The Twists and Turns on My Entrepreneurial Journey And What You Can Learn From Them

4min read

When I look back on my journey as an entrepreneur, the path has been filled with many twists and turns, including moments of sheer panic, grounded calm, enormous fear, painful failure, utter exhaustion, exhilaration, pride, incredible fun, and huge joy accomplishing a goal. Amidst this adventurous path, what stays with me is a love for birthing and building a brand and company. You can actually watch the spirit of the company grow and flourish along with its revenues

People ask me all the time…how did you start a pretzel company and now a juice company…what inspired you?

It all started with choosing courage over fear…and a chocolate chip pretzel. I had read an article about a woman selling soft pretzels at a farmer's market, and the idea came to me for a chocolate chip soft pretzel. I was truly obsessed and couldn't get this twisted vision out of my mind. I also was miserable in my job and felt like I was stuck in quicksand. I met Scott (now my husband) at a bookstore in Chicago, and we started playing with recipes in my studio apartment. I chose courage and quit my job in advertising to take a leap of faith. One thing led to another, and a marriage, three kids, and through lots of twists and turns, Kim & Scott's Gourmet Pretzels eventually became a frozen pretzel brand on the shelves of grocery stores around the country, on QVC, in Starbucks and more.

We had this incredible opportunity to take this ancient twisted dough (over 4000 years old) and transform it with ingredients inside and on top to create an 'anytime' meal. There was such fulfillment in building something out of nothing but a dream, enthusiasm, and a credit card. And as we transformed the pretzel, I discovered that the most powerful experience was how the business transformed me.

Through all the challenges, learnings, failures, victories, and struggles, I found resilience, grit, creativity, courage, strength, inspiration, and most importantly, I found my voice. I found a place where I could bring more of myself, and create a company with authentic leadership that resonated with the "ME" I was becoming.

Being an entrepreneur can be a powerful "personal growth" boot camp if you live it fully. The experience calls on all of your being to build the dream. You need to evaluate your values, who you want to be, how you show up with each move, and whether or not your business reflects that.

In 2012 we had the chance to sell Kim & Scott's to a public company, and we wanted to start over. This time, two decades later, it was Scott's obsession with fresh lime juice for a margarita that was the inspiration for Twisted Alchemy.

With cold pressed juices for inspired mixology and culinary arts, we have the opportunity to work with bartenders, mixologists and chefs at some of the country's best bars, restaurants and hotels. We help cocktail & mocktail enthusiasts and party hosts at home with our special samplers and party kits, including a mimosa juice sampler to create an amazing mimosa bar. We source our fruits from around the world, in flavors including pineapple, watermelon, grapefruit, blood orange, passion fruit, orange, lemon and lime.

We're also elevating spirits of team members at companies and organizations with our Twisted Alchemy experiences, "A Toast of Inspiration." We craft custom cocktails/mocktails and themes to guide conversation and impact teams and meetings with inspiring and engaging dialog.

Two bottles of alcohol and filled glass with orange drink on table Photo credit: Margaret Pattillo

I like to call this entrepreneurial journey a "juicy revolution." It's an opportunity to disrupt, transform, and elevate spirits, both at the bar and out in our world community. This brings me to Purpose, the heart of any successful company.

When you build your company with purpose, it propels everything forward. It's your North Star. When we discovered our mission, "Elevating Spirits", it gave us a compass to navigate for building Twisted Alchemy. Despite hurdles that come about, I always come back to why we are here in the first place.

Here are a few twisted tips to help you build your dream:

Reach Out For Help.

From incubators and accelerators to industry groups, mentors, and coaches, gather your support community to help you navigate the ups and downs. Also, women business networks and circles have been a great influence and support for me. Build a team of advisers who can be there through the challenges and cheer you on.

Seek Inspiring Podcasts.

The words and lessons of others teach and inspire me every day, including two of my favorites, "Oprah's Super Soul Conversations" and "How I Built This" with Guy Raz. Seek the words and experiences of others to inspire and energize you.

Build With Purpose And Intention.

When we discovered our mission to elevate spirits, I knew it had the meaning and energy to propel us in big ways. Building with purpose and intention enables you to take a cause and focus on doing something that improves your community in some way.

Let Things Get Messy. Fail.

I'll never forget one night when all our pretzel rolls were exploding in the oven. We stayed up all night trying to figure out how to get 300 beautiful rolls for Starbucks. In that fit of failure we discovered some key baking tactics that impacted us greatly moving forward. Out of the mess and trials are birthed amazing new discoveries that often can be the heart of your success.

Innovate. Explore. Tweak. Twist.

Turn things upside down to see another angle and another perspective. Take breaks, and give it time to simmer and develop.

Get Still.

Every night before I go to sleep, I like to sit with a blank piece of paper next to me. I allow all the noise and chatter to flow through. I call it a Brain Dump. It allows me to clear it all out, hear my intuition, and enable inspiration to flow.

Create Your Juicy Revolution.

Take the courageous step, stake your claim on a mission that resonates at a heart level, and create your own juicy revolution. Disrupt, shake things up, and do it in your own unique way.

This article was originally published November 18, 2019.

6 min read

Dear Parents: Your Status and Wealth Doesn't Have to Change Your Child's Character

My husband Michael and I first came into wealth back in 2000 — the moment he signed his NBA contract to play for the Milwaukee Bucks. The transition literally happened overnight, and as the years increased, he began to make even more.

Even though Michael and I consider ourselves first-generation wealth, I was fortunate enough to grow up in a very upper-middle-class family. My father was a self-made motivational speaker, so as he gained more success, we climbed the ladder; we went from middle class to upper-middle class, and then to lower-upper class.

You see, when you're Black and privileged, you're not that privileged. You may have riches, you may have a name, but the best thing that might happen to you in a desperate situation is that you might get bail if you make it out alive or you're lucky enough to afford a good lawyer.

However, being raised upper class felt vastly different from what my family has today. The way I see it, the words wealthy and rich are two totally different things. Rich is when you have money to spend — it's neither an object nor an issue. Wealth, on the other hand, is when you have enough of that money (along with land and other assets) to leave to your children and your children's children. From that perspective, I did not grow up in a wealthy family, and neither did Michael.

As a young girl, I thought wealthy people were pretty lucky. But I've always considered myself lucky that I was never motivated by money, nor driven to make a lot of it. While I'm fully aware that money is necessary to get things done, I've always been driven by purpose. Not to mention, I was raised as a Christian, where the poorer you are, the more meek you are, and the more you suffer for Christ's sake.

Surprisingly, I never thought wealth was reserved for white people only, either. Luckily, I was raised to believe that wealth was thrust upon those who worked really hard, went to college, landed jobs that paid well, then saved their money to buy whatever they wanted. Sure, I went to school with a few wealthy people, but many of them were very down to earth and never stuck up. However, there existed an undeniable stigma that the "rich" kids could get anything they wanted. They were spoiled, maybe even lazy. They would never know how to appreciate the value of hard work because many things were simply given to them.

In this situation, you're the "acceptable Black person."

So, you can only imagine the intense fear in our hearts the moment Michael and I laid eyes on that first paycheck.

Even if you grow up upper class, you have no idea what it's like to see the size of these checks being deposited in the bank. At first, I didn't even know what to do with it. I never wanted to be the type of woman who always had to have the latest designer this or that. I didn't want to have a relationship with my bank account more than I had a relationship with my husband. So, it scared me to death and rocked my faith to the core. "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven." What would become of me?

What would become of my children?

Eventually, I came to the realization that God allowed me to walk into this situation because He knew that I wouldn't change as a person — that He could trust that my heart was pure and right when it came to money and how I was going to raise my children.

As a parent, there are a lot of fears raising your children in a privileged home — let alone, being a Black parent raising Black children in a privileged home. You see, when you're Black and privileged, you're not that privileged. You may have riches, you may have a name, but the best thing that might happen to you in a desperate situation is that you might get bail if you make it out alive or you're lucky enough to afford a good lawyer. Being famous or wealthy doesn't necessarily stop you from experiencing injustices. At the end of the day, you're a Black person with money. Not a person with money who happens to be Black — no, you are a Black person first, who just happens to have money. I can't tell you how many times people have stopped dead in their tracks by a Black person who's famous and wealthy. In this situation, you're the "acceptable Black person."

As a parent, there are a lot of fears raising your children in a privileged home — let alone, being a Black parent raising Black children in a privileged home.

On the other hand, sometimes you're not even considered "acceptable" at all, even if you do have money. My 13-year-old son, Michael Jr., realized this unfortunate stigma early on with many of the kids in his grade. When he was only ten, he was often taunted, with many of his schoolmates saying that the only reason people liked him was because of his parents. Because of his wealth. Even though the children made fun of him and treated him poorly, they were the same ones showing up at our house for his birthday party, just to see how we lived.

This was a huge blow to his self-esteem, but ultimately, Michael Jr. learned how to question his true friendships. He learned that you can't earn people's love and affection with money. You have to work harder than that and truly be yourself.

At the end of the day, that's all you ever want for your children. You want them to be kind, gracious, and grateful, and you always want to provide a sense of balance. Balance for the things you, the parent, didn't have, yet teaching your child the value of hard work and appreciating what they've truly earned, whether a paycheck or a best friend.

As parents raising children born into privilege — whether Black or white — one of the biggest questions to consider is this: Will your children understand how to actually receive the generational wealth? How do you ensure they won't go and spend their inheritance on a $500,000 car?

At the end of the day, that's all you ever want for your children. You want them to be kind, gracious, and grateful, and you always want to provide a sense of balance.

Because of this, Michael and I have always insisted on leading by example through our philanthropic work. Once my daughter Ardyn becomes a little older, we're excited to involve both our children in a monthly opportunity to give back to the community as a family. Although they've been blessed with an abundance of opportunities and experiences, my hope is that they won't grow up feeling entitled or that the world owes them something. Instead, I hope they give back to the world and their community, and I believe this starts by exposing your children to families who don't have the same privileges as they do.

If God has blessed you with wealth, it is your responsibility to raise your children in his image. Generosity, kindness, humility, and authenticity are their keys to success. They may stumble and fall through the journey. They may even get a chip on their shoulder now and again. But when you lead by positive example, your kids will grow up to be everything you dreamed of and more.

More importantly, we love our kids more than anything in the world. We give our kids the love they so desperately deserve, regardless of money. Money will never replace the affection and emotional support of a parent — and for that, I don't think they lack anything at all.