You will need a strong social media team behind you. If you want to be bigger than a mom and pop startup, you need to think and act like one. This means you can’t post on social media on occasion…you need to have a plan and be able to engage and respond to followers. It is very important to grow your followers which means you need a strong social media team to help
The COVID19 pandemic has disrupted all of our lives. But sometimes disruptions can be times of opportunity. Many people’s livelihoods have been hurt by the pandemic. But some saw this as an opportune time to take their lives in a new direction.
As a part of this series called “How I Was Able To Pivot To A New Exciting Opportunity Because Of The Pandemic”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Andi Barness-Rubin.
Andi Barness-Rubin is a working mother of 3 teenage boys and the inventor of Cart Safe. While her career started in radio and moved into television where she was a reporter, host and product spokesperson, Andi realized that she would much rather be pitching her own products then talking about someone else’s products on television. Inventions and startup businesses came easy for Andi, but her latest, Cart Safe, is the one she is most proud of.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we start, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?
I grew up in Cypress, CA, in a middle-class family. My father was an LA Sheriff, and my mom was a hairdresser. I was always coming up with ideas as a kid and I would constantly create things that my mom would sell to her clients in her salon. As I got older, I realized that if I wanted things (like every girl does) I would have to purchase them on my own because our family seemed to always be on a strict budget. This motivated me and I started coming up with small business ideas so I could earn my own money and never have to hear the word “No” or “we can’t afford it.”
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“You only know what you know.” I would sometimes get down on myself because I could not figure things out and then I heard this quote “You only know what you know”. You can’t be expected to be an expert in everything, because we have not been taught about everything under the sun. I try and learn every day and life experiences have taught me so much, which has gotten me where I am today. I believe you must go about things with an open mind, and if you don’t know something it’s ok to reach out to others for help. Learn from them!
Is there a particular book, podcast, or film that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?
I know this is not very original, but the show Shark Tank has really given us some great advice. I have hundreds of shows recorded and I am constantly watching it and learning from other inventors’ mistakes and triumphs. Regular people can come up with some great ideas, it is what you do with those ideas that makes you a successful entrepreneur or just a person with an idea.
Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion. Can you tell our readers about your career experience before the Pandemic began?
Before the pandemic I was a Television Spokesperson for numerous products and also the Director of Sales and Marketing for EWheels. I worked full time for EWheels and would go on local television 1–2 times a month to promote various businesses and products. After high school I became a radio disc jockey, then advanced to a radio traffic reporter which then progressed to me becoming a television traffic reporter, then a television host. I was constantly learning every step of the way, and I always wanted more.
Can you tell us about the specific “Aha moment” that gave you the idea to start this new path?
When COVID-19 hit, I was frustrated that there wasn’t a better way to protect myself while at the grocery store. I did not like touching the shopping carts that everyone else was touching. I was shocked to learn that shopping carts carried more germs and bacteria than public restrooms, and that is when I realized that I had to bring a product to market ASAP. By August 2020 I had a warehouse filled with Cart Safe shopping cart liners and a patent. Cart Safe is a recyclable, disposable and/or reusable shopping cart liner that covers the inside of the cart, the outside of the cart, the handle and even the child seat area.
How are things going with this new initiative?
Because this is a new to market product, we have had to put a great deal of effort into PR, Marketing and Advertising to make the public aware that our product even exists. This has been our biggest challenge.
Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are?
I am so grateful for my husband, Scott Rubin. I have always had so many ideas, but I have never had one that he believed in…. until now. This idea was a winner and he helped me with manufacturing and helped me with securing a patent. I could not have done it without him. Remember, “You don’t know what you don’t know” and thankfully my husband knew a lot about manufacturing!
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started in this new direction?
I think you need to be able to have fun with your product and do what is necessary to get attention. When we first launched our Cart Safe product, we were very serious with our marketing efforts and wanted people to know that our Cart Safe shopping cart liners would help keep you safe and protect you from germs and bacteria. It’s a true statement but it is kind of boring. We had a couple of people on social media make the comment that our shopping cart liners looked like a Cart Condom, and you know what? They were right! It does look like a big blue condom. Our amazing PR team quickly switched gears and started sending our Press Releases promoting our Cart Condom and we started getting attention and more press. Cart Safe Cart Condoms…. Practice Safe Shopping!
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me before I started leading my organization” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
1. You will need a strong social media team behind you. If you want to be bigger than a mom and pop startup, you need to think and act like one. This means you can’t post on social media on occasion…you need to have a plan and be able to engage and respond to followers. It is very important to grow your followers which means you need a strong social media team to help.
2. Take more pictures and video then you think you will need before you launch. We took our basic pictures of our product; however, you don’t realize until you start posting images how fast you go through them. Go above and beyond with images and get a ton of lifestyle shots too.
3. Be prepared to spend more money than you think on advertising. This is especially true if you are starting a new to market product and brand. You must be visible everywhere for people to see you and remember you. This means local news, national news, Facebook, Instagram, Etsy, eBay, LinkedIn, Amazon, and Google.
4. More options will mean more sales. We started with a shopping cart liner made from recyclable plastic, however, there are many out there that want biodegradable or washable options. If you want to promote to a mass audience, you need to be open to change and ready to PIVOT quickly.
5. Not everyone is going to like your idea and that’s ok. Ignore the trolls on Social Media.
So many of us have become anxious from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. Can you share the strategies that you have used to optimize your mental wellness during this stressful period?
I love a challenge! I think you either thrive on new things or it can scare you to death. I have always been one to go full speed ahead with no fear when it comes to new ventures and businesses. I wake up in the morning excited about everything I have to do, and I actually get giddy with excitement about the possibilities of turning a new business into something truly successful. I do not let fear or doubt enter my mind…. I’m always positive and optimistic, and I think having this attitude can help with the way things will turn out.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?
I would try and inspire people by reminding them that they can do anything. Just because you don’t know how to do something or it seems difficult, that does not mean it can’t be done. Search for answers on the internet and try and find someone to mentor you. Those people are out there, I promise. You just may have to knock on a lot of doors to get their attention. Don’t settle for the word NO! If you want something bad enough you will find a way to get it. Trust me on this one!
Is there a person in the world whom you would love to have lunch with, and why? Maybe we can tag them and see what happens!
It would be a dream come try to have lunch with the cast of Shark Tank so I could pitch them on my invention and learn from them on how to make my company bigger and better.
How can our readers follow you online?
Please follow us on Instagram @cart_safe Facebook @cartsafeliner Twitter @cartsafe1
Thank you so much for sharing these important insights. We wish you continued success and good health!