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Garden Manicure Mishap Sprouts Dig It Apparel

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Listen to the podcast episode here, or read the transcript below for Garden Mishap Sprouts Dig It Apparel, with guest Claudia Harvey, founder of Dig It Apparel and BG Wealth Group.

Kelly Scanlon

Welcome to Talking Business Now. I’m your host Kelly Scanlon. Thank you for joining us.

We are Talking Business Now with Claudia Harvey, the CEO of Dig It Apparel, a line of outdoor living products. Claudia is also the co-founder and president of BG Wealth Group, and she’s a global serial entrepreneur, investor, best-selling author and philanthropist.

In this episode of Talking Business Now, Claudia talks with us about how her mom’s life journey has inspired her own journey. She’ll also share insights she’s gleaned from her various entrepreneurial endeavors, her deal with Kevin O’Leary, and the opportunity to be a contributing author of “America’s Leading Ladies,” alongside Oprah Winfrey and Melinda Gates. Welcome, Claudia.

Claudia Harvey

Thank you so much. It’s such a pleasure to be here.

Kelly Scanlon

Your mother. Let’s start there. What a powerhouse. I mean, it’s no wonder you’ve drawn your inspiration from her. Tell us about that relationship and how it’s guided you along your entrepreneurial journey.

Claudia Harvey

Oh, well, thank you for asking. My mom was—she was a wonderful lady and had she been born in today’s generation, I think she would have been incredibly unstoppable. But she was born in 1926 in Germany, so she went through the World War, she immigrated with my dad in the 60s to Canada with literally $100 in her pocket, not unlike many immigrant stories.

She worked as a homemaker until I was about 12 years old. And then my parents decided that they were going to own their own hairdressing salon run by my mom. So, they opened a couple in Guelph, which is this teeny, tiny city outside of Toronto, Canada, where I live. And eventually, my parents separated at age 70—and amicably, wonderfully. They finally realized that they’re probably not the best partners to be with, and they moved on.

Then my mom took control of her money, and you know, her entire life, she let others take control of money. Then she took control of money at age 70. She invested $30,000 that she got in her separation agreement with my dad. And upon her death. 10 years later, she parlayed that into $450,000 by day trading.

Kelly Scanlon

Not bad!

Claudia Harvey

Insanely amazing—and quietly did it. And I was executor of her will, and when oh my gosh, I really wish that she told me how did she did this. But she was the most positive person. She went through a lot in her life, you know, given the background and the age then and the place that she was born. But she always had a very, very positive attitude. When she became this money powerhouse, quiet money powerhouse, she started to look at all the investment shows that she could learn. Her health started to decline in the last 10 years of her life, but her mind absolutely did not. So, she learned this new skill.

And she was actually our dragon, or our shark, when we were presenting to the Dragon’s Den, which is the Shark Tank in Canada. And she was our shark. So, if you can imagine this little old German lady with this very German accent—she was grilling us on what we needed to know for Dragon’s Den. So, she was amazing.

Kelly Scanlon

Once you came up with the idea for Dig It apparel, Kevin O’Leary was very instrumental in launching that to an even greater level. So, it’s a talk to us about where you came up with the inspiration for Dig It Apparel, why you decided to go on Dragon’s Den and then the deal you made with Kevin, which was a little unconventional.

Claudia Harvey

The idea started literally from a barbecue with friends on Labor Day weekend in the fall. My friend that was had become my business partner, she and I were lamenting that we had destroyed our manicure our hands in the garden the day before. And we were both in the corporate world and wanted to go back, of course, to the Monday morning and not have our hands destroyed. So, it was a nice idea with a nice product that we should protect our hands and our nails in the garden well. So, we created a pillow top protector embedded in each fingertip in a garden utility glove made specifically for women.

So, the concept was created, the idea was created in 2007 and that September with the “aha” moment. But it took a complete year for us to actually do the research, determine that actually, there was a need for this, that the garden industry was growing and the nail salon industry was also growing—and the same woman was going in both of those markets. So, there was again a niche product that could meet a niche need, but the niche need was growing and growing. And the demographic of the women had more discerning income and more ability to have more leisure time. And that was going back 10 years ago, so that population has grown even more.

So, we took this idea—a lot of people have “ahas,” like “Oh, they should create this, they should create that right?

Kelly Scanlon

Right.

Claudia Harvey

So, it’s what you do with the idea that’s really, really important that I want to get across. Many people just go “Oh, they’ve probably done it.” And they don’t go further. They don’t do the research. When you do the research and then determine that your idea actually has some validity, then you start putting some money and some time and effort into creating the product or the service that you’re thinking about.

And that’s what we did for the entire year. We had five prototypes. We created prototypes with gloves, and the first prototype was hideous, so we went back to the drawing board, and it took time. And we created the website, we created the trademarked name, we created the business plan, financial plan and marketing plan all within that first year. So, we launched in the spring of 2009.

My business partner suggested that we go on Dragon’s Den, and so we taped May of 2009, only six weeks after we actually launched in sales in the business, and we hit $12,000 sales and 42 retailers. And that’s it.

But what I think would impress Kevin was that we had a plan—a five-year strategic plan of where we wanted to be in the marketplace. We were a Canadian company, so we were going to make all our mistakes in Canada, which is a tiny fraction of the US marketplace, and then only enter the marketplace.

And if many of your listeners recall, 2009, we were still in the recession.

Kelly Scanlon

Very much so.

Claudia Harvey

Yeah. And we didn’t know how deep the recession was. So, we had a five-year plan to get into the United States by 2015. That changed to 2016 and 17, simply because we needed to be ready—and we needed to make sure that we could actually make money with this product and the idea. And then we added products to the assortment, and we created a really great following of women that spread the word.

Kelly Scanlon

Before you go on, I just want to double down on a message that I’m hearing you say. I meet so many entrepreneurs whose businesses are passion projects, in the sense that there’s a very emotional attachment about starting them. But the research that you mentioned is so critical, because until you can find people and prove that people will get out their wallets, open them up, and pay you for whatever service or product that you’re so passionate about, it’s not a business.

Claudia Harvey

That’s right. That’s right. And actually I’d like to suggest that you take the emotion out of creating the concept of the business. Because people, when they get too emotionally attached to their idea, or they become quote unquote “house proud” with their idea, they get blinders on and think that the marketplace needs their idea. So, when you do the research, it really is just fact. It is determining if there is a need and how you can actually make money with that need. Or, if you’re a nonprofit, how you can service the nonprofit community, depending on what your idea is, of course.

So, it’s taking the emotion out even though you really want it. And once the need is established, then you put your heart and soul into creating the project. It’s like buying an asset, buying a house. I really want that house, but you don’t want to show the sellers that you really, really, really want it.

Kelly Scanlon

So, Kevin O’Leary saw that you had done your research and he thought there was a viable concept there.

Claudia Harvey

He did. Yeah, he did.

And I think he bought into what our business was versus buying a pair of gloves, right? The concept of gloves is not what he bought into. It’s actually the business and how far we could go with the business.

Luckily enough, being in his book, “The Cold Hard Truth” as the perfect pitch and using Kevin’s name allowed us to enter doors that we normally, probably would not have entered into for a number of years, simply because we were one SKU; we were one product.

So, 2011 we had the opportunity of going into a test program with Home Depot Canada. That became a national program in 2012. So, we are now four times the size of what we were with Home Depot back in 2012. That led into Lowe’s Canada, that led into a whole bunch of US organizations and retailers.

So, it’s just one step after one step after one step, with a foundation of growing your business. Kevin’s ability to use his name was an integral part of growing the business. Dig It bought him out in 2015, very amicably. He had moved down to Shark Tank in the United States. We could never be on Shark Tank. He was never coming back and into the Canadian marketplace on Dragon’s Den. So Dig It bought him out, but we’re still able to use the story obviously.

Kelly Scanlon

Yes, you know, watching that pitch. I think one of the most incredible things that he said was you don’t need me, as a partner, as a man telling a woman the kinds of apparel she needs to work in the garden.

Claudia Harvey

Right? Yeah, he let us run the business. That’s exactly what they want to do. They want to partner with people that can actually run the business and understand the business model and then they can guide if they need to.

Kelly Scanlon

You have learned so many lessons throughout the life of your business, your entrepreneurial endeavors and also many things that you learned from your mother, your entrepreneurial parents. And you’ve written several books. All of them have, at their core, some very key messaging that are built on three pillars. Talk to us about those three pillars.

Claudia Harvey

I call them the Three Pillars of Possibility. And they’re basically anything, any foundation that anybody wants to have in their life, for their business, for themselves, for their personal life. And the three pillars are emotional support, financial understanding and business understanding. So, the three things go hand in hand.

And to develop a strategy or a business or just personal growth, you need to have all of those three things because you can’t have financial growth without understanding the network and the people around you and the personal connections that you have with people.

So, I’m a strong believer in you surround yourself with five successful people. And what does success mean to you? Success is very, very personal. If you are a philanthropist, you want to surround yourself with people that have done philanthropy, know how to do it, know how to give back. If you’re a business person or an entrepreneur, you want to surround yourself with people that have successfully created a business. So, surrounding yourself with the emotional support of the positivity in life is absolutely necessary and crucial to having a positive outlook on whatever growth you want to do.

Then the financial aspect is if you want to create a financial wealth, or stability or foundation, whatever that goal is—you know, some people want to make 50,000 a year or some people want to make 100,000, some want to make 100 million—whatever that success factor is, you surround yourself with the people that will positively help you grow. And the network helps you with your financial understanding. Then, as my mom did, take control of your finances, take control of your understanding about your own money. Do not let other people guide you. Really delve into what people are saying, what advice you’re getting, and truly understand exactly what you need to understand in terms of your own financial growth.

And then business, be it a job or your own business, really understand the marketplace, the factors that can affect the market that you’re in. If you want to increase your job and career, what does that mean inside your own community? How do you talk to those people that will establish a strategic career that you might want to go after? If you’re in a business, totally understand the business marketplace that you’re in. Obviously, COVID, is a prime example. How do you mitigate the COVID? What happened in COVID to all the businesses and how it impacts your own business, as an example. So, I find the Three Pillars of Possibility—financial, emotional and business understanding—integral to a person’s growth.

Kelly Scanlon

And you have taken those three pillars, like I said, and they underlie all of your speaking, all of your books. And one of your books, I want to call out—“The Five Strategies That Lead to an Unstoppable Life.” I would like to talk about one of those, and that is value pricing. The reason I want to talk about that is because that is an area that so many business owners struggle with. So, talk to us a little bit about how you define that and why it’s so important.

Claudia Harvey

Value pricing. So, let’s talk about the two words.

Pricing obviously means how you make money in the marketplace, how you price yourself in the marketplace. So many businesspeople and entrepreneurs start their business by undervaluing who they are and what they can offer. Once you’re in a marketplace, and you’ve set your price, it is very, very difficult—unless you’re a sought-out service—to increase your price in the marketplace.

If you’re a product-based business, as many people understand, you’re selling at a certain price of your product in a retail outlet or a consumer website. And sales happen all the time left, right and center. So, you’re decreasing the value of your price, but you’re possibly decreasing the value of your brand. So, when I talk about value pricing, I talk about what is your brand worth? What are you worth? and making sure that you establish that value in the marketplace and set the expectation in the marketplace for that pricing.

And believe that pricing. Do not undercut yourself. So many people undervalue themselves thinking that they just have to make a quick buck, or that the next sale is just around the corner: Ah, maybe they can discount themselves and discount their product just that much. But that becomes a very, very slippery slope. So, before you set your pricing or even if you’re in the midst of pricing a new customer, determine the value of who you are or what your service or product is offering, and put that value out there. Set it in stone and believe that you are part of that value. And that is extremely important. That belief system, which is also part of The Three Pillars of Possibility, is so Important in pricing yourself and making money in the marketplace.

Kelly Scanlon

And a corollary to that is—I find it very interesting that so many of the entrepreneurs, the business owners, who undervalue themselves actually lose out on potential customers because of that. They think that, you know, if they have a lower price point, it will help them to win the business. But there are some customers who look at that and say, “That’s all they’re charging? Something must be wrong,” you know?

Claudia Harvey

Totally, right?

Kelly Scanlon

So it works against them.

Claudia Harvey

Yes, absolutely. 100%. Yes.

Kelly Scanlon

Another book that you’re involved with, I mentioned earlier, is “America’s Leading Ladies,” and Melinda Gates and Oprah Winfrey are also co-authors on that book. Tell us about the book, your experience with it and where our listeners can get a copy.

Claudia Harvey

100%. Yeah. So the book was a wonderful opportunity to be part of this amazing group of ladies. The book talks about everything from emotional journeys to business stories. It’s personal stories. So, Oprah Winfrey is chapter one, and I am chapter two right behind her I’m happy to say. Mary Barra is also. She was the general manager of General Motors. So, some amazing, amazing powerhouse women. Some are talking about their philanthropy because Melinda Gates talk about her philanthropy. Others talk about business, which is Mary Barra’s story about her own personal development and business. I talk about my story and my business as well. So, it’s a book with 50 authors, with a whole bunch of different stories that I think can speak to so many different people in so many different ways. And it’s definitely being able to be sold on amazon.com.

Kelly Scanlon

How did the book come to be? I mean, who spearheaded this? Whose idea was it?

Claudia Harvey

The main producer of the book contacted me in January of 2019. And I was actually traveling for a business meeting. And I got a call from my assistant to say that this person wanted to talk to me and to be a part of this collaboration with Oprah Winfrey and Melinda Gates. And I’m like, “What? ‘America’s Leading Ladies?’” Well, first of all, I’m Canadian. So, you know, it was a humbling gift, to be invited to participate in such an opportunity.

I think that is part of surrounding yourself, with being with positive amazing people, that once you have that positive attraction model, that will open doors to opportunities that you have no idea, no concept that that could even be. So, when I met with Pat, the producer of the book, I went, “Oh my gosh, this is actually legitimate. Oh, my gosh, this, this is amazing. This little girl from Guelph, Ontario is part of this wonderful book.” So, it was a wonderful, humbling experience. And I’m so proud to be part of it.

Kelly Scanlon

Yeah. And that goes back to your belief system, though. One of those pillars, as you said, everything goes back to that. I said, you’re a serial entrepreneur. You have an investment company, a consulting company. Tell us about BG.

Claudia Harvey

BG Wealth Group is the umbrella organization for three businesses, and my business partner and I joined forces back in the Kevin O’Leary days. So, when we bought Kevin’s asset back from Dig It, my business partner Craig bought into Dig It and took Kevin’s position. And that is surrounding yourself with positive people. When I had the opportunity of buying back Kevin’s position, I offered that to Craig, and he took it immediately. So, he and I had become business partners.

And then in 2018, he asked me to rebrand his existing companies. And we created the BG Wealth Group of companies. And they consist of an accounting company, a marketing company, so BG Marketing Authority, and BG Wealth Properties. BG Wealth Properties is a wonderful opportunity for people to come in and invest their dollars in property in a small region in Owen Sound, which is just north of Toronto. So, Craig had made a nice dent in the Detroit marketplace when Detroit went bankrupt, and bought 350 properties when they were decreased value, increased the value, put people into those rental opportunities, and offered that opportunity for people to purchase shares with them into each of those properties as corporations.

So, he copied that model, rinse and repeat, in Owen Sound, Canada, which is north of Toronto, a small community that is also a depressed economy. And we are turning that wonderful city into an amazing opportunity and tourist destination.

So, it’s building teams in each of those organizations. Because, you know, there’s just so many hours in the day. You have a team of people in BG Wealth Properties, a team of people that’s run by a CEO in BG Marketing Authority and a CEO that runs our accounting company. So, each of those sort of go hand in hand with also creating wealth. That’s why it’s BG Wealth Group.

Kelly Scanlon

Building those teams could be a whole other episode. I mean, there’s so much that goes into that in order to do everything that you do, you have to have people that you trust around you who can carry those activities out. And it’s just so critical. And so many business owners are so afraid to let go and do that.

Claudia Harvey

They’re so afraid. I get that.

Kelly Scanlon

So, such a message there. Again, that could be a whole other episode.

You’re also—aside from your successful career, Claudia—you believe in the power of paying it forward. And you work with several organizations that are dedicated, in particular, to empowering women and youth. So, tell us about some of those organizations and your work with them, and why it’s just so important to you to pay it forward.

Claudia Harvey

Oh, thank you. This is a wonderful opportunity to talk about the growth of, development of, actually, where I developed into it. 2016, you know, owning a business, doing a successful business, speaking on stages, impacting lives on business—wonderful, absolutely fantastic. But I felt that there was still something missing.

And I didn’t know that until I was given tickets to sit in a conference. And normally I’m a speaker at a conference, so it’s quite unusual to be actually in the audience and just relaxing and listening to the speakers. And the organization that was putting on the speaking engagement, was called Social Light Conference. And it was about social entrepreneurship. And I had no concept again, what social entrepreneurship was.

Well, basically, it is organizations that make money to put back into community growth and empower others to impact their own lives. So, it’s not donations. It is putting money back into a community and changing community lives.

So, as I’m sitting in this conference, I was literally tearing up thinking, “This is what’s missing in my life. Where can I provide my understanding and my knowledge to be impactful into another organization?” So fast forward to 2017, I sort of put that in the back of my brain knowing that I want to do this, but opportunity will come. It’s all timing sometimes. But I know that it’s something that I want to do.

So, in 2017, in September 2017, which is almost a year later, I see these beautiful woven, cotton scarves blowing in the wind in a small town festival, where I was just participating. And I went over to this little booth, saw these beautiful scarves, because I love to shop and I love to buy things that are beautiful. So, I spoke to the person that was manning the booth. And she told me that these scarves and wraps are made with organic cotton, dyed and created and loomed by hand from a small town or a small village, just north of Phnom Penh in Cambodia. And all the proceeds, 100% of the proceeds, go back to the women that weave them to help clothe, feed, educate their kids, so that kids can have a better life than they did.

And I’m like, “Oh, my gosh. This is exactly the type of organization I’d like to participate in and amplify their message.” So I contacted the founder of the organization. And little did I know he was Canadian, and he’s dedicated his life to that region in Cambodia, to help this organization to multiply what they’ve done with other regions across the world.

So, I’m so excited to be part of the Sonas organization, and people can see them at Sonas—S-O-N-A-S.org. And I now sit on their international advisory board and help amplify their message. In 2018, I went over to meet the ladies. And I am creating, in my Dig It world, a whole new channel of textile products based out of this small village in Cambodia. So, it is wonderful.

And when I went to Cambodia and spent four days in this village, without internet, hardly, there was like tepid water. And that was a shower out of a hose. I loved it, absolutely loved it. The people were amazing, eating their food, which was from the farm to table immediately. They were happy. They don’t have a lot. They’re positive, they’re growing. They were so grateful that I was there. But I was more grateful that they allowed me to come into their community. So, it’s my absolute pleasure to help them grow and amplify their message.

Kelly Scanlon

In addition to Sonas, you also are a member of the foundation board of the Princess Margaret Hospital. Talk to us about that experience.

Claudia Harvey

So, the Princess Margaret Hospital is one of the five top cancer research hospitals in the world. And it’s in Toronto. And they asked me to participate in their foundation to help them raise money to assist the kids of patients that are going through cancer treatment—to be in the hospital in a safe, wonderful, warm environment. So, the foundation is raising money for this specific cause, and they’ve asked me to be part of the foundation. And again, I’m thrilled to be able to do that.

Kelly Scanlon

In 2021, what should people be Talking Business Now about?

Claudia Harvey

In 2021, I think we need to make sure that we still stay positive. There’s still a lot of uncertainty in the economic world. In our own world, in possibly your own community, with still closures and shutdowns based on COVID ramifications. But I think there’s still so much positivity in the world. There’s creativity that has come out of 2020 that we probably would not have seen just because of the need of having people to reposition themselves or reposition their businesses.

So, I think the word of the year to me is amplification. Amplify your message, stay positive, stay true to who you are. And if you need help, reach out to get help. Get help from the medical community if you need it. Get help from the people that are surrounding you. Get help from me if you want. Reach out to anybody that’s offering to help you with your services and amplify your message. I think that needs to be supported. And it’s a wonderful, wonderful way that we can hit 2022, hitting the ground running.

Kelly Scanlon

And your website? if anyone would—you actually have a couple of websites, and I think you can get to them via each other. You’ve got ClaudiaHarvey.com and then you’ve got your Dig It website. So, tell us about the different ways people can reach you.

Claudia Harvey

I think the easiest way to get a hold of me is through the ClaudiaHarvey.com website. DigIt Apparel, so D-I-G-I-T-A-P-P-A-R-E-L.com. Dig It Apparel is where we have all our products. And, in fact, a two-pack sample of the newest product that we have just launched is free on our website.

Kelly Scanlon

Ah, how fun.

Claudia Harvey

Yeah, and BGWealthGroup.com is where we can help you if you want to increase your wealth and understand how to connect to your money.

Kelly Scanlon

Lots of different ways to get in touch with Claudia. We wish you the best of success. It’s been so nice chatting with you today.

Claudia Harvey

Thank you so much, Kelly. It’s been my pleasure being here.

Kelly Scanlon

And I’m your host Kelly Scanlon. Thanks for joining us today.

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