Jennifer Andrews was a speech therapist ready for something different. A gift from a young client provided the spark and led Jennifer to using her love of connection to found treppie.com
Treppie is an online e-commerce marketplace for girls and young women, ages nine to 25 (or so) to sell their unique handcrafted products in a community-based and mentored environment. But it’s also much more. They provide business guidance and education as well as community support.
For more on Treppie:
Instagram and TikTok @treppiemarket
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On The Second Chapter, serial careerist and founder of Slackline Productions, Kristin Duffy, chats with women who started the second (or third… or fifth!) chapter in their careers and lives, after 35. You’ll find inspiring stories, have a few laughs, and maybe even be motivated to turn the page on your own second chapter!
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This week I'm speaking with Jennifer Andrews. Jennifer was a speech therapist ready for something different. A gift from a young client provided the spark and led Jennifer to using her love of connection to found treppie.com
Treppie is an online e-commerce marketplace for girls and young women, ages nine to 25 (or so) to sell their unique handcrafted products in a community-based and mentored environment. But it's also much more. They provide business guidance and education as well as community support.[:
they can see themselves as business owners, Independent business owners, I just want them comfortable and I want them knowing they can.[:[:[:[:[:[:[:
Got into college and really I knew I wanted something with human behavior and science. I wasn't sure how to mix the two. And my mom she was a teacher, like I said, and she suggested I shadow a speech therapist at her school and I shadowed for two days and I absolutely loved it. And then second semester, freshman year, I took just like a speech and hearing 1 0 1 class at University of Illinois and loved that and was off.
It was just a total perfect match and I fought hard to get into grad school, did that and graduated. And worked in the industry for 23 years and I love it. I still love it. I think it's been, it was an awesome career. I could see myself going back too at some point. I just took a leap and tried something different, but I, it's a very rewarding industry.
It, and it brought me here and I think a lot of the skills that I developed in being a speech pathologists allow me to do what I'm doing today.[:[:
I the hospital environment for me and then senior citizen environments and communities for me, were a little more on the sadder side to be honest. I could develop great relationships with the patients and families, but, it, it really affected me. I took my work home and I would wake up the next day, go back into work and see that my patient had expired and even learning.
Yeah, that word just, you log in for the day and then you're just holding your breath waiting to see. Oh, please. Is are they still here? You know, And you just, 'cause then you get attached to these families and in acute care they're there. 'cause there was some trauma that happened, within a day or two, post.more, I get to connected, I [:
Even the most even the most I, for lack of a better word, intense cases that I dealt with. Everything from autism to cerebral palsy and just your normal, basic articulation to kids with cancer that had word retrieval issues and language issues because of the chemotherapy they'd gone through in the treatments.
Even those stories. And those families they were just on the way up. You were building, right? You were growing. Versus in working with an adult population, they had come from being this, successful, person, right? In whatever capacity they were at. And they had a trauma.
And now you had to try to build back up in a very short window of time because, you really get post infarction, you really get six months to really rebuild. And after that, the brain plasticity is still there, but it's just not as intense, is the best way to say it. You just don't see as much growth post six months trauma.
And there's this pressure and this speed that needs to go into that treatment plan for the adult population. Whereas when you're working with kids, you just, the more they mature, the more they can do, the more they're gonna grow, even when they start a little behind.[:
There's something probably really inspiring instead of, like you said, going to work and checking to see who's expired today.[:[:[:
Pediatric grout was much better for me.[:[:
I'd worked for the state, I had worked for the private preschools that most of the population is typically developing in. Then they embed, like 6%, five, 6% of their population they embed with special needs kids. And then you utilize this typically developing population to help scaffold that more special needs child, and they all you develop the compassionate side to the typical with the, the needs and the showmanship of the typically developing kid for that special needs kid to help them be like, oh, that's what I'm supposed to be doing.
Just this playbook, right? For that kid. And it was an awesome environment. I actually loved that environment. But, and then private therapy, I'd done that for years too. And I just, and I was a stay-at-home mom for a little bit, and I found myself going crazy with that. So I very quickly knew, Nope nope, I've gotta go back to work.
Within six months of having my first kid, I was like painting my walls and stripes while this kid was sitting in his infant carrier. And I'm like, I, okay, I'm done. I need stimulation. The kudos to the moms that can do it. I needed something for myself, a little different. But so I had just checked the boxes and I and I wasn't necessarily looking to shift careers.
I, that was not even a thought for me. I and I had, even while being a speech therapist, I had also tried my hand at nonprofit. My brother had started a. Very successful nonprofit called Camp Out for Kids in Chicago. And it was so much fun and he had great events and I was like I'm gonna try this in Denver.
Why don't I just start it? Is that all right? He gave me the nod and I was like, great. And I just, I didn't know what I was doing. I applied for it, I a 5 0 1 3 C here in Colorado. And I'm scrappy like that. I can start things, but I think that was my. Precipice to understanding how to really just dig in and start right?
I just, when you're blind to something and you don't know any better and so I just started this charity and had fun with that and built, did four or five events. One wanted per year for. I dunno, maybe that was four or five years while I was a speech therapist. And enjoyed that.t have access to summer camp [:
Right? There wasn't this feedback I get direct from speech therapy where I'm one-on-one or one-on five in a small group with kids and I, that interaction and that connection is there, right? So I quickly burnt out in that and realize, eh, that part's not for me. Then just came back to speech therapy and enjoyed that.And then honestly, in, in:
I'm like, let's do that together. I'll help you. And it was like one of those things, the mom was a friend of mine. She agreed, yeah, what do you wanna do? And I found some other girls that wanted to make stuff or did make stuff. And then, we found other girls and other girls and within six weeks we ended up having a little holiday market in the area.
And there were like 18 girls and we had it at a local restaurant. I was gonna have it at my house. And then we had so many people I couldn't fit everybody. And then there was like a shopper line out the door. And I just remember looking at my friend whose daughter it was that gave me the bag and I was like, what is this is something, what is this?
We need to do this. I gotta do this. And I just kept, I had another one like four or five months later I was like, Hey girls, come back. Let's do it again. And then got more girls and then started advertising and came up with a name and got more girls and we just, we did that probably four or five times over the next couple years until, like a lot of businesses covid shut us down[:
Just really hard times that have that hit everyone to be fair.
But a lot of businesses and a lot of fresh ideas that kind of didn't keep going. But yours did[:
I don't know what this is like. And then the, a real vulnerability and real realistic vulnerability of what if this happens again in the world and then we shut this down? How does this work? And I didn't know how to scale these markets too. I had been looking into, do I franchise like a playbook for these people and sell it?
How does this, how do I grow this? What do I do with this? That was when, my husband and I were kinda like, what if we just build something online to let them sell? Let's do that. And we did it in a smaller scale with the other business that was called Bosco Market. And then it was like, let's just shift this all up and make it this educational kind of piece, which I can do and, my sleep.
And also in Covid notice that these girls, all these girls moved to selling stuff online and they, and it exploded, right? And Instagram stores started opening and all this stuff. And then in watching these girls try to run a business and understand the safety issues that were going on, right? How do you make the item and then get paid?
And what information are you exchanging at that point? I'm really protective of safety, right? With my own kids and then these girls. But. It was like they were trying to sell things for like a dollar, but then shipping was like $4. It was like they weren't even understand.
Right. And girls that were like 17, 18, these weren't just nine year olds. It was girls that you thought that. I was like, no, they should know this. They, but they just haven't done it. No one's told them. No one's talked to them about this. So the things that I thought would be innate were not, and the things that I thought they'd have trouble with, they don't.
So it's Right. There's a learning curve there for me too. But so I was like, all right, we gotta build some education into this. It can't just be a platform. They can go on ads and they go on Instagram, do this. I wanted to do it a little different and have. Them have access to somebody and a team of people that could just help and say, look, even though you've been selling and even though you think you know this, let's revisit and talk about it.
Let's have that conversation about this product you love and you wanna sell. How can we make it, so that it's in demand? Is it the color choices? Is it the size? Is it the material you're using? Is it pricing? How are you shipping it? How are you writing about it? What's your ss e o description?ucts are the actual handmade [:[:[:
And then, thank goodness I was introduced to a very smart marketing. Branding genius and begged her to help me. And she, we went through the process of let's break down the business. What is it about, let's brainstorm, what's your mission? What's this? And I had to fill all this information out, right?
Not just on paper, but in my head, what is this? What do I really wanna do? And we came up with trappy, it's like the middle of entrepreneur, T R E P, and then I e the little version of Right. That's that, that was the background of that, that
Right when we came up with it. I'm like, that's it, it was like,[:[:[:
and Slack Line Productions was one of those things where it was sitting, like you said, with a friend and I was telling him the story of what I was looking for, and it was like this, it's like this balance where the thing that goes between trees and you have to balance and it's really precarious, but and it was about redressing the balance of
who we were saying on stage and on screen and everything.
And I was like, it's like one of those slack lines. And we both looked at each other and I was like, oh,[:[:[:
It was right there all the time. But sometimes you gotta clear some stuff away to see,[:
And I think we're very protective of our ideas, but also really shy about them sometimes, or also even with some of our best friends. We don't say, oh, I've got this and and then once you do have that conversation and it becomes a two-way street and there's some support behind it, and I don't know, I'm off on a tangent, but it
really does feel like.[:
I'm like, I'm not a writer. I write, but I, it's not that I'm a talker, I'm a speech pathologist. And I got into that. I naturally was a talker. I just loved the field. I like to help people. I like working with kids. These things all fit as I solve problems, I have to talk them through. I have to hear myself.
Because sometimes you think something and then it comes out of your mouth and you're like, Hey, did I just say what? And you can hear, and you can read people's faces and you can see, and then it, and it just opens up other pathways. And you might be like, Ooh, I heard it out loud.
That was not good. You know what I mean? Like you, but until it gets out there and someone else bounces it back to you is the mirror. It's oh, am I crazy? Am I not, you're my mirror right now is this, how's this being received?[:[:[:[:[:[:[:[:
But but yeah, we are different. It is an e-commerce platform, like a Etsy, like a Shopify where there's a seller and a buyer. And then for the girls' experience I have this backend system for them where they not just upload their products, but there's like a learning kind of center back there for them that's written out.
There's videos and we work with the girls When they onboard, they sign up, they have to have a parent consent, and they have a Zoom call with myself or a Ree mentor that helps teach them not just how to upload product in a technological kind of way. But hey, so what's the name of this product? And let's talk about why a name is important, right? And then and how it connects to a Google search and why naming a bracelet, blue Island bracelet is so fun for you, but no one's gonna search that. And so what should we name it, right?
These basic kind of SS e O. Features, that they need to learn about. And then how to price things and why that's important. It's not just the how, it's the why. And so we're, we talk about these facets and go over it. And so our initial Zoom calls are sometimes, I always say, if they're a very well seasoned maker, sometimes they're 20, 30 minutes.
Sometimes I'm on there for an hour and a half, two hours, and I'm not just talking to the girl about their product because a lot of times why they're making that product has a story, right? Just like you're finding out my story. They, a lot of kids have been through a lot of stuff and it comes out, how'd you start making your crochet plushies? During Covid I was sitting alone and I was so sad, and I was so lonely, and this happened and that happened and it's, there's a story behind it. And that's the part. There's my feedback in working with those kids. Boom, my heart turns on.
I'm like, yes, this is it. This is awesome. Let's talk about your plushies and how can we. Make sure that you are still feeling joy in making them and making a little bit of money and learning something, right? So that's something that separates us from another type of platform, right? We've got that educational base and then, yeah, we don't have the same fees, for these young artisans because they are just starting out,
or some of them have been selling on other platforms and they haven't been seeing any return, and they're charged upfront before they even get to sell one item. They have to pay, they have to give a credit card and pay just to upload things. And so now you're just in the negative even before you started.
And I get that for a woman who has a lot of business experience, this is her main job. There's costs in business. I pay fees upfront before I even get to turn things on. I get that. I really wanted it to feel like for these artisans, what they were experiencing was positivity, So they get to put it up. They don't have pain in joining. They don't have pain in paying to get a product up, and they just get to earn, get a check or some version of a payment once they sell something back, right? So I just wanted a positive experience so that they stick with it, and that they don't have as many pain points and they're supported and aided in the ways that they need.
And that leads us to this next field that I wanted to go for was a sense of community. So we try to support, have Ree support other Ree and they make a lot of content on their own. And content is expensive for me, right? It's expensive for e-commerce platforms to create content.
And so we say, look, Ree, you're a Ree. She's a ree. Let's swap some product, and make a little video. Takes 'em a minute and a half. And these generations do it way better and know way more about how to do it than I[:
It's an, it's nothing for them. And so they might swap product with another trappy and then do a little review, product review that they film. And then we post and we push out on social media for them. And that's the other way we market their products. I say at no charge to them right now because they're creating the product for us so I don't have to pay for content.
And then I'm just pushing it out to our social media and our email platforms and, any way we can get some to our to influencers. We send it off to people like, Hey, would you like some of this product to, open and talk about and see and right. And plug.
Ree helping Ree, there's a community base there, and it's just all positive building support, on the same trajectory. I fell when I decided to work with kids. Let's just move upward, right? Let's just try to use what we have and build, and grow.[:
Of the statistics around. Around young entrepreneurs especially, and especially girls. But what were you seeing, statistically sounds so boring 'cause obviously the excitement is this connection you're feeling, but as far as now that you're more into it what was the chances of them making it without a platform like this?[:
The exchange to do that fluidly with trust and security too. I, that's the only way I would let my kid on it, and want to be a young artisan on it. I think there's lots of artisans though that do have the lock. They just, something works for them. I'm not saying it doesn't happen.
I think there's people like that out there. They just get lucky. And either their product hits, it's the right time. They get picked up by something. It's just it can happen, but it's a rarity. It's the diamond in the rough.
We have girls on our platform that have some of those success stories, and once it died down, they still needed the platform. Do you know what I mean? They still needed a home base. And there was more to learn. There's always more to learn. So that's our background with that. Yeah.[:
And, and I also see that as future building because I think we, people that are our age are just coming around to really understanding this kind of women supporting women thing and how the support of other women is making success stories all the time in a way that I don't personally think I saw a while back.
But, starting that when you're nine or 12 and really understanding that you can be a business person and in a competitive market, I.
Not be this cutthroat, the other woman is my competition. This sort of like eighties, nineties mentality that, that I think we saw in films because there was one position and now we can share the love and share the support and teaching girls that at a young age has to be beneficial in the long term, I would think.[:
This is it goes from, my mom used to say to me all the time you just gotta support yourself. You gotta be able to support yourself. So whatever that is, you wanna be a teacher, you wanna be a doctor, you wanna be a lawyer, you wanna be a speech therapist, you wanna own your own e-commerce, but you gotta be able to support yourself.
So to me that, that filters through a little bit in my why, hey, girls, of any age, right? So we have sellers on that are also 28 and 30. I wasn't expecting that. When we set out, we're like, oh, we're just gonna be this range. But that's growth, right? That, that was a pivot point for us.
We're like, oh, this girl wants to come on. Let's try. There's women of all ages that need to learn that they can do this on their own. You can start a business. You can be this, you can learn it. It's scary, but dive in and do it. And the earlier they start, just like they can see themselves as scientists and doctors and coders,
they can see themselves as business owners, right? Independent business owners, someone who just opens up a business and starts and grows it and has that grit and understanding of the backend of their business, right? They've got the product, they know what they wanna sell.
That backend is a whole other beast, that they've just gotta feel comfortable with managing. And that's really, I just want them comfortable and I want them knowing they can, that's it.[:[:[:
Same.[:in it and watched a tutorial [:
There's just, it's, the possibilities are endless. Our best sellers to date of course it follows, the trends are crocheting and jewelry, crocheted items and jewelry. Like those are like hot topics. Those shift, just like everything, things shift. And I'm, I anticipate where while we have a lot of attention on those particular items and a lot of girls joining for those particular items, I can already start to see some other girls that are signing on that do different things.
And I'm like, yes, that's cool. And I say to the girls, this goes back to that. Comment you made about competitiveness. How do they get on? They're like I really wanna make this, but I see that you have a lot of it. And I'm like, great comment and great. I love that you saw that.
Let's talk about that. How do you diversify your product? How do you make your product unique? Maybe, maybe it's just a color choice. Maybe it's a size variableness, right? Maybe we see a lot of littles. Let's make the big one, maybe we see a lot of multicolored beading.
Maybe we just make solid, right? So we talk about how to stand out within the sea of all these wonderful creators. How can you stand out a little bit, right? Make yourself unique. I don't know. I like the kids that are a little bit different. I like the people that are unique and different.
I always gravitate towards people that are, just confident in their quirkiness, let's call it[:[:
And you've got x number of dollars to spend. How do you best spend it? You try something, if it works or it doesn't work. You go off the path then that didn't work. Now what? I am constantly, that's what keeps me up at night.
We started out, okay, we're building this machine now we got it built. Now what do I need? I need girls. I need product. And so the first kind of chapter, we just were like girls. It was just about the girls chapter one. How do we find the girls? And we did that and now we got that dialed in.
We know, we find how we find girls on Instagram and TikTok and. Now we've got this following and now we've got a trust between communities, and people are like, oh yeah, you got cool girls, cool stuff. This is a legit business, and now we've moved on to, okay, now we got all these girls, but now I gotta keep 'em on the platform.
Chapter two, I gotta get sales. What do we do? I know net, right? That was literally, we're a year and a half old, right? It took us the first year plus to get enough girls on to then be like, okay, now I've got enough products, I gotta get more sales. How do I do this? And now I gotta hire this SS e o team.
I gotta talk to a PR person. I gotta spread the word. And now find shoppers to come to our platform to support these artisans, right? How do I do that? And it's figuring out all these pieces of. Social media marketing and grassroots marketing and again, this was nothing that I studied, never took a
class, have no idea what I'm doing.
But just crawling through it every day, and figuring it out. So it's hard.[:[:[:[:
'cause you had all these therapy sessions with people. And I'd be like I don't know what my plan is until I get in there. And they're like no. You need to know the plan. And I am an online person, so I'm a conversationalist. I can feel the emotion and what they're doing in that moment.
So for me to sit and plan any of these lesson plans out, I'm like, I'm wasting all this time this kid go to pot tomorrow. This is but I, you had to do it. But the minute I was on my own, I would sit with these kids and I'd be like, oh, okay. I know I'd give 'em a little, I'd give 'em the test and I'd be able to read the test, but, I would jump, I would use that as a starting point.
But our sessions never had a lesson plan. I'd sit in there and I'd sometimes have 90, 95 kids on a caseload, and I'd sit in there and just be like, what do you got? What are you doing today? What's going on ? And that's a little bit how, I'd have to take them from point A to point B in a 25 minute session or an hour session if it was a private session. And get them just a little bit further from where they started that hour ago. And that's a little bit like every day I'm like, where did I start? What am I doing today? Today I'm doing a podcast, then I'm onboarding this girl, then I'm doing right.
And there's just these teeny little growths that I keep trying to make every day with fingers crossed that it's all working. And just trusting that every little thing that I do might be a step closer to it, really feeling like we got it. You know what I mean?[:[:[:[:[:[:[:[:[:[:[:[:
I think they, they get to the end and they realize, what am I doing?[:[:[:[:[:[:
At the time we put up a vote and hey, we say we stay on social media. Any charities you would like us to support, let us know. And they boom boom. And I pick five of 'em and I send them out to our tre. I say pick one of these. Vote on one of these for us to give back To each year. And so this year they picked one last year. They picked it was Girls on the Run. This year, it's Days For Girls And Days for Girls is an organization that works with, young girls and women around the world. So that. They have products for menstruation, education around menstruation confidence around menstruation,
it's something every female born deals with, right? And there's a lot of people out there that just don't have the knowledge and don't have just access to just basic product needs to get through that every single month, right? And how to care for your body, in a confident way. So we I loved that.
That was the one that was voted on this year. I thought that was just awesome because it affects all of us . So there were lots of great charities put up there, that was the one, and maybe next year, another one of those will win, right? But each year then Trape itself, the company gives back two days for girls or girls on the run last year.
I'm like I can't. I won't.[:[:[:[:[:[:[:
And like the same way you're talking about, Period, poverty and being confident in your body around menstruation. I think Girls on the Run is so amazing because, teaching young girls that it's great to be in sport and confidence around running, but really it was such a bigger picture than just the running.
It was, the confidence building in general, which I loved about it. So[:[:[:
It's it, the highs are so high and the lows are so low and you can really feel defeated very quickly just by one person's comment that, even just something as small as like a friend, just not. Maybe showing up. And being supportive about your journey. Make sure you love it, and persevere. Just keep going because there's always a way And you can always decide to shut down. It's always an option, right?
It's no one's shackling you to a business, but you can always find a way to make it work. There's always one more person out there that you can connect to, that you can learn something from, and, oh, I wish I would've thought of that. Thank you. And now you can apply it . And most of the times they're actually like naming your business.
It's actually probably not that far away from you. You just haven't seen it and someone clears something from your eyes and you're, oh, it was right. That, yes, that's a great idea. I was just on another podcast yesterday and the girl that I was talking with Had talked to me about some classes that I'm looking to offer for the girls, that's this next phase, right?
I wanna bring on people in different industries to then have the ree have classes with, even like a 30 minute class. And I, and that was always the plan, but it's so much to do just to generate the day-to-day. They're like, ah, I gotta get to this. And there's a lot of education that goes on with onboarding and then maintaining storefronts, but I'm like, I need to bring these, I need to start this.
And she was like who do you have in your world? And I was like, I was thinking so far out that I just didn't see right here. And I have this amazing friend who's an amazing financial advisor and she's so funny and she's so great. She'd be great to just find a little something about finance and how it.
how it can connect to the girl's business. And she's great with kids and she'll be wonderful. So I was like, Hey, can you come on? Can you please come on and do it? She said, of course. And so she's gonna be our first. But it's sometimes it's how am I going to get from here to there?
And you just, sometimes it's not so far away. And just when you think you can't do something, just sit with yourself and really make sure that you've exhausted and even when you think you've exhausted your resources, ask again. Because sometimes you churn up something else that the same person you've been going to hadn't thought of.
And you have a different conversation about it. That's why I keep talking and I keep talking and I keep knocking on doors and I'm just this little busy bee knocking on everybody's door. Can you help me? Can you help me? Can you help me? Can you help me? And I don't know what I'm doing half the time, but I just keep asking.
And people say yes, people say, no, move on. Go through the doors that say yes.[:[:[:[:
I think especially for, female businesses from one generation to the next. There you are. It's if anyone listening thinks they have a skillset that any of our girls can learn from. Man. That's great. That's the give back. It doesn't have to be in the form of a donation or purchasing something.
It's, it can be just your time and your effort and energy and your knowledge.[:
Whether it's, a peer set the next generation,[:[:
Sometimes it is that kind of just giving back that will mean success for things like repi.[:
Just I don't wanna use a term that's soused, but these bosses, right? These women that have such confidence that have done something and that they're like, how can I help? I get that weekly where I'm connected to somebody and, hi, nice to meet you, da. What do you need from me?
And it's oh my God. Sky's the limit. And you find that one person, maybe just one person that they can connect me to that might be able to answer something or maybe they can answer, right?
It's just and the men have very logical wonderful ideas but women seem to have. The understanding of why and what I'm really trying to do, and the connections I'm really trying to forge on a deeper level, with that. Not just the solution, but something, the relationship, that relationship.
And then to come back and tap into it again. And then, and because this relationship was formed, to be able to then connect to all their, the other networks that they might have. It's been a different experience[:[:[:[:
From a business perspective. But I've usually, when I've asked that question already to that person, I've already gone through the emotion. Do you know what I mean? I've already said, oh, I'm feeling this. I need this. And I've vented to somebody, maybe 10 people. Before I even ask for the solution I notice that in myself.
I've gotta just vomit my experience and my journey to somebody. Thank you husband. Thank you. Best friends. I've gotta just vomit that out and then hear myself get to it and then, okay, now what are my options and what's the solution? But I can't just go straight there so I've learned what connections to revisit and what, which one's not, quickly that work for me.[:[:[:[:
Which I do think I have to also credit to this metamorphosis in career . Second chance kind of thing. And really sitting with self and being still and listening to myself and what do I really want? What have I been doing? What, how have I been acting? What are my needs? What, where do I wanna go?
And all, and just really sitting with those questions and sitting with self. And, I'm, if you ask most people, I am a mover and a shaker, I'm going, I am up early, I am working out, I am talking. I am. But I make it a point every day, not just to meditate, but then just to sit.really fit this in. But the [:[:[:[:[:[:[:[:[: