This month we had the absolute pleasure of speaking with Helen Hall, founder of Blender Bombs, 80×20 Market, Hustle Charleston, Hustle at Home, and Tipsy Spritzers. Rooted in Charleston, SC, Helen has become an absolute BEAST when it comes to entrepreneurship, balanced living, and creating the life you want, on your terms! We asked Helen to share what’s going on with her many businesses, lifestyle choices, as well as got the inside scoop on what’s next on her list of world domination. Hehe…just kidding😊, but seriously this woman is a true badass, and if you don’t know who we’re talking about, read up on the highlights from our conversation below and find out for yourself.
[Nina] Can you tell us what living an 80×20 lifestyle means and what that looks like on a day-to-day basis for someone who is unfamiliar? Do you believe an 80×20 lifestyle works best for all body types?
[Helen] Yes, so 80-20 stands for 80 percent whole food plant-based 20 percent, whatever. And then I started using the term 80x 20 in all other different aspects of my life. I really live and breathe by the concept of 80×20, so if I have a goal, as long as I accomplish that goal 80% of the time or like 80 % of the way through that, I’m proud of myself because otherwise you can get caught in that trap of perfection. So, for example, if your goal is to go on a morning walk 5 days a week, but you only end up going three days a week, that is great. And no one should ever spend any energy being frustrated that they didn’t meet that five. You know, like as long as you got that B plus, you know, 80% of the way there, then you’re good to go.
[Nina] That’s a good point, I’m pretty hard on myself about that stuff.
[Helen] And that’s it, you don’t have time to be hard on yourself, nobody does. That’s good. And it’s also a good way to give empathy to other people because, you know, a lot of people might feel a sense of control and that if your significant other says they want to start eating healthy, but then you see them, you know, go to Chick fil- A, it’s that 80×20 mindset where you’re appreciative of the 80% where they do try. But, you know, you let them breathe for the 20%t sort of thing.
[Nina] I like that, I think a lot of a lot of us would be better off if we adapted that mindset, it would just make life so much more enjoyable across the board.
[Helen] It’s really hard sometimes specifically for me, with my significant other because I have high expectations, but I can’t expect him to be perfect.
[Nina] OK, OK, so I love Blender Bombs, you know that I’ve been a user of the bombs for some years now and I know it has been completely grassroots. Can you tell us what prompted you to start Blender Bombs?
[Helen] Yeah, so it was actually sort of an accident. In college, I gained 30 pounds and then I did everything to try and lose it, I even did fad diets, and those didn’t work. That’s when I kind of settled on this 80×20 whole food plant-based lifestyle, and that worked. It took longer to lose the weight, but it works long term and it was sustainable and it was healthy. One of the things I did was I would make a smoothie every day and it would have a ton of nuts and seeds in it per what my doctor recommended. It had hemp seeds, flax seed, walnuts, pecans, almonds, and I would measure all that out every single day, and it kept me full. That was the number one thing I noticed, is that it kept me full for a long time.
Most importantly, it totally took away my chocolate and sugar cravings because, you know, there’s so much natural fruit and sugar on top of all the essential amino acids and fatty acids and fiber from the nuts and seeds. So after college, I became a personal trainer and I tried to get my clients to make that same smoothie, and they wouldn’t because it took too much time. It was too much to buy the ingredients. So I was just like, you know what? It just hit me. I’m going to measure all this out and multiply the recipe by twenty. I added dates and some honey to make it all stick together. And that is how the blender bombs were born.
At first, I didn’t charge anything for them. It was just a gift that you would get for being a client of mine, and then I started charging cost for it and then more people wanted them. That’s when I had to mark them up so that I could turn it into a business and quit training.
[Helen] And so it started with $300 and we haven’t taken out any loans or investment yet, but we are getting to that point. So that’s what I’ve been doing the last month, is just figuring out how these lines of credit work and we’re not going to get an investor. We’re going to try to start off with lines, a line of credit or factoring just to kind of support POS and production for these bigger retailers. So we’ll see.
[Nina] Tell us the story behind Tipsy Spritzers, when its launching, and where we can find it once it does.
[Helen] That has been difficult because it is the only business I’ve ever started that involves alcohol. So a lot of times, I like to break the rules a little bit when I’m starting things, you know, not necessarily follow the rules by the book. Never have been one of those people, but with alcohol you got to follow the rules like you absolutely have to, because there’s something called a three tier distribution system. So Tipsy Spritzers is a 12 ounce organic, low alcohol wine spritzer that doesn’t use natural flavors, it only uses organic flavors. And the reason why we started this is because I get eczema, from a lot of canned drinks. I’m telling you, canned drinks flare up my eczema like crazy! It’s the preservatives that they have to use in it which they do not have to disclaim the ingredients on the label, which is crazy. But we found a co packer that does something called tunnel pasteurization, which kills everything, so you don’t have to add preservatives to it. I love alcohol, and I want to be able to enjoy a cocktail, but I don’t want eczema right?, and we want it in a can because we’re in Charleston, we’re at the beach, and we want it to be convenient. So Tipsy Spritzers should launch Q2, our production is set for March.
[Nina] Are you guys going to do subscriptions only when you start like when you launched the 80×20 cookies, or is it going to be a one-time purchase?
[Helen] So it’s only going to be sold in South Carolina, Georgia, North Carolina and Tennessee to start because of the three tier rules. So we have to sell to a distributor, and the distributor is in charge of finding retail, which is nice, because if it was if it was like Blender Bombs where we had to find the wholesale accounts, there’s no way I could do it. But because all that I really have to do is formulate the product, go through all the hoops and the licensing, which is fine, and then once the products are done, they work on distributing it. That is the dream, but eventually we’ll sell ecommerce, but not yet. We have to work through any kinks before we launch nationally.
[Nina] So you’re telling me basically that I have to wait LOL?
[Helen] You have to come to South Carolina, and you know what’s even crazier? I cannot sell it at the smoothie bar because of the three tier rule, because I own a smoothie bar and Tipsy Spritzers, even though it’s different LLC’s and umbrella companies. Until we figure it out, I cannot sell it there.
[Nina] So is it safe to say with all of these challenges that Tipsy Spritzers has been the hardest of all of your businesses to launch?
[Helen] No, Hustle Charleston. Yeah, like the brick and mortar has been probably the easiest to open, but the hardest to maintain and manage because it is a restaurant like there’s no there’s no ecommerce aspect to it. So when COVID hit, that was really difficult, but it’s gotten a lot better, and luckily our sales kind of stayed steady, but they didn’t grow. That’s definitely been the hardest because me and my business partner have never had any experience in the restaurant industry before, it’s tough, it’s so tough, but we hired a guy named David and he acts as a management contract for us, and that has helped a lot. So basically, if Hustle was on fire, they call him not me, and he gets like a percent of sales. So his goal is to increase the sales and my goal is to maintain the brand and the reputation and the customer service side of things and the recipe side of things and the customer experience side of things.
[Nina] And you maintain the integrity of the company while he scales it.
[Helen] Yes, and I make sure that you are meeting our goals, our sales goals, and are at a certain profitability or right now. And this is why it’s been such a struggle, it’s because we had to close one of our locations because of Covid that was in a commercial district, the residential one has done fine, but the commercial one really, really struggled, and so we closed that. So now the one that was doing well has taken on the one that was doing poorly debt. So now any penny we make at the good one just goes to cover what we have to pay off for that other one until we’re out of our lease. It’s going to be like that for like two years probably. But the goal is to franchise it, like we know that the model is successful, which is good and it’s replicable and that’s what we wanted to build on.
[Nina] Did you ever imagine you would be a serial entrepreneur, and If you were not doing this what would be your backup plan?
[Helen] You know I didn’t even know what the word entrepreneur meant until like 2019 LOL. I would be living in an RV park somewhere, and probably trying to understand stocks, and probably trying to understand how to shortcut my income. And just live as lean as possible. I’ve just never had a desire to be wealthy, you know, financial freedom, yes, but I’ve never really had a true desire to be wealthy. My whole life, I’ve never been like, oh, I’ve got to make it big, but I guess when this, Blender Bomb plan forward, 80×20 lifestyle hit me, it just became so clear that I had to do this, so now I’m just putting my head down and grinding and doing it and getting it out there and getting out the creativity and the the products and just the knowledge that I need to get out there and then I’ll go live my RV life.
[Nina] Let’s shift gears a little bit and talk about 2020 and where we are now. 2020 has been difficult for most, what are some things, activities, practices you have incorporated into your routine to keep you sane?
[Helen] I read a lot, like I dove headfirst into personal development. It is what keeps me sane. Also, I do something almost every day, the first thing I do when I wake up is this acronym and it’s called GAMES. The G is for gratitude to ask for affirmations, the M stands for manifestation, so like goal setting, whatever you’re trying to manifest, E stands for envisioning so, you know, envisioning those goals happening and then the S stands for silence, whether it’s meditation or just a silent walk without music or exercise, without music, anything like that, where you’re just kind of silent, which is hard. And then my other morning routine is I go for a walk in the mornings. My business assistant Stewart comes over and she is like my rock shoes, my emotional support human, she is my brain, she is my business. Like, if I don’t start my mornings with Stewart, I get out of whack. I rely on her so much and I didn’t have her, well… I guess I did, I didn’t have her until the end of 2020, and having her made a huge difference. Just someone who can be me and help me beat me, I guess.
[Nina] Yeah, yeah, I get that. How did you meet Stuart?
[Helen] I met her at a juice bar, so I gave her my card at a juice bar 4 years ago, and she saw that I posted on Instagram about needing a free intern, and so she did my dm’s and helped me with my emails for about three years for free, then I hired her full time this year after she graduated. It’s funny because if I look back, if someone had asked me to work for free for them in college, I would have been like, no, you’ve got to pay me, right? But she was so motivated and it worked out.
[Nina] Piggybacking off of the question from 2020, I know you’re busy, but provided you have time, what does your ideal morning look like to shape the day ahead of you?
[Helen] If I had all the time in the world. and if I didn’t feel tired, I would wake up at five a.m. and I would do that games thing in my head, get dressed, go walk my dog, go get my coffee, come home, read my book, journal, call my friends, let them know I care about them, and I would say that I haven’t forgotten them. Then I would huddle with my cats and read, and make a smoothie. That’s what I would do. It’s like a nice self care day, it would just be all about me. I’d get a facial, I would get a massage in there, and Scott would make my coffee instead of me buying it, he has to do something nice for me in the morning.
[Nina] How often do you actually get to do even a little bit of that?
[Helen] I mean, like the full morning and is only on the weekends. Yeah, so that is why I’m excited to do the six month road trip because I’ll have way more time to do that.
[Nina] You have a very balanced and developed wellness routine, but for people that are kind of just getting into this, they don’t know what to do What are 3 things you would tell a newbie who is looking to develop a wellness routine?
[Helen] People who are just now starting their wellness routines are really lucky because they aren’t going to have to go through deconditioning. So I would say the first thing is look at all the options out there, get on wellness Tik Tok, get on wellness Instagram, which basically just means you’re following all these wellness people who do different things. And then when you see something that you’re like, I want to do that, not I need to do that, but I want to do that, that’s the first step. If you see someone who says, who says intermittent fasting say do this, but that doesn’t line you up, then don’t do that, you know. So I think it’s really important to just realize that everyone’s different and it’s only going to work if you like it. And the second thing which is this saying I like called “F the shoulds”.So the word “should” can be really like triggering to me, if someone says I should do something, it’s like. You don’t know that, people are so different just because something works for you doesn’t mean I should do it. Number three is, I really believe that 80×20, or some form of that, even 90×10, or 70×30, one of those three works for everybody, And so you just got to figure out like which of those three works for you. And the reason I choose 80×20 is because it’s in the middle of both of those.
[Helen] So some people are more sensitive and they need to be like 90% whole food plant based, 10% whatever. And some people have a lot of energy like the Energizer Bunny to work out all the time. They’re going to be more 70×30, like they can eat more quote unquote junk food. Righ?! But I am not a little Energizer Bunny, I am with my brain but not with my body, I don’t work out a lot, I hate it. And there’s an example of me feeling. Sort of shunned by society, because I was a personal trainer and I thought according to my personal training certification knowledge, you got to do X, Y and Z and you got to lift these weights and you got to do this cardio. And that’s the only way that you’re going to live a long, healthy life and be at your maintenance weight. And I hated it. So then I started teaching barre, and I liked it better. Then I started teaching yoga and I liked it a little better, and then slow yoga and I loved that. And then body weight and I loved that and meditation. And that’s what I fell in love with. It was the slow movements, not the intense stuff that I was taught. So I had to unlearn what I was taught.
[Nina] Can you give us an inside scoop on any upcoming projects you have dropping in 2021 and beyond?
So for 80×20, we are launching brownies soon. The packaging comes in next week, and they’re gluten-free, grain-free brownies. We launched cookies earlier last year, and the crunchy cookies are fire and the chewy cookies are more so for kids. And then we also launch an organic, biodynamic coffee in April. Well we might actually launch it before, but the packaging doesn’t come until April. I’m not allowed to launch any new products with Blender Bombs, and Cinnamon roll drizzle is the only other new product we will launch, But then I’m cut off until 2022. We’re also working on franchising a Hustle in Charleston, that’s the goal, that’s about it, that’s all I got, well, just getting married.
[Nina] Alright Helen, you are the epitome of someone who has “created” their life on their own terms. Can you tell us your top 3 books that helped frame the person you are today and how they helped shape you?
[Helen] The Magic of Thinking Big, What’s that Patagonia book? Let my people go surfing, I let my people go surfing. Yeah, let my people go surfing. It’s by the founder of Patagonia and it’s about leading without micromanaging and leading with integrity, and just like compassion and understanding and leadership versus being a boss sort of thing. The difference now is that there’s so many books. I love books. Also, Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff, all stuff is a great one, and it’s true. I think that’s one of the things that has allowed me to keep creating, is I don’t have these mental blocks of frustration for things that do go wrong. You know, you just do it and then you move on. For example, when we realized that the Hustle location downtown sales dropped 50% during Covid, We ran out of PPP, and didn’t see it getting any better. You just got to close it, cut our losses and focus on what’s working, that sort of thing.
[Nina] Our time together is coming to an end, leave us with some “BOMB” words of wisdom to carry us through 2021
[Helen] F the shoulds, I live and breathe by that slogan, F the shoulds and life is just a game. So F the shoulds, you don’t have to do what anybody says to do, you do you, as long as you’re respecting other people, and then life is just a game. I tell myself these mantras constantly, you win some, you lose some lives just GAME, that’s it.
WANT TO CONTACT HELEN?
IG handle(s): @blenderbombs, @hushupandhustle, @80x20market, @hustlecharleston, @hustle__at__home, @tipsyspritzers
Facebook handle(s): @blenderbombs @hushupandhustle, @hustlecharleston
Twitter handle: @blenderbombs
Website(s): blenderbombs.com, hushupandhustle.com, hustlesmoothiebar.com, 80x20market.com, tispsypritzers.com