In the first year, we did about $1.5 million in Inspiralizer sales!
Today, I’m explaining it all – how the idea first came to be, how I executed it, and how I continue to run this side of my business.
FYI – If you’ve ever bought a spiralizer thinking it’s the Inspiralizer, it’s most likely not unless it was called the Inspiralizer and has a green knob on the side and the words “INSPIRALIZED” embossed on it. More about that here.
When I first started Inspiralized, I didn’t think about the money. If you follow Gary Vaynerchuk, he always says that if money is your #1 motivator, you’ll never achieve long-term success. I couldn’t agree more. When I first started out, I just truly wanted to build a community and resource around spiralizing, because I loved it (and still do!) so, so much and wanted to share that love.
However, in the back of my mind, I had two immediate goals: have my own spiralizer and write a cookbook.
Journey to the Inspiralizer
Because I had absolutely no idea how to design and manufacture a product, I first went the easy route: I’ll just approach the company that makes the current spiralizer I use and slap my logo on it and sell it. I’ll admit it, I wanted to stay within my comfort zone.
So, I contacted the company’s President & CEO, got a meeting with him, and told him about my dreams for bringing spiralizing to the masses. It’s hard to believe, but when I first started Inspiralized, there were barely 5 spiralized recipes out on the Internet and spiralizing was mainly for raw vegans and restaurant garnishes.
To make a long story short, he didn’t have any faith in me. He just saw me as a young, naive woman. It was my first experience with a man devaluing a woman’s ability in the business world. But that’s for another post, another time. He did not take me seriously, and I got a very unfriendly vibe about him. I won’t mention which brand he founded.
He didn’t truly understand what spiralizing could do and I went with my gut on this one and parted ways, letting him know that I was no longer interested.
Finding a partner
Back to square one.
This was the wakeup call I needed. Don’t take the easy route, Ali, create a spiralizer that you can stand behind, something that spiralizes ALL types of vegetables, not just zucchini. Something sleek, easy-to-clean, durable, and easy-to-use.
Now, some things you can learn and they’re valuable skills as an entrepreneur. However, you should focus on learning skills that help you perform better in the areas that you enjoy. For example, if you’re a very creative person and want to design yourself a logo, teach yourself the Adobe Creative Suite. Or take a class on graphic design to hone your creative eye.
If there’s something you absolutely loathe to do (like me, that’s anything math related), you may want to look for someone to help you. Or, if you know someone that’s an expert in the field that you need help in, don’t be afraid to ask for help. That’s the benefits of “knowing people” and the fruits of networking! At the very least, you’ll get valuable information to help you towards your goal.
And that’s exactly what I did. I built a Powerpoint presentation (so high school of me, haha!) on my dream Inspiralizer – I talked all about how I planned to sell it, market it, what the potential was, the market, and my overall dreams for the brand and product. And I told this family friend that I needed his guidance on the manufacturing side of things: how could I build my Inspiralizer?
I brought this ‘presentation’ to a family friend, who I knew had experience in manufacturing products. We organized a dinner at his home and I brought my presentation. I told him I needed the help to get the product made, and I’d handle all the rest and really hustle to make it happen. He believed in the Inspiralizer so much that he asked to join me as a partner. So now, he’s my partner in the Inspiralizer side of my business!
One of the stipulations of the partnership was that my parents also had to be part of the business. So now, my mother is the CFO! And I couldn’t do it without her – she processes all the incoming orders, manages inventory, fulfillment, and communicates between the factory and our warehouses. She’s amazing, and I’ve loved being partners with her!
My two business partners (my mom and the family friend) put in the capital needed to first build the Inspiralizer – a total of $150,000. Since then, they have not put any of their personal money into the business, the business has been successful enough to pay back their original investment!
Building the product
When I went to build the Inspiralizer, I started with a wishlist. I wrote down everything I wanted to improve. Things on that list were:
- better suction so that I could spiralize tougher veggies without any issues – if you have a spiralizer that has suction cups on the bottom, you know how hard it can be to effortlessly spiralize a butternut squash – it moves all over the place.
- contained blade system – I absolutely HATED having to manually change my blades. not only did they always get stuck, but I’d always manage to misplace one. it also made cleaning a nightmare.
- easy to clean – the old spiralizer I was using was so tough to clean – so many veggies would get jammed into the blades.
- sleek and chic – I use my Inspiralizer so much, I wanted to make it something that would look beautiful on the countertop, not clunky and cruddy looking.
- high-quality, BPA-free plastic – this was crucial for me. I wanted the Inspiralizer to be sturdy and durable, but also safe to use in the kitchen.
From there, I sketched the perfect Inspiralizer. I literally hand drew it and brought it to my business partner and he guided me through the entire process, from drawing to prototype. The factory had a designer and that designer brought the Inspiralizer to life. Once we received our first prototype, we went through several, several rounds of prototypes. I kept perfecting it until I was confident that we had my dream Inspiralizer.
During the prototyping process, there were so many discouraging moments where I thought, “Ugh, we’ll never get it right!” But my business partner, knowing the process very well, kept me focused. And finally, the final prototype arrived, I tested it dozens of times and sure enough, it was the one!
Once we had the final prototype and were ready to go to market, we applied for our patents! This was something completely new to me as well, and luckily, my business partner had a lot of experience, so again, he led me through it.
Warehousing & Fulfillment
Once we had the final prototype, we placed our initial order from the factory and then we had to secure warehousing and fulfillment. My mother and other business partner actually handled this part of the logistics. They found a fulfillment center in Rhode Island they loved and that we still use to do this day! They store inventory and fulfill all of our orders, so I’m not actually ever shipping out any Inspiralizers, it all happens from Rhode Island!
We also decided, a few months into the business, to sell on Amazon. The way that works is that we send them inventory and they ship from one of their warehouses. I looooove Amazon, so I was happy to offer the Inspiralizer there.
The entire process from the initial drawing to the first shipment arriving took about 11 months.
The packaging. This is something I fought with my business partner on initially. I wanted the packaging to be gorgeous, so I wanted to hire a creative agency to build the packaging. However, we quickly realized how expensive that is – like, $10,000 expensive.
Since I’m a creative person and this is the part of the business that I do love, I designed to teach myself Adobe InDesign (for the manual) and Adobe Illustrator (for the packaging.) I spent many hours up at night watching YouTube videos on how to use these Adobe products – and how to design a box for a product.
A few days later, the packaging was done! I’m pretty proud to say that when you receive the Inspiralizer, the packaging was literally designed and created by me! And like I say, you can learn and do anything if you put your mind to it and commit. You’d be amazed what you can learn on the Internet!
Launching the Inspiralizer & Marketing
This is where I have the most fun. I couldn’t wait to start building content around the Inspiralizer – I was so proud to have built the BEST spiralizer on the market (I truly still believe that to this day!) and wanted to showcase it. I started building welcome videos, how to spiralize videos, fun marketing graphics, and built a marketing plan around the Inspiralizer, sending it to key influencers, and getting my website ready for pre-orders.
When my first cookbook was due to publish (February 24, 2015), we were also planning on launching the Inspiralizer then. We actually used an early prototype for photos at the photoshoot for my first cookbook, Inspiralized, so if you look closely at the shots of the Inspiralizer, it actually looks different than the final product that we have today!
There were a bunch of hurdles and setbacks, but that’s part of doing business! I learned that very quickly – and I learned not to promise your community anything unless you’re 150% sure it’s happening.
So, when my first cookbook released, I announced about the Inspiralizer. You can read that post here!
A month before I launched the Inspiralizer alongside my first cookbook, I hired my first part-time employee, Meaghan. I needed someone to head up Customer Service – and I wanted someone bright, refreshing, positive, kind, and of course, helpful! She’s everything and more. If you’ve ever had an issue with your Inspiralizer, you’ve heard from her!
To say I was nervous is an understatement. I was nervous – would anyone order the Inspiralizer? Once people received it, would it work? Would people like it?
Most people purchase the Inspiralizer on Amazon. It’s our #1 revenue driver. People tend to see someone using a spiralizer and go to Amazon to buy it. It’s just how it is!
And I tend to sell to my readers – you guys! You are most important to me, so I focus most of my efforts on showing you how amazing the Inspiralizer is, so you’ll throw that junky spiralizer away and start spiralizing with ease, with the Inspiralizer.
However, I always had dreams of having the Inspiralizer in-stores. I wanted people to be able to see it. Williams Sonoma, Sur La Table, and Crate & Barrel were my three wish customers.
Through some Googling, LinkedIn stalking, and careful networking, I found the buyers at all three of these stores and ended up sending them samples. And I’m proud to say, at some point, all three of these retailers were carrying the Inspiralizer.
And of course, HSN! HSN sells the Inspiralizer on live television – err, I sell it, haha! I’ve been on HSN three different times now, and I’m going back in April and July (make sure you subscribe to our newsletter to get the updates – they always have the best price!) You can watch my most recent segment, here.
For HSN, my husband’s business partner’s friend was a previous kitchen buyer at HSN. We got connected and she connected me with the HSN team and I took it from there! Don’t be afraid to ask around to see who may know who you need to know! Even if it’s a friend of a friend of a friend – you’ll be surprised how quickly you can be connected to the right person!
And live television was something I was definitely nervous about, but getting out of our comfort zones is what makes us grow.
Creating more products & the future
2018’s focus is on launching new products and keeping spiralizing fresh! Stay tuned for that! For now, we’re focusing on excellent customer service, maintaining inventory of the Inspiralizer (we’re finally back on Amazon!), and creating more resources for those who own the Inspiralizer to better use it!
We also want to focus on more global distribution, since we only distribute in the US and Australia at this time.
I’m still learning. Every single day. Every single day there’s a new challenge, a setback or a win, and I’m loving the journey. I have such big visions for this brand, and I just keep telling myself: slow and steady wins the race.
And I have to end this post by thanking every single one of you who purchased an Inspiralizer – whether on day 1 or just yesterday. Never in a million years would I have guessed that I am where I am today, and it’s all because of YOU. Your support makes the Inspiralizer possible, this blog possible, customers like HSN possible, and cookbooks possible!
I’m proud to be a female entrepreneur and building this brand in front of my son. I want him to see his strong mama building something, working hard, and believing in herself. I’m so happy he’s going to grow up with such a positive female role model! And of course, his father is a hustler too – we’re both entrepreneurs. Actually, did you know that one of the reasons why we picked Leo for his middle name was so that his initials would be LLC? Maybe he’ll own his own business one day!
Nothing makes me more grateful than seeing your pictures on Instagram, unboxing the Inspiralizer, excited to #getinspiralized! Thank you, thank you, thank you.
Buy the Inspiralizer
If you’d like to purchase the Inspiralizer, you can find it these ways:
Thanks for your support! And if you have any other questions, please let me know in the comments below and I’ll do my best to answer them as they come in!