My Many Names

Posted on November 23, 2013 by Melissa Berschens

My Mom didn't name me after actress Shari Lewis, but she spelled my name like hers.  She also named the first company that I founded, Shari’s Berries.  In the early years of my berry business my delivery girl and Bookkeeper were both named Sheri….We all had to have nick names. I joked that it was a prerequisite to work for me… to have the same name.

Always thought about having a Shari Club! If your name is Shari (spelled any way like Sheri, Sherri, and Sherrys) even includes similar names like Sharon, you can join!

There’s also some confusion with the name Cherry!  That I sell Cherries or my name is Cherry, CherryBerry! It is pronounced the same as the common (American) name Sherrie.  Just like in the song Sherry, Sherry Baby 

Today, the Shari’s Berries brand that I created is looked for under a smorgasbord of names:  Sherries Berries, Sheri Berry, Sherries Berries, Sherrys Berries, and CherryBerry etc.! 

For years when people have walked up to me and said something like, "You’re that Sherries berries girl" I would respond with, "You can call me anything except late for supper!”  But recently my husband Clay informed me that it makes him cringe each time I say it. So….now just smile and say…Yes.

My name has been mispronounced and misspelled my entire life. Because of this I’m always sure to spell each name correctly when autographing my book. It makes it more personal when your name is spelled correctly. (Especially when your name has a unique or difficult spelling like mine) 

So when I purchased the domain for my new company I was sure to also acquire because I've learned the importance of covering all your bases.

Berry Factory

Posted on November 19, 2013 by Melissa Berschens

I’m excited for you to try my newest creations including delicious chocolate dipped berries and other goodies!  Please check out my Berry Factory and Berried in Chocolate specialties.
The holiday season is the perfect time to send those you love something unique and delicious.  Your family or business associates will be so impressed when they receive a box of Berry Factory berries, or how about a chocolate dipped bottle of Shari’s Berried in Chocolate wine?  It’s to die for!

There are a lot of other companies out there selling chocolate strawberries, but no one can guarantee 100% hand-dipped berries from the original Shari.  I still do things the old fashioned way; the only method that ensures a truly ripe, juicy delicious strawberry.
No Machines.  No Shortcuts.
Several years ago after the online portion of my Shari’s Berries Company was sold I started a new online brand under THE BERRY FACTORY label.  Today I’ve decided that going forward I would morph over to using the name of my book for my new berry line….as to avoid any confusion.

One of the main reasons I was compelled to make this brand change is because my previously beloved Shari’s Berries are now mass produced days in advance on machines in a factory.  I don’t support these type of manufacturing practices for these delicate and perishable products that I created…and that have my name plastered all over them!  I created the gourmet strawberry gift to be made to order and delivered freshly overnight. We still hand-dip our berries and I continue to hand select our berry shipments on a weekly bases. Only the “berry” best for my customers!

In my “Berried in Chocolate” book I market my Berry Factory brand. I still control all of the Berry Factory brand assets so if you visit Berry Factory online or receive a gift box with the Berry Factory logo you can be assured that your order is from me… made like I have always made them before…with lots of TLC. 

My Boys

Posted on November 19, 2013 by Melissa Berschens

I live in a house filled with four boys, three of them teenagers and the other the biggest kid of all (although old enough to be my husband)! I talk a lot about my boys in my book Berried in Chocolate  and I want to brag just a little bit more about these amazing guys.

It’s an appropriate time to brag, because today April 11th is our Twentieth Wedding Anniversary. (Clay said “Hmm, feels like 30” – the brat!)

We can’t officially celebrate it though. We were going to go out the Saturday before I left on my mission trip but I didn’t feel well, so we decided we would celebrate it on the actual day – but Clay got sick. I had a little pity party until Clay decided it could be our ‘Anniversary Month’ just like I seem to milk my ‘Birthday Month’ every September!

Clay is always coming up with some new hobby or hidden talent. He’s really a man’s man even though he loves to laze in his recliner with Max and watch the cooking channel. Last summer we were at a fair and I had the latest craze of feather extensions put in my hair. It only cost $20 for one long strand. Clay was quick to announce that ‘he could do that! – he even had the correct feathers at home in his fly tying kit.’ He watched closely as the girl put them in my hair and then bought some of the little round trinkets they used.

After we got home he asked me to buy him his own box of silicone hair extension beads (I got them at Sally’s Beauty Supply) then later at a church youth party at our house he had a long line of all the girls and their moms and even some of the guys waiting for their extensions to be put in! His lucky recipients chose from a wide variety of colors – green, pink, red, black, grey, yellow -- and length and size of feathers – long, short, wide, or skinny. Check us out having fun! 

Above: Clay putting feathers in Gena's hair. Read more about Gena, the funniest person I know, on page 111 of my book!


Above: Clay putting feathers in Mike's hair. We were on our way out for a special dinner. Too fun!

Above: Gena and Rick showing off their new doo's at Fitzpatrick's Winery!  

A few nights ago we were in the emergency room with Max. While he was up to bat at his baseball game, the ball hit Max in the chin, splitting it open. Blood began pouring out the bottom of his face. Oh no, I thought, not the teeth! We took him to the hospital right away, and when we walked into the ER the receptionist asked me if I’d been there before. I had to laugh. I’d been there too many times to count – broken arms, poison oak outbreaks – I had boys, after all!

As we waited for the Doctor to come and sew him upm Clay said, “I don’t want a chair, I want to stand behind the doctor and learn how to do stitches. I’m always out with the guys hunting or camping and someone is always getting hurt. I really should know how.” When the doctor came in and offered Clay a chair I opened my big mouth to announce that he didn’t want one and why. So there I was curled up in a ball, peeking out between my fingers as the doctor explained in detail what he was doing with Clay’s head was right next to his. “See this blood vessel coming out here, we’ll work to stitch it back up inside…” Then just as the doctor was getting ready to finish, he said to Clay, “If you’re serious get scrubbed up!”  Clay couldn’t get to the sink fast enough! The doctor told him how to properly put on his sterile surgical gloves – what a hoot! So there is my husband stitching up my son in the ER. Afterwards he told Max, “That was great! Made it all worth it!” Max responded, “Wow Dad, now you know how to do feathers and stitches!”  

I told you he was amazing.

Above: Photo of Clay in the ER scrubbing up and getting his gloves ready!

(I airbrushed out the face of the doctor as I promised him we wouldn't share his idenity)


My Sons Help Me Live My Faith

Posted on November 19, 2013 by Melissa Berschens

About a year ago my two oldest sons Paxton and Hogan went on their first mission trip with our church, Pioneer Bible Church. They went to San Felipe, Mexico to do construction work for the missionaries our church supported.

They worked on a Serenity House called 99plus1 that is being built and expanded to house poor, homeless, and often ill men. They also worked at two orphanage sites, one called Case de Fe  (House of Faith)  and Sonshine Hacienda Orphanage. This was how they spent their spring break.

Before they left, I was anxious. I didn’t want them to go because I was concerned for their safety, both in Mexico and on the long 16-hour freeway drive there and back. Then I remembered the truth – that as much as I love my boys, God loves them even more! So I gave them back to God, a sacrifice for Him to use as he wished.

They had a great trip and were delivered safely back to me a week later!

In January 2012 Paxton went on his second trip to San Felipe with a group of college-age kids. Then in the early spring of 2011, Paxton and Hogan planned to return to San Felipe on another spring break trip. But as this mission trip developed I saw that it might be a problem. You see, I was hoping that our whole family, all five of us, would go on a wonderful vacation to celebrate our upcoming Twenty-Year Wedding Anniversary (!) on April 11th. But in church one Sunday we heard that the upcoming mission trip would be a “family themed” trip to once again work on the construction and orphanage efforts in San Felipe.

As soon as it was announced I vividly remember thinking, “Oh-oh, there go my plans.” Of course I did want to be in Mexico with my family over spring break – but on a luxurious cruise ship, being pampered and waited on in the middle of the ocean! “Dang it!” I thought. “I’m not going on this mission trip – I’m not going, period.”

When I talked to Paxton about the idea of skipping the mission trip in order to spend it “properly” – celebrating his Mom and Dad’s marriage – he looked at me like I was nuts. He said, “I can’t imagine notgoing on this San Felipe mission trip.”

Oh no. And then even worse – Paxton, who never asks for anything ever, started pressuring me to go on the mission trip with him and Hogan. Max couldn’t go because he had baseball obligations, and Clay couldn’t go because it was his busy time of year and he needed to stay home with Max. So Paxton thought it was important that I go with them – it was a “family themed” mission trip, after all.

Even though I didn’t want to go (I wanted my cruise!) I told Paxton I would pray about it. And through lots of prayer it became clear to me that … I was going on a mission trip.

So we went. I’ll be writing more about this trip in a later post – because it was a life-changing experience for me. God sure does know what He’s doing. There’s nothing like helping those with little to realize just how much we have. Here’s a preview: a photo of me holding a little orphaned girl. I would have done about anything to bring her home!


Below: Paxton and Hogan on the beach. Click here to watch a video of their group building a roof on an old abandoned church. Precious.


Below: Singing worship songs on a cliff looking out over the ocean at sunrise on Good Friday. Awesome!


From the Real Shari

Posted on November 19, 2013 by Melissa Berschens

As my book Berried in Chocolate  says, the heart of any business is the product you offer. I want my heart in the best condition it can be, so the products I offer are the best I can make them. It has always been that way since I started in business – my strawberries were the freshest, the firmest, the most perfect size; and the chocolate I dipped them in – by hand –was rich and delicious and the best texture I could find.  It wasn’t only the products that were the best, either. My obsession with quality covered the packaging, the shipping, the merchandising, the advertising, and … well you get the idea.

Offering a high quality product or service means that you care about your customers. They are the reason you are in business – to make them feel special. Yes, I like to make money, and I deserve the money I make from my excellent products – but money is not the highest priority for me. I don’t think it should be for anyone.

In my book I wrote: “One of the philosophies of my business is that people do business with people. Customers want to know there’s a real person behind a catalog or website. A “real Shari” behind my brand is another form of quality assurance.”

This is why it kills me that products sold under the brand I worked so hard to build – Shari’s Berries (SB) – are not up to my quality standards. People assume these berries are from me! They are NOT. I no longer have anything to do with SB, who was bought by Provide Commerce.

Provide Commerce advertises that their strawberries are fresh hand-dipped berries in a premium chocolate coating shipped overnight in a beautiful classy gift box. Well, that used to be true when I ran the company, it’s what I insisted on, but now no longer is. Now what customers receive is hulled berries (no green tops) that are machine dipped into an inferior waxy coating and most sent out second-day, not overnight!

I’ve read online customer feedback comments about this new SB, some of them complete with photos that would make you sick! It breaks my heart. “Look at this mess!” one says. “Ruined my Easter experience!” says another. “I received unripe berries – completely white,” from another. “Mushy, with brown spots of rot and smelled of formaldehyde,” yet another. “Hey! Where’s the top of my berry?” and on and on. 

I’m writing this because I want my customers who have purchased sub-par berries from SB to know that although they have my name on them, they are not from me. I don’t work that way.

When my new products are available, you can be sure they will be high quality in every way. They will be the best, from the Real Shari.

I found the below picture online. It's how SB's are being received today. Nothing like the hand dipped berries that are pictured on their website.

Even Books Are Better Dipped in Chocolate

Posted on November 19, 2013 by Melissa Berschens

Did you know that you are able to buy my book Berried in Chocolate literally berried in chocolate? Yes, it’s true. For an extra $10 my book is available dipped in rich dark chocolate, just like my strawberries are!

The first time I held my printed book in my hands I thought, “It’s so beautiful, but too bad my publisher couldn’t do the cover as a “scratch ‘n’ sniff” – or better yet, make it taste like chocolate, just like the lickable wallpaper in my favorite movie Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory!”

Well, my publisher Pelican Publishing does a great job, but that was beyond them. But it’s not beyond me! I double shrink-wrap the book for protection and then hand dip it in a thick layer of real dark chocolate that is extra cocoa-ey. The chocolate leaves the book title and giant berry somewhat exposed, but the rest of the book front and the entire back is covered with chocolate. What a great gift idea! The recipient can read my book and eat my chocolate at the same time.

Isn’t it cute?


All chocolate-dipped books are pre-autographed in gold pen. You can buy them here on my website.  Or you can come and hear me speak at one of my speaking events and buy one there – but beware, they often sell out fast!

I’m pretty sure you’ve never seen a chocolate-dipped book before. People thought my chocolate-dipped wine was strange at first too, but it was a big hit with my customers, and I think the chocolate-dipped book will be too. Who cares if people think I’m strange, as long as they like what I provide?

Inspiration is a 2 Way Street

Posted on November 19, 2013 by Melissa Berschens

If you’ve read my book or heard me speak, you know that I am open and vocal about my Christian faith. I know that this may make some people feel uncomfortable, but my faith is a huge part of who I am and I’m eager to share God’s good news! If you bought my book or came to hear me speak, you expect to get the real me, don’t you?

And judging from the responses I get from readers of my book and people who have heard me speak, the thing that most inspires them is what I share about my faith.

Here are just a few of the many comments I've received:

Thank you for your courage to share your story. What an amazing testimony you have. I LOVE that you are sharing your faith and love of God through your business…. Such an amazing thing to see what God does when we lay it down ~ Thank you again for sharing your heart with us today..

My husband heard you speak yesterday and he bought me your book. I have cried several times and am feeling such incredible emotions surging from my soul. I love your quote, John 4:4! I want the Spirit to shine, but I live in such fear that paralyzes me! I have supportive and encouraging people all around me, now I just need to walk into the light. I thank you for your words that are touching my soul as I write! I am on page 45, but I felt the need to write to you, right now!

Thank you, I hope to connect with you. Wow... I was very moved by your story … your heart, tenacity and story are something that I am interested in promoting. I'm reading your book & am greatly inspired. My daughter & I re-launched our small home kitchen based chocolate candy business before Valentine's this year. When I saw your book on the rack, I was simply drawn to it. It's a delight to just read and dream possibilities. You are a great writer with a great true story. I'm really inspired. Thanks

I wanted to tell you the story about how I ran across your book. It was definitely divine intervention. I was in Barnes and Nobles trying to find some information on a paper I had for due for class. I wasn't having much luck in the cooking section so I decided to go over to the business section and maybe locate some reference materials. As I was looking in the restaurant section I saw a brown book that jumped out at me. I picked it up and said wow this looks interesting, but put it back because I was pressed for time. When I heard “It’s closing time” something told me to stop and see what that book was about. I had just enough time to read the inside front and back flaps. What really caught my attention was when I read that God was your best business partner and faith and street smarts can sometimes be better than a college degree. I bought the book and as I waited for a friend to go out that evening, I read the acknowledgements and Introduction. I couldn't put the book down as I read more about how you acknowledge God and your faith. It almost bought me to tears. I felt like I was reading about myself.

Thank you so much for taking the time yesterday and participating in the FM WIN conference. Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to sign 425 books. The attendees were thrilled to receive your autographed books. Everyone really enjoyed your session and were very inspired by your story. The lovely strawberries were a big hit and a sweet ending to the conference.

I just read your book and I loved it. The story about your dad and the lemonade stand was hilarious I lol. You have really inspired me to go forward with a small business idea I have and to create a fun novelty item which I would like to appear on shark tank someday. I love your business sense and style.

I am so happy that my story inspires others. I am honored that they feel this way. But really the inspiration goes both ways – I am inspired when I read their stories too. I am grateful that they share them with me. My faith grows even stronger every time they do. I'm constantly told by total strangers that they "couldn't put the book down," or that they "read it in a day." (Although the book is written with a woman’s slant, even guys say this.) Although God is present throughout the book, no one has complained.