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Becca Jordan Wright Founder of Piedmont Pennies On Why Being Cheesy is Her Calling

Becca Jordan Wright Founder of Piedmont Pennies On Why Being Cheesy is Her Calling

Becca Jordan Wright Founder of Piedmont Pennies On Why Being Cheesy is Her Calling | Ep. 133 | Business Podcast

Becca Jordan Wright Founder of Piedmont Pennies On Why Being Cheesy is Her Calling
Becca Jordan Wright Founder of Piedmont Pennies On Why Being Cheesy is Her Calling

Summary

Becca Jordan Wright is the Founder and Owner of Piedmont Pennies, North Carolina’s handcrafted cheese snack.

Born and raised in North Carolina, with a corporate background in Management Consulting and Big Tech, Becca’s love for hospitality and food was finally realized when she launched Piedmont Pennies D2C in September 2020 during the global COVID-19 pandemic.

Becca’s goal was to provide her community a way to “Stay cheesin” during the difficult times of COVID, and she enlisted the help of her fellow MBA classmates to “pinch pennies” and market.

Today, Piedmont Pennies is based in Charlotte, NC, employees five NC residents, and is in over 40 retail stores as well as online at Piedmont Pennies.

Based on her Grandmother’s recipe, these spicy cheese snacks are the perfect cross between a homemade cracker and a biscuit. They pair perfectly alongside a cold beer or glass of wine, and make the ideal charcuterie board addition for your savory snack lover. 

We talk about how she went from managment consulting, to getting her MBA, doing an internship at Facebook, getting an offer, turning it down and going all in on Piedmont Pennies. Also…

We talk about if spending the money on an MBA is worth it and do you need it to be an entrepreneur. 

You’ll love Becca and this episode!

Get your cheese fix at Piedmont Pennies online

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Brandon: 

Hello friends. 

Welcome to the show. Today we are excited to welcome Becca Jordan. Right, who is the owner and founder of Piedmont pennies, north Carolina’s handcrafted cheese snack. I gotta tell you I had some of these and these snacks aren’t only delicious, but they got this little kick at the end that you’ll love. 

I learned about Becca’s story on how she created piemonte pennies from the UNC Chapel Hill kenan Flagler Business School’s alumni newsletter. 

Brandon: 

And there was this great article talking about how Becca had been at Deloitte doing consulting for many years and then went to get her NBA. 

Becca: 

She interned at facebook. She has all these offers to go to all these cool companies including facebook made her an offer and she had founded this cheesy snack during Covid and decided to take it on full time. Now she’s got five employees, She’s in over 40 retail stores. She sells direct to consumers like you at Piedmont pennies dot com and this thing’s taken off. 

Becca: 

You’re gonna love her story. Here we go. Welcome to build a business success secrets. The only podcast that provides straight talk for entrepreneurs, whether you’re an entrepreneur starting with an idea or growing your business. This show is for you. We’ll teach you how to build a strong mindset, powerful body and profitable business so you can achieve success. 

Becca: 

And here’s your host, Brandon. 

Becca: 

See white. 

Becca: 

Hey becca, Hey Brandon, how are you? 

Becca: 

I’m well, how are you doing like a sunday morning? 

Brandon: 

Oh, good, good. 

Becca: 

How’s life on the west Coast? 

Brandon: 

Oh, it couldn’t be better. 

Becca: 

How’s life in north Carolina? 

Brandon: 

You know, it’s, it’s wonderful. 

Becca: 

It’s a little human, but that’s to be expected down here in charlotte. 

Brandon: 

Yeah, I heard it. 

Brandon: 

I heard the humidity was returning to sort of that seasonal normal. 

Becca: 

It is, it is, it’s making my baking consistency is a little more challenging. But but we’re learning, Is it in the 90s yet? 

Brandon: 

Maybe in the middle of the day, but to be honest, I’m in the kitchen almost every day, so it feels like it’s always 90° in there, so it’s been fine. 

Becca: 

Are you in a commercial kitchen now? 

Brandon: 

I am, I am, yep, there’s a fairly large one in charlotte called Carolina commercial kitchen, and a lot of food trucks are out of there too, so I’m in the Department of Agriculture side. 

Becca: 

Oh, well, that’s cool. 

Brandon: 

Well, I want to get to that, but I really want to talk about, well, I want to talk about that and I have all your treats right here that I’m trying to eat in moderation as much as possible, but I’d love to learn how you got started because you really didn’t start as an entrepreneur per se. 

Becca: 

You thought you were going to be in healthcare, didn’t you? 

Becca: 

Yeah, I did. 

Brandon: 

Yeah, I I grew up in a very um from from Burlington north Carolina kind of smack in the middle of the piemonte area. And I grew up in a very healthcare minded family. My dad’s a radiologist turned administrator now and my sister is a neonatologist. Mom studied MedTech and so I just kind of saw public health and business administration in health care as the ideal path for me. 

Brandon: 

It’s the only thing I knew. So that’s what I studied at U. N. C. S, any health policy and management in the school, public health at UNC as an undergrad. 

Brandon: 

Um And then that led me to go to Deloitte consulting to work in the federal human capital space um for all sorts of clients. 

Brandon: 

So that that was the trajectory, that’s what that’s what I thought I should do. 

Brandon: 

How, how was the consulting experience at Deloitte for you? 

Becca: 

I was incredible. I mean, obviously there’s a reason I’m not there anymore and my personal goals really didn’t align with a professional trajectory, but the amount that you can learn in such a small amount of time there, especially as a newly minted new full time employee coming from college, they just put so much time and energy into investing in you to be quiet ready. 

Brandon: 

Um, but that said, I worked a lot of weekends or do a lot of nights. 

Brandon: 

I am so my best friends or other analysts there and um, but with that came great responsibility. So I was, I was thankful for that was my first job. 

Brandon: 

Well, when you say that it didn’t align with your personal goals? 

Becca: 

Well, is that something you realized when you got there or is that something that happened before then? 

Becca: 

Yeah, that’s a good question. 

Becca: 

I honestly didn’t listen to my inner voice as much as I should have coming out of college. I was doing what I thought was the safe route that would make um for a good lifestyle and talked about in recruiting. They’re mainly recruiting you for the lifestyle. They don’t really tell you what you’re gonna be doing. You assumed Excel and power points and whatnot. But it’s mainly this fancy lifestyle of flying around and being an important client meetings as a 22 year old. Um, but honestly my passion was really hospitality, working in the restaurant industry. That’s what I grew up doing. Like one of my first jobs and I borrowed it in college and I really just loved making people feel safe and welcome and comfortable. 

Brandon: 

And hospitality was like the best avenue to do that. 

Brandon: 

So I wanted to own my own restaurant for the longest time and my family always said, you know, a lot of mentors to, oh well wait until you have enough capital to do that and do that for fun. You know, it’s really hard to make money in the restaurant industry. Yeah, yeah, yada. And so I was like, okay well I can keep people safe and healthy in public health and you know business, the business side of it. 

Brandon: 

Since I knew after my first kim won, I won exam that I wasn’t destined for med school. Um That’s kind of where I saw the best avenue for me. 

Brandon: 

But it was two parts. I mean the hospitality is one and I’m passion for it, but by the time I was dating my now husband, long distance charlotte to D. C. So it wasn’t that terrible, but it was it was hard doing that for so long. 

Brandon: 

And we have been together since freshman year. So my my only is pre covid, but the only way I was going to move up in federal was to stay in D. C. Or moved to Atlanta. So I was ready to come back to north Carolina. 

Brandon: 

Were you bartending downtown Chapel Hill? 

Becca: 

I was I was um I worked as a hostess and then waitress and bartender at LA residents. It’s a french restaurant that turns into more of a college bar at night. So um. Yeah I mean that’s honestly what help me help get through school. Um And it was a lot of late nights but I really loved the efficiency and like the teamwork behind it and again making people happy. 

Brandon: 

Did you get to see the business side as the dollars were flowing as well? 

Becca: 

You know only in my shift and my transactions I didn’t get to get my hands dirty and any of their cash flow or you know P. 

Becca: 

And L. Statements but it was you know, I would hear things and pick up on things um just from being you know a barkeep from things that were struggling with are things that were added investments and I learned a lot about the liability side behind bartending and owning a restaurant and workers comp and just all of the moving pieces. 

Brandon: 

But that really excites me because I like to, I feel like an octopus and I had my hands one hand and everything and that’s so the restaurant industry was like it just felt natural. 

Brandon: 

So you’re at the Lloyd, they’re basically driving you the night and day is how it works. 

Brandon: 

And do you have what I call it a pivotal moment back? 

Becca: 

Like one day you’re sitting at your desk and you just say, yeah, I’m done and you walk out or do you start thinking about this? 

Becca: 

Like this isn’t my calling, I’m working these long hours, I’m not really into it and devise a plan to get out. 

Becca: 

I think sometimes we can be too smart for our own good. 

Becca: 

So I think it took a lot of those painful moments to be honest, to build up to kind of a monumental moment where I was like, I’m done. 

Becca: 

Remember um I lived on Q street, I could smack in the middle of Logan circle and Dupont circle and I was in this cute rowhouse with my friend, also an analyst at the white and I was, I came back from work as a long commute and I just called my you know boyfriend crying and I was like there’s so much, there’s just so much politics involved with a lot of consulting and I think anyone can tell you that like if they’re being honest and I was just really frustrated with my current with my situation at the time and so long story short, that was, that’s one moment that I really remember because I was just, I was like, I’ve got to come home and I’ve got to get, I’ve gotta change industries and I actually led me to business school um thinking about other avenues and knowing that I always wanted to go back and get a graduate degree, but I didn’t feel equipped to own my own restaurant yet or to start my own snack company. 

Becca: 

So so I look back on that moment and I’m really happy that I kind of just knew in my gut and I wish I would have listened to my gut earlier um To switch things up. 

Brandon: 

Well I like that you actually I think you just created long. 

Brandon: 

You get pivotal moments to a monumental moment. 

Brandon: 

Did when you when you had that moment did you start saving your money to prepare to not work and figure out what was next or like how does that work? 

Brandon: 

Um so I’m a Christian like growing up in the church and so for me every pivotal moment you know trying to listen to my gut and everything. 

Becca: 

But honestly there’s sometimes I have to just kind of let God like take things over and I can’t handle everything every step of the way because you’re not gonna see your trajectory from now in the next 10 years. 

Becca: 

You can plan it out all you want. 

Becca: 

But there’s just some moments of faith when they say take that leap. 

Brandon: 

Um So I was saving in D. C. I was also studying for the G. Mat every morning from like 6 to 8 until 68 30 when work started. So I would commute over on the metro and it was really chill in the morning, go over to Arlington work study in the office and then when work started I would I would go to work and so it took the Gm at several times. I just I mean everyone, especially in consulting you know it’s a certain personality type. You’re always kind of thinking about the next thing whether that’s professionally and personally and so I was working on that I was saving money. It’s very hard to save money. And in D. C. New york san Francisco in any big city was paying about half my um To be transparent about half of my paycheck was going to rent and so it was, it’s just it’s super difficult um to want to have that lifestyle um as a young professional there but also be able to save for your next big purchase and like step, so I was saving money, but honestly what happened was that I was just like I’m going to apply, you know, I that’s applied to several schools and see how things go um and I felt really fortunate to understand kind of the student loan process um you know, someone had explained it to me and I was like well this is just the next step, it’s inevitable. 

Brandon: 

Um And also I have a very privileged to have parents that were so supportive of my sister’s getting higher education and knowing that that was something that they wanted us to have more so than getting married or house or anything. So they also said that I could, you know, take out money from them and they pay them back when I got a job. So that wasn’t really stopping me. 

Brandon: 

And I’m not like, call that out because that’s such a sign of privilege. And that’s one reason I’m hustling. Like I want to be able to do that for someone stuck in a bad situation, It hurts someone that wants to go to grad school and can’t have that option. So, um, but unfortunately got into unc kenan Flagler business School for the full time program and actually got a full ride um there from a, from a school fellowship and I saw that. 

Brandon: 

So I want to take a step back because I am very curious and for all the listeners who may not know that, can I actually our alumni because, or you’re not quite, or maybe you are, maybe you graduated, but did you graduate yet? 

Brandon: 

I did graduate in May. 

Becca: 

Yeah, you graduated in May. 

Becca: 

We are both tar heels and went to UNC Chapel Hill. 

Becca: 

And I’m curious because you sort of skipped it. 

Becca: 

I don’t know that you skipped in on purpose, but how do you go through this analysis that business school is going to be your answer to teach you how to run a restaurant or in your case, you know, any business, but in your case restaurant, you know, I think I always felt this impostor syndrome a little bit around like, oh, I’ve got to have the right academic formula or classes in order to prepare me for the next career move. 

Becca: 

When a lot of people would say no, just get a job as a general manager, jump into it, work your way up, um, which, which would have been honestly a more like cost efficient way if I think about it. 

Brandon: 

But I think for me I just, the two years of the full time NBA program offers you to kind of take a step back and reevaluate your life where you want to go next. 

Becca: 

And also just learn all of the different industries that are out there. 

Becca: 

I just wasn’t sure that we’re in hospitality. 

Becca: 

I wanted to plug in and I had tried to Deloitte when I moved from federal into commercial to get onto hospitality accounts, you know, large hotel chains, airlines, restaurant groups. 

Becca: 

Um It was just so difficult without having that background and I was like you know what, I’m gonna go get an MBA and maybe I’ll come back to consulting but I can really concentrate in hospitality when I go and um you know come to find out you come to India and all of these people come knocking when they see you got consulting on your on your resume. 

Becca: 

So I was very flattered by all of the other consulting companies. 

Becca: 

You know even bigger better than Deloitte that were coming knocking and but I really had to tell myself like no that’s not why you came like you’ve got a really hold true to what you want to do and be okay to be a little different. 

Brandon: 

Yeah. 

Brandon: 

Yeah. 

Brandon: 

I think it’s very interesting and obviously I didn’t get a scholarship to go get my M. 

Brandon: 

B. 

Brandon: 

A. 

Brandon: 

And paid I think probably 100 and some $1000 for it. 

Becca: 

Um But it’s interesting as I look back on how society shapes that belief that you going or I or anyone going to business school is going to make you this business person and and I’m not beating up on the N. 

Becca: 

B. 

Becca: 

A. 

Becca: 

And I’m not saying that it’s right or wrong, I just find it interesting that there’s this structure and one thing that you said that I think could be more true, it’s an expensive thing for people to do, but it’s really taking a break to figure out what’s possible. 

Becca: 

As much as, you know, you were at Deloitte, they taught you, well you London as an undergraduate, but probably got put in up to your over your head and how to build spreadsheets, models analysis and and do that stuff. 

Becca: 

So business school didn’t teach you how to run an Excel spreadsheet. 

Becca: 

You you arguably probably knew that. 

Becca: 

So do you think it um do you think that and you’re, you’re a business owner now and business schools, they market something, but they really don’t traditionally teach you how to be a business owner, They teach you how to be a manager or consultant and make a good living. 

Becca: 

What do you think about that whole thing? 

Becca: 

That’s, that’s a very good point. 

Becca: 

Um, yeah, to get back to your earlier point about going to business school in order to become something or to be the best in certain industry. 

Becca: 

No, not, not necessary. 

Becca: 

And that may be a controversial statement to the big NBA supporters, but I think it just really depends on where you are in your, in your life and really thinking about kind of doing a swat analysis on yourself. 

Becca: 

Where do you really feel like you need to excel and what is it gonna take for you to get there? 

Becca: 

And only you can answer that. 

Becca: 

I’ve talked to so many, especially females that when I was Carolina women in business president, I talked to so many females that were really making the NBA fit into their life and I was like, this just doesn’t makes sense for you, for what you want to do next for if you want to stay in this industry, like why don’t you think about this? 

Becca: 

Is that there’s so many other opportunities? 

Becca: 

But that said I am such a operationalize, er it’s really hard for me to sit down, take a step back and strategize, especially my own life. 

Brandon: 

And so the two years provided that kind of set time to say, what do you want to be, what you want to become and who do you want to surround yourself by? 

Becca: 

And that was my big time for cold emailing, which I was good at at Deloitte. 

Becca: 

After all of my randomly putting time on people’s calendar in the firm that you didn’t know just to catch up about something that your client needed. 

Becca: 

And so I was really good at that. 

Becca: 

And so I used the two years is like a very expensive time to network. 

Brandon: 

And so I just went above and beyond trying to meet all of the food producers, hospitality people, vcs um, and got really plugged into the entrepreneurship venture capital club because I was like, these are my people, this is the environment I want to be in. 

Brandon: 

And I’m so happy because it helped pull that out of me and gave me a safe space to go into the industry and to make that leap. 

Brandon: 

So like I said, I don’t think it’s necessary. 

Brandon: 

I think it really depends on who you are, but I also say you’re not going just for financial reasons, then I really think that it’s so, so important to explain that to the schools that people are applying to, Um And to really look out there for any and all funding, whether that’s, you know, student loans, traditional student loans themselves or other opportunities of a work study. 

Brandon: 

Because I think for me I was like, oh $100,000 an N. 

Brandon: 

B. 

Brandon: 

A. 

Brandon: 

You know when my parents like I can’t do this and they’re like, well we really can’t either, but we can figure out something and we will be we will be creative with you to pay us back. 

Brandon: 

Um And I was like set on that. 

Brandon: 

Yeah, I think that. 

Brandon: 

Um and I don’t mean be I don’t care about being controversial. I mean you and I have NBA so you get to say what you want because because you have it. And I remember uh one of the reasons that I got an M. B. A. And and I think this is true about all humans, especially now we talk about biased and all these things that are in society. Yeah, humans are biased. And if you if you look to hire someone or I look to hire someone, are we going to look for that? N. B. A. Well one is we’re going to look for the NBA. 

Becca: 

Because it helps justify the decision that we made, whether we’re strong people or not, doesn’t matter that goes through your head probably at some level. And it checks a box to say, well I know Becca has these skills. I mean she she had that but I I tend to agree with you. 

Becca: 

I wasn’t gonna get my MBA already was working on a masters in psych and I said um but a partner when I was working at a venture capital firm and the partner said to me, you have good talent. 

Becca: 

And I beat out people who had mps to get that job. 

Becca: 

There are a lot of people as as you know, and consulting. It’s highly competitive. 

Becca: 

And when I got there, like you gotta get your NBA. 

Becca: 

Now the question really was, did I need to get the NBA because for them to promote me someday, I needed that NBA. 

Becca: 

Because they had the N. 

Becca: 

B. A. 

Becca: 

Um and in that industry it tends to check the box. Unless you’ve made $500 million dollars or a billion dollars in the company, then you tend to get a free pass uh for for the most part. 

Becca: 

But I just do find it it’s it’s this topic of of, do you need the N. B. A. Or not? And the other thing that I don’t know if you see it, but I see all this stuff on social media like the N. B. A. Or this envy the alternative N. B. A. Or B. 

Becca: 

This that and the other. And I’m thinking to myself, I think that these people don’t understand what business school isn’t, isn’t. 

Becca: 

And actually, as you alluded to, if you want to be an entrepreneur at some level, you cannot even want to get the NBA for the mere fact that it will teach you, I don’t want to say to over analyze it. 

Becca: 

But as an entrepreneur, you gotta take these crazy risks. 

Becca: 

Like Yeah. 

Becca: 

Yeah. 

Becca: 

Did you get to go back to your previous point about bias? 

Becca: 

I saw that bias firsthand for my clients, choosing people to be on the client team and how well respected and admired, you know, No, not necessarily partners internally, but clients and say, oh, they got the NBA from so and so and this is the camaraderie that it brought on. 

Becca: 

Someone else got their NBA around the same time. 

Brandon: 

Oh it’s like you know it’s another way to bond with people um and also trust them so that bias is definitely there. 

Brandon: 

Um And then to your later point there’s so many business analytics degrees out there online NBA programs, you know shorter ones, you can do it a year. 

Brandon: 

There’s a lot in north Carolina has 16 U. N. C. A billion. And you universities are like the best, you know in terms of going to a four year degree and a lot of them are not adding on these programs and a lot online with Covid and so I just kind of costing you in doing that is to really make sure that it’s it’s fitting the needs that you have. 

Brandon: 

Um and not just to get it, you know, for your degree because it really, really can walk out and being a lot of debt but not, not really trampling into the next step. 

Brandon: 

I agree with you. 

Brandon: 

Uh, you know, here just being human when I hear some people tell me, oh, I got an M. 

Brandon: 

B. 

Brandon: 

A. 

Becca: 

And then they explained to me that they took a one year program. 

Becca: 

I respect that you may have taken a one year program, but you don’t have an N. 

Becca: 

B. 

Brandon: 

A. You have a masters in something. But those of us who paid our dues two years of a real M. B. A. Is a very, very hard program. And and anybody listening, if you do choose to do an M. 

Becca: 

B. A. It can be valuable. But it is, I mean, is it fair to say becca that I mean you and see was hard for me. 

Becca: 

It was hard smart the first year, especially when you’re, I mean, time management more than anything. The classes are hard. The recruiting was difficult that rebranding yourself and meeting a whole community of students that age range from 25 to 40, um, have all different types of professional backgrounds and adjusting the chapel hill. 

Brandon: 

You’re coming from a big city. 

Brandon: 

Um, you know, there’s, there’s just so many, so many things. I think for me, they’re the biggest learning that I faced was my own leadership. You know, balancing being a student leader and then started to run my own company and trying to ruthless prioritization. Um, that was, that was the biggest challenge. 

Brandon: 

So thanks for sharing all that. I just, I wanted to have that NBA question because our, our discussion because I think, I, I think it’s important and, and at the end and then we’ll talk about so in the end based on what you know right now, and I want to come back to how you got to starting your company and and how that works. 

Becca: 

Is was it worth it? 

Becca: 

Definitely. 

Becca: 

It was for me the N. 

Becca: 

B. 

Brandon: 

A. 

Brandon: 

Is that your question? 

Brandon: 

Yeah. The N. B. A. And and I want to throw people, some lady told me the other day who I interviewed. 

Becca: 

She’s like you always throw a singer and you always got a singer. So the singer is uh is if you had to pay for it, would that have changed your decision? 

Becca: 

I think getting the NBA by to pay for all pay for all of it. 

Becca: 

I’m saying you took I’m saying the question is you have to take out it’s 100 and plus $1000. 

Brandon: 

Probably more expensive for now. 

Brandon: 

I don’t know how much it costs, but it’s six figures plus in addition to your living expenses, the sacrifice that you make with your husband, right? He’s got to pay the bills, all this stuff. 

Becca: 

So if you had to pay for all that with student loans and you didn’t get a scholarship which I think is awesome and I didn’t even know you could get. 

Becca: 

But um what do you do it? 

Becca: 

Yes, I would do it. But I would have a different career trajectory than what I have right now. And that’s sad because that’s that is saying that I would not have probably pursued entrepreneurship especially in the food industry. Have I taken on that debt? And that’s my passion. So um it’s also that’s kind of a trick question Brandon because I can’t predict how the NBA will help me, you know 20 years down the line. Make 30. 

Brandon: 

Um But I will say for the for the connection, the bias that other people have toward choosing people with an N. B. A. And then also, you know, the network that I made and the experience I had, it’s kind of it’s kind of, it’s a double edged sword there granted night, but I would, I probably just wouldn’t be an entrepreneurship and able to boot throughout my own company. 

Brandon: 

And I think that point is what I was thinking about because that the first thing you took the words right out of my mouth, I was like, wow, that’s really sad. 

Brandon: 

So think of all the people that go do these programs and then take the job that they were trying to get out of to pay back the student loan. 

Becca: 

That’s why I said, you have to know yourself, you have to know your true reason. 

Becca: 

Do not go to NBA because you want to do entrepreneurship, that’s probably not the best, best fit. 

Becca: 

I think a lot of people, what happens in the NBA program is they can kind of see through the Bs of some of the corporate positions when people come into your crew and for me, I was like, this is the exact same thing. 

Becca: 

I went in senior year, but times two and getting paid more money and getting more managerial responsibility. 

Becca: 

Yet it’s just another rat race that I don’t want to be a part of. 

Becca: 

I was like, I have great skills and leadership skills myself and I could food strap my own company and what I really want to do and make how the flexibility and autonomy. 

Brandon: 

Um, and I trust myself, like I trust myself to be able to close down the business or back out of it or not get tripped over my own shoelaces there. 

Brandon: 

Um, I really trust myself to be able to close things down if things weren’t to go well. 

Brandon: 

And so why not take a shot on myself? 

Brandon: 

But that’s honestly came from having the time of the two years. And Covid, Covid has provided a really interesting opportunity, which I’m sure you’ll get to. 

Brandon: 

But well, let’s talk about it. 

Becca: 

So you’re in business school, you make the leap from Deloitte, you get there, you’re doing your first year. 

Becca: 

And did did, I don’t know if we did you intend to start a company? 

Becca: 

Some people go to business school and intend to do it. 

Becca: 

Did you start it? 

Brandon: 

You didn’t do that? 

Becca: 

No, no, I got, I got there. I was distracted by everything glittered thought everything was gold and I was like, oh, I want to do consulting again or oh no, maybe health care administration. 

Brandon: 

I was all over the place. 

Brandon: 

What was, what was the glitter of gold? Was it the money that you could make? 

Becca: 

Oh the money, the, the, the other people in business school. Cause you have to remember you’re going in and you don’t know anyone. So it becomes this like competition, a little bit of like, where did they get an offer? Someone already has a job in august and we have to be taken from the classroom and that was me. 

Brandon: 

I had an offer amazon I interviewed early at a pre N. B. 

Brandon: 

A um event and I had an internship offer their and their retail leadership development program, which sounded awesome until I dug in a little deeper. And I said this culture doesn’t align to like what I’m, what I’m excited about in the hospitality etcetera, etcetera. 

Brandon: 

So, um, there was that. And then, you know, all the opportunities. I went out of tech trek, I was in the tech club. I was like, I want to do tech. Um, and it seemed like the right move for people coming from consulting that wanted a little more laid back culture, but I still get amount of autonomy and building things at scale. 

Brandon: 

And so I went and saw facebook, I met with so many great Car Hill alumni that were so supportive and awesome and I was like, I actually see myself here. So I got that offer in january and in turn there all summer and it was supposed to be in sonny bill, but my husband, I’m gonna move out there and we’re so excited. 

Brandon: 

And then Covid hit and they told us in april like, hey, it’s gonna be all virtual. So I took it from my Chapel Hill house, I was renting and just did the full thing virtual there. Um but it didn’t, it allow me not to get too caught up in the benefits in the fluff of, of working for a large tech company and having my dry cleaning taking care of for free food and coffee. 

Brandon: 

I love obsessed with ice coffee. So I was so hyped for that experience um and exploring California and I’m going to napa and Tahoe and I was just, I was so pumped for that summer. 

Brandon: 

Um and so I felt a little bit gypped because of coded, but again, I think it was, I think it was a God thing telling me that, you know, that wasn’t the right, that was in the right place for me and not to get distracted. 

Brandon: 

It’s a very seductive place out here. 

Becca: 

Um and they me, well I love to visit, Come on out the facebook experiences. 

Becca: 

It is worth everyone experiencing what tech companies do and, and I mean the food at facebook candidly is incredible. 

Brandon: 

Um, I have a bunch of friends who work over there and go have been over there for lunch at the times and um, it’s very seductive. 

Becca: 

The valley is, you know what I say? 

Brandon: 

Becca is Silicon Valley and look, I came here, I migrated here but I’m a tech nerd and my bet was if you’re gonna be in tech, I want to reduce it. 

Becca: 

You want to read, you mean it’s hard so you want to reduce, get the best chance you can. 

Becca: 

And but I say this Silicon Valley is like Las Vegas, You can win $1 million Las Vegas and you’ll make your dreams come true. 

Becca: 

But what really happens is you lose a bunch of money and time, but you had a good time and you move on and not look Silicon Valley make no mistake is an incredible engine. 

Becca: 

It is like no engine that you will ever see on earth. 

Becca: 

And, and mainly because it has the ecosystem that that goes from everybody’s investor for the most part out here, potential investor and then it has every round and then it has the companies to buy it and then it has the infrastructure and that takes decades, multiple decades to build. 

Becca: 

But not everybody is successful out here. 

Becca: 

Like you know, you can, you can, you can go bust so, um, you can come out and visit, we’re hearing happening day. 

Becca: 

Um, but anyway, you’re doing this internship, you feel gypped, but you’re still doing it with facebook. 

Becca: 

So you get some experience, you know, some feeling of the people at least and what happens? 

Becca: 

Well an incredible experience and I was working in community operations that we work, it was a lot of kind of behind the scenes, I wasn’t necessarily doing product management, but we’re doing a lot of behind the scenes, understanding bad actors on the platform, how to do this information. 

Becca: 

This also was several months as we were ramping up for the presidential election last fall, so it was just a very fun time to be there, like you said like it’s an engine and I just saw this little snippet of it at facebook but people were so smart, the problems that you’re solving, they trusted you with so much. 

Becca: 

Um and what happened was I gotta return offer and I asked him to move it to the Austin office because you can’t keep a girl from the south um and I was really excited to be and also have a lot, a lot that’s a stretch, probably five or six friends there. 

Becca: 

So I was really excited to try something new and a lot of people were starting to make the migration there my age and so got that. 

Becca: 

And I honestly sat, I was with my husband like hanging out on the couch and it was like august time brain and I told him I had to offer and he was so excited and you know, we were looking at Zillow and houses in Austin and also just hyping it up and just like, you know, popped a bottle of champagne or just talking and um, it always has a couple glasses of alcohol or I really like say what’s on my mind? 

Becca: 

And I was like, babe, I feel so Like humbled and honored by this that they would want me to come after working with them for 12 weeks and at that salary and everything. 

Becca: 

But I just don’t feel like it’s right like I can’t get, I don’t know why I can’t get so excited about this when other people in my program would still for that internship and that opportunity, especially international students and that’s what it felt so icky to me was that I was sitting here with an offer and my international student friends are busting their tails and tech trying to get somewhere to sponsor them with Visa. 

Becca: 

And it hurt me to be thinking why can’t I get excited about this? 

Becca: 

Like that could just be happy for like what you have. 

Becca: 

Um And I told him I was like I if we’re gonna move everything out there and build a life out there and and this is gonna be um that that trajectory. 

Becca: 

I’ve got to try pennies, cheese pennies which we’re getting to. 

Brandon: 

I’ve got to try piedmont pennies and I got to launch it and just we got a pilot just try it and Q for see what happens. 

Brandon: 

Because this is really my big idea that I’ve had for the last several years for the last year have been working on it. 

Brandon: 

I gotta just do it. 

Brandon: 

And he was like all right, well you need to set a launch date and build your website and you need to do it like we need to do it because he was kind of frustrated at me because I keep flip flop, flip flop you know, so he was a little frustrated at me but he was like all right, we’re trying to figure that in september we’re launching. 

Brandon: 

So that was like the fire under my butt because I felt like I was picking up our whole house and at that point we have a chocolate lab mixed and so have a child. 

Brandon: 

And so I was like, I don’t wanna, I don’t want to pick us all up and move out there to be really unhappy. 

Brandon: 

So I want to get this entrepreneurship thing and go, well, how did you come up with the, you said you had this big idea, but I haven’t heard the big idea yet. 

Brandon: 

I mean, how did the big idea come? 

Brandon: 

Did you one day say uh I got this recipe, Did you have one of these? 

Brandon: 

Which are, you know, the interesting part about these is when I first started, I was like very cheesy, very good. 

Brandon: 

And then it sort of kicks your butt at the end with this little spicy Carolina, Carolina kick. 

Brandon: 

Yeah, I know it’s, it is. 

Brandon: 

I feel like, I really feel like I’m home in, in north Carolina when I eat these. 

Brandon: 

So how is that? 

Brandon: 

How do you, how do you get this great idea for this? 

Brandon: 

Yes, If piedmont pennies is my grandmother’s recipe. 

Brandon: 

Born and raised in a rocky mount north Carolina, which is the, there’s a north Carolina’s eastern part of north Carolina. 

Becca: 

And she taught my dad, she took a cheese sauce recipe kind of tweaked it. 

Becca: 

Um, and should be called cheese pennies and they were a little bit smaller even than they are now. 

Becca: 

Um, but what she would do is around the holidays, she’d pinch out each penny and by the dough by hand. 

Brandon: 

And she taught my dad to do it when you can barely reach the counter. 

Becca: 

He later passed it down to my sisters weren’t, they were helpful, but they were a little bit older than me and had social life, so I’m the youngest, 56 and eight years, so I was always home. 

Brandon: 

And so that was my dad’s contribution to christmas was that my mom would do all the decorations and everything and like he would help get gifts for our neighbors by making cheese pennies. So we give them around his gifts to neighbors. We always get raving feedback. And I remember no one really likes delivering the neighbors present. Sometimes you get caught in a lot of small talk. And so I remember my mom being like, just go deliver these, just go help me deliver these presents. 

Brandon: 

I was driving around Burlington and I remember someone to be like, yes, I’ve been waiting a year for you all to make these again and I’m so excited because I don’t know how you make them. 

Brandon: 

And I’ve tried and I was like, oh, it’s so nice like that. It wasn’t just thanks so much. We love these. It was this actual enthusiasm that I could see in his eyes. And so from there, I joked to my parents kind of joked, I was like, this needs to be a business, I want to commercialize these. 

Brandon: 

Like, we could sell these in stores. 

Brandon: 

I just after the two page business plan front back with like a mason jar of pennies. I think my sister actually, Megan actually came up with the name Piemonte pennies. Something because you just called him cheese pennies. But I was like, here’s all the stores we’d sell them in, here’s you know what the packaging would look like. Um here’s how we would scale, here’s what the stores we would target in the next year. 

Brandon: 

And I was super naive to think that, you know, that’s like all it took. But I sat with that two page business plan. It was actually my first newsletter to all of my piemonte many subscribers. Um that two page business plan. I found it at my parents house and honestly it was a year before we launched in september of Covid, september 2020. Um I have been working on the instagram content and kind of building a brand um and and that kind of helped keep me accountable as well as buying my Shopify toe made. Um that can be accountable of saying like this is going to happen, like you’re making this happen like whether you like it or not. So that’s where that’s where the idea came from. But it wasn’t till september that I actually got a nutrition label, got it certified by the north Carolina Department of Agriculture that are labeling packaging, commercial kitchen things like that. 

Brandon: 

So you did do a business plan but it was on the back or a piece of paper effectively you get the recipe from your family, it hits you that these need to be sold. 

Brandon: 

You get some validation from quote unquote customers who wait every year for these. 

Becca: 

And did you, did you make your first batch in your kitchen there at home? 

Becca: 

Made the first several batches between you and me and all your listeners. 

Becca: 

Um Yeah, I mean I was making them with friends. 

Becca: 

I was like getting people to try them. 

Becca: 

I would take them to club entrepreneurship events and just get people’s feedback. 

Becca: 

Like they need to be spicier. Do you like them too small? This big. What about the packaging? What size would you want? 

Brandon: 

Um And then I actually took a course called startup U. N. C. And it’s it’s done. Each mods were in quarter schedule. Um, and so you can either be a free agent or you can come as an entrepreneur with an idea and they pair you with students. And so I worked, I brought human pennies to that class and that’s where we actually had assignments to do market research, to interview customers to make a marketing plan to build a financial model. 

Brandon: 

Um consult with lawyers, things like that. So that, that that really did help. That’s one thing that sticks in my head when he talked about an NBA. I mean that wasn’t an awesome opportunity that really helped him out pennies go to the next level. 

Brandon: 

Well that wasn’t part of the NBA program is the irony, isn’t it? 

Becca: 

Um, Startup UNC is it is okay. 

Brandon: 

Do you think that do you think that having deadlines and being held accountable because you’ve got to show up to this class? 

Becca: 

And they’re like, Hey Becca did what do you find? 

Becca: 

Yeah. 

Becca: 

Did you do your homework that you think that that really was the structure to help you get there. 

Brandon: 

Accountability is key classes don’t need to be the vehicle to get you there. 

Becca: 

So other forms of accountability being other makers. 

Brandon: 

So here in charlotte, now, I meet with a friend of mine in the art business, we meet like every other week for breakfast and we talk about our goals and keep each other accountable, totally different industries, but we’re really helping each other like to see and prioritize what needs to be done. 

Brandon: 

Um classes can be one way accelerators. 

Brandon: 

Um That’s incubators, Another great way. I think it just depends on again, how you’re motivating what your financial situation is. 

Brandon: 

Yeah. 

Brandon: 

Yeah, I think that you have to have even me, uh I don’t mean that I’m not human, but having done it for for for two decades, having that accountability is really key because you you want to do these things, it has nothing to do with intent, it has everything to do with execution and um I think having that I do the same thing as you uh some some informal, but some formal in the calendar and I think everybody should do that, but having a check in with a group and saying, you know, I think that, I don’t know, back up for me, it’s what were your sales in the last four weeks? 

Becca: 

That’s like the most scary question, isn’t it? 

Becca: 

Yeah, I mean the accountability method or vehicle of all based on like, again where you are in your entrepreneurship journey and it wasn’t really until april when I set up my board of advisors that I really felt like I had the heat turned up and I really started taking myself and my business more seriously. 

Becca: 

If like this is just a side household, it, you know, ill equipped one day and go back to tech, This is this is this is a reflection of me and my managerial skills, but also if the, if our customers want this and if if it’s right time for the industry, I have advisors that I have to adhere to and I felt like I was back in my Deloitte days of putting together a deck. 

Becca: 

We are all site, um sending them a gift ahead of time, sending them our P and L. 

Becca: 

Like finding its reports, um our trajectory dead things like that and just getting tough feedback from them and they’re they’re getting board of advisors is not, there’s no huge financial state that they have Helen in little pennies. 

Becca: 

But um I would just say it really, it’s like you need that you need to be scared a little bit and be nervous a little bit. 

Brandon: 

Um to help you see more clearly. 

Brandon: 

The adrenaline helps for sure. 

Brandon: 

I think that’s a key thing that you just said is that you are going to be scared. 

Brandon: 

I think people think that when they start a business or start what they want to turn into a business, they get scared and then they think well that’s scary and then they turn away because it’s scary and I I don’t know about you. 

Brandon: 

But ah I still get scared every time I start something. 

Brandon: 

I mean you got a lot of people telling you it’s not gonna happen. 

Brandon: 

You got a lot of and they’re all, in my opinion, most of them projecting. 

Brandon: 

But um there you’re saying, no, you’re putting yourself out there and it’s going to be scary. 

Becca: 

The key is really moving on. 

Becca: 

Is that still true for you? 

Becca: 

Oh yeah, I had a friend used to say it’s going to be nervous because it means you care. 

Becca: 

You know, I did musical theater, growing up, soccer, everything and always walking out onto the field of their stage. 

Becca: 

Like I like a pit in my stomach even though I did all t related sports, I still would get nervous. 

Becca: 

Um, I think it’s the same with entrepreneurship. 

Becca: 

And it wasn’t until I started taking some of these entrepreneurship courses and doing case studies and entrepreneurs and then also just being around so many that I said, oh wait, that’s the norm. 

Becca: 

Like if you’re not nervous, then you probably are being silly with your finances and you have too much money or making dumb decisions, or maybe, you know, you’ve got someone else bankrolling it. 

Brandon: 

Like I’ve never met an entrepreneur that isn’t a tab bit nervous, Maybe they’re not, they’re not pushing themselves to grow. 

Brandon: 

And I learned that too for my um, one of my best friends and entrepreneurs and Alex grand line who opened, it was a Carolina NBA student year ahead of me opened up his own bagel shop in Chapel Hill is killing, it is doing a multimillion dollar expansion now in Chapel Hill on Roseberry Street, and we just would have, we have these calls, you know, every month or so, just like what’s next, what are we nervous about? 

Brandon: 

What’s happening from here? 

Brandon: 

And I just look up to him so much and the fact that he’s nervous and he’s making these huge steps and making making a very, very comfortable amount and revenue for his business and as multiple employees, I’m like, okay, this is normal, this is normal. 

Brandon: 

Everyone is nervous and entrepreneurship and, and that’s something that you have to just learn how to cope with and just stay focused. 

Brandon: 

So you launch, you got your domain name, you got your Shopify, say you’ve got your home kitchen, you’ve got somewhat of a logo or some semblance of a brand brief or something to guide you and you start making them. 

Brandon: 

So how do you start selling these things? 

Brandon: 

So to go to the logo real quick, I built that in power point. 

Brandon: 

I was like, we need to buy some labels and slap this on and it needs to happen. 

Brandon: 

Not the one you’re looking at. 

Becca: 

Since then, I’ve gotten professional help, thomas and friends, professional health. 

Becca: 

Um, but honestly it was the way that I started, was building a lot of hype on social media and on instagram. 

Becca: 

And I used my own personal social media platform to kind of, um, and everyone’s on social media, right? 

Brandon: 

I remind you is coded, right? 

Brandon: 

So everyone is on their phones all the time to connect. 

Brandon: 

And so I posted on there about how, you know, my personal page that I, you know, here’s my people on any page. 

Brandon: 

And I’ve always wanted to take my grandma’s recipe market like now is my time and both in and this is like, such a unique opportunity and I was going to go for it like, like it feels it feels. 

Brandon: 

Um but then I didn’t get a lot of samples and free pennies to other NBA students and several of them started helping me in the commercial kitchen that I had in Chapel Hill because we couldn’t meet in person. We weren’t having classes in person, we weren’t allowed to meet groups and we were all like, it wasn’t locked down, but it was shortly thereafter. 

Brandon: 

So I was going into the kitchen and we were masked up with gloves and we were six ft apart. In the kitchen are stainless steel tables and we’re pinching pennies out by hand, and I had like six or seven people and I’m like prepping the dough and we’re all just chatting and catching up and you’re like, this is so nice to be productive and also catch up with one another. 

Brandon: 

So that’s kind of how I built demand. And then someone felt a part of the team and they would tell their friends and their parents and they just were so so great and supportive. 

Brandon: 

I know a lot of people probably like pitied me a little bit and we’re like, why is this NBA student like making a snap company and like, she was just at facebook and like, is she like kind of crazy? 

Brandon: 

Like it was just like a pet project and I, you know, I didn’t always hear that I referred before but I know we’re thinking that because I might think that myself or have all that myself, but it wasn’t until like you for being such a crazy time with the holidays and everyone wanting to ship direct to consumer shit to their cousins and their friends and friends or whatever they want. 

Brandon: 

Seeing that are online sales just took off and I was fulfilling everything from my house. 

Brandon: 

So entire house is full with like you lined cardboard boxes and every go to class in the wake up, like answer emails of customer reviews that I would come back and work on marketing and go to class until like midnight or one and then I would just literally go bake all evening and then I’ll come back and I packaged them at night or in the morning and we’ll check them out at night. 

Brandon: 

Had best friends at ups just like new me my name. 

Brandon: 

Um and that that was kind of the grind, it just took off and I almost couldn’t keep up with it, but I also didn’t have the right operations in place when you think about it to keep up with. 

Brandon: 

Um not saying it was crazy, crazy, but you know we were at that time shipping like 40 or 50 pack is a day and it was just me. 

Brandon: 

So it felt it felt very steady. 

Brandon: 

Um But you never know, how long is this going to keep up? 

Brandon: 

I was still nervous even when things were going well or people would send great feedback. 

Brandon: 

Yeah, it still makes me nervous. But social media really helped things take off and then you get through while you graduate in May. 

Brandon: 

Of what is it? 

Becca: 

You just graduated? 

Becca: 

Um Well let me ask on the operations. 

Becca: 

When did you figure out that your kitchen wasn’t big enough and that you were going to have to do something? And how did you even figure that out? 

Becca: 

Because you know, you can have an M. B. A. And you can do the operations model and in that I don’t know who teaches us anymore. But you can do that, that stimulation and you can win. But it’s a lot different. Last time I checked than you know making dough and figuring out how it actually works when something happened. So how do you transition into that scaling place? 

Becca: 

Yeah, I wish I would have paid more attention in operations to be honest. 

Becca: 

I wish I would have taken more operations classes and I just kind of like plug and play and excel figure it out. 

Becca: 

Um I figured it out when I was having just so many bottlenecks and every time I would like throw resources to add it, whether it was the pinching themselves or like how fast I can melt. 

Brandon: 

Some of my like wet ingredients are mixed, my dry ingredients, it just felt really inefficient and I was like this isn’t, you know, I can again throw a resource at it but have another bottle, another bottleneck. And I was like I need to go into a larger scale kitchen, like if this is actually going to be a food manufacturing, a CPG company, I’ve got to get into a bigger kitchen, has a larger 10 wrap up and at least 60 quart mixer, at least several stainless steel tables where I can spread out my packaging and my pension and everything. 

Brandon: 

Um So that there’s plenty of that like in the triad area. But honestly 2020 was was a weird year because Covid um I got married in july had a 20 person wedding. Um So are 300 person event was 20 people at my home church in Burlington outside. 

Brandon: 

And we got a dog and we launched Piedmont pennies and we bought a house in charlotte. 

Brandon: 

And so I was like how many crazy things because I like have a baby, baby, can I do like this one time and that’s not gonna be for a very long time. 

Brandon: 

But um we it was in november that I was like I want to feel settled cos I need to start hiring people and it just didn’t feel righteous hire people for such a short amount of time when I’d be in Chapel Hill. 

Brandon: 

And also like real estate super expensive in the kitchens and everything. 

Brandon: 

Like even during Covid when stuff is going out of business like Chapel Hill, it’s kind of a bubble and it could be a pricey. 

Brandon: 

And so I also just wanted a better food community, like I wanted to meet with other makers and charlotte kind of felt like the next place. I knew how big it was, how much it was growing. My sister lives in Raleigh and I love her but it’s also like her town. So I’m kind of like a charlotte, my husband’s from here, we had a lot of friends here and I saw so many commercial kitchen spaces for rent and I was like this this is the next place. 

Brandon: 

And so I asked, I was like can we suddenly start current place, can we buy a house right now when rates were lower than they’ve ever been? 

Brandon: 

And I was like, let’s just go ahead and just make moves, let’s just do it just makes sense. 

Brandon: 

And so we moved and that was in january and I started looking for a bigger kitchen and happened upon the kitchen on them now. 

Brandon: 

And you have, how about hiring your first person? I mean you had your volunteers, I got that, but eventually you sort of got to hire someone. 

Becca: 

Yeah, that was a nervous thing about charlotte was like all my friends work full time, none of them are students here. They can’t just come help me pinch during the day and I’ve been working nights from like 8 to 2 a.m. Because I could rent the chip the kitchen cheaper. 

Brandon: 

And so I would, you know, do class the filming, go get ingredients and then I would tell people to come around nine after I prepped and we would just go and pack up everything and like one or two and some of my husband came a lot. 

Brandon: 

It would help me like moving a lot of the boxes because you’re just lifting like heavy heavy boxes, £50 boxes of just like pennies and packages and stuff. 

Brandon: 

So um that was like my workout for the day to I didn’t have any other form of fitness that was fun, but I think it was my first part time employee I I got from, she already worked in the kitchen with another maker and she just wanted more hours. 

Brandon: 

So I was like what a blessing. This is that she already knows the kitchen, she knows how to work hard. Um She she’s friendly and really really hard worker again and you know so she was my first one and then I started posting on some different you know job hiring sites just to see what he would buy it. 

Brandon: 

And then I got a couple of part time employees from U. N. C. Charlotte just wanting to work like afternoon hours after work. 

Brandon: 

Um And I actually just hired my first full time employee that’s gonna help kind of take my role in the kitchen as a production manager. 

Brandon: 

So that allows me to get my head on the kitchen and focus more on our financial projections and accounting and all those all that stuff. 

Brandon: 

Well congratulations. 

Brandon: 

That’s a big a big first step that and you must be growing because if you’re able to hire someone revenue wise it are most of your sales online or through distribution partners. 

Becca: 

It’s interesting. You know, we didn’t start retail until you get shots and wholesale until March and it’s quickly become, you know, 60% of our revenue. Um I think it’s partially because of like the type of gift that we are and being a food product that’s also not something that’s um plant based or something that’s like new and improved or you know, if we get all the instagram ads and everything up like the next nut butter and the next like smoothie additive and things like that. 

Brandon: 

Um, but in my mind honestly just resonated a lot with local gift shops and especially food companies and so we just kind of started slow there and then honestly it’s just, it’s taken off, you know, I’ll get two or three inquiries a week um about it and are slowly just starting to expand in the, in the southeast and south Carolina and Georgia. 

Brandon: 

So um, new flavors coming down the pipeline, upgrades to our packaging and things like that. 

Brandon: 

It’s constantly problem solving. But um, we still are trying to push a lot of our direct to consumer because that’s the fun part getting to connect with the customer. And I think a lot of people forget that we haven’t gotten on amazon yet, but you don’t get to see actually like the customer’s name or you know how they converted in that information That’s so powerful and um that’s what’s been a lot of fun connecting with them in our emails and on social media. 

Brandon: 

Are you going to from a strategic business plan? 

Brandon: 

Try to go more direct because of the margins answer your question and I think we’re figuring that out as we go. 

Brandon: 

I think there’s ways to do it very efficiently. 

Becca: 

It’s like in my building a fulfillment center, in a production facility, in my building a marketing and a sales hub. 

Becca: 

And so I’ve actually got four interns this summer from you and see um that are all helping me with various projects and getting the entrepreneurial experience that I wished I like I could have had um when I was an undergrad and they’re helping me answer some of those questions around marketing around a different sales channels and it’ll be interesting to see what they come up with, so I’ll have to touch base with you in a month. 

Becca: 

Yeah, I’m interested in that. 

Brandon: 

I was reading an old, very old book, it was by Mark McCormick who said what they don’t teach you at Harvard business School and that’s old book. 

Brandon: 

Um And in the first few pages he says, he says that when he used to teach at business school business school, students always try to put things into a box, right? 

Becca: 

Because in business school you’re taught, you are taught they here’s what it is, here’s the category, here is the business model, here’s the metrics, here’s a financial. 

Becca: 

So I am interested to see what these NBA students come back for you undergrad. 

Becca: 

Okay. 

Becca: 

We got the, Well, I think that’s what do you think, What do you think about that? 

Becca: 

I want to turn it on. 

Becca: 

You like being on the West Coast and seeing a lot of these like D. 

Becca: 

C. 

Becca: 

Companies going at it and throwing a ton in into marketing spin. 

Brandon: 

What do you think about that? 

Becca: 

Look at you? 

Brandon: 

Uh Yeah, that the singer is you today. 

Becca: 

Uh What do I think? 

Brandon: 

I think that I don’t regret getting my MBA for a lot of the reasons that you said um the network is invaluable, You get time to breathe for a minute, You do get some core skills, not that you’re going to become an excel wizard, not from business school, you’re going to become an excel wizard because you were a venture capitalist, investment banking or consulting. 

Brandon: 

Um I I became a excel wizard from working in America online and marketing analysis, that’s where I became an excel wizard, but um I think that business school can inhibit you and it’s because if you weren’t exposed, if you took a very traditional track, I mean undergraduate consulting M. 

Brandon: 

B. 

Becca: 

A. 

Becca: 

You you can’t categorize what I did when I started my first company. 

Becca: 

There’s no categorization, like you can’t put that into a box actually with your company, p my pennies, there’s no categorization. 

Becca: 

Like how are we going to figure out that Becca had a grandmother and had this recipe and we’re going to replicate that. 

Becca: 

Like, you know, you could say, well, I’m gonna go try to find an older person who has a good recipe and do that. 

Becca: 

But so, um I think that I think that can inhibit you. 

Becca: 

I think that having both is hugely valuable. 

Becca: 

And I’m going to say that I actually think my master’s in psychology may be more valuable. 

Becca: 

And and because it’s because business at the yeah, the recurring theme in your story really isn’t the math. 

Becca: 

It’s not the market size. 

Becca: 

It’s it’s the people mm hmm. 

Becca: 

Hands down. 

Becca: 

It is it’s it’s the people and it’s it’s the focus and the prioritization. 

Becca: 

And and kind of again, unleashing your passion. 

Becca: 

And I again, I just go back to the privilege that I had to have all these awesome opportunities to be able to try different things to leaving at this point to say like I don’t want to be on my deathbed wondering if Piemonte pennies would have worked out or if it would have or if I would have enjoyed the ride. 

Becca: 

And so my advisors are constantly pushing me to think about, you know, the strategy or, you know, if there’s an exit or if this is going to be a family business and think of the financials, but it’s always, it’s also balancing that and not putting things too much in a box like you said, but 11 book that you mentioned, pivotal moments too and one pivotal moment that had a business school was reading, Andrew Yang’s both. 

Becca: 

Smart people should build things. 

Becca: 

You probably read that before. 

Becca: 

Just talk about the brain drain of so many smart, talented people. 

Becca: 

I wouldn’t say myself included, I probably just like went along with the tide. 

Becca: 

But a lot of people around me going in straight to law school, going straight to, some, going to like a deferred. 

Becca: 

Nd a um in med school med school is actually one of them. 

Becca: 

But there’s all these different energy consulting, that’s a big one investment making, that’s a big one. 

Becca: 

And basically saying like, look at all these people that could be fantastic entrepreneurs and probably have passions and different things that are taking this route because of the lifestyle or the pay or because of the prestige, building the resume. 

Becca: 

And then you get to a point where you’re like, I’m doing this, I was doing Deloitte and they give the next place and I’m doing this for the next place, the next place, the next place. 

Becca: 

And then you’re just like, I’m so unfulfilled, what was my, what am I actually excited about? 

Becca: 

And so I kind of think everything does happen for a reason. 

Becca: 

But reading that book really showed me, um, kind of how I was a part of the system and how I need to like kind of, that I’m the only person who’s going to speak up if there’s something that I want to do or someone that I want to be, it’s all me, well, I’m gonna give some feedback because you touched a nerve on something you said that just drives me crazy and, and maybe I did all the things I did so that I can say that I was that person so that it gives me a better pass to do it. 

Brandon: 

But I find that investors and I don’t know who any of your advisors or mentors are. 

Brandon: 

I have no idea, but when I hear people’s pushing a person, I’m not saying they’re pushing, but they’re clearly asking because you brought it up, how are you going to exit Becker? 

Brandon: 

Uh, last I checked Becca like just started, the company just graduated business school just started this thing full time. 

Brandon: 

Um, I find these things conversations, I’m like, I’m going to use this word and you can correct me that it’s cool, but it’s not really cool, but what you, what, I think we all of us and you can get caught up in that and as soon as you get caught up in building the company to sell it, you will make mistakes and you will cut corners because you’re trying to make money. 

Brandon: 

And my experience is that when I focused on that, it didn’t work because if the market comes down and someone comes out and says, cheese is not good anymore, like how are you going to live through that? 

Brandon: 

Right? 

Brandon: 

And, and I think that if you focus not you, but any person who starts a business focuses on building the best product that customers love and continually pay for and spread the word without a facebook ad. 

Brandon: 

I’m not saying you should, facebook ads are necessary and all that stuff and distribution is important, but if people are talking about your product and they’re paying you for it and you just focus on that, of course someone’s going to want to buy you because anybody who builds anything great they want, right? 

Brandon: 

If you, if I build a toy, if I build a bike that’s super cool, people are gonna want it. 

Brandon: 

If I buy, you know, any anything. 

Brandon: 

I’m not coming up with a good uh example this morning because I haven’t even breakfast yet. 

Brandon: 

But the I I think that I just I just encourage everyone out there who’s listening in you and all this other stuff. 

Brandon: 

I find that a really cool academic thing and I think I’m not saying that you shouldn’t focus on who you could sell your company too, but stay focused on your stinking product and be great at it and satisfy customers. 

Brandon: 

And if you do that last I checked, you know, anybody who’s cool, different makes great music people want to buy, associate with or something. 

Brandon: 

It’s a great point. 

Becca: 

I always think back with my mantra like family first, always and my customers, my my retailers have become my family, so keeping them happy and trusting me and in the company it’s like that’s top priority because they are, they’re my family, they’re my friends and so like why would I not? 

Becca: 

And so it does ship the priorities and your focus when you’re so worried about a three year plan to get to X. 

Becca: 

Number, you will probably do anything in your power to get there. 

Becca: 

And but me take me understanding what the number could be is important. 

Becca: 

I think it’s always important to know where you are in your total addressable market. 

Becca: 

But I would say that what’s even more important is taking care of my people because again like you know I could Lord not well and Lord not willingness but die tomorrow. 

Becca: 

It’s you know like what is it knows by and probably no one. 

Becca: 

I don’t know that my body company but um you know you can plan plan plan but if you’re not executing like you said intent is not what the matter actually execution. 

Becca: 

And so I’m trying to keep the family first and really focus on quality now as we scale. 

Becca: 

Um and you know I’m wearing 1000 hats from the fulfillment manager to customer service to my accountant to now food scientists as we start scaling these batches and negotiator when it comes to payment terms and marketing when I’m running our social media. 

Becca: 

So it’s just, it’s been a lot of fun and when it’s not fun anymore for me or you know, something more to happen and that’s, you know, I would think about it more seriously, but right now it’s a lot of fun and I can keep family first so I’m gonna keep charging along. 

Becca: 

I’m going to prepare you so that you don’t wind up selling right away. 

Becca: 

Some days won’t be fun, but in general it will be fun. 

Becca: 

So I really appreciate you coming on and sharing your story today. 

Becca: 

Do what three tips would you have for fellow aspiring people and current business owners because you’re generating revenue, making money and hiring employees now, what three tips would you have for fellow business owners? 

Becca: 

Um They want to have to trust your gut. 

Becca: 

I think that a lot of people, especially smart people try to, like you said over analyze their situation or their next step if it’s in your gut, it’s there for a reason, especially if it’s just kind of nagging at you for year, after year after year. 

Becca: 

Like trust the gut, it’s there for a reason and you with that, that means trust yourself. 

Becca: 

The second thing I’d say is, is fine, that connection in community. 

Becca: 

So whether that’s other makers, whether that’s other people in your business school or people that are passionate about the industry that you’re in, whether it’s just listening to a podcast, like you can do one thing a day to just connect yourself to what you’re passionate about. 

Becca: 

Um it does create a sense of accountability like we talked about and also builds up your own self esteem to just kind of launch from there. 

Becca: 

The last thing I’d say is take care of yourself. 

Becca: 

I had a couple scares last fall of just being in the kitchen for like, you know, eight hours plus just trying to forward after order and I was the yes woman because I didn’t want to say, yeah, I begged New Year’s christmas Eve, I baked and didn’t go home to family until like later in the night because I was like, I want to deliver this order, I want because I want that family first, but I was putting the family as my business first, in front of my actual family. 

Becca: 

And so I would just say looking back on that time, like I can’t get those memories back with my family and hanging out with my niece and nephew and things like that. 

Becca: 

So whatever rest looks like for you whenever you are at peace, like writing down what makes you happy and what help center you, whether that’s, you know, yoga or running a five K getting on your fellow thanh or just hanging out with your dog. 

Becca: 

Um, for me, it’s like a lot of those things and also hanging out with family, like you got to find ways to rest and only you will be able to tell yourself when that time is right that you don’t plug and I feel it when I had it up to my ears in stress or just like complaints about this or that from whoever. 

Becca: 

And I’m like, I think I need to get rest, I think I need to stop because tomorrow is another day. 

Becca: 

So, uh, those, those are kind of big things, trust your gut find connection and make time make time to rest because it’s a marathon not a sprint. 

Becca: 

I think those are great tips and I can see your peloton behind you should be on it to make that happen. 

Becca: 

Where can people find you and Piedmont pennies to order these tasty treats that will which way am I for those watching? 

Becca: 

They gotta kick and I gotta tell you um I you know this isn’t a paid partnership or anything like that. 

Becca: 

I found bigger because she’s an alumni of UNC Chapel Hill. 

Becca: 

So what’s the best? 

Becca: 

Where do people go? 

Becca: 

Becca? 

Brandon: 

Yeah, thank you. 

Brandon: 

I appreciate it. 

Brandon: 

Little little kick at the end keeps you, keeps you coming back and I recommend them with a cold glass of white wine or maybe a merlot kind of, the fruitiness balance is the fatty spice. 

Brandon: 

We’ve got a couple of wine period And so that was the recommendation or champagne and also called I. 

Brandon: 

P. 

Brandon: 

A. 

Brandon: 

You really can’t beat it. 

Brandon: 

You can find us at piemonte pennies dot com. 

Brandon: 

You can also find us on instagram facebook and tick tock at piemonte pennies. 

Becca: 

And a lot of people ask what’s piemonte like, what does that stand for? 

Becca: 

There’s a lot of piedmont regions of everywhere of the piedmont in french means like the foot or valley of the mountain and so in north Carolina, we’ve got the mountains Piedmont and the coast to the piedmont of north Carolina is the area smack in the middle, which is where I’m from, where charlotte is too. 

Becca: 

But we’re Chapel Hill is as well. 

Becca: 

So that’s why we tag in the mountains working on our trademark or perfect. 

Becca: 

And for those dyslexic people like myself out there who cannot spell that, That is P I E D M O N T P E N N E S dot com And thank you back up for coming on today. 

Becca: 

I really appreciate it. 

Brandon: 

Congratulations on your success so far. 

Brandon: 

Thanks for having me. 

Brandon: 

Thanks for being generous with your time and joining us for this episode of build a business success secrets. 

Brandon: 

Before we go, let me ask you a quick question. 

Brandon: 

Are you the type of person who wants to get 100% out of your time? 

Brandon: 

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Brandon: 

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Brandon: 

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Brandon: 

Thanks a lot. 

Brandon: 

Your dog in the background. 

Brandon: 

Yeah, he’s out like a light. 

Brandon: 

Mine came in about halfway through. 

Becca: 

You probably saw the door. 

Brandon: 

I saw that. 

Becca: 

Yeah

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