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      But First...Coffee {BLOG}



      Hi there!

      Today I'm continuing my little CEO series to share some insight on working with brands.. but this one is SUCH an important one... 

      Brand ambassador or fully sponsored - trying a product B E F O R E you represent it is 🔑

      This goes back to my earlier discussion on how to initiate conversations with a brand...

      If you’ve tried the product first you can speak to:
      •How you use it
      •Why you love it
      •Why you would recommend it to someone else

      If a company DOES reach out to you, what do you do? Say yes? Agree? Sign the papers... NOPE... I'll touch more on this topic next time.. but the first thing - TRY THE PRODUCT.

      But let’s rewind a bit further...
      👏Aligning with a brand’s core values

      I learned this when I was applying to internships. Understanding a company’s core values and their mission is ultimately something you HAVE to agree with before you put your name next to the company’s.

      Are they about the community? Giving back? Support? High-quality products? Cruelty free?

      In today’s age... honestly, just a good product doesn’t fly. You agree with the company’s mission & where they are headed into the future.

      So before you reach out to your next brand for a collab...
      ☑️ do some research
      ☑️purchase and try the product
      ☑️ give yourself time to interact with the company and its platforms
      xx 😘 let me know if you have any more specific brand & influencer topics. Hope these continue to be helpful.
      More to come!



      Hi Friends!

      We're back with some more helpful tips on working with brands...⠀⠀

      FIRST - again - there is no right and wrong way. Every company you reach out to is going to be different. Sometimes it’s ok to DM, sometimes it’s ok to email, sometimes they have a site where you can log your information.
      But more recently I’ve just been slammed with copy and paste messages who want free stuff...
      QUESTION TO ASK YOURSELF: If you truly love a biz (especially a small biz!), is FREE STUFF truly the way to SUPPORT them grow? I’ll let you answer that on your own.

      🔑An influencer is someone who has an impact on another person. Some have a bigger reach than others but that doesn’t necessarily mean they bring the most value to a company (more on numbers to come).
      ✔️ When you’re reaching out to a company you truly love, align with, and use their product - think of it like a job application and less like 🐝 Bumble.

      Emails, DM's, like these are not the best way... It's 2019. YES brands work with influencers (or at least they should!)

      ❌ Collab? are you working with influencers?
      ❌ If you send me free product I’ll post about you!

      And just my own little tip for you...
      🚫🙅🏻‍♀️ DMing the CEO asking to be sponsored... is a *no go*
      2️⃣As I mentioned in my previous CEO diary - you want to showcase how you can add VALUE to a company. So here are some great ways that will surely make YOU stand out amongst the crowd:
      ✔️ Email with a UNIQUE, DETAILED intro email of what that company means to you and your favorite products

      ✔️ Include why you want to be partners and how you add value to them (generate sales, create bomb content?)

      ✔️ Show them examples of what you mean! Previous partnerships and content created already with their product

      ✔️Send them your media kit to display your social, blog, etc and all your reach (Check out creativemarket.com and search for canva.com media kit templates ! Canva is FREE!). This is essentially a way to display your social media resume!

      ✔️ Ask for a phone call to further discuss details if possible

      ✔️ Be open to non-sponsored brand ambassador programs if you truly LOVE the brand. This is an underappreciated way to actually REALLY get noticed.

      ✔️ Be open to product swaps in the beginning (and later on you can ask for paid partnerships if you truly stand out $$)

      More things to think about... 🔑 if you’re already pushing 10 other products with 10 other discount codes, maybe step back and reevaluate!
      If anything push your PERSONAL brand first and you’ll become more valuable to your community when you only really “advertise” for a handful of products you LOVE.
      👍It is okay to slide into the DMs if you just need to know the proper contact info - introducing yourself and just what you’re looking for in terms of contact WITH your contact as well. (Oh and if you already have a few tagged stories above that’ll get your brownie points for sure!)
      Influencer - micro or macro - marketing is the marketing of today. It’s SO important. So don’t get frustrated if you get a couple of no’s or 👻s in the beginning.
      Next post I'll talk about numbers.. and if they really matter...
      Anyway I hope this all helps...
      xoxo Abbey

      The CEO's Diary: How to be a "Sponsored" Influencer

      The CEO's Diary: How to be a "Sponsored" Influencer

      Hello Hello!

      The other day I attended a private event for a group of Dallas fitness influencers, where I had the opportunity to speak on behalf of my experience as both a brand and as an influencer. This inspired me to be more vocal on a few topics regarding influencers and working with brands, as no one really gives you the exact "how to" do it.

      There really isn't a right way to do it yet. Influencer marketing is still in its infancy, but in my experience so far there are certainly better ways to approach the whole process.

      First I am going to talk about things you need to think about before really setting yourself on this journey. In marketing, the best thing to do is put yourself in the target audience's shoes.. so in this case, ask yourself what a brand thinks about when working with an influencer.
      🔑 I really really urge you to think about this, as an Influencer or Brand Ambassador you are essentially PART of their marketing team...
      When I look to bring someone on board I ask myself these questions:
      1️⃣ How do they bring value to my company?
      2️⃣ Do they use the product already?
      3️⃣ Will they generate sales? how?
      4️⃣ What is their following/engagement? High? low?
      5️⃣ Do they create badass content? Have they for us already?
      6️⃣ Do their values align with ours?
      7️⃣ What platforms are they active on? IRL or Social
      What I want you to take away from this - is that you DON’T have to have all these checked off. This isn't a checklist. These are all the things I ask myself when I look at an influencer or a potential collaborator.

      Right now for example if you’re a blogger or you tuber - I WANT YOU for my SEO. I don’t care about numbers...organic searches and traffic are needed.

      Think about THESE questions and figure out what you can check off and bring to a brand... and when “applying” 😉 put your best foot forward...
      Hint hint: Sliding into the DMs with “hey do you work with influencers?” does not put your best foot forward. 🙅🏻‍♀️🙅🏻‍♀️
      In my next blog post I will give you exact ways to reach out properly to brands.



      "WHY MINIMALISM?" - Barista Babe Feature by Kelsee Hankins

      "WHY MINIMALISM?" - Barista Babe Feature by Kelsee Hankins


      I’ve never really liked “stuff.” I avoid buying “stuff” as much as possible. I’d much rather focus my time, energy, and dollars to doing something – an experience with my friends, a fancy dinner, a vacation, doing something fun with my nephew, and you see where I’m heading. I don’t often find a deep attachment to material objects. That doesn’t mean that I don’t find VALUE in material objects – because I certainly do. You get what you pay for – blah, blah, blah. But why buy something if you don’t need it or it doesn’t serve a specific purpose in your life?

      I’m pretty intentional with the things I bring home and in the past year, that’s only gotten more intense. You learn a lot about what you really need when you’re living in the mountains for a whole summer! As a general rule in my apartment, I try not to have duplicates of anything. Example: I live alone. I don’t need two large glass baking dishes because I’m usually cooking for just one person. I don’t need 10 forks and so on and so forth. I don’t need twenty purses when a simple black handbag goes with all of my outfits. Get it? You might be thinking that I live in a barren apartment with nothing in it. That’s pretty far from the truth. I still have a couch, desk, TV, a piano, and a few strategic wall decorations. It’s far from barren and dismal in here.

      That said, I’ve been a long time believer of “If I don’t/won’t use it at least once a month, I don’t really need it.” That is really the basis of most of my buying decisions and it’s led me to choose minimalism. Of course, some months are better than others when it comes to being a minimalist – example: holiday months. Think about it, stuff gets everywhere in those months – shopping, gifts received, food, etc. It’s not a perfect science and people can choose how they practice minimalism in their daily lives. Some people don’t get it, but I prefer the simplicity it brings.

      Reasons I Choose Minimalism


      Differences in How I Value My Time

      Think about all the time you spend in your home or car. Time spent keeping it clean, organizing it, re-arranging it, etc. is the time that I would rather spend doing just about anything else. I hate cleaning. I hate chores. It’s simple logic that if you don’t have something, you don’t have to clean it.

      Less Stress

      With less stuff, comes less stress. See the above. Less stuff to clean. Less stuff to store. Less stuff to hide away if people are coming over. Less stuff that I “should” do. More time to do fun things. More room for better things like sunshine and happiness. Actual physical clutter can be exhausting, so, duh, less stress if you’ve got less physical junk to deal with.

      Frugal & Eco-Conscious

      I’ve always been frugal. I’d much rather skip on some items that aren’t crucial for my survival so that I can make better quality purchases at another time. Knick-knacky things that have no purpose other than just sitting on a shelf or hanging somewhere are really of no interest to me. However, things like a new computer or funds towards a savings goal I have do hold value for me. As far as being more eco-conscious, I’m a super recycler and I love repurposing items whenever I can. If I can repurpose or upcycle something, I’m potentially saving something from ending up in the dump. In short, if I can find another purpose for something that I already have, I don’t need more stuff to fix that situation. I can use what I have. And less stuff means less trash, which turns out to be better for the environment.

      Experiences vs. Stuff

      I’ll always say no to buying brand new stuff and direct that money towards a trip I’m taking instead. I don’t value having fancy things over new experiences. I’d much rather see a show or fly somewhere new than have another article of clothing in my closet.

      Happiness Isn’t IN Any Item

      I find happiness in relationships with people, being present where I am, and in feeling secure. All of those things are not provided or supported by having more stuff in my cabinets that I may use someday. It’s also not in sentimental objects. I do keep a few, but I’m mostly attached to the story or the memories invoked by that item – not the actual item itself.

      I’m always in a state of trying to “own less.” Therefore, last month and this month, I’m playing the MINS Game. I chucked about 300ish items in December (I didn’t play the entire month) and if all goes well in January, I’ll be tossing/donating/selling 496 items. Yup, even though I’m already pretty good at this, I can always do better.

      As The Minimalists say, “Sometimes the best way to grow is to subtract.” I fully subscribe to that philosophy, it works well for me! I definitely encourage you to check out their podcast – it’s pretty epic. Sometimes it’s live from their events or done in-studio, but it’s always full of some really impressive nuggets about people and their connection to material stuff. Worth a listen, for sure!

      What do you think? Does “less is more” work for you? Have you ever tried minimalism? Yes or no? Why or why not?


      By Kelsee Hankins
      Barista Babe
      Full blog: 


      "Southern Banana Puddin'" - Barista Babe Feature by Grace Peters

      "Southern Banana Puddin'" - Barista Babe Feature by Grace Peters

      I grew up in Alabama and consider myself a true Southerner, even though I've spent the last four years full time and the three years before that going to college in the Midwest. Don't get me wrong; I love cheese curds and am making my way toward loving brats and all those other "Northern foods," but the love of Southern food still runs through my veins. 

      Right up there with from-scratch biscuits and sausage gravy, fried okra, and sweet tea is one of my favorite recipes of all time: real-deal banana puddin'. (You can't add a 'g' to the end of that and still pronounce it correctly!)

      I'm sure there are recipes out there that start from scratch and present an even better banana pudding than this, but this recipe is my favorite. A dear lady from my church made this banana pudding when I was in junior high, and when it came time for me to get married, I asked her to please make three large banana puddings for my rehearsal dinner. Her wedding gift to me was a trifle bowl (shown in the pictures of the finished product) with the handwritten pudding recipe taped to the bottom. It was one of my favorite gifts, so I can't try out any other recipes.  

      Contrary to popular belief, banana puddin' isn't just vanilla pudding with bananas and 'Nilla wafers in it. There's an art to the formation of and creation of this recipe, and I think what makes it most unique is the sweetened condensed milk. It adds a creamy, thick element and a taste that you can't get by just using regular milk to make the pudding mix. Letting the pudding refrigerate overnight makes the 'Nilla wafers soft--another requirement to the success of this recipe. 

      To make the best banana puddin' ever, follow the directions explicitly!

       Southern Banana Puddin'

      2 3.4-ounce boxes of instant vanilla pudding mix

      3 cups 2% milk

      1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk

      2 8-ounce tubs of Cool Whip

      4-6 bananas, thinly sliced

      1 box ’Nilla wafers


      1. Whisk together pudding mixes and milk. Add sweetened condensed milk and mix. Fold in one tub of Cool Whip.

      2. Layer the dessert into a 9-inch trifle bowl, starting with the wafers, then bananas, then one-third of the vanilla pudding. You will need 1-2 bananas per layer.

      3. After the first layer (ending with pudding), place ’Nilla wafers standing up in a ring around the bowl. Place more wafers on the pudding, then layer bananas, half of the tub of remaining Cool Whip, and another third of the pudding.

      4. Finish the dessert with another layer of wafers, bananas, and the final third of the pudding. Dollop the remaining half tub of Cool Whip in the center of the dessert.

      5. Refrigerate overnight.


      10-12 servings 

      For a printable recipe, click here. 


      By Grace Peters, Barista Babe
      Full Blog: