SUSAN| FRESHLY PICKED

Susan Petersen of Freshly Picked

So tell us about you… You grew up in Washington right? When did you decide to move to Utah, and what took you there?

Mmmhmmm. When I was like 22,23? I just wanted to snowboard and work and go to school, growing up I had been to Utah a lot.

How did you meet your husband, and what is your secret to making it work, being married 10 years is quite an accomplishment?

We went to the same high school in Washington and we lost touch and we ended up working at the same place in Salt Lake and we went snowboarding together and that is where we fell in love. I guess we are just both committed to making it work. We have been in it for the long ride and he never tells me no.

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How do you find balance in terms of CEO, mother, wife, friend ….

I don’t focus on balance. What I focus on is my daily to do list.  I have created a schedule that allows me to get a lot of things done when I am doing that thing. So if I am at work I get a lot of things done at work and when I am at home I get a lot of things done at home, and so I don’t try to balance things I just try to stick to my schedule and weed out the things that are not working for me and add in things that do.

Tell us a little bit about your kids… Are their personalities totally opposite or are they similar?

I have two great kids. My daughter Hattie is 8, and my son Gus is 5, they are the funniest people I know and really fun to be around. They are their own people. I keep thinking that they are the same and then they will do something that surprises me, and they are not. My daughter is fearless and really sure of herself and super confident. My son is a little shy and really just like the most loveable person in the world. They are great.

Is it true that you hate to cook but that you are great at it? What’s your favorite food?

I’m pretty good at cooking but I’m really good at ordering out. That is my true talent. It just depends. I love Indian food on the weekends. I love Mexican food. Umm I love Cubby’s. I love Communal, it’s a really awesome restaurant here. It is American French food.

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So how did you conceive your brand “Freshly Picked?” You’ve been using that with the products you had been making for years. How did you come up with that as your logo, your brand?

It was a late night 2am Etsy decision. I was like I have to come up with a name for my company, and I just kept typing in things until something wasn’t taken. It’s always been that. It’s really worked out. Now I really love it, but, there was a while where I was like ohhh we’ve gotta change but, we didn’t and I’m really glad. Melanie Burke did the logo design for me, she’s so awesome and I basically told her my vision and what I wanted and she just came up with it. She did such a good job I am so happy with it, it’s perfect.

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When you started doing Etsy what products were you selling?

Quilts, bags, wallets, onesies, just kinda whatever, and when my son was born I tried to sew him a bunch of different kinds of shoes. Some things would work some things wouldn’t and then I wanted a moccasin and so I made a moccasin, and they worked and they were so cute.

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At what point did you decide this is what’s working this is what I’m going to go for?

I always told my husband  if I could find a product that people are super interested in, I know I could be successful and make a big company out of it. And the moccasins just came along and they were that product that everyone was interested in. So, I still was making the other stuff because I knew I could move the other stuff and the moccs were expensive and harder to make and so I kept making the other stuff for a while and probably about 2 years ago we went strictly moccasins. Then we added the carryall this year, and we have some other exciting things in store.

The handbags were a natural evolution of your product, working with leather.

We are not in the shoe business, we are actually in the memory making business. Your shoe tells a story about a time in your child’s life that you can never get back, because time is stolen, it’s gone. But, they end up with footprints, scuff-marks, it reminds you of all these little moments that you swore you would never forget but, somehow you forget.

And so the carry all was kind of the same thing, it is going to tell a story about a time in your life. And so every product we add to the line has to be able to tell a story. When I saw that the moccs did that for my son, I realized how special they were as a mother, you save stuff from your children that you won’t throw away, even though it’s just like a shirt it becomes a keepsake.

Where do you source your leather?

We started at Tandy’s, a local leather shop, and then we started going to a distributor, and now we go right to Italy. In fact my Operations Manager is in Italy right now sourcing leather.

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How do you choose your colors, patterns?

Part of it is on trend, and part of it is to fill a hole within the line where we see there is a color we want to try that we haven’t tried yet, sometimes it’s whatever the leather is coming out and what we can get our hands onto.

What was your transition from Etsy to Big Cartel? Did that help your business?

I always felt like I was driving traffic to my Etsy Shop. Etsy is great for what it is but it also creates a marketplace where people tend to be a “Me too” brand instead of coming up with their own ideas. So as soon as I could I tried to get off of Etsy. Like “me too” I make them too, and I make them cheaper, and you can search it.

So we got on Big Cartel before I started making the Moccasins, they were never for sell on Etsy. I opened my Big Cartel Shop with the moccasins and big cartel is great for a stopgap between your own website and a shopping platform, cause it’s cheap, they work with you really well, they are local – and for me that was a big thing.

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What made you decide to go for Shark Tank …

I wanted to take my business to a national stage so I wrote it down that year on my list of things to do, and decided I was going to go for it.

We were unique from most people that go on Shark Tank, where you see people go and you see their social media and it’s pretty dismal, and we really wanted to have a strong front on all accounts, so we worked really hard to build it all up, and it grew quickly right after that.

The whole Shark Tank experience was 100% positive for me, it was just so exciting and so fun I would do it again in a heartbeat, but I am not jealous of people that are on right now because it is stressful.

Going on Shark Tank has put you more in the lime light, how has that been for you?

I’m actually a really shy person. If I know you I’m super outgoing but, in a group setting I’m pretty shy.

I actually pulled back a lot from being the face of it but, then we came to realize that’s a huge part of it. So I am trying to figure out a way to do it that I feel comfortable with but, we have completely pulled our children back from it.

They are getting to an age where they don’t need to be on the internet, you know, I don’t need to have their face out there. It got to the point, where people would come up and ask my husband when he would be at the store… Is this Gus & Hattie?

And it’s like you can’t do stuff like that. So we have pulled them back completely from that, and pulled me back a lot and now we are trying to figure out how I can fit in but, with still protecting my privacy because that is important to me.

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I didn’t go on Shark Tank for me, and for people to recognize me. I went on for the product, and for my business.

Same reason why we have grown our Instagram, it was never for me, it was for the business and to sell moccasins, and so people knowing who I am is this weird byproduct of it that I did not expect.

For a brand would you advise to not put yourself into it? I guess it depends on the product…

It also depends on the person. Some people can handle it really well, and some people can’t. I would just say whatever you do, just don’t put yourself all out there. People don’t need to know everything about you.

For your protection and other peoples because there are so many people on the internet with way too much time that just talk about people. So, I think that it is good for your business because people like to see a face to your business and I think for my business it makes sense because there is so much of me wrapped up in it. So, I would do it again but, it caught me off guard a little.

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So have you thought about doing Moccs for adults?

No. I mean the woman’s shoe market is a completely different business model than what I’m interested in. It doesn’t reflect keepsakes it doesn’t reflect what I’m trying to do with my business, so I just don’t think it’s a good fit for us.

We are trying to stay on brand and it’s easy to get distracted, and be like I could do that and I could do this but we are trying really hard to stay on brand. We ask ourselves does this jive with everything we are trying to do, and we try to stay true to that.

How long are you traveling out of the year?

This year was less travel than last year. I don’t like to travel and I don’t like to be away from my kids, and like I said I am really protective of my schedule, and travel throws you off. And so I prefer to stay home and let other people in the company travel.

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So you’ve always been an entrepreneur … how did your EE movement come about?

We have a lot of people constantly asking me for advice, and it’s usually like do you have any tips? Like that’s it? I’m like I do but, maybe give me more direction than that.

So, I just try to share the struggles I’ve been having lately and the solutions I have found to those struggles.

Hopefully it can help people, and I try to keep it to where if you are an entrepreneur or a mother because kind of  being an entrepreneur and being a stay at home mom are kind of the same thing.

I just want to give women permission to be able to do what they want to do.

Who inspires you?

I come from a long line of really strong women, my grandmothers and my mom.

Tips – One thing – What has been maybe your biggest struggle?

You have to be comfortable in working and crave working in the unknown. You don’t know if it is going to work, you don’t know if it’s going to fail.

Don’t sit around and write down too much, just work, and get stuff done and just be comfortable like feeling like shit this might not work and be comfortable working in that, and crave working in that and that will help you to always take chances and always move forward.

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Do you feel like by taking chances that has really put you where you are and helped make you  more successful?

Yeah I mean what right did I think that I could just go on Shark Tank and that I could write it down and just go on it?

You just have to go for the things you want, you have to go after them and you have to be nice and work hard and make sure that you are not ruining relationships to help get you what you want.

But, always go after what you want.

You can find Freshly Picked on Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, and of course at freshlypicked.com

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