We have two very creative entrepreneurs joining Biz Talk this week! We are excited to welcome Mary Margaret Lopez & Ashley Sellers into the “Fusion One Lounge” to talk about their many passions in life & in business.
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Read the Full Interview Below
Sarah: Hello, everybody! Cheers, everyone. Good morning, we’re going to have a lot of fun today. Let’s get started!
Glyna: Good morning. We have a full lounge this morning in the Fusion One Lounge. We’re going to have a lot of fun today, I can already tell. I’m Glyna Humm and over here, I have my marketing gurus Sarah Gilliland and Kelsi Munn. And at Fusion One we specialize in getting companies more calls and more business. And we started Biz Talk to highlight those businesses that we love and then grab some of their pro tips along the way that we can all use. But before we get started, I do want to remind you where you can find our broadcast. On Friday mornings at 8:00, we are always live on Facebook and YouTube and Twitter, and then you catch the replays everywhere else. And don’t forget our Marketing and a Mic podcast. All right, good morning, ladies.
Ashley Sellers: Good morning.
Mary Margaret Lopez: Good morning.
Glyna: Today we are so excited about our special guests. So I want to introduce Mary Margaret Lopez and Ashley Sellers with Hydro High.
Ashley Sellers: Thank you.
Mary Margaret Lopez: Hey there, thank you for having us.
Glyna: So glad to have you ladies on this morning. Of course, Hydro High is just one of your businesses, but we’ll talk about some of those things in just a moment. But let’s get started and you tell us a little bit about yourselves.
Mary Margaret Lopez: Sure. I am Mary Margaret Lopez and I have been married for 21 years. We have two adorable children and I’m sisters to this one.
Ashley Sellers: I’m Ashley Sellers, been married for seven years to my husband. We have two kids as well, they’re four, 19 months and yeah, I’ll claim her too.
Glyna: And you’re twins, right?
Ashley Sellers: That’s right, yeah.
Mary Margaret Lopez: I like to think that. Twins minus part.
Sarah: Gosh, well to say that you both are busy is an understatement. You run multiple companies, businesses together and full life entrepreneurs, sister duo. So we have a lot to get into, but let’s first start off with the Sellers Lopez Group, tell us how that partnership started and what made you guys want to work together?
Ashley Sellers: Yeah, sure. So we started a clothing company called Hydro High Clothing and through that process, we found out we worked really well together. I had been in real estate for quite a while after having kids, I got to the point in my business that I just needed help, having a partner made sense. She had been in residential real estate in the capacity as an investor for 15 years or something like that.
Mary Margaret Lopez: Absolutely.
Ashley Sellers: And so I don’t even know whose idea it really was first. I think we both were kind of thinking about it and through conversations, it was why don’t you think about getting in business with me and we sell real estate together and she’s like, you know, I’ve been thinking about sales, but I didn’t know what that would look like. And then we formed Sellers Lopez Group and it’s been great.
Kelsi: That’s awesome. Well, we know that you both have very different backgrounds. Wow. Words are hard this morning.
Mary Margaret Lopez: Early yet.
Kelsi: It is. Who have different backgrounds before you both got involved in real estate. So can you kind of touch on that and talk to us about how that brings an added advantage to using you both as a real estate agent?
Ashley Sellers: Sure.
Mary Margaret Lopez: Sure, so I actually was in occupational therapy, that’s what my degree is in and had worked in rehabilitation for 20 years. But when I had children is when I started investing in real estate because I backed down, I had been a manager prior to that point, I had backed down so was not working as much in the hospital. And started buying real estate at that point to prepare for retirement is really how that started. And so I have I think 10 or 11 homes that I’ve purchased and some of those have been sold in that process. And through that really have a sense of when I’m going through a house with somebody, red flags, I see them, I think more so than the average realtor, just because of situations and issues that I have come across in me purchasing homes that are not always in great condition because I’m trying to get a good deal on them and then having to rehab them prior to renting them. And then Ashley, her background is in accounting and she had worked as a public accountant for several years and girlfriend can spit out a spreadsheet faster than anyone that I have ever seen and her ability to analyze the numbers and do applied pricing for different square footages is definitely at a different level than your average real estate agent. And a lot of people have to hire CPAs to come into their business to help them with the business side. And we have a built-in CPA in our business. So that just brings huge value to what we’re able to do and able to run our businesses like a business. I think a lot of entrepreneurs they’re like, oh, I had this great idea, let’s do it, but don’t really know how to do it. I have a business partner who is able to actually run the business and teach me how to do that better.
Ashley Sellers: Not even close.
Mary Margaret Lopez: She’s good at it, I’m telling you.
Ashley Sellers: I call her, oh my gosh, the house is falling apart, no it’s fine, it’s fine.
Mary Margaret Lopez: We’re good, we’re good. I’ve got a guy, I’ve got a guy.
Ashley Sellers: I’ve got a guy.
Mary Margaret Lopez: I’ve got a guy that can handle that.
Kelsi: Mary Margaret, your experience flipping houses comes into play too with your buyers. If they see a fixer-upper, your experience in that to help guide them, is this a good investment or not? How much is this repair going to cost? And then you’ve got the spreadsheet whiz over there, just throws it all up with everybody, it’s great, great partnership.
Mary Margaret Lopez: I always call it the bones, are the bones of the house good and you do have to kind of have a vision and be able to look past a lot of things that can be repaired for not a lot of money and pick up on the things that are going to be detrimental if somebody gets into it. Because frequently when you start fixing some items, it leads to larger items that are underneath and really kind of being able to see that. Obviously I bring in professionals to back up what I’m thinking and I do have a contractor that’s on my speed dial that comes and saves me frequently and comes and helps out when I have questions. But yes, absolutely. I do think that that’s something that’s improved over the years. Sometimes by hard knocks. I learned on myself, the school of hard knocks of what not to do and now I won’t make those same mistakes that I did.
Sarah: Didn’t you say too with your occupational therapy background, you have an ability to kind of visualize the layout of homes and couple that with the potential buyers and kind of see, okay, knowing how this layout is, staircases, structurally, how it would fit or not fit?
Mary Margaret Lopez: Sure, especially for elderly buyers, if they’re coming in or if they have a family member who is going to be living with them, I can very quickly, I used to do home assessments and rehab and provide recommendations on how to make the home handicap accessible. That was part of my job. So if I’m walking in a home, if the door’s not 36 inches wide, that wheelchair is going to have a difficult time going through and then also looking at bathrooms and how they are laid out for a wheelchair to be able to not only get in the bathroom, but be able to maneuver in and be able to get in and out of the shower and how that set up is. So absolutely with older buyers that does come into play.
Ashley Sellers: Well yeah, I’ll interject here.
Mary Margaret Lopez: Sure.
Ashley Sellers: I think we both want to treat people always the right way and then sometimes someone’s saying okay, I want to buy my forever house and maybe they’re younger, but I think she has a lot of foresight in saying okay, well in 10, 15, 20 years, what’s this house going to look like. And we want someone to truly be happy with what they’re getting and maybe they love this house and they’re ready to buy it now, but I think saying hey, think about this 10 years from now, maybe we should wait. Maybe there’s going to be a better opportunity instead of just making that quick sale, I think is something especially she’s very good at saying, okay, think about this 10 years down the road, if you’re in this situation or if you have a parent that you’re taking in, just pointing those things out and trying to help people think about not only now, but what the future may look like and things to think about in their purchase.
Glyna: Fantastic. Well, you obviously have a great relationship. I don’t know if I could work with my siblings, of course, people are always like how do you work with your husband 24-7, but I don’t have a problem with that but my siblings and I? I don’t think that would work. So you guys have a lot of fun and get along, that’s awesome!
Mary Margaret Lopez: That age difference helps, she was always my little baby doll, and when we were young and I was cruising and 18 years old, my little nine-year-old sister was sitting on her foot trying to look big. So we never had that, we were never in the same phase of life at the same time when we were younger, so there was never anything to argue about. I didn’t really want her doll.
Glyna: Well that must be what makes it work, but you guys, we’re being really serious now talking about your business because you guys sell a lot of houses. So that is definitely a serious thing and you’re very good at it. And what’s even more fun is that every time you sell a house or every time, I don’t know if you do it when you list and sell?
Mary Margaret Lopez: We do.
Glyna: Both? But you’re known for your dancing.
Ashley Sellers: That’s scary, our dancing.
Sarah: Yeah, and by dancing, here’s what we’re talking about.
Glyna: And that’s just one.
Kelsi: I am going to be dancing to NSYNC all day!
Glyna: Yeah, that’s just one of many. How did the dancing start, because I love it? I’ll sit there and watch one and then I’ll get caught up in all of them and I’m like these are hilarious
Ashley Sellers: Well, so Mary Margaret’s been with me in real estate for a little over two years now, probably closer to two and a half, and one day we sold this house and the first one we did, there was a song by Train called Soul Sister. And we were joking and she was like we’re the soul sisters. And she was like we should sing a hey soul sister, and we’re like okay, let’s do it, that’ll be fun. And we got such great reaction from it that we were like okay maybe we should do this again. And the second one was Lady Marmalade Soul Sister again. And then it just became a thing. Everybody has said oh, you brighten my day or you do this and we’re like okay, there’s much very serious to our business because we’re playing with other people’s money and we want to always take that very seriously and make sure that we’re trying to do the best for our clients. So it’s nice to be able to interject a little humor and fun in what we do.
Mary Margaret Lopez: We’re kind of goofy.
Ashley Sellers: Yeah.
Mary Margaret Lopez: So I think that you want our serious side in business and then I think sometimes that’s surprised people when we’re dancing in front of houses.
Sarah: Well I’ll tell you, you have your YouTube channel, the Sellers Lopez Group, and there are 51 dancing videos on there currently. So I mean, you could get through those, I was getting, just like Glyna, caught up watching them all, that’s how I know there was 51.
Mary Margaret Lopez: We do professional videography for our listings as well, and our views on the professional videography maybe like 100, 150. We put our dancing ones out and there’s just a 15-second clip of us being stupid, and it’ll get 1000 to 5000 to 7000 views. It’s hysterical to see the difference of this is really what matters, this professional video where you can see the home, but it doesn’t get near the attention as us being silly in the front yard. You should see the neighbors of the people that we’re selling, they’ll stop and come out and ask if we’re okay. Are you guys all right? We’re good. We just can’t get this move right, but we’ll be all right.
Glyna: That’s funny.
Sarah: Oh my gosh, that’s so funny.
Glyna: Well they’re very good.
Sarah: Yeah, they are.
Glyna: You do a great job, but they are so entertaining.
Sarah: Yeah, they’re so entertaining, that’s right. Okay so we’re going to switch gears, we’ve talked about the Sellers Lopez Group and let’s talk about Hydro High Clothing and it’s another one of your businesses, and I want you to kind of start from the top too and share how that concept started behind it.
Mary Margaret Lopez: Sure. Want me to take it?
Ashley Sellers: Sure, go ahead.
Mary Margaret Lopez: So basically we have always absolutely loved the water, we’ve joked that it’s an addiction and that we have to get to the water, that’s our sanity, which is how the clothing line was named Hydro High because we get a high off of the water. And so basically we were sitting on, it was kind of a combination, we were on a dock for a little bit, and then we were on wave runners chatting about this feeling that we get getting to the water. And surely it’s not just us, surely other people that’s their escape is getting to the water. And whether it’s sitting on a beach or in a boat or water skiing or wake surfing or whatever it is-
Ashley Sellers: Fishing.
Mary Margaret Lopez: Fishing, absolutely. And so we were just trying to come up with a concept that basically encompasses all of those, not just fishing or not just skiing, but encompasses all water activities that really drive people to get to the water. So that’s really kind of how it started was surely we’re not alone in our desire to do that, to get to the water.
Kelsi: Yeah, that’s awesome. So if you had to pinpoint it, where would you say your love for water came from?
Ashley Sellers: I would say our dad. When we were young, our parents bought the first lake plot really young and then we built a house there when we were younger, in school. Mom loves it too, she loves being out there and with us, but dad really just kind of fostered that addiction for us. I mean, he always used to go fishing, but he said once he had us, when we were swimming on the side of the boat while he was fishing, that kind of killed the fishing. And then I think as we got older and he taught us to water ski and do all the water sports thing, he said, you know, I realized it wasn’t fishing that I loved. It was the water that I loved. And that’s what he always says. And Mary Margaret was on his back learning to water ski by holding onto him at three, I was a similar age. I mean, he was nine years older by the time I was three. So it was a little different, but he still skis and we feel like we’re passing that love on to our children. Mine are still really young, so they’re not up on skis yet. My oldest was learning to kneeboard recently, but her son at five was learning to ski, and then her daughter who wants to do everything her older brother’s doing at three, got up on skis. So I think it’s just a family affair.
Mary Margaret Lopez: Some people question our judgment dragging children behind a boat at the age of three. But they don’t know! They’re 13 and 15 and they’re still alive and we’re doing quite well!
Glyna: I think they’re fine, let’s take a look at that picture.
Sarah: Look at that, I love that.
Glyna: That is so cool.
Kelsi: That’s some serious skill right there.
Glyna: That definitely is.
Kelsi: Kids are also strong and so resilient. Why not start early? That’s how I feel about it!
Sarah: Yeah, and they don’t know the danger involved!
Ashley Sellers: That’s right.
Mary Margaret Lopez: They don’t remember learning, I told them, it makes it kind of hard for them when they’re trying to learn something else, because they don’t remember having to learn this. So I have to remind them, it was a process, you just don’t remember it.
Glyna: We have some people joining us this morning. I want to say hello real quickly to them. I want to say good morning to Steve Johnson. We want to say good morning to Lavon Chaney and Gayle Mason. Gail says she can’t wait to watch your videos. She’s going to go watch them. Gayle in the title business, I don’t know if you know her.
Ashley Sellers: Sure, yeah hey Gayle!
Glyna: And Cindy Edmunds, she’s joining us this morning. Daniel Entrekin, Brenda Blanton, we’ve got a full house today that are here to listen to what you guys have to say and we also want to show some of your really cool clothing that you guys have to offer. Why don’t you tell us a little bit about what’s on the Hydro High clothing and as far as the coordinates and your favorite places of water, what are we looking at here?
Mary Margaret Lopez: Sure, well our two major concepts are our GPS concept that you have pulled up right now, and really that stems from, we call it #WearYourWater and that’s basically where people have a love of their specific waterway and we wanted to tap into that water pride, and what’s important to them. And where’s their location, where is it that they feel that way, that they feel that feeling that they’re trying to get to. And then there are the other ones are basically the States and you have listed there or shown the Alabama waterways. And it’s our tagline for that is “The Only State Lines That Matter”. And it’s, as you can notice, the only thing on the map is the waterway, because to us, that’s all that matters. Everything else on that map is not what we’re into, it’s the water. And we have that for several States, I think 35, 36, 37 total. So it’s really tapping into in both of the designs, that the water is what it’s about. Whether it’s your specific location or if it’s all the waterways in your state.
Glyna: Perfect. And Sarah, I think I’ve jumped ahead if you want to go backward and they ask the question I was supposed to ask, that would be perfect.
Sarah: I wasn’t even paying attention to the order of the questions, no big deal. Well, you were talking about your family and how that love of water started, and I wanted to ask you if you all have a favorite place to enjoy the water. What’s your escape?
Ashley Sellers: Yeah, I’d have to say it’s our parents’ house. That’s where it kind of all started. It’s not the same house now, but actually the house that they built most recently, you can actually see the house where we grew up from the front of the house and anywhere out the windows in the front of the house. We go there, we love it, it’s time with family, it’s kind of a getaway, we just feel very blessed that A, we have the opportunity to go to this beautiful place. And then B, we get to share it with our family.
Mary Margaret Lopez: It’s about the memories made there and our children are super close even though here’s a large age difference. They’re extremely close and we hang out there pretty much every weekend. Now one of us is usually in Birmingham doing business and we pass on the interstate and send pictures-
Ashley Sellers: You take my kids, I’ll take your kids.
Mary Margaret Lopez: Right. I’m currently teaching yours this, are you okay with that? Okay, good.
Ashley Sellers: In a boat in the water, they’re fine.
Mary Margaret Lopez: I hope you’re all right with this, but I just broke your kid with the rope around him. But that’s really for sure not only do both of our kids really have a bond with our parents and can’t wait that that’s their favorite spot to go is to hang out with their grandparents, which I don’t know if most kids would necessarily say that they want to go to their grandparent’s house, that’s their favorite place to go. But then also, our children, that next generation, is super close, probably as close as some siblings are, to their first cousins.
Kelsi: That’s awesome. You have a place to go to enjoy your passions. So, I want to talk about your brand, the creativeness behind your brand. For our podcast listeners, their logo is so neat, it is a wave that turns into a hook. So it’s really like all-encompassing for water enthusiasts. So, who comes up with your designs and your collection ideas?
Ashley Sellers: So the hook and wave logo, when we were starting to talk about Hydro High and what we wanted that to look like, what you said, Kelsi, is exactly right, we wanted it to be all-encompassing because so many people love the water but they like to do different things. Or if you’re like us, we like to do a little bit of all of it. We may not be the best at fishing, with her son excepted because he’s amazing. We may not be the best wakeboarders, but we just love it all. And my brother, well brother in law, but I call him brother because I grew up with him, but Jeff came up with this awesome idea for the hook and wave logo. And he drew it, it was his concept and his creativeness is what we really tapped into there.
Glyna: Really neat. Now we showed some of the clothing, but tell us what we can find on your website if people are wanting to go order something, what are all of the things that you have on there available?
Ashley Sellers: So we have hats and shirts in short, but in more detail, the hats we carry are cotton or the mesh style and the mesh styles come in both like the soft mesh, which I prefer, it fits me better. We find a lot of girls do prefer that. And then we have the more structured, what people would call a trucker hat or the mesh back there as well. And then we also carry t-shirts, raglans, tanks. And then our t-shirts come in adult sizes, kids’ sizes. And then our t-shirts come in seven colors, four of which we have in child small, all the way up to adult 5X. So we have a large array of sizes and lots of options.
Kelsi: The color options are really great too, they’re not your typical just color wheel, they have all the corals and the teals, it’s really great options.
Ashley Sellers: Thank you.
Sarah: Yeah, and I like that your sizing is all-inclusive, it goes anything from small youth all the way up to 5X, I mean, that’s so great. It’s something that you really don’t have that luxury on a lot of other apparel brands, so that’s great. So if we want to shop for your stuff, what’s the best way to shop? Is it online on your website? And how does it work with the personalization? If somebody wants to find their GPS coordinates, how does that work to order it?
Mary Margaret Lopez: Sure, if you’ll go onto hydrohighclothing.com, that’s our website, that’s the location that you can find everything. We do have some retailers but they usually cater to the lake or the ocean that’s right beside them. So if people are looking and want to see everything, the website is definitely the place to go. It’s very user friendly, you can go on and shop all of our hats, all of our shirts, all of our tanks, or if you’re just wanting anything that says, Lake Martin, there’s a search bar that you can put in Lake Martin and it will pull up everything that we have for that particular Lake. So there’s multiple different situations and ways to search so that it’s user friendly for each way, that the accountant was involved heavily in seeing to that to make sure that it was user-friendly and getting all of those skew numbers in a fashion where it is easy to find.
Kelsi: Awesome. Awesome. Well, I think we were showing the waterways collection when you said that you have around 30 to 35 state options for that collection?
Mary Margaret Lopez: That’s right.
Kelsi: Now switching over to the GPS, Wear Your Water collection, if you are in Georgia or Florida, do you have options?
Ashley Sellers: Oh yes!
Mary Margaret Lopez: We absolutely do. Being from Alabama and figuring that we would be able to touch people in Alabama first, we absolutely created, went through the map, and have a very large selection for our state and then started gradually branching out from there. So we did get a lot of interest from Georgia and Tennessee and Florida, and then Texas actually really started requesting a lot. So basically what we’ve done in terms of the GPS because there are so many waterways in our country, is we hit on what was close to us first and then as people have found out about us and like a retailer will say, oh, well hey, can you do this for our store? Then we’ll create a new design. We even have one, we had someone to reach out to us from Honduras. So you’ll find some that are pretty far away, but those usually kind of start and stem from a retailer reaching out to us and wanting to carry our brand in their store and then we created it for them, and then they’ll order it and get shipments from us.
Glyna: Awesome. Great. Well, it’s definitely a family affair too it sounds like. What are your plans for the future to get your family involved even more?
Ashley Sellers: You know, we kind of see this evolving, and we kind of always have had an entrepreneurial spirit and we have different backgrounds and what we studied in college and things like that. But we’re trying to instill in our children that same entrepreneurial spirit, yes, we want you to get degrees and things like that, but we also want you to think outside the box. So I think in the future we see our children maybe them taking something and running with it and saying, okay, instead of this job while you’re in high school, here’s a business that we’ve started. We have a lot of systems in place that this can run on its own, but there are always ways to improve. There are always ways to expand. See what you can come up with. Here are some ideas to think about, see what you can come up with. Because even on some of the things we’ve done up to this point, I mean, my kids are super small, so they haven’t contributed too much, but her kids are teenagers and they’ve said hey mom, hey Aunt Ashley, dad, what do you think about this? And so they’ve already contributed in some ways so I think it could be a good opportunity for both of our children may be to kind of get some experience in running a business and marketing and things like that.
Kelsi: I’m sorry, go ahead.
Mary Margaret Lopez: No, and even if they wanted to work in a trade booth one weekend, or there would be a situation where we can set up a trade booth, have them work it, and they could work for a weekend and still make income for children but at the same time, not be in a consistent, six hours, eight hours a day job during the summer.
Ashley Sellers: Right.
Kelsi: Yeah. From my experience, I worked with my family, with my dad for a while, right out of college. I learned more in the first year of getting involved with his business than I had my entire life about the real world and how to run a business, how to take care of yourself so that’s an awesome thing that you’re setting up for your children.
Sarah: Oh yeah, for sure. That’s just value to take all along the way when they get older. Okay, so we wanted to ask you, talking about the real estate side and Hydro High, who would be the best referral partners for your businesses.
Ashley Sellers: So on real estate, anyone looking to buy or sell residential real estate in the Birmingham Metro area would be our primary targets there. And then for Hydro High, anyone that just loves water of any sort and or retailers that have clients and customers that love the same.
Kelsi: I’m putting all of your contact information at the bottom for our podcast listeners. If you want to shop at Hydro High, visit www.hydrohighclothing.com. If you want to reach out, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ve got Mary Margaret and Ashley’s cell phone numbers listed. And then for any real estate needs, you can visit www.sellerslopezgroup.com. I won’t read your cell phone numbers out for the entire world.
Glyna: We’re really popular in France, so we don’t need anybody from France.
Ashley Sellers: Oh, wow.
Kelsi: You might have waterways shirts coming from France.
Ashley Sellers: I know a little French, but it’s usually “pardon my French”.
Yeah! Okay, is there anything we didn’t cover that you wanted to mention before we switch gears?
Mary Margaret Lopez: Sorry, I didn’t hear the question.
Sarah: Is there anything else that you wanted to mention that we didn’t cover before we switch gears?
Mary Margaret Lopez: You looking to buy or sell any real estate?
Glyna: We went through that last year. Well, we really want to thank you guys so much for coming on this morning, I can’t believe that our time has already passed. It was so much fun. But thank you so much.
Ashley Sellers: Thank you, guys.
Mary Margaret Lopez: Thank you for having us.
Glyna: And we want to thank everybody for joining us today. We had such a great time and want to remind you to join us Tuesday at 8:00 AM for marketing mix. And then also next Friday at eight o’clock we will have special guests Jamie Garzarek with High Crest Roofing. So until then, everybody have a great day.
Ashley Sellers: Thanks, guys.