4min readBusiness 18 November 2019
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.
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.
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.
For decades, women have been unknowingly suffering from PSD and intergenerational trauma, but now Dr. Valerie Rein wants women to reclaim their power through mind, body and healing tools.
As women, no matter how many accomplishments we have or how successful we look on the outside, we all occasionally hear that nagging internal voice telling us to do more. We criticize ourselves more than anyone else and then throw ourselves into the never-ending cycle of self-care, all in effort to save ourselves from crashing into this invisible internal wall. According to psychologist, entrepreneur and author, Dr. Valerie Rein, these feelings are not your fault and there is nothing wrong with you— but chances are you definitely suffering from Patriarchy Stress Disorder.
Patriarchy Stress Disorder (PSD) is defined as the collective inherited trauma of oppression that forms an invisible inner barrier to women's happiness and fulfillment. The term was coined by Rein who discovered a missing link between trauma and the effects that patriarchal power structures have had on certain groups of people all throughout history up until the present day. Her life experience, in addition to research, have led Rein to develop a deeper understanding of the ways in which men and women are experiencing symptoms of trauma and stress that have been genetically passed down from previously oppressed generations.
What makes the discovery of this disorder significant is that it provides women with an answer to the stresses and trauma we feel but cannot explain or overcome. After being admitted to the ER with stroke-like symptoms one afternoon, when Rein noticed the left side of her body and face going numb, she was baffled to learn from her doctors that the results of her tests revealed that her stroke-like symptoms were caused by stress. Rein was then left to figure out what exactly she did for her clients in order for them to be able to step into the fullness of themselves that she was unable to do for herself. "What started seeping through the tears was the realization that I checked all the boxes that society told me I needed to feel happy and fulfilled, but I didn't feel happy or fulfilled and I didn't feel unhappy either. I didn't feel much of anything at all, not even stress," she stated.
Photo Courtesy of Dr. Valerie Rein
This raised the question for Rein as to what sort of hidden traumas women are suppressing without having any awareness of its presence. In her evaluation of her healing methodology, Rein realized that she was using mind, body and trauma healing tools with her clients because, while they had never experienced a traumatic event, they were showing the tell-tale symptoms of trauma which are described as a disconnect from parts of ourselves, body and emotions. In addition to her personal evaluation, research at the time had revealed that traumatic experiences are, in fact, passed down genetically throughout generations. This was Rein's lightbulb moment. The answer to a very real problem that she, and all women, have been experiencing is intergenerational trauma as a result of oppression formed under the patriarchy.
Although Rein's discovery would undoubtably change the way women experience and understand stress, it was crucial that she first broaden the definition of trauma not with the intention of catering to PSD, but to better identify the ways in which trauma presents itself in the current generation. When studying psychology from the books and diagnostic manuals written exclusively by white men, trauma was narrowly defined as a life-threatening experience. By that definition, not many people fit the bill despite showing trauma-like symptoms such as disconnections from parts of their body, emotions and self-expression. However, as the field of psychology has expanded, more voices have been joining the conversations and expanding the definition of trauma based on their lived experience. "I have broadened the definition to say that any experience that makes us feel unsafe psychically or emotionally can be traumatic," stated Rein. By redefining trauma, people across the gender spectrum are able to find validation in their experiences and begin their journey to healing these traumas not just for ourselves, but for future generations.
While PSD is not experienced by one particular gender, as women who have been one of the most historically disadvantaged and oppressed groups, we have inherited survival instructions that express themselves differently for different women. For some women, this means their nervous systems freeze when faced with something that has been historically dangerous for women such as stepping into their power, speaking out, being visible or making a lot of money. Then there are women who go into fight or flight mode. Although they are able to stand in the spotlight, they pay a high price for it when their nervous system begins to work in a constant state of hyper vigilance in order to keep them safe. These women often find themselves having trouble with anxiety, intimacy, sleeping or relaxing without a glass of wine or a pill. Because of this, adrenaline fatigue has become an epidemic among high achieving women that is resulting in heightened levels of stress and anxiety.
"For the first time, it makes sense that we are not broken or making this up, and we have gained this understanding by looking through the lens of a shared trauma. All of these things have been either forbidden or impossible for women. A woman's power has always been a punishable offense throughout history," stated Rein.
Although the idea of having a disorder may be scary to some and even potentially contribute to a victim mentality, Rein wants people to be empowered by PSD and to see it as a diagnosis meant to validate your experience by giving it a name, making it real and giving you a means to heal yourself. "There are still experiences in our lives that are triggering PSD and the more layers we heal, the more power we claim, the more resilience we have and more ability we have in staying plugged into our power and happiness. These triggers affect us less and less the more we heal," emphasized Rein. While the task of breaking intergenerational transmission of trauma seems intimidating, the author has flipped the negative approach to the healing journey from a game of survival to the game of how good can it get.
In her new book, Patriarchy Stress Disorder: The Invisible Barrier to Women's Happiness and Fulfillment, Rein details an easy system for healing that includes the necessary tools she has sourced over 20 years on her healing exploration with the pioneers of mind, body and trauma resolution. Her 5-step system serves to help "Jailbreakers" escape the inner prison of PSD and other hidden trauma through the process of Waking Up in Prison, Meeting the Prison Guards, Turning the Prison Guards into Body Guards, Digging the Tunnel to Freedom and Savoring Freedom. Readers can also find free tools on Rein's website to help aid in their healing journey and exploration.
"I think of the book coming out as the birth of a movement. Healing is not women against men– it's women, men and people across the gender spectrum, coming together in a shared understanding that we all have trauma and we can all heal."