The AWN Story
To fully understand the AWN STORY, you must first understand the key elements that made the story and…….what it will become.
PART 1: MICHELLE’S STORY
(Pressing The Rewind Button)
The twelve-year-old, preteen ME……I can distinctly remember the constant pressure. The pressure was coming at me from all directions; it was relentless and suffocating.
I wanted to be popular, skinny, pretty, sporty, and cool. I had to achieve straight A’s in school and have a path forward for my adult life. My squad of friends had all those traits; I had none of them. As the quintessential tag-along who was social and fun enough to be accepted, I was ALWAYS under pressure to be like them, to be a cool kid. The weight was unbearable.
Life at home was broken and was filled with enough drama to fill an entire decade’s worth of Young & The Restless episodes. As a result, the chronic pressure, my life at home, my self-confidence, and my self-worth plummeted, sending me into more than a decade-long downward spiral.
Nearing the end of my twenties, as a young, newly married woman, I tried my best to be a loving wife. At this point, I struggled in most areas of my life…if not in all of them. All things healthy and well were quickly brushed aside and forgotten. The more I strived to be a loving wife, the more I struggled. Self-neglect slowly crept in, creeping in under the radar, going unnoticed. Days of self-neglect turned into weeks, weeks into months, and months into years. My physical health was damaged. My mental health was damaged…… I was in a constant state of low self-esteem….no self-worth.
At 31, a new mother, the Post-Partum Challenges, the Body Shaming, and the Hormonal Imbalances came rushing in like a flash flood. Fad diets, overly aggressive fat burners, and countless attempts at exercise programs; I’ve traversed the spectrum pushing myself through the gauntlet of calorie-deficit, low-carb, high-fat, no-sugar, vegan, vegetarian, paleo, cardio, HIIT, etc. with NO RESULTS other than money and time lost; only frustration gained. WHY?
I GAVE UP!!…… I GAVE UP when I didn’t see the results in MY TIMING.
Now that I’m entering my fifties, I’ve found that to achieve a goal I need THREE BASIC ELEMENTS:
- Giving and Receiving Grace: To hear someone say, “Michelle, it’s ok to be you….you’re great.” “Michelle, You’re not a failure.” “It’s ok to be you, Michelle; we love you.” More importantly, though, is SELF GRACE – Looking in the mirror, knowing that I am a Child of God, and saying each day, “Michelle, you’re blessed, and you are a blessing, you’re strong, you’re smart, you’re beautiful, your family loves you, and so does God.”
The most important element of grace for me is being able to relate to other women, their trials, and their struggles and then supporting them with grace, encouragement, and love…..no matter the circumstances.
- Honesty/Objectivity: “We understand what you’re going through, Michelle, BUT YOU NEED TO DO THIS.” I need honest feedback and objectivity.
- Results: We need to see and feel the results of our hard work and sacrifices to continue pushing forward. Slow, consistent, and progressive results have provided me more long-term benefits than quick, short-term gains. The saying “Life’s a Marathon…Not A Sprint” is so cliché but oh so true.
Behind the All Women Nutrition (AWN) Brand lies my passion for relating to all women, their struggles and challenges and being there with them while they push through difficult life seasons. AWN is a brand built not only on my passion for helping All Women but also on the solid foundation of Transparency, Accountability, and Grace.
PART 2: MISHA’S STORY
Misha: “Babe, I’ve given this a lot of thought; I want to launch a dietary supplement brand.”
Heather (Misha’s Wife): “OK, well…I want to support you; I know you can do it and be successful, but answer one question for me: How’s Your Brand Going to Be Different from All the Other Brands?”
Misha: “Great question! The products I develop and market will be the best tasting on the market. Not only will they be the best tasting, but they will also be the safest and most effective products.”
Heather: “Good points but aren’t there companies that already have awesome flavors? I mean, some brands have protein and pre-workouts that taste stupid good. Many brands are also upping their quality game and are either NSF or Informed Choice certified. How can you prove that your products are safer than the NSF of Informed Choice Certified brands? I want to support you, but I’m worried you won’t differentiate yourself from all the other companies.”
Being in the dietary supplement industry for more than 13 years, I gained much experience and wore many hats. Most of my experience was spent in operations roles. I worked as an inventory manager, a supply chain director, a director of product development, and a quality/regulatory director.
My experience with an entrepreneurial spirit led me to begin the journey of building a brand. Contrary to my 13 years of industry experience, my wife’s simple question stopped me dead in my tracks. I struggled to answer a straightforward yet essential question “How will my brand be different?” “What can I offer customers that no other brand offers?” I couldn’t answer the question.
I was compelled to take a different approach to my wife’s question. I began to look at the fundamental customer segments, and the deeper I looked, the more I realized that there was a vastly underserved segment……WOMEN! I had my answer! I will build a brand that is exclusively for women. BOOOOOM! I was excited and couldn’t wait to share my news with my wife.
Misha: “So, I’ve been struggling to answer your question of how my brand will be different.”
Heather: “Ok. What did you come up with?”
Misha: “My initial thought was – 3 of the four people I love the most are women (2 daughters and a wife, the 4th is my son). From my experience and in-depth research in the dietary supplement industry, I know that women are largely underserved compared to men. My brand will be exclusively dedicated to women!”
Heather: “Well, that’s great, babe, one more thing…………you’re not a woman. How will you build a successful dietary supplement brand for women when you aren’t a woman?”
Misha: “Grrrrrr you! You make some excellent points; here’s my answer: I know how to develop products designed exclusively for men or women…I’ve done it countless times. I know how to manage operations, and I love you, Lauren, and Abby more than anything, which gives me the will to run through brick walls to build a brand for the three of you. Why can’t I run through brick walls for ALL WOMEN so that they can have safe and effective products?”
Heather: “That’s great, sweetheart, I respect your tenacity, but in the end, you’re still not a woman! How are you able to relate to women? How in the heck do you know about what we go through during that awesome time of the month? What about when we no longer go through that awesome time of the month? How are you going to understand the needs of women?”
Misha: “Again. GRRRRR!” You’re right, 100% right! That’s where I have a massive gap in my business plan. I’m not a woman, and I’m trying to start a dietary supplement brand for women; that just doesn’t make sense.”
PART 3: AWN’S BEGINNINGS
ENTER MICHELLE & LES STANDERFER
I was at a meeting at a friend’s home, helping her organize her campaign for mayor; it was our first meeting. We were all sitting around her dining room table and going through our introductions. My turn, “hello, my name is Misha; I am working to build a dietary supplement company.” A few positive comments ensued from the other guests, then Michelle provided her introduction. “Hey friends, I’m Michelle. I am a passionate graphic designer, photographer, marketing, and social media strategist. I love to help people with small businesses build their marketing strategy.”
God put Michelle and me together at that moment and in that place for a reason. I needed a passionate and driven marketing guru to help me build a strong foundation.
Michelle and I met shortly after the meeting. I gave Michelle a general direction of my vision for my brand’s marketing. Michelle was intrigued and then told me she would like me to meet her husband as he has many skills related to technology and eCommerce. Together, they could help me get the brand infrastructure developed and implemented. I agreed.
The following week I met Michelle and her husband, Les. The three of us sat in their living room, and before starting our meeting, Les asked if he could pray for my brand and me. Being a Christian, I enthusiastically accepted his offer.
Over the next several months, as Les, Michelle, and I spent seemingly endless days and nights working on building the brand, we discovered that we lacked a face, essentially a spokesperson. We tossed around some ideas, and during one meeting, Michelle said, “Of course, Les knows my story, and I’ve shared some of that with you, but I feel God has led me to this point with AWN. I know He put me here so I can share my testimony and support all women through their challenging seasons of life and encourage them to achieve their ambitions. I would like you to consider me that person.”
THE PERFECT PERSON
Immediately after hearing Michelle’s proposal to elect her as the face of AWN, I was 100% in! I did my best to maintain my composure and was purposely stoic with my demeanor as I didn’t want to make a hasty decision.
Misha: “Michelle, that’s awesome! I think you would be phenomenal, your testimony is compelling, and many women will be able to relate to you and you to them. I have no doubt your story can be used to help other women. Let me give it some thought, and I’d like you and Les to pray about it. Let’s discuss this in more detail at our next meeting.”
Les, Michelle, and I discussed the merits of electing Michelle to be the spokesperson for AWN. We all supported the initiative 110%. In my heart of hearts, I know that Michelle is a Godly woman and that she certainly has a giant servant’s heart. Michelle is a wonderful wife to Les and a great mother to her two boys. Michelle has shared many of her lifelong struggles with Heather and me and how much she sincerely desires to help as many women through their struggles as she can. With that, I had no pause when confirming Michelle as AWN’s spokesperson.
We know that God put me, Les, and Michelle together for a reason – For His Glory and to bless us with a way to help and support as many women as possible through our brand.
AWN’s Mission Statement:
“To help all women achieve their health, wellness, and lifestyle goals safely, effectively, and realistically.”
Our Core Values:
- God First – We will keep God First in All Things
- Honor – Do ALL things with honor. Not some things, not most things, but ALL Things with Honor
- For Others to Succeed – Put others first and have a servant’s heart
- Accountability – We are accountable to all. Our customers, our team, our family, and ourselves
- Mission Accomplishment – We will always do what we say. We will find a way to accomplish every mission without compromising our ethics or morals
- Be Kind and Love All – No matter how frustrated or angry we may get, we will always act with kindness and love.
Les, Michelle, Heather, and I know God has had His hand on this brand from day 1. Putting us together, with our diverse skill sets and experience, I am beyond confident that AWN will be able to bless as many women as possible.
That’s our story. Les, Michelle, Heather, and I look forward to hearing your story and doing our best to bless you.