Todd Olson Food And Beverage Entrepreneur

Todd Olson is a food and beverage entrepreneur in Sumner, Washington. He joined us to chat with us about his various brands. He recently started Lucille's Gourmet Honey, which includes a standalone CBD Honey spinoff that he discussed from a strategic standpoint. He also has deZirPremium Liqueurs, which started a project between friends and now has many unique flavors for mixing with spirits. We also talked about Laneway Cocktails, a spirit brand he launched in Australia. Listen in to hear about his marketing strategies for these various brands and what's next for his company, Angel Fox Foods.

Below is an edited transcript from our conversation with Todd.

Andrew: Everybody, welcome back to Stickers on the Mic . It's Thanksgiving week here, and I'm very fortunate and thankful to be dialing in Todd Olson, from Sumner, Washington. Todd, you reached out to us through our marketing email, and you talked a little bit  about your experience as a customer, and you said, I wanted to chat with you a little bit about the different brands that I have and all that." I was like, "This is amazing. Thank you for reaching out." All of you listening, marketing at stickergiant.com is a great way to get a hold of me. Todd, I'm just very thankful that you did that. Thanks for feeding back. It always feels really good, as someone who works at a business, to get feedback that, so thank you.

Todd Olson Food and Beverage Entrepreneur

Todd: Sure. My pleasure. Thanks for having me on, Andrew.

Andrew: Tell me a little bit about why you needed stickers and labels, and what brought you to StickerGiant, I guess, and we'll go from there.

Todd: Sure, yes. I started off with a business in alcohol distillery in Tacoma, Washington, and I started out traditionally going to a label company. There's a lot of limitations when you go to a label company, as far as what you can do, because most of their stuff is, if you want a specific shape, you have to conform to their shape standards. I, as a kind of a graphic designer, I want to be able to make a funky label that will get people's attention, and sticking to a triangle or a rectangle or whatever the form was that they have is pretty limiting.

When I found StickerGiant was able to do stickers, where you can free-form it and give it any kind of shape you want, that's where it just went off for me, and then being able to do clear stickers too. My thing is all about the flavor and the natural ingredients in my products. For the liquors, we use fruit concentrates, and I want people to see those colors. I want them to get excited about the product before they even open it up and taste it. Being able to use clear labels from StickerGiant, and then have them see the product in the containers before they open it, is the best part of it, and I just went for it.

Andrew: That's the dezir liquors that you have. Folks, I'm looking at the website, and you can just see that the darkness of the Mocha or the raspberry and the limoncello with the sort of orange and yellow. The clear does help it pop quite a bit. How can people, first of all, get the deZir product, but why did you come up with this? Why deZIr liquors?

Todd: Well, our State, they changed the laws where you could start-up distilleries in Washington, and that was back about 2010. A bunch of people decided, well, let's start up some distilleries. I would say about 30, 35 of them. At one point, Washington was the State with the most distilleries per capita in the United States, even more than Kentucky or back East anywhere.

Most of them were going for whiskey, and when you start a whiskey distillery, you've got a five-year lag there where you start off, and then you've got to put the whiskey in the barrels and aged. For those first five years, all the whiskey distilleries start off with vodka and gin, and we decided, well, let's not do that because there's going to be 35 fuckin gin distilleries in Washington, we want to do something a little different, so we decided to do liqueurs, and be able to mix them in with cocktails. Then whoever decided to buy, they found their favorite vodka and gin, they could still mix our products into the drinks. That's how it started out.


Andrew: It's because of the timing of it as well to capture the audience. It's spelled D-E-Z-I-R, but it's desire.

Todd: Yes, you got it.

Andrew: A little funky there, which is kind of fun. You went in on this with a friend, and it's kind of the classic co-founder thing where you're like let's do a thing and then it happens.

Todd: Yes. We actually, I think a little naively, we were at a Christmas party, and we had each product. I was playing around with lime cello instead of limoncello, and he had a family mocha recipe, and we brought them, unbeknownst to each other, we brought them to the Christmas party, and everybody was tasting them and loving them. They said, "Well, why don't you start up a distillery?" A couple of [inaudible 00:05:01] we said, "Oh yes, that's a good idea, let's do that." That's where it started, and just grew from there.

Andrew: That's awesome. That's, as they say, not all, Todd. There's more, right? It's not just the liqueurs. You also have the honey brand Lucille's, which is on your hat. For the folks who are watching, or not watching, he's got the logo of the honey brand there. Tell us a little bit about Lucille's honey.

Todd: Well, Lucille started out just kind of as luck. There was a company up in Woodinville, Woodinville whiskey that was making barrel-aged honey in their whiskey barrels. I bought some, it was awesome, it was really good. When I got down to about a quarter of a jar, I went back and said, "Hey, guys, I've got to have some more of that barrel-aged honey," and they said, "Well, we don't make that anymore. We make barrel-aged maple syrup." I was already using honey from locals beekeepers in one of our products on the core side of things. I said, well, I know all the distillers in the area. I'll just make my own barrel-aged honey, and that's where it started.

It's kind of grown from there. I've got not only the barrel-aged honey, but I've got habanero infused honey, ginger infused honey, and then last year we started selling CBD infused honey too.

Andrew: That's an interesting product. We're Colorado. We've been doing this for a long time. Washington and Colorado pretty much started the normalization process. What have you learned doing that, because the barrel-aged thing doesn't matter, you don't have to have any different licensing. Why did you have to figure out for this product specifically?

Todd: Well, I get some really good advice when I started talking to people. My thing is, I like to do a bunch of research and talk to the experts and people who know what's going on. I went out and I talked to a couple of guys, and they all said-- well, one of them gave me some really good advice. He said, "Make sure that you send each of your batches to the lab and get it tested, and then you can give those test reports to people, make it available to them so they can see exactly what's in it."

There's a lot of problem with companies saying there's CBD in their product, but it's not really actually in there. By being able to provide the test reports to people, I'm able to prove that what I'm saying is and it is actually in it, and that's been a really, really nice marketing part of it, but also something for the customer to go back and say, yes, I'm being transparent, and that's what seen it. It's been really nice.

Andrew: You broke off a whole URL for that. That's lucillescbdhoney.com. The other one is Lucille's. Talk a little bit about the need and or choice to kind of-- because it's the same exact site, but it's different with a different domain. Talk a little bit about that.

Todd: Yes, it is. I got some pushback from Square. I use Square to take credit card sales, and they have a little different policy for things that were CBD versus things that don't have CBD. They wanted to increase the percentage that they charge, the fee that they charge for CBD things, and because all of my honnies were tied to that, they were going to increase the percentage that they take on everything, and I didn't think that was fair.

I split off the CBD into another website, and that is driven by Square. Then they charge the higher percentage for that, and then on the other side, I switched to PayPal Zettle and use that as my pay platform, and so they're charging me a lower rate for the things that don't have CBD in them.

Andrew: That's super interesting. I didn't know that. I love learning new things from people. Because I do study, and I actually have a whole college class about reporting on marijuana and cannabis that I teach, so I'm always interested in how, especially-- I wear these two hats, and then what I see here at StickerGiant in the factory related to cannabis and CBD and marijuana products, obviously has been an explosion for us in that space. How long have you been doing the CBD? You said you just started.

Todd: I just started it up last year. I'm on batch number two right now.

Andrew: That's cool. You're able, like you said, your sort of value add is giving test results and trying to market that brand in a little bit different way than maybe other people are doing.

Todd: It's the CBD isolate too, so there's no THC in it, and that's for people who are looking for the health benefits for CBD and they don't want to run into drug tests problems. That's a viable alternative for them.

Andrew: That's a huge distinction, obviously. As you're kind of coming together for-- back to the general Lucille's brand, which is kind of where we diverge a little bit, how do you sort of develop the flavors, and what's that look like for you?

Todd: Well, the barrel-aged-- I was just flying by the seat of my pants. I put honey into a barrel, and then I would just test it every week and say, "Okay. Yes. It tastes pretty good." or, "It's not quite there yet." I do that actually with every other batch now. I've refined it along the way. Now what I do is, for every batch, I try to use a different local distilleries whiskey barrel, and then when the honey's done in the barrels, I the send the barrels off to local breweries. Then breweries do batches of beer in them. That's been really fun too, to get in touch with all the local breweries and the brewer--

Andrew: It's like a firkin or whatever, right? Like it's a one-off. They probably just do one of them.

Todd: yes, they just do a single batch. Actually, batch number three went down to 10 barrel in Oregon, and they're very huge. Anheuser-Busch owns them.

Andrew: Oh, wow. Cool. Oh, man. That's good for you. [chuckles]

Todd: They've got this little funky offshoot that they just do barrel projects. They just get barrels from everywhere and do kinds of cool things with them. It's a way to experiment and have fun. That's been a lot of fun. Then when the barrels are done at the breweries, I send them off to a local craftsman who takes them apart and makes furniture out of them.

Andrew: That's a pretty cool life cycle for that story of life.

Todd: People really love being involved with that whole cycle too. Now we're actually pushing people towards Paul, who's doing the furniture, and he's going to start making custom pieces for people too, and they'll be able--

Andrew: Start making the B like B things. Anyway, there's a lot. There's a whole you probably could productize that thing quite a lot if you really wanted to.

Todd: Yes, absolutely.

Andrew: We've talked about liqueur, we've talked about honey, what else is there, Todd? What else is going on with you?

Todd: One of the other projects I have, a buddy of mine and I, he lives in Australia, and we decided-- He was asking if it would be good to bring one of my brands down there, and I said, "Rather than do that, why don't we-- Because all the shipping and everything, it would be interesting to just create a different product that's made down in Australia."

Andrew: Of course.

Todd: We're doing canned cocktails down there under the Laneway Cocktails brand.

Andrew: Oh, cool.

Todd: It's lanewaycocktails.com.au. Again, using StickerGiant labels, got to use those clear labels. They got a really nice lineup on all of ours. We got a margarita, a Mojito, a Cosmopolitan, a Sex on the Beach, and Negroni, are the first five flavors.

Andrew: Oh, that's awesome. Laneway. It's L-A-N-E-W-A-Y. Those are in a clear bottle. That's why I was like, "What's the clear, aren't they in cans?" Because that's what everyone does here, they can them, but these aren't a bottle with a screw top.

Todd: Yes. They're a hundred mils. They're just double the size of those little airline bottles that you get.

Andrew: Oh, okay.

Todd: It's already premixed. All you've got to do is just really pour it over ice.

Andrew: That is one of the wildest trends that-- it's not new. It's years of it now, but the craft. I don't buy them a lot, but I just really like the one-off cocktail brand things now. That was really not specific, but I've seen it here. I've seen the category really expand when specific ways, especially in our customer base. How did you--you already had the liqueur experience, and you obviously know how to do packaging with honey, but what was the product development on this brand to break that down a little bit?

Todd: Basically, it was my buddy, whose name is also Todd. It's Todd and Todd.

Andrew: Todd.

Todd: He's a old fraternity brother of mine. He came up one Christmas and we just went to the shop and knocked out the flavors. He looked up all of the top 10 most popular mixed cocktails in Australia, and then that's where we started and just developed our formulas from what those top 10 were.

Andrew: Negronis are popular then. They're very popular now in general. I don't mind them. It's just, that's all. It's front and center on your page, so that's a very specific type of cocktail.

Todd: It's like if you don't have a Negroni in Australia, then you're not a real cocktail provider or whatever.

Andrew: Sure, sure.

Todd: It's interesting though because I'm not a big fan of the Negroni. I [crosstalk]

Andrew: It's a little too bitter for me, right?

Todd: Yes.

Andrew: It's a one-- If it's you're at the place like the Italian place or whatever, you're like, "I'll have a Negroni. Okay, fine." Like the Aperol Spritz, and that's just not my kind of drink, but I do. Margaritas here in Colorado are huge. We see everyone has a very-- Every brewery around here has some Margarita [unintelligible 00:14:41], you just have to. Mojito is fun, but I like them a lot, but we don't see a ton of them here. Then Cosmos and Sex on the Beach are-- Again, these are all very specific needs for people, you know what I mean?

Todd: Right. We had a bad going. Because I don't like the Negroni, I said-- because he wanted to keep it in the lineup, and I said, "I'm going to do you a little bet. We're going to have a bet on which one's going to sell the best." We switched to-- We were offering the five-pack. All five were available in one pack, each of the flavors. Then we broke off and started offering individual flavors in a three-pack. I said, "I'm going to make you a bet. I think the Negroni's going to be the worst-selling of all five." He says, "Which one do you think is going to be the best? " I said, "Any one other than the Negroni." He says, "No, you've got to pick one." I picked Margarita, and actually that turned out to be-- We just yesterday sold the last eight three-packs that we had in stock of the Margarita. Negroni?

[crosstalk]

Andrew: You lost the bet, but the question is--

Todd: No, I won the bet.

Andrew: Oh, I'm sorry. You won the bet. He lost the bet. The way-- I just lost my-- I first of all, I love the site, the design of that site's really fun. Oh, the question was, why three-packs? What is it about the packaging of alcohol in Australia? Obviously, I have no idea. Why those sizes and all that?

Todd: Oh yes. I did it based-- Alcohol in Australia is very expensive. That five-pack is with the 100 millilitre bottles. Now, keep in your mind that the 100 mill is just that double the size of the airline bottles, the little one. There's 500 mills, which is less than 750 millilitre regular bottle. That goes for $75-- [crosstalk]

Andrew: Which is like $55 here in America.

Todd: Yes. It's pretty expensive.

Andrew: Right.

Todd: I wanted to do something that was, if somebody wanted specific flavors, they were buying the five-pack to get one specific, I wanted them to be able to do that, and to make a big enough price break between the five-pack and the- three-pack.

Andrew: Totally.

Todd: A four-pack wouldn't do it, but a three-pack did. That was the nice price break.

Andrew: I understand.

Todd: That's why we started offering the three-packs.

Andrew: People can get those, it looks like online at Dan Murphy's or whatever that is.

Todd: Yes. Dan Murphy's is the huge, they're like Total Wine and Costco combined down there for alcohol.

Andrew: Oh, wow.

Todd: Anytime you want to go buy alcohol in Australia, they've got online stores, and they also have brick and mortar stores.

Andrew: Wow.

Todd: They approached us and said, "Hey, would you be interested in putting your stuff on our online, and then if it sells well, we'll transition you over and start putting you into our brick and mortar stores?" We said, "Of course, we'd love to do that." It's taken off really well. It's been good so far.

Andrew: Good. That's great to hear. That's fun. That's four different brands. We've covered a lot of ground here. You use the clear labels on a lot of stuff. What else are you using?

Todd: I do. I've got a Jarrow the honey right here.

Andrew: Yay. What's [crosstalk]

Todd: I'm using the hexagonal jar. It's odd-shaped. Being able to put a label on this thing is really-- It's not something--

Andrew: It's hard to enough with a curved surface, just one continuous.

Todd: Exactly. Actually, I peeled one-off here, so you guys could see. I don't know if you can see that.

Andrew: Oh, look at the way that cut's set up.

Todd: See how I've cut it so that it'll wrap around, and then on the edges of the jar. StickerGiant makes that possible because they don't charge me anything for that. All I give them is a laser-cut line, and they cut that shape to whatever I want. Then that conforms to the jar perfectly. It goes all the way around there.

Andrew: That's fun.

Todd: I don't just use clear, I use the other stickers too. That's my lid label where I'll put the batch number for each of the batches on. Then on my website, you can see, for the barrel-aged, which local honey provider I sourced the honey from, which distillery the barrel came from, which brewery the barrel went to. Then when the furniture gets made, we put that up online too.

Andrew: Oh, that's fun. That's a lot on that label.

Todd: I made little bee stickers, and I give those out to kids when we're doing the tastings at the Farmer's Market. I even talk to people at the Farmer's Market that are doing labels, if they've got something that they could benefit from. Maybe they're making a stamp or they're printing them out on their printer right now, I send them all to StickerGiants and say, "Hey, just go on the website, because it's really easy to go on there, put in your shape, or at least your dimensions of your label. Then you click, it gives you the prices and the breakdown for the multiple quantities." You can see and decide really easily what-- before you even place an order, it just tells you everything, and you guys just make it really easy to buy labels.

Andrew: Oh, we appreciate that. What I was going to say? We've got a full mix. The Farmer's Markets, that was actually my next question. Other than where you can get them online, what kind of local present-- You mentioned Farmer's Markets, of course, but that's, in a way-- I used to work at the Farmer's Market here in Longmont, and I have a whole story around Farmer's Markets. I love them. I grew up down the street from one in Oak Park, Illinois, and it’s a legendary Farmer's Market in the Chicago area. Which there weren't a lot of them when I was growing up, this is 37 years ago. Farmers' Markets are near and dear to my heart. Just explain to me what's your Farmer's Market strategy?

Todd: The Farmer's Market's been great to-- you get a lot of people going through, you've really got to define your sales pitch. You've got to get it. You've got to capture people. Within a minute, you have to be able to capture them and make them decide to come over, and try your stuff. Sampling has been great, being able to give samples. I tell people, because I focus on flavor and the quality of the products, I really don't have to sell it. It pretty much sells itself. I tell people, when I'm at the Farmer's Market, I'm just the sample monkey. I just give you the sample and then you decide. Of all of those flavors, they'll find something that somebody likes out of them. Usually they go away with two or three different ones.

Andrew: Nice.

Todd: Yes. That's been the start of things and refining the sales pitch and everything else, and then getting flavors. One of the greatest things happen at the Farmer's Market was with the ginger infused. I was just doing the barrel-aged and the habanero infused, and a lady came up to me and said, "Hey, do you do ginger infused honey?" and I said, "Not yet." [chuckles] That's where that came from, just a suggestion from somebody, and it turned out to be-- it's probably second best seller tied with the habanero. It just depends on the day, which one's going to win, habanero or ginger. They're both very unique and used for different things, so that's why I don't want to not overlap them too much.

Honey is generally a category, but you really use them for different things. Different flavor profiles go for different things. I don't want to overlap too much on my products. Going forward, I won't do anything that takes away from what I've got now.

Andrew: That's awesome. What's next?

Todd: I guess we're just going to keep plugging away. I'm trying to get into some more stores, some more brick and more stores. I'm going to start approaching places like whole foods and metropolitan market, the foodie areas people that are looking for some gourmet different honeys to do things with. That's where we're going to focus on getting into some stores and that kind of thing. Then hopefully talking to some people now about setting up franchising.

Andrew: Oh, wow. That's a whole another podcast episode, maybe. [laughs] That's like a deep dive. I look forward to seeing that. Thank you so much for reaching out to us. We of course love sharing customer stories. That's what we do here at StickerGiant.

Todd: Yes, and I appreciate what you guys do. You make it really easy to get stuff, and for people who are creating products, you're going to go through a bunch of iterations of your labels, and you're going to be able to-- you're going to have to change them. That was another frustration with the label companies that I was-- when I was making small tweaks to things, they were charging me another art fee, on top of everything, and you guys don't do that either. You look at it just as a file that comes in and just treat it as a specific file.

Being able to change and tweak my labels, to make them just right and not be charged that extra, I appreciate that from a business standpoint for what you guys do and what you offer, your services do you offer, so thank you.

Andrew: Nice. Right on. Folks, especially long-time listeners, which I hope there's some of you, we always say every sticker has a story on the show at the end, and today it's Todd's multiple stickers and labels across different brands, and even continents. You're representing, obviously, the USA here, but then you've got the project in Australia, which is pretty exciting.

Todd: Yes. I think when we get that one up and running where it's big time, we'll have to go down and do some taste testing, don't you think?

Andrew: I like the sound of that. Thank you everybody for tuning in be. Be well, be safe, and we're moving into the holiday season here on the show and in the business too, we see obviously a lot of it. What kind of holiday market plans? What does that look like for you to end the year, Todd?

Todd: I just had one last weekend where it was a kind of set up like a European holiday market and lots of vendors. It was great. It was a Friday night and Saturday afternoon, evening type of thing. Just getting those holiday markets in, trying to get some things, last minute gifts, make great stocking stuffers, that kind of thing. Just trying to help people out with their holiday shopping and their holiday baking.

Andrew: That's right. Yes, you can you use the honey for that. Then of course toasts to the holidays. Thanks again, Todd. Thanks everybody for listening. It's always my pleasure to be Andrew here on the show and talk to all of you, and we'll see you next time. Thank you for listening.

 

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