Ann is the owner of reCollect2 Company and creator of the reCollect2recycler, a recycling receptacle used in hospitality and corporate office settings. Manufactured in Wisconsin, you can find her products, specifically in hotel guest rooms and various businesses and organizations in 49 states throughout the US. She's had the privilege of working alongside some of hospitality's most recognizable brands. But her goal has always been to offer a product that's functional, motivational, and impactful.
So why don't we start a little bit about talking about being in the hospitality space and how this year has affected your business?
Well, dramatically, like any business and travel, and tourism and attractions. So yes, I mean, the industry is hurting as a whole right now. But it's really important to notice that there are some markets right now, throughout the US that are seeing an uptick, they're getting busier, and they're doing better. Right now the overall goal is to restore that confidence in travel again, and I know that we will get there. But I would say the immediate need right now is to focus on just keeping hotels open, like literally keeping their doors open, because it's really a hard time especially coincidentally, today is the election and a lot of things are actually surrounded around what will transpire there. So our industry has been in a holding pattern, it's been hurting, but I just feel confident that we will see a light at the end of the tunnel here. It's also cool to kind of put out there that even though all of these hotels that we might see in like our backyard, or our surrounding communities, they have these globally recognized brands, but we need to remember that several of these properties are actually owned by small businesses, like ours. I mean, many are family-owned. So yes, we are hurting, but I do see that we will see some things moving here, hopefully, in the near future.
Your business has a big emphasis on sustainability. Why should this topic be important to businesses and organizations in general?
Yeah, that's a good question. I think that there's immense value within businesses that really choose to incorporate sustainability. And that's it any length or level big or small, whether it's environmental or social. I think that most of us have this inner voice that wants to contribute to a greater good and find ways to give back to something other than just ourselves. So I think that it's important that we can embrace small, incremental, and actionable steps that we can take and conquer larger issues. So this carries over into business. And yes, we definitely see how businesses want to operate more efficiently. Whether that's reducing waste or other operational tactics that they're putting in place. But it's also important not to overlook the people aspect as well. I think now more than ever, we're connecting the dots and we're recognizing how this mindset and social sustainability, their commitments are directly and positively impacting and serving the well-being of the people that make up our communities.
Speaking of people, you've been compelled to bring awareness to human trafficking within your business, can you talk about that a little bit?
Yeah it's a big issue, and I'll be honest, especially lately, it seems like there's been more conversation about it, which there are pros and cons to that, for sure. But I'll kind of start back up a little bit that I first heard about human trafficking, probably five or six years ago. Long story short, I was very triggered about the staggering statistics that I was hearing and seeing just from a global aspect, but nationally, and then even here in Wisconsin. So that was really my first glimpse into hearing about human trafficking. At first, I'll be honest, it's really easy to become overwhelmed by just the sheer magnitude of this crime, and I'm talking about just the number of people that we're finding out are actually enslaved. This includes children and adults, and also the aspect of the money that's involved, the billions of dollars that make up the industry, and all the moving parts that kind of allow this industry to grow. So as I became more aware, and hearing more about all of those aspects, it's hard to, it's hard to ignore, really, and as a mother, and as an individual who strongly believes that people should live in freedom, I felt that it was kind of my responsibility to help be a voice in anti-trafficking efforts and try to support the local causes here that we have in Milwaukee, that who are really the real experts in this field, especially in aftercare. I felt like it was important to help get their voice out there, and just increase that awareness. But that's really like how I became involved in it and hearing about it, I just felt like if I was that angry about it, and felt that compelled that I couldn't really stay silent. So overall I believe it's our calling to respectfully care for each other and speak up for those who can't speak for themselves. And little by little, I think that we can make a change and being in the hospitality space, because our product is literally in this space, and many of our customers are also trying to bring awareness and training to their own properties. It just seemed right to try to join forces, hopefully, sparks of dialogues and conversations, if we can provide resources, and I just thought it was an opportunity for us to unite.
So a number of people have this fear when they hear the word networking, and my goal is really to eliminate that fear and bring some hope and encouragement to our listeners. So can you help me do that by sharing one of your favorite networking experiences that you've had?
Yeah well actually, it was a couple of years ago. I'm kind of laughing about it because we just were talking about this on a separate project. But it was a couple of years ago that I had met someone by chance at a networking event, here locally, and how that connection has just led into education and training on my part and other opportunities, and then introductions into other networking communities and how those communities kind of overlap. It's been kind of incredible how that whole journey how that actually began in that trajectory. Honestly, part of that connection actually led to you as well. So it's kind of neat how that all transpired. I think that you never know who you're going to meet. But I'm also a firm believer and things kind of working behind the scenes, too. I think that things are orchestrated, people are met and connected for a reason and it's pretty neat to see when that transpires.
So as you've got contacts, and you've been networking nationally, and potentially even globally, how do you best nurture and maintain these relationships with your network in your community?
Well, technology has obviously made this more accessible. There's more group dialogue, webinars, workshops, and events that we can take part in. And I think that those opportunities lead to conversations where you really get to meet other people and grow into more of a trusting relationship. Technology specifically, has allowed these educational trainings to happen and I think that this time that we've been living through that we shouldn't underestimate that. I think that being involved, participating, and taking that time to kind of invest in these connections is important. And it's really neat to hear people's stories and I think when you hear people's stories, and you learn their passions and their expertise, and you're just willing to see what they have to offer. I mean, I think that those relationships are reciprocated and I think that participating and hearing all these different areas and stories is something that I try to take part in as often as I can because I think you learn a lot about the person and in those particular avenues and those ways of community and networking.
What advice would you offer that business professional who's looking to grow their network?
I would say to step outside of your comfort zone. I think that we need to embrace and enjoy the journey of taking some risks. This year, more than ever can show us to be bold, to be a voice, to not apologize for taking on something new, learning something new, and I think that taking those steps would be my advice. Because I think sometimes we can kind of stay in our area of what we know or how we've normally done things. But let's be bold, let's break through some barriers, and let's try something new. That would be my advice, and it’s advice to myself because it's been a different curve for all of us. That vulnerability, I think there can connect you to other people as well. So that comes and goes, I think to be bold, enjoy it, take the risk!
If you could go back to your 20-year-old self, what would you tell yourself to do more or less of or differently with regards to your professional career?
All right, so let me just say that, before I answer that I'm kind of an odd duck. I was married to my husband at 20, we had our son at 22 and I jumped right into my quote-unquote career not long after, because I was like this planner. I had this kind of all set out what was going to be my timeline, I was adamant about staying on that, and I wasn't going to deviate from that. Quite honestly, I remember specifically telling myself I am never going to be an entrepreneur, I have no desire to be an entrepreneur, this I'm going in this direction because this is more predictable for me. So I think what I've learned for sure is don't count anything out. Because here I am doing something I never ever imagined but really had no desire to do in my mid-20s at all. So I think that's something that I can look back on often and just be like, "You know what? You can't count anything out." I think also, as professionals we can just get extremely immersed in our work which is great, right? But I think my 20-year-old self, I was definitely immersed in my work, I think for the wrong reasons. I think that I had different goals and intentions of where my plans were going. I look back and you know what? I think those weren't the right intentions for me, I think I was able to recognize the time that I was putting in and knowing that I also had a family, and what I was missing out from, you know, the family aspect. Also the bigger picture and doing more and giving back, and how can we affect other people and things like that.
Let's talk about the six degrees of separation. If you could connect with anybody, who would it be, and do you think you do it within the sixth degree?
So recently, I am just very fascinated with Tim Tebow right now and not only from the football aspect, because our family is in the sports world, football was kind of in our blood for a while. There's that aspect, but right now what he's doing with his nonprofit and the anti-trafficking arena, and just legislation, and how he is connecting, how he's getting his message out there. I'm very intrigued by that. So I think recently, that's really been catching my eye a lot and I would love to sit down and have a conversation with him because I think his passion is burning brightly, and I just love the direction that he's going. The other person would probably be Joanna Gaines because I'm not very handy. So I don't know if it's just because I am attracted to the fact that she can fix anything. But she literally, you know, took Shiplap to a whole new level. She's now going to be starting a network. I mean, hello, I'd want to sit down and have a conversation with her because that is taking things to a completely new level. I just find the way that she just delivers her message and all the different projects that she's in and she has family, and she's got this design aspect and now she's you know, getting in again to this network. I just think holy cow! I feel like we could talk for days on just how that has transpired and all the different steps along the way to allow that vision to come to life.
Connect with Ann:
Instagram: @annieriphenburg reCollect2 website: https://www.recollect2recycler.com/