Abby Walker is the CEO of Vivian Lou, a company that empowers women to wear high heels 4x longer without pain, and the author of Strap on a Pair – a raw and humorous memoir that documents her journey from corporate executive to successful entrepreneur.
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Google – Abby’s small business resource
Big Magic – Abby’s Top Business Book
Strap on a Pair – Abby’s book
Vivian Lou – Abby’s website
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3 Value Bombs
1) Welcome failure in your life and use it to move forward.
2) Don’t be the person to limit yourself.
3) Stop undervaluing your product or service.
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(click the time stamp to jump directly to that point in the episode.)
[01:08] – Abby started Vivian Lou 3.5 years ago
[01:21] – All of this happened for her simply by asking a question
[01:49] – Abby is an expert in asking questions, failing, and Googling.
[02:18] – Share something we don’t know about your area of expertise that as Entrepreneurs, we probably should: Don’t fear failure, instead, welcome it
[03:08] – Worst Entrepreneurial Moment: When Abby launched Vivian Lou in 2014 she knew she had a phenomenal product, but she struggled with feeling worthy of the opportunity. She realized was so scared of making money and being successful that she was the one person holding her business back
[04:53] – Abby knew she needed external help to get over her self-limiting beliefs
[05:29] – Her sales coach forced her to project a half-a-million dollar year — Abby closed out with $650K
[06:04] – “Don’t fear your numbers”
[07:37] – Abby talks about the premise of tapping into yourself
[09:44] – Entrepreneurial AH-HA Moment: Upon launching Vivian Lou, Abby wanted to match their product’s packaging to the insole of high-end shoes. A couple of years in, Abby felt something was amiss. One day, while in her hotel bed, she realized it was the packaging that needed to be upgraded
[11:54] – Abby did research and figured out what the packaging would look like
[12:17] – At that time, Oprah Magazine called Abby for a feature
[13:02] – “Don’t undervalue your product”
[13:52] – The Lightning Round
- What was holding you back from becoming an entrepreneur? – “Me… my self-limiting beliefs”
- What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received? – “Stay in your lane and don’t be distracted by shiny objects”
- What’s a personal habit that contributes to your success? – “Dancing”
- Share an internet resource, like Evernote, with Fire Nation – Google
- If you could recommend one book to our listeners, what would it be and why? – Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert – “I recommend this book because in it she talks about important concepts like inspiration, curiosity, courage, fear, and persistence”
[15:23] – Keep moving — take one step towards your dream every day
[15:50] – Get 20% OFF on your first pair with promo code FIRE
Abby: I am indeed.
John: Abby is the CEO of Vivian Lou. A company that empowers women to wear high heels four times longer without the pain. And she’s also the author of Strap on a Pair, a raw and humorous memoir that documents her journey from corporate executive to successful entrepreneur. And Abbey when listening to your own book name can make you laugh; you know you did a good job. SO, congrats on that.
Abby: Thank you.
John: Take a minute, fill in some gaps for the intro and give us a little glimpse of your personal life.
Abby: I started this journey with Vivian Lou just a three and a half years ago and believe or not, I did not set out to be an entrepreneur. It happened simply because I asked one question and was given this amazing opportunity to become the exclusive distributor of this phenomenal insole for high heels and had been a wild ride but a such a fun ride over the three and a half years.
John: Well during those three and a half years, what would you say you’ve developed as your area of expertise right now?
Abby: I know this is gonna sound a bit funny, but I am an expert in asking questions, failing and Googling. The three core skills any entrepreneur needs to have.
John: It’s so true and let’s go a couple levels deeper than that because it’s so true at the surface, but what don’t we know or do as entrepreneurs that you have just kind of figured out. Like what’s the message that you want to get through to us in this area?
Abby: Sure, and I know a lot of your guests have talked about the importance of failing and kind of welcoming failure. But as soon as wrapped my head around not fearing failure but almost welcoming it, and that there’s so many lessoned learned. And I feel like your more apt to take that next step just outside of your comfort zone where all the magic happens if you’re less afraid of failure.
So, if there’s one muscle that entrepreneurs need to exercise, it’s not fearing failure and learning how to fail fast.
John: You’ve not feared failure a few times, but at the same time you still let fear get the better of you. I mean we all have, we’re human beings. And what would you say is your worst entrepreneurial moment to date? It’s like what is that story? Break it down for us.
Abby: Sure, so it was when I first launched Vivian Lou in 2014. I knew I had this phenomenal product that I was honestly granted the rights to distribute in the first United States and Canada, and now I have worldwide distribution rights. But at the time, I really struggled with feeling worthy of having this opportunity and honestly, I know this sounds so silly, but I was so scared of making money and being successful.
Abby: And so, my worst entrepreneurial moment was when I realized I was the one stopping my company from being successful. It was just awful.
John: And that’s the thing Fire Nation, we’ve talked about this before but not really enough. I mean we do have this fear of failure which we can understand because it’s normal to fear failure. We don’t wanna look silly. We don’t wanna fail. All blah, blah, blah, but we don’t realize that we also have this fear of success.
And the thing is that fear of success is often subconscious like it’s just under the surface because we don’t recognize it. Of course, we think we want to be successful, but do we really wanna be successful? I mean there’s a great book Secrets of the Millionaire Mind, T. Harv Eker, past guest. Go listen to that episode if you can.
He breaks this down so eloquently. You have to recognize you might be subconsciously holding yourself back because of that fear of success. So, what can you Abby, tell us, tell Fire Nation from what you learned about yourself through that revelation that can help us maybe in our situations?
Abby: Absolutely. So, you know I’m so grateful that I came to that realization early on in my journey because I know that a lot of people are handcuffed by that fear of success. And so, I knew I needed external help to figure that out. And so, there are two people who played a tremendous role in my journey of kind of overcoming those self-limiting beliefs and those internal blocks.
And one was I hired a sales coach and she – I would say she, besides sales and money and projections and all that kind of stuff, she really worked on my money mindset which was such a blessing.
John: Let me hold you there for one second.
John: Like what was one thing that maybe she did, like one tactic or tool or structure that she put in place that really helped you there?
Abby: She forced me, and force is a strong word, but literally we were sitting across the table from each other, and she told me to project out a half-million-dollar year, and I stopped breathing. I was like “I can’t have a half-million-dollar year. That’s way too big.” She goes “No, you can.” And I could – like literally I could not type the numbers into my computer.
So, she walked around the table, out her hand on my shoulder, she’s like we’re gonna do this.
Abby: Exactly. So, and sure enough, I closed that year with $650,000.00 in sales. So, I beat my projections. So, she taught me don’t fear your numbers, even if they're ugly. Look at them and get comfortable with them. So, that was one thing that she taught me.
The other person who had a tremendous, profound impact on my journey was Greg Oldenburg, and he is an Emotional Freedom Techniques Practitioner. So, tapping is all the rage these days, but two years ago I engaged him to help me identify and really bust through these internal blocks.
And I know it sounds so woo-woo, but I am a believer. I wasn’t when I first started; I will tell you that. I was like what the heck is this? But I’m a believer now.
So, between the two of them, they really helped kind of shift the way I looked at success and money and being open to feeling worthy and able to accomplish my dreams.
John: You know it’s interesting, like five years ago, maybe five and a half because it was right when I started the podcast, I saw Brendon Burchard launch a video where he brought somebody in, and they were going over this tapping and you know I was in a pretty nerve-racking place. I just launched a business. I didn’t know it was gonna be a success or a failure or something in between.
And I really had like meant to give it a whirl. I’m like why not; let's do this. And it just never happened for us. Not because I tried it and didn’t like it. I just never ended up trying it for some reason. But I tell you like over the years it’s kind of been coming back around a little bit. So, without going into too much depth or detail, like why do you think something like that works?
Abby: Sure. So, the premise around it, and obviously I don’t know, I just follow the lead of my practitioner, but it’s stuck energy. And stuck energy in the form of either memories or how you used to view yourself or someone used to view you. And literally you tap on like eight spots on your body, just like your forehead, your face, your chest, or whatever, and the meridians, the energy meridians of your body.
And doing this and repeating certain phrases, you release that stuck energy. And the way I look at it is you kind of clear your body of all this noise and stuff that isn’t benefitting you, and you’re making room for bigger things to occupy that space.
Again, I know it sounds really woo-woo, but it has worked well for me. And I highly encourage anyone who’s struggling with feeling worthy to give it a go.
John: And where would they go through, like where would you recommend them checking out?
Abby: Sure. So, there are a couple different resources – I mean a lot of people do tapping by themselves, and they are self-guided tapping. You know YouTube it. There are lots of practitioners that are on YouTube.
I personally don’t like doing it myself. So, I hire Greg Oldenburg as my practitioner, but we just have phone sessions. I’ve been working with him for two years, and I’ve never met him. We just talk on the phone. And yeah, he just guides – we’re like where do you fear resistance in your business? Or where do you fear resistance in your life right now?
We talk about it, and we tap through it, and honestly, I feel 20 pounds lighter every time I leave one of our sessions.
Abby: It’s amazing, yeah. And I know it doesn’t work for everyone, but I highly recommend people give it a go just to see what happens.
John: Let’s talk about another story in your journey.
John: And this one’s gonna be one of the greatest ideas that you’ve had to date. Pretty fascinated to see where you’re gonna take this because I think you’ve had a lot of great ideas. But what is the one aha moment that you think is gonna be really beneficial for Fire Nation to hear for you and have you kind of walk through how you turned that idea itself into actual success?
Abby: Sure. So, when I first launched Vivian Lou, like I said I didn’t necessarily feel worthy. And one of the beauties of our insoles and high heels is that it’s invisible. So, you can’t see it in the shoe. So, women who buy those Louis Vuitton’s or Jimmy Choo’s don’t want to cover up that brand name.
So, I wanted to match the packaging to the insole. And so, it was understated product that slips into your shoe. It doesn’t take up much room. So, when I first launched the company, I packaged this insole in a craft – you know a brown box with just black lettering. It was very understated, a small box. It kind of mirrored how discreet the product was.
When I – something felt amiss when a couple years in when I was really looking to bring Vivian Lou to the forefront. And this was after I had tackled my internal block saying that I wasn’t worthy. I had finally stepped onto owning I am a CEO of a business. I am absolutely worthy of success, and I deserve it to the women who could benefit from this product to make sure that they know this product exists.
So, one day I was at a conference laying on the hotel bed, staring at the ceiling, and I was like that’s it! The packaging was the old understated Abby who didn’t feel worthy of a business, and I needed to upgrade that packaging much like I had upgraded my view of the business and myself.
And so, I struggled with what that looked like, and one day I was taking the dog for a walk, and I believe that if you walk for 25 minutes a day, ideas magically appear because you allow yourself to go blank.
But at any rate, it was during one of my walks with my dog, and I was like I don’t know why this popped into my head, but it was an interview or a story that I had read about Sara Blakely who is the founder of Spanx. And she had said that she started her company and she wanted to disrupt the market; she wanted to disrupt the hosiery market.
And I was like you know what? I really like that word. I wanna go and disrupt the high heel insole market. And so, I went back, and I started doing research, and I was like I want a red packaging, much like Spanx. I want to claim what the benefit is right on the front of the packaging.
So, it says “Wear High Heels up to 4x Longer without Pain.” And I wanted to increase the price because I wanted people to value this product. And ironically, it was around that time frame I got a call from Oprah Magazine saying that they were gonna feature the product in the magazine.
Abby: Yes, and they asked me what the price was gonna be, and I was like you know what? I’m not gonna give them the price it is today because that’s not what I wanted to have it done in the future. So, I gave them the price of $29.00 a pair. And so, I had a deadline I had three months to revamp my packaging. Relist the price and redo my website. And I got it done.
John: Vivian, I wanna challenge you once again, just because you like the challenge yourself, what do you think is the biggest take away from this? I mean you put that deadline in place. You challenged yourself. You got out of your comfort zone. All those things are huge takeaways. But what’s the one thing that you really think Fired Nation need to get from that aha moment?
Abby: Don’t undervalue your product. So, when I launched, I ironically have raised the price of my product twice which is not recommended, not to raise pricing for a physical product. But I did and did so successfully. But when you’re starting your business or when you’re starting you know launching a new product? Don’t undervalue it. There are – don’t project your insecurities on your customer.
John: And also, Fire Nation, the old way of doing things, oh let’s not raise our prices, like okay maybe that’s works for Walmart, but you’re not Walmart. So, let’s focus on what you think you need to do and just make it happen. And if you think that Abby’s been dropping value bombs, you’re right.
More coming up in the lightning round when we get back from thanking our sponsors.
Abby are you ready to rock the lightning rounds?
Abby: I am.
John: What was holding you back from becoming an entrepreneur?
Abby: Me. My self-limiting beliefs.
John: What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Abby: Stay in your lane and don’t be distracted by shiny objects.
John: What’s a personal habit that contributes to your success?
Abby: Dancing. So, when I am in a foul mood, or I’m stuck in making a decision, I –
John: Just dance, dance, dance.
Abby: Just dance it out.
John: Dance, dance, dance. I just was dancing right now, and it worked.
Abby: I love it!
John: But I was in a good mood anyway. Anyway, recommend one Internet resource.
Abby: Google. I started my business because I googled everything. Google is the most powerful Internet resource.
John: Recommend one book and share why.
Abby: Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. And I recommend it because in there she talks about such important concepts. Like inspiration, curiosity, courage, fear, and persistence.
John: And Fire Nation, it’s a great audiobook as well, so if you’re not currently an audible member, go ahead to eofirebook.com and grab that book for free.
And Abby let’s end today on fire with you giving us a parting piece of guidance sharing the best way that we can connect with you and then we’ll say goodbye.
Abby: Sounds good. My piece of advice is to keep moving. So, every single day, take at least one step towards your dream or towards that next big action that you need to take. Don’t be blinded by success or blindsided by failure. Just keep moving.
John: And how can we connect with you?
Abby: You can find Vivian Lou Isolia Weight Shifting Insoles at vivianlou.com, and anyone who is interested in trying them out, can get them at 20 percent off with discount code “Fire.”
John: Oh, even better. I know what I’m getting my mother for her birthday.
Abby: Yes. I love it! And you can also find my book Strop on a Pair I at Amazon. It is available in paperback, Kindle, and an Audible version.
John: Boom! I love it all.
John: Now Vivian, did you actually read the Audible version of that for your book?
Abby: I did.
Abby: It’s funny, I didn’t want to. I wasn’t intending to, but in my book, it’s kind of a raw memoir, so I happened to swear a lot in the book, and no one could swear – I know warning! No one could swear like I did.
Abby: So, I was like – and that was such a critical piece of it. I was like nope, I gotta read it myself.
John: I love it. Well, I’m glad you did it too because no one is gonna be able to bring the realness like your own work. I’m a big proponent of that.
So, Fire Nation you’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with, even hanging out with Abby and JLD today, so keep up the heat and head over to eofire.com. Just type Abby A-B-B-Y in the search bar. Her show us page will pop up with everything that we’ve been talking about today. These are the best show notes in the biz. Timestamps, links galore.
Of course, don’t forget to check out vivianlou.com use promo code “Fire” to get a great 20 percent discount for a great gift for yourself or a loved one or whoever that might be. And guess what? You should check out Strap on a Pair and now that we know that it’s Vivian herself just drop in at “s” and I’m sure “f” bombs on the actual book.
Abby: Yes indeed.
John: Then get over to Amazon and snag that audiobook Strap on a Pair. And oh, by the way, if you go through eofirebook.com and you’re not an Audible member, you’re gonna get that book for free. And don’t worry because Vivian still gets paid. You know Audible takes that on, No big deal. I mean Abby still gets paid, not Vivian.
Abby: You’re not the only one who does that.
John: I’m sure. It’s just back and forth, back and forth. Abby, thank you for sharing your journey with Fire Nation today. For that, we salute you, and we’ll catch you on the flipside.
Abby: Thank you for having me.
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