Marcia’s Lessons in Life, Business, and Product Development
Marcia’s journey is as colorful as her Sidewalk Chalk – with lessons of gold, still relevant 50 years later. There’s so much to learn from Marcia’s story that we can apply to all aspects of our lives today:
- Don’t limit yourself to what you can achieve. Marcia started as a mother living in a small town in Colorado – with zero background in business and product development.
- How you present yourself in business is important – people will believe what you want them to believe.
- On instances you feel taken advantage of by those who underestimate you – do not be discouraged.
- Never stop evolving and you’ll never stop succeeding.
Know Your Worth
Sidewalk Chalk caught attention of some of the biggest names in the toy industry – allowing Marcia the opportunity to sell her business. This was happening at a time when cash flow was becoming too tight, so it was a welcome development.
But it was not that easy for Marcia – the only woman in a room filled with men in the 1980s corporate world. Offers were made, but Marcia felt they fell short of what she had invested in her business. It was a steep climb from her roots to the corporate office, involving many steps in marketing and product development:
- First step was presentation – from the packaging to the product itself. Sidewalk Chalk’s primitive form took several steps before reaching its final blister-pack version. Marcia invested in molds and advanced packaging design as she took her product into Walmart.
- Second was exposure. Marcia knew she had to work on increasing brand awareness among her target audience. She hosted a Sidewalk Chalk art contest at the Walmart parking lots. Her efforts caught media attention and sold every Sidewalk Chalk on the shelves.
- Third was supply chain. Kmart caught wind of Sidewalk Chalk’s success with Walmart. They called Marcia and asked if she could supply 48 packs to each of Kmart’s 4200 stores across the USA in 5 weeks. Marcia accepted – without any preparation or large-scale supply chain system in place. She worked on fulfilling the contract even if it meant acquiring a loss. The Kmart deal led to other nationwide deals with Target, Toys ‘R Us, and Mcdonald’s for their happy meal toys. Proving that taking a chance in a loss can lead to more gains – and could fast-track your growth.
Marcia worked through all these steps and the others that followed. Her actions catapulted Sidewalk Chalk into major brand status. Marcia knew what her business is worth. She refused to fall for any deal that would leave her with the shorter end of the stick. Marcia waited until a better deal came through – and boy, did it come through. A few weeks after rejecting offers left and right, she got a call from the biggest toy company in the world. To cut the story short – Marcia sold her distribution channels to the Power Ranger franchise – a major deal in the 1990s. And she couldn’t have been happier with any other deal.
Stories like Marcia’s happen all the time. It proves the value of believing in yourself, managing risks, and always being open to learning new things. Today, Marcia is navigating the world of eCommerce with her current business ventures. With her retail experience and unwavering spirit – we do not doubt that she’ll emerge at the top once again.
What other learnings did you pick up from Marcia’s story? Share your thoughts below!
Amy Wees: Hey, everyone, what’s up? This is Amy Wees, Andy is out today. But we’re still going to have an amazing episode. And let’s see what’s the episode number episode number 126 of the Amazon FBA seller roundtable. And today I have the amazing, just this woman is amazing. She’s amazing. She’s a legend. When I first met her, me and my assistant ended up sitting on our chairs and it was like fireside chats with Marcia and we were just listening to everything that she had to say because she has such an amazing story. So I’m so excited for Marcia to share her story with you today. Let it inspire you let it overcome your help you overcome your barriers. Because if one thing that Marcia does not do, she doesn’t quit.
Marcia, welcome to The Seller Roundtable. So great to have you.
Marcia Reece: Thank you so much, Amy. It’s so good to be here with you and your audience. And like you said, it’s been quite a ride. And I guess I’m old enough to have experienced the highs and the lows and survived and both.
Amy: Yes, definitely. So speaking of being old enough to survive the highs and the lows. On this show, we always ask you to tell us a little bit about your background. And I know if you could be the entire show is you have such an amazing story. But tell us a little bit about your journey to ecommerce and your background as much or as little as you want to tell us and while you’re doing that. I’m gonna mute and share it around the live channels.
Marcia: Alrighty, well, my journey started about 40 years ago, I had two children and my daughter liked to play with creative art activities. And so one of the things that she liked to play with was chalk, but the chalk at the time was that skinny Blackboard stuff like the size of your little finger that came from China. It was dusty dirty, broke full of lead. It stained it was a rotten mess. So in 1978 I decided there ought to be a better way to make chalk and this was before computer so I went to this place called the library and started researching how to make chalk I spent the summer experimenting and I came up with this never has yet been duplicated fabulous formula.
It is hard dustless clean chalk, you can wipe it up and down your clothes and it doesn’t come off, and yet it washes off with rain or water. So without knowing anything about retail wholesale, I decided I was going to start selling sidewalk chalk. Well, it actually happened in kind of a bizarre way. I won’t take all of our time today. But we did end up selling chalk to craft fairs around Colorado. And it wasn’t long before stores started calling me wanting to know how to buy our product. That led me to a trip to the Denver Merchandise Mart where I found a wonderful lady who’s now passed away. And she taught me all about wholesale and case packs and you and all of it. So we started selling to a lot of gifts and toy stores in the Rocky Mountains. And then my son who was three challenged me and said Mom, Walmart says they only buy American products you should sell them are Chuck. Now at that time, Walmart had 66 stores. That’s how long ago this was. And I brought these props to show your audience because I want people to understand, I was just a mom in Norwalk, Colorado with two kids. I didn’t have any sophisticated product background, which you’re about to see. But I had a fabulous product.
This is the product that Walmart bought, when literally 40 years ago. And it was as primitive as can be these chalks were squirted out of pastry tubes. They look like colored dog turns. But we got our shot to put this and another skill. We had a box that held six sticks into nine of their stores for a test market with a guaranteed buyback that whatever didn’t sell in 30 days, we had to buy back. So it was a gross of each product into nine stores. Well, I’d never sold that much product to one store. And I was afraid of the buyback.
So I hatched this idea that I would call each of those nine store managers, I would ask them if they would host a sidewalk chalk contest in their parking lot. Now back then there weren’t very many, Walmart’s only 66 stores in the whole chain. Their stores weren’t big and busy. So they were thrilled to have something happening in their parking lot. I then went to these little towns in Colorado, I talked to the newspaper, they all agreed to come cover the story. Walmart agreed to give a first second and third prize to every kid that entered. And then I found some famous person like the school superintendent or their librarian or somebody to come judge the contest. Well, these contests became crazy fun. And back then the newspapers really only round ran color on the front and back of their newspaper. The inside was all black and white. So our story with the pictures of these kids on their art made the front cover of every one of these newspapers because it was in full color. So that was very successful. When those 30 days were a global fourth day after the fourth contest. I got a call from my Walmart buyer and he said we have a problem. And I said what’s that? And he said, We are out of inventory in these stores. And I said, where do we need product and when during that 30 days we restock those nine stores nine times, which was amazing for us. So after the 30 days were up I called my buyer Steve and I said this was fabulous. Can we get a few more stores? And he said Marsha, I think you better come down to Bentonville and see me. And so I made my first trip to Bentonville, Arkansas, and it was nothing fancy let me tell you and he met with me and he had a sprocket the whole Sprockets a green and white spreadsheet on his desk and he was looking through it and he said, I don’t understand this. You are the top selling item in the toy department and your packaging and presentation suck. And I said well, what do you think we should do? So we went out to their planogram room and he showed me blister card packaging. And so I said great we will convert to blister packaging. So based on that I invested in a six station automatic blister machine. And then we shipped this product into 14 of the stores we did 14 Chuck contests 14 rinse and repeat. Again massively successful but this is a flat you’ve created at this time. So what what about What year was this? This was 1979 or 1980 1979 or 1980. And you actually did you do this packaging yourself? You said you invested in a blister packaging machine to put the blister on the card. I had an artist in Boulder, Colorado, this was my daughter over here’s my daughter, Suzanne, my son Ross, they were on our packaging. And it was just it was a steal. It was pretty primitive. But it was way better than this. So we did the 14 stores with this. And I did a flat blister because right at this time, we were the first company to invent molded shaped chalk. No one had ever made that before. And I had come out with circus and dinosaur and some zoo characters. And I didn’t know what would sell best. So we was just mixing them up in here. And my buyer was tracking on his end, what was selling best.
So after the 14 store test that month, he said, Okay, come back down, we need to talk again. So we went from, this is so fun. We went from this, to this to this molded sticks with our name on it, it says our kids sidewalk chalk on each piece, they were in their own blister, so they didn’t slide around. And then they gave us chain wide, they gave us all 66 stores that led to and each time we would get this media coverage on these new
Amy: Marsha, can I ask you? I mean, just because I’m fascinated with product development packaging, as you know, like I teach every step in the process. And I just think it’s so fascinating. Because nowadays, we can easily get someone else to make that packaging. It’s so easy nowadays that we don’t necessarily know what goes into it. Right? Like what, how a package is made. So you plan from kind of like in the beginning, when you had what you call the color dog turds, right? Were you just like using the material and like laying it out on a paper or something like what was production like for that? And then when you molded it? Did you guys create the molds yourself and pour that material into the mold?
Marcia: Yes, we did. I actually found a candy company in Oklahoma that I don’t know if they’re still in business that made chocolate candy molds, like if you wanted to make chocolates for a wedding party or, and so I called that company and asked them if they would make molds for me. And their molds as I remember our first molds held like 20 pieces of chalk, and you would pour the slurry and then you would scrape them off and let them dry. Oh, this was so primitive Amy, but we were making a lot of chalk by then. So then those molds were not strong enough or big enough.
And the big turning event happened. I would send all of this media, my newspaper articles and magazines. We were in Fortune Magazine and entrepreneur and ABC, NBC and CBS, Denver, our local stations covered our little story. Then I got a call from the executive producer of ABC World News Tonight with Peter Jennings and he wanted to come cover our story. That’s when everything blew up. And they did come we made the hold. And I asked her I said nobody like Peter Jennings has ever come to nyuad. Colorado, would he come to my children’s elementary school and give a little talk about his work at ABC News. And she said he wanted so I hired the island and I asked the art department to come do a whole mural about ABC News and Peter Jennings where they parked the school buses. So they moved all the school buses, all these high school art students came and did this beautiful mural. And I made a ABC logo cookie cutter out of copper, because it was soft and malleable and I could make a cookie cutter and I made 700 cookies to give away to everybody at the high school and the elementary school. So we I killed myself to make this day about Peter Jennings. Then when they did our story, he was already in love with our kids in the fun. So we had when the story actually aired. We’d had two minutes and 20 seconds on World News Tonight, which used to be a 30 minute show with commercials out 20 minutes of news time. So we were a 10th of their show. And no one I know this back so long ago. I didn’t know once it aired if you didn’t see it, you missed it. But I happened to hear Barry Serafin saying coming up next, a couple of kids chalking up their future in Colorado. So I ran into the house and put a VHS tape in my so I do have a copy of the segment. And then the next morning I went into my office and I was so depressed because my parents didn’t see it. My sister didn’t see people I wanted to just know that we were doing something all missed it. But I got a call from a man a man. And I recognized his name and when I picked up the phone and say good morning. How can I help you? Can I say a bad word on your show?
Marcia: Why the fuck is Walmart getting all this publicity? And I said, Sir, they’re buying our product and all their stores and I can’t get your buyers to return my call. He was the head of Kmart who had 4200 stores. So he then asked us over the phone to drop ship two cases, 48 pieces each to each of his 4200 stores. We were not a vendor of record, we had to hand tight 4200 invoices, there were no computers yet. It was total brain damage. And he said, Can you do it in five weeks Missy? And I said, Yes, sir. We can.
I had no clue when I hung up the phone how we were going to, but we did. I’m sure we lost money on the order because we hired every temp we could get to help us make all this I’m sure as well that you that was the importance. So that was an investment. Yes. At that time, you know, and I’ve heard you tell this story before. Which you know, that was that was for me. So now everybody else gets to hear it. But you know, you the way you said it was at that time, Walmart was tiny had of just like 40 Some stores or 60 stores 66 stores and you said Walmart was a pimple on Kmart but it which is not the situation anymore. Because you know now Kmart is is so much is gone. Right? But But yeah, so you know, and well I think the other interesting thing so you show the importance of believing you can even when you don’t know how, like boldly walking through any door that is open for you. Scary Amy we could have totally imploded. But we were I was young and I was I would work around I would work 70-80 hours sleep for two and go again, I was not going to fail. Because I had my own money invested in this. I had my own my pride. This was like my third child, this little company. Well then after Walmart happened and we shipped it successfully, then we got a target nationwide, and we got Toys R Us nationwide. And then this is the last show and tell us that event after Kmart after Kmart.
Amy: And then you got in target and Toys R Us nationwide. So by that time you went from doing a few like you went from doing these major invoices for all these stores everything and overnight, you scaled so that one decision like I just wanted to spend a moment on this because this one decision where you took a chance and made it happen you like you said you lost money on that deal. You could have said no. But that one decision catapulted you through major retail and turns you into a just an incredible company and brand. And you know, and that’s what led to what you’re holding up now, which is this incredible 3 million McDonald’s three packs.
Marcia: Now this one did just out kill this, because that’s a lot of chalk. If anybody can imagine 1 million or something. This was overwhelming. And then this led to we did six other national food kids meals. So one thing led to another. At this point, we had two production facilities in the US going around the clock. And this all happened over about a 12 month period. It didn’t happen completely overnight. But we didn’t have to test the target and Toys R Us they already had seen our product at Kmart.
Then we ended up ended up opening three factories in Asia, which I was one of the first Western women to go open a plant in China. And that was quite an experience back then. And now that I have StayWell copper, I’m absolutely honored and thrilled to say we are completely made in the USA. And that was what got us into Walmart 40 years ago was made in the USA product. And here we are now back made in the USA. So in many ways, Amy it’s gone full circle. But as naive as I was back then. That’s how naive I have been on learning e commerce. It’s been a very hard journey for this old dinosaur until learn ecommerce. So yeah, I mean, it’s not a quitter. Well, and I wouldn’t say that it’s any less difficult for anyone getting into E commerce because the competition is fierce. People don’t play by any rules, right.
Amy: And so I would love to ask you a question. You said we didn’t have to test Now I know so many of our E commerce folks can learn from your experience in retail. And we all want to know, you know, and you have years of experience in retail. So you said I didn’t have to test in Target or toys r us because they had already seen our products, they’d seen that. What does that mean to test? So you said at first you shipped like a case of each one to Kmart. What does it mean, when you have to test in retail and can we still expect that, probably.
Marcia: And what that means is they’re going to put you in a smaller number of select stores, they’re going to monitor the velocity of your sales. And if you sell to their standards, and to the buyer standards, then they will give you chain wide distribution, they don’t still give that out without knowing that your product is going to sell. And it is I still call it a test. And it’s usually 30 to 45 days, it may be 60 days, and then they’ll check your sales and see how you’ve done. To move forward. We are just now finishing retail packaging to go into brick and mortar retail here in the States. And again, I want to do testing, because I want to make sure that our product will sell before we ship chain wide because most of these big accounts now will make you guarantee a buyback if your product doesn’t sell. And I do not want to get involved in buybacks. So hopefully they will give hopefully now I want to test I want to know that it will sell before we ship chain wide.
Amy: Yes, that makes sense. So you’re making sure that you’re testing before. And I think that’s what most people can expect. They get overwhelmed thinking about retail. Because on Amazon, you do get to test, you do get to launch your product and kind of test and see how things go. Right. But in retail, you also test you test in smaller amounts of stores before you’re going nationwide. But the other thing is when you finally do go nationwide, Amazon is one store.
You know, and Walmart, as you mentioned, you know what how many stores they have now I forgot how many like at 100 stores or something CVS has 9400 stores? I think so. And now even the top 50 retailers also have ecommerce platforms, and the two are not the same. That brick and mortar is not connected to the E commerce side. So you know we all have so much to learn whether we’re in E commerce and figuring it out, or we are trying to expand into brick and mortar channels. There’s there’s so much to learn. And we can learn from each other so so I know your your let’s go take you from you sold your company, right you sold your your chalk company and what year was that that you sold it in?
Marcia: That was February 9 1990. You know, the days your children were born, I’ll never forget that day either. February 9 1990, my life changed forever.
I had first been made an offer to buy my company from the Etch A Sketch company Ohio art. And I had gone through nine months of due diligence with them and we did not come to a deal. But I’m very very proud to say we ended up best friends and usually when you’ve invested that much time and money putting a deal together and they fall apart. Usually people don’t like each other. But the Chairman and I have become best friends. His sister is my best friend we talk every day on the phone. She’s a dear dear lady. I love all of his family. They become like my they are my family.
The original people I dealt with are no longer there. But actually sketch is it’s a classic toy brand as well. But I saw I was pretty depressed when that sale fell apart because I was in over my head with cash flow. We were shipping so much product and all these national retailers. One I always used to call it 2% And that never they would pay like in 90 days or 120 days but they were ordering product every 30 days. Because our product was consumable. So it was a cashflow nightmare. So I needed to sell the company we were growing so fast. I knew I was going to bankrupt it if I didn’t sell it. And we were in every we were in mass specialty education, gift toy, fast food. We really had a complete grid of US retail. And so when that deal fell apart, coincidentally I got a call about three weeks later from my Dallas rep Gary McCoy
And Gary used to always call and say, Hey, sunshine, how you doing today? And I said, I’m great, Gary, what’s up? And he goes, have you ever thought about selling your company? And I said, Well, why would you ask? He didn’t know I had been through nine months of this because you never let your sales people know when you’re really up against the wall. And he said, there’s a company that’s very interested in your distribution. They didn’t care at all about my product. But they wanted my distribution, because we were vendors of record at all these major than they have sat on the shelf, and valuable, very valuable, and it still is today. And so he said, I want you to call I said, Gary, stop. If they’re interested, you have them call me. I don’t have time to chase a rainbow. And so 45 minutes later, Amy, I got a phone call from the chairman of the world’s largest toy company. Now I’m just a little farm kid from southeast Iowa. This is big stuff to me. So he started telling me about their company. They had a product that had done really well in Japan. They didn’t have any US distribution, and they wanted to buy my company and put this product into my distribution. That product was a little product called Power Rangers.
And that’s what happened. I had the company sold within three, three to four weeks, I got everything I wanted, because he wanted that distribution. And we put a six person launch team together and took that to a billion dollars in 14 months. In 1990. A billion dollars was a lot of Power Rangers, it had never been done in the toy industry before. It took Barbie 30 years to hit a billion dollars in one year. So it was a big, big deal, your company and your distribution and what you built out of nothing out of your kitchen, basically out our dog turds
Amy: Catapulted another company. I mean, we think about even what the Power Rangers brand is today, you were a part. You’re a pioneer to that. Not to mention, you know, back when you started, when you moved your factories to China back then, there was nothing in China. It took companies like yours, to go to China and build them out. It’s like what Mexico and some of the other countries that we’re trying to source from now. It’s what they need. They need companies to come in and grow with these manufacturers. And you did that as a woman in a country where at that time, time has gotten a little bit better. But I have a China trip.
Marcia: I go to China often and I see the still to this day. So primitive back then it was truly one of my factories was in guang zhao. My first was in shinza. And then guang zhao, and my last was in Charmin. And when I stayed in my guang zhao hotel, I never let my bare feet touch the floor, I always had slippers on, it was so the showers had mold. They weren’t even what we would call a shower. It was horribly pitiful. But it got what I needed done. And we have come a long way. And as I say, I am very, very honored and thrilled to be part of the USA manufacturing Community.
Amy: I agree I’m I feel the same way. I have one product made in the US. And I’m very proud of that. And, you know, I’m happy to conquer that because it’s not easy. It really isn’t easy to get a product made in the USA.
So all right, so we went from you starting this company out of nothing with your kids, getting people involved saying yes to open doors, even when you didn’t know how you were going to do things. And you ran into a cashflow problem, which is so many people in Ecommerce, we have the same problem. Everybody who has inventory has this problem, right? And you get to the point where you’re too big, or you’re too small to grow as big as you need to grow. And so you got in a position where you needed to sell and back then selling a business was not the same as selling a business today. So you went through that whole thing. And you know, it’s it’s it’s a whole different ballgame.
Marcia: So I have to tell you my wonderful sales story at Ohio art. Bill Kilgallen was the chairman and as I say he is a dear dear friend of mine now but I didn’t know him at all. Then I knew his father had started the company and they were a very well to do establish family in Bryan Ohio. I had done my research about their stock and what Bill was paid as chairman of the board and, and on and on. So when I sat in his conference room, his private conference room with elephant tusks around the fireplace isn’t a Persian rug on the floor, my factory, my office at my factory was a loading dock I didn’t need. I mean, it was so different. But we had made trips back and forth to each other’s factories a few times in those nine months.
So I’m in his office the last day in his conference room the last day and as a woman in business, Amy, you’ll get this. Now, he said to me, now, Marsha, what we’re going to do is we’re going to merge our companies. Now, first, he said, You’re going to have to move to Brian, Ohio, because we’re going to need you to brand manage this product line. And I said, Well, Bill, I would consider that. And he said, and we’ll pay you. This is 1989, we’ll pay you $42,000 a year. And I said, Bill, in all due respect, and he was making 580,000 a year and stock options. And I said, Bill, in all due respect, I pay my plant manager more than that. And he said, what Marsha, you’d be the highest paid woman in Bryan, Ohio, and you’ve got an employed husband, Strike one. But I kept my mouth shut. And I kept my woman temper down, then he said. So what we’re going to do is .. well, let me step back before I went met with Bill, Chet doll, was their senior VP of Sales and Marketing took me around the executive suite and introduced me. And I noticed there was not a single woman in an office, other than behind the typewriter, there were no female executives in the company. And I made a little note of that. And he introduced me to their chief financial officer, and he looked up and down and up and over to chat and said, she can’t look like that and have a brain too. Right in front of you, like you didn’t even exist.
Amy: Women have come so far. And again, you’re part of pioneering that, you know, some of these young young gals who are making a mark in business.
Marcia: Now I do take a little tiny bit of credit for helping open the door, because they can’t imagine what this was like then. So now we’re back in Bill’s conference room, and he says, what I’m going to suggest we do is merge our companies now this is October, and then we’ll go to Toy Fair, which is the big industry event in New York. Every February, we’ll go to Toy Fair, we’ll announce the merger. And then we’ll sit back down in June and determine what the company’s worth.
And I said, Bill, it sounds to me like you want our companies to sleep together before they’re married. And I’m kind of old fashioned and traditional. So I’m not interested in that practice. If you hope I don’t mean anything sexual, Marcia.
even get that you were trying to make an analogy. No, I mean, apparently, you know, you can have mahogany that don’t need brains. audited financials, they had nine months of due diligence, they knew everything was on the table, there were no hidden secrets. So he just didn’t want to pay. You know, I teased him that he was born with a birth defect, his arm isn’t long enough to reach his wallet. And so that’s been our long standing joke, but
Amy: And the thing was from that you actually, you didn’t end up selling to them. And you and you already told us about the deal that you’ve got, which was really incredible. And you know, so that’s the other lesson here out of your story is that, yes, it’s important to say Yes, sometimes. But it’s also important to know what’s important to you know when to say no. So ultimately, you know, what made you decide what was the deciding factor? Because this was an opportunity still, right, you know, that, you know, sorry, with Ohio art. What was that? Now? What was the what was the thing that made you decide to say no,
Marcia: well, it was $42,000. I was running that company with five phone calls. I mean, this was an insult.
Amy: So you were insulted.
Marcia: Yeah, I was insulted. I was working my tail off. And Bill’s father created his company. Bill was the oldest son. He never loaded a semi he never did any of the work I had done and just no acknowledgement of what I had put in to build a company with this distribution.
So it was that and then moving to Bryan, Ohio when I lived in Boulder County, Colorado. I mean, I really didn’t want to move to Ohio would have I probably but no, it was not high on my list. And then this whole nonsense of let’s go wait till next June to find out what I’m going to pay. You know, it just didn’t make sense. Yeah. As much as I liked the Kilgallen and they are some of the finest people you’ll ever want to deal with. Bill’s a shrewd business guy is a very wealthy man because he knows how to strike these kinds of deals, but it wasn’t fitting what my needs were And so I guess, and I remember we were shipping to discovery toys at the time, and we had a huge discovery toy order and I got off the airplane took off my brand new
Oh, I bought this fancy designer sell my business suit to wear into the meeting, took it off put on my sweats and my blue jeans and went back over and helped the I wanted to make sure discovery toys shipped on time and, and I just I cried on the airplane trip home, I was so sad because I needed I needed to sell mental and physical, I probably weighed 65 pounds less than I do now. I was I was living on Diet Pepsi and no sleep. And it stopped healthy. But um, but it was still important even though you were in that situation where you kind of were desperate I mean to sell you were very desperate to sell at that point. Um, but you still know you’re, you still knew your worth you you really wanted to sell and you knew that you were seeking that relief but you knew your worth. And and so you know, it’s it’s important. It’s such an important lesson learned.
Amy: So let’s fast forward. So here we are today. And now Mars has figured out e commerce which has been fun so far. We’ve been in the Amazon jail she’s done all the things right she we had her at the Women’s in power at the very Women’s Conference in Vegas. And she came out in the in a prison jumpsuit and said I’m wearing this jumpsuit because I’m in prison Amazon prison and it was hilarious and we have been unjustly charged.
Yeah has been unjustly charged. So she has been through the flag for pesticides issue. So it’s so it you know, but anyway, so we’re gonna fast forward now to what you’re doing now, which is ecommerce. And you know, we’ve learned so many lessons from your story. And you know, I think you say Oh, I’m figuring I’m a dinosaur I’m figuring out ecommerce well guess what you have more experienced than all of us. And you know, it’s yes, you might not know all the bells and whistles for E commerce but none of us do. Okay, they change every single day and we’re all just hanging out flying by the seat of our pants going along for the ride. So, you know, let’s talk about what had you starting? StayWell coppers your new company? What had you starting that and deciding to enter into E commerce? How did you decide to do this?
Marcia: It’s exactly the same thing my whole life. I have tried to I’ve been a product designer, I’ve done over 100 products. You’re hearing some of the bigger ones. I had another product that gel filled risk stress that went in front of the keyboards that I created that and I licensed that worldwide to Case Logic. That was a whole different way to execute your company Case Logic. Yes, yes. So I love creating easy, practical, affordable solutions for everyday problems. Like my daughter wanted something to play with. It didn’t stay in her clothes. I wanted something that makes my wrist not hurt when I was typing because back then our computer keyboards were this high you had to caulk your wrist to type. So in 2000, I became deathly ill with immersa staph infection in my lower spine. I had final rites twice, I was sick for six months, I had to learn to walk again I had six surgeries. When I got done with all that I thought there’s got to be a way to kill germs besides all these drugs I was on a drip more a drip vancomycin, which is the most potent antibiotic we have in the world. And it ruined my hair, my skin and my nails and all those cells that reproduce frequently were destroyed. So when I got all regenerated, I thought there’s got to be a way to kill germs that doesn’t ruin our bodies. So I started doing research and came upon antimicrobial copper and I was blown away I didn’t know anything about the power of copper, but boy I do now it is the most amazing metal on the planet. We think gold is the most precious if I could choose between a pound of copper and a pound of gold. I would take the copper because your health is your wealth and without your health you have no wealth at all. Gold doesn’t do anything. It’s just a pretty metal. Copper kills 99.97% of germs on contact. I have my copper hook necklace on right now. By the way you can get it on cvs.com as of yesterday. I roll this between my hands whenever I am exposed to a germy surface. I
Use it as a push button for elevators or the checkout at the grocery store. Yes, Amy, I put it in my nose every morning and every night. And my husband and I have not had a cold for five years. And the reason is we get most of our germs into our body 80% on our hands, the rest through our nose. So if we can keep our nasal passages and our hands clean, we’re way ahead of the game on staying healthy. We have about 200 people in our focus group, who use our phone patch which goes on the back of his cell phone the germiest things we touch all day. And thank you, Andrew, I see that you’re rocking your phone patch.
If we can keep our Yep, there’s a nice if we can keep our hands germ free. We’re way ahead of the game. But of our 200 people, no one has had COVID or a cold since August of 2019. Now that’s powerful. No drugs. No. And this is all natural, no chemicals. And here’s what’s amazing. This one copper roller or your copper foam patch will kill germs for the rest of your life. One purchase lasts forever. They just found a Pyramid in Egypt. 10,000 years old, and they had copper water pipes in the bottom of the pyramid. The water in those pipes was 10,000 years old. And it was still pure and drinkable. That’s how powerful this metal is. So it just I just I just became obsessed with this is the way we have to help people stay germ free. Nobody should be as sick as I was in the year 2000. It was. It was horrendous.
Amy: So we’re not responding to the pandemic and coming out with something Oh, no, you already had this. And it was something that you discovered. And you’re clearly a serial inventor and entrepreneur. You know, I’m the same way. I’m always inventing new things and always have new ideas. And that’s why I just can’t we have to do one product together. I love it. It’s just the way my brain works.
Marcia: I want to find easy, affordable, practical solutions because if I’ve got a problem you might other people have it too. But it’s just looking at things a little bit differently. But we started this so people wouldn’t get cold. It had nothing to do Coronavirus didn’t exist yet. Actually, our company was doing the lights out fabulous until Coronavirus. That’s when we cratered because
Amazon threw off 1000s of accounts that were making kill claims. So last March 18 St. Patrick’s Day, we got our nationwide EPA clearance where we are legally able to say we kill 99.97% of germs. And we got that on March 18. But it still took my genius mir in Israel near river a you know him. He’s been working on getting us back on Amazon. I had hired six other consultants to help nears the one who cracked the code. But it took us until July 25 To get our first product backup. So we’re starting all over again. But Twitter now and that’s the thing is like, you know, it is very difficult dealing with Amazon because they’re a conglomerate, right? And you can’t get to that right person. And what’s flagging your listing is the words in it, even though you have the authority to claim those words. It’s against their policy. So, you know, it’s just, it’s just one of those things. And oftentimes, and I see this with my clients all the time, it’s like, it’s actually an easy fix. And when I looked at your listings as well, it was like, oh, Marsha, this is actually an easy fix. But how are you supposed to know that because Amazon’s not gonna give you the fix. No, you know, it’s only people like Mir and me who know like, Okay, we’ve actually had to deal with this and work through these problems and learn by experience, because it’s not documented anywhere. And here, you just get shut down and you don’t know what to do. So don’t even you don’t even know why they don’t make no sense.
There’s no human being to talk to, at least back in my sidewalk chalk days. Every one of my accounts, I had an account specialist or a buyer that I could call and say, Hey, we got what are you forecasting for the next 90 days? Amazon doesn’t give you any forecasts. You just better have a lot of product because it gets strong you better be able to run. So it’s just so challenging. The lack of humaneness in E commerce. Yeah, that’s what I miss the most because I’m a people person. I truly love people, keeping them germ free and just people to be Yeah, and retail.
Amy: Retail is very, still very old school and still very people oriented. And you know, it’s it and I think coming from that side of things it is more difficult e commerce can be lonely, if you’re not well connected. And I think that’s why you’ve found your tribe in, you know, all of us hanging out with, you know, and coming to all these networking events. And, and I would encourage anyone else who’s out there who’s feeling lonely, like they, you know, they, they don’t really know you know where they’re going, or what they’re doing, start coming to some of these events, because it really does make a huge difference. And you know, you just you feel networked in, and you feel like part of the family and the people are just wonderful.
So that being said, you were new at the E commerce thing, obviously, you’re way more experienced than most, with, you know, with retail, and with product development and all of that. But what would you encourage new people to do new sellers that are just thinking about getting started, and they’re trying to figure out how to pick a product and what to do? What’s your word of advice there?
Marcia: Well, if they’re creating their own products, which is what I’ve always done, my best advice is to test and find a couple of 100 people who will test your product, and give it to them for free and get feedback. Because if I could show you the first roller we made, you would just laugh if you saw it now, in fact, Amy, I’ve never shown this before, I’m going to show it to you. Yay, this is an embarrassment. This is the very first copper roller, it was a piece of antimicrobial copper with a wicking stick holding it to a drinking straw.
Oh my gosh, that’s you gave that to people to test? No, no, this was the first one I made. And then the first prototype, first prototype, that’s how that’s so you have to test. And then the next piece of advice, listen to what they say and take your ego out of it. Because some things just aren’t worth taking to market. And you don’t know that because we all love our own product so much.
So I would say test and listen would be the if you’re creating your own products, and then start, just start. It’s so easy to list a product on Amazon or Walmart marketplace, or Etsy or eBay, eBay isn’t. They don’t really protect intellectual property. So I’m not crazy about eBay. At least if I tell Amazon, someone’s violating my patent there off the next day. And I do respect that Amazon is good about that. So I would say test, listen and start because if you’ve proven among 50 To 100 to 150 people that yes, I would buy this if this were fixed up and finalized. Just like we did at the craft shows we took this to 86 craft shows one year before we entered into selling to the gift stores in Colorado. I already knew what people would pay. I knew, if I had three for $10. And they wanted to buy six, I knew they thought it was a good value. If I had one of these marked it $7 and gold, they put it back down it was too expensive. I just did it all the old fashioned way by watching consumers touch and interact with product.
So and then I also think the power of the media is so huge now the media is changed just like everything else. But when we were on ABC World News Tonight with Peter Jennings that blew our world up. We were then on Oprah when she had two names, The Oprah Winfrey Show, we were on the Phil Donahue. Those were big names back then. And they that’s what my retailers really loved that we were also pushing the media, people into their stores. Yes. And it’s really nowadays, it’s so important what you do off of Amazon, I’m speaking in Miami at the at the Amazon powwow. And that’s what I’m really talking about is how your competition is beating you and specifically what they’re doing off of Amazon. And that’s the thing is, is content and content marketing is so important and you know the things that it’s not even that hard. It’s not you know, people think oh this it’s unreachable for my product to be featured in a major news outlet. No, it’s not. You know what, here’s what’s interesting me back when I did sidewalk chalk there were three networks, ABC, NBC, CBS, that was it. And they were only on nine or 10 or 12 hours a day. At certain time. You’d hear the I think it was the what was the song they played when they all went off the air? Was it God Bless America or one of those songs and then they’d go off the air. The screens were dark in the middle of the night. Now we have 10s of 1000s of news outlets that are needing news 24 hours a day. There has never been a better time to go
Get Media, it just takes a lot of time. And that’s I think the biggest hurdle for most of us entrepreneurs is waking up. And looking at your to do list and knowing what’s the most critical thing I have to get done, because there’s a million things to do every day.
Amy: So I want to tell you guys that Marcia does Amazon lives. Yes. And she doesn’t do them herself. She has found other people who do Amazon, I got an email from Marsha one day and it said, We’re going live on Amazon, this time come support us, which is the other important lesson to learn. We could just go all day, couldn’t we just talking about all these lessons, right. And I know everybody’s loving it, we’re getting all these messages in your thing. Marsh is amazing. Look at this. But, but also, you know, Amazon live is completely new to you. It’s you know, and people are intimidated by it, but you are going, Hey, I’m gonna give it a shot. This pirate guy has a show I’m gonna give on his show. And we’re gonna have fun. And we’re gonna and not only did you do that, you spread the word that you were gonna be live so that you would get your friends and anybody who is a customer of stable copper to support you. So what a great message. And what a great lesson.
Marcia: I’m also doing four to six Amazon posts every day, and I am seeing continued growth in following and engagement. I don’t video shorts on other people’s pages on other product posts on my ASINs. Yes, which is really good. But what you can do is you could do video shorts on other people’s pages. Oh, by the way, you got to teach me how to do that.
Amy: Let’s do it. That would be fun. Yeah. So, you know, this much to learn is, is you’re already doing 90% More than most of your competition, which is so cool, right? So you’re, you’re learning this new platform, and you’re doing things that are completely foreign to other people are like Amazon live, what’s that, but Amazon live has been around for a while. And guess what, Amazon pushes it during the holidays. So they’re gonna replay all these old lives during the holidays and new ones, because they want that 24/7 kind of shopping, TV shopping feel. And you’re gonna get all that traffic over again, in what’s amazing, they’ll let you run an Amazon live for an hour, two hours, three hours, they don’t care, you can talk about your product. And that’s why I invited other people because after a while, you know, people get tired of hearing me say conference schedules.
And so I wanted other people to say what they had learned and it really became fun exchanges. I think we did get some really interesting emails and people were happy to to get involved. Yes, so we’re almost at the top of the hour and I want I don’t want to forget Marsha has a special offer for our audience. So Marcia Sells these amazing and for those of you who are listening, I’m going to describe them. Marcia Sells copper plates for your phone. So I’ve got one of my phone here copper plates for your phone as well as copper rollers, rollers, thank you. I was like What’s the word for that as a keychain or a necklace, keychain or necklace.
I it actually comes with a little clip on the end and I clip it to my purses awesome. So because I like having it on my purse and it’s so nice because then I just pull it out of my purse and you know if I’m in the car and I don’t have to sanitizer anything I just pull it out my purse and just rub it between my hands. And then I always have one on the back of my phone. Marcia 71 With my logo on it, it’s so cool. And look it’s get it’s getting character now it’s kinda you know,
copper oxidizes with air and you can clean it off but here’s the cool thing. Copper kills just as many germs brand new and shiny as it does patina. So it’s just a personal choice. Yeah, I love it. It’s really awesome. I like the character in the copper. It reminds me of my brand, it has a little bit of character. So you just recently listed on CBS and lowes.com and you need reviews. You need purchases and reviews and we all know how hard that is.
So Marsha would like to tell you guys if you go on cvs.com or Lowe’s dot com and you buy one of Marshalls products on there and you just reach out to Marsha she’s going to give you her her information on how to return just a moment. But if you reach out to Marsha you let her know that you did that and leave her review help her out. Tell her what you think of the product, put it out there for Lowe’s and her end and CDs. And that way she’s getting a lot of that extra SEO juice, right? And do that for Marcia reached out to her show her that she did that and she will send you something free, send you a free product.
Marcia: So if you will go to Lowe’s dot com or cvs.com and buy our product, I will send you a free product with everyone you purchase. And I’m only doing that on me show because we do need to get the sales we just got on CVS yesterday, Lowe’s about two weeks ago. So we need to get sales and review started. So it’s the holiday season, it’s the beginning of cold and flu season in the US. So think of all the people that you love that you want to keep germ free, and you can buy one, get one free. And I’m happy to do that to any of your audience in exchange for a review. Now, here’s the cool thing, Amy, I can’t say that on Amazon, you can’t ask for a review on Amazon. But CVS and Lowe’s, I can ask for them.
Amy: And it’s not like you’re, you know, anyway, it’s, it’s something that we all want to do to support each other’s brands and you’re asking them to buy the product full price, you’re not, you’re not like I’m gonna give you some money to go buy the product that’s different. You’re asking them to buy at full price and in return, you’re offering them an extra product and a lot of a lot of brands do that. They’ll give a free gift, that kind of thing. So that’s what you’re doing. And I think it’s wonderful. And so Carmel asked, What is the name of the product, so stay well, copper, right.
Maria: And so copper and we have a phone patch, and we have a germ stopper roller. Those are our and then on. On CVS. We have the dog tag necklace also, which is just like a military dog tag. Some men like to wear those more than and all of these come on our website. There’s more products on our website. Lowe’s has three listed and CBS has three listed because we’re testing.
Amy: Yes, so if I shared my screen, all I did was search for stay well all one word sta a YW e ll copper on Lowe’s dot com and you can see all of Marsha’s awesome products come up, I actually changed my phone case. Just so I could fit these these products on there. So all right, Murcia. Um, last things here before we hit stop. And I let these good people who are still in here, just ask you a question if they have one. But how can people if they want to get in touch with you? How should they reach out to you? The best way I’m going to give you my direct email. It’s Marsha M A R C I A at StayWell copper.com. And I’m happy to answer any of your questions. And I do just see that Andrew has a question about how to get product into Lowe’s. Andrew, reach out to me afterwards. And I will tell you exactly how to. It’s much too much for this time in the podcast.
Marcia: But I want you to know and I’m happy to help anybody, you know, at my age in life, and now it gets to be who I can help and give back to because so many people have helped me learn what I’ve learned. I you know, I didn’t know any of this at all. Yeah, those many years ago. So one step at a time. And we are here to help each other. Exactly. Yes. And it’s it is about giving back right when using of you, Amy and your audience because you all know so many people, I am looking for a strategic partner that can join me and help take stay well to the next level. I have I have built this so far. But I know to get to the next level, it’s time to bring in a really good strategic partner because ecommerce is so critical. And I don’t want to make any more of those 11 month delisting Amazon mistakes that was a critical blow and I just am really looking for a strong strategic partner. So if you know someone, please have them reach out to me. I do actually I have a very good relationship with one of the best in the business. And they run help brands like Johnson and Johnson and p&g and on Amazon. So they’re not great products. We’ve got proven products that we got to US supply chain with no glitches, we have intellectual property protected. And I have a list of products that need to be finalized and developed. I don’t and I’d rather do that. I can be more valuable to the company doing that than so I am looking for that part. It’s time.
Amy: All right, you guys. You heard it here. Marsha put it out there, of course all connected with mine. But if you’re listening to the show right now and you have a good connection for Marsha reach out, she’s always she’s on Facebook, she’s on all the places, you know, so definitely reach out. She’s so reachable and she’s just I couldn’t believe, you know, the first time I talked her I couldn’t believe what a legend I was talking to and you know, it’s just awesome. She’s just a wonderful lady. And we just thank you Marsha for being here today.
A thank you for sharing your story with us. Thank you for inspiring us, and and everyone else listening. Thank you so much for being here. I’m going to hit the stop button on the live stream. We’re going to do a few questions here in in the zoom and don’t forget to rate review and subscribe to the podcast everyone we would so appreciate that and don’t forget seller poll is out right now. Seller poll, you got to make your votes for your favorite podcasts. We would love your vote. But of course seller poll also lets you vote for all of your favorite providers. So get out there seller pull.com Vote for our podcast. Vote for any of your favorite providers including amazing at home. We would love to get your vote there. All right. Thanks, everyone. Thank you, Marcia. And we will see you next time on the seller roundtable. Oil everyone