About The Company To Whom You're Loaning Money
Posted on February 16 2016
BOOM! Did you see that not-at-all-dangling preposition?
Over the past week, we've posted a couple articles about our upcoming Kiva Loan.
If you would like to contribute right away (no time like the present!), here's the link to our borrower page.
Though I know many of you are aching to loan us money already, we wouldn't feel right about things unless we in some way exhibited our credit-worthiness in terms other than a high charisma score and ass-kickingly awesome products.
This is our entire company:
Our goal, in case it isn't obvious, is to become a widely-distributed lifestyle product manufacturer. We want Outlaw Soaps to be a household name, on par with Old Spice and Burt's Bees, while still maintaining our high quality manufacturing, small business mentality, and general enthusiasm for YOU.
This doesn't just mean personal care products, it could mean laundry soap, candles, room spray, mugs... basically anything that takes the average ol' edges of your life and makes them fricken' amazing.
So far, we've received lots of positive feedback about our product offerings, and we believe this is one of the reasons people (you?) want to loan us money. They (you?) say, "These people want me to live an awesome life. I like that direction. I will invest in this company's future."
It's true. We aren't just making products here, we want you to be happier, be more active, be more alive, and have more fun - take chances, and keep the rubber side down.
This is who we are, and what we mean when we say that this company is for adventurous people, by adventurous people.
But how do we get there from here?
We are a tiny, two-person (and two-dog) company. We (and our network of vendors) literally make everything ourselves, running our practically non-company from a little rural town in Northern California.
Either we are completely delusional or we are actually doing this, right?
Consider these points:
This is still all incredibly small potatoes stuff, but we really are trying here. We believe in what we're doing and why we're doing it.
Our combined skills are a hell of a combination
Russ and I got married in 2012, and practically before the ink was dry on the certificate, we started Outlaw Soaps. We work pretty well together (it's not without frustration, but overall, we do work well) and our skills are very complimentary. It's something we did not know before we went into business together and we kind of hit the jackpot in that regard.
We share a common vision for the company (covered above), and though I love inventing new products, Russ has some weird innate sense of what's going to be popular and what people just aren't going to like. I have learned to mostly trust his instincts.
I like driving the company forward hard, and he is much more conservative. Our mutual respect of each other's intelligence and intention generally means we come to compromises that are strategically aggressive, while still protecting our baseline.
If you would like to contribute right away (look at this teamwork!), here's the link to our borrower page.
I get the fancy, flashy job of all the writing, social media, and design.
Not only do I have years of experience as a marketing and product development person, I also believe I was born for this work. It's personally fulfilling and I'm sure you can see I have a passion for it.
I was raised in Seattle, and spent a lot of time in Los Angeles and the Bay Area. I've mostly worked in the tech and entertainment industries. No matter what was going on in my professional life, I have always been very active in my community. Organizing parties and art projects was something I did for fun. But now I don't have much time for that, which is kind of sad, but also just the way things are.
I'm a dreamer (clearly). I believe that anything is possible and the only things holding me back are my own beliefs and thought patterns. This means I invest a lot of time and money in self-help books and coaching programs.
Russ actually is the company. He makes all the soap, which is our biggest seller. He names all the products (and the stuff he doesn't name usually ends up getting renamed). He's the voice of, "ok, yes, I can see where you're going with that, but..."
Before Outlaw Soaps, Russ was a handyman. But not, like, any random handyman. He was the highest rated handyman in the Bay Area (which is pretty huge). So when we say he nailed it, that's often literal.
He was an associate producer on a tv series for the Discovery Channel, sold classic cars, and been a high-powered corporate recruiter. Could a person have a more diverse career? Um, no. It just isn't possible.
He drives fast and blows stuff up. He can breathe and spin fire. We have an actual flame thrower in the shop. Russ is pretty fucking awesome.
What's the money for?
If you would like to contribute right away (you know you do!), here's the link to our borrower page.
In the scheme of building a business, $10,000 is not a terribly huge amount of money. Thankfully, soapmaking isn't terribly expensive to start.
We're going to use the money as leverage to make more money, which I think is pretty much the best use of your money, right?
Our biggest expense is always supplies. Supplies are tricky, because to get the best prices, you have to buy bigger quantities. But if you don't have the sales to afford the bigger quantities, you're stuck getting smaller quantities at a higher price... forever.
But high prices and bigger sales don't go together (well, sometimes they do, but that's another story), so we're going to mostly use this loan (as we did last year) to buy in bigger quantities (see that bit about doubling our production with the same supply budget from above).
We're also decreasing the size and price of our regular size bar, which we hope will increase sales in gift and grocery stores.
We're also introducing a mini-bar called the Sidekick. (ooh! mini-bar!) We hope this will put us in more markets (like bed and breakfasts, hotels, retreats, etc) and encourage people to try our soaps without committing to a huge bar. Plus, they're so dang adorable that they'll be great gifts.
You know what's also really expensive? Getting our products out to potential big customers like REI, Bass Pro Shops, Cabela's, Uncommon Goods, and of course Whole Foods. Shipping, samples, catalogs... it's all $$$CHACHING$$$ Not to mention press packs. It's a lot. But it's also really important if we want to get to that big crazy goal, right?
And ads. I know the jury is out on ads. Actually, the jury has met and determined that ads are annoying and suck, but they've also been responsible for tons of great opportunities (that distributor in the Netherlands contacted us just today because she saw our ad on Facebook! How ya like them apples?). So we're going to invest some money in ads!
If you would like to contribute right away (you've come this far! you must already want to!), here's the link to our borrower page.
People often ask us when we're going to hire people.
It is our eventual goal to provide many jobs to the local community. This area was hit really hard by the recession and many businesses closed. My big dream is to have a large-scale manufacturing and distribution facility in a local building (trust me, it's totally awesome). I look forward to having a business solid and stable enough to expand.
Right now, our primary priority in almost all aspects of our business is efficiency.
I think many small businesses hire people before they absolutely must. It's a measure of success to hire people. It feels good. It feels like the company is growing.
But Russ and I discussed at great length, and we decided that we're going to keep trying to make things more and more efficient, to manage our time better and better, and to put off hiring people until the absolute dire need arises.
We want Outlaw Soaps to run as leanly as possible for as long as possible, so that we establish brutally efficient business practices from the beginning. Every process, every position, every product will be created using the leanest production possible.
It's part of our tooth-gritting dedication to building a sustainable business (with your help).
That's our story. When you loan us money, you're not only going to get that money back, you're going to support a business with vision, passion, and a damn good business plan (not to mention, amazing products).
(also, we're currently a more solid investment than the stock market... just sayin'.)