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BizCast 33: Ditched Product Leads to Local Superfood Business

Episode 33

Ditched Product Leads to Local Superfood Business

About BizCast Greater La Crosse

We bring you news from the business community. From startups to experienced problem solvers, you’ll get in-depth insight on the challenges and opportunities of doing business in Greater La Crosse. Our show is a collaboration between and BizNews Greater La Crosse ( ).

Full Transcript [ generated by AI]

[00:00:00] Abby Rhude: We have some really awesome connections and people that we trust and we know, like we know where the colostrum’s coming from. It’s coming from farms that we trust that it’s ethically sourced.

[00:00:10] Abby Rhude: The baby cows still get everything they need, which is important to us.

[00:00:15] Vicki Markussen: Welcome to Biz Cast Greater La Crosse, a weekly podcast from Biz News. We bring you news from the business community. I am your host and founder, Vicki Markussen, and I’m super excited to have on Abbie Rhude she is the brand manager for Conquer Products and the co-founder of Favor Colostrum. But why?

[00:00:37] Vicki Markussen: I’m super excited. We just had this huge catch up and we finally decided to hit record because way back during the pandemic, you actually created the logo, right? Yeah. For get on Living. Yes. Safer. That then became stronger. So it was this group that was trying to get people to support local. Yes. And you got married, you have a baby.

[00:00:59] Vicki Markussen: I’m not gonna put these in the right order. Yeah. You got married. Yep. You got well, got pregnant. Yes. That’s not a nice way to put that. And then you switched jobs, had kids Yes. Had a baby twice. Yes. Yes. And then and then you started working for a startup. Yeah. Yep. Yeah. Yeah. So background is graphics and marketing.

[00:01:20] Vicki Markussen: Yeah.

[00:01:21] Abby Rhude: Yeah. I actually have a degree in communication studies from U W L. Yeah. And then minor in graphic design. But I’ve always loved like the marketing design PA part more, I love talking still, but design and marketing and branding, that’s where I’ve really been like passionate. That’s passion about

[00:01:35] Vicki Markussen: lately.

[00:01:35] Vicki Markussen: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. And. So the other part of your story that I love is the seeking of balance. Like you left the job that you were in because you were pregnant and were concerned about it some of the fumes that were happening as a result, and Yep. And then you were seeking that balance, and so now you were, I’m telling your story more than you are.

[00:01:55] Vicki Markussen: I

[00:01:55] Abby Rhude: lovey, you know, it probably better than I.

[00:01:57] Vicki Markussen: And so you switch now to working remotely for a startup. Yep. Okay. So let’s. Let me stop telling your story. Sure. Because talk about why that was so that journey was

[00:02:08] Abby Rhude: so important for you. Yeah. And it’s just, it’s so crazy how the story was weaved together.

[00:02:12] Abby Rhude: So I actually met my current boss and co-founder Ben when I was working at Prism. Ah. He called the print shop. So I was working at a print shop in La Crosse and he. Owns his own co-packing manufacturing facility. He’s in Mabel, Minnesota. So not too far from us. About about an hour. Yep. And so he had some label issues with his product.

[00:02:34] Abby Rhude: He co-packed supplements for other companies. So he was looking for a local print shop that he could come in and get some help with his label. So he called, I picked up the phone, him and his wife came on down. We helped ’em figure out their label problem and we just hit it off. Together found out that we had a lot of mutual friends just totally connected over the small business life, and wanting to support each other and connecting each other to different people in the industry.

[00:02:59] Abby Rhude: So that was really cool. And even after I left the print shop, he and I still continued to stay in touch. I do design and a little bit of freelance on the side, so I did some freelance work for him, helped him design some logos for some stuff. And then I had taken a new job working in title insurance as a marketing assistant, which was really fun.

[00:03:18] Abby Rhude: And that was my first role. That was specifically like, you’re marketing. And I felt a little bit like, but I don’t have a degree in marketing. Like I have a degree in communication and I have a. I have the minor in graphic design, but I, I just, I felt like a little bit like I’m kind of taking a leap of faith here because I think I’m good at this.

[00:03:35] Abby Rhude: Yeah. And I think I can, manage your social media and grow your brand and grow your presence. Yeah. But I’m just trying. And so that year that I spent working in title insurance, which. Is very interesting to learn how to market, right? Yes. It’s such like a foreign, like people don’t understand what title insurance is, right?

[00:03:54] Abby Rhude: A lot of people don’t, until you’re like buying a house and you’re like, okay, I need this and to change the title, all of that stuff. So figuring out how to market that. Really taught me a lot about just marketing in general. How do you make something that’s kind of boring, interesting for people?

[00:04:09] Abby Rhude: Yes. So that was a really interesting year and just, it was an awesome, such an awesome like in-between kind of job to, that’s where I took my maternity leave and had my daughter and I was also able to have. Flexibility to work from home during that first year, which was really, really awesome.

[00:04:26] Abby Rhude: Family owned company. Absolutely love ’em. Would absolutely buy my title insurance there when I That’s a good sign. My own house. Yes. And would recommend, absolutely. But so then I was realizing like title insurance, Is not necessarily like the industry that I want to continue working in for the next five years.

[00:04:44] Abby Rhude: I’m like a person that I wanna commit to something. I wanna be 110% and like go for it. I’m not like a job hopper where I, I gotta do something different every six months. . And so I. Kind of out of the blue, like reconnected with Ben and he had told me like, man, Abby, I always wanted to hire you to be my brand manager.

[00:05:03] Abby Rhude: Mm. And I was like, do you still wanna hire me to be your brand manager? So we reconnected and started talking and he told me more about his brand that he had started Conquer Products, making his own neuropathy pain cream. And it intrigued me. And so, and it was a full-time work from home position working remote, which is also just.

[00:05:22] Abby Rhude: So awesome when you have a little baby that’s sick from daycare and just balancing the craziness of life. Yeah. And so yeah, I started that in January, 2023. We talked about launching our own product and our own brand that we were a little more passionate about than just like pain cream. And then Favor was born in May of 2023 and here we are.

[00:05:44] Abby Rhude: Wow.

[00:05:45] Vicki Markussen: Yeah. So let me pause this story ’cause it get it. There’s a lot of that to tells. Let’s talk about the products. Yeah. Yeah. So the pain cream. Yeah. Where did this, obviously it’s Ben’s idea. Yes. But you know, the product.

[00:05:58] Abby Rhude: Yep, yep. I’ve studied it in and out. I know the product. And that is a crazy story as well of how it just got started.

[00:06:04] Abby Rhude: So, Ben, like I said, manufactures products for other companies. So he, at the start of the pandemic, was really getting into like, C B D products, products with hemp cream. He was working with a big, or not a big company, but a brand that had placed a PO for a truckload of C B D cream. They got bought out by a bigger brand and they canceled the PO after he had already made it.

[00:06:29] Abby Rhude: Oh no. So he was left with a semi-truck of pain cream with somebody else’s label on it. And he said to himself, what am I gonna do with this? This is like $70,000 worth of retail that I’m out now. And I’m a very, he was a startup company at the time, a small manufacturer, trying to get a leg up in the manufacturing world and get his own clients.

[00:06:49] Abby Rhude: And so he had heard about the concept of sell your product on Amazon. It opens up your product to a whole new audience. People are searching for pain creams all the time, versus us just trying, Hey, here’s our brand. Come buy our product. So he took a class on how to sell on Amazon, launched his product, and it did really, really well.

[00:07:10] Abby Rhude: He found like a new audience of people specifically who struggle with neuropathy. And so he discovered that his cream was really, really good for people who have specifically like nerve pain. It just has a really good combination of ingredients. So he relabeled all of that product he had, it was his recipe because he had crafted all of it.

[00:07:29] Abby Rhude: And so he, Sold it on Amazon, did really, really well. Still focusing on the manufacturing business, so he could never really grow that that much. So that was really the motivation of bringing me onto the team, was to take that and let’s really grow this thing and make it like as successful as we can.

[00:07:44] Abby Rhude: Let’s ramp it up on social media and grow our audience as a brand. That’s the story of our pain cream.

[00:07:50] Vicki Markussen: Interesting. So did that end up taking over, is he still doing the subcontracting manufacturing? Yep. And the cream?

[00:07:57] Abby Rhude: Yes. Yep. Wow. Yeah, and he, yes, he mainly focuses on the manufacturing side. We tag him on a lot of stuff on like the pain cream, and he gives, he just has so much value and insight of like guiding the business directions.

[00:08:10] Abby Rhude: Running a business is very new to me. I’ve never been the person that, does the finances and inventory and managing and supply chain. That’s a lot. I did a little bit of that at my old job at the print shop. But it’s a lot. And so he’s taught me a lot about like how to run a business, how to be, manage cash flow.

[00:08:25] Abby Rhude: It’s. That’s a lot. Absolutely.

[00:08:28] Vicki Markussen: And not have too much inventory and Exactly, yeah. Exactly.

[00:08:31] Abby Rhude: Yep. Deal with customers and and grow the base and yeah. That’s a lot. Yes. I

[00:08:37] Vicki Markussen: love it. Yeah. So probably a really good idea of where profit margins are like, and production and Yeah, yeah.

[00:08:44] Abby Rhude: Yes. Everything.

[00:08:45] Vicki Markussen: Yeah.

[00:08:45] Vicki Markussen: Down to the penny. So what an amazing opportunity for you to run shotgun, right? Yeah. On sidecars. Yes. So how did the idea for the colostrum get

[00:08:56] Abby Rhude: going? Yeah, okay. So that, when I first started with Ben in January, 2023, we have a lot of strategic meetings, which I love about Ben. He’s such a visionary.

[00:09:06] Abby Rhude: We sit down all the time and we’re like, what are our goals for this quarter? What are we working on? How can we grow? How can we personally develop these really big and personal development, which I just love. So anyway, we met in January when I very first started managing Conquer.

[00:09:19] Abby Rhude: And we talked about what’s the vision with this? Are we, what’s our goal? What’s our financial goal with Conquer? What do we wanna do? We talked about and we realized this is an awesome opportunity. We love the neuropathy cream. It has helped bring relief to so many different people, but we both don’t necessarily like use it.

[00:09:37] Abby Rhude: Right? Like I don’t struggle with neuropathy. So it’s hard for me to completely be passionate about it and super excited. I have friends and family that struggle with it, so that like does excite me. But we both talked about let’s try to find something that we’re both passionate about that we both personally use.

[00:09:52] Abby Rhude: Because with your manufacturing experience and your branding experience we could really knock a brand out of the ballpark we think. Yeah. And Ben had heard about colostrum. He’s actually the one that introduced it to me. We’ve both been in like the health and wellness industry, right?

[00:10:06] Abby Rhude: Like we’re both active lifestyles. I’ve tried collagen, beef liver capsules raw B pollen, vitamin D, fish oil, like I’ve tried all the supplements out there, and so he introduced me to colostrum and we tried just a bunch of different samples from other competitors and we noticed that there was.

[00:10:25] Abby Rhude: Just like a gap in the market of an affordable, like still high quality, right? No junk, no fillers. Yep. You’re getting a high quality product and it’s sourced locally from really good farms that take care of their cows. That was important to us, but still at an affordable.

[00:10:39] Abby Rhude: Price point. ’cause colostrum is expensive. It’s definitely one of the more expensive supplements out there. And so we knew that if we’re manufacturing it ourselves, we don’t have to mark it up as much. Like we can make this a more affordable product for the everyday working fam.

[00:10:54] Abby Rhude: So that was I guess how it started and our passion behind it. There’s a lot more I could probably go into of just. The benefits that we’d seen personally, that made us really excited of wow, this is a game changer of a supplement.

[00:11:07] Vicki Markussen: Well, I think we have to go there, right?

[00:11:09] Vicki Markussen: Because of all of the supplements. Yeah. This is the one that you Yeah. Honed

[00:11:15] Abby Rhude: in on, if you will. Yes, and yes. I replaced my, I was a big believer in collagen. I took collagen. I’ve taken it for the past two years until I discovered colostrum, and now I’ve completely replaced my daily collagen with it.

[00:11:27] Abby Rhude: Are you what? Like supplements do you take? Do you take any?

[00:11:29] Vicki Markussen: I do. I do collagen. Okay. Yeah. And so when I saw your post about, right when I saw your post about this, I’m like, well, I know Ambia. It’s gotta be good. So I’m excited to

[00:11:40] Abby Rhude: try it now. Yes. I’m so excited. I feel like all of my family and friends I’ve introduced it to have been like

[00:11:44] Abby Rhude: this is amazing. Like, why didn’t you tell me about this sooner? And I wish I had discovered it sooner. It’s been around for a while. Actually, it has a very rich history. Different cultures have used bovine colostrum, like in their healing medicinal practices for a long time, which I had no idea about.

[00:12:01] Abby Rhude: I just heard about it, basically.

[00:12:02] Vicki Markussen: I didn’t. Now I know. So, yes.

[00:12:05] Abby Rhude: Yes, the health benefits. So Ben and I both started taking it, we’re always up for trying a new supplement, seeing what’s out there. It’s very similar to collagen, so I put it in my coffee. The one like major difference is you do not wanna add it to a drink that’s too hot.

[00:12:20] Abby Rhude: If you put in anything that’s 145 degrees or more. I probably should have included this on our label, but it was a little too detailed. I was running outta room. But if you put in anything more than 145 degrees, it starts to break down like the nutrients. Ah, kind of similar. If you think about like breast milk, right?

[00:12:37] Abby Rhude: Yeah. It is breast milk. It’s the first milk from a cow. Yeah. And you can only freeze that and thaw it so many times. Yes. Before it’s like, hmm, this is not good anymore. Yeah. So because we, this is freeze, freeze dried, and. Sprayed. Powder sprayed. After we get it from the cow made into a powder.

[00:12:52] Abby Rhude: If you put it in too hot of a liquid, it’ll break down the nutrients. It’s not gonna work as well for

[00:12:56] Vicki Markussen: you. So what’s a standard cup of coffee? So

[00:12:59] Abby Rhude: typically, like when you first pour a cup of coffee, it’s definitely more than 145 degrees. Okay. It’s hot. You need to give it, I would say if you’re drinking your coffee black, give it a minute or two to cool down.

[00:13:12] Abby Rhude: Okay, I have tested this at home. I put a. Pretty decent amount of cream in mine and it’s 120 degrees. Okay. So I always know once I put my creamer milk in there Yeah, you’re good. You’re fine to put it in. Got it. Yep. But a lot of people, it’s like a big smoothie add in. Smoothie water, milk juice, very, you can mix it in there very, very easily, and it doesn’t really alter the taste much at all.

[00:13:33] Abby Rhude: Got

[00:13:33] Vicki Markussen: it. So you have the idea for this? Yes. And you do research and decide on, I’m guessing there’s a million different. Pathways to your actual product. Yeah. How did you narrow it

[00:13:49] Abby Rhude: down? Yeah, so we, it’s really cool that Ben, being in the manufacturing industry for, gosh, five years now, I think has just built up such a cool connection our connections with people

[00:14:02] Abby Rhude: in the industry. So we knew right away who we were gonna source the classroom from. We knew where we were gonna get it because just. I don’t know. We have some really awesome connections and people that we trust and we know, like we know where the colostrum’s coming from. It’s coming from farms that we trust that it’s ethically sourced.

[00:14:19] Abby Rhude: The baby cows still get everything they need, which is important to us. That was one of my concerns right away when I heard about colostrum like, What about the baby cows? And so it was really important to us that we had a high quality supplier and that was like our first step. And we had that right away.

[00:14:33] Abby Rhude: We knew of someone that had left a different industry and started getting into colostrum and he said, you wanna order some I We’ll absolutely supply you. So that was our first step, right? Getting the product coming up with a name and the branding and the design, ordering our jars and our scoops and everything that all came together within a couple of months.

[00:14:54] Abby Rhude: It was a process for sure, but Ben and I just tag teamed and worked through everything and here we are.

[00:15:00] Vicki Markussen: Yeah. Yeah. And it’s interesting too because you launch and then you probably go, Hmm, let’s adjust that. Right. Definitely. Like I think of my collagen now, I don’t get a scoop with it.

[00:15:12] Vicki Markussen: I’m like, oh, where’d the scoop go? Yes, that’s right. I

[00:15:14] Abby Rhude: gotta keep my scoop. That’s right. Yep. Vital proteins. Yeah. Yes.

[00:15:18] Vicki Markussen: Yeah. And. So I’m sitting there going, yeah, I wonder, and this is me. ’cause I’m weird that way. I’m like, was that a cost saving measure or is that an environmental or friendly?

[00:15:26] Abby Rhude: Yeah, probably both.

[00:15:28] Abby Rhude: I saw that when they did that. No more scoop included.

[00:15:30] Vicki Markussen: Yes. So anyway, so you then have to decide, because this is risky, this is a startup product. Yes. No one knows about it. Yep. And you have to manufacture it. Before you sell it. Yes. So how did you weigh the risk? Like you don’t overproduce it.

[00:15:49] Vicki Markussen: Yes. Yep. But predict, yeah. So that you don’t undersell it either. Yeah. What does that look like? Yeah, so

[00:15:55] Abby Rhude: Ben has a phrase that he says to me often when we’re making decisions, let’s fire bullets before cannonballs. Yeah. I don’t know who said that, but he’s like, if you, fire too many cannonballs. We take this huge risk and this huge leap.

[00:16:10] Abby Rhude: Take a small step, see how it goes. Yep. Steward your resources. And then we’re gonna take some big leaps and big risks.

[00:16:17] Vicki Markussen: So you have a batch and you have to somehow create brand awareness. What does that look like? Yeah. Yep.

[00:16:23] Abby Rhude: So that has been a journey as well. I. Love social media. I’ve done it at all of my past jobs. I help run it for my husband’s business. He sells Bloody Mary Mix. And I think that honestly, it comes from my communication background too.

[00:16:40] Abby Rhude: Like in college I kinda say like I learned how to be a good talker and a good speech giver. And so I think like that correlates to social media. So we have been just pushing as hard as we can on social media. Right now we’re on TikTok, Instagram. Facebook, the growth is very small. So far.

[00:16:58] Abby Rhude: But what we’ve also kind of dedicated ourselves to is committing to the action and the habit and not the goal. Hmm. So I know, and that’s kinda like, hmm, what, what exactly does that mean? But that has been like just a life-changing phrase. I read that in a book that Ben had me read recently, and just like the idea of it’s so easy to get caught up on.

[00:17:20] Abby Rhude: We want 10,000 followers on TikTok, and we want our video to go viral. . We can’t really control that. I can’t really control if the algorithm picks up our video and all of a sudden we get 10,000 followers. But what I can control is I’m posting on TikTok every. Single day I’m refining and I’m trying to pull what worked on that video, what didn’t work, why did this one do a little bit better?

[00:17:42] Abby Rhude: The engagement rate was a little bit better. So I’m committing to the action and the habit of I’m gonna post on TikTok every single day, and that’s a win for me. And hopefully the outcome and the goal will follow that, but I can’t. I can’t control that. So that has been, I think, just like our heart going into building the brand.

[00:18:00] Abby Rhude: Let’s try our absolute best. . Let’s put ourselves out there on social media and really give this thing a go. But we’re gonna just trust that like the outcome’s gonna follow and we’re not gonna get too, caught up on that. If it doesn’t,

[00:18:11] Vicki Markussen: that’s awesome. And then you decided to. Go down the Amazon route with Yeah.

[00:18:17] Vicki Markussen: The cream. Yep,

[00:18:18] Abby Rhude: we are. Yep. Yeah, so, and that’s how originally Ben kinda sold everything, was learning about Amazon. I knew nothing about selling on Amazon when I first started with Ben. So that has been a whole journey of learning the ins and outs. That’s a lot.

[00:18:31] Vicki Markussen: Yeah. And just so the average consumer knows Yeah, that average buyer.

[00:18:35] Vicki Markussen: Yeah. Amazon takes a cut of that. Yes, they do. So you are more profitable buying. You as a business are more profitable when people buy from your website. Definitely. So for people that are saying, Hey, how do I get some, get one of these products? Yep. Go to your websites. Yeah.

[00:18:51] Abby Rhude: Yep. A hundred percent. Yeah. And that’s the goal in the long run.

[00:18:55] Abby Rhude: Don’t tell Amazon that, but eventually to get that traffic off Amazon and back to our website. Like that’s the goal because Amazon does take, I wanna say it’s 15% commission fee, and then there’s like the picking fee and the fulfillment fee. So it really does add up. It cuts into your profit margin for

[00:19:11] Vicki Markussen: sure.

[00:19:12] Vicki Markussen: Yes. But that being said, like the numbers you gave me for Amazon, definitely. And visibility, especially for a product like this that isn’t specifically a local market. Yes. Yep. It’s incredible.

[00:19:24] Abby Rhude: Oh my goodness. It is the search volume for. The phrase colostrum, 20,000 searches a day. People are looking for a colostrum powder.

[00:19:34] Abby Rhude: We could not have that audience and search volume just on our own little website. Just post it on our TikTok and Instagram, like it would really take a lot to get that. Yes. And. Just by listing our product on Amazon, starting to get some reviews in from people slowly but surely, like that’s already gaining a little bit of traction.

[00:19:51] Abby Rhude: So that’s been huge to help in the launch.

[00:19:54] Vicki Markussen: So how do you differentiate yourself on Amazon or just in general?

[00:19:58] Abby Rhude: Yeah, definitely. We spent a lot of time on the backend, like talking about. What are our values as a company? What are we passionate about? What are we communicating to people?

[00:20:08] Abby Rhude: It’s really important to us a few things that we are very authentic and honest in our marketing nowadays, especially with like paid influencers and just, companies that have a very. Copy, paste response maybe of like just very like scientificy or just hard to understand, like it was really important to us that we talk to the everyday consumer like a human.

[00:20:29] Abby Rhude: Like I’m talking to you like a friend. I can easily explain my product. I’m not trying to pull a fast one on you or trying to confuse you with the science and the research. Like I just wanna tell you exactly what it is, what it’s gonna do for you, what it’s gonna cost you. Like I don’t, we wanna be very honest and authentic in our marketing because that’s like who we are as people.

[00:20:46] Abby Rhude: And then, It was really important to us that we stuck to like our family values and family’s really important to us, and I think that’s not. That’s not something I’ve seen communicated like on di, other products on Amazon or just even in the supplement space. Like they’re not really marketed to families, but ours is really cool because you can give it to your entire family.

[00:21:05] Abby Rhude: Your grandma and grandpa can benefit from it, your husband, your toddler. Any anyone after one can take colostrum and see benefits from it. So it’s kind of cool. We just get excited about it, like we both. Ben and I both have our own daughters of our own. We both have little toddlers.

[00:21:21] Abby Rhude: His two mine’s, one. And it’s just, it’s cool to have a supplement that like, this is something that can provide health to your whole family and encourage healthy family life that you can keep up with your toddler, you can get better sleep at night with this so that you can show up better as a mom.

[00:21:37] Abby Rhude: Like that is truly like what excites me. I almost wanna. Start crying a little bit about that, but it’s truly what excites me about our product, that there’s a deeper meaning, like we want healthy families. . At the end of the day. . It’s like what’s important to us? ’cause it’s important to me and it’s important to Ben, that we can show up for our own kids, we can show up for our spouses.

[00:21:54] Abby Rhude: So this, it’s a small part of what helps us do

[00:21:56] Vicki Markussen: that. That’s awesome. You just answered my usual closing question. Oh, no, no, no, no, no, no. We’re not even there yet. But it’s what makes you passionate about what you do and you just answered that. And my question though, that I wanna make sure we tackle is well, okay, first of all, because we haven’t actually said it.

[00:22:15] Vicki Markussen: So Yeah. I bought your product. Yes. Super excited to try it. Yes. How do I know that it is making a difference? Yes. What will it, how will it make me feel? For sure.

[00:22:23] Abby Rhude: Okay, so colostrum is really, Basically like a super food for your whole body. And if you think about the first milk from a cow

[00:22:30] Abby Rhude: that’s being given to a newborn. Like it really is just packed full of every single nutrient that you would need. And so probably the number one selling factor or result that people see is like improved gut health, just better digestion. If you have any. Stomach issues. Or digestive issues, you could definitely notice a difference.

[00:22:47] Abby Rhude: It helps like with just regenerating healthy cells in your gut. Nice. Which is crazy. Yeah. But there’s so many different nutrients in there. Vitamins, minerals, essential amino acids. So gut health is probably the number one thing that you would notice an improvement in. For me personally, I never really had like huge gut health issues.

[00:23:06] Abby Rhude: I feel like that’s improved a little bit, but for me, I noticed. More energy throughout the day, sleeping better. My toddler still gets up one to two times a night and I’m still getting like seven to eight hours of sleep. I track it with my smart ring and since taking colostrum, I’m like, well, I’m just sleeping better.

[00:23:22] Abby Rhude: I’m getting more deep sleep. And then my husband better results after working out. Quicker muscle recovery and faster weight loss. He, after taking it for a month and a half, dropped 10 pounds. Dang. I know. So I gotta be careful with what I say. Yes. Right. With F D A regulations and everything, I’m not promising anything, but just like it, it helps your body be more efficient, sure. And it. It’s just packed full of nutrients. More other benefits that you would see and that my husband also noticed. He has a little bit of a receding hairline. He probably doesn’t want me to see that, but we’ve seen like more baby hair growth there. Interesting. Clear skin. Yeah. Wrinkle reduction.

[00:24:01] Abby Rhude: I’m still waiting for sure. I see that I’m taken before and after pictures. But yeah, those are probably just a handful of the benefits. It’s a total body super food. It’s gonna benefit just your overall wellbeing. Nice. Calming inflammation. If people have like chronic illnesses . Or pain and stuff, it can also help that.

[00:24:20] Abby Rhude: Yeah. So it just, honestly, the studies on it, there are. Thousands of studies on it. Huh? It’s just blows my mind. Like the health benefits

[00:24:29] Vicki Markussen: and the supplement realm is crazy. Right? It’s, yeah. And so I’m guessing you already are seeing, oh, we wanna go into this area next. In this area next. What does growth look like?

[00:24:42] Abby Rhude: Yeah, absolutely. Growth. We definitely have tossed around a couple ideas of like future products because we do really wanna build this brand out. Favor is our brand name and we wanna build it out to be a company that people know that they can trust the product, it’s high quality. We have simple, clean ingredients.

[00:24:59] Abby Rhude: We’re honest, we’re down to earth, we’re family everyday. People just like you. And so every product that we think about making, we wanna make sure it aligns with those values. So far we’ve talked about an electrolyte. I feel like electrolytes are amazing. I need to take one more often. I don’t. But electrolyte, we’ve talked about doing Potentially something in the coffee world, ’cause we both love coffee.

[00:25:21] Abby Rhude: . Maybe a protein powder. Just, ultimately products that help benefit and promote healthy families. Ultimately. And

[00:25:28] Vicki Markussen: then you had also said too, just even the products that you have a different version of packaging, right? Yes. Yeah. Yep.

[00:25:35] Abby Rhude: Exactly. And that’s really cool with our.

[00:25:38] Abby Rhude: Because we do our own manufacturing at Ben’s Copak facility, we can really get creative with like small batches because we’re not, normally a larger co-pack or manufacturer wouldn’t let you run, let’s just run two 50 and see how this, flavor of strawberry goes. . Or a different canister goes.

[00:25:54] Abby Rhude: But because we have our own manufacturing, we can really experiment and keep the cost really low for us. And so we’ve talked about doing like a. Stick pack, make it a little more convenient if you’re on the road or traveling. We’ve talked about different flavors like a vanilla bean or a blueberry.

[00:26:10] Abby Rhude: We’re just totally brainstorming at this point, but there’s definitely more variations of colostrum to come to.

[00:26:16] Vicki Markussen: Awesome. It’ll be fun to watch you grow. Thank you Vicki. Yeah, so that is Abby Ridge. She is the brand manager of Conquer Products Cream and co-founder of Favorite Colostrum. Before I completely close this out though, how can people get your product?

[00:26:32] Vicki Markussen: Yes,

[00:26:32] Abby Rhude: absolutely. So it is available to be ordered on our website and then also on Amazon. They both honestly help us. Yes, Amazon does take a cut, but when people order through Amazon, they can leave us a review. They can help just. Boost our rank and tell Amazon that this is a product that is doing well and people wanna buy.

[00:26:49] Abby Rhude: So either way truly does help us. so So Amazon and our website, if you search favor colostrum and then on social media as well, we are, our handle is try favor, can connect with you on there and we will probably run some discounts and

[00:27:04] Abby Rhude: giveaways in the near future. Awesome.

[00:27:07] Vicki Markussen: You have been listening to Biz Cast Greater La Crosse.

[00:27:10] Vicki Markussen: That was Abby Rhude. We will catch you next week.

[00:00:00] Jason Slusser: the idea kind of just sparked that, we could do something very similar just with basketball courts.

[00:00:07] Jason Slusser: Volleyball courts, and of course the newest sport out there pickleball.

[00:00:11] Vicki Markussen: Welcome to Biz Cast Greater Lacrosse, a weekly podcast from Biz News. We bring you news from the business community. I am your host and founder, Vicki Markussen. And I have Jenn and Jason Slusser. They are the owners of features and the brand new features Fieldhouse. So that opened, is it Spring? May, yeah.

[00:00:36] Vicki Markussen: This year. Yeah. So a few months old, right? I was in there on Wednesday. It is beautiful. Thank you. But before we get into that, I will, I wanna start just with background, right? So you own features, right? And that was going fantastic. And what led to building a field house?

[00:00:59] Jason Slusser: No, it was it was a, an idea that was started meeting some guys who obviously weren’t from the area when they walked in, in the middle of February wearing flip flops and a t-shirt. And they owned the Woodside baseball fields and they were curious about building a bowling center on site there just to keep people On their property spending money and after them walking away, the idea just sparked that, we could do something very similar just with basketball courts.

[00:01:26] Jason Slusser: Volleyball courts, and of course the newest sport out there pickleball. We’ve got, I. Two high school basketball courts, four youth basketball courts, and four pickleball courts. So that’s how the whole idea started and that’s what brought us to where we are today.

[00:01:42] Jason Slusser: This would’ve been February, probably 2021.

[00:01:45] Vicki Markussen: That’s an interesting time to be talking about that too, right? The pandemic was still happening, but it’s funny how another business can walk in and send your business in a totally different direction, right?

[00:01:56] Vicki Markussen: Absolutely. Yeah. Yeah. So those baseball fields, if you’re not familiar in Moss, And they’re phenomenal. They’re a great place to host tournaments. And I think they even have some, I think there’s a Western theme to that whole campus. And they have little stores and shops and the hotel. Yeah. Oh, that’s right.

[00:02:12] Vicki Markussen: And a hotel. Yeah. So that’s the spark that got the Fieldhouse going of, oh yeah. We could be more. Right. But this was something like, Jen, you had been thinking about this earlier, right? ’cause you have. Children that travel for sports. And so how did that spark get started? I think I’ve

[00:02:31] Jenn Slusser: always just said, just been involved highly with the volleyball community with coaching and things like that.

[00:02:36] Jenn Slusser: And coaching our daughter as she grew. And she actually had a back surgery right during C O V I D and really was forcing me to get her in the gym and get her back ready to play volleyball and wanted. We were searching and searching and couldn’t get in the schools at that time.

[00:02:53] Jenn Slusser: And so it was just one of those things where I just kept saying, maybe this is something we should do. People are always looking for gym space. It definitely, like you have practices, you have all of those things. Where do the families go to, we drive around and go to grocery shopping or do we just meet and have a burger and a beer while we’re waiting for our family?

[00:03:12] Jenn Slusser: To get done with practice. So I think I started pushing it prior to that, and then when the guys from MO walked in, it kinda let Jason have that bigger idea, I think, than just my idea.

[00:03:23] Vicki Markussen: It took a couple years. To seed and then finally kick off. And so what did that process look like? Is that easy to walk into a, I assume a bank and say, Hey, we wanna build a field house?

[00:03:34] Jason Slusser: No, that, that’s an actually a very good question because I didn’t know, um, at all.

[00:03:40] Jason Slusser: So I did, I reached out to a bank and I actually had my business plan ready for him, and he’s well, we’re not quite there yet. Ah, so we need, yeah, there’s some stuff we need to, figure out before we even get to that point. So once we got through all of that, then it was an issue of materials.

[00:03:56] Jason Slusser: We were initially supposed to be open. Right after Christmas of 2022. But the steel didn’t even arrive until November 1st, I believe it was. The process was a long process of sitting, waiting. We even started questioning should we wait until the steel prices go down? And after discussing all of those factors with everyone involved, it’s no, if you’re gonna do it, do it because there’s no guarantee.

[00:04:23] Jason Slusser: Prices are even going to be as high as they were if they were gonna be even higher if we waited. So that was the process from the beginning to where we are today.

[00:04:33] Vicki Markussen: Yeah. So you started with a couple month delay. Everybody now knows what supply chain means ’cause there were those shortages.

[00:04:39] Vicki Markussen: Absolutely. And probably looking back, you’re probably thinking, wow, we’re glad we didn’t wait. ’cause now you have the interest rate issue. Right? So yeah. So you basically broke ground in November and it was completed in. May

[00:04:52] Jason Slusser: We broke around. We had to do some excavating. There was a house that we purchased that we had to tear down.

[00:04:58] Jason Slusser: That’s where our parking is now. So there was things that we could have done or we did do to stay ahead of the game. So when materials did arrive, it was just a matter of putting the structure up and getting going.

[00:05:11] Vicki Markussen: How was the village of West Salem? Were they going, Hey, this is a great idea

[00:05:15] Jason Slusser: I think, once, once we start getting tournaments in town and once we start bringing people in all the other businesses in town.

[00:05:22] Jason Slusser: That was part of the intent is in fact, one of the things that we’re really pushing for is keeping things local in West Salem. Pushing people between games. Obviously not everyone is gonna want to go to features, go to Hunters, go to cronies, go to Chrom, go to these other big bars, bars, restaurants that West Salem has to offer because there’s some really great places that people.

[00:05:44] Jason Slusser: Might not ever have heard of if they hadn’t come to one of our tournaments. Not that we’re not wishing the best for these larger restaurants or chain restaurants, but really pushing them towards locally owned businesses.

[00:05:59] Vicki Markussen: And businesses are smart. They’re gonna say, ha, look at all the people that are three blocks down the road and here’s a coupon to for 10% off of Linda’s.

[00:06:08] Vicki Markussen: Right, right. And They’ll absolutely wanna drive those individuals to their businesses. So you had a business plan, which kudos to you. I know that’s needed to get a loan anyway, but I’m guessing that caused you to say, this is who we’re expecting to walk in the door and essentially have a plan for who’s your target market.

[00:06:29] Vicki Markussen: So who is your target market?

[00:06:31] Jenn Slusser: I think that’s a big one. Our target market is, Pretty much anybody. I think that’s the way we went in with our business plan was we’re more than a sports center. So yes, our focus is sports. Yes, we wanna bring tournaments and people from outside of the area and gain that knowledge of this area.

[00:06:47] Jenn Slusser: We do have a lot of high end athletes that don’t have to necessarily travel to play at a higher level. So right there, that’s a key target audience, audiences. All of those clubs and organizations across the state and in Minnesota and Illinois. But then locally here, we wanna bring in some music.

[00:07:05] Jenn Slusser: We are having an art fair, craft fair. Anybody in, everyone locally we ran leagues this summer, we’ll run leagues all winter during the week as well as maybe developing some of our own club and basketball, volleyball clubs as well as the pickleball association, which I never even knew existed in lacrosse before we opened this.

[00:07:24] Jenn Slusser: So I’ve met a lot of great people that way.

[00:07:26] Vicki Markussen: Yeah. So that gets you some of the weekday traffic, if you will. And, we were talking before I hit record that lacrosse is obviously a destination for tourists. They love coming here, but like you said, The sports opportunities, we end up going out of town.

[00:07:43] Vicki Markussen: And how do you see being able to attract those tournaments and becoming a destination, if you will, on its own? Sure.

[00:07:51] Jenn Slusser: I’ve spent a lot of time connecting a lot of time putting our name out there, introducing myself to pretty much anybody in that. Everybody, every club and organization across the state.

[00:08:01] Jenn Slusser: We, I have met a gentleman that runs the Central Badger League which is usually over in like the Fond Dulac Milwaukee area. He was super interested in coming this way, bringing his league over here. So he’s gonna do that for a couple tournaments. Joining some of the associations like the a a U program the Badger region, the J v A for volleyball.

[00:08:20] Jenn Slusser: Just becoming part of that. Also having, we have a lot of. Clubs and organizations that are talking that wanna use our facility as a home base. So I think once you have a higher end home base club and organization that you can say, we’re sending one your way. We’re running our own tournament here now. So you know, as you show that you can compete and you have these higher end athletes.

[00:08:40] Jenn Slusser: Coming to your associations, the payback is mutual. So Yeah. Hopefully that will drive it to happen.

[00:08:47] Vicki Markussen: Yeah. And I know from sitting on the tourism board that there, that is part of their job is attracting sports. So now you’ve just added another feature. Bambu, right, right. To attract people to our area and so they can be helping and guiding with that as well, which is fantastic.

[00:09:07] Vicki Markussen: So you open this, and I’m guessing that you didn’t know what semi-pro team was gonna approach you, or did you know, did you have that conversation with the Showtime? We actually

[00:09:17] Jason Slusser: had a conversation prior to us. Opening. When we made the announcement that this was something that we were going forward with, I was approached by the general manager and we, there were discussions but I actually figured is it just wasn’t gonna come to fruition for a few different reasons logistically speaking, court size and stuff like that.

[00:09:37] Jason Slusser: That locker rooms. But then as we got closer to finishing, being approached by him, we were able to work some stuff out. And I think it’s gonna be a great fit for both of us. And, going back to what sets us apart from any other facility like this, it’s, we’ve got a mezzanine that that you saw as well.

[00:09:53] Jason Slusser: Where it’s not that we’re promoting the drinking aspect, but we call it the adult locker room. And it’s a place for parents to go upstairs. They can watch their student or they can watch their child play basketball. And there’s enough seating up there for about 80 people with TVs all over the place.

[00:10:11] Jason Slusser: And we have one TV that’s dedicated just to the courts so you can continue to watch the games as you’re sitting there enjoying whether it be an adult beverage or just a place to get away to do some work on the weekend whatever. So I think that’s what’s different about our facility compared to other facilities.

[00:10:28] Vicki Markussen: Yeah, so when you walk in, you kind of do a, about face, if you will go up the stairs. There’s a nice, like you said, mezzanine tables. I’m sure you’re gonna be serving food up there or, and throughout have concessions and when you already have a lineup of the type of events that you had. You mentioned pickleball, but do you wanna run through some of the.

[00:10:48] Vicki Markussen: Things that you have?

[00:10:49] Jenn Slusser: Sure. Yeah. Right now we just finished our summer sessions of league, so we did a great, we had a great middle school turnout for volleyball and high school. We did, we are doing a pickleball league right now. A ladder league, which has turned out to be super fun. A lot of new people that hadn’t played pickleball before.

[00:11:07] Jenn Slusser: We had. Basketball, adult basketball, adult volleyball. And all of that will be starting fall sessions. So right now we’re looking for signing up of fall session adult co-ed sixes women’s volleyball and men’s volleyball, as well as men’s basketball and women’s basketball. And then two pickleball leagues will start in September as well.

[00:11:25] Jenn Slusser: So we have a doubles league and a ladder league that we’re looking for people.

[00:11:29] Vicki Markussen: Wow. Now all you need is like a pickup, noon game or something for adults, or

[00:11:35] Jenn Slusser: I thought that maybe we’ll try that in the winter once everybody is done playing

[00:11:38] Vicki Markussen: outside.

[00:11:39] Jason Slusser: We do plan on putting on events, whether it be quarterly maybe just twice a year. In similar size to Features Fest.

[00:11:47] Jason Slusser: It brings a whole different dynamic with the floor, being your number one source of income, you need to make sure that’s safe. So we do have a floor cover for that. But I think, the few times that you’re gonna have a concert, it’s not gonna compete with Peach’s Fest, I don’t think.

[00:12:03] Jason Slusser: Great.

[00:12:04] Vicki Markussen: Yeah, so my common closer is what makes you passionate about what you do. You can both answer.

[00:12:12] Jason Slusser: Hmm. Well, I’ve been doing this for 30 years, so my passion gets thinner and thinner. Um, no, my, really my passion is it’s to see new faces come in and to see the excitement on, on their face.

[00:12:28] Jason Slusser: Like I’ve, our very first tournament when we first opened up, it was I was working the concession stand with a couple of my kids. And to see people walk in the door for the very first time and then look around and then walk upstairs and come back down and go, there’s a bar upstairs. You, you know what I mean?

[00:12:44] Jason Slusser: Like it just to see the excitement on like how this is something that is so different from anything anyone’s experienced. And it’s right here in Must Salem. So that fires me up. That still gives me that, okay. We can do some really cool things here and to watch and again, just being excited to see some kids come in and give them these great opportunities that maybe they never would’ve had before.

[00:13:05] Jason Slusser: So that’s what drives me right now.

[00:13:08] Jenn Slusser: I think I’m probably a little different. I resigned from education after 22 years to run the field house. So I think mine right now is just the total difference of thinking the creativity, the drive to make sure this works. The Complete excitement of doing something new, but doing it together.

[00:13:27] Jenn Slusser: I think it’s really benefited our family. Our family has worked it. We’ve always worked features I guess, but really pushing the kids to understand this is a lot of work. We are starting from scratch. It’s not features that’s been there and been. Established. So I think it’s just that drive of really reaching out and, when we hook another tournament, I’m like, sweet, okay, we’re moving forward.

[00:13:48] Jenn Slusser: So I think it’s that it’s just pushing and making sure that this is gonna be successful.

[00:13:53] Vicki Markussen: Yeah. It has to be very, like you said, very mentally stimulating because you’re not running. An extension of features. This is a whole different business model, like success is driven on totally different metrics. Yeah.

[00:14:08] Vicki Markussen: Thank you for taking that leap. I always respect businesses because it is a risk, right? Like you take, you launch and you hope it’s gonna be successful. You know what it takes to be successful. Full, and then you just have to hope that the public takes it and runs with it and, and makes it a smashing success.

[00:14:27] Vicki Markussen: So thank you for joining me. That is Jen and Jason Schlosser with the Features Fieldhouse and of course, features which they have owned since 2007.

[00:14:37] Vicki Markussen: You’ve been listening to Biz Cast Greater La Crosse. I am your host, Vicki Markussen. We will catch you next week.



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