Creating Space for Women in the Male-Dominated Energy Drink Industry featuring Vivi Mullen

Gooder Podcast featuring Vivi Mullen

This week on the Gooder Podcast I had the pleasure of talking with Vivi Mullen, the co-founder and Co-CEO of GO BIG, a natural energy and wellness shot. In this episode we talk about how Vivi’s career as a female executive in male-dominated corporate cultures stoked and shaped her ambition to make a difference in the lives of women. Join us as we discuss how Vivi has staked a claim in the energy drink industry and used her self-described outsider title to prove there is more than one way to do things. 

In this episode we learn:

  • A little background about her company GO BIG and why it exists especially outside of the idea of the business.
  • The intricacies of the energy drink industry from a personal perspective as well as who the major players in this industry are.
  • That gender inclusivity and branding are an integral part of understanding how the energy drink industry markets their products. 
  • The way culture affects how she does her business now, how she builds relationships today, and her leadership.
  • Vivi’s advice to women who focus on what others say and lowers their self-esteem leading to wasted mental space. How to refocus self-esteem draining inputs and stop spending time in wasted mental space.
  • What Vivi is doing through her leadership and brand to be a champion for women and women of color.
Gooder Podcast

Creating Space for Women in the Male-Dominated Energy Drink Industry featuring Vivi Mullen

About Vivi Mullen:

Vivi Mullen is the Co-founder and Co-CEO of GO BIG, and the only female CEO in the energy drink industry. Born and raised in Brazil, Mullen’s career as a female executive in the largely male-dominated corporate culture, both stoked, and shaped her ambition to make a difference. Mullen started GO BIG as a brand based on the values of empowerment and inclusivity and holds to her commitment to showcase women and minorities in an industry that would prefer to leave them out.

Guests Social Media Links:

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/vivi-araripe-mullen-555a0623/ 

Website: https://gobigenergy.com/ 

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/vivimullen/?hl=en 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/vivi.araripe 

Show Resources:

Red Bull is an energy drink sold by Red Bull GmbH, an Austrian company created in 1987. Red Bull has the highest market share of any energy drink in the world, with 7.5 billion cans sold in a year.

Monster Energy is an energy drink that was introduced by Hansen Natural Company in April of 2002. Monster Energy has a 35% share of the energy drink market, the second highest share after Red Bull.

Rockstar is an energy drink created in 2001, which, as of 2009, had 14% of the US energy drink market. Rockstar is based in Las Vegas. As of January 2013, Rockstar Energy Drink was available in more than 20 flavors and in more than 30 countries.

Bang is an American brand of energy drinks. It is made by Vital Pharmaceuticals, Inc., a corporation located in Florida.

5-hour Energy is an American-made “energy shot” manufactured by Living Essentials LLC. The company was founded by CEO Manoj Bhargava and launched in 2004.

Guarana is a Brazilian plant native to the Amazon basin. Also known as Paullinia cupana, it’s a climbing plant prized for its fruit. A mature guarana fruit is about the size of a coffee berry. It resembles the human eye, with a red shell encasing a black seed covered by a white aril.

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Transcript:

Diana Fryc: Hi, welcome to The Gooder Podcast, I’m your host, Diana Fryc. As partner and CMO of Retail Voodoo and award winning branding agency, I’ve met and worked with some of the most amazing women in the natural’s industry in food, beverage, wellness and fitness. As such, I have decided to create The Gooder Podcast to interview these great people, subject matter experts, and have them share their insights and their expertize; a little bit of passion too to help their business become gooder.

Today, I’m very excited to introduce my guest, Vivi Mullen, who is the co-founder and co-CEO of Go Big, a natural energy and wellness shot. Vivi takes great pride in being the only female CEO in the energy business; is it energy beverage or energy period.

Vivi Mullen: Energy drinks, yeah.

Diana Fryc: Energy drinks, okay! She was born and raised in Brazil, where Vivi’s career as a female executive in male dominated corporate cultures stoked and shaped her ambition to make a difference in the lives of women. She has worked in various leadership roles for companies like Valença Textile. Did I get that right?

Vivi Mullen: Valença yeah.

Diana Fryc: Yeah, I’m not sure about everything, because I didn’t do my homework; you’re going to see that — and Casa dos Ventos, Brazil’s largest Wind Energy Company. Oh, my goodness. Welcome Vivi. How are you?

Vivi Mullen: I’m good. How are you? Happy to be here. Thanks for having me.

Diana Fryc: Of course. Where are you calling from today?

Vivi Mullen: I am calling from New York City.

Diana Fryc: Okay, you’re in New York; because I know that sometimes you go back to Brazil. Is that correct?

Vivi Mullen: Just for vacation. I mean vacation, working remotely. But I’m pretty much based out of here and the company is based out of New York.

Diana Fryc: Okay, and are you guys coming out of the snow right now or is it still kind of piling up over there?

Vivi Mullen; It’s still piling up and it’s snow basically all week this week. Yeah, yesterday was pretty bad.

Diana Fryc: Oh man! Well, I’m really excited to have you on the show, and I always like to start at the beginning with tell us about your brand, but really tell us about Go Big. But why did you create it? Why does it exist outside of the idea of the business? Does that make sense?

Vivi Mullen: Yeah, for sure. So Go Big to explain it, I think the easiest way to explain is imagine 5-hour energy in a wellness shot had a baby. So that’s Go Big. We took the best attributes of each category and we made it into something exponentially better. And the reason this started was because I was really tired. I was an exhausted new mom and whenever I needed the energy that coffee wouldn’t give me, I would take guarana.

So for those of you who don’t know guarana, it’s a seed from the Amazon, from my native country of Brazil, it’s been scientifically proven to improve memory, focus and performance and it’s something that every Brazilian knows, but it’s not very well known here in the US. So one day, my best friend Ben, when he came to visit me, he started complaining about waking up at six a.m. for CrossFit class. I was like, “First of all Ben you’re not tired. I’m tired, I have a baby. But here you should take some of my guarana.” And he’s like, “Oh, I’m paleo. I don’t take anything artificial.” I was like, “No, it’s a seed.” He takes the guarana, feels amazing, starts telling every one of his CrossFit class how amazing he feels. They are seeing that he’s lifting more than he’s ever done. He starts sharing guarana little shots that tasted horrible with his friends. They all loved it so much. He eventually obviously ran out of the guarana that I gave him.

Everyone was very upset and then people started asking to buy it. And so he told me about it and we started looking at the market and energy drinks in general, it’s a 14 billion dollar industry. It’s controlled by five companies. It’s Red Bull, Monster, Rockstar, Bang Energy and 5-hour energy. So in the short category, it’s a one billion dollar segment and it’s 90 percent controlled by 5- hour energy, which is pure chemicals launched fifteen years ago, completely outdated. So we thought if every category CPG has been disrupted by a better for you alternative, why not energy shots or energy drinks?

[00:05:00]

And what we found was there are two main reasons. The natural shots were weaker and they do not taste very good. So we decided to go with to match 5- hour energy and caffeine. So we’re the only natural shot that matches 5-hour energy and caffeine. And after two years of formulating and hiring food scientists and everything, we have the best tasting energy shot in the market.

So we launched in February of last year, a few weeks before the pandemic, and we were going to do gyms DTC, gyms in New York obviously does not work. So we got a bunch of orders and they all got canceled because all the gyms closed and we’ve been doing DTC. It’s been amazing. And yeah, we are running off to the races.

Diana Fryc: Excellent.

Vivi Mullen: Also, another thing that I just wanted to add from a personal perspective, because you asked like also from a personal perspective.

Diana Fryc: Yeah.

Vivi Mullen: From a branding perspective, the energy drink industry is not the most inclusive to industry out there. It’s very misogynistic. And my theory was women are 50% of the population. We’re just as tired if not more tired as men, why is no energy drink or energy shot being marketed to women in an inclusive way? And what we have found also is that over 50% of our customers, actually about 70% of our customers are female; and our customer base is pretty diverse and we decided to launch a brand on values of empowerment and inclusive. So that’s what actually makes me wake up really happy to go to work every day.

Diana Fryc: Oh, I love it. Well, so let’s go back in time before Go Big. Now, we’ve already mentioned that you were born and raised in Brazil. But the reason why this is important, of course, is this is a part of your leadership story. It’s part of who you are and what you bring to the product and bring to our industry. Can you share a little bit about the Brazilian culture in a way kind of around the whole concept of professional women and women in business, how is it the same and how is it different than the US just at a high level?

Vivi Mullen: Sure. Well, Brazilian culture is amazing culture. The Brazilians are very happy people. But from a female perspective, we are years behind. So Brazilian women, especially where I come from, are not brought up to be empowered or ambitious or strong willed. We are raised to be pretty and agreeable. And then when it comes to working in Brazil, sexual harassment is not even like a thing. It’s just the reality of everyday life, like hearing a little comments about how you look or being asked on a date or let’s just say at the beginning of my career in Brazil, like, I wore very oversize suits and I would never go to dinner with the male client by myself ever just because I didn’t want to be in that situation. That’s a big difference.

Diana Fryc: Quite different. It’s there’s from two points of the perspective and while that still happens in the US, I think it’s not really pronounced it’s definitely frowned upon behavior at least for men and their behavior towards women in business. You don’t see that a whole lot. But when you think about who you are as a leader in building this business and how you want to project yourself now here within the US marketplace, and then as your brand grows across borders, however that might happens. How do we flip that around a little bit and kind of go, okay, because of this, it makes me think about business this way or it helps me think about relationship building this way. Do you have that perspective? Does that question make sense?

Vivi Mullen: That does. So one other thing that I think I’ve always been different. I’ve always been an outsider in a certain way.

[00:10:05]

I’ve always been ambitious. And even though I wasn’t taught to be that, my parents encouraged me to be ambitious. I just saw the world. And then actually another thing that’s really important, I think, in my leadership position and me as a person is ever since I’ve been 12 years old, I grew up between the U.S. and Brazil, have been moving back and forth between Brazil and the US ever since I was 12.

So when you grow up between two very different cultures, you never really fully fit in anywhere and that kind of became as a leader or as a person like my superpower. Because when you don’t fit in anywhere, first of all, you understand that there’s more than one way to do the same thing and so you look at things not just as they are, but what they could be. And one of the great things about the US that I actually really love about this country is that the US, yes, there are setbacks, but the US is a country of change and dreamers and fighters and fighters for Black lives matter, and there are always people fighting for something better for a better world. And to me, that really speaks to me as a leader and here in Brazil everywhere.

So that is something that I don’t know if that answers your question, but that’s a big part of my leadership and what I want to accomplish with this company. I want to change a whole industry that I invite anyone who’s listening to go look at Bang Energy’s Instagram and I want to change that. I want women to be shown in a different light. I want minorities to be shown not just ignored and I want the world– I think everyone is tired and we have a great solution, a natural solution, a healthier solution to the problem, being tired.

Diana Fryc: I like that. What I love about is within the context of your product, like nobody’s just going to be taking energy shots all day long. You have to eat and you want some diversity. And I like how when you’re talking about kind of changing the world and changing how things can be that this energy shot that you’re creating or that you’re making you Go Big fits a very specific need, but that you are actually looking at an industry as a whole. And I think that’s really a fine balance that your leadership is looking at what the needs are and plugging in rather than what can I make? And then trying to figure out how to shoehorn it in; does that make sense what I’m saying?

Vivi Mullen: Yeah.

Diana Fryc: And I think this outsider perspective; I understand it. My parents are immigrants and while I wasn’t going back and forth between countries, especially in the late 70s and 80s, as a kid growing up in the suburbs, which were predominantly multigenerational, a Caucasian Americans, we were the oddballs, and I was an outsider in my own household to give you this way. I was bringing American ideals and American philosophy into the house of a family that was very much; girls should be this, and I had like four types of jobs that would be approved by my parents. So I get that and then you go out into the real world. And so I completely understand this outsider perspective and how you see it as a problem solving superpower that comes from that. It’s not comfortable at the time for sure. When you’re a kid, nobody wants to be an outsider. But as an adult, it’s certainly I think it helps a lot.

Vivi Mullen: And the other thing about being an outsider is that it builds empathy. You learn how to put yourself in other — you take the time to put yourself in other people’s shoes and that makes you a better leader. That makes you a better business person. You are able to sell to different people. You are able to market. It’s stock to employees.

[00:15:00]

And honestly, you build a better company culture to hire people who really want to be there, who just don’t fit this mold of like the perfect resume. So I think that’s true. Like, if you’re an outsider and you don’t have the standard resume and these schools and this and that and you look like this and you don’t have an accent and you’re white, you hire people like you who are motivated outsiders.

Diana Fryc: Yeah motivated outsiders! I like that filter girl. I’m stealing that and I’m writing it down right now. Okay, that’s really awesome. Here we are, we’re talking about being an outsider. But yet on the flip side, you’re like many of us, working mom, juggling all the things, and you started up a brand with little ones. We’ve had a very strange last 12 months and it will continue for a little while. What are you learning about yourself during this time?

Vivi Mullen: I am learning that sleep is a luxury. Thank God I started an energy shot company.

Diana Fryc: Sleep is a luxury. That’s such a shame, isn’t it? Oh, man.

Vivi Mullen: Yeah, but I think this epidemic, I’m learning how to pivot, how to be creative, like obvious, we launched this company like literally weeks before the pandemic hit in New York? I was in New York. So at the center of everything, March in New York, and you’ll learn how to pivot real quick and then I remember that we thought the pandemic would be over by the summer. We all thought it was going to end. And then after a while, you learn that you’re just kind of go along with it, keep making the best decisions you can with the information that’s available, read a lot to try to have some vision of the future. But none of it works anyways. I still have no idea when this pandemic is going to end.

Diana Fryc: I don’t think any of us do.

Vivi Mullen: Yeah, and you try your best I think, and you’re resilient and you realize how much people are important. You miss hugging your friends and having Thanksgiving. Yeah, that’s what I’ve learned. I’ve learned I love people. I’ve learned that sleep is a luxury and planning is somewhat helpful.

Diana Fryc: That’s so funny. Planning is somewhat helpful for somebody like me that likes to have a plan in place and then think its set, it’s been a learning for me too. So I can understand. Let’s talk about this concept of wasted mental space. I want to go back to when you and I spoke a few weeks ago in preparation for this, you used the term wasted mental space. Tell us what you mean by that and maybe give a couple of examples.

Vivi Mullen: Sure. So what I wanted to shed light on with the wasted mental space is that women in general, we have to worry about a lot of things that men don’t. So there’s this phenomenon in psychology, which is called objectification. So people they develop a bystander view of themselves. And for women, it happens around like a little bit before early adolescence. There’s a study that shows, for example, and basically objectify ourselves.

We start seeing ourselves from a societal view, which is a male view. So there’s a study that shows there’s a group of college guys and college girls, men and women, half of the women and half of the men, they have to try on a bathing suit and the other half have to try on a sweater, and then they go and they do a masters. For the women, the women who tried a bathing suit on did worse than the women who tried on a sweater. For the men, there was no difference. So let’s take that to a job interview. You’re going to interview for your dream job and you prep for the questions.

[00:20:05]

But then you have to think about, you want to get a manicure to put look together. You’ve got to wake up early the day of the meeting so they can do your hair and put your makeup on. When you rehearse the answers to the questions you rehearsed on, just like the content, but you rehearse the delivery because you want to be assertive but warm. You don’t want to sound too bossy, especially if the interviewer is a man. And this makes you second guess yourself and think about yourself in a way that basically is just going to lower your self-esteem. And it’s a lot of cognitive energy that you should be using to prepare for the question.

I imagine your male counterpart, he probably owns like three suits, is going to wear one of them. He’s going to shave and he’s going to maybe get a haircut, and that’s about it. And he’s going to prep the whole time for the answers to the question. He’s not going to think about the manner that he’s going to deliver those answers because he doesn’t have to. So this is something that a lot of people don’t pay attention to, but I think is a great barrier that we deal with as women. That’s what I meant by it and then that’s just one way.

Like once you get the job, then if you have a kid, you’re going to take more of the work. It’s become very, very obvious in this pandemic that women definitely share more than half of the logistics of a household or taking care of children. So women not only do they have to work harder because they’re not acknowledged on the same level for the same work, but there’s all this extra stuff that we have to deal with on a cognitive level that men don’t. So it’s exhausting. It’s exhausting and that’s what we’re talking about. It’s a waste of mental space.

Diana Fryc: Yeah, I got you. I think I had never considered it that way. But I think back to in my early 20s – like maybe this is what you mean. In my early 20s, I remember I worked at an insurance company. I was working my way through college. I was going through college at night and I was working full time during the day. And I remember getting a review from one of my bosses at the time. I had three different job titles in three different departments. I was there for ten years, but this is the first one. And I had my boss, who was a woman, told me that people at the company said that when I was walking around, I wasn’t smiling enough and that was on my review.

And then I went to work for Dot-com in like 2000, and I remember being told by a group of men that I laughed too much. And those things kind of always stick in the back of my brain. I’m like, smile more, but don’t laugh. And so it’s that kind of what you mean is like I’ve got this whole series of checkboxes on how I need to show up and be present in any given scenario?

Vivi Mullen: Yeah and they’re distracting and they are not helpful to your self-esteem because you should be thinking about what you’re saying, you should be thinking about where you’re going, not if you’re smiling.

Diana Fryc: The one that got me was that I laugh too much in meetings and I was like, okay, you know what to do with that. So then I stop laughing in meetings altogether. I don’t work in Dot-com was very male dominated at the time as well and it was a pressure cooker was right when the whole world was changing from a tech standpoint. But it’s all different now.

But what kind of tools do you use to prepare yourself for those things then? Do you go do you go to therapy to get rid of those things? Do you meditate? What kind of advice do you offer to people like, okay, great, so now we have this awareness of this wasted mental space? What do you suggest? How do I get out of that mindset? How do I clear?

Vivi Mullen: So I think number one is to be aware of how much time you waste thinking about these things when it comes to preparing for interviews or thinking about like, I don’t know, I have been to therapy, but I think for myself is just at some point I just came to terms with the fact and this took me years, I don’t know exactly, but at some I just gave up on pleasing people and I found what people say, I found my voice and I speak the way that I am.

[00:5:24]

So people are going to like it. Some people are not. There are men who are sexist. They’re going to think whatever anyways, it’s not personal. I think another thing is like it’s not personal and it’s not your fault. It’s not your job to please everybody. If people think you should be smiling more like, okay.

Diana Fryc: I was still young at the time. I was in my early 20s.

Vivi Mullen: No, I get it. But it affects you.

Diana Fryc: For sure, I still remember it.

Vivi Mullen: Yeah. I get it. So I think you just accept that people are going to have opinions and you just do what you have to do. And if these people don’t like it, someone else will like what you have to say. But focus on what you have to say. Like for me, I’ve just made life simpler, I don’t worry as much about clothes. I just wear a lot of black, white and black. That’s what I do. I focus on my message rather than how I do it.

Diana Fryc: I saw an interview snippet of Billy Porter. Do you know Billy Porter? He’s a Broadway stage performer. He’s also on a television show called — it escapes me right now. I can’t remember. Fantastic performer, voice from God, and he was on an interview on a television show recently and they asked him kind of a similar question is what we’re talking about right now. And the interviewer asked him a question along the lines of like, how is it that you’re doing so well now?

And he said that he was being true to himself and that when he was busy trying to fit all the check boxes and checkmarks and make sure that everybody was pleased he was poor. And when he finally said, this is who I am and became fully expressed and comfortable in it, he says, I became a millionaire when I became truthful with myself.

So maybe there’s an amount of truthfulness that goes behind the acceptance is like being honest with yourself, I think, and getting comfortable with being who you are probably the big ones. And those aren’t really tools. It’s kind of a state of mind, almost. You kind of have to get there. It’s part of the growing up journey, I think.

Vivi Mullen: I agree. And also just wasted, for me, I think of it as like what a waste of my time and energy to be thinking about this right now.

Diana Fryc: I agree, I agree. Now, you shared with me that you take great pride at being a champion for women and women of color, which I love. What are you doing right now with yourself or through your brand to be that champion?

Vivi Mullen: I am a part of a bunch of female entrepreneurship organizations, so the Female Founder Collective, project entrepreneur, Hello Alice and I just meet a lot with friends who are in business and we hash out common problems that we find as women. There’s a group that I meet with like eight women once a month. From a company perspective, we have a very diverse team. It’s 66% female and people of color. So we will continue being a diverse team. Also from how we portray ourselves on social media, it’s always inclusive. We make it a point to show positive images of everyone. So, that’s how I’m doing it currently.

Diana Fryc: Talk about a little bit about Female Founder Collective because I have stumbled across it now a handful of times in the last week in a few conversations. So share what that is, what that community is all about, and particularly for those women who might be looking for a network of likeminded women?

[00:30:00]

Vivi Mullen: So Female Founder Collective was started by Rebecca Minkoff and Alison Wyatt, it’s a group of female entrepreneurs who basically support each other with Covid times, obviously so remote, but it’s a great initiative. And within that, if anyone, I highly recommend I was a part of Project Entrepreneur, which is their accelerator that you can apply if you are about to launch your company or have just launched your company. And they basically train you to learn how to raise money, how to pitch deck, they pair you up with amazing mentors. They put you in a cohort with other founders.

And it’s been incredibly valuable to me to just understand how the VC world works. And even though I do have some finance background, just the little tricks and every industry has their little insider quirks and that was really helpful. And the girls, I’m still friends with some of the women and we talk to each other. Some are in CPG, so we’re starting a brand. So it’s very exciting.

Diana Fryc: That’s great. I love that. From here, I kind of want to slightly turn our attention specifically to this kind of natural market. So funny, I feel I feel funny saying natural’s now because the term is starting to well, it’s getting pretty muddied right now, but for today, we’ll call it natural’s and your product certainly fits the criteria. Now, one of my biggest goals of this podcast is to start to cross that bridge between the traditional natural consumer and a much more broader audience or consumer.

It’s almost as if I was just interviewed for a podcast last week where I talked about being natural’s and the interviewer was a black man who says, “Well, you know, many of us kind of see organic as being kind of that’s white people’s food.” And that’s not entirely true across the border. But this came from this man. And I was like, “Yeah, I know.” One of the things that I’m trying to do is with this podcast, is kind of raise the awareness that natural’s in organics, we should be using our superpowers to kind of reach across into broader demographics, both from a financial standpoint but also from an awareness standpoint, and stretch our understanding or our definition of natural’s while creating products and opportunities for these wider audiences, whether it’s economic or whether it’s by racial stereotypes or all of these things like we need to be doing better at that.

And while I know that there absolutely is hurdles in creating an inexpensive natural’s product, I think it all comes from that where you start when you’re starting your business, what your intention is. And if you’re looking at the audience that way, I wonder if you could just share your thoughts and perspective and how you thought about developing your product and how it’s evolving as you’re considering a wider audience. Because I know we did talk about this a little bit.

Vivi Mullen: So for us, our goal has always been to be mass market, we truly believe that everyone wants to be healthier. We do believe that almost everyone is tired and we do believe that we have a better alternative. So we want to make this as accessible to as many people as we can. What we have found is that there are two things that really matter to make a product mess. It’s taste and price, especially for beverages. You can only reach so many people if your functional product tastes really bad. I think that, like energy shots are not the best tasting thing in the world, but there is an expectation. If you want people to switch to a 5-hour energy, it has to be at least as good tasting or better than 5-hour energy. People are not going to keep taking your drink. That’s one thing.

[00:35:00]

And two is a price. Maybe they’ll pay a little bit of premium, but not much, because the reality is people just don’t have, especially if they’re going to make it a part of their daily lives like they can’t. So we have been working. So the first thing that we attacked was taste and we launched. And it’s funny, we launched in February. Our main goal being to DC was to get as much customer data as possible and customer feedback because we always thought we’d have a reformulation like a rebrand. So we interviewed the people who loved us. We interviewed the people who stopped subscribing and the people who stopped subscribing, they said, basically there are two reasons, taste and price.

So we reformulated, we launched our new formula late last year and now we have the best tasting energy product, artificial or natural, in the market. We also have like I said in the beginning, functionality is very important if you’re switching somebody out of 5-hour energy, they expect a certain energy from it. So natural’s have failed to deliver that, and we have and that’s why it’s been so hard, because masking that bitter caffeine taste with 200 milligrams of caffeine without anything artificial was really hard. But we finally did it. And now we’re working on the price point. What we have found is that we have people who literally take our product every day and we are thinking outside of the box to find ways for those people to have energy shots that cost less than a 5-hour energy.

They can just have a multi-certain pack and they can have it every day in their home. So that’s how we’re working to make it more affordable. And that is in the works, I can’t talk about it, but we are working on it and we will launch this year this new format and now we’re really excited about it. And the reason we’re doing that is because we want it to be cheap so that everyone can afford it.

Diana Fryc: It’s kind of tricky, because the affordability and access definitely are factors in all of this. But I also want to say there are people out there that might say, “Well, I don’t want to spend,” I don’t know what that MSRP is, I’ll just throw out 350 and they don’t want to spend 350 for a shot. But yet they’re going to Starbucks once a day and getting a $5.75 latte. So some of it is behavior change and then also the inclusivity component, I think of your brand is definitely a good lever to pull on as well. So you’ve got your representation, but also the fact that you’re looking at the opportunity to kind of like you said, from that outsider perspective, like what’s the problem? And then what are all the different ways that I can attack the problem in order to create opportunity both for your brand, but then also for the consumer. If we’re exposing an energy drink or an energy shot to an audience that maybe would have considered it before, there’s some learning there. There’s some absolute learning there. So I think that outsider perspective certainly helps.

Vivi Mullen: Yeah, and we have found, which has been incredible, was that we had the theory, like most natural products, we think that we’re first going to go for the coastal like so psycho woman and then we’re going to make our way to the middle of America. What we have found is that 50% of our customers are people who never touched an energy drink. They’re like the coastal women. They’re dietitians, they’re switching out of coffee. But 50% of our customers are switching out of traditional energy drinks. They live in the Midwest. One of our best customers that I love is this woman called Mary. She lives in the Midwest. She subscribes to eight, nine packs per month. And the reason she’s not drinking all of it, she never graduated high school. She works a night shift and her friends from her shift, they don’t have credit cards.

[00:40:06]

So she buys the shots for everyone and they pay her back and she shares it because they’ve been trying to switch out of 5-hour energy, they think 5-hour energy is poisoned and they switched out of it to Go Big. So I think also that we as a natural industry have failed to acknowledge that we’re being stereotypical. The people in the middle want to be healthier. It’s not just the so psycho moms that want an organic product. They just can’t afford it. And with Covid, it’s become even much more of a preoccupation everyone’s mind. So I think it’s a great opportunity. I as an outsider, I believe that everyone wants to be healthier, including the nightshift workers, a truck drivers, everyone. And we’re here to serve those people.

Diana Fryc: I love it. Well, we’re at the point where we’ve kind of answered all of those the big questions. And now I kind of start wrapping up and asking some of the fun questions. Thank you for sharing about your background and why what you’re doing is so important, the impact that you’re that you’re wanting to make in people’s lives pretty great. And I wonder, who else are you watching right now, particularly women? What other women leaders do you have your eye on and why? It doesn’t have to be in food and beverage, it could be in any industry. But I’m just curious, who would you want to elevate?

Vivi Mullen: I actually would love to elevate Rebecca Minkoff and Allison Wyatt for starting Project Entrepreneur, and I also want to elevate you, because I do think that we all have common problems. And creating networks in their case from father was like a network of women who can share and help each other, in your case, a platform that, and that’s what I found, if we share your experiences, you realize a lot of people have the same problems and if we talk through it and think through it together, it’s just easier to solve them.

I’m a big female empowerment, I’m a feminist. I believe women should help women. You don’t have to go, like, wave a flag, but you should stand up for a female coworker when, like, a guy’s been an asshole to her, you should not judge. And I’m not the woman who thinks other women are competitive. No, I think actually women are supportive and helpful. That’s been my experience and that’s what I’ve given back. So people like you and like Rebecca and Ali, you’re helping women. So I appreciate that.

Diana Fryc: Thank you, that’s so sweet. I love it when my guests have an opportunity to share some sort of interesting tidbit about their business or themselves or in your case, maybe even Brazil, something that somebody can easily capture in the back of their brain and take to a cocktail hour or whatever. Do you have anything, some interesting fact that you’d like to share?

Vivi Mullen: Well, I think I said it in the beginning, but I’m the only female CEO in the whole energy drink industry.

Diana Fryc: And I think that’s pretty big for those people who aren’t in energy and may not understand how big that that prize is. How big is that? What’s the size of that market right now?

Vivi Mullen: $14 billion.

Diana Fryc: So the first female CEO in a 14 billion dollar industry that’s growing.

Vivi Mullen: Yeah, growing very well.

Diana Fryc: What other brands or products do you have your eye on and why?

Vivi Mullen: So I really like this, I don’t know the founder, but I really like this other product called Minna, it’s a sparkling tea.

[00:45:06]

They launched a little bit before us, but they have a great message of inclusivity. I love their branding. I love what they’re trying to do and I love their message.

Diana Fryc: And last but not least, how are you keeping yourself sane and centered these days, especially now with all the snow?

Vivi Mullen: Well, I don’t know. I have a two year old and actually he keeps me sometimes also sane, but the joy of a toddler is like just makes their day brighter. And the fact just playing with a two year old, you have to be present and you can’t be looking at your phone. He won’t let me look at my phone. So it’s been a nice moment to just be with my kid and appreciate how lucky I am to have him.

Diana Fryc: Yeah, two year olds, especially. That age group is my favorite, too. They’re not preoccupied. They’re very present. They are transparent. You know what is happening with them in their brain or in their body or in their feelings at any moment in time. And everything is magical for them, everything. Piece of paper, rock on the floor, mommy’s hand, it’s all magical for them right now. So, that’s amazing that that’s what keeps you centered. You’re the first person that’s mentioned a child or family member. That’s very interesting.

Well, I really want to thank you so much for your time today. I was so glad that we were introduced to each other. I am going to be a big champion and watching you as you grow. Wondering if there’s a way, if somebody wanted to reach out to you, is linked in the best way to reach out to you, or do you prefer a different way?

Vivi Mullen: LinkedIn is great. I check my messages, I’d appreciate that.

Diana Fryc: Vivi, thank you so much for your time today and I look forward to your future.

Vivi Mullen: Thank you so much for having me. And please keep doing what you’re doing. I truly appreciate it. And you’re making a difference. I appreciate it.

Diana Fryc: This episode is sponsored by Retail Voodoo, a creative marketing firm specializing in growing, fixing and reinventing brands in the food, beverage, wellness and fitness industries. If your natural’s brand is in need of positioning, package design or marketing activation, we’re here to help. You can find more information at retail-voodoo.com. And so there you go. I hope you enjoyed this episode. Thank you so much for hanging out with us today. And if you haven’t already, be sure to subscribe to this channel and share with your network. Until next time, be well and do gooder.

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Diana Fryc

For Diana, a fierce determination to pursue what’s right is rooted in her DNA. The daughter of parents who endured unimaginable hardship before emigrating from Eastern Europe to the U.S., she is built for a higher purpose. Starting with an experience working with Jane Goodall to source sustainably made paper, she went on to a career helping Corporate America normalize the use of environmentally responsible products and materials before coming to Retail Voodoo.

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