PPAI Magazine May 2024

Her Journey Into Promo Adaptability is a crucial part of running a successful business. When the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic presented unexpected hurdles for Sweeter Cards, Stahl and the company adapted. “When COVID hit, the only thing selling was toilet paper or essentials,” Stahl says. “Very quickly, what I built in a year had stalled.” However, the setback proved to be an opportunity redefine Sweeter Cards’ place in the market. With remote work the norm, businesses sought to maintain connections with employees and clients. Sweeter Cards, previously printing 40,000 cards at a time, found itself fielding requests for custom orders. “We started getting a lot of inquiries asking if we could do custom,” Stahl says. “[A customer] asked if we could print 20 [cards]. I said ‘sure,’ but I had no clue how to do it.” Fulfilling the order led Stahl to discover the promotional products industry. Within six months, Sweeter Cards had pivoted to accommodate custom orders and promo. Fast-forward a few years, and Sweeter Cards took the promotional products stage at The Pitch during The PPAI Expo 2024. The live competition, combining aspects of The Voice and Shark Tank, packed the Mandalay Bay Convention Center ballroom as seven suppliers sought to win over the panel of veteran distributor judges. Stahl presented her flagship dark chocolate sea-salt bar while highlighting that her company is woman-owned and employs adults with disabilities. Stahl’s pitch convinced all four judges to turn their chairs in approval and took 55% of the audience vote. “Immediately having that win before the Expo made so many conversations easy and fun,” Stahl says. “I’m eternally grateful for The Pitch.” When she first entered the promo market, Stahl searched for advice from someone who had already achieved success in the industry. That’s when she reached out to Jason Lucash of Rupt on LinkedIn. “I kept seeing press on him, and I decided, ‘I’m going to reach out to this guy and ask if I can pick his brain.’ I learned so much in a short time because of how generous he was with his knowledge,” says Stahl. “He became a friend and a believer.” Must Read | Sweet Success 38 • MAY 2024 • PPAI