12 episodes

S'Mores By FIRESIDE brings listeners into the lives and experiences of business owners & founders, as well as business and marketing experts.

Learn from their experiences, grow from their ideas.

S'Mores, By FIRESIDE MeetFireside.com

    • Business
    • 5.0 • 5 Ratings

S'Mores By FIRESIDE brings listeners into the lives and experiences of business owners & founders, as well as business and marketing experts.

Learn from their experiences, grow from their ideas.

    Vanessa Shaw, The Business Growth Academy

    Vanessa Shaw, The Business Growth Academy

    "Never, ever, ever take advice from someone who has not started their own business!" Relive the journey of Vanessa Shaw, CEO of Growth Academy, as she provides valuable advice built on timeless principles. By going against tradition and deep programming, Vanessa divulges how she fundamentally shifted her view to begin her own business in a foreign country, America. Today, she successfully encourages others to have more fun in their business and simultaneously achieve their dreams. 

    How does a “quintessential British woman living abroad”, with a 21-year career at the United Nations, begin building a business in Scottsdale, AZ? In this episode, Vanessa shows how anyone can seek the entrepreneurial adventure they are looking for whilst enduring an onslaught of challenges such as culture shock, Imposter Syndrome, and discouragement from family and friends. Vanessa’s ability to channel her inner struggle into a driver, or force, buoyed her up and provided the inner strength needed to raise her children, maintain a great marriage, and establish a business that changes lives.

    Later, Vanessa walks you through how she took Steve Job’s advice to connect the dots looking backward. Examine the benefits of scrutinizing self-beliefs, assumptions, and values as Vanessa recalls her 15 years of deep personal development. Additionally, you will discover how Vanessa gave herself permission in her own mind to introduce herself as a person others would listen to. See how Vanessa embraces her zone of genius and takes fear and weakness straight on.

    Vanessa supplements her natural coaching abilities with her own life experiences to help entrepreneurs dig underneath the surface to uncover stories that are holding them back from destiny. Guiding them down this path, Vanessa helps business owners and entrepreneurs focus on the right things. Her methodology can be described as a work art since she combines validation and improvement to create a professional lifestyle of relief and freedom for her clients. 

    Continue on Vanessa’s path as she discusses what The Business Growth Academy has grown into today. What kinds of business owners and entrepreneurs are drawn to Vanessa’s brilliant energy? People who want to grow are the ideal candidate for Vanessa and her team. She also expounds upon the three pillar goals business owners and entrepreneurs are looking to achieve which forms the core of what The Business Growth Academy offers. Vanessa also shares how she takes her clients to new heights by dialing in and speeding up their results in 100 days. 

    Don’t miss Vanessa’s key piece of advice. Learn how to turn the next couple of hours into something that can make a big difference for your business. Allow Vanessa to guide you through the revelation of many things you can start thinking through to begin changing your life today. 


    In this Episode:

    Vanessa’s 15-year journey of deep personal development (13:07)

    How Vanessa transformed Imposter Syndrome into a motivational driver  (16:50)

    Vanessa’s breakthrough story (21:07)

    How Vanessa’s entrepreneurial spirit came into existence (24:45)

    Learn about Growth Academy (29:50)

    Vanessa addresses the biggest challenge for entrepreneurs (34:24)

    Advice for listeners who are an early-stage in building a business (40:48)



    “We are the weird ones...the minority...the entrepreneurs.”

    “I actually loved the attitude [in America]. There’s a gunghoness that exists.”

    “People like us don’t have that kind of money darling.” 

    “I was incredibly lonely. It was really hard to move to the other side of the world.”

    “The universe is going to challenge you: You said you wanted this, are you really up for it?.”

    “We get to create whatever we want to in our lives in the way that we want to.”

    “I was in the gap of where I saw myself and where

    • 45 min
    Dave Karraker, President at Raptor Communications

    Dave Karraker, President at Raptor Communications

    “This is not your black employees’ problem to fix for you.” Dive in as Dave Karraker, President at Raptor Communications reveals guidelines businesses can use to decide if and when to insert their brand’s narrative into today’s crises. With deep roots in Communications, including 12 years under his belt at Campari, Dave discusses the death of traditional PR and the birth of brand storytelling designed to exist in different communication environments. 


    Booze, video games, and retail weave their way into Dave's background as he summarizes his work as the Head of PR or Communications with various brands such as Sega, Skyy Vodka, and Martha Stewart. Dave walks you through uncovering all the nuggets needed to build a story that no one else is telling and how to manage crises. Today, Dave is engrossed in helping companies navigate through the current climate and yet he still finds time to enjoy managing his Oops I’m Gay t-shirt store on Etsy. 


    In this episode, Dave identifies his core beliefs about the difference between traditional PR and brand storytelling. While identifying best practices businesses can implement to stand out from their competitors, Dave explains how to become your own Nancy Drew or Sherlock Holmes to determine if your business can be inserted into today’s biggest stories such as #BlackLivesMatter. 


    Do you know what your consumers are expecting of you? Listen in as Dave tackles ways to identify when is the right time to speak and if you have the right resources. Dave provides insight on how to evaluate if your consumers and employees expect you to insert your brand into the narrative and if your values are strong enough to direct your actions during a crisis. Dave shows why this is important as he speaks about the “Millennial Cohort” and how they rank companies by their purpose and values. 


    Dave’s foresight into the reassurances employees need from those though who are taking the lead strengthens the importance of strong company values. Looking at a brand through the lens of a human being, Dave identifies ways to imagine how your company should feel, react, and speak. Dave also outlines ways to assess risk and find proof points of your company’s values.


    Later, Dave addresses brand authenticity, how he’s managed his company through the COVID-19 pandemic, and good and bad examples of brands who have spoken out during different crises. Tune in as Dave provides use cases of companies who clapped back at angry people on the internet while others were silent as the internet took a stand for them. 


    In this Episode:

    Oops I’m Gay Store - Ironic T-shirts For Our Times (1:07)

    Dave’s background in communications  (3:33)

    What's the real role of communications and PR? (7:13)

    Raptors, diving into the story of what the brand is telling (8:28)

    What your consumers are expecting of you (15:00)

    How should small businesses handle the #BLM movement?  (18:26)

    Purpose and the millennial audience (22:54)

    True leaders who absorb and fix problems personally (28:20)

    The Evolution of a Diversity Officer (29:43)

    Jim Beam’s narrative during #BlackLivesMatter (37:30)

    Small business owners assessing risk (44:06)



    “Ironic gay-themed t-shirts, that’s where I’m going to make all my money.”

    “We’re gonna find that one story no one is telling.”

    “That’s not a value, that’s fake.”

    “We are them and they are us.”

    “The majority of the internet is the vocal minority.”

    “The angriest people on the internet aren’t your customers.”


    Links Mentioned: 

    Raptor Communications 

    Get your “Sorry Karen, I am the Manager” T-Shirt

    Is PR right for your business? Listen to Stefanie Jones’ answer in Episode #0002

    Dax is a Partner @ FIRESIDE. Learn more about our marketing services for small business owners.

    • 47 min
    Zahi, Tour Guide Business Owner in Fes, Morocco

    Zahi, Tour Guide Business Owner in Fes, Morocco

    Like many of us, Zahi is an accomplished entrepreneur and small business owner with a background in a completely different field. Zahi began working in healthcare, but his insight and vision led him to be the first guide on Airbnb Experiences in Morocco. 

    Born and raised in Fez, Zahi is excited to meet new people from other countries. His career as a tour guide provides a platform for him to engage in an interchange of cultures and traditions with people from all over the world. Zahi walks visitors through a path of time to discover the hidden secrets of Fez and its inspiring culture, food, locals, lifestyle, artisanal handicrafts, and beyond.

    In this episode, Zahi prepares you for your future visit as you walk over 60km (37mi) in his shoes. Fall into the city of Fez, Morocco, a city more than 1200 years old with over 9000 small streets crafted into a historical maze. See the artisans and children weave in and out of their compassionate city while the aroma of argan oil fills the air. 

    Additionally, Zahi provides a history of how he was an integral part of Airbnb Experience beginning in Fez. Zahi also addresses the challenges of becoming an official tour guide and finding customers. Further, he expands and compares the compensation of tour guides to other occupations in Fez. Seeing the Moroccan economy through Zahi’s eyes paints a comprehensive picture of why the struggle to find customers is worth every effort. 

    Later, catch the inside story of how COVID-19 has affected the Moroccan economy, the tourism industry, and Zahi’s business. Zahi explains the Moroccon Government’s response and how the tourism industry has been affected. Learn how Zahi’s flexibility in using his education rooted in technology is opening up new opportunities for him to explore dropshipping and exporting Moroccon treasures. Yet, Zahi also tells the heart-rending story of how many of his colleagues are struggling to replace their income. 

    Each story that Zahi tells breathes to life into the resilience and kindness of the people of Fez. Listen in as Zahi describes Fez as the quintessential destination of exploration and historical secrets. As Zahi speaks, imagine the maze of the Medina and the generous spirit of the people. 

    Stay tuned as Zahi describes the Moroccan philosophy and how it molds their spirit to motivate them as they come to the aid of anyone without being asked. 


    In this Episode:

    Beginnings of Airbnb in Morocco (1:43)

    Zahi’s walking tours schedule  (2:32)

    Fez’s economy (4:00)

    The Medina and the streets of Fes (5:05)

    Zahi’s background and beginnings in becoming an official tour guide (6:23)

    Zahi’s quest for customers (11:04)

    Occupations and salaries in Fez (13:35)

    Morocco’s approach to dealing with the COVID-19 Pandemic (16:22)

    How Zahi’s is overcoming business challenges during COVID-19 (23:27)

    What to expect on holiday in Fez (28:33)

    The people and the philosophy in Morocco (32:15)  



    “The oldest city in the world is presented with the most modern opportunity.”

    “They are just tour guides, they don’t have this thinking to find another option to live.”

    “We have a very old story.”

    “Here in Morocco, you can find everything.”

    “You don’t give tea to people, you offer happiness.”


    Links Mentioned: 

    Zahi’s Airbnb Experience - Fès 

    See how Moroccon Oil has affected the beauty industry in Episode #0008 

    Zahi talks COVID-19 in Morocco - also hear Jeremy Jacobs in episode #0009 talk COVID-19 and business in the UK

    Dax is a Partner @ FIRESIDE. Learn more about our marketing services for small business owners.

    Find Dax on LinkedIn

    Book a free call with FIRESIDE to talk about your marketing needs

    Find more S’Mores episodes

    Podcast production provided by FIRESIDE

    • 36 min
    Jeremy Jacobs, Owner of Raise Bakery

    Jeremy Jacobs, Owner of Raise Bakery

    Jeremy Jacobs is the owner of Raise Bakery, a family-run business in Sussex creating mouthwatering cakes that take classic British influences and give them an American twist. He has a love for all things food, especially cake. Being taught how to make the perfect sponge cake at a very young age gave him the start in life he needed to run a bakery.

    In this episode, Jeremy explains the drive behind his entrepreneurial spirit. Jeremy knew he wanted to run his own business when he realized that he could do everything better than his bosses. He doesn’t like being told what to do or being controlled by others. Jeremy’s bosses would probably say that he was a pain in the ass to work with. At sixteen, Jeremy built his first website – he has always had the drive to work on his own.

    Then, Jeremy speaks about landing a deal with Virgin Airlines. Jeremy says that Virgin Airlines found Raise Bakery from an advertisement on Google. Plus, the Raise Bakery website tells you everything that you need to know without having to speak to anyone – they always get loads of compliments about it. 

    Raise Bakery scored a daily 5,000 cupcake deal with the airline. When Jeremy landed the Virgin deal, they needed to spend $150,000 scaling the bakery. At the time, Jeremy didn’t have the confidence to reach out to people and ask for help. Now, Jeremy likes to help struggling business owners have enough courage to ask for help.

    Plus, Jeremy reveals the details of his Cupcake Wars experience. Unfortunately, they did not win – but they did get second place! The judges said that it was their most prolonged deliberation ever. 

    Later, Jeremy speaks about the effects of COVID-19 on Raise Bakery. Virtually, COVID-19 completely destroyed the business in one day. All of Jeremy’s customers have closed their doors – everything dried up for Raise Bakery. They are expecting their customers to come back, but it’s a matter of when and to what level. 

    Jeremy keeps four months of income in the bank. Fortunately, that money bought Raise Bakery some time during COVID-19. Also, the government was able to prevent unemployment for businesses and pay eighty percent of furloughed workers’ salaries. Jeremy says it was straightforward to make a business claim and receive assistance.

    Stay tuned as Jeremy speaks about his MBA program and how language can play a role in your business mindset.

    In this Episode: 

    About Jeremy Jacobs [ 1:40 ]

    Getting a contract with Virgin Airlines [ 7:20 ]

    About being on Cupcake Wars [ 15:30 ]

    Why we all have a money ceiling [ 18:30 ]

    How Jeremy had his head in the sand when scaling Raise Bakery [ 21:25 ]

    How COVID-19 has affected Raise Bakery [ 25:00 ]

    The support Raise Bakery received during COVID-19 [ 29:45 ]

    About firing employees in the UK [ 35:25 ]

    How Jeremy’s MBA has changed during COVID-19 [ 38:15 ]

    How language can play a role in your business mindset [ 42:45 ]



    “If someone else can do it, then I can figure it out.”

    “It’s okay to ask for help.”

    “I learned to keep money in the bank.”

    “Everything I know about business I learned from experience or Google.”

    “We can’t continue to consume food the way we are – it’s unsustainable.”


    Links Mentioned: 

    Find Jeremy on Facebook 

    Check out Raise Bakery

    Infographic showing small business confusion for SBA PPP Loans

    Cookie Jar Business Consulting

    Dax is a Partner @ FIRESIDE. Learn more about our marketing services for small business owners.

    Find Dax on LinkedIn

    Book a free call with FIRESIDE to talk about your marketing needs

    Find more S’Mores episodes

    Podcast production by FIRESIDE

    • 44 min
    Nine Morrison, Founder of WedLocks

    Nine Morrison, Founder of WedLocks

    Eighty percent of stylists don’t like the bridal industry and don’t do it. The traditional route for beauty experts after beauty school is to work in a salon or own a salon. For as long as Nine could remember, she always knew that she was going to start a business. However, Nine knew that she didn’t want to own a salon. After thinking about other companies she could create, Nine realized that there were not many options for bridal hair in Colorado.

    In 2015, Nine Morrison decided to start WedLocks. The idea behind it was to provide stellar professional, on-location beauty services to couples in Colorado. Nine really just wanted to give couples a sense of comfort knowing their needs will be taken care of, and that they will feel like the most gorgeous, and true version of themselves.

    At first, Nine didn’t have a passion for bridal. She worked hard at learning how to do wedding upstyles and wedding makeup. Now, Nine is a Moroccanoil and bridal hair expert! Plus, Nine educates beauty professionals on how to build a super successful business. There are loads of free resources to check out on the WedLocks website.

    Nine explains why beauty professionals aren’t doing weddings – they aren’t educated in the hairstyles, and they don’t want to work with bridezillas. Last year, Nine worked with 433 brides, and they only had one bride that they fired. Nine realized that they were not going to be a fit and she found the bride a different company to work with. 

    Nine dives deep into the WedLocks company structure. The company structure is always changing and improving for the better based on the client experience. Nine just switched everyone over from independent contractors to employees because they wanted to maintain control over the quality of service provided. Nine doesn’t know any other bridal hair companies that hire employees.

    Stay tuned as Nine explains how she blew her original business goals out of the water – she seriously underestimated the need for what they were doing. Plus, Nine describes the importance of brand awareness and gives tips on how to work with your spouse.


    In this Episode: 

    About Nine Morrison [ 0:20 ]

    Why Nine created WedLocks [ 6:20 ]

    About Moroccanoil [ 9:00 ]

    How Nine educates other beauty professionals [ 10:15 ]

    Why the salon environment still thrives [ 15:25 ]

    The reason beauty professionals aren’t doing weddings [ 18:00 ]

    About Nine’s ideal client [ 22:30 ]

    The WedLocks company structure [ 25:15 ]

    How Nine has blown all of her goals out of the water [ 34:35 ]

    The importance of brand awareness [ 38:35 ]

    Tips for working with your spouse [ 42:30 ] 



    “COVID-19 is changing the culture of salon life.”

    “We fired one bride seven weeks out from the wedding.”

    “You need to know your ideal client.”

    “We have members on our team who can make a full-time living in six months.”

    “I have blown all of our goals out of the water.”


    Links Mentioned: 

    Check out WedLocks

    Find WedLocks on Facebook

    Learn more about Moroccanoil

    Read more about FIRESIDE's marketing services

    More episodes of S'Mores, By FIRESIDE


    • 43 min
    Brandon Ford, Founder of TripHero

    Brandon Ford, Founder of TripHero


    “Fear is the enemy; I try to face it head-on” says Brandon Ford, the founder of TripHero (gotriphero.com),who worked his way from humble beginning to an Ivy-League education and a law degree, with a spell in the Marines along the way. Moving to Vail, Colorado, after losing his job in 2008, Brandon began working as a ski valet and saw the problem people had when traveling with their luggage and gear.

    Brandon explains the inspiration behind TripHero. Their mission is to make it as easy as humanly possible to travel the world with the equipment you need to pursue your passions and explore both on and off the beaten path.

    Brandon started his first business at the age of five, going around campgrounds collecting recycling. Before the age of twelve, he was selling t-shirts and flowers.

    Brandon dives deep into the steps it took for him to get TripHero off the ground. The first question Brandon would get from potential investors was how many have you sold, but that point the answer was always none. Brandon knew he would have to go out there and get sales somehow to overcome that hurdle. Doing this helped Brandon realize how eager people were eager to ship their stuff, and he learned how to sell the concept of TripHero. 

    As an entrepreneur, Brandon learned that felt how willing people were to help, and how easy it was to find a meaningful mentor. There are loads of people out there who want to be mentors and see other entrepreneurs succeed. A mentor and mentee will both get a significant amount of value out of the relationship. Brandon says you should find a mentor who has been down a similar path that you are looking to go down. As an entrepreneur, you should not be afraid to ask for help. When you ask for help, the worst thing a person can say is no.

    Then, Brandon speaks about his first hires, partnerships, and the relationships he built along the way to get TripHero off the ground, including purchasing a FedEx shipping franchise to ultimately gain a more significant partnership with the FedEx parent company.

    Brandon realized that luggage and packages are a huge pain point for the hotels, too, because they are often ill-equipped to receive loads of packages. Part of the solution is to have TripHero employees on the properties.

    Later, Brandon speaks about the lack of marketing dollars they have spent. He says you need to know where and when to spend the money and shouldn’t be spending it unless you know how it is going to benefit you.

    Stay tuned as Brandon explains why you won’t find a work-life balance as an entrepreneur.


    In this Episode: 

    About Brandon Ford [ 0:20 ]

    The steps Brandon took to get TripHero going [ 7:30 ]

    Do not be afraid to ask for help [ 11:50 ]

    About Brandon’s first hire [ 17:00 ]

    Where to find TripHero [ 19:00 ]

    Why TripHero does not pay for marketing [ 24:30 ]

    About networking [ 26:55 ]

    Why you won’t find a work-life balance as an entrepreneur [ 30:40 ]

    Entrepreneurs can have smart luck [ 37:15 ]



    “It’s tough for a big company to partner with someone they don’t know will be around much longer.”

    “You can spend an infinite amount of money on marketing.”

    “You will have to have a lot of sacrifices as an entrepreneur.”

    “There are very few lucky entrepreneurs.”

    “Fear is the enemy; I try to face it head-on.”


    Links Mentioned: 

    Find Brandon on LinkedIn

    Check out TripHero

    Find Dax Hamman on LinkedIn

    FIRESIDE for small business marketing

    Find more episodes of S’Mores By Fireside

    The Accelerator Network

    • 38 min

Customer Reviews

5.0 out of 5
5 Ratings

5 Ratings

BrittTodd ,

Great info for business owner

Really appreciate hearing from other business owners. I definitely look forward to coming episodes.

lrose48 ,

Really enjoyed!

Really interesting and motivating! I learned a lot - I didn’t want it to end! I can see this podcast being especially helpful to small businesses.

DaxCH ,


Love this as a fellow founder.

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