Archive for the ‘General’ Category
Can I just take a moment to tell you about my daughters? My clever, creative, cute and caring baby girls? Already such amazing people, and I am so very, very proud to be their momma.
“Baby girls.” My “babies” are growing so fast! The little one celebrated her first birthday on June 20! The time goes so quickly. I know everyone always says that, but it’s the most true cliche I know of. It’s wonderful to watch them learn and become individuals, even if little pieces of my heart sometimes break in the process.
But, mostly, it’s all good. Look how they’re even helping with the “family business!” These photos were taken at Unique LA on July 13 + 14. Who could resist a S’muffin, from faces like those?
It’s just a little town of 55,000 people; a suburb 11 miles south of Oklahoma City. It’s where I spent my childhood from kindergarten through 12th grade. It’s where my family still lives. It’s my yearly destination when I “Go back home to Oklahoma.” On Monday, May 20, my little hometown of Moore, Oklahoma was gutted–physically and emotionally–by a level 5 tornado.
It didn’t take long for the 1.3 mile-wide, 210 mph twister to tear through 17 miles of ground. In 50 minutes, it destroyed hundreds of homes and businesses. Infamously, it also destroyed schools.
I went to one of the schools the tornado demolished. My mother lives in one of the neighborhoods that was hacked through by the roaring wind. My brother recently moved to a nearby city, and his old home destroyed. My childhood friends lost everything, but nothing can compare to the families who lost their babies.
My heart is in pieces over what happened on Monday, and even from LA, I’m in mourning right along with the residents of Moore. But it’s not my style to just sit back, so I’m launching a campaign to help raise money for the families who lost children when Plaza Towers Elementary School was obliterated. Now through June 7, I will be donating 20% of S’muffin sales directly to those families. I was scheduled to go back to Moore this summer for my 20-year high school reunion. But now I’m also going back to deliver checks right into the hands of those grieving parents.
As sad as I am, I also couldn’t be more proud of the community where I was raised. Here are some of the stories of volunteerism that are coming out:
- A procession of as many as 2,000 volunteers filed down a street toward the Moore Cemetery to help clean up and repair the cemetery in advance of the burials and Memorial Day observances.
- On a street near the hospital that had been destroyed, volunteers were cleaning up the home of a neighbor they barely knew.
- 2,200 people have registered for help with the Federal Emergency Management Agency
Please join me and the good people of Moore, OK by doing what you can. I welcome you to buy S’muffins , or to make a direct donation (to me to give to the people when I go back this summer). Another great organization that donates 100% is the Oklahoma City Tornado Recovery Fund and Community Emergency Fund.
Thank you and God bless. Carmen Lindner, Founder & CEO Gotta Have S’more
You can place an order online or call me directly with a donation my cell 917-868-1340. Thank you!
A few weeks ago I made the biggest business mistake I’ve ever made. I’ve actually been told there are no mistakes in business, only lessons that make you smarter and better. If that’s the case, then go ahead and start calling me Einstein!
You see, for the past three and half years, I’ve been forwarding my S’more calls to my cell phone. My business is not a typical “office job”. I’m usually running around sourcing materials and ingredients, hunting down new packaging, shopping at extra large stores like Restaurant Depot, going to large storage facilities and warehouses, packaging orders, and taking care of deliveries. In the evening my tiny army and I take care of all of the baking. I’m just living the dream
In addition to having my own business, I’m the mom of two of the cutest little girls you’ll ever see. They are both with me during the day. I wouldn’t have it any other way! When Maddie was a baby I was working a corporate job and she went to a sitter during the day. This time around Emma has been with me all day every day. I’ve been able to experience all her “firsts”: first word “Dada”, first wave, first time to crawl, kiss, etc. It all sounds so magical and lovely, right? The reality is, although I wouldn’t change a thing, it can be extremely hectic and overwhelming. Running a business is all consuming; when you toss one or two kids in the mix, it can become out of control! Kids, especially babies are noisy; especially when they’re expressing their happiness or displeasure … they are just loud little people.
I’ve been taking my calls with my kids in the background since day one. About a month ago I took an early morning call, which I typically don’t do because I know better. I answered the phone and went to a more quiet room. As I was taking the order, I could hear little voices getting closer and closer. I was wrapping up details of the order, address, credit card, yes, yes, ok thank you. Little did I realize, Maddie was carrying Emma and they were standing right behind me. I quickly turned and accidently knocked Emma in the head with my elbow! Emma now screaming and Maddie saying, “Here mama, Emma needs you”. I frantically explained the unprofessional noises in the background and quickly got off the phone.
At that point I decided, that was it! That was my last unprofessional S’more call with kids screaming in the background. So I did a bit of research and hired a call center. The call center was going to be able to take S’more calls 24/7, answer questions, and process orders!! I felt like the gates of heaven had opened; I was free, no longer having to quiet the uncontrollable forces, known as my kids. A week of my new found freedom passed, and then I decided I needed to hear how the calls were going. Of course I still wanted my callers to get the best possible customer service; I mean how hard can it be to answer the phone?
I had four of the recorded calls emailed to me. As I listened to each one it was like a dagger going deep into my heart. They were painful to listen to. The person answering had no idea how to answer simple questions like, “where are you located?”, “what are your hours”? My callers would hang up annoyed and frustrated by the lack of knowledge and poor customer service they were receiving! My heart sank…what had I done?! I immediately switched my phones back to my cell phone and cancelled my contract. I didn’t even want to give it a second chance. The call center was so bad that I received a one star review on yelp! For three and a half years no one had ever complained on yelp about kids being loud in the background, but within one week of using a call center I got a one star yelp review, ouch! I reached out to the person who wrote the review and am hoping to get a second chance to make that first impression.
Now I’m back to answering my phones with my little darlings in the background. I actually love speaking with my customers and answering questions; obviously no one knows my business better than me. Outstanding customer service has always been something I take a lot of pride in being able to offer. So if you happen to call, you’ll get to speak with me, Carmen, the owner. You’ll get AWESOME customer service and you’ll probably get to say “hello” to my kids!
Want a glimpse “behind the scenes” of Gotta Have S’more? Well, hold on tight, because this company is in the middle of a whirlwind!
From the website:
What tastes like a s’more, and looks like a muffin? It’s the S’muffin! The inspired invention of Los Angeles mom Carmen Lindner, a S’muffin captures all the scrumptiousness of s’mores in a delightful, easy-to-devour mini-muffin shape—for a treat unlike any other we’ve tasted. Lindner’s company, Gotta Have S’more, crafts each S’muffin by hand from the bottom up, starting with a buttery graham cracker crust dipped in dark chocolate and topped by a fluffy cloud of perfectly roasted marshmallow. Inside is a rich bite of Ghirardelli dark chocolate ganache or Ghirardelli milk chocolate with caramel sauce (the topping indicates the filling flavor). S’muffins can be served at room temperature, but they’re even better when briefly warmed in the microwave or oven.
Each set of 12 comes with six Chocolate Ganache and six Chocolate with Caramel, for $49.95. While they’re pricier than on my website, anyone shipping to the East Coast will save $5 by ordering through Williams-Sonoma (shipping is only $10.50!). Plus you’ll be enjoying exclusive, limited-edition gourmet s’mores!
Speaking of new places to order S’muffins, I couldn’t be more proud of my good friend, Meg Hall, who opened her first-ever, brand-new brick-and-mortar cafe in Redondo Beach! Made By Meg: Counter and Kitchen celebrated its Grand Opening on March 20, and is open 6 days a week! Here is some press from Eater Los Angeles, and Patch.com.
Monday through Saturday, from 11am – 8pm they will serve five different farmer’s market-fresh salads and sandwiches, as well as unique drinks, snacks and desserts – desserts like S’muffins!
So do drop in, Redondo.
I was on ABC’s Shark Tank Friday night! Did you see it? I was in there with the Sharks – and I’m still swimming!
It’s been an exciting (and exhausting) nine-month process, starting on May 23, when I was eight months pregnant with Emma. I stood in line in the summer heat for eight hours, just trying to get a shot at auditioning! I constantly had to get out of line to pee and the people behind me had to hold my place. They probably hated me in the end (if you’re reading this – THANKS AGAIN!).
When I finally got inside, my forehead was burned because I’d forgotten to put on sunscreen – but my S’muffins were safe and sound…and still delicious. We were given one minute to pitch our business and one minute only. While all of us entrepreneurs were in line, we kept practicing over and over, agonizing over the perfect one minute pitch. Finally, around 6 p.m., it was my turn. I was a little nervous but not really. Honestly, it was such a long-shot that I could actually get on Shark Tank, I had nothing to lose; so that kept my mind at ease. I stepped up to the Shark Tank producer, put my best smile on and was ready to give it my all, when he
looked at what I was holding and said, “S’muffin?! What’s a S’muffin??!”
Success! I had won him over and he told me I would be receiving an email the following day with instructions to put together a 5 minute video. I had moved onto round two! At that point I already felt like a winner because out of all the people standing in the six hour line, not many moved onto round two. But, I did! Honestly still… what were the chances of me actually making it all the way? I mean 30,000 people audition for this show and only 60 – 80 are picked.
The next day the email came as promised. I had about a week to put together a five minute video to show off my product, but more importantly… me! My plan was to keep it simple with my home video camera and have my husband record it for me. By the end of the week, my simple video turned into calling in a favor to an acquaintance, Jonathan Pascual of PlanetZaya. He was amazing, a tiny little gift from God. He came to my kitchen, filmed for four hours, cut, edited and created my five minute video in one night. I still own him Big Time!!!
I hand delivered my five minute video, along with another couple dozen s’muffins just to sweeten my chances. I didn’t hear back for about a month and I just knew they had picked their lineup and I didn’t make it through. So, on June 19th – the day before my scheduled “C” section – I shot off a follow-up email to my ST producer/fan. I thanked him for being a fan and told him I was thrilled to have made it through to the 2nd round and I asked for some hot tips so that when open casting came around again I would be sure to make it all the way through. Within a few minutes he replied… “You are very much still in the running. So stay tuned and I’ll give you an update as soon as I know if you get approved.”
On June 24th, four days after Emma was born. I received another email…. “Warm up the ovens (do you actually bake them or just crumble some butter up with graham cracker and dip it in chocolate?) cause you’ve been approved to be on the show!” What, Who, Me?!??! I was in total shock and had A LOT to prepare for.
I was told that I would pitch to the sharks at the end of Sept. That gave me about 3 months to get my numbers in order, and more importantly, lose some baby weight!
During that time I watched every single episode of Shark Tank starting from season 1. I got all of my books in order and was prepared to have an answer for any question they threw my way. I knew how many S’muffins I had sold each year in dozens and singles. Every day I woke up for three months straight thinking “what do I need to do to prepare for Shark Tank?”
Three weeks before my big pitch, it was time to pick out my show stopping outfit, get my hair colored and practice, practice, practice my two minute pitch. I said it in my car while I was driving, while I was doing dishes, taking a shower. I said it so much my four-year-old was walking around saying “Hi, I’m Carmen Lindner, founder of Gotta Have S’more, I’m seeking…”
I flew my mom out the week of 9/20 to help me watch Emma, who was at that point two months old. I had come a long way but even up to this point, was still not 100% guaranteed to pitch in front of the Sharks and you’re never guaranteed that your episode will actually air, even if you do get in front of them. Two days before my scheduled pitch I had to do a practice pitch/dress rehearsal in front of all of the Shark Tank crew/producers. I had my perfect outfit, my pretty display table, S’muffins in the hands of every crew member and my solid 2 minute pitch. I was so nervous, I was so close at this point: What if I came all this way and totally screwed it up and didn’t get to pitch to the sharks?? I would be so disappointed. But, that didn’t happen. After I said my two minute pitch everyone clapped, smiled, laughed and said that I did a GREAT job!! I felt on top of the world!! I made it all the way and now I was scheduled to pitch the real Sharks in two days.
September 23rd, I’ll never forget the date. I was ready to go. My husband, Maddie and I loaded up at 5am and headed down to Culver City, Sony Studios. Originally, I was scheduled to pitch before lunch. Perfect, they will be good and hungry and will devour their samples. But, that didn’t happen. I kept getting bumped all day and at 6pm – the very last slot of the day – it was finally my turn. I took one last look in the mirror, kissed my husband and I was off to land my deal.
“Go!” I walked down the long Shark hallway, the double doors opened, I took my mark and there they were: the Sharks, all five of them, the real deal. I couldn’t believe I was actually there in person, not watching from my couch at home but standing in front of them ready to tell them all about my wonderful little business.
I was ready for them to love me, and more importantly LOVE my product. I wanted so badly to hear, “You’re a genius, these are amazing, this is the best dessert idea I’ve ever heard!” But that didn’t happen.
At first, things were going well. Smiles, laughs, “MMM, this is good.” Then bam….. shipping rates, those dang sky-high shipping rates! I never thought that my out-of-state shipping rates, which have dropped between $20- $35, would dominate the conversation; but they did. Mr. Wonderful found his hook and wouldn’t let go. I could feel myself losing control of the conversation and I just couldn’t get it back. One after the other said, “I’m out, I’m out, I’m out…” and just like that it was over. I turned around walked away from the Sharks, walked out of the staged board room and was done. Three months of preparation, dreaming, high hopes, practicing, planning was high jacked by a conversation about high shipping rates and no deal. I walked up to my husband, told him the bad news, and gave him a hug. We loaded up our daughter, our bags and all of my display equipment. We drove home without a word. We were all exhausted and in a total daze. When we got home, my mom opened the door with a big smile on her face, expecting good news. I didn’t have any. Ben and Maddie went straight to bed. But my heart was broken so I stayed up and cried on the couch to my mom.
I didn’t stay down and out for too long, though. I have a pretty sweet life to begin with, an awesome husband, two super cute kids;
and I live in sunny California. The holidays were coming up and that is my busiest time of year. We scheduled a two week vacation after Christmas, spent time with family and Ben and I took off, by ourselves, for a full week to Jamaica. Seriously, life is good!
At that point, the subject of Shark Tank rarely came up anymore. I didn’t think it was going to air because it felt like the whole 30 – 45 minute conversation with the sharks was pretty boring. They didn’t tell me to go hang myself and I didn’t have a meltdown in front of the camera. But on January 25, I received an email and in the subject line it said, “SHARK TANK – 02/22/13 – 418 – AIRDATE”. OMG! It’s going to air!!! Once again, I had a month to prepare for an unknown outcome.
It aired and millions of people watched Mr. Wonderful rip me on shipping rates and come up with many new variations of the word S’muffin. But, I was ecstatic!!! It had been nine long months since I was standing in an eight-hour, open-casting line thinking, “What are the chances that this will ever happen?” They didn’t tell me I was a genius or that this was the best business idea they had ever heard, they didn’t invest in my company. But, little ol’ me and my Gotta Have S’more S’muffins made it past 30,000 other well deserving entrepreneurs. We made it all the way to the finish line and were seen by millions of people across the country on national TV and that’s a HUGE win!! It’s only been three days and I’ve already started receiving tons of calls and opportunities that are going to be great for my business. I know that everything happened for a reason and God is looking out for me. The past nine months have been an amazing experience and I’m really excited to see what the future holds. So, stay tuned…. You might just see me on one of the Shark Tank follow-up success stories!!
Thanks for reading!! – Carmen
Over here at Gotta Have S’more HQ, I’m already back in the thick of things, preparing for both the Super Bowl and one of my favorite holidays - Valentine’s Day! I have special, customized designs for both occasions, and I’m running a special to celebrate:
Order by February 1 and take 20% off your purchase with code
Order online or call us directly at 1-888-957-6673
* Doesn’t include delivery. Orders have to be completed in the month of February.
And speaking of love… My friend, Ashley Capper, got married and served my S’muffins as favors at her BEAUTIFUL wedding. What do you think?
And if that isn’t special enough…
My limited edition, chocolate-covered s’mores are finally here!
I start with my original s’more: Rich, buttery graham cracker base, a generous chunk of creamy chocolate, torched marshmallow and another chunk of chocolate on top – and then I dredge each one in a wash of rich, dark chocolate! These super s’mores are available in two designs: One with an adorable red candy heart on top; the other has decorative splashes of dark or red chocolate.
As I sit here on the very last evening of 2012, there are a lot of memories to capture – and a lot to outdo in 2013!
Of course, first and foremost, there was the birth of my beautiful Emma Marie on June 20th! Maddie absolutely loves being a big sister, and even “shared” some of her Christmas presents with the baby – who’s getting to be a Big Girl, herself! (it really does fly by so fast).
And then there were events! So many events… Something Blue, many many of the Unique LA events, Eat:Drink:Play International Wine Festival, The Super Club, Planned Parenthood’s Food Fare, MomsLA, BLP Spokesmoms ConnectHer, Yelp! Passport to Culver City Art Walk, the new Malibu Wine tasting room opening, Renegade Craft Fair, GIFTED: A Market for Uncommon Goods (on the Santa Monica Pier). It was like a non-stop party!
2012 was also a big year in terms of Gotta Have S’more expansion. My S’muffins were welcomed into the historic Brentwood landmark, Vicente Foods; as well as the cutting-edge, super modern, upscale Walgreens at Sunset & Vine. I’m also selling in San Diego now, thanks to Java Mama cafe.
But that’s not the only way I made it a little easier for you to get your hands on my sassy little s’mores – in 2012, I also expanded my shipping locations, brought down shipping rates and gave the Gotta Have S’more packaging a sleek new facelift.
I’ve been a busy girl!
Thank you so much for your continued support and encouragement. I couldn’t have done any of this without all of you! You helped make 2012 a spectacular year, and I can’t wait to see what 2013 holds!
Happy Holidays. I hope you all enjoyed warm and wonderful celebrations with family and friends, and that your New Year will be one to remember.