Traverse City Startup Story: Confronting Contradictions and Revealing Two New Product Collections
If all goes according to plan, this will be the last installment of our Traverse City Startup Story series. That’s right, the finish line – or, more aptly, the starting line – is within site. We’re planning to launch our new ecommerce shop the week of May 22!
When we came up with the idea for our new brand, we set a pretty audacious goal for ourselves: Conceptualize, build and launch our new business in six months or less. We won’t quite make it – if we launch when we plan to it will be 6.5 months. Not bad, all things considered.
In many ways, the last 6.5 months have dragged by excruciatingly slowly. After getting through the very early, romantic startup stages, reality quickly set in. A new business always starts in the clouds. Over the last few months, however, we’ve been down digging in the dirt. Romantic notions quickly faded away as the problems and obstacles kept mounting, and we spent our days playing firefighter. Time drags when you’re shoveling dirt all day.
At the same time, the last 6.5 months have flown by. Playing in the dirt can be exhilarating. There’s nothing more fun and satisfying than solving a problem – once you get on the other side of it, that is. And time flies when you’re having fun. Also, there is always – ALWAYS – way more to do than you ever think possible when sketching out a business idea on the back of a napkin. There’s never enough hours in the day to get it all done.
So on the one hand time drags. On the other time flies. It’s a contradiction of business. And it’s not the only one we’ve learned during this process. Business – and life – are full of contradictions that must be grappled with, balanced and reconciled in order to succeed.
For example, it’s imperative to embody both hubris and humility. You need to have the hubris to think you’re the best at what you do, and also the humility to know you have massive amounts to learn.
You need to crawl and sprint at the same time. It’s necessary to move slowly and deliberately toward long-term goals, but at the same time sprint like crazy every day just to keep up.
You have to have grit, but also know when to quit. Steely determination is required to persevere through the challenges, and acute self-awareness is needed to know when to call it a day and move on from a lost cause.
You need to dish out sugar and vinegar. The best way to motivate those around you is through encouragement and leading by example, but if sugar is not working then swift, decisive action is required to right the ship.
You need to be optimistic and pessimistic all at once. Entrepreneurs must be optimistic about the market’s need for their products and services, but not blindly so. A healthy dose of pessimism allows them to perceive their products and services as inferior, and work tirelessly to make them better.
It’s easy to believe that success in business or in life is binary. Do this. Don’t do that. Achieve.
But it doesn’t work that way. The answer to the question “Should I do this or that?” is often: Both.
It’s not easy. It’s sometimes maddening. It’s often contradictory.
But it’s what it takes.
A New Product Reveal: Tee Shirts for Kids and Adults
When I was a corporate lawyer, I had to wear suits all of the time. I don’t like wearing suits.
So ever since I stopped practicing law (and if you ask Heather I’ve probably taken it too far), my go-to daily attire consists of jeans, a baseball cap and a tee shirt. And so there was no way we were launching this brand without offering a few different tee shirt options.
Tee shirt design is surprisingly difficult. Not difficult in terms of execution. In fact it’s a piece of cake relative to bringing a unique product, like our kids’ capes, to market. But difficult in the sense that there are infinite options. A tee shirt can literally say or symbolize anything. It’s a paradox of choice issue. With so many options available, how do you make a choice?
More than anything, we wanted our tee shirts to embody our brand ethos, which is a desire to empower and engage people to get outside, and get active, in the great outdoors. And we wanted our collection to be carefully curated and of high quality. So we decided to start small, with just a few different tee shirt options constructed of the softest, highest quality fabrics, and featuring the most flattering fits.
For our launch we’ll be rolling out our signature “Adventure Tee” for both men and women. Over the last couple of years, we’ve been thinking a lot about what our “True North” is. It’s best embodied in a phrase which has become a bit of a motto for us: Since you only live once, you might as well live adventurously. This is a shirt for those who embrace living life on their own terms. Here it is in a few different colors and styles – there will be several other colors available as well.
We also have some really fun and stylish tee shirts coming for kids, too. Our “Wild ‘N Free” youth tee shirt was born of the belief that kids are at their best in the great outdoors – wild and free – where they can unleash their creative and adventurous superpowers. The “Wild ‘N Free” design will be featured on a few different tee shirt styles and colors, including the ¾ sleeve baseball tee.
There are several additional adult and youth tee shirt designs that we’ll be launching with, but we’re going to make you wait until the shop opens to check those out!
Another New Product: Headscarves
The next product we want to introduce to you came into existence as a result of Heather’s inability to find something similar for our kids in the marketplace. So she created one herself.
Our reversible headscarves – designed and hand sewn right here in Traverse City – are made of 100% cotton. They feature fun fabric and trim detail and a comfortable fit, and there will be four different styles available. We’re really excited about this awesome accessory for spring and summer!
Here’s a look at the process of constructing a headscarf – lots of love goes into each one!
Save the Date For Fairies – Saturday, June 3rd
Please save the date for our 2017 Fairy Trails opening event on June 3 from 2-4 pm at the Village at Grand Traverse Commons! We’ll be making the formal announcement with all of the details about the event on Monday. As a preview, there will be live music, activities for kids, and we’ll be set up in our new pop-up shop, Susie Q, for the first time. Oh, and of course, there will be loads of new fairy houses for the kids to check out. Stay tuned and see you there!