Hard work, diligent, athletic, passionate, leader, driven – just some of the words staff use to describe Avery Shannon (THS Class of 2015). From leader on campus and on the field to business leader today Avery’s story is an interesting. When his goal of going to Cal Poly didn’t materialize he took the opportunity to use what he had learned at THS to build a successful business and give back to those in need half way around the world. News from the Nest caught up with Avery recently and asked him to share some of what he has learned since living Templeton High.
NEWS FROM THE NEST (NFTN): Three years ago the Telegram Tribune did an article about you and your company RAW Lip Balm. Give us an update on your business. How is the company doing?
AVERY (AS): Yes, that article was honestly a catalyst for the business. We had 3 stores carrying our products at that time and the moment the article was posted, we had orders coming to our website and stores calling left and right. Within 2 weeks we had over 36 retailers carrying our product. I was pumped. Fast forward 3 years and we are now carried in over 600 retailers throughout the world. We have grown a very “cult” like following over the years and have sold over 300,000 tubes. Crazy to think this all evolved from a seemingly joke of an Engineering project…. Shhh. Don’t tell Diodati!
We have changed quite a bit as well. Our company is now known as the Balm Standard now, we have a full on commercial manufacturing facility where we can manufacture nearly 10,000 tubes per day, and we work with some of the largest companies in the world. Crazy to think 2 years ago I was making tubes one by one in my mom’s kitchen. This was no easy feat… Purely a straight grind from the time I wake until late at night when I hope I can get some sleep, but I LOVE it! I literally worked 3 jobs right out of high school just to save up enough money to start the business. It was not easy at all, but I am glad I figured a way to make it work! Persistence is key.
NFTN: What were you like as a Templeton High School student?
AS: Honestly I was a pretty introverted guy. I worked extremely hard in school. I took AP classes, got great grades, was in leadership all 4 years, and played sports. My ultimate goal was to get into Cal Poly, but unfortunately I was denied with a 4.14 GPA, and some pretty good accolades behind me. I was devastated, but hey looks like I was destined to make lip balm and not take the college route lol!
Avery with Courtney Elterman – Homecoming King and Queen 2015
NFTN: Being a business owner and entrepreneur has to have it’s blessing and curses. Share some of what you have learned through being a business owner.
AS: Ahhh most definitely… The best thing about being a business owner is freedom. There is one thing that I hated about working during my time trying to save up to start the Balm Standard… The lack of freedom. You are told what to do, how to do it, and when to do it. So yes, being able to make food, do laundry, spend time with the fiancee whenever you like is sooo worth the process.
Owning a business comes with many liabilities as well. As a newbie to the business world, I was sooo uneducated on just how business works. The taxes, insurance, state and federal documents, employee forms, trademarks, patents, and just about a million other things….. I was clueless. Ultimately not knowing about many of these things in the beginning had led to some serious consequences. I was fined, had the company halted, and sued. All by the time I was 20. Those were some very rough times. Business is not all sunshine and rainbows haha!
Today, I am grateful that I reached out to some advisers/partners that have given me the knowledge and education to prosper from here on out!
NFTN: What else do you do with your time these days?
AS: Working for the most part. I workout daily, try to spend as much time as possible with my new fiancee and friends. Nothing too exciting, I am a pretty simple, boring guy.
NFTN: What are your plans for the future?
AS: I am planning to grow the business as much as possible. I seriously love what I do, so I could see myself running this company indefinitely. Each day is a new opportunity to do better than the last, as a business and a human as well. As long as I get to share my passion of creating such a magical product with the world, I will be content. Giving back is a huge part of the business as well as my life. We work with amazing charities, have provided over 200,000 meals in Uganda for the children in need, and help independent families all throughout the world, just by selling a simple tube of lip balm.
NFTN: What are professional and personal goals that you have for yourself?
AS: My professional and personal goals go hand in hand. All I aspire to do in my lifetime is to grow my company as much as possible all while doing the most social good I can possibly do. As the company grows, the more charitable good our team and myself are able to do. All you take to your grave is your legacy, and being the best person I can possibly be is the only way to achieve that. That’s just about it!
NFTN: What do you know now that you wish you knew when you were in high school?
AS: Just relax. I was a super stressed student and was always worried about everything. From grades to tests to just about anything you can think of, I was always worried. Just know it is not the end of the world if you don’t do as well as you would have hoped, you don’t get into the college of you’ve always wanted to…… Everything will be alright. You have so much more ahead of you and I believe everything happens for a reason.
NFTN: What advice would you give our students?
AS: Just be a good person, work very hard, and pursue what you want to in this world. No matter what, never ever give up. Never in my life did I think I was going to make lip balm for a living, but hey that’s just how things worked out. Just some hard work and persistence goes a very long way!
NFTN: Share with us a favorite THS memory.
AS: My senior year. The class of 2015 was just filled with so many amazing people. Everyone loved each other, drama was rarely heard of, and people were just happy. The athletes went to drama performances and the drama students went to sporting events… Just a great community of students and staff. It was one of the best times of my life!
Avery Shannon is an example of so many amazing things. His desire to succeed, his pursuit of excellence and his servant’s heart are an inspiration to others.
Avery, we are proud of the leader you were on campus and now the leader who is making a difference on a much bigger scale.