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Most big brands start with a big idea. But when you’re establishing your business, thinking too big holds you back and turns into procrastination.

Your business success could start as simply as an idea for better ski gear and a factory in some guy’s garage.

At least that’s how it was for Chris Pew of TREW Gear. Chris is here to tell you the story of how to build your business from an idea to a successful brand.

In this episode you'll discover how to build a lucrative business from scratch with nothing but a simple idea and some courage.

Listen now!

Show highlights include:

  • The “Frankenstein's monster” method that lets you design a killer product without any experience (5:21)
  • How to find your first production factory, even if you think everybody will knock you back because you are too small (7:10)
  • Why the fastest way to develop a high-selling product is to drive across country for weeks on end (9:31)
  • The “hot, medium, mild” strategy that will have retailers begging to put your apparel line in their store window (11:23)
  • Create a cult following around your brand by pivoting into a 21st century retail model (12:18)
  • Sell to your online store’s “on the fence” customers by telling them about the “living room dressing room” (20:57)
Read Full Transcript

(00:00): Today, we have something a little different for you over the next several weeks, we will be showcasing our top five episodes of all time, enjoy the episode and be sure to join us next week, to hear the rest. Welcome to the ready Eddie podcast, where we tell the story of startups and the outdoor sport in street, through the voice of their founders. What's going on guys, before we get into today's podcast episode, I wanted to give you a quick update on the ready Eddie membership program. To this point, we've grown to have thousands of products from up and coming startups and small businesses in the outdoor travel and lifestyle space on the platform. You can save up to 50% off all of these products, anything from skis to jackets, to food bars, to supplements, anything you could think of to support your outdoor activit is on the platform from small up and coming brands. It's a great opportunity to support small businesses while also discovering brands that you've never heard of. You can show off the new gear to your friends and also save a ton while doing it. If you're interested in checking it out, head over to ready eddie.com/members to get your first month free.

(01:23): What is going on? Ready? Yeti podcast listeners, Josh salvo here, your host on today's episode, I am sitting down with one of the co-founders of true gear. Chris pew, Chris, thanks so much for taking the time to chat with me. Hey, Josh. Happy to be here. Awesome. All right. So for the listener that may not be familiar with true gear, how would you best describe your business to them? Yeah, so true designs and manufacturers, high end backcountry apparel for ski and snowboarding, and we sell mostly direct off our website and are well known for our best line products, which is our line of ski and snowboard BIS. That's really interesting. Okay. So you've got this started in 2008. So you were you're about 10 years old at this point. The, the idea is it's direct to consumer for the most part, which allows you to create pretty high end products at a more affordable price. What made you decide to start this business to begin with?

(02:20): Yeah. so in 2008, I think like a lot of entrepreneurs we got into to it focus just on a, a product that we want to create and that at the time was the truth BI the business and the brand kind of grew around that product. We developed a larger offering because we realized that the accounts and the stores, we were trying to get wanted more of a brand than just this one product. But 2008 was my senior year in college. And I actually took that spring break to go visit some factories up in Vancouver, British Columbia. The Genesis of this idea was just talking with one of my friends from growing up trip fry who was living up in hood river, Oregon about making a back country ski pan. And so our original idea was like, let's just make a few and get them into some, you know, really high end, good independent retailers here in the Northwest. And yeah, so we managed to make some samples up in Vancouver and then hit the road and hit the trade shows and created a unique business just around that one product.

(03:31): So what about the bibs were really different than what was currently on the market that you felt really made at some much better? Yeah, so the, so the snow bib is like a classic Alpine mountaineering design. It's something that you could either, you know, you see snow BS as like something marketed to kids under the age of 10, or, you know, super lightweight mountaineers who are, you know, climbing rain or, or doing you know, kind of high output mountain activities, but the type of ski and snowboarding that we were interested in doing. And then what our peers did at the time was this kind of in between back country, when you kind of hear it called like slack country or resort access back country. And at the time there wasn't really a off goods product or company that catered directly to that customer. That's like the splitboarding customer, that's the customer that's buying the marker duke bindings, the Alpine boots that lock in and outta walk mode.

(04:37): So we were all wearing bag gear, more comfortable, snow board apparel, and then trudging up you know, into back country zones in Colorado and, and later in the Northwest. So the bib for us was like this pinnacle of, you know, such a functional Alpine pant it's built for deep powder. It's great for long days in the mountains cause it's super comfortable. And it's all also designed lots of storage and access preventing. And so just taking that classic Alpine silhouette and building it with a little bit more functionality for what we want to do was kind of like the Genesis of the company. Now, did you have any background in design slash the manufacturing of soft goods like this? No, I, I did not. Trip was actually working for a hat manufacturer called shred alert and hood river at the time. So he was familiar with the wholesale model, right. Of building ordering products based on forecast you get from retailers and what type of information you need to get a factory in terms of production and financing. So we built the idea of the brand around that model. But our early design was, it's kind of like how anyone would design a product without knowing what they're doing. They just take like all their favorite products and you combine what you like. And don't like to figure out what the, what the best mix is gonna be. And so we were literally like, you know, we'd have a sleeve that we liked from an Arteris jacket and like, wow, this articulation is so good.

(06:19): So we cut that off the jacket and then you find a hood you like from another jacket, you're like, oh wow, this Hood's pretty sweet. Cut it off. And then, so you kind of Frankenstein a jacket together in that way. And the bibs in that regard was, you know, starting with the bib upper you like from my Alpine pant and then finding your favorite fit from another pant and then just kind of backing into it. And we literally took like Tupperware bins of garments and fabrics and stuff up to the factory and just showed up with that instead of what we do now, which is like, you know, which we have a tech pack and designs and the material. So it's very much starting with like the full Frankenstein design mentality. That's really interesting. So I assume you start working on this pretty far before the launch in 2018, how long did it really take you to fine tune the first version of the bib to the point where you were ready to launch true and be like, okay, I'm proud of this product. I know it's quality and that people are going to find value in it.

(07:29): Yeah. So we, so we created the business in 2008, but we didn't start selling the product until fall of 2009. And so summer 2008 spent mostly up in Vancouver, British Columbia building and iterating on the prototypes. And it was interesting up there that that was the year, I think maybe 2007 was the year that Arteris closed down some of their garment operations in Vancouver. So there was actually a, a, a bunch of access to machines and talent and people who knew how to build technical garments, who are recently out of work. And so we kind of, you know, we met with a few bigger name factories that we got through you know, connections in the outdoor industry or, or just going to people's websites and figuring out where their, where their garments are made. And through meetings with those factories, they kind of let us down chain or downstream, sorry to smaller factories and smaller factories. Until finally we met a guy that basically had a garage sewing operation with a couple Sowers and he was making custom gear for Canadian mounts at the time, like mounts would say, Hey, I got this holster. I want to like add another you know, place to store a gun, or I don't know what Mountain's carrying or, or they just wanna like design a custom waterproof jacket for for their own use. And so this is the guy that was doing that. And so we built our samples with him and that summer went through, I mean, a good solid three or four months of probably 10 to 15 prototypes.

(09:24): Yeah. I can imagine it was definitely a fun learning experience. Yeah. Yeah. And then and then we took those prototypes on the road in the fall, and that's when we started meeting with stores and we, we told stores like the, the conversation piece and those early prototypes was like, this is not the final product, but this is like, they were good enough. So stores could kind of see the vision of what we were trying to do. And they saw how the product creation was going to be different than what other brands were offering at the time. So I think, think they were good enough to capture their attention, but we got a lot of great feedback from stores too, because buyers are really knowledgeable about you know, what's gonna sell to their customer. What's good for the market what's on trend. And so we're able to take our initial prototypes and run them through another phase of, you know, another feedback by just talking with the buyers for that probably a three or four month period in the fall, 2008 to winter 2009.

(10:29): And do you remember any of the pieces of feedback that the buyers gave you that you're like, huh. Okay. Yeah. Let's, let's implement that. Yeah. Well, we really built our whole line around some of the feedback we got from buyers. You know, we're a direct to consumer brand now 10 years later, but our first business plan was retail only if we were going out and saying like, okay, we, we just wanna cater to stores. We wanna build a brand we've always loved working independent retailers and we wanna build products that just work really well for them. And so we took like all their feedback in terms of you know, how many colorways should we have? What's your, what's like a good, you know, what kind of size distribution would you guys order? And you guys think that most stores would order. And so the, the colors was interesting. One, we still actually use something of that original formula we learned from dealers that first year, it's like a hot, medium, mild breakdown, right? So you have your mild, which is black gray or blue medium, which is like for us is hacky or some kind of solid work color. And then you have your hot, which is brighter color blocking Boulder. And in that way, retailers have seen this, you know, from so many customers, but you put your hot ones on the wall or in the window, the people come in, get attracted to the brand and they end up walking away with the, the medium or the mild. And so that was pretty valuable feedback. Right, right. In the beginning. And to this day, we kind of follow something of a formula like that.

(12:13): That's really interesting. So what made you decide to shy away from the retail shops and go more more towards direct to consumer?

(12:22): Yeah, so we were selling to independent retailers for six years. So we built up a distribution of about 60 doors in north America. And we were just starting to get into Europe. In 2011, I think it was 11, I guess probably, I guess it was more like 2012. We were finalists for the Ispo brand new awards in, in Munich, Germany. And so they pay for your booth to just to display your products and try to get European distributors. And so we're just starting to build that network. And by that year, I think we got eight international distributors in Europe and we've always had pretty good distribution in Japan in Canada. But what we realized in probably 2014, we started, you know, it grew to a comfortable size where we could you know, we were all doing it full time and we started to reach out to different advisors and local investors about how we can try to scale the business.

(13:28): And it became pretty apparent to us that the bigger we scale for wholesale the harder our business will be. And to some extent, the less like real product development and brand building will do compared to just selling direct consumer a and I guess what I mean by that is when you, when you build up a business through the wholesale model, lot of what you're scaling is the scaling sales channels and sales people and independent reps and distributors. And a lot of what you do as a brand is servicing those reps and servicing your re retailers and building your brand around, not just actually servicing your individual, like kind of the end consumer, but you're really building your products to a couple layers above that consumer. And we'd always sold direct to consumer off our website. It wasn't a huge part of our business at that time.

(14:30): But it was, you know, growing to be the part of our business that we liked the most from a product development standpoint, for example, when someone goes into a store and they try on your truth B, or they try on the cosmic jacket and they don't like it, they don't buy it. They just put it back in the rack and they, maybe they tell a salesperson, maybe they don't, but then they go buy something else. And we, we lose the value of that feedback. We lose that whole exchange. Whereas just selling something online, when someone tries on a product, they ship it back immediately, they're hit with a questionnaire. That's like, well, why didn't you like the product? Or I return X is too big, or I return it, it didn't meet my expectations. And that's a pretty valuable piece of data for a company our size. So there's, there's kind of lots of little benefits that we started realizing that when we went out to do a fundraise in, in 2015, we did that fundraise on the platform of converting our business to direct consumer.

(15:35): That's really interesting. So was there, I, I guess there was a bridge point, right, where you went from your predominantly retail driven business to then shifting to direct to consumer, how long did that take? It, it just took one year and we did it in a way. So we basically every every winter, you know, brands like us and manufacturers go to trade shows and they pre-sell their products, their retailers. So that was when we broke the news to all of our all of the retailers that we were current working with, that we won't be offering our products to wholesale distribution that next year. And yeah, I mean, to be honest, that was a really, that was a pretty tough time. Cause we were nervous about the shift in our business model, we were kind of leaping into the unknown and then we were also having to sever some, some pretty valuable relationships and definitely the, the best retailers that had been with us for a long time, you know, they're, they're fans of the brand they're fans of the product.

(16:41): And they were bummed to not be a part of the growth anymore, but they also, you know, everyone just wants to see businesses that they respect succeed. And so they're like, you know, if this is what you guys feel like you need to do then good luck. But for sure they weren't pumped on that transition. But it was something that we felt, we felt pretty confident that we needed to innovate our distribution model, that we couldn't just keep competing at the same level as companies that in our industry are just massive. Like we're, we can't it be sold in the same rack as companies that are, you know, a hundred times or more bigger than us. We need to kind of level the playing field and, and try to market in a much more original and, and what we felt like was more authentic to us way. And, so you raised some capital to help sort of bridge that gap or help you guys get over that hurdle from switching the

(17:41): Yeah, we did. Yeah. Cuz those, having those pre-orders and those, you know, bigger retail partners helps us go to the factory and finance production and then takes a lot of the risk out of building products cuz you know, you're who you're sending it to, whereas direct consumer you're, you're gonna buy a bunch of product without selling it and then bring it back to your warehouse and start trying to market and sell it know directly yourselves. And so that was, you know, requires a lot more capital. And then also digital marketing itself requires more capital building our website out and stuff like that. And so it was, it was actually kind of an exciting thing to be able to go to investors and show them our unique brand and show my unique product. And that alone is something that people can get excited about.

(18:34): But once we started telling them about this new distribution model, how not only is our product innovative and our brand having connection to our customer, but this distribution model reinforces that innovation and reinforces that connection with our customer because it is direct. So it's in some sense, more scalable and more desirable for investors because we're not relying on other businesses to grow our business. We're relying on ourselves and our ability to execute on our plans and, and deliver good products see how it's only riskier. But I think in the end it allowed us to grow as a company and to, to kind of keep down a path that we felt was really exciting. So essentially in 2014 you kind of almost started a new business, you know?

(19:26): Yeah. Oh yeah, for sure. I, yeah, we joke actually all the time that, I mean I tell people we've been around for 10 years and it's like kind of unbelievable, but really we've had two, maybe three or four different businesses, you know, like our first business plan, we were like, we're only, we're only selling to independent retailers. And then that was 2008 with a, with a recession. And so we quickly realized that we could not rely alone on independent retailers. And we actually got a bunch of press that year, like outside magazine and ski magazine wrote about our products. And so we knew that customers wanted our products outside of who we were able to sell it to that year. And so we did okay. We're, we're gonna have to do some kind of direct consumer model. So right in our first year was a, was a pretty quick business shift that wasn't in our plan.

(20:16): It wasn't in our like initial launch plan. And then, yeah, and then the big shift came in in 2015 kind of fully direct consumer. And then we continued to look for ways to like innovate our business model. Our our number one goal is just servicing our customers and creating the products that we want to create. And to a certain degree, we're kind of, you know, now we're, we're sort of like distribution agnostic, right? As long as our customers have a really easy time of finding and trying on and experiencing our products, then, then we're fulfilling our mission. So how did you go about building the business online and more direct to consumer cuz when you guys made that transition, a lot of people may not have been as comfortable buying gear online that they've never tried on before. Yeah. That's a really good point and something we continue to talk about and try to innovate our own procedure. I mean the, the most basic thing you can do is have, you know, convince your customers that it's a really kind of hassle free, easy checkout and return process. So you have to have free shipping, you have to have free returns because what you're convincing your customers is that instead of coming into a store to try something on, we're gonna make this more convenient for you and you can use your, your living room as your dressing room. And so the advantages there are instead of going into a store and having someone you know, kind of,

(21:58): You know, you're not in your own space, you're having like strangers show you different products. Everyone shops differently. Some people really like that experience. And I do every once in a while, love that experience of working with, with different retailers. But sometimes if you know, what type of product you want and you want to take your time checking out and especially with a piece of outerwear, you know, we can ship you a truth bib and then you can try it on with your base layers, with the jacket that you already own. You can put it over your skis. I mean your ski boots and walk around the house, ask your girlfriend, your brother, like, Hey, what do you think about this kit? And if you like it, keep it, if you don't, you can send it back any point within 30 days for you know, to exchange for different size or color or for a full refund.

(22:40): So in that way, we're kind of eliminating some steps and getting people into the right gear and hopefully depending on what people's schedules are. I know we talked briefly before the podcast started about how crazy busy we get around the holidays and with work. But for me, like I don't really ever go shopping anymore. Cause I've got a nine month old baby and we, you know, run around business. So if someone can ship products to my door, I'm that makes my life a lot easier than having to go, you know, shopping in town and stuff. That was a really good point. Now in making that transition, were there any things that you did in regards to marketing that really helped you catapult the business online?

(23:27): You know, we're still figuring that out. Like there wasn't one thing hate to disappoint all the listeners, but there wasn't like one thing we discovered that truly worked right away and we tried a lot of stuff. We tried catalogs you know, trying to, we produce like a, kind of a, a brand video in the beginning. And nothing really turns the needle just like what you would expect would, which is constant communication. Like you're basically, once you enter into the digital marketplace, you are competing with all the other brands at digital marketplace for people, constant attention. And so that's really what we realized we needed to do is just you know, constantly post to social media, keep email newsletters, very regular update our website all the time create original blog content, produce videos, their athletes get athletes to talk about us, send out pro for public relations.

(24:26): So it's like the combination of all these things together has a much bigger impact than doing just one thing alone. So, you know, you, you have to get product into the major publications, like for us is outside magazine or some of the more core publications like powder or ski free ski. You have to get that. And then once you get those, you have to have your athletes out there talking about your products on their social media feeds. And then you have to, once you get those customers to become aware of your products, they start following you. Then you have to keep them regular regularly updated with what you're doing. And if you can do all those things, there's kind of like a snowball effect that, that makes all those things work a lot better together. I think that's really smart. It's not one piece sort of, but all of it working together that really makes it work.

(25:16): I wish, I wish I wish it was one thing. I mean maybe if we made a viral video, it would help, but it's hard to like right plan on that, you know, you just have to like, you just do everything. Yeah. It's not like it, it's not like a decision where you're just like, yep, this is gonna be a viral video and that's that right? right. Yeah. It's what you guys do too. It's like kind of you know, you guys have a model where you're relying on all these different channels to help promote brands and and, and your own brand too. And so it's, we're basically doing, you know, a lot of the same stuff. very, very true. Now I want to take a pivot more towards the the product itself and you know, True's commitment to sustainability. So how do you keep that in mind when it comes to the, to manufacturing, you know, of your entire line?

(26:08): Yeah. So our you know, our kind of quick sustainability stance is just building products that last and supporting customers with what we call limited lifetime warranty, which basically means we'll fix any garment that was damaged during its intended use. Like if you buy ski pan and it gets damaged while you're skiing, then we'll fix it. But if it gets caught on fire, while you're standing in front of a campfire or whatever, then that's not covered by warranty, but we'll actually take that product in and give you a quote on how much it would cost to fix it and trying to educate customers on the impact they can have on buying a garment that'll last for three to five seasons without having to, you know, do any warranty. And then after something a zipper blows out or you want to, you know, Reta the scene, send it back to us.

(27:04): And we can add another few years on the life of that garment that has a pretty profound impact on the environment. And I think that's, that's currently our, our kind of biggest advantage that we have from a sustainability point of view. We do one of goals in the future is to use more sustainable fabrics. There hasn't been that many like fully recycled polyesters or nylon woven faces that can withstand the type of use that I think our main customers expect. But that's changing actually. There's a lot of higher quality fabrics and coatings and laminate out there that are starting to be made in a more eco-friendly way. So it's definitely something that we value and will you know, build into our line in the future. And then from kind of a corporate social responsibility standpoint, we work with a couple factor.

(28:05): We work really closely with overseas one, the main factor we work with is in Bangladesh and the other in, in Vietnam. And we have a really good relationship with both these factories. We've been in the one in Bangladesh for, for six years and we have a code of conduct that's based on the international labor organizations kind of, of main tenants, which are the, you know, no force labor, not child labor, the right to join labor unions. And basically if in all those requirements are also the governing law in Bangladesh. So if the factory is legal, a lot, a lot of people think that overseas, manufacturings always in these kind, kind of illegal sweat shops which is a huge problem. It's no doubt a huge problem. But if you could verify that your factory is legal, you, you kind of get over a lot of hurdles right there. And then beyond that develop a working relationship where you can go to the factory and you can see pay stubs, you can visit the workers and you can and develop products alongside them. You know, you're, I think you can create a really beneficial relationship for them. And, and for, for building your products,

(29:18): What's been the hardest part about starting and, and building true year. I think the hardest part, which my, I resonate with with a lot of your, your listeners, if there's other entrepreneurs out there is kind of balancing the, the family life which I had a good, you know, five years where I was, you know, not living with my girlfriend or then later my wife, or now my wife, and now I have a kid in the beginning, you, you know, I was working, there was no, it wasn't nine to five. It was like, you know, seven to 10 or, or even till later, because I'm Skyping with, with Asia, you during their time zone. So there's like, there was just never I just had all the time in the world to devote to the business and, and that was really necessary in the beginning. And what I had to learn after that is just to be much more efficient with my time, because I've got a nine month old son now. And I really, really you that time at home with him and with my wife and, you know, building free time around the business to be with them is, is really tough for sure. And so that's something that was hard to plan for and we're like constantly working on it. But I think that any effort that you know, people starting businesses can put towards creating, you know, their own personal time, especially if they have a family is definitely worth it.

(30:54): Definitely. I always look amazement when I see or hear about people starting a business with, with multiple kids. Like I have any, like, I don't have any kids currently. And if I started ready Eddie, when I did, I don't know if I would've made it. Yeah. You, you know, you definitely would've and, and you, and you can do it. It's like, it's one of those things. I also talk a lot of, you know, when people ask about different attributes that I entrepreneurs might have, or start a business. And one of the things I like to say is ignorance. Like you have to be kind of naive to want to start a business and cuz once you're into it, and once you realize how hard it's gonna be, you're probably never gonna do it. And so if you don't know how hard it's gonna be, you don't know how much work it's gonna take. You don't, you know, you, you don't like kind of realize all that stuff and you jump in to have the right work ethic and right. Intention to right idea. And there has to be a market space for you. But as long as you don't really know how hard it's gonna be, I think that's actually going to be positive. And

(32:01): Yeah, I think you're, you're you're so right about that. I wanna ask you, how did you come for the name truer? Yeah. So my last name's pew and our co-founder's name trip. And so we combined trip and pew for true love it. I know. And not, not a lot of people know that because our, like our mission has always been creating this, this gear for what we felt like was the true rider you know, T R U E. And so a lot of people just thought we were kind of creating a fan name that meant like this idea of true rider, which, which I like too it's that really is what we're doing. You know, we, we, we try to get to some idea of like truth and integrity with product design and and so it, it has that connotation, which, which we really like. Yeah, it's funny. I always thought that as well. I sort of assumed that's what was based on, but it's, it's, it's funny.

(33:00): You know, the way people come up with the, the names of their businesses. I know. So where do you see true gear in the next year? Five years. 10 years down the road. Yeah. So what keeps us really motivated about our business is, is creating cool product. And, you know, we're a small team. There's only five people working here and what keeps everyone coming back to work every day is, is when we have an exciting product release where we make a colorway or a new style, or we have an idea for a new style, that's gonna be in the next two years. That's what keeps it so exciting for us. And, and, you know, we're, we're trying to build a business that supports that process, I guess. And we've been through a lot of exercises like anyone will, if they're running a business for 10 years about, okay, what are, let's create some exit strategies, let's find someone to acquire us, or maybe we don't, let's just keep building up the cash flow. So we never have to have someone acquire us.

(34:02): And, and I've kind of like, you know, I, I still continue to prototype those different ideas with our team and to think about that stuff. But I realized what's just most important to us is our, is our quality of life right now. And, and what and creating a really motivated and exciting workplace like today. And right now I can see for this team, it's like all about just being really proud of the brand and proud of the work we're doing and, and especially proud of the products we're creating. And so I hope just to do that as long as possible. And I think if if we can do that, then we'll, we'll have some, you know, ability to yeah. Be successful in, in five or 10 years. Definitely. Now over the 10 year lifespan of true gear, what has the growth been like? Was it pretty quick to get yourself and your co-founder full time? Like what did, what did that look like over the, the last 10 years?

(34:59): Yeah, so the first, I think the first three years were, were like very slow. We were lucky to have like a, a decent launch in 2009 cuz of that kind of initial press. But we built and we built about 300 total units that year and sold through 'em and that's in like in a, you know, jacket and pants styles. And we were working I know, let's say the first year we're working full-time or not full-time, but, but most nights at a bar in hood river and myself, my brother continued to work there for, for a couple years more like part-time. But we were, we were pretty full-time with the business probably like kind of year two and a half or three. And, but I guess when you, when you look back at the business at that time, we were like all living in the same high house.

(35:57): And our office was the garage that we had converted and it was a really sweet garage, actually, the owner of the house used to work on cars. So there was just like a really nice garage. But we would, you know, wake up and walk across the yard into the garage. And so it wasn't like, it was like the business kind of was our life. So it was just kind of this real blurry distinction between you know, how are we gonna get this thing to like grow beyond just being this kind of real insular garage business. And that really happened in 2014 when we started war working with advisors and, and local investors that try to design our business around more for growth and less about just being kind of the garage project which is like, you know, that's like a good five years after, after we started.

(36:52): So in that regard we were, we were like moving pretty slow and building the brand pretty organically. And then from that point of raising money, we I mean, we, I think tripled our direct sales that first year when we switched our business models and and have had pretty good growth since then, you know, I'd say it's pretty sustainable growth. Like about 20%. Year over year, this year we've had some really phenomenal growth cuz of some private label projects where our revenue is. I think we're probably gonna be up about 40 or 50% by, by the end of the year. And so that's been really validating now we've, I think we've kind of smoothed out are the learning process of being direct to consumer business and now we can kind of really focus on the growth part of that business.

(37:51): But yeah, I mean, I, I think that's one thing to keep in mind for, you know, listeners or people thinking about starting their own business, a, you know, a lot of investors or even people starting a business are gonna want like a, a much steeper growth trend and or growth trajectory. And that's definitely possible, but I think it's just what we've seen is it just can be really risky and expensive. And I think a lot of investors will want you to do that. They'll say like, okay, well, like let's put a bunch of money in this. They didn't see how fast we can grow and if it doesn't work, we'll move on and do something else. And then so can you, and I think we've always, you know, like I've said in this conversation just been really been motivated by our ideas for product creation and been really confident in the type of brand and products we want to create that that's been the highest priority for us. And so it's been less about, you know, just going throttle down, grow as fast as we can and more about how can we have sustainable growth and create some really cool

(38:57): That's really interesting. So what's the best part about running true gear? I think it's the people that we get to work with. I mean, our, our small team right here is, is pretty incredible and just watching how we've all grown over the years and like Shay, our marketing man manager for example, was our intern like six years ago or something right after he came out of right. We graduated from U of O and and so we were, you know, he was just like doing events and helping just kind of manage inventory in the office. And now he's like the number, you know, running all of our marketing team manager, digital marketing, email.com guy. And so that's pretty incredible to watch that type of growth in, in any person. And and same with everybody who who's worked here. That's, I think that's like the coolest, the coolest thing. And and then the relationships that we have with our suppliers, you know, whether it's the textile mills from Japan or Taiwan, and then the factories we work with in Bangladesh and Vietnam or the, the marina world, people in New Zealand, there's just some really phenomenal people. And it's cool to connect so many people with a different background, a different interest, but we all kind of share this the same goal. Sorry they're drilling something on our roof right now. Dunno if you heard that. No worries.

(40:29): But yeah, I think definitely everything related to the people and relationships and, and running and starting this business has been really rewarding. Oh, I bet the relationships are such part and part of it and makes the long hours a little bit easier. Yeah, totally. Now for the listener who who's listening between November 27th and December 25th Christmas day, we're actually given away some gear from true gear. So you can head Richard red.com for your chance to win with, along with a full ski and snowboard setup from a bunch of other brands. So if you're interested in winning, definitely head over to red.com before Christmas, for your chance to win. And with that, Chris, I really wanna thank you for taking the time to come on the podcast, share your story, everything that you guys have got going on with true gear and where you guys are going in the future. Yeah. Thanks a lot, Josh. It's been great talking to you and thanks for helping us out with a, with a giveaway and look forward to working you guys in the future.

(41:35): If you enjoyed today's podcast episode, then we would be incredibly appreciative. If you could log on iTunes and leave us a quick review, this really helps us get noticed by other podcast listeners like yourself. And if you know anyone that would benefit from this episode, then please share it along while that wraps up this episode of the ready podcast. We'll catch you guys next week.
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