After spending time testing and using the prototypes as well as building a following on facebook and twitter, it is time to progress to the final product. I ordered the final fabrics and the sewing labels. (oh and btw if you’re curious… facebook.com/scrunchieleash and twitter.com/scrunchieleash )
These are the colors my wife and I chose after polling some family members and after a heated debate about whether to go with Caramel or Khaki.
Denim – Avocado – Caramel – Dandelion – Red – Hibiscus
The fabric is 100% organic cotton. This decision was made because eco-friendly products are important to my wife and I. I want to create a company culture that mirrors my own values by creating a responsible product. I think this will help our customers understand who we are!
The downside to this is that I wasn’t able to find machine-washable patterns in organic cotton. I’ll keep looking, but for starters we’re only going to carry this six solid colors.
Ok, 7 Colors.
We also want to be able to market to the local university by carrying the school’s color – orange. This created a bit of an issue because, again, it wasn’t available in organic.
We decided to offer orange in non-organic because I think it is important to be part of the local community.
I will keep looking for organic orange and hopefully correct this in the future!
Do you know any dog owners?
If you want to help, please pass our website along to any dog owners you know that might be interested. We’re offering a 20% discount to anybody that shows interest before the actual launch. (They just input their email and we’ll send them the discount when we launch)
We will probably launch in mid to late January, 2014. As soon as the fabrics arrive, we’ll publish a launch date and start the countdown.
Earlier this week when I launched http://www.scrunchieleash.com I made a ton of mistakes. Here is a quick rundown of my mistakes and how I’ve changed the site. Here is the blogpost from the launch so you can see the photo of what it looked like originally.
- An entire page of nothing but a photo and some links. Sure, it was beautiful, but I feel like all it did was confuse people.
- Had three pages and only one of them had a polite (and awkward) request that the potential customer input their email address.
- Nowhere did it discuss the many benefits and unique qualities of the product I was trying to sell!
After seeing a ton of traffic move through the site with nobody putting in their email address, I did what I should have done first:
I googled “how to sell a product online“. How did I not think to do that before?
My New Site
The New Scrunchie Leash Site
My new website is a single page squeeze-page. The goal is to get people to enter their email address so I can inform them when the product finally launches.
In exchange for allowing me to tell them when the product is available, I’m offering a 20% discount.
The entire page is sales copy telling them why they should want the scrunchie leash. I’ve been refining it and improving it, so it is changing little by little, but already I’m seeing WAY better signup rates than I was before. Check it out and let me know what you think: http://www.scrunchieleash.com
This afternoon I took the logo I created and the photos that I’ve been taking and turned them into a website using the squarespace.com platform! I am VERY excited to have this up!
New Website Screenshot
Squarespace.com is a drag-and-drop website creation tool. It allows me to make fully responsive websites in a fraction of the time and cost that hiring a developer and designer would require. Naturally, I’m working from templates, so I don’t have full control, but they have everything I need at this time.
I was also considering shopify, but the base squarespace package was $8/month compared to shopify’s $14/month. This doesn’t get me selling capability, but the upgrade isn’t too expensive when I do need it. ($24/month for sales capabilities)
Basic Website Strategy
There are three pages
The Home screen will welcome them.
The purchase screen will give visitors the option to put in their email address to be informed when the leashes are available for sale.
The blog will serve as the content base where I’ll post videos of the leash in use as well as photos and other material.
Check out the site: www.scrunchieleash.com and let me know what you think!
When to brand your business is a question that many people struggle with. I feel I should have a website or at least a logo to start marketing. A logo shouldn’t be too hard, right? Experts seem to be divided on the issue.
No Brand? No Business
Old-school marketers claim you need to develop your brand before you start marketing to make sure you aren’t wasting your marketing dollars. After all, how can they remember your logo if you don’t have a logo?
No Business? No Brand
Some startup gurus claim you shouldn’t even think about branding when you’re starting a business. The important thing is to focus on a product that people want. After all, money spent on a logo for a product that nobody wants is money wasted.
So Should I Make A Logo?
While I have a decent eye for design, I don’t possess the skills and tools needed to create a fantastic logo. So here are my choices:
- Create a half-baked logo and plan to upgrade if the business takes off.
- Ask my designer sister for yet another favor. How many of these do I get? She did logo/website/etc for free on my last project – which failed.
- Pay a designer. I know a good one that offers logos for $100.
I think the right answer lies in product validation. There has been interest in the leashes and I have a lot of confidence in them as a product. But…
Interest and confidence do not equal validation.
So for now, I’ll half-bake a logo together the best I can and I’ll worry about upgrading it if the business finds some success.
[20 minutes later]
20-Minute Scrunchie Dog Logo
I took my dog, Roscoe, for a walk last night. I was looking to see how the leash handled him pulling. I usually use a prong collar, but I chose to leave it off. My thoughts:
- The leash is fun to use. I got a little giddy because not only is it a different experience from a normal leash, it’s a superior experience to a normal leash.
- The pull strength is outstanding. Imagine the sleeve of a long-sleeve shirt. That tube of material is strong!
Then, the unfortunate happened.
Roscoe bit the leash for a little tug-o’-war and the material ripped open.
The leash was still functional, but a customer would not be very happy if they paid for this thing and it ripped that easily.
I have been testing the seams and pull strength, but I hadn’t though of ripping like this. I’ll be ordering a hand-full of material samples for rip testing.
Flannel is a no-go.
I’ll need to rip-test the materials that were used for the other prototype leashes.
If I had to choose one word to describe Portland, it would be “Weird”. Weird it is, but you can’t help falling in love with the authenticity you encounter. There are a few things I picked up from the businesses I enjoyed while I was there.
Strong, Unflinching Identity
When you step foot into a business like VooDoo Doughnuts the experience smacks you in the face! (in a good way) They may sugarcoat the doughnuts, but they certainly do not sugarcoat the brand. With doughnut names like “Cock-N-Balls” and “Old Dirty Bastard” you know they aren’t softening their image to appeal to a wider audience. The key thing to note is that there was a line wrapped around the building of people waiting for doughnuts. People want that experience.
Massive Value for the Cost
One place that really stood out to me was Courier Coffee. Here is a quick breakdown of the experience.
- Each coffee is distinct with naturally occurring aromas like chocolate, spearmint or blueberry.
- They use single-source, house-roasted beans. (some sourced direct from the farmers)
- Each cup is made-to-order with a GOLD-PLATED filter! (I guess gold is the least reactive reusable filter material)
- They give you your cup as well as what was leftover that didn’t fit in your cup.
- The coffee is amazing. It actually has a strong blueberry aroma like they said.
- The coffee cost LESS than a squirt of the dark stuff at Starbucks.
Every single point of quality and detail was perfectly looked after. The staff was friendly and knowledgeable and took the time to explain stuff and chat with us a bit.
They over-delivered on value and undercharged me. I was left thinking, “This is a great business.
Portland and My Brand
I think these lessons should be applied to every brand out there. Know what you believe in. Know what your values are. Follow them with conviction. Personally, what values do I want to incorporate in the brand I’m creating with Scrunchie Leashes?
- Environmental Conscience – I hope to incorporate organic cotton with natural dyes. I would also like to minimize carbon footprint in energy usage and transportation
- Care About Animals – I’m thinking the best way to do this would be to donate a % of profits to Humane Society or some other non-profit. I rescued my dog at the Humane Society, so I’m inclined to go that route.
- Dependability – I want to make sure this product is made to last and provide the best experience for customers at a fraction of what they’d be willing to pay for it. Over-deliver on promises.
We Are All Weird
Lastly, while I was in Powell’s City of Books, I found a book entitled We Are All Weird by Seth Godin. I recognized Godin’s name as he is a popular online business and marketing guru. This book is a manifesto that describes how old marketing created and marketed to the masses, but that is all changing. Now, brands need to market the the weird. It is a short read. I recommend it.
We Are All Weird Book Cover
The first handmade versions of the product are done. (Thanks Mom!)
Introducing the Scrunchie Dog Leash!
Scrunchie Dog Leash – Yellow
The leash is about 3 feet long when relaxed and stretches to 5′ 6″. It acts like a normal leash, but won’t drag on the ground and won’t get tangled in your dog’s feet.
This is ideal for runners who don’t want to keep adjusting their hands depending on where the dog is.
It is also great for cold weather because you can keep your hands in your pockets!
I plan to first sell the leashes on Etsy to see if there is a demand for them. Also, to test the product and see what people do and don’t like about it. Then, I plan to start selling from my own site (which I haven’t made yet).
By “soft launching” I mean that I’m selling them and starting to tell people about them and get the word out. I plan to make a facebook page and a twitter page for them specifically. If it proves successful, I will use the customers I get to understand how and where I should be placing my advertising.
In anticipation of the first batch of my product, I’ve started getting ready to take product photos. I decided to go for the basic white background look that has become the standard for most product shots on the internet. To do this, I set up a photo booth in the closet of our spare bedroom. I had all the materials on hand from past projects.
- Fluorescent Lamp
- 2 Chairs
- 2 Copper Pipes
- White Shower Liner
- iPhone 5S Camera
How I set it up
I nailed the shower liner to the wall in the back of the closet about 3 feet off the ground.
Then I used the two chairs and the copper pipes to hold the lamp in front of the open closet.
My Closet Photo Booth Setup
The giraffe is in the photo as an example. The shower liner has some folds and wrinkles in it, but they aren’t too bad.
Here are two example photos. One unedited, straight from my phone (plus the text). The second photo I cleaned up a little in photoshop to correct the color and whiten the background.
Photo with No Edits
It took a while of playing with it to get something decent, but I’m pretty happy with it.
Let me know if you have any tips for getting better photos!