In this episode, we sit down with Erica Schulte King, the founder of Kookaburra Meets. We explore her journey of creating a viral TikTok post about the difficulty in making friendships, that led to a gathering of 100 women for an unforgettable meetup. Erica shares how Kookaburra Meets has fostered genuine friendships and discusses upcoming events scheduled throughout this spring and summer. Additionally, we delve into her new business venture as a marketing and branding consultant for small businesses, revealing her passion for supporting local entrepreneurs. Tune in for an inspiring conversation about friendship, empowerment, and chasing your dreams. For more information, visit KookaburraMeets.com.
[00:00:15.400] - Candi Broeffle
Good morning and welcome to Green Tea Conversations, the radio show that delves into the pages of Natural Awakenings magazine to bring you the local experts who share their progressive ideas and the latest information and insights needed so you can lead your best life. I'm your host, Candi Broeffle, publisher of the Twin Cities edition of Natural Awakenings magazine, and I am honored to bring these experts to you. I am so excited about today's show. We are welcoming into our studio, Erica Schulte King, who is the founder of Kookaburra Meets. The way that I was introduced to Erica was through TikTok. So I am a TikTok stalker and I don't do any videos, but I sure look at a lot of videos. And across my For You page came Erica one day back last fall. And she was saying, Hey, I am a woman of a certain age here in Minneapolis and I want to make friends. And I have this idea, it's a crazy idea, but I'm going to be at Lake Harriet on this date at this time. And if you are looking to make friends, too, come and join me. And I just thought that was the bravest, most vulnerable thing for somebody to do.
[00:01:28.510] - Candi Broeffle
And I was all in. And so I kept following her to see what was happening. And it has been this very magical journey that Erica has been on. And I came across her feed. She came across my feet again just last month. And I saw that she has a whole bunch of other events coming up and said, Oh, you have to come on Green Tea Conversations. And we have to talk about this. So, Erica, welcome to the show. I am so glad you're here.
[00:01:56.840] - Erica Schulte King
Thank you for having me, Candi. It's great to be here.
[00:01:59.800] - Candi Broeffle
Well, I am a native Minnesota person, so I grew up in Northern Minnesota, but I know from being in business and from being involved in my children's activities, that type of thing, people who are not from Minnesota always say it's really, really hard to make friends in Minnesota. So tell me a little bit about what brought you to having that event that you just threw together and said, Let's meet up.
[00:02:23.320] - Erica Schulte King
Yeah. Well, it is hard to make friends in Minnesota, and I've been here for 22 years. So that's really saying something. And of course, I've had friends along the way, but very often they're friends that are your kid's friend's parents. And so when I became an empty nester, I was looking around and thinking, what's next for me? Where I posted a random TikTok and said how hard empty nesting is, and I was blown away that now has 181,000 views. So that was the beginning that I realized that there was this empty nester thing happening. And then I posted about how hard it is to make friends in Minnesota, and that also blew up. And then I was like, Wait a minute, there's something here. And that led me to do this impromptu, Let's go meet at Lake Harriet.
[00:03:07.010] - Candi Broeffle
I want to get into so many different things with this, but let's just stay on this path for right now. Tell me about that event. Tell us about that event and how it went.
[00:03:16.610] - Erica Schulte King
So I posted and I don't know why I didn't think about it. I just did it. It was one of those things that, Okay, let's just do this. And I really didn't think of the safety issues, the do I need a park permit? Will anybody show up? Am I going to be by myself? So I just posted it and said, I will be here in November. I don't remember the date at 10 AM. And if you want to make friends, come on over. And much to my surprise, about 100 women showed up.
[00:03:38.830] - Candi Broeffle
Well, and it was really fascinating to watch it all unfold as well because as I was watching it, people were commenting like crazy on that post. And they were like, Are you going to do this again? I can't make it on that date. I want to be there. And other people were like, I'm such an introvert. I can't do this, but I really want to. Everything in my being is saying to come. Is that what you were finding with the people who showed up as well?
[00:04:02.050] - Erica Schulte King
Absolutely. And the wonderful thing is that a lot of people, there's an urge in these types of situations to just bring a lot of people with you. You need your comfort people to go do something hard. And the cool, beautiful thing was that people came in ones. People came alone, even if they were introverts, even if it was difficult. And we had a little agenda, and it actually went really well. And women were very open and spoke to each other. And it was really interesting to see how people, because we were all coming from the same space and we all wanted the same outcome, everybody was very willing to participate.
[00:04:37.650] - Candi Broeffle
I love that. I think that is something that's very true. I mean, we want to go with people who we know, but then we're going to stand there with the people that we already know. It's going to be really hard to break away from that. So to really be brave and to say, Hey, I'm going to do this on my own, I'm going to come in and just see what happens. So tell me about friendships or what have you seen happen since that meeting in November?
[00:04:59.740] - Erica Schulte King
Well, since then, there are a very dedicated group that come to all of the events, which I love because they're these wonderful ambassadors and I get to see them all the time, and I've become friends with them as well. So that's very cool. And they've talked to me about how they've met so many different people at these events. I've seen some women have helped each other move, some have gone to coffee, some have gone to each other's houses. So it goes beyond just these events that I'm having, which did I ever think that would be a possibility? I don't know. I had no idea what I was getting into. So just the fact that it's blossomed into this thing that's more that doesn't necessarily need me to facilitate is just a really wonderful thing.
[00:05:37.740] - Candi Broeffle
So you've had other events since that first event. So what were some of those events that you had?
[00:05:43.860] - Erica Schulte King
So we went to the Lake Harriet was the first, and then we went to Forgotten Star Brewery right before the holidays. And we had, I mean, almost 200 women, I think, show up to that. Forgotten Star is a great little business to work with. They were amazing. And then we went to the St. Paul College Club in St. Paul, which I had to cap numbers at 160. They did a very beautiful spread for us. They donated and contributed all of the food. The venue itself on a Friday night, 160 people came. I had to stop taking reservations.
[00:06:19.800] - Candi Broeffle
When you first started thinking about doing this, did you have a number in mind of how many people might show up on that first meeting?
[00:06:27.380] - Erica Schulte King
I was hoping for five. I was hoping for one. Please don't leave me alone. And I think I even said that in the TikTok, I said, I'm going to be here and I may be alone, but I hope I'm not. So I was very surprised and very happy.
[00:06:41.740] - Candi Broeffle
So what is the makeup of the people who are coming? Are they that empty nester age?
[00:06:46.940] - Erica Schulte King
I would say that the primary demographic is the 45 to 55. So yes, that transitional time for empty nesting. However, women bring their daughters. I'll have 30 year olds there too, and they're both coming to make friends and to meet new people and to just have a cool experience with women that they would never normally meet out on their own, which is another great thing about this. So it ranges from about 30 to 60, but really it is the 45 to 55.
[00:07:16.010] - Candi Broeffle
You said that at the beginning, one of your first videos that you did was on people who were empty nesters. When you became an empty nester, what was the difference between your younger age with your kids and then coming into this whole new transitional period?
[00:07:32.040] - Erica Schulte King
Yeah, I think it was interesting for me. I was a single mom for many, many years, and so my whole focus was my job and my kids. And so was it my entire personality? I get comments like that all the time. Oh, it's too bad that it was your entire personality, your children, and that's why you're having such a hard time. And it's like, no, that's not what it is at all. It's just a transition that you have to recognize and go through and allow yourself to feel. I think often we don't allow ourselves the space and the grace to feel all the emotions that we're going through because for so many years, I mean, come on, we put the kids on the front burner, we put ourselves on the back burner for 20 plus years as we're raising them. And so, yeah, I became an empty nester at 46, I think, with my second head left during COVID, which I do not recommend because that's even worse. You don't have your people around you to embrace that situation with you. But it was also a time of total looking at your life and saying, Okay, now what's next?
[00:08:34.260] - Erica Schulte King
Because maybe I don't need to be doing what I've been doing for the last 15, 20 years. Maybe I have other choices that I didn't have as a single mom with my head down.
[00:08:43.370] - Candi Broeffle
I hear it all the time about women who are in transition, who becoming empty nesters. Basically all your schedule is either around work or your kids mostly. Even though we try to do the things to take care of ourselves and have our self care, there's also all these other things that are going on and all of a sudden all that stops. All those activities stop. All of that responsibility stops. And all of the friendships that you built in that time dissipate too. If you're not meeting up at games and you're not meeting up at events, do you continue to do that? The pandemic has been just a game changer, I think, for everybody. People are really lonely. And that's what I loved so much about the original video that you did. It's just so awesome to see somebody just step up and say, Hey, let's do this. And people were so responsive to you. They were. It's incredible. Yeah. I just think it's just amazing. So you are now doing a lot of other things. You are continuing to put together events, and you have some really interesting events that are coming up this summer.
[00:09:53.100] - Candi Broeffle
I want to talk about those as well as we're coming into the next segments. And we have a little bit of time now. And you have one that's coming up in just a few days. It's on April 19, and you are going to be at Unmapped Brewing Company in Minnetonka.
[00:10:10.830] - Erica Schulte King
That's right. Yeah, this was actually planned initially for February, and then we got a crazy blizzard. So we had to postpone it until April, and it's coming up next week already, which I'm really thrilled about. We have almost 100 registered for that event, but we can actually fit up to 200, which sounds like a lot, but it's actually not when you're in a big space like a brewery. And it's just really important to me for all of the events that I'm planning, it's really important for me to also bring money back into the community and to local business. And so this is one of those situations where it's a free entry situation. And if you want to buy something, you're buying direct from the business here. There's probably going to be a food truck.
[00:10:50.040] - Candi Broeffle
And the event is from 6 to 9 PM. So it's really a nice time to be able to do it, go in and you can stay longer if you want. Yeah. But you're not.
[00:11:01.270] - Candi Broeffle
Obligated to. I know. And the last one that we had done in a brewery at Forgotten Star, it was also a three hour block. And I'm thinking, oh, my gosh, are people going to just do the walk in, walk out? What's it going to look like? And people stayed until the absolute end. Every single event I've had, not just a few people, everybody stays until the absolute end. It's fantastic. I mean, I've heard you go as strangers and you leave as friends.
[00:11:26.340] - Erica Schulte King
[00:11:27.490] - Erica Schulte King
The best thing that you could possibly hope for.
[00:11:30.960] - Candi Broeffle
That is awesome. For people who want to learn more about Erica and to register for your upcoming events, visit KookaburraMeets.com. And that's K, O, O, K, A, B, U, R, R, A, Meets dot com. Be sure to also follow her on TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook. You're listening to Green Tea Conversations on AM950, the progressive voice of Minnesota, and we will be right back. Welcome back to Green Tea Conversations. I'm your host, Candi Broeffle. And today we're talking with Erica Schulte King, the founder of Kookaburro Meets here in Minneapolis. And so if you are just coming in and you're just starting to listen to the show, we want to introduce you to Erica and what she has done. Erica, back in November, or back in October, put out a video on TikTok that I happened to come across my For You page that said, Hey, I want to make friends. I want to do this by meeting up with people at Lake Minnetonka on this date at this time. So if you're interested in making friends, come on out. And that little TikTok, that very vulnerable and brave TikTok that she made, resulted in over 100 people coming out at that activity just so that they could also make friends.
[00:13:02.940] - Candi Broeffle
So right now, we are going into some of Erica's upcoming events because there has been such a surge of interest in this. I just really want to congratulate you, Erica. This is something I'm sure you didn't mean to take on in such a big way.
[00:13:19.700] - Erica Schulte King
I didn't. But sometimes things happen for a reason.
[00:13:25.800] - Candi Broeffle
It is becoming a phenomenon that I'm wondering where this all will take you. But for now, for the next several months, you have some activities that you have already planned. So we just talked about one that's coming up on April 19, at Unmapped Brewing Company in Minnetonka from 6 to 9 PM. So if you are available and want to come out and meet women from Minnesota who are also wanting to make friends, join them on that date. You also have one coming up on May 7, and that one is that you're doing a Lake Harriet Walk, basically. And that one starts at 10 AM.
[00:14:05.460] - Erica Schulte King
Yes, back to where it all began. So why not? And I lived in that area for 20 years, so it's a little bit of my comfort zone to go back to that space. And that's why I did that initially in that location because I knew it so well and like a warm blanket if nobody showed up. I could just go do my own thing. But yeah, we're going back on May 7 to Lake Harriet. We're going to do the walk around and we'll see who shows. Maybe some people want to run, maybe some people want to do part of it, maybe some people don't want to walk. We'll just figure out what to do once we get there.
[00:14:38.220] - Candi Broeffle
You already have people signed up for that event as well, and that's still pretty far out. But that one I imagine is pretty open to your numbers. You don't have to worry about...
[00:14:48.600] - Erica Schulte King
We don't. I did some extensive research with the city of Minneapolis to make sure that I wouldn't get in trouble in case a lot of people came. But no, we should be able to take obviously anybody who wants to come. And right now, there are just over 50 women coming to that one.
[00:15:06.440] - Candi Broeffle
Again, I just want to have you talk about from the original events and some of the events that you've had since then, there have been some true friendships that have been made in this.
[00:15:18.720] - Erica Schulte King
Absolutely. Including my own, by the way. I mean, I really have met some amazing women who I've given my phone number to, which is always like, do I do that? Because I'm a public I'm in a public space now, so I have to be a little bit careful when I go to these things because people know my life out there on TikTok and I have to be careful who I tell where I live and things like that. So it takes me a little bit of time to be ready to give out more personal information. But it's been great. There have been women that have come to each one of them, and they all bring different things to the table for me, and I'll text them. Or I've gone out to happy hour. I've gone out for coffee. I texted somebody the other day, made sure she was okay, and didn't need something after surgery. There are friendships that are blossoming for me as well, not just everybody else.
[00:16:11.080] - Candi Broeffle
I think the pandemic has really hit people in a different way than what we've even experienced in the past. It's been so long now. It's been three years. And I think people have gotten into a rut. If they were shut in themselves and they wanted to keep themselves safe, that has led to really disconnecting from people. And it's not that it's done and it's not that we're free of it and we still have to be careful. But it's time. It's time that we come back together and we start building those relationships again. We get so much into the news and into what's happening on social media, you start to believe that the world is a little bit of a dark and scary place, and it's time for us to come together and see it's not.
[00:16:56.000] - Erica Schulte King
It is time. And for those three years, we were scared of everyone and everything. We didn't know. We didn't know what we didn't know. And now for me, it changed my whole outlook of not taking things for granted and going out and doing those things that scared me before. But when it was taken away from me for a few years, I began to realize I need to start doing those things that are scary for me. And that was a really intentional move on my part as we were coming out of the pandemic is to get more things on my calendar. I am actually an introvert, which a lot of people don't believe because for my job and marketing and things that I do, it's required of me to be out there. But I'm really not. I do the things that I need to do during the day, and then I go home and put the covers over my head. And so part of this was like, listen, I cannot be an empty nester and put the covers over my head every night. I just can't do that to myself. And so what am I going to do now that's scary?
[00:17:56.840] - Erica Schulte King
And I think that's propelling me to continue through this with Kookaburra Meets, but then also to just keep trying new things.
[00:18:06.120] - Candi Broeffle
Yeah. The interesting thing that I have found with the friends that I have is it seems that the pandemic has almost hit people who were introverts harder than people who were extroverts. As an extrovert, I think I find ways to connect with people no matter what. So it hasn't been that hard on me. But for my friends who are more introverted, it seems that it's been especially hard on them. That ability to be able to connect has been difficult.
[00:18:33.680] - Erica Schulte King
Yeah. I mean, for me during the pandemic, it wasn't that hard to not do things. And so for me, it was almost spiraling into this thing of, oh, my gosh, I've got to force myself now to do more because I could very easily not. And of course, mental health and things like that, it's just not a good thing. So that was part of my empty nesting post originally was, what do you do now that your kids are gone? I just didn't know what to do with myself. I wasn't being forced to go to volleyball and soccer and get out on the bleachers in the sun. I wasn't the taxi that I complained about for 15 years. It was now up to me to create my social experiences and actually get out there for me. And that was a challenge.
[00:19:24.480] - Candi Broeffle
It is. And it is something that we hear across the board. I've heard it for years for decades now from friends who have gone through it as well. And it is very, very difficult. But there is opportunities. It's funny because also on my next door groups, I find that there are a lot of young people, young couples who are putting out like, Hey, we're going to put together a game night if there's any other young couples who want to get together. And it's fun to see people responding to that and how they do that. But this was the first time I saw something for somebody my age. Selfishly, I was really interested in it.
[00:20:07.120] - Erica Schulte King
Well, I'm glad you were and I'm glad other people were. Yeah.
[00:20:11.110] - Candi Broeffle
So you have another activity or another event coming up on May 18th. So you have some that are like almost every two weeks.
[00:20:20.580] - Erica Schulte King
Yeah, for now I do. That one's in St. Paul at Camp Barr. Again, amazing to work with them. And then I partnered with another lovely woman named Liza who's on Instagram. Her company is called @Nosh & Gather, and she does all sorts of catering local in the cities, obviously, and does all sorts of catering and food service. So I'm really excited to work with another woman owned small business to provide that service.
[00:20:48.800] - Candi Broeffle
And so she's going to have some things to nosh and gather around.
[00:20:53.510] - Erica Schulte King
She is. She's going to have beautiful grazing tables there. So I'm excited about that.
[00:20:59.460] - Candi Broeffle
And so you don't really have any agenda going into this?
[00:21:04.040] - Erica Schulte King
Not really. And of course, through this whole thing, I get hundreds of messages and people asking me what my plans are. And I don't know. I literally just go on what I'm hearing. The feedback from event to event teaches me more about what people are looking for. What I have noticed with our first event at the Lake, and I didn't tell you this yet, but I invited 20... I didn't invite anybody. I actually went up there and I said, My name is Erica. I'm an empty nester. I love to hike. I love to read. I live in the Western suburbs. And then I invited anybody that would want to come up to introduce themselves to help break the ice of all of these strangers sitting huddled in freezing temperatures in Minnesota in November. And about 20 women, 20, 25 women came up and actually just introduced themselves like that. So we carried that on to the next event because people really liked it and it really started the conversation. So we went to Forgotten Star and we tried to do it there, but it was dark and it was loud and it just didn't fit.
[00:22:09.380] - Candi Broeffle
So it's almost like for each event, I just come up with a new either we're going to do something or we're not going to do something. But the most feedback I had is, please don't put a spotlight on me. It's difficult for me to attend and I don't want to have to do anything other than show up and have a great time and meet people. And I recognize that and I honor that. And so that's the most vocal voice I have heard.
[00:22:40.690] - Erica Schulte King
[00:22:41.450] - Erica Schulte King
I'm going with that because that is the audience that I'm catering to is not the audience that has a 1,000 people surrounding and be friending them. The audience that I'm trying to talk to are the ones that are like me, a little bit more introverted.
[00:23:01.320] - Candi Broeffle
A little bit more introverted. Well, when we come back, we're going to continue the conversation and continue delving into that a little bit. So to learn more about Erica and to register for her upcoming events, visit KookaburraMeets.com, and that's K, O, O, K, A, B, U, R, R, A, M, E, E, T, S dot com. Be sure to follow her on TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook for more updates and fun. To read the online version of Natural Awakenings magazine, visit GreenTeaConversations.com. You can find a podcast of this show on AM950Radio.com, on Apple and Google podcast, and anywhere you get your podcasts. You're listening to Green Tea Conversations on AM950, the progressive voice of Minnesota, and we will be right back. Welcome back to Green Tea Conversations. Today we are talking with Erica Schulte King, founder of Kookaburra Meets. So just before the break, we were starting to talk about some of the different events that you have coming up, and you were also sharing what people are most concerned about when they come in. One of those things is not being put in the spotlight. People don't want to do that. Sometimes it's really hard to just be brave enough to show up.
[00:24:33.380] - Candi Broeffle
And I love that you are honoring that with people so that they don't have to have that as a worry when they come in. I think another thing that people worry about is that nobody is going to talk to them, that they're going to come in and they're going to stand awkwardly by themselves.
[00:24:50.000] - Erica Schulte King
I haven't really seen that happen yet. It surprises me, but I just have never seen that happen. In fact, when we were at the St. Paul College Club, often at these, I'm walking around talking to people, working, making sure everybody's good. I really take it seriously. I'm working. If there is somebody, which I haven't seen, I'll pull them in. But I was at the St. Paul College Club, and there was a group sitting at a table and a woman was walking by clearly alone. And someone from the table said, Hey, come. I literally touched her and said, Come sit with us. I just tapped her on the shoulder and looked at her and I said, Thank you so much. That's what this is all about. And so everyone that attends these events understands what we are trying to do, and everyone participates. This is not me doing this by myself. I am merely the facilitator. There are so many people that want this to work, and so they really engage each other.
[00:25:50.410] - Candi Broeffle
I think that is something that is really very special, but it's also something that's innate to us as women is there's always going to be to be people in a group of women who are the includeers, who are the people who notice when people are feeling excluded and they'll pull them in. And so I would say if this is something that's keeping you, has a fear for you that's going to happen if you show up, just show up. Just show up because there's going to be a place for you.
[00:26:21.530] - Erica Schulte King
[00:26:22.730] - Candi Broeffle
Yeah. And you deserve to have that place.
[00:26:24.820] - Erica Schulte King
Yeah. And I mean, there's definitely a level of understanding for the women that attend. Obviously, when I'm talking about these events or marketing these events, there's something inside of them that relates to it and says, I want to go, I want to be there, and I want to open up myself to this possibility. And so the people are there. They're not going to shun you. They are going to envelop you because that is exactly what they're hoping others will do to them.
[00:26:52.760] - Candi Broeffle
Now, one of the things I'm sure you get asked is this for women only.
[00:26:57.760] - Erica Schulte King
It is for women, all women, including trans women and nonbinary people. That is how I state it. That is what it is. And that is who comes.
[00:27:09.210] - Candi Broeffle
So if there are men out there who want to start a club, we just encourage you to do that. I'll have you on the show come and I'll help you promote it. But yeah, this is...
[00:27:19.580] - Erica Schulte King
I will help you get it started. I will absolutely help you get it started. Who knows what this will evolve into, but that's what this is right now.
[00:27:29.570] - Candi Broeffle
Yeah. I think you do have... When you and I talked before, I'm like, I think this is going to evolve quite a bit for you. This is really an interesting concept that I think you've just rolling out unknowingly, but you're really crafting it as you go along. Thank you. All right, so let's talk about... You also have an event coming up on May 20th, and this is at...
[00:27:51.940] - Erica Schulte King
[00:27:54.140] - Candi Broeffle
Hanrahan Park. And this is a hike that you're doing, which is in Savage. And that one begins at nine AM. So I like how you're crafting events around different times. So if people are like, I don't want to go out after six o'clock, there's also events that are in the morning. And so everybody is able to participate at some point. Yeah.
[00:28:15.910] - Erica Schulte King
So all of the events are really diverse. Some of them are free. There will never be events that aren't completely accessible, free for people. And some of them are paid because there's pass through cost. We do have scholarships available if someone needs that. I make sure that we can support some scholarships for each event. And then they're all over the Twin Cities and expanding into Deluth. And they're all different times of day, different days of the week, recognizing that not everybody works a Monday through Friday, 8 to 4, and not everybody can do a hike, and not everybody can afford to do one of the other ones. So really trying to make sure that it's diverse.
[00:28:59.720] - Candi Broeffle
So tell us about the hike. Is it like a 20 mile? I don't know.
[00:29:07.580] - Erica Schulte King
I didn't even put the miles or anything like that on there because I don't want to deter people because people will come and we'll decide. Some people might say, I want to go 15 minutes in with you and I'll leave and go back 15 minutes. Or I want to go further and I'll go and I'll come back. And because we get a good amount of people, we can look at that when we get there and decide who wants to do what. I don't want to say we're going for a 10 mile or two. I know we have a few people to do that. That's excessive. I don't ever want to put anybody in a position where they maybe wouldn't be able to participate because it's too much. Yeah.
[00:29:47.750] - Candi Broeffle
And even if you can't hike, show up. There's going to be other people there who are not going to want to hike as well and who may just want to leisurely stroll around the park area, right around the parking area more. There's always going to be something for everyone, I would imagine. Absolutely.
[00:30:04.940] - Erica Schulte King
[00:30:05.980] - Candi Broeffle
That's awesome. All right. So in May 20th, it's going to be such a beautiful time of the year to be out in that spring coming into summertime. But on June first, you also have, and this one's really exciting to me, a riverboat cruise and dinner at Stillwater.
[00:30:22.540] - Erica Schulte King
Yeah, we're going to the Stillwater River boats, and we have a two and a half hour cruise and a buffet dinner, and everything is included in the ticket, the cruise, the dinner. The only thing that you need to pay for is if you wanted beverages, cocktails, that's all on your own. So each of these events has different things included based on cost for me because all of these are a little bit of investment as I put money up front and organize these things. But that one I'm really excited about.
[00:30:51.510] - Candi Broeffle
So one of the things that you had mentioned when you were talking about this is that you have scholarships available for people as well. So I'm curious, are you taking donations? How are you gathering the scholarship monies? For the.
[00:31:06.320] - Erica Schulte King
Last paid event we had, which was again, the St. Paul College Club, people had the opportunity to buy their ticket plus one scholarship. So the cost of that was $25. If they wanted to buy a scholarship, it was $50. I received five women who did that, and I was able to give out five scholarships. And actually, I was asked by five people for scholarships. So I didn't even have to. That was wonderful. Completely paid for. Moving forward, some of the things are a little bit more than 25, and I didn't feel comfortable putting that out there for sponsorships. So if people would like a sponsorship for each of the ones coming up, that will just be coming from me. In the future, I might do a donation. I would like to get into a space where I can take sponsorships from other people or promotional dollars from other people and work in a way and collaborate to help fund some of these things. It is pretty good expense on my end, not just the events, but think about just the incorporation and the website and the marketing of it and all of the things that I've had to do to really get this going.
[00:32:12.610] - Erica Schulte King
And so I am not in the green. But that's okay. It's really important for me to continue doing it and then to provide scholarships as well. Well, we need.
[00:32:25.220] - Candi Broeffle
To figure that out, help you figure that out, though, because that is... I mean, even if people are not able to come, I'm sure people love the idea and they want to be able to do a donation for you as well. So I'm just going to say to our listeners out there, if you are interested in donating, be sure to check the website because I think there's going to be something on her website and on her social media sooner rather than later because we're going to help you figure that out. I think it's just so important. And if people can go, there's so much mental health issues that can be caused just by being lonely, just by feeling alone and disconnected. And if we can do something to help people get connected again and to make friendships and to have that sense of purpose in life again, sometimes it's not that bad, but it can really do a number on your wellness. And this is all about wellness. Yes.
[00:33:26.560] - Erica Schulte King
I am a person that always needs something to look forward to. When I don't have a thing to look forward to, it just really, I mean, it bums me out. It makes me sad. It makes me think, what am I doing? You compare yourself to others, which, of course, you should never do. But at least it provides that for people. It just gives them a little something to look forward to.
[00:33:48.920] - Candi Broeffle
And connection and fun. I love that. All right. So the really exciting thing for me, I can tell you when Eric and I were talking about this interview, I had shared, grew up up north near Deluth, and I had heard over and over and over from people just how hard it is to make friends in Minnesota. Because if you didn't grow up here and you didn't go to school here, you didn't have those long term friendships. It was really, really hard to work your way into that group. I even had people who say, I've only been here 40 years and I'm still a new person. You've been here longer at that time than I was even alive and you're still trying to get in. So it can be really hard. I don't know if it's a Minnesota thing only, but I've heard it about Minnesota. And I heard it a lot when I was up north. And so you have an event coming up in Deluth at the Northland Country Club. And you had people reach out to you from Deluth saying, hey, come on up here. I need this in my place, too.
[00:34:53.660] - Erica Schulte King
I did. In fact, they started to get a little offended when I was planning more events in the cities. And I was getting, You said you'd come to Deluth. And I was, Okay, I'm coming to Deluth. So yeah, I said, Well, let's branch out. Let's see how we do. Let's see if we can get some women interested up there and do it in July because it's lovely in Deluth in July. So yeah, that's what we're doing.
[00:35:15.640] - Candi Broeffle
So July 20th, from 6 to 9 PM at the Northland Country Club.
[00:35:21.970] - Erica Schulte King
[00:35:23.320] - Candi Broeffle
Oh, I'm sorry. July 21st. At the Northland Country Club, people can sign up on your website. And again, for people who want to learn more about Erica and to register for her events, visit KookaburraMeets.com. You're listening to Green Tea Conversations on AM950, the progressive voice of Minnesota, and we will be right back. Welcome back to Green Tea Conversations. I'm your host, Candi Broeffle. And today we're visiting with Erica Schulte King, founder of Kookaburra Meets. Immediately when I started seeing you on TikTok, first of all, you're very engaging, which is fun. You have such a great personality and a great presence on TikTok. Thank you. It's just really fun to watch you. As you were doing it, and then all these other events come up, I'm like, I wonder what this person's background is. Because this isn't something that just everybody could do. So I had asked you, what is it that you do as well? What is your background? And you let me know that you also do consulting for marketing and branding and public relations. So tell us a bit about that. Tell us about your background and what brought you... Because now you're a self employed person, you have your own business. But give us a little bit of information about how that all came about. Sure.
[00:36:56.890] - Erica Schulte King
I've been doing marketing and communications for the majority of my life, community outreach, those types of things. And for the last 10 years, I was working for a company where I did PR and media and just really had to be out there. This is where I say that whole introvert versus extrovert thing. It's very confusing because in my work life, I very much have to be an extrovert. And so recently decided to go off on my own and have a consulting part of Kookaburra Meets. It's all still in that same space. I mean, this is recent. This is just in the last couple of weeks. So it's been really fun to explore what that could look like for me. It's been really nice being able to take a walk in the middle of the day.
[00:37:42.730] - Candi Broeffle
Now, I have to tell anyone where you're going.
[00:37:45.420] - Erica Schulte King
Yeah, I'm not telling anybody where I'm going. I mean, it has its definitely pros and cons about it, but it's going well. I have a few clients already. I'm learning a lot for different industries, which is really fascinating because I've been very much in the same basic industry and audience for a number of years. And so it's allowing me to branch out and meet new people in that way too, which is really fun. It's national so that's great too because it's actually global. But the people that I'm working with right now are just all over the place and I can pick and choose who I'd like to work with, which is really nice as well.
[00:38:23.950] - Candi Broeffle
So tell us about that a little bit. Do you have a special interest in certain industries or working with certain types of entrepreneurs?
[00:38:33.920] - Candi Broeffle
Yeah, of course. I really want to work with emerging brands, small brands. I don't really feel a huge desire to work with big corporations at this time in my career. I mean, that's something that I've been doing and I would like to look a little differently at things. So emerging brands, absolutely women owned, of course. Lgbtqia is important to me and also BIPOC owned. So although I will work with a number of anyone, as long as what it is that they're doing fits within my personal value proposition, I definitely just want to make sure that I'm communicating that out. That's something that I very much welcome, those groups that are underserved. And I do not have any set consulting fees. And the reason being is that I want to work with these emerging brands and understand what they can do financially versus what I can do financially and just make that work. I'm not trying to get rich with any of the things that I'm doing. I'm trying to cover expenses and moving forward and do the things that I really want to do in life, things that I've been dreaming about for a very long time. Not the Minnesota women meetups. I had no idea that was happening. But I did have this dream of working with emerging companies and setting people up for success in any way that I could help them.
[00:39:55.840] - Candi Broeffle
It is so important, too, that people have... There's so many people out there who do marketing and help small businesses with marketing, but they don't necessarily have the background that they need in order to help them be successful. And the people who do are often so expensive that it's outside of the realm. I was really excited to hear you talk about doing that, that that's what you're doing and that you're looking at sliding scale with different types of businesses because it gives people these emerging brands the opportunity to get the expertise and the know-how from somebody at yet a place that they can afford. Then as they grow, you get to change that amount and that's okay because as you grow, you're expecting to pay more for those services as well. I've seen it happen too many times with small business owners that I've worked with where they've really gotten taken advantage of when it comes to marketing and that. It's one of my passions that I help small businesses be able to share what they do. And so when you told me about this, I was really excited. So tell me a little bit about what would your ideal client be? Because your ideal client is listening to this show right now. There's about 10 of them, I would say.
[00:41:18.390] - Erica Schulte King
My ideal client would be someone who provides a real, true service to people who, and they are small still. They don't necessarily have a staff of 10. Maybe they don't have a staff at all. Maybe it's just them and they're trying to figure it out. They don't think that they can afford marketing assistance. They think that if they get the quality that they're looking for, they're looking at $150 an hour. I know we're even close to that. I could be.
[00:41:50.530] - Candi Broeffle
You easily could be.
[00:41:52.220] - Erica Schulte King
I choose not to be. And I think that that's what the difference is. The clients that I'm working with right now, some of them, it's like just a collaboration. How can we support each other? Because I'm also starting a small business. So there's a lot of collaboration and give and take that could happen that has a lot of equity instilled in that. And so sometimes it's not even a financial contribution. It's like, what can we do to support each other? And so that's my ideal candidate. You think you can't have somebody that has 25, 30 years of experience and knows what they're doing? Yeah, you can. And I'll help. And I want to help.
[00:42:29.240] - Candi Broeffle
What do you consider your most valuable asset that you bring to your clients? What is your special sauce?
[00:42:39.830] - Erica Schulte King
Well, I have a lot of experience in all of the marketing and the things for years. B2b, B2C, public relations, media. I'm 49 years old. I've done all the foundational things. Well, guess what? I'm also a social media expert. I can do all of the younger trendier things. I've proven that on TikTok. I bring a different vibe where I can really understand audience across many different ages and many different industries. I think that brings just a little something to the table where I can really bend and mold myself based on what the client needs are and who their audience is.
[00:43:19.450] - Candi Broeffle
I am excited for you. I'm excited to be able to bring people to you as well because we do some marketing work as well with one of my businesses, but I don't do a lot of what you do. And so to be able to collaborate in some ways, too, is going to be really exciting, especially the TikTok. I'm a little older than you, and like I said, I just stalk people on TikTok, just watch their videos.
[00:43:48.680] - Erica Schulte King
Which I did for a number of years, too. I think a lot of us did during COVID. And then I did some silly thing on a Friday night, and then here we are.
[00:43:58.280] - Candi Broeffle
Yeah. I love it. What do you hope... What is your dream? What do you hope to have happen in 2023, going into 2024?
[00:44:09.060] - Erica Schulte King
I'm hoping to build a really good foundation with Kookaburra Meets with the women meetups. I would like that to be a primary source of time for me. I would like that to... It's not just in the Twin Cities right now, but it's very much centered in the Twin Cities, and that's because that's where I live and that's where I can get to. However, I would like to push that out into more of the rural areas around the state of Minnesota. I'd like to talk to some people who might be interested in supporting me and helping me with that, actually partnering with me to expand into those different areas. And then who knows what happens after that. But I don't want to lose our core why we started in the first place. That's a really important thing to me. And any amount of expansion, I would never get rid of the why, the mission and the purpose. I would not want to grow so quickly. Anybody can grow quickly. Anybody can just throw stuff out there and see what works and just be messy about it. And that's not what I want to do. I really want to stick to the roots of why we started this and grow it at the pace that makes sense to really provide a good service to people out there.
[00:45:30.450] - Candi Broeffle
Well, I am certainly excited to see where this all takes you. And I think you have some exciting things coming up. I just have a good feeling about you, Erica.
[00:45:41.370] - Erica Schulte King
Thank you I appreciate it. I need people to have faith in me sometimes because it's not easy.
[00:45:48.460] - Candi Broeffle
So the other thing I just want to mention is, and I think this goes without saying, but also probably should be said, is the fact that this is really about making friendships. This is really about making connections. This is not about selling your services or having some expected outcome out of this. And so just encouraging people when you're going into this and also guaranteeing for people who are going into this that this is about truly making connections. And so come into it with that idea.
[00:46:29.320] - Erica Schulte King
Yes, I am very protective of those who attend. I'm protective of if you register, I promise you that information is not going anywhere. It's just mine to tell you about more events. And there have been offers from people to sell or do things, and the answer is no and always will be no. There are many places for business networking. You can go find that anywhere. This is not what that is at all.
[00:46:57.430] - Candi Broeffle
So come to the events, take part in it. Go to Erica's website, which is again, KookaburraMeets.com. And that's K, O, O, K, A, B, U, R, R, A, M, E, E, T, S dot com. Erica, thank you so much for being with us today. It was such a pleasure to talk to you and to share your story with people. And again, I'm really excited for where everything is taking you and can't wait to come back. Thanks, Candi. I appreciate it. Have fun. All right, thank you again. Thank you for joining us today and I am wishing for you a lovely day.