Team Engagement Podcast hosted by Shawn Richards interviews leaders that share their insights. Brought to you by Blue Sky Business Consulting, Shawn interviews Melissa Allen, Co-Founder of Active Life Company and Kovr Sunscreen.
Shawn: Hello again everyone, and welcome. We're glad that you could take some time to join us for the podcast today. Happy Thursday to everyone, and I'm pleased to welcome our guest today. This is Melissa Allen. She is the co-founder of Active Life and also the Cover Sunscreen product, and she's out of El Cajon, California. Melissa, thank you so much for taking time to join me on the podcast today. What would you like the audience to know about Active Life and especially your product cover sunscreen?
Melissa: Well, thanks Sean. First of all, thanks for having me on here. Um, active Life Company has been a, uh, passion project for my husband and Iani who's a veteran. Um, this came about after our dog, uh, inadvertently discovered skin cancer on top of his head.
Shawn: Oh, wow.
Shawn: That was probably not the, uh, the greatest discovery to find then.
Melissa: No, but, but thank goodness we caught it early and, uh, I mean, we, we wouldn't have thought twice about it looked like an ingrown hair, but our puppy was just so obsessed with it, you know, made us look closer and I said, well, you know, you probably go to the dermatologist. It couldn't hurt just to get the check and ended up being basal cell carcinoma and, um, you know, they were able to remove it successfully and thank God, you know?
Shawn: Yeah, yeah. No kidding. Well, thanks for the dog as well. Yep, yep. Little extra attention there. What a great story,
Shawn: Alright, well great. Thank you for sharing that quick little story there. Let's just start with our, uh, questions for today then. So Melissa, as you've been building your business, is there a challenge that you've overcome that you're especially proud of?
Melissa: Yeah, I would say that the biggest thing for us was figuring out how to fund this all of our, all ourselves without taking on outside investors. Um, I think that that question faces a lot of new entrepreneurs. Uh, it sounds great to bring in outside money and, and maybe it is great for some, but, but for us, I just didn't think that was the right answer. This was a, a new, um, business for us. I've been in business for myself, but in other areas in service service companies. So this was a product business and I knew I had a lot to learn doing it, and I didn't want to have to be accountable to investors. I, I saw that as just another stress gr greater stressor than coming up with the funding on your own.
Shawn: I really like that answer because you touched on something that a lot of entrepreneurs don't always think about and that is the fact that it's great to have the money and you just said this, but there is some additional stress when you're dealing with investors and people that are interested about, uh, how their investment is, is going and doing, so. Exactly. Yeah, I think that was a smart decision. Good for you. Alright, thank you. You're welcome. Question number two, how can leaders help to foster creativity within their team or company?
Melissa: Oh, I think creativity within a team, um, happens when you value other people's opinions as equal to, if not greater than your own. I mean, we, we can't, we can't all know everything, right? Sometimes you, you see a small, um, could be an aspect of it you hadn't thought about or could be something huge that was like really obvious to everyone, but you, you know, I I I found that happens sometimes with, um, graphic art in particular, you know, but, but I think that's the most important thing. Just, I I, I always speak to a lot of people. I have a lot of good people around me and I always like just run things past them and see what kind of feedback I get, you know?
Shawn: Oh, I think that's a great idea and you're right. When we value and they kind of open it up and make it a safe place for them to share, people aren't willing to share their ideas, give some feedback. They're, yeah, I love that approach. That's great. Question number three, how can leaders help the team members to trust each other?
Melissa: Um, I think within a team or within a company, uh, the, some of the best policies are just practicing honesty, integrity, and taking the perspective that there is more than enough for everyone. I don't think we need to see this as our glass or our cup is half empty. I try to see everything as our cup overflowing, you know?
Shawn: Yeah. I like that kind of that abundant mentality and
Shawn: Really thinking about, Hey, we've got plenty for everybody. Let's, let's learn to trust each other and we can all help each other. I think that's awesome. Yeah.
Melissa: Yeah. Thank you. Thank you. I mean, it's, I just found that it's really true, you know?
Valuing the Opinion of Others Nurtures Creativity
Shawn: Yeah, no, it is. And you're absolutely right. If we, uh, if, if we learned to trust each other and have that abundant mentality, and it kind of goes along with that previous question about creativity because it really helps everybody work together a lot more harm risks, right? Yeah. And they're a lot more productive that way, so yeah, definitely. Definitely. Yeah. Great answer. Thank you. Alright, and then question number four, is there a, maybe an experience you've had that maybe initially kind of thought it was a, uh, a, uh, a loss or a failure, but you turned it into a win?
Melissa: Yes. Um, this may sound a little bit complicated, but I was very interested in the world of government, uh, contracting. I've always heard good things about it. I, I tried this route before and some service related businesses and it wasn't as, um, obtainable with the service company as I thought it should be with the product company or so selling goods to the federal government. And, uh, because my husband's a disabled, um, veteran, there's certain certifications that the government has to do certain set asides to do government contracting with disabled veterans, more so than any other group out there. So I thought that was gonna be huge for us, but what I was, um, one, it's very complicated. Get getting into it. Um, and we, we went through a lot to get certifications in place for him, which we did ultimately get, but the thing was, I, I wasn't able to secure any government contracts for sunscreen, but ultimately it forced me to look at, at other lower, um, lower organizations within government. So, so unlike the federal government, there's also, I shouldn't say unlike, but there's federal, there's state, there's cities, there's local municipalities. I discovered it was, I was able to do some business with local municipalities, which I, I, they weren't even on my radar before, you know? So really any organizations that work outside would be a candidate for sunscreen cuz you wanna protect your skin. So I, so I discovered, um, local water municipalities or, or really, um, kind of a sweet spot for us.
Shawn: Wow. That's awesome cuz you're right, we don't often see other opportunities because, and I don't think it's a bad thing, but we sometimes get a little bit focused on mm-hmm. <affirmative> kind that big wheel, if you will. I mean, kind of that's where we zero in and we don't realize that there's some other opportunities, but I love that that's a great example of turning a perceived failure into a win. That's great.
Melissa: Yeah. Thank you.
Shawn: All right, Melissa, our last question. Tell us a little bit about your first job.
Melissa: Okay. My, my first, uh, unofficial job was probably, um, cutting lawns, raking leaves, and shoveling snow back in Iowa where I grew up before moving out here. And my first official job, um, growing up also back in Iowa was Long John Silvers. Um, it was part of the co-op program at school, so you got credit, you know, for having a job, uh, where you go like at least part of the day or a couple days out of the week. And, um, you know, at that point I'm getting like an official check. It wasn't getting, you know, paid under the table or something. So yeah, I think that was, that was really good. That was my first like, official job.
Shawn: Yeah. Nice. Hey, that's, that's a great way to break into work,
Melissa: <laugh>. Yeah, they also taught me, I don't wanna work at a restaurant. <laugh>, <laugh>. I found that harder than anything I've ever done and I've worked in a couple other cents, but restaurants are just not for me. I have the utmost respect for waiters and waitresses. It's just, I'm just not good at that.
Shawn: I've had a lot of guests say almost the exact same thing. They'll start with whatever job it is, whether it's restaurants, whether it's cutting lawns, whatever it ishmm, <affirmative> and they either love it or they find out real fast. That's not what they want to do in life. Yeah. So pros and cons way. Yes. <laugh>. Listen, this has been great. Thank you so much for taking time to be on the podcast today. And how can people find you?
Melissa: Uh, you can visit us online is the easiest way. Um, for, for a, uh, shortcut to our website, you can just go to coverup.com, that's k O v R u p.com. Uh, you could also find this on Amazon as well as Walmart. And then there's a, uh, new, um, local organization here in La Jolla, California that's, uh, launching actually this week. And I expect big things from them. Great group. They're called Purposer, p u r p o s e r.com. So they're right here out of La Jolla. And, um, they're all about, um, you have to be involved with some kind of purposes aside from making money. So, you know, maybe it's sustainability, maybe it's veterans, maybe it's animals, but everyone who is gonna be related to their platform is going to be giving back in some way. So, seems like a great concept. Uh, Jolene heads that up and I'm excited to see what they do.
Shawn: Oh, that's great. Well, I wish you every success with everything that you're working on. I think that's great.
Melissa: Thank you, Shawn.
Shawn: All right. Well, thanks so much for joining us, everyone. We wish you all happy success in everything that you're doing. Have a great day.
Melissa: Thanks a lot, Sean. Have a great day!
Team Engagement Podcast with Shawn Richards is where leaders of teams share their insights. For more ideas, go to teamengagementpodcast.com. We also invite you to follow or subscribe to our podcast.