Micro Entrepreneurism, Simple Living & Art
We’ve officially been copied. Or at least attempted to be copied. By more then one person/company even. All I can figure is they think we’re raking in the big bucks or something, and this is their opportunity to cash in on what we’ve proven to be a fairly decent idea.
They say this is a compliment. And I guess it kind of is. Its the nature of the world that good ideas spread wings all on their own. But I don’t feel complimented. Instead I feel an awareness that what we have built is fragile at best and we need a plan B, C, D, E and F.
Two years ago, RAGGEDedge Gear was the only company that took making sailcloth wallets seriously. I say seriously, because Harken has made them for years, and other sail companies have off and on, but it wasn’t anybody’s focus. Wallets were the first product we made that sold decently well, and it is now our best seller, by far. Which is why we make 150 different kinds of these super awesome sailcloth wallets. We’ve learned to make a lot of what we sell a lot of. A stupidly simple concept I know, but trust me, its been harder to learn then you would think.
Thing is, there isn’t that much demand for sailcloth wallets. If you do a google adwords campaign, it’ll tell you that only about 100 people a month search for it. Google doesn’t advise you bother with a campaign for it. We were a struggling starving business when we marketed ourselves as makers of sailcloth wallets. Business didn’t start getting better till we emphasized the carbon fiber and kevlar. Two materials that people (particularly you uber manly men out there) get all googly eyed over. Which is understandable – cuz they’re bad ass.
And to this day, we still don’t really sell that many wallets. We don’t have a huge giant warehouse and a shipping department and we aren’t going to take over the world with our wallets anytime soon. We do ship something everyday (and I’m knocking on wood as I write that), but we don’t consistently ship even 5 things a day. Business is growing for sure, but I didn’t think we were even close to being famous enough to want to copy us, and yet thats just what people are doing…
Carbon Fiber Gear, a company that originally just sold their own carbon fiber and leather bifold, until we started wholesaling too them, and then coincidently they started adding some things to their lineup that we already had available: a trifold, a mini, a padfolio, and now colored carbon fiber bifolds, and carbon and kevlar bifolds. The colored bifolds was the last straw for me. Why should we sell to (and make huge exceptions for) a company that has given us no reason to believe they are going to do anything but copy what we make and have it made in china for less?
Lifethereal is a new company up in Maine that has started making sailcloth wallets. They say they’re handmade in the US, but nobody on the “about us” page is a seamstress…
I don’t know quite what to think about all of this, except I think it means we need to dig in, refocus, and make even cooler wallets, bags, etc, because then people will continue to talk about us and spread the good word. Homegrown, grassroots marketing at its best. Besides, making awesomeness that makes people happy is really what we’re interested in.