The saying I always hear is “find something you love, and you will never work a day in your life”. Well…I must have missed part of the message because it sure felt like work. I absolutely love what I do, but it was taking 70-80 hours a week to get it all done. Believe me, I wasn’t complaining at all. In fact, I loved every minute of it. I was geared up and ready to go, but my body was starting to feel it. Now, I’ve always felt the tension between the balance of work and family life but the past couple of years it was even worse since I was really doing something that I loved and was passionate about. My kids were young, and I wanted to help coach their teams and be at any event they had at the school. I did my best to make it to everything I could and rarely missed an event.
However, this really started to take a toll on me physically and mentally. I was exhausted and knew deep down that I wasn’t giving my best to Stacey, Riley & Ansley. They were a huge part of my “Why” and I didn’t want to let them down. Remember that whole people-pleaser thing I mentioned a while back? I knew I had to put the couple of brain cells that I have together that were still functioning properly and come up with a better way of doing things.
I remembered back in the competition days my brother and I had messed around with hand-mixing some of our own seasonings. There were already some great products out there, but I always wanted more texture in the blends. Plus, I always had people asking me how they could achieve similar results when they cooked at home. Now that we were active on Facebook and Instagram, I had started seeing some craft seasoning brands pop up. That’s about the time I realized the power of social influencers. Not necessarily today’s definition but we can get to that in a little bit. Anyway, I knew there was a huge opportunity, and the timing was perfect. I just had to figure out the best way to bring something to market while not losing the momentum that the catering was experiencing. So, I devised a plan to bottle 4 seasonings to sell. Let me first start by saying that I was just trying to supplement my income and free up some extra time to spend with the family.
I never in my wildest dreams thought that I would be sitting here writing our story. God’s plans were so much bigger and I’m super thankful for that.
I did my research and found that I could get all the ingredients, bottles, design labels, and the website for around $2,000. I also knew I had 4 things that had to happen to get this off the ground:
First, I had to convince Stacey that this crazy idea, which was going to mean more work in the short term, was also going to be a $2,000 gamble. She said I was an idiot (still not sure if she was joking), and that no one was going to buy some seasonings that I had mixed up in our kitchen. She was 100% right to have those concerns but I just knew deep down that the market was ripe for this. Second, I knew we need a premium product. I wanted tons of texture and a huge pop of flavor without any junk fillers. That wasn’t going to be cheap. The third was the design. I wanted a clean look and something that my mom wouldn’t be embarrassed by having on her kitchen counter if the neighbors stopped by. Lastly, I knew that we needed to bring the same level of customer service to this product that we had in catering. The biggest issue was that I might never meet some of the seasoning customers face to face since I planned to ship them all over the US. (I never in my wildest dreams thought we would be shipping internationally… but you will have to stay tuned for that post.) I knew that we still had to find a way to say thank you that felt like a hug. To me, a great way was in a handwritten note and every online order was going to receive one. It was the least we could do for someone who took a chance on a hand-crafted product from Bethlehem, Georgia. It’s something that I’m so proud to say that we are still doing and have zero plans to stop. It’s crazy how many emails we receive from people thanking us for taking the time to put the note in the packages.
With Stacey now on board, it was time to lock in the plan for launch. I had already been working with Caleb Peavy who I knew had a killer eye for design, would make the labels pop, and build a great looking website so we could start selling them online. We met and I gave him my idea of what I would like them to look like. He helped us with everything from label design to food pics, videos, the website, and even our digital marketing. He knocked it out of the park, and we ended up working together for the next several years until we decided to bring all our marketing/design in-house. Caleb started Unmutable around the same time as Lane’s and it has been so awesome to see the exponential growth in both of our businesses.
Now that the design was complete, and I had mixed up and bottled the first batch of seasonings, it was time to roll. The timing was perfect. Memorial Day weekend was days away and we made plans to vend and compete at a huge BBQ event near Augusta, Georgia. My buddy, Shawn Johnson, was itching to break in a new BBQ trailer he had built, so we got the old team together and headed to Augusta…