Monday, February 22, 2010

A Big Week!

Hair of the Dawg is a little over 90 days old, and while the whole process of getting it out on the market has been exciting and fun, last week was off the charts!

Over the past 3 months, we have achieved distribution across the entire state of Iowa (many thanks to our distributors and fans for all of your support!). On Wednesday, we had a meeting with a company that is interested in getting the Dawg into 10 other states, and the great thing is… they courted US! There are details to be worked out, and contracts to sign, but it should be happening soon.

On Friday, we paid a visit to our co-packer’s facility in Melrose Park, IL to work on the formulas for Margarita and Mojito mixes. Several friends and fans have volunteered to help with this process, but let me tell you, it’s not as fun as it sounds. Don’t get me wrong... I love spending time with Larry in the lab, but almost four hours of sampling citrus and sugar mixes (without the alcohol, mind you) is tough on the tummy.

First we worked on the Mojito. I told Larry that by the time we were done we’d have sour stomachs and fresh breath, but I do think we came up with the perfect limey, minty mix. After a much-needed break for lunch, we returned to the lab to perfect the Margarita. By 4:00 that afternoon, my stomach ached, my cheeks were locked in a pucker, and my right eyelid twitched every time I took a sip. But again... success! All that remains to be done is to finalize the labels (they’re going to be SO cute!), and the new mixes will be on the shelves in time for a long-awaited turn in the weather.

To top off the week, on Saturday we attended the Cedar Rapids-Iowa City American Advertising Federation’s ADDY Awards. The mission of the ADDYs is to recognize and reward creative excellence in the art of advertising (the local competition is the first step in a three-tiered national competition). The deadline for entries was in November, when Hair of the Dawg was just a week old. A good friend convinced me to enter our label, and I’ll be dawggone... it won...a gold! A “Best of Category” or “Best of Show” entry is automatically forwarded by the local AdFed club to the District competition . Gold awards are also eligible for consideration at Districts, but are sent in at one’s own expense. What the heck...why not?

So as weeks go, this was one to celebrate. With a little Hair of the Dawg, of course.


Saturday, February 20, 2010

A Lesson from a Friend

Live well. Laugh often. Love much. A phrase so often used on wall hangings, embroidered on pillows or forwarded in pass-along e-mails it’s become a bit hackneyed...but one never better exemplified than by the subject of our first Dawg Blawg.

We met our friend Doug and his wife when we were running a restaurant in Okoboji, a lake resort town in Northwest Iowa, where they had a vacation home. As often as we were able, we spent time with Doug and Barb...bicycling, hot-air ballooning, engaging in water combat with our restaurant staff, or just enjoying each other’s company over a cold beer or two...and ALWAYS laughing.

At the end of that year, we moved to the opposite corner of the state, and grew inexcusably out of touch with our friends. A few years later, we were invited back to Okoboji for a wedding, so we called Doug and Barb to let them know. They immediately cancelled their own plans to attend a wedding and welcomed us to their lake home. When we pulled in, they met us in the driveway, Doug in his trademark Hawaiian shirt and easy, wide grin and Barb with her infectious laughter and huge hugs. Time had stood still, and over a martini we picked up our conversation...and laughter, right where we had left off. They crashed the wedding with us.

That weekend, Barb and Doug introduced us to ‘The ‘Hood,’ a group of neighbors and friends who share the same spirit and philosophy of life...and laughter...and love, who soon became our friends, too. We had so much fun with the ‘Hood we began making trips to the Lake almost quarterly, for Winter Games, an annual bike ride, weddings and wedding showers, or whenever we just needed a dose of the ‘Hood.

One weekend I made my Bloody Mary mix and the ‘Hood loved it. Mark threw down the gauntlet and challenged my mix to a taste-off against his. As difficult as it was to admit, his won. Hands down. Doug, always my champion, told me mine was just as good, but I suspect he was just trying to make me feel better. After that, Mark was not allowed to come to the ‘Hood without his mix. Thus was born our test market. The ‘Hood encouraged Mark to pursue his dream to sell his mix (Doug the loudest cheerleader of them all), so he began to look into it.

Last year we made our annual trip up for Winter Games, but missed Doug, who had stayed home because of back pain that had been nagging him for months. A few weeks later, when the pain had still not subsided, he had an MRI and we all prayed that he wouldn’t have to have back surgery. If only. On Friday the 13th, Barb called with the diagnosis...metastatic bone cancer, primary site unknown. Doug fought it like the true Marine he was, never willing to give up and never letting it crush his spirit or his faith. When Doug lost his battle barely 5 months after the diagnosis and a few weeks after his 61st birthday, it was then that I realized what a mighty disease cancer is, to take the life out of someone like Doug.

When Doug came to the realization that the disease was tougher than he, he admonished us all to live for him. Maybe what he (and we) didn’t realize was that all along he had been teaching us to live like him...always game for mischief and fun, with a childlike joy and open mind, a kind word and a ready smile, laughter every day, and heart and arms wide open. So threadbare as the phrase may be, we pledge to live well, laugh often (though sometimes through our tears) and love much...for Doug, for Barb, for the ‘Hood, and for ourselves. We hope you will too.