana into a test kitchen for these raw creations vowing to make them taste better than what she could find on the market.  She wanted her Hail Merry snacks to not only be functional but they had to taste good as well.  She sold her products into a few local health food stores and quickly gained a devoted following of people who were also seeking better for you good tasting snacks made with pure ingredients.  Susan trained her children’s nanny Lorraine (who is now Hail Merry’s Chief Mixologist), how to prepare the food and package it all so that she could spend her time selling and marketing the brand.     On Today's show Susan will share: - What are your top 3 business tips for aspiring entrepreneurs  1.  Know your target customer REALLY WELL as you are creating your brand and also know your competition and how you are different. 2.  Surround yourself with people who compliment your talents and bring knowledge/experience to the table that you don't have. 3.  You will always need way more capital than you think – plan accordingly.  Companies go out of business in the first 18 months because they are not well capitalized. - What has been your biggest business mistake Expanding the brand into new markets with out the capital to properly support the marketing needed to launch brand and sustain sales. - What do you think is the difference between people who talk about starting businesses and those who actually do it  Fear of failure. - What has been greatest business decision you made that changed everything for the better  Taking on partners who could help me expand and grow so I could keep doing what I love which is sales, brand strategy and marketing. - Best book for the entrepreneurial mindset David and Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell.  Every business starts out small and there will always be larger companies your competing with for customers.  You have to know how to expose their weaknesses.  I like to say “you have to zig when they zag”.  Innovation in the market place usually comes out of the founder’s personal challenges/hardships and the deep rooted passion for making the world a better place. - Plus much more...
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