Alumna and entrepreneur Julie Busha ’00’s marketing career has taken a delicious turn in recent years.
Busha is the owner and marketer of Slawsa, an innovative cross between a salsa and slaw product that has led to appearances on ABC’s “The Shark Tank,” a show that allows entrepreneurs to pitch their products for a potential backer; articles in newspapers and magazines across the nation; and accolades among food industry stars such as Food Network host Melissa d’Arabian and Lisa Lillien of Hungry Girl.
Busha manages an aggressive marketing campaign for Slawsa, talents which she honed while a marketing student at Winthrop University. She came to the university from Sarasota, Fla., as a cross-country/track athlete.
“I honestly had so many great professors, and they were very personal in their teachings,” she said. “It's nice to not feel like you’re a number.”
Busha’s sports marketing professor at the time recommended to her an internship at IMG, a prestigious sports marketing agency. The internship experience led to a job offer before she had graduated. Busha later worked within the sport of NASCAR for more than a decade where she worked on behalf of client, General Mills.
“I cannot speak enough to the value of an internship during school,” she said.
She took her experience to a new level in 2011 when she began working with the original Slawsa product. Slawsa was not being carried by stores and by 2013, Busha had developed four all-natural flavors of the product; by late 2013, it was carried in more than 5,000 stores in the United States and Canada.
“It was in July 2013 when I got that magical call from producers at ABC to award me a plane ticket in Los Angeles where I taped my segment,” she said. “Obviously, it was great to receive such high praise from investor Mark Cuban and the other sharks. I’m working very hard to continue Slawsa’s aggressive growth among not only with our retailers, but among consumers as well.”
Since graduation, Busha has kept close ties with the alma mater that gave her her start. She shared her “Shark Tank” experience with students and faculty in a two-part lecture on campus entitled “Eagles Nest.” When asked about advice for current students in the marketing world, she said the first rule is to love what you do.
“There is nothing I am more passionate about because waking up each day knowing that my efforts are growing a brand might be the most fulfilling thing I've ever done professionally,” she said. “If you don't love what you do, do something else, but at the same time recognize that every experience you have, both good and bad, will only make you that much more prepared for the next career in your life.”
She also suggested that students always learn and absorb knowledge in order to face any challenge; perhaps most importantly, she said don’t be afraid to take a leap of faith.
“Never in a million years could you have told me three years ago that I would own a condiment company that is growing at the rate we are,” she said. “That's just crazy talk. But isn't crazy great?”
Read more about what Busha had to say regarding her Shark Tank experience in a blog post she wrote for The Huffington Post.
Last updated 1/24/13