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Our relationship with Alchohol is changing
In the last few years, with more information about the health effects of over-consumption of alcohol, especially on women, many have been re-considering their relationship with drinking. But that’s not so easy to do when our society is built around brunch drinks with friends and networking events with specialty cocktails at fancy bars.
Earlier this season, we learned that over-consumption of alcohol is leading to a higher risk of breast cancer in women. There are also absolutely zero net positive impacts of alcohol on the body or mind.
We sat down with Kelsey Moreira, business owner and advocate, to talk about her journey to sobriety, her time on Shark Tank, and how she’s built her business as, and hopes to help others build, a Recovery Friendly Workplace. This episode isn’t to dissuade you from ever drinking again –– but it is an honest look at how our alcohol-adjacent culture might be doing us more harm than good.
What you’ll learn:
Shark Tank: What it’s actually like to be on the hit show and why it was a blessing in disguise to lose her bid
Why sobriety isn’t always a linear path
The pervasive myths around sobriety and how to combat them
Kelsey Moreira (00:00:00):
I’d really lost myself when I got sober, it was literally a question of who is Kelsey? What does she like to do? What are my hobbies? Literally, if people came to visit, it was like, “We’re going on a brewery tour.” And we would just drink the whole weekend with like any friends who came to town. So it was so interesting to be faced with that and go like, who do I even want to be? And yeah, this annoyed stubbornness is really what’s kept me sober for eight years. Just being like, hell no. I’m not letting this stupid thing, which is so unimportant, not only is alcohol like a horrible toxin for your body, and I operate at a way more efficient, better level without it, but I get to choose who I want to be and how I want to show up every single day. And that is a huge blessing that alcohol robs from you.
Tori Dunlap (00:00:45):
Hi Financial Feminists. Hello, welcome back. I’m so excited you’re here. A reminder, you know the housekeeping. Subscribe, leave a review. This podcast is free99, and we love that. We love that for you. And one of the ways you can support us and continue allowing us to do this show is by hitting that subscribe button, by sharing the podcast with your friends, by listening to episodes that feel interesting to you. We are so, so grateful to our sponsors to help us bring this to you for free and leaving reviews, subscribing, sharing, help us continue to do that. So thank you so much. Today we are diving into a topic that is feeling more and more relevant. There’s been this current reevaluating of a lot of old systems and belief patterns in our lives, especially as we’re moving to hopefully, close out the pandemic. So we’re talking today about reevaluating our relationship to substances, especially alcohol.
We sat down with my friend and fellow business owner, Kelsey Moreira, to talk about her company Doughp, that not only makes delicious cookie dough, like literally, guys, the best cookie dough I’ve ever tasted. It’s so fucking good, but also supports women in recovery, which is a cause close to her heart. After getting sober in 2015, Kelsey left her decade long tech career and launched her own cookie dough company, Doughp. With more than 13 million in lifetime revenue, it has appeared twice on ABC’s Shark Tank, has been ranked in Inc 5,000 fastest growing companies in America and has grown in extremely passionate fan base. Kelsey was named a Forbes 30 under 30 and is a leader in the mental health and recovery advocacy space. Through hashtag Doughp for Hope. Doughp is committed to reducing stigmas around these topics and has donated more than a 100K to nonprofits in this space.
We brought Kelsey on to one, talk about Shark Tank because I’m a little obsessed. And she and I had talked offline about her Shark Tank experience, but I had to have you all hear it. It is a tale of her killing the pitch and her better understanding how the whole thing works and also some misogyny from Mark Cuban. So stay tuned for that. And we also wanted to talk about her journeying to sobriety and how that changed everything for her. This is not an episode meant to make you decide to 100% quit drinking or 100% go sober if that’s not a thing for you. But I think throughout this show, it’s always a good idea for us to go into these conversations curious and to also figure out what they could be teaching us. We always want to reevaluate the systems and the habits that we have in our lives.
And I know, and I tell Kelsey this in the episode that I have been reevaluating my relationship with alcohol. And at the time we’re recording this, that doesn’t mean cutting alcohol completely from my life, but it does mean being more intentional about when and how I drink and what I drink. I literally actually was at a women’s entrepreneurship dinner last week and it was an open bar with a signature cocktail. And normally I would’ve been like, “Hell yes, free alcohol.” And I had been flying that day. I was up at 3:00 in the morning and knew that me drinking alcohol was not going to A, make me feel like my best self and B, allow me to sleep well that night. And so I was just like, “You know what? I’m going to drink ginger beer and water.” And that was a great decision for me, that honestly, I probably wouldn’t have made even a year ago. And I think there’s something so freeing about just asking yourself, is this what I want to do? Is this what I want to do right now?
A couple of stats and interesting facts before we dive into the episode with Kelsey. Excessive alcohol use is associated with more than 43,000 deaths among women and binge-drinking, which is crazy that this is binge-drinking. It’s defined as four drinks for women and five drinks for men in about two hours. Heavy drinking is defined as binge-drinking on five or more days in the past month. Americans spend roughly 249 billion dollars on alcohol, and that was in 2010, which breaks down to roughly $807 a year per person. Excessive drinking costs the US 179 billion dollars in workplace productivity loss, which is very interesting. Some interesting stats to be curious about. A slight trigger warning in this episode, there is a conversation about sexual assault in Kelsey’s story and of course substance abuse. So if that’s something you’d rather not listen to, totally get it. We want you to take care of yourself, we’ll see you back here next week. So without further ado, let’s get into it. But first a word from the companies that allow us to bring you all of this good free content.
Kelsey Moreira (00:05:25):
You know who I learned this from? Is Sara Blakely, Spanx-
Tori Dunlap (00:05:28):
Kelsey Moreira (00:05:29):
… she was once quoted talking about this, saying that in the early days of Spanx, you would just literally not see her anywhere without her Spanx shirt.
Tori Dunlap (00:05:36):
That’s really smart.
Kelsey Moreira (00:05:38):
She was like, if she’s doing anything, if she was asked to speak anywhere, it was like, “I’m always going to have the shirt and the logo.” So yeah, I stuck with it. Doughp all day.
Tori Dunlap (00:05:47):
I need to wear mine more often. My shameless plug is just putting my book in three spots-
Kelsey Moreira (00:05:51):
I love it-
Tori Dunlap (00:05:52):
… on my books shelf, look what I’m reading. I had so many books, how’d get so many books. It’s almost like I wrote them. It’s crazy. Where are you located these days? I’m trying to remember where you’re at.
Kelsey Moreira (00:06:03):
Yeah, we live in East Texas now, a tiny town. It’s literally got 3,000 people in it. It’s a little bitty town where my 93-year-old grandpa lives and has lived for my whole life. But my nana passed away about six years though, and I wanted to be close to him. So once Iz and I were running the company remotely, we’d closed the storefronts down. I was like, we could be anywhere. What are we doing in Vegas? I don’t drink, you barely drink. What are we doing living here? And we don’t have the store, so let’s go ahead. And we moved in late ’21 out here and it’s just been the best.
Tori Dunlap (00:06:32):
Wow. I was going to ask that, is that a weird transition going from splashy big city living to middle of nowhere?
Kelsey Moreira (00:06:39):
Totally. We were like San Francisco, Vegas and then made it out. So we’re just migrating. And for my husband, who’s from Brazil, he went from 20 million people where he grew up in São Paulo to 3,000 now. But yeah, I just love it. It’s such a nice feeling, like know your neighbors, really safe. And I don’t know if you know this, but Iz and I are expecting our first child. I’m pregnant.
Tori Dunlap (00:07:00):
Kelsey Moreira (00:07:03):
Tori Dunlap (00:07:06):
Kelsey Moreira (00:07:06):
Yeah, thank you. So we’re in the perfect spot for that. It just feels like it’s a little bit of an older community, hence my grandpa living here. It kind of was a getaway for people that used to work in Dallas, wanting a retirement community is kind of how it got started. But with remote work, some younger families are coming in. We’ll be the first family born on this street in 35 years or something. Isn’t that crazy? First new baby born on this street. We got some old neighbors that told us that. They’re like, “We’re going to throw a party for this street because it’s the first time a baby’s been born here.”
Tori Dunlap (00:07:33):
That’s so cute.
Kelsey Moreira (00:07:35):
So cute, yeah. So we love it. We’re happy.
Tori Dunlap (00:07:37):
That’s so amazing. Congratulations to you and Iz. I have known you, oh gosh, for a couple of years now.
Kelsey Moreira (00:07:43):
Tori Dunlap (00:07:44):
And I think you and I got connected. I’m trying to remember if I cold pitched you. I’m trying to remember how it happened.
Kelsey Moreira (00:07:49):
No, I think it was davies + dixon.
Tori Dunlap (00:07:51):
Was it? Okay.
Kelsey Moreira (00:07:51):
Which has since then acquired, but yeah. I think Mackenzie and Kelsey, they hooked us up for like an influencer, like, “Hey, send some product.” And then we were like, “Hey, you’re also really awesome. We should just be friends.”
Tori Dunlap (00:08:01):
Yes, they are good friends of mine who are Seattle entrepreneurs and yeah, they have a marketing agency that got acquired. And so yeah, that sounds about right.
Kelsey Moreira (00:08:09):
Tori Dunlap (00:08:10):
The crazy thing is, of course I have to ask you about Shark Tank because that’s how I discovered you originally. I think all of us who just are viewers of the show are so curious about what happens behind the scenes. And I know you’ve told this a million times, but any nuggets of Shark Tank. I think once you told me that when you walk out, you have to stand there for a couple of minutes-
Kelsey Moreira (00:08:35):
Tori Dunlap (00:08:36):
… silent to get all the shots. But tell me all the dirty details that somebody watching Shark Tank would have no idea.
Kelsey Moreira (00:08:40):
Sure, and I love it too. I was the same way. I watched this forever, since season one and always was like, what would this be like to go on? And what’s it actually? And basically it was nothing like what I thought. I had no idea it was going to be so real and so not scripted. They really are the real deal. One of the things that’s really interesting is when you go in, when you get to start, there’s no cuts or breaks or I need to go to the bathroom or could I look that up really quick? It’s nonstop you standing there and answering the drilling questions until you make a deal or all the sharks are out. And so I think the longest record is three hours, which is crazy.
Tori Dunlap (00:09:18):
Which when you’re a viewer it’s 15 minutes.
Kelsey Moreira (00:09:22):
Tori Dunlap (00:09:22):
Right, right, right.
Kelsey Moreira (00:09:23):
Even less, it’s crazy. I was thinking as I was watching it for the first time when it aired, I’m like thinking it’s going to be a 10, 15 minute segment, but it’s literally seven minutes, I think, for that first airing we were on in 2018. Yeah, filmed it in late 2018, aired in 2019. But yeah, the thing about waiting to have them get all the shots, so you’re standing behind the doors to wait and open up and let you walk down the hallway for the first time. And I’m a solo founder, so I was standing there by myself, literally more nervous than I’ve ever been in my entire life because they countdown from 100 to start because there’s so many people.
Tori Dunlap (00:10:00):
Is this the Hunger Games?
Kelsey Moreira (00:10:02):
Am I going to die? So I’ve never been more certain that I was going to pee my pants.
Tori Dunlap (00:10:06):
That literally is the Hunger Games. Have you seen that movie where it’s like they-
Kelsey Moreira (00:10:10):
Yeah, yeah, yeah, the countdowns. It’s exactly like that. And then it’s the Hunger Games because the sharks are going to eat you.
Tori Dunlap (00:10:15):
Kelsey Moreira (00:10:17):
Yes. So it’s suiting. But I’ve honestly, I spoke at a keynote once in front of 4,000 people live, this was way scarier. I was so, so, so intimidated before the doors opened. And then for some reason, as soon as they opened, I just had this calm come over me that was like, I’ve prepared for this my whole life, let’s freaking crush it. And I just walked down, hit my mark, awkwardly waited for the 30 seconds until they say begin. As you mentioned, they want to get all your shots looking serious and staring at each other. And I’m so bubbly. So of course I was really fighting myself to not be like, “Hi, hey, hey, it’s so cool to meet you. Good to see you.” I had to just look like stern Kelsey, which doesn’t ever exist. So it was unique.
Tori Dunlap (00:10:59):
One of the things that you and I talked about that I would love to spend a little bit of time discussing today is you did not get a deal in the tank. And Mark Cuban, the reason he cited for not giving you a deal was, “Hey, this Cookie Dough company sounds great and it tastes good, but it’s not healthy. And I’m thinking about the health impact.” And then, and you can give me the timeline, was it six months later, a year later, he invests in a company called Fat Shack, run by a male entrepreneur. Which literally, that whole thing was not just like, this is a product that might not be the healthiest. It was literally the thing of this product was like, you come to gorge yourself on burgers and fries.
Kelsey Moreira (00:11:47):
Tori Dunlap (00:11:48):
So talk to me about that double standard.
Kelsey Moreira (00:11:50):
Literally 2,000 calorie sandwiches is what they sell. That’s like their marketing thing, it’s like 2,000 calorie sandwiches. So super crazy. When you look at a product like Doughp, we’re like, hey, life’s about balance. Have a little treat. It does have butter and sugar, but it’s literally made like you’d make in your kitchen. It’s cookie dough, and we’re not ashamed of that. So to have that be where the conversation went on Shark Tank was for one, so jarring. I was not expecting it to be like, “Hey, with the health obesity epidemic and all this…” And yet Cuban saying, “Everything about this says it’s an amazing investment. I just can’t get behind products that say Let’s eat more.”
And then it was not six months, it was not a year. It was actually about an hour later that he filmed the Fat Shack. It airs the following week after my episode, which is why I got a little bit of buzz, Inc. Magazine wrote an article about it, and Cuban and the Fat Shack both declined to comment. But a couple of years later, believe this was actually last year, I got to meet the Fat Shack founders and they were like, “Kelsey, we have to tell you we have such survivor’s guilt. We felt so bad watching what they had said to you. And then that we got the deal. When were you filmed?” And we go back into our photos and pull up the timing of what time my slot was when I walked in, because I took a picture before I went in the doors and they had done something similar and we’re literally an hour apart in filming.
They were like right after me. Yeah. Isn’t that crazy? Oh, it hurt. It hurt so bad. But you just got to go, was this for TV? Because after the episode, everyone was like, “Man, she crushed it.” I had been flash carding every business that you could imagine for the company. I knew my business front to back. I knew where we were going, all the passion’s there, the products there, the sales are there, we were profitable. Everything was so shining to say, yes, let’s do this. This is going to be amazing. So for it to be like, oh, Robert Herjavec said, “How many people would you say cookie dough?”
Tori Dunlap (00:13:45):
Anybody who’s ever eaten anything?
Kelsey Moreira (00:13:48):
I was like, “I would say a significant amount.” It just felt a little, were they telling them to find ways to dog on cookie dough or that we’re not sure about the health crisis and stuff. It was so weird.
Tori Dunlap (00:14:01):
Yeah, it feels virtue signaling mixed with, as someone who has watched every season of the show, sometimes I think they just, I don’t want to do this deal, which is 100% in their right. But they have to make it a story.
Kelsey Moreira (00:14:14):
[inaudible 00:14:15] for TV.
Tori Dunlap (00:14:15):
… in order to… Because people don’t understand. I think right, the average person doesn’t understand venture capitalists are sometimes just like, “No, I don’t want to do this deal.” And so maybe that is Mark Cuban being virtue signal plus for whatever reason, this just isn’t for me. And then I have to come up with a reason for it.
Kelsey Moreira (00:14:32):
As he inhaled the whole plate of samples, he was the most down on the samples. I remember being like, oh-
Tori Dunlap (00:14:37):
So fucking ridiculous.
Kelsey Moreira (00:14:38):
… he already cleared the plate ,he’s totally going to be in. And then it was no, just dropped off a cliff.
Tori Dunlap (00:14:45):
And I will say it is truly the best cookie dough I’ve ever had.
Kelsey Moreira (00:14:48):
Tori Dunlap (00:14:48):
I love it. And I don’t mean to make this an ad for Doughp, but truly, you can bake it or you can eat it raw. And that was always my thing, was my mom would make cookies and I would be in there eating raw cookie dough. She’s like, “You’re going to get sick.” And I’m like, “I don’t fucking care.” Yep, you can eat it raw or baked. And so you fuck you, Mark Cuban.
Kelsey Moreira (00:15:08):
That’s so funny. Yeah, it took a lot. You build up for that moment and you’re thinking, this is totally it. How incredible that I’m even here to be filmed. 40,000 people try out and about 140 are filmed for a season. So the odds of just being there were crazy. And when it didn’t happen, I was crushed. They kindly cut away from it. But as I’m walking out, I lean back and wave, I clicked my heels and I think I said, “Have a Doughp day.” Kind of our sign-off from Doughp. And as soon as I turned my back to them, the water works.
I was full on hyperventilating as soon as I turned the corner and the camera was three inches from my face. When you’re walking out, the camera’s just right there. And I totally was like, wow, the world, America’s going to see me have this meltdown and I was ready for it. With mental health being such a big stance for Doughp and something we talk about so deeply, I was totally preparing a response of like, “Yeah, when you put your heart and soul into something,” like that was feeling the raw feels and people were going to see it. But they ended up cutting through it. You kind of see, I’m looking a little teary-eyed. They gave me about 30 minutes to get myself together before I did those closing comments afterwards about they’ll see me again and all that, which was really kind.
But yeah, I collapsed on the ground, crying and they were still filming me. So it was really cool that they just chose to say, “Let’s let this moment be just hers and not need to exploit it.” But yeah, I took a mental health day the next day and then picked myself up. Found another investor to get the capital for that Vegas store, which is what I was raising for at the time, and opened up the store four months later. So a couple of months before the episode actually aired, which was incredible timing. So just a testament to, doesn’t matter how many nos you get, you just keep going and find somebody who does believe and who’s willing to say yes.
Tori Dunlap (00:16:51):
Well, and my last question about the Shark Tank experience, for you, you don’t get a deal, but you still get this platform and they had you come on as well, to do one of the updates, which my mom jokes. I used to watch the show with my parents and every time an update would come on, she’d be like, “Update, I’m so excited.” And so she was always really excited to see what people were up to. Literally, she was just so excited. And so one of the things that I loved is they had you back and they sometimes do this where it’s like, “Hi, I’m thriving. I’m doing great. I didn’t get a deal, but I’m doing great.” So what happens if you don’t get a deal? Are you still seeing the boost in sales. I’ve seen people be able to use, appeared on Shark Tank in their marketing. What happens, even if you don’t get a deal from Mark Cuban or Kevin O’Leary?
Kelsey Moreira (00:17:35):
Yeah. In the end, it’s the best thing that could have happened. Because in so many cases, you do get a deal on TV and then it falls out in diligence. I’m hearing crazy numbers like 60, 70% or more.
Tori Dunlap (00:17:47):
Right, that’s the thing. Tell me about that. Because
people think, oh, anybody who’s getting a deal has got a deal. But then again-
Kelsey Moreira (00:17:52):
Like, oh, they’re done. Oh, they’ve got Cuban on their cap table, they’ll never need money again. And investors are probably looking like, “Oh, they’re probably handled.” And it just turns you into like, you have a shark on your table. But there’s so much that happens afterwards. And yeah, I’ve heard it can be a nightmare, not only in that many fall out, but just the time you end up committing to diligence. Some, like a year process. I’ve heard for a few teams that took a year in diligence and I’m sorry, but the capital I was raising, as I shared, I ended up opening that store, I filmed in September, I opened the store in March. I wasn’t ready to wait a year to go through something like that anyway.
So to have all those energy and resources and into diligence and have it fall out would’ve been traumatic. So going without a deal, when it aired, we had, I think the number was something like 143 people reach out, wanting to franchise the brand, loving the concept, and just business opportunities, wanting to sell the product in their stores, that kind of thing. So that was amazing. And lots of franchising, because again, we had the storefront concept back then versus being e-commerce and retail now. And then we had something like 50 investors reach out, wanting to invest in the company.
So yeah, I think it was just such a great platform to go out. It was the first time on a national stage to share my sobriety journey. And the messages we got from just an individual basis were so incredible, of people feeling seen and heard. And their story being able to make it on a big stage. This one always stuck with me. Someone, a mother had lost her son to the disease of addiction a few months prior, I believe she said in February, and this had aired in May. She said, “For some reason the only show I can bear to watch is Shark Tank. And seeing you last night felt like a message from my Ryan, and I just want to thank you for sharing your story.” Got me-
Tori Dunlap (00:19:33):
Kelsey Moreira (00:19:33):
… yeah, it got me good. So all those things just make it totally worthwhile. And then it continues to re-air as the years go on. So it stays out there-
Tori Dunlap (00:19:41):
The CBC syndication.
Kelsey Moreira (00:19:43):
… yeah, they love this clip. Barbara Corcoran had said, “What do you see for your business in the future?” And I was like, “World cookie dough domination,” with my arms all thrown out. And they put in all these clips, teasing Shark Tank episodes. So it’s really fun. My husband’s Brazilian and his friends back in Brazil have seen it. I think a friend saw it in Portugal too.
Tori Dunlap (00:20:01):
Kelsey Moreira (00:20:02):
And I’m speaking Portuguese because we have it dubbed over in Portuguese, which is so funny to see. I’m pitching my company in another language. Pretty cool. So just the whole reach has been nice. I’ve heard things are hit or miss on how much it drives for sales versus the old days when you used to watch it with your parents, when you’re at home. Same thing for me, it was prime time. It was like Shark Tank is on, we’re all sitting down, we’re all watching it. That has a hugely different impact and that’s why the Super Bowl is still the Super Bowl, because everybody’s sitting down and watching it and all those ads are hitting at the same time. Now with Shark Tank, it’s kind of like who’s going to watch the reruns when? Maybe they watch it on Hulu. So sort of this trickling-
Tori Dunlap (00:20:40):
That’s what I do is I watch it six weeks later under [inaudible 00:20:44] still.
Kelsey Moreira (00:20:44):
Yeah, yeah. So it’s kind of this rolling thunder for me. But I think all those outside benefits of being able to say you were a Shark Tank company, that was a cherry on top. I think it’s so far down the road now, they’ve had so many entrepreneurs that it’s not as big of a weight as it used to be. But being paired together with, hey, we also have a fricking kickass product and this mission is amazing and this and that. It’s like that’s the story I’ve been bringing to retailers. And the Shark Tank thing is just one extra of some people will recognize us more than another brand because we have had this recognition from Shark Tank now twice, luckily.
Tori Dunlap (00:21:26):
I know this about you and your brand and you’re talking about the mission and the values and you’ve sprinkled it a little bit. But for those who are unfamiliar with Doughp, it’s cookie dough. Great cookie dough. But
in addition, you have this really important element of focusing on women’s recovery and addiction and can you talk a little bit about why that cause is so close and important to you?
Kelsey Moreira (00:21:48):
Yeah, for sure. Sometimes I joke and I say we’re a company built to break the stigma on mental health and addiction recovery and we just happen to sell cookie dough to do it. So that’s a nice reframing for just how serious it is for us. It’s not like a side, “Oh, we have some philanthropy we kind of do.” It’s like, no, this really is at the forefront of what we’re doing. And the cookie dough is sort of a means to the end, a delicious means to the end, no less. But for me, my journey to starting Doughp is what led us to have this be our mission. I, myself, will celebrate eight years sober this September, which is amazing and hard to believe.
Tori Dunlap (00:22:21):
Kelsey Moreira (00:22:22):
I remember when eight weeks was sick and I was like, cool, eight months. And it’s really crazy to think it’s going to be eight years. But as a child, I had really struggled with my anxiety and issues of perfectionism. So many of us, just my achievements were my worth. And that added a lot of mental strain and stress on just a kid at the time. And then when I was 16, got this opportunity to go work at Intel and that was a big jump for being a kid to being an adult and all that added pressure and stress of me wanting to get those achievements and be the best I could be, just went full force in corporate America. So I didn’t have the best coping mechanisms for my mental health. And I drank for the first time when I was 14 and had snuck out, lied to my parents about where I was going. Went to this party and I drank till I blacked out the first time I ever had alcohol.
And I remember thinking how peaceful it felt that I could just be the rest of the kids. Everyone always seemed so cool and relaxed and not worried and that let me be like them for the night. It felt like I could just let go of all my stress. So that really started what became a 10-year relationship with alcohol that got out of control a number of times. And through the years, always tried to find a way to keep alcohol in my life. As hard as something would get, as bad as the outcomes would get, as hard and horrible as I’d hurt people close to me, it was like, well, okay, I’m only going to have tequila or I’ll only have wine or maybe I’ll just do, I’ll have a water after every drink and I’ll only drink on Tuesday nights or so, whatever. I always had these different things I would try.
Tori Dunlap (00:23:58):
Yeah, we call that bargaining.
Kelsey Moreira (00:24:01):
Totally, totally bargaining. And it’s just a facade. It was really this desperate attempt to not want to be different. I really felt like, especially at those ages, I was 24 when I got sober. I just felt like I didn’t want to be different. Why couldn’t I just figure this out? Little voices in my head saying like, “Hey, this runs in your family.” My mom was an alcoholic, got sober about a year after I did. My nana, who I mentioned earlier, she passed away at 21 years sober. So I had a lot of this in my life and a real great voice from my nana who was encouraging me along the way to get sober. I would promptly tuck all of those letters in the drawer because I didn’t want to face it.
It was really hard at the time to realize you have a problem. But I had kind of the one last hurrah. It was September of 2015 and I was on a business trip for Intel in Spain. And to give you a little bit of history on Spain, happy opening up and sharing about this. I had been to Spain four years prior to this date when I finally got sober. And it was a study abroad trip, very beginning of a study abroad trip and also oddly in Barcelona and almost four years to the date in the past. So going to the study abroad trip, I was 18 at the time, 18 turning 19. And so I was going to be able to drink and for the first time go to bars and go to clubs and all this. And one thing led to another where after a little bit of pre-gaming out at a club and a group of guys walked up with some glasses of champagne.
They were one short for the group. And so I said, “Oh, sorry, I didn’t get one.” And one guy left, got a glass, brought it back to me, and I have nothing, but splotches until coming to totally naked under a park bench in Barcelona with none of my belongings. And I had been raped, had to go do a rape kit with people speaking Catalan. I had studied Spanish and I had no idea how confusing hearing Catalan would be in Spain. And I was flown home the next day by very worried parents and a boyfriend at the time, who I had just started dating about six months before that. So you fast-forward now four years later and I’m going back to Spain and I’m just convinced that it’s going to be different. In this in between time, when I was 21, I hit an ultimatum with that boyfriend who said, “You need to get sober.”
And I had gone six months and was like, “Okay, this is good.” Like a reset, we just decided I just needed to reset. And so six months without alcohol, as soon as I started drinking again, I was blacking out within three weeks and the events continued. But things had spread out enough that I just really thought it’s going to be different this time. I’m going to go, I’ll reclaim my experience in Spain and with alcohol in my life, there was no reclaiming my experience. So this business trip, I started drinking right when I got there,
there was a welcome bottle of wine from the Marriott and popped that open at 10:30 in the morning. Went to meet some coworkers at the pool and on and on, you know how the story goes.
Ended up coming to 3:30 in the morning in a stranger’s apartment. I had cheated on my boyfriend, lost my belongings again, just all of the things that just did not represent who I knew I could be and the type of woman I wanted to be moving it through the world. So after getting through a very groggy morning and picking up the pieces of what was happening, I called my nana that morning from Barcelona and said, “Enough’s enough, I’m ready. I want to get sober.” And she said, “You better get your butt to an AA meeting.” She was Scottish and had the sweet accent. I won’t try and mimic it because I wouldn’t do her justice, but she said I needed to get my wee butt to a meeting. And I found an English-speaking AA meeting in Barcelona and have not had a drink since.
Tori Dunlap (00:27:32):
Thank you for your vulnerability. I’m so sorry that happened to you. One of the things you said that I literally wrote down, because I wanted to come back to it, is you said, “I wasn’t the woman I knew I could be or wanted to be.” What did that feel like to know, okay, I have all of this potential, but this thing that feels now uncontrollable is barring me from the possibility of everything I could be?
Kelsey Moreira (00:27:55):
Honestly, I was so annoyed. I was so annoyed, so pissed off that why is this so hard? Look at all these other things I’ve achieved and this career I have and all these other things that look so great. And I’d always excelled in school and everything was so good, but I wasn’t able to really break through and find me and let myself shine through. It was like coasting through life. I was just with the motion on of this is just what I’m going to do and I’d really lost myself. When I got sober, it was literally a question of who is Kelsey? And what does she like to do? What are my hobbies?
Literally if people came to visit, it was like we’re going on a brewery tour and we would just drink the whole weekend, with any friends came to town. So it was so interesting to be faced with that and go, who do I even want to be? And yeah, this annoyed stubbornness is really what’s kept me sober for eight years. Just being like, hell no. I’m not letting this stupid thing, which is so unimportant. Not only is alcohol a horrible toxin for your body and I operate at a way more efficient, better level without it. But I get to choose who I want to be and how I want to show up every single day. And that is a huge blessing that alcohol robs from you.
Tori Dunlap (00:29:07):
We’re starting to have, I think, a conversation more in society and we actually have a member of our team who, her side business is in talking about sobriety, coaching about sobriety. I think there’s this feeling of unless you have a ‘problem’ and I’m putting problem in quotes, like “Oh, I don’t need to get sober.” But I even know, I have started, especially Beth, who’s a member of our team. I have another friend who’s also one of our collaborators, Mallory, who hasn’t had a drink in I think almost a year. And I’m starting to even evaluate my own relationship with alcohol, because I truly, I don’t have an issue with that.
But at the same time, there’s some times where I drink too much or I don’t the way I feel. But the situation was like, okay, well everybody’s going for drinks. You’re not going to have a drink? Or like okay, you’re at a wedding, there’s alcohol served. And for me, especially as a frugal person, I’m like, if the alcohol is free, I’m going to have it. But I’m having this reevaluation of like, okay, when do I want to drink? And I want to be more intentional about it. So if somebody’s listening and they’re doing the like, “Well, I don’t need to get sober because I don’t have a problem.” One, what would you say to them in terms of potentially reevaluating that relationship? And two, is that sometimes what people say when they actually do have a problem and they’re just in denial.
Kelsey Moreira (00:30:27):
Yes. There’s a common saying that if you’re asking the question, there might be a problem. If you’re being drawn to question it, there might be a problem. But I agree, there’s such a change in society with just how we’re viewing this decision to get sober. And I guess the greatest thing is you don’t have to get to the movie stereotypical rock bottom. And this is how I felt. I didn’t need to wait until I had three kids in my car and I was getting a DIU. I didn’t need to wait until I lost my job because I showed up drunk one day. I was able to say, “This is enough.” The horrible things I’m doing when I am drinking, let’s just stop it. And you get to decide when your own rock bottom is.
And it doesn’t have to be what people assume or think of as a problem, it can just be your own version of it. And the even lighter layers of this, of just a world looking for more connection and realness and authenticity and finding other ways to socialize, like the mocktail movement. There’s plenty of ways to go out with your friends for drinks and have a really cool drink that doesn’t have alcohol in it. There’s lots of decisions like that where people just want to not feel like shit the next day. And a lot who start out with, “Well, let’s just see how I feel.” And then it’s like, “Well, this is great,” after a month or two months. And so here they are a few years down the road, no problem. They just don’t drink.
Tori Dunlap (00:31:55):
< p class="" style="white-space:pre-wrap;">Yeah, that’s most of my friends who have gotten sober.
Kelsey Moreira (00:31:58):
Yeah, and you find it gets easier.
Tori Dunlap (00:31:59):
Yeah, yeah. And that’s the same thing with me. I just, for many reasons, I don’t think we’ll completely stop drinking, especially whiskey. I love the taste of that. That’s something that like I’m going to Scotland this summer and it’s like, okay, I’m going to a distillery in Scotland, that’s going to be fun. But I have more started to evaluate, okay, when I turned 21 and I had some money and it was legal, it was like, oh, I get to order a cocktail and it was kind of thrilling. And then that just became the default of just like, okay, I’m out. I’m not just going to drink water. And now I’m asking myself, do I actually want the thing? And often, I don’t. It’s just like-
Kelsey Moreira (00:32:36):
Or flip a few pages back, there’s literally a sick mocktail menu at so many bars and restaurants now that look cool.
Tori Dunlap (00:32:43):
I will order a ginger beer now most often versus a… Yeah, it’s like, okay, I don’t want to just drink water, but I don’t want to have alcohol, yeah.
Kelsey Moreira (00:32:51):
Yeah. And let me tell you too, bourbon was my favorite. That was my drink of choice toward the end. Spiritless, for anyone who is sober or looking to get sober, Spiritless makes an incredible NA whiskey. Ritual has one as well, I found it’s good, but I really enjoy the Spiritless one better. I’ve literally been making Manhattans and old fashioneds and they’re so good. So Spiritless is for the win. They have a really great one. They make a tequila too, but harder to mimic tequila still these days. But the bourbon is like fucking crazy. We’ll throw a party or something, have neighbors over and people who do drink will say, “Can you make me one of those? That tastes amazing.” So it’s cool.
Tori Dunlap (00:33:30):
What is the biggest myth about drinking or sobriety that you wish you could debunk?
Kelsey Moreira (00:33:35):
Oh, just that you can’t have any fun. I still think that that one sticks. That people who look at it and they’re like, “You got sober like Ben.” Even like you said, at a wedding for example, that was literally one of the first things I remember telling my mom, “How will I get married?” I literally said that, “How will I get married?” In tears, hysterics that I’ve ruined my life and now I have to be sober. And this is going to be so hard and how will I get married? I’m not going to be able to champagne toast. That literally crossed my mind. And there’s 1,000 things I could rattle off that are perfectly fine to go in a champagne flute and toast with.
And I am happily married and I think I had kombucha or something in a champagne glass to toast with. So yeah, it’s just like there’s a whole world out there. You really get blinders on and sort of this autopilot when alcohol is a part of your life. And then when it’s not, you get more creative on interesting things to do or other ways to enjoy time. And my relationships with all my friends got deeper and more interesting because we actually talk about real stuff. It’s not just like drunken nights where you’re bonding, but really, you just have a bunch of drinking buddies. Yeah, it’s more fulfilled existence for all I’m concerned about.
Tori Dunlap (00:34:45):
Yeah. One of the things, and I think we’ll also talk about this on another episode, that is just so seeped into our culture, is in addition to the social element, there’s this feeling of I have to drink in order to get ahead in my career. And either people listening are going to immediately connect with that or they’re going to be like, “That’s not true for me.” And if that’s not true for you, bless you, great. But my first corporate job, they had speakeasies in every office.
And I was told by one of the VPs that if I wanted to get ahead, I was going to have to drink, the biggest HR violation, terrible. But I was 22 and I was told, “If you want a future here, this is the culture.” And I think whether it’s a networking event, whether it’s after work happy hour, they would throw ragers at the office and open bar in the actual office building. Can we just talk about that? Because I feel like that’s so seeped into, literally not just I’m going out with friends, but in order to seem accessible or to seem like I’m one of the people in the company culture.
Kelsey Moreira (00:35:58):
Yeah. For one, if anyone out there has struggled with alcohol or is sober and is in a situation like that, let’s find you another job. There’s so many opportunities out there for you to be at a company that is not just totally twisted and wrapped around those things, 100%. I think things have changed a lot in the last few years. There’s, I think, a relatively infamous one about Dropbox. Their all hands meeting was Whiskey Wednesdays or something like tha
t and it was unlimited spirit. So to be a part of the biggest, most important meeting of the week or month, however often they were holding those, it was all around, let’s all have whiskey. And can you imagine if you were literally in your first couple of weeks of sobriety, having to go to that? Just really tough. So I think they’ve since changed this and there’s been a really big movement around it. Doughp is a recovery friendly workplace. It’s a designation that they have now in 27 states, which is amazing.
And for us, we’re a remote team now, so it’s a little bit different. But there are tons of companies who do have real impact with trying to bring this consciousness to the management layers that are inside of a company, to know that one in 12 Americans are in active recovery. And I’m sorry, but there’s survey bias, so that’s even higher because there’s some people who just because of the anonymity and the shame around it, who wouldn’t even self-report that they are. So I’m sure the numbers are higher. I spoke to a founder probably a year ago now who’s got about 100 employees and he said, “Yeah, it’s really cool what you guys are doing for addiction recovery with the workplace stuff you’re working on. We don’t have anybody in recovery in our company.” I really had to hold myself back from laughing because I’m thinking there absolutely is, absofuckinglutely. Not only is there people in recovery in your company, but there’s people who have a loved one who just went into recovery or it just touches almost every single one of us. It’s a couple of degrees of separation.
Tori Dunlap (00:37:53):
Well, and because of the shame and the stigma, are they coming to the CEO of this company and being like, “Hi, I have a drinking problem,” Yeah, probably not.
Kelsey Moreira (00:38:00):
Absolutely. And not even that, would this person say, “Oh, you suck. Because you have a drinking problem, you need to leave.” But it’s the ignorance of just not thinking about how could I help bring these conversations to light inside of our company? How can I help foster an environment that vulnerability is okay? And talking about the not so shiny parts of our life is okay, and you’re not going to lose your job if you reach out for help. And the recovery friendly workplace is doing a great job trying to bring some of this training up and really show how you can create an environment that lets your employees bring their full selves to work across mental health, addiction recovery and suicide prevention as well.
I can’t emphasize enough how important this is for employers. You’re often the last place someone is showing up when they’re really in a dark place, when they’re really struggling, work may be the last place they’re going. So it’s like this responsibility, I think all employers should feel to try to be there for the humans that are supporting your business, because we’re all humans at the end of the day. We can’t just be robots and put the home stuff at home and put our little happy faces on when we come in the office and pretend like everything’s fine. So yeah, more inclusive practices in the workplace around alcohol is really a timely conversation.
Tori Dunlap (00:39:10):
Well, and the office might be actively contributing to your need to drink or even if the alcohol is provided. And I also, at least for me, and I imagine statistics would back this up, it also felt like a gendered thing. It was like men in leadership, many of whom were either alcoholics or borderline alcoholics, who were telling their 22-year-old female employee, “You need to drink to get ahead.” And that felt like the weirdest power dynamic, that 100% has to be factored in with the gender power of that.
Kelsey Moreira (00:39:49):
It’s just an extra layer on it all. Like the comments we put up with and all the little things from an older generation and talking down to you. If you need to get up or in a founder position, for example, this happens with the investor landscape, what do we put up with hearing and letting them say to us or feeling pressured in one way or another? And certainly your example of a 22-year-old new in a job, feeling vulnerable and like she needs to do what it takes to fit in and get ahead. And yeah, it can lead to unfortunate situations that I wish we all didn’t have to put up with.
Tori Dunlap (00:40:24):
Yeah, if aren’t someone who’s going through recovery, but maybe if we know someone in recovery, whether that’s family or friends, it’s really hard to know how to best show up for them and be supportive, but also set boundaries and not enable them to keep drinking or to keep using. What advice do you have for family and friends of women who are either experiencing active addiction or are in recovery?
Kelsey Moreira (00:40:48):
Yeah, it’s so hard for the loved ones outside, the normies, as we call it. If you don’t struggle, it can be so confusing how this is taking hold of this individual that you love. And you as the outsider can see this beautiful path for them and all their potential and everything that’s possible. And their addiction and active addiction will not end until they realize they need to. The person really has to come to that decision themselves for it to stick. Sometimes the forced intervention, like, “You’ve got to go to rehab,” and they make it happen. It often doesn’t work in the end because that person didn’t choose it. So it really is difficult. I always say to anyone who’s got a loved one that’s struggling, for me, continuing to hear from my nana, for example, the letters saying that she was worried about me and how much she loved me and that there was another path. Those were little chips away.
I kind of look at myself like I was this big iceberg and every little letter from her was a little chip away. And every morning I woke up apologizing for something I absolutely did not remember doing, little chips away, just feeling this shame and annoyance that again, this problem that I wish it would just go away. But all the support and love I was getting from family members who were able to express, “I’m worried about you, I love you. I hope you can see a better path in the future.” They all mattered and they all counted. Not one led me to get sober, but all of them together did make an impact. So if you have someone who’s struggling, just continuing the drumbeat for as long as it’s healthy for you to let them know that you love them and you support them and you hope that they can get on a better path.
Of course, there’s cases where this can be damaging and like you mentioned, enabling individuals to continue to use. And if they’re harming you or stealing from you or all the detriments that can come to you for remaining close, being able to set your boundaries with love and let them know that you’re putting these things in place because you know love them and you need them to get help. But you’re not going to be able to be a part of this anymore. That’s the best advice I can give. And otherwise, just connecting with groups like Al-Anon and other resources that tons of this online to be able to find communities you can connect with and find the support you need as an individual, because your healing matters too. It’s painful to be the one on the other side as well.
Tori Dunlap (00:43:10):
We’ll link up in the show notes. I want to touch on it briefly. I think again, the cultural zeitgeist is changing, thank goodness. But you mentioned, even at the top of this episode, you said a disease called addiction, I think again, part of the stigma is it’s like, well just stop drinking or just stop doing this. But at a certain point, it does become a disease like anything else where you are no longer in control of it. So can we talk briefly about that? About the kind of change in how we’re viewing addiction?
Kelsey Moreira (00:43:35):
For sure. I think the way to look at this is absolutely like a disease. If you had cancer, like I think my dad said something like this, “If my daughter had cancer, I’m not going to be ashamed of her pushing her out and pushing her out the door. We’d want to find her help.” It’s not an excuse, it’s an excuse to say my actions didn’t matter and they didn’t really hurt people because, oh, I just have this disease. But it is a disease and it really does need a full swath of support and decision making to be able to change it and stop. And in some case, medical intervention and rehabilitation are needed to get back on your feet and get out of it.
So it’s a big shift from just saying, “Toughen up, get over it. Why can’t you just figure it out? Why can’t you just find the balance?” But I and many others are testaments to, if you have the disease of addiction, you cannot find a balance. The substance will always find you. You can’t balance yourself out. One was too many and 10 drinks was never enough. So it was never going to work out for me in the long run. I think another thing that’s helped to shed some light, there are some studies that have gone on around just the genetic passing of addiction, like this is for real. If it’s in your family, you’ve got a higher propensity for it. And once you recognize this about yourself, because being addicted to one thing, I have an addictive personality, so you have to watch yourself as you go through life.
Like what else are you using to fill that space? Where are you deciding to put that energy that you’ve now relieved from pouring into alcohol or whatever, insert substance here? What are you going to pour it into now? And for me, that was the company. Finding this awesome idea I had to go build a business and let that be my new addiction in a healthy way and just keep tabs on it. That it’s not taking over and that I’m still taking care of myself, yeah. But it’s a recognition that this is something I’ll always be. I’ll always be an addict, always an addictive personality. And I just have to watch what’s my new drug of choice? And is it healthy and is it in line with the life I want to lead?
Tori Dunlap (00:45:44):
Kristen, our podcast producer, and I were talking before you jumped on about the response that happens when you get offered a drink and you go, “Oh no, thank you.” And I’m thinking like, “Oh, are you pregnant?” That’s a lot of the conversation for women when they refuse alcohol. What are other things that you should never say to somebody when they refuse a drink or they just say, “No, I’m okay or I would like something else,”? What are the things we should never say to somebody?
Kelsey Moreira (00:46:10):
I know. And I feel like for again, the normies, honestly, it’s just out of not knowing that something could be offensive, that you’re genuinely shocked, like, “Wait, you’re not going to drink?” And for some, it’s the case that they’re a little upset because they wanted you to be drinking with them. A lot of people don’t want to drink alone. And so it’s like, or are you going to be a buzzkill for the party or something if you’re not drinking? So for the individual who’s not drinking, the best advice is try to always have yourself handled. Like when I’m going to a party, I always bring something really fun that I’m looking forward to drinking, a new cool NA beer. Corona has NA now. There’s all sorts of stuff, it’s amazing, so-
Tori Dunlap (00:46:50):
I think Heineken
‘s got an NA beer too, yeah.
Kelsey Moreira (00:46:52):
… yeah, Guinness has a stout. So you’ve got all the choices in the world to plan in advance and bring something, so you’re not stuck at the party going, “Did you have anything other than the cocktail that everyone’s having or do you have anything other than beer?” And then they’re grabbing their kids’ orange juice.
Tori Dunlap (00:47:06):
Yeah. Well also if you’re throwing a party, provide non-alcoholic options besides water.
Kelsey Moreira (00:47:13):
Totally, that’s the mecca. And then until we get there, handle yourself and make sure you come prepared.
Tori Dunlap (00:47:18):
Kelsey Moreira (00:47:19):
That’s what we hope it gets to though, is at parties, functions, conferences, all of that being again, more inclusive about options you’re providing. So it’s not fun drinks and all these alcohol, water is the NA choice. It’s just such a… And then for anyone who asks, “Oh, did you want to drink? Or do you want to try a sip of mine?” I get offered sips of drinks if someone’s having something interesting.
Tori Dunlap (00:47:40):
Kelsey Moreira (00:47:40):
When they say no, what if it could just be okay? What if it could just be-
Tori Dunlap (00:47:46):
Kelsey Moreira (00:47:47):
… oh, all good, cool? Or, “Did you want something else? Is there something else I could get you?” I just wish it wasn’t even a question. It’s slowly getting there. As I get older, it really is way more there. I rarely get asked any questions about why I’m not drinking if I’m out somewhere. Of course, most people now that know me, know I’m sober. But even when I meet new people, I don’t really even get a question around it as much now. So I’m not sure if it’s just an age thing or if really the conversation around it has changed a little bit. But yeah, asking if you’re pregnant or why, it’s going to happen. So for the individual who’s not drinking, just prepare yourself with what you’re going to say. I literally would walk through this in the beginning, I used to say I wasn’t drinking because I was training for a marathon. That was my excuse in the beginning, before I got really comfortable with it.
Tori Dunlap (00:48:33):
You’re like, you are. I’m training for the marathon of living life because it’s fucking hard.
Kelsey Moreira (00:48:37):
Literally, I’m on life’s marathon. That’s so true. I’m on life’s marathon, yeah. So yeah, that was my excuse for a while, was like I’m training for a marathon. And then it got to be like, “When is this marathon-“
Tori Dunlap (00:48:51):
I’m running them all the time.
Kelsey Moreira (00:48:51):
“… it’s been like a year.”
Tori Dunlap (00:48:51):
I’m so athletic, it’s an Ironman.
Kelsey Moreira (00:48:57):
Just yeah, I’m on it. But then as I got more confident, and I think it’s in your own decision of I’ve made this choice, I know it’s going to be forever. But for anyone that hears it at two months or three months, are they going to think, I’m just going to flip and go back. So I felt like this buffer time, I wanted to really solidify it and have the enough time pass where I could say, I think around six months I started saying, “I actually used to have a problem with alcohol, but I stopped drinking and it’s fricking awesome. So I actually just don’t drink anymore.” And that’s it. And then people would be like, “That’s so cool. My aunt is also sober, or my brother’s also sober or still struggling.”
And again, the vulnerability of being able to share your own truth, you can’t imagine how many people on the other side want to talk about their story too, or their connection with it. They don’t get to. They don’t get to get it off their chest that their dad was an alcoholic and what their life’s been like because of that. And you get a chance to help people express that and to at the same time, feel confident in sharing your own story and owning your own truth and knowing that it’s not shameful, it’s fucking awesome. When I first started Doughp, people would be like, “Are you going to tell investors that you’re sober? Aren’t you worried they’re going to think you’re a loose cannon or something?” And I literally was like, “I can’t wait to tell them I’m sober.” Being sober is like a superpower.
Tori Dunlap (00:50:16):
It’s what connected me to you, immediately when I saw you pitch.
Kelsey Moreira (00:50:19):
Tori Dunlap (00:50:20):
Yeah. When I saw you pitch, I was like, oh hey, founder willing to be vulnerable, willing to talk about the hard shit. That’s what you want from a CEO. That’s what you want. You don’t want somebody who’s not willing to talk about all of the messy things about being alive.
Kelsey Moreira (00:50:35):
For sure. And that decision to get sober is you saw something wasn’t working in your life and you changed it-
Tori Dunlap (00:50:41):
Which is business owner 101, you pivoted.
Kelsey Moreira (00:50:44):
Right, totally. Yeah, it’s just the model for anyone in life to be able to say, “Hey…” And I continue to do this. I continue to evaluate what is or isn’t working in my life right now. And if something’s not working anymore, change it. We’re always evolving. It doesn’t just stop. Getting sober let me have this clarity over that to say, I want to take control and keep evaluating my life. And you’re shedding these layers of an onion over time of this I just don’t need this anymore. I don’t need this anymore. And making sure you’re staying true to yourself. So sobriety was just that first step that kind of cleared my glasses off, so I could see and focus on what I want to be.
Tori Dunlap (00:51:33):
I didn’t expect to ask you this question, but you touched on something that I think a lot of people struggle with, which is like, do I bring my authentic self to work? Do I bring my full self to work? And part of me is like, hell yes. And the other part of me is like, no. Like there’s-
Kelsey Moreira (00:51:48):
It depends on yourself.
Tori Dunlap (00:51:49):
Right. Well, and it’s also, it’s your work situation. I have talked to a lot of my friends of color who are like, “I cannot bring my full self to work because there will be inherent bias that happens. And if I want that promotion, if I want to succeed, I am afraid of getting stereotyped in a way that I don’t want. So I can’t bring my full self to work.” And I totally get that. So for you, what was that decision? And are there times where you’re actually, this doesn’t feel like a safe place to bring my full self?
Kelsey Moreira (00:52:19):
Well, thanks for sharing that other lens of it. It’s so important to remember that we don’t all have the same privileges to be ourselves and to bring our full selves to work.
Tori Dunlap (00:52:28):
Well with vulnerability in particular, Brené Brown has this great quote where she’s like, “Vulnerability is a great thing, but it must be earned.” Vulnerability has to be earned through a sense of mutual trust and mutual giving. So if you’re willing to go out and be vulnerable, it’s because you feel safe and you feel like somebody has earned that vulnerability. Vulnerability is my number one mission and value for me as Tori Dunlap. But there are plenty of times where I will so show up in a situation. I’m like, oh, you have not earned that vulnerability because there’s not this mutual sense of trust. So that’s the lens that I’ve taken, is it’s like, I will be vulnerable unless you give me a reason not to be. In which case, if you have not earned it, I am not willing to show up as vulnerable for you.
Kelsey Moreira (00:53:12):
Yeah, yeah. It’s so interesting, I guess I think over these last six years, since starting Doughp and then late 2017 was the first time I had shared that I was sober from Doughp’s platform. And as soon as that happened and those responses we got from people, it was a grand opening of our little kiosk on Market Street. And it was my two-year sober birthday. So we said, “If you say it’s Doughp to be sober at checkout, you’ll ge
t 20% off in honor of the founder’s sober birthday.” And this is what kicked off Doughp for Hope and everything because people responding to that, it just blew me away like what an impact I could have by choosing to be vulnerable.
Someone was like DMing saying, “I’m two weeks sober. Do you know of any good meetings in the city? It’s so cool to hear that you’re sober.” Someone was 13 years sober and said he had never told anyone and that it was awesome to see me sharing this publicly. And I felt like everything, my whole ego and self and all the concerns and worries just melted away. Because it was like, I want to reach more people like this to let them know that they’re not alone. They’re not the only ones going through versions of what I’ve gone through and that they should feel safe and comfortable sharing it too. So I really, it’s funny to think about this. I’ve never pondered this question if I’m not vulnerable for anyone, but I really, I’m not.
I’m really like this with anyone that I meet. And I actually find it a nice challenge if someone does seem like they have a bit of a wall up, they do seem a little bit rough around the edges and maybe it feels like I shouldn’t trust them. I do share and I do open up. And then sure enough, they needed to talk more than anybody else about what was really on them. I don’t know. I found that it really is this incredible tool to break the walls of the world where everyone can seem so tough and rough and harsh. But if you just soften up and talk about what’s really going on in your life, you just can’t imagine what the person on the other side needed to talk about too.
Tori Dunlap (00:55:12):
And I want to be clear, I share that same mission. It’s the same thing for me. I’ve just also learned it’s really about boundaries. I was so vulnerable with everybody and then got to the point where I was like this level of vulnerability sometimes doesn’t make sense in our relationship, because that trust hasn’t been built in that same way. So I think it’s really just figuring out what do I want to keep private between me and somebody else or just for me or with this community versus giving out vulnerability like it was free? And I was like ooh, we are going to continue to be vulnerable, but yeah, with boundaries.
Kelsey Moreira (00:55:47):
Yeah, you got to do what feels right for you.
Tori Dunlap (00:55:49):
I obviously love your work. I love Doughp. I’ve talked about it already. It’s such a great product. And of course, it’s with this mission of supporting recovery. How do you find that you balance, because it’s a for-profit business with this mission? It’s something that I’m trying to figure out and struggling with of I have to make money at the end of the day. I have to pay my people. I have to make sure that I have a roof over my head. We have business objectives, we have investors to answer to. And at the same time, I have this big life goal or this mission driving me, the purpose of this work. How do you find the balance between those two things?
Kelsey Moreira (00:56:27):
Yeah, it’s really interesting. This has come a few times through the journey of the business where I’ve had conversations with other business owners, who just can’t imagine it. They’re like, “There’s just not a penny despair. We just won’t be able to.” And I think when you talk about the monetary side of it, this part in particular is really, it is just that firm decision that we’re going to do it. And once that’s off, it’s literally when we look at our unit economics, the 1% to SHE RECOVERS Foundation is like, it’s the line item in there. We know that this is coming off from everyone. Just like we look at discounts, just like we look at returns, cost to acquire, customers shipping costs. The 1% donation is just like it’s in there. So there’s-
Tori Dunlap (00:57:09):
Kelsey Moreira (00:57:10):
Baked in. Oh, I love a good pun. I missed it. Okay, I should’ve bought that one. Okay, get it together.
Tori Dunlap (00:57:17):
No, I was talking over you and that’s on me. I was just really excited.
Kelsey Moreira (00:57:20):
I love it. It is baked in. Yeah, but you do, you have to bake it in. And then even for our company, which we’ve navigated so dramatically from being brick and mortar to moving fully e-commerce to launching in more than 1,000 grocery store doors last year, the business has transitioned so many times. And the last three years, we have not been profitable. We’ve lost significant amount of money each year. But would I even for a moment consider that the donations or our work on Doughp for Hope, all of the community efforts we do around that should go away? Hell fucking no. Because I think the community that we’ve built, the revenue that we do have and opportunities we are getting are all because of the mission. It’s like it is the core and you just can’t sacrifice that. So we have a really great product. It’s super hard to kill a good product.
Someone told me this a long time ago. They’re like, if you have a really good product, it’s hard to kill it. It’s going to be hard to kill the business. So I know, every time I’m just like, I know we’re going to find a way, and now we’re on track to break even this year and we’ll just continue climbing from here. So I think that you just have to consider it a absolute non-negotiable. Like if it’s really what you believe in and what you want to make true, everything else will find a way. It’s kind of look at your personal budgeting. Tori, this is totally your world. But look at your personal budgeting of if I put these things aside for it, someone goes, “Oh, there’s no way I could afford this car I want to be able to buy.” Well, if you chunk away this amount of money every month and you save for it, and you do the right things, invest following all of Tori’s advice, then you’ll be able to get your Lamborghini. So right?
Tori Dunlap (00:58:58):
Kelsey Moreira (00:58:58):
Is that what I get, yeah, a Lambo?
Tori Dunlap (00:59:00):
Yeah. It’s the Lamborghini, always. Every time, Lambo, ice cream Lambo. And I think it’s the other side of it too, because it’s predominantly women listening to the show. And the other thing I hear from so many people who want to be business owners or who are business owners, is this like, “Oh, I need to give all of my profits because I can’t make money.” And we’ve talked many times on this show about how that is misogyny in play of believing you don’t deserve money, is the patriarchy telling you that you shouldn’t pursue it.
Kelsey Moreira (00:59:28):
And good on all those women for being overflowing in profits, can we just say that’s a basic?
Tori Dunlap (00:59:34):
Oh, totally. It’s altruism. But I have a whole section in my book of weaponized altruism. But the truth is, is you can’t make that 1% donation if you don’t have anything coming in. And you can’t run this business if you’re not taking care of yourself and your team first. So there is the other flip side of that balance too. And this is all the time, something that I struggle with of, okay, I want to do so much good in the world. And also in order to do good in the world, the company has to make money. So it’s finding that balance of not giving up everything, but also not being Scrooge McDuck greedy where I’m not giving back in any way.
Kelsey Moreira (01:00:09):
And that’s honestly, don’t be Scrooge. It’s like you’ve got to have a why. Entrepreneurship is super hard.
Tori Dunlap (01:00:15):
It’s so hard.
Kelsey Moreira (01:00:16):
It’s so freaking hard. You’re literally in tears like sometimes every other day, sometimes it waits a couple of months. It’s ebbs and flows, but hour by hour, you’re sure that it’s going to die and crash and burn. And then absolutely, it’s the best thing that’s ever happened. So it’s just crazy.
Tori Dunlap (01:00:31):
Kelsey, I think you and I have talked about that, that’s literally my experience and I want to echo that. Literally, I’ll have an hour where I’m like, I’m going to burn this to the ground. I don’t care, it’s awful. And then the next hour I’m like, yeah, we’ll get a lovely message from somebody. And I’m like, okay, it’s okay. We’re doing it. And then the next hour, I’m like, nope. It is yeah, the most rollercoaster.
Kelsey Moreira (01:00:52):
I sometimes imagine if I didn’t have the why, I have a folder of all these emails from customers-
Tori Dunlap (01:00:58):
Yep, we do too.
Kelsey Moreira (01:00:58):
… the comments that have really moved me, that kind of thing. If you save that and on the hard days you open that up and you’re like, “We got to keep going.” So I feel like there’s so many deeper reasons to do good with your business, to be a good human and do this for more than just you. Find your why and having that at the core of your business is just, it makes the hard days like you can keep going.
Tori Dunlap (01:01:21):
My last question for you, we have a lot of women in our community who are either sober curious, alcohol-free, like myself, they’re starting to think more intentionally about their consumption of alcohol. What encouragement do you have for women who are on this path?
For one, just yay for being on the path because starting to even acknowledge or consider it up until fully being on this journey of sobriety. Good on you, and I’m so happy to be on the same journey with you. There’s just so much joy ahead. So if you’re struggling and trying to figure out if this is right for you, stick with it and find a community that you can engage with. I’ll plug SHE RECOVERS here, because this is our foundation that we donate to for Doughp. But genuinely the most amazing group of women. It’s like 300,000 women in a Facebook community. Something like 100,000 are in the private one. Unbelievable vulnerability. You want to talk about openness and being able to say what’s going on, ask a question, talk about what’s on your mind, like 80 women are going to respond to you with so much loving kindness.
They do multiple meetings a day and SHE RECOVERS has this whole thing that, you talked about not being in recovery earlier, they have this saying that everyone’s in recovery from something. So they touch mental health, life challenges, all sorts of things. And then of course, substance use disorder as well. But everybody’s in recovery from something. We’ve all gone through some difficulty in our life, some transformational moment or period, and we’re in a new path. And being in recovery is just trying to be a more enlightened version of yourself. And that’s something we should all strive to do. And it’s better when we’re together. So finding a community you can connect with that gets you and has been on this road and you just wouldn’t believe how eye-opening it is to hear other stories and go, “Oh, shit, I’m not the only one. Me too.”
This is kind of the old days’ reason for the 12-step programs, was sitting around and hearing stories of other people that have walked your path. In my early sobriety, hearing one, it was actually a gentleman in the room who had gotten sober at my same age, and I was 24 and he had gotten sober at 24. And he was at the time, like 35 or something, and saying how incredible it is that I just got on this journey. And how his wife today has only ever known the sober version of him. How he gets to be the most present dad to his children. And here I am, fast-forward, I’m 32 this year, and I’m that. I’m that, I followed those steps. I followed that example I got to hear, and that community that told me it’s not just me, I’m not the only one. And that’s my advice. Keep going.
Tori Dunlap (01:03:53):
I love that. Kelsey, where can people find more about you?
Kelsey Moreira (01:03:56):
Doughp.com. Got my shirt on. Check out all sorts of stuff about Doughp at Doughp.com. It’s dough with a P on the end. I know we’ve just been saying it through this, but it’s spelled a little crazy. So D-O-U-G-H-P.com. We’re also at Doughp on Instagram. If you join our text list, we do our mental Health Monday text, literally asking one high and one low from your last week. And someone from our team literally responds to you and has a conversation about what’s going on. So yeah, just connect with us and get involved in the community. Personally, you can find me on LinkedIn. I’m pretty active there. Like you, Tori, not quite on your level, but I’m working on it. So please do connect with me there on Kelsey Moreira It’s M-O-R-E-I-R-A. Tori will like this, it’s more I-R-A.
Tori Dunlap (01:04:36):
There you go.
Kelsey Moreira (01:04:38):
Do you like this?
Tori Dunlap (01:04:38):
Kelsey Moreira (01:04:38):
Tori Dunlap (01:04:39):
Roth IRA, I got you. I got you picking up-
Kelsey Moreira (01:04:42):
I love a good Roth IRA. The only way I get anyone to spell my last name, so now you won’t forget.
Tori Dunlap (01:04:46):
I love it. And truly, You and I have been friends for a while, I’m not just saying this. It is the best product, the best mission. One of the best things that you can do as a financial feminist is take your money and support the kind of organizations you want to see. So I have given Doughp to friends and family for birthdays. We’ve done like corporate gifts with Doughp. I have bought my fair share of it for myself. It is the kind of company I want to see more of in the world. So we’ll link everything down in the show notes. So thank you for being here. Thank you for your vulnerability.
Kelsey Moreira (01:05:13):
am, have a Doughp day. Thank you.
Tori Dunlap (01:05:16):
Thank you as always to Kelsey for joining us. You can find out all of the information about how to connect with her and how to get some cookie dough through her company Doughp, in the show notes. I am also proud to say that I am an angel investor in Doughp. It was one of the companies that I chose to put some of my own money in to support because I love, not only Kelsey, but I love the cookie dough. I love the product and I love the mission of the donation to recovery. And just her focus on mental health is so powerful and important.
So if you’d like to support me, like to support another woman founder, buy yourself some cookie dough. For a long time there, I think a couple of years ago, I was buying Doughp as a present for anybody who had a birthday, anybody who had a milestone in their lives. So it makes a really, really lovely gift as well. Thank you for being here Financial Feminists. Y’all know what to do, follow, subscribe, share your episode with friends. If you’re listening on Spotify, tell us what you thought of it below. We so appreciate you listening and engaging with the show. And I hope you have a great rest of your day and we’ll talk to you soon.
Thank you for listening to Financial Feminist, a Her First $100K podcast. Financial Feminist is hosted by me, Tori Dunlap, produced by Kristen Fields, marketing and administration by Karina Patel, Sophia Cohen, Kahlil Dumas, Elizabeth McCumber, Beth Bowen, Amanda Leffew, Masha Bachmetyeva, Kailyn Sprinkle, Sumaya Mulla-Carillo, and Harvey Carlson. Researched by Ariel Johnson, Audio Engineering by Austin Fields. Promotional graphics by Mary Stratton, photography by Sarah Wolfe, and theme music by Jonah Cohen Sound. A huge thanks to the entire Her First $100K team and community for supporting the show. For more information about Financial Feminist, Her First $100K, our guests and episode show notes, visit financialfeministpodcast.com.