- Robert Patton
- Founder of SHEATH Underwear
Charles: 00:00 In this episode of a business of eCommerce. I talked with Robert Patterson about some of the lessons learned growing $1 million eCommerce business. This is a business of eCommerce, episode one Oh nine welcome to the business of eCommerce. The show of it helps eCommerce retailers start, launch and grow their eCommerce business. I’m your host, Charles [inaudible] and I’m here today with Robert Patterson. Robin has a founder sheet underwear, a veteran owned and operated clothing brand that he started while deployed in Iraq in 2008 I’ve asked Robert on the show today to talk about some of the lessons he’s learned scaling his business over $1 million. So, Hey Robert, how are you doing today?
Robert: 00:43 Awesome. Thank you so much for having me on your show.
Charles: 00:46 Yeah, it’s excellent to have you on. I’m super interested in dig into the brand and kind of how you started. I love talking to retailers that, you know, this is on the whole like journey and kinda how they began and where they are now. So first of all, what is the brand? What do you guys sell and what did you, you started this when you were in Iraq, you were deployed in Iraq, correct?
Robert: 01:05 Yes sir. I, I joined the army in 2006 during the height of the Iraq war. And I was in Iraq that same year, six months after I joined. And as you all know, it’s hotter than the devil’s balls there. If you’ve heard things, it’s very hot. And there’s a, as the guys, we typically, when we get hot, we can get uncomfortable in different places, primarily in your underwear. And I, you know, typically men will have to readjust when it’s too hot. Things get sticky, sweaty, uncomfortable. And I was there wearing my full army battle rattle gear. And when you’re wearing all this gear, it’s hard to readjust. And so I had this epiphany because I was really uncomfortable. It was very, it’s not the funnest subject to talk about. Like it’s not, we’re cool per se, but a lot of guys understand they get the point and get the idea behind the underwear immediately.
Robert: 02:13 So what I, what I thought of was if there was a pouch inside the underwear isolated and your boys from your inner thighs, you wouldn’t have to readjust. And I wasn’t trying to create some million dollar company. I just was trying to prevent myself from having to readjust at the moment, you know. So I literally went to the, we have like little stores in Iraq, like little mini Walmarts and I bought some underwear, some scissors, and I drew out kind of the design that I kind of envisioned in my mind. And I took it to Taylor. We had some tailors out there and Iraq because in the army you have to be your uniform needs to be fitting you properly. So we always have tailors available and I, but they’ve never had bring underwear, I would presume, to have underwear tailored. And so they snickered at me a little bit.
Robert: 03:08 Real fancy getting a runaway tailored. Yeah. They were just like, what is this guy doing here? But they made them and it was a very raw prototype. The pouch was actually too small and there was a lot of, that was in 2008 it’s 2019 we’ve had multiple revisions in generations issued and produced since, since then. And you know, we didn’t even start the company until two years later because like I said, I was just doing it for myself, you know? And as I told other people, you know, just in conversations they were like, that sounds like a good idea, you know? I mean like they got it. Nobody was ever like, that’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard of. Every now and then we’ll get somebody that’s kind of rude in that way. Like I don’t wear underwear or, but typically during the beginning phase of the conception, people were really supportive and, and, and through Z gastic about pushing me to develop it into an actual product.
Robert: 04:15 And so a couple of years later, you know, we went ahead and did that and it was a horrible experience. First off, these things don’t happen easily and we had a production in 2010 but it was totally rushed. Like, I was so excited about the idea that when they send me the prototypes, I was like, it’s good enough. You know, it was like, but it wasn’t good enough. In fact, it was nowhere near good enough. And it actually ended up setting us back like three years because I had spent my last $5,000 on this production to, you know, start the company. And then when I started handing them out to friends and family, they were like, eh, it’s okay. You know, they were like being nice, but it wasn’t good enough like I said. And so I had to go back to the drawing board and I actually then got out of the army and went and worked at a tailor and in this was 2012.
Robert: 05:19 Okay. So, yeah, yeah, exactly. You know, just, you can’t just get out of the army. You have to kind of finish your, your term of contract. And I actually had gone on another, and this was actually all my, it was actually on my second deployment that the idea came to me. It wasn’t even on my first deployment. So at that I had, you know, when 2006 came back and I was a super soldier, if you will, not to brag because I’m not, you know, like gifted athletically or mentally or any kind of, I’m very average in every, you know, aspect, height, everything except maybe my heart. Like I haven’t, like, my desire is probably a lot stronger than a normal person’s because maybe I felt like I always had to try harder in sports growing up. I’m like, basketball, you know, if you’re put, everyone else was bigger, faster and stronger than me.
Robert: 06:21 So I always had to, you know, push myself to the ax, like extreme limit to the point of injury. I would, I would push myself. I wanted to be in the NBA when I was a teenager. I think a lot of boys do. And you know, just that didn’t happen. But I was able to take that work ethic and transfer it to life. And I, you know, and I had multiple jobs before, before I joined the army. And I always sort of excelled amongst my peers. And like when I joined the army, I beat everyone in my battalion and physical fitness. There’s cause they test you and you know, you get scored and I beat everyone, 200 plus people. And I got this special ceremonial award that, and then I got in AIT, which is advanced individual training. I, I got the honor grad.
Robert: 07:12 And then when I got to my unit, you know, I was just, I, I, I loved the army. It was actually really fun. And it helped me develop as a man, you know, and mature and push myself and see what I was capable of. But like I said, but I had this idea and I, and Iraq and then they wanted to send me back for the third time in like three or four years. So I was kind of getting mixed messages and you know, about what we were doing there and like, what is it still like? Do I even still believe in this? And I had a family and a daughter and like, I’m just, what am I doing with my life? And I had this idea that people are pushing me to move forward with it. And in particular, my younger brother who is still, he’s a partner of mine in the company and he came up with the name sheath and just really motivated me to move forward with it. And so I ended up getting out of the army to pursue this. But like I said, it w w it wasn’t easy going at the beginning and so, and there was a setback. So I went and worked for this tailor to re design the prototype and we ended up, it took about a year, but I came up with a workable prototype. We did a Kickstarter in 2013. I’m sure you’ve heard of that. Yeah. And it was successful.
Charles: 08:43 You guys did a Kickstarter to, so folks were funding product development to was it for a new product or was this, was it for, did you already have the brand going fans or is this a completely new, like was it completely new, the brand at the time or did you already have the brand and you’re just launching a new product?
Robert: 09:00 We ha we had kind of, we come up with a brand in 2010 when I made that initial investment that was not up to like the quality or comfort comfort that our customers would enjoy is so that, like I said, that had set us back three years and we had to redesign it. So we, but we did have the brand, if you look on Twitter, our burn on date is in 2010 but we didn’t launch until like relaunch until 2013 and we really didn’t have a huge fan base. No. Like it wasn’t like we reached out to all of our huge fan base and they’ve helped fund the idea. In fact, barely anyone we knew helped fund the idea. It was really, it’s kind of funny how when you’re putting yourself out there and going for your dream, how few friends and family actually jumped in to support the endeavor. It was 95% strangers, you know?
Charles: 09:59 Wow. So how did you reach all the stages through Kickstarter or, yeah. It’s funny cause I’ve talked to other folks even on the podcast where, you know, they use their existing list to try to build up the Kickstarter. Absolutely. And it sounds like, so that was not something you did, you just kind of put it on Kickstarter and, but it worked.
Robert: 10:18 It did work. I mean we did there it was 8,000 and I ended up raising 13 plus thousand, which isn’t like those blowing us out of the water type of a success. You know, I’ve seen some people make hundreds of thousands if not millions of dollars on their first Kickstarter, but it wasn’t quite that successful, but it was just enough to get the, this batch produced. In fact, funny story, not that funny, but I had put, I had already put a down payment on the production, so if we, and I didn’t have any more money, so if we didn’t come up with the, you know, if we weren’t successful, I was going to have to sell my car probably to, to pay the balance due. But it put a lot of pressure on us to be successful. And it worked.
Charles: 11:09 It’s funny, it’s funny you say that. So we’re talking before the show about, you were saying you’re all in on the brand, you’re showing me you have a tattoo of the logo. Right. Is that okay? Yeah. So it’s funny cause so episode what does have to pass it last week Kylar was talking to her about kind of how she started a brand, that sort of thing, but exact opposite approach on these. She was taking very like incremental baby steps, like stair stepping her way into the brand. And it kinda sounds like your approach to doing this is literally the exact opposite of all in and kind of put her on the line and just go for it. Is that kinda like a theme that you have? Is that kind of,
Robert: 11:49 Well, let me [inaudible] and to expand on that, I read a book that I recommend to everyone. Pretty much everyone knows it’s called think and grow rich by Napoleon Hill. And one of the stories that is also kind of popular and you hear other people talking about it is if you want to take an Island you have to like burn the ships that you float, that you went there on that gives you no retreat, no surrender. You got to go and almost, I get emotional because you know if we didn’t know you don’t know you know you but you you believe in it and I believed in it and I, I knew like I wasn’t lying to myself. I was like I love this product, I believe in it and if I really do believe in it, other people are going to be out there and we’re not that different. As humans we pretty pretty similar and Mo in a lot of ways, you know we might think a little bit differently but for the most part we’re very similar. So I was like, if I believe in it, I’ll find an audience that also believes in it. And that kind of carried me through the first part of, of the process here. I’m going to just show these people real quick, the tattoo, because if you want you to have a video,
Charles: 13:09 Definitely check out either YouTube or Facebook right now. So there you go.
Robert: 13:14 Well, I just, I got it tattooed like all the way across my back so that if I wanted to quit they would remind me that I, it’s not really an option in part of the thinking behind that is if someone were to ask me 10 years later, what’s that tattoo on your back? I would have to respond. Oh, that’s just some dream I gave up on.
Charles: 13:38 Yeah. It’s funny I think, I think there’s a personality. They were some people that’s, they want that. They thrive into that and that is their thing. And other people, it’s exact opposite. And it sounds like you’re just one of those people that this is what you need. Like this is yo
Robert: 13:52 Yeah, I needed the pressure to put on myself to never, you know, just because it’s so easy to give up. I mean at the first sign of defeat, anytime an obstacle presents itself, it’s like, Oh, that’s too hard. And everyone’s kind of encouraging you. Like my brother and my grandmother and other friends like get a, when are you going to get a real job? You know, like just give up on that. It’s not going to work. There’s too many other big companies out there. It’s too competitive and you can’t win.
Charles: 14:23 Yeah. And the thing a little business you kind of find is as you’re growing, like each time you’re getting larger, it’s basically just going to be the next series of challenges that you don’t know how to deal with. You’ve never seen before. Something bad happens. You’re basically trying to push up against this wall and each time you grow, you’re pushing at the same wall. But there’s different challenges. Time and you’re almost pretty much not equipped to deal with any of these each time. And you have to just figure them out every day. And it just, and unless you’re getting smaller or just, I don’t know, somehow staying the same size every time you grow, it’s the same thing. There’s a wall, there’s new challenges and you just have to figure it out or
Robert: 15:02 Yeah, exactly. The obstacle is the way is a book by some guy pretty, I mean you have to overcome these obstacles then, you know, I said we were successful on this first Kickstarter and we got a successful production from the money that we got from all our backers. We get the product, we ship it out, everyone’s happy. People start reordering. We sell out of our gray and black pairs. So I’m like, okay, we need more great in black contact. The manufacturer put in the orders, send them all the money that we had made. We didn’t. So now I’ve just said I’ll send all the money that we had and when we got the second batch, it was completely food barred and unsellable the ma, the pouches were all mangled. I’m like, why did they even send this? I mean like why go through with sending it?
Robert: 15:56 They might as well have sent me nothing cause I couldn’t sell it. And what that ended up doing is putting this pretty much back to square one. No product, no money. But I didn’t give up. I had the tattoo on my back already at this point. And I was like, regardless, we’re gonna find a way. And as it would happen, fate intervened. And a manufacturer reached out to us that specialized in men’s underwear and they only made men’s underwear. You know, where’s this other company? I was trying to find somebody to make my product and [inaudible] and I found someone and they made it. But having a specialty manufacturer produced the product was such a huge improvement. In fact, they improved the prototype that I ended up sending them. And so they sent me back this prototype and I put them on and it was like angels singing. It was like, ah, it was, they were so comfortable and I felt this rush of reassurance that I was on the right track. You know, cause it’s hard, man. It’s not easy. It’s not easy. Like if we still run into challenges every year. You know, I like,
Charles: 17:20 It’s funny you said the obstacles away and I just have to kind of stop there because we didn’t plan this, but I literally have a coin in my pocket that actually says that on it from the, I actually bought it from that guy that I forget his name with that. Great Ryan Ryan holiday. There you go. So it’s a stoic quote. The impede and on the other side, impedance to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way. And that’s kind of the very, that book. I love it. Love. So I literally carry it around every day. This coin in my pocket. So Ryan holiday, if you go to his website, you can buy the same coin. So [inaudible] put a tattoo. But yeah, you could definitely have that. A have one of these great.
Robert: 17:59 I, I mean, it’s a good, it’s a, it’s a, it’s a valuable message because people typically run away from obstacles when you want to run towards them and face it and overcome it. And that’s how you’ll become successful. And you have, but you have to have like an unwavering faith in your ability to do that. You know? And it’s so like, it’s hard to block out negative feedback from friends and family who are typically, you’re going to be the most negative when you try to do something outside of the norm. They want you go on the job, go into the nine to five, just like them and struggling just like them and you know, doing it with them, but it’s like rats in a and R or crabs in a bucket, you know, trying to pull you down. And I know that, I don’t know if that’s exactly the mentality.
Robert: 18:51 Maybe they were just looking out for my best interests, but you know, I was, I was 100% confident that it was going to work because I put them on and I loved it and I was like, these are gold. And so what we ended up having to do another Kickstarter the very next year and it was successful. And on that that time we did use some of our previous customers. So we were able to more than double, well not more than doubled. We got 2220 3000 on that second Kickstarter that got us our next production and new product. It was the, yeah, it was the same brand. Same product, just a better version.
Charles: 19:36 Okay. So just veto of what else? So yes, you hit the current list. People that have already kind of bought into the V one let’s say, and you said, Hey, we’re redesigning these features and you know, but we need you to talk from capital to make a go of it and people kind of rally behind you and went for it.
Robert: 19:52 I did. It was, and it was amazing. Yeah. The support that you get because Kickstarter is kind of a cool website for people that have become sick like that are trying to launch a product but also for people that are successful to go on and support other entrepreneurs who are trying something new. And I feel like there was a lot of that just people with good hearts trying to help out. They didn’t, they may not even know, you know, like, like the product or anything. They just see you going for your dream and they want to kinda just lift you up a little bit, give you a tiny little handout to move forward. And and it immune aims. It all happened so perfectly with the internet being around. Like if this had happened 30 years ago, I would not be successful without Kickstarter. I don’t think I would have been successful.
Robert: 20:44 And you know, so if the timing was perfect for everything to manifest itself the way it did, and since that 2014 Kickstarter, we’ve doubled revenue annually since every year and last year we made $1 million, you know, for the first time, which is obviously a pretty huge Vince. Better choice. And Mark, thank you. And you know, this year we were going to 10 X, we’re going to 10 X like grant Cardone, right? But, and I took out about 150,000 in loans to buy us a bunch of inventory and, and really prepare ourselves for this huge wave of customers that was going to come our way and didn’t quite happen. And we’re not even to exiting this year could do, which we’d done every year up to this point, but we’re going to, we’re going to grow by about a half a million in sales. So it’s not horrible. 50% growth is still a respectable growth rate.
Charles: 21:45 Well, if you, if you told you, if you told yourself in 2008, you know, only grow by half a million, you were talking to the 2008 selfie would have had a very different perspective on it.
Robert: 21:57 Yeah. My brother tells me that sometimes, but you know, he’s like, just like, did you ever think we would be here? And, and it’s, it’s like it’s, but it’s still never good enough. You know what I mean? Like, it’s never, I still want more because I want to take care of my family and the people that have supported me up to this point, I have a team of about 10 contractors slash employees and I, you know, I pay them enough to survive, but I want them all to be driving in Lambos, you know, at least have that opportunity. So
Charles: 22:35 What’s kind of next, how are you reaching, so you’re saying you’re doubling every couple of years. How are you, how are you reaching this new audience? How are you finding this new market? What are you doing to double?
Robert: 22:47 It’s a lot of friends telling their friends, but as far as advertising, we’re using Facebook and Google and Critio at the moment, which we’re looking into other alternatives because it kind of seems like those avenues are losing the ROI that we there had once been like with the algorithms and just other competitors. It’s very there’s a lot of people congested, you know, so we sponsored this Colorado Springs switchbacks soccer team and part of the promotion was that we were going to give away 2000 pairs to the first 2000 attendees. And that’s another sort of thing we’ve been doing is just getting the product in people’s hands to, you know, let them try it. You know, the proof is in the pudding. If you, if you’ve never tried it, it might even seem sort of weird to you. I’m not sure if I did kind of explain it to at the beginning, but let me just re explain what the product is cause it looks like normal underwear on the outside, but it’s not normal underwear.
Robert: 23:54 I’m going to have it for your people that are just listening. I’ll, I’ll, I’ll kind of try to describe it but they look like if you’re just listening, we have this on YouTube and Facebook. You can actually see it, right? Yeah. Yeah. I hate that. I’m using, let me pull out one of our newer prototypes. So, cause that was a brief version. It’s a little bit harder to see. But, so this is our new 2.1 army green trunk. They look like regular underwear on the outside, but it’s not what’s on the outside that’s important. Like my mama said, it’s what’s on the inside that truly matters. And so there’s a pouch and yeah, when you see this on video, you definitely get the, okay. And so I call it an inverted kangaroo pouch for your Joey to put your Joey in the pouch and it isolates it from a sticking between your legs essentially.
Robert: 24:48 It doesn’t really, it’s not like a pushup bra or anything, it just, but it does give a slight hint of pronounced endowment. It gives you, you know, it makes you look a little bit like packing a little bit of heat down there, but not, that’s not the point. And it just so happens to be a slight side effect that people do comment on, Whoa, I look like the man now, you know, when they’re wearing a, they’re women tend to think they look a little bit sexier than normal. These are things that we’ve heard and I’ve heard personally and but it’s all about the comfort and that’s where we’ve focused on and that’s what guys appreciate about the product and a lot of older guys who would be very hard to convince to try something new. They get it and they love it and they replace their entire underwear drawer.
Robert: 25:43 And you know, if you go to sheath underwear.com and look at the reviews, they’re all real, there’s like thousands of them. And some of them, some people don’t like them, some people are like, eh, it’s not for me. But the majority I would say appreciated at least. And, and around 30 to 50% of our customers come back. And so we just keep, but just churning that new customer rate and just keep getting new and returning customers to come back and tell their friends. And we’re just starting a new loyalty program where you get points for referring friends and things like that. So you can get free on the where that hasn’t started yet. We’re, I mean, we’re going to launch that in about a month with a company called swell. We use yacht PO for our reviews, which allows people to leave reviews, but also us to get that star rating on a Google search when you know, you’ll see some links that have the star ratings below it and that tends to lend some sort of credibility for the potential new customers. And we’re always trying to show credibility, you know, legitimacy. We have a UFC fighter named Donald Cowboys Eroni who has the most fights, most wins, the most knockouts ever in the history of the organization. He’s wearing them. Michael Bisbing, former UFC middleweight champion. He’s loving him. Robert Oberst is the strong man. I’m dropping some names here.
Charles: 27:15 No, I like it. I like it. Yeah.
Robert: 27:17 On the site, dropping the names like [inaudible].
Charles: 27:20 It sounds like as a normal person, it sounds ridiculous, but you have all you have to do it because that is what shows the credibility that shows these people, they’re athletes, they’re, you know, just this is someone that people aspire to be like and they like it. And if you want to be like them, you should have the same thing too. So that is what kind of drove the name. It’s not just to do it to say look where you know this whatever size, but it’s to do it to say they like it. So maybe you will too. And the way and the way, you know, I don’t know about other men, but the way I kind of buy the underwear sock DRA is kind of find one that I like throw everything away, start over with them for X amount of time and then just repeat the process if I like that, just find it for everything. It’s literally, they’re all exactly the same age. So I’m actually looking for new socks right now. But once the socks wear out, I start you all right when you do socks and I just literally disregard 100% of them and just restart the sock drop and then, yeah. And I don’t know if that’s typical.
Robert: 28:20 No, I don’t think so. I think it’s usually, you know, one by one or you know, a few here. If you’re there and you have your, your a team underwear and then your like B bench underwear. And a lot of people, you know, they’ll buy one pair and then they’ll have to, they’ll literally start washing that pair every day until they, their next order comes in. And I’m not kidding. You know what I’m saying? Like that sounds like kind of like, I’m trying to sell you something. This is just what people tell me they do. And I’m like, readily, our underwear changed your life. Like they’ll say stuff like that. And I’m not joking. It made me, it made this one guy, it feels sexy and then he starts working out and you know, it helped him get the motivation to get back in shape and it, and it’s cool. And so we’re kind of also trying to promote that our brand and it’s in alignment with a healthy lifestyle, you know, so like yoga, meditation, martial arts and everything that comes with mental wellbeing, physical wellbeing, and we want that associated with she’s, well, that’s kind of when you,
Charles: 29:26 When I see the product, right, you start thinking, if I’m at the gym doing CrossFit, doing yoga even like playing football, there’s just certain times where like your underwear just needs to work correctly. Like you just can’t worry about that, you know, do you know when you’re in the middle of playing football, you can’t think about that. That’s just not like something, but it gets in the way. When you’re at the gym in the middle, you know, CrossFit or doing like an iron man, you just, you can not worry about that. So this is something you just, you need it to work and not fail in those times.
Robert: 29:56 And it, I mean, one of our sales pitches kind of is like, it allows you to focus on the task at hand. We, we promote to hunters and fishermen also outdoorsman and you know, like, so if you’re, if you’re cast in a line and you know, if you go in your, if you go to like readjust, you might miss the hook, you know, because or, or there’s a shot that you want to take for on an animal or whatever and you’d go, you take your hand down to readjust, then all of a sudden, you know, you missed the shot. And it really does prevent that typical irritation that we get that forces us to readjust. You might be trying to meditate and you’re like, okay, now I’ve got this itch and you got to reach down and like on stick. And so this takes that step out of the process and then you can just focus on what you’re doing.
Charles: 30:52 Is that market segment something that you knew going into this or did you like, was this something you just kind of stumbled on and started through iterations or did you know we’re building a brand for these people? Or was this just you thought you were building a brand for you? It just kind of spound other people like you. How did that kind of, what direction did you take that?
Robert: 31:12 I mean, like I said, it was originally just for me and then a couple of friends. I was handing them out so it, it, it was like a process. You know, I was gonna just market to military men at first cause I was in the military. That’s what I knew. And then we, but we T we actually didn’t go that route. I really did not feel like exploiting my service was the angle I wanted to pursue at the beginning. Now we kind of say, you know, it’s better and owned and and all that. But I wanted the product to speak for itself. And if it was just strictly about the functionality, it works. It’s good. And you don’t have to use the pouch if you like regular underwear. These are very comfortable with that, you know, as regular underwear and you just don’t put yourself in the pouch and then they’re essentially regular underwear, you know? Yeah. I mean it’s,
Charles: 32:07 You say the word exploiting. You’re not necessarily, if you can help a certain customer segment, it’s almost like your job to do that. If you’re, if you can give them something better than what they have today, you’re not, it’s almost not exploiting right at you. It’s not exploding. It’s literally like helping someone in a way that you can uniquely qualified to do, do.
Robert: 32:29 And I was there, I wasn’t, I’m a w you know, I did two tours in Iraq. It’s, I’m not, I did the service and honorably and I killed it and I would do it again because I feel like it really put me through like a challenge that helped me develop like as a man, as much. I kind of, I, and I feel like a lot of ever, I feel like every man should go through some sort of of military training even if maybe not deploy. Cause then you get a little bit of PTSD and I saw way too many dead bodies that we, when you don’t want to get into that. And it’s hard for me to sleep at night just saying, but I’m actually going to get hypnotized later this afternoon to help with sleep because like for whatever reason, I have like a really tough time sleeping and and it’s probably partially related to seeing like hundreds of mutilated dead bodies, which is a heart anyways. We don’t know to get into that. Sorry, get back on a positive topic. I really, overall my service was just a an overall good experience. You know, cause I, it helped me grow and I made a lot of lifelong friends and a lot of them are supportive now. A couple of them are dead, but anyways, since stay positive.
Charles: 33:47 Yeah. And I get that, I hear that from a lot of folks and it’s, yeah.
Robert: 33:53 But, but the words like kind of over now, you know what I mean? And that was, that was a thing that had to have that happened and it’s over. And so we’re here now and I think the world is we’re doing pretty good. Yeah.
Charles: 34:08 And it sounds like the business is doing pretty good as well. So both. Yeah. So then where do you go from here? You kinda, it sounds like you’ve, you know, you’ve have, you’ve done over a million dollars, so you have a seven figure business. What’s next for me? How do you take it? Like how do you take it to the next level? How do you Tenex the business?
Robert: 34:25 Is that the goal? Well, no it is and one well, okay, so we’re going worldwide, which we already were our worldwide, we’re sold in over 74 countries, but that, that’s because we shipped to, you know, everyone, anyone that will, we’ll order it. We’ll ship to wherever you are. The Vatican, India, Russia, Australia, our top are at our top three countries. It goes us, Canada, UK in Germany. Just started kind of blowing up recently because of a podcast. Okay. So that’s kinda how we’re planning on continuing to grow is just expanding to every country in the world. We actually have distribution in UK and Canada for sales on our sheath, underwear.com site. But we’re also on Amazon prime and UK and Canada. And we’re getting into Germany and Abu Dhabi next, which is, I’ll be Dhabi is like in that whole region of Iraq and it’s very hot and I really feel like it would benefit those people there. But you know, we’re still facing challenges and we had been a garage fulfillment you know, sort of company up until 2018 we were doing everything out of our house and the, we kinda, we, we finally outgrew it.
Charles: 35:48 And where are you located? What state?
Robert: 35:50 So I’m in Colorado but, but we were operating out of San Antonio, Texas and I do have a lot of my team spread out mostly in San Antonio,
Charles: 36:00 San Antonio though. What you’re doing all the shipping?
Robert: 36:02 We were, yes.
Charles: 36:05 Yeah. So the Northeast, probably not the quickest shipping time. So you started, so you did that move into a three PL at that point?
Robert: 36:12 Yes. We have a fulfillment center called Rakhi tin. Don’t really recommend it because of a term, come to find out, you know, they were overcharging us so much and we, we just transitioned to a company called easy post. We’re actually, I’m sorry, we’re in process of transitioning and they did some analysis of our current costs based on versus what they were going to do for us and they’re going to save a $7,000 a month. I’m hoping that they’re not over promising. You know what I mean? Cause that happens so often. I mean, and you’re saying we have like a 35 minute timeline. I, I’m open to talk forever but like we’ve had so many people promise us the world and then give us like a big fat goose egg and return
Charles: 37:03 And with three pills you get this, you see the bill and this itemized list, this things in there, you don’t even realize there’s all these like random charges and sometimes you don’t even understand like what are these fees and why am I paying? Like you don’t even know at the end you’re like, all right, so they charge me X amount to fill this order. Is that good? Is that bad? Like and then you go to talk to you try to high shop and I was like, Oh no, we try. But their fee structure is so complex that there’s no, it’s very hard to just compare a with B because there’s just bolts so complex. So yeah,
Robert: 37:34 It was, it was, it was almost to the point where the re, I mean like at 1.1 day I was like, you guys are gonna put us out of business that they were charging us so much, all these extra fees and wa, and there was just one time in general, they took $5,000 out of our account and charged us for like a hundred hours, at $50 an hour to sort a shipment that we had come in from China. And they said, because it came in a Conex and it didn’t have, they weren’t, the boxes weren’t on pallets, so they had to take ’em out by hand. And it was this weird excuse. I was like, but okay, so how did that take a hundred hours? You know, and, and they were like, Oh, we’ll get back to you. They ended up giving us $1,500 back, but never gave us an explanation for the other 3,500.
Robert: 38:26 And it was just like, sorry, and I can’t get my money back and they have all my product. So you know, we started looking elsewhere and then, but we were talking to them and they started doing better, so we’re, we’re gonna stay with them. But then we talked to easy posts, like I said, and then we, we did some checking online to see how other people felt about their services. And it was pretty positive in comparison to Rakuten. So we decided we’re going to give him a chance and if they do save us even, you know, three or $5,000, whatever, then we can really use that money to buy more product, promote more, you know. So I feel like that was part of the reason why we didn’t at least double as we had been in the past because they were siphoning thou, you know, thousands and thousands of dollars that we could have used to keep growing. You know? Yeah.
Charles: 39:26 That’s a big, it’s, it’s funny as you grow, like when you’re, you know, you’re talking to the first $5,000 order, there’s no, there’s no room to like miss like miss some money. Like you kind of know where all the money is. You can just count it. It’s very, it’s right there. It’s very basic. You know, here’s where I spend it. But as you kind of scale, so you’re talking you know, one point $5 million businesses point, you can easily just miss thousands of dollars a month and it’s, that’s a feel like silly on how did I, like, how did I miss this? Like very large number that a few years ago would’ve, you would’ve like picked yourself up missing that, but now all of a sudden you can easily just like, ah, we just missed 5,000 this month. Like, but don’t what happened?
Robert: 40:07 Yeah. I mean, I don’t, I don’t lose sleep over it, whereas in the past I would have been laying in bed. I do lose sleep, but not because of that. You know, but in the past, I remember laying in bed just in a state of panic, like, how am I going to get the money to pay for this new order that I just placed? And but we’d always, it’s funny how you just always figure out a way. One way that we would get money for new orders is preorders. So we kind of use the Kickstarter method or style method, technique to, for our own website. And we would tell our customers, Hey, this is coming out and about a month, put your preorders in now and we’ll give you a discount price for doing so. And that was a method that was very successful. And so we try to come out with [inaudible] we tried to come out with new products as often as possible because that gets our return customers coming back and, and just, I guess allows us to eliminate old products and liquidate those and kind of, you know, just keep coming out with the new stuff and keep it fresh.
Robert: 41:16 So that, and that’s one of our best ways for making money. Because we’ve also, we’ve paid well over a hundred thousand dollars over the course of our existence to different influencers on Instagram and YouTube. And typically we’ll make our money back, but we don’t 10 X, you know, I’ll pay a guy $3,000 and we might make $3,000 back off of his audience. And then the idea is that over the course of time, those customers return and then we end up making more. But it’s a, it’s always a gamble. I don’t know if you’ve ever, I’m sure you’ve heard of Gary Vaynerchuk. Oh yeah. So I’m often, well, and he’s, he’s amazing and great and inspirational and I’ve read his books and use his methods, but he was one of those guys that promised us the world and gave us nothing. It was like 2015, 2016 and he had just started Vayner sports, which is an offshoot from VaynerMedia.
Robert: 42:23 And he was like, okay, so if there’s any small businesses out there, we want you, we want to help you grow. This is Gary V. I trust him. You know what I mean? To, I don’t know why. I just felt like I could trust him and he didn’t directly lie to me in any kind of ways. It wasn’t him, but it was like the overall organization. And he, he had some of his team reach out to us from banner sports and we’re so excited, you know, like it was like we get to work with Gary Vaynerchuk, he’s like the man. And the, the promotion that they suggested to us was a pre SBS party in LA where all these NBA and NFL players were going to be and we were going to be VIP sponsors of the whole event and it was $15,000 for this one party, one event, four hours.
Robert: 43:17 And I flew my whole team out there. So there was another three or $4,000 and we get there and we are one of 20 other VIP sponsors. And I met Robert Henri, who was, you know, great pro basketball player back in the day. But that was the extent of the value that we got from that event. I mean, I didn’t get any con trucks or any, it was nothing. It was the weirdest thing. So it just like, I come back home and I have other business owner friends and they don’t spend money on advertising. Then I’m like, I’m always spending money on advertising and you know, and that was just another like experience that they pointed to as to why they don’t like advertising because they don’t get the return on the investment and, and I just lost 15 grand and, and it is what it is and we just, you know, you gotta be very cautious with working with people that are promising you more than you, you know, what is it? It was too good to be true. I told us what the advertising feels like unless you
Charles: 44:25 Done that particular type before to that particular audience and that particular, unless you’ve really done that before and you’re like, all right, now let’s double this. Like, we know this works, let’s double it. But you’re the first time you’re almost, you almost have to think of them as experiments, right? Cause you don’t even know what’s going on. Like, it’s literally, and if you’re okay with experiment with, you know, 1500 or 15,000, whatever that number is, it’s just, you always think of it is, I’m just seeing what happens with this because the first time you tried to almost any form of advertising, it’s just like a, it’s a crap shoot. And after and after you dial it in, then you either know, Hey, this is great. I want to double and triple or this is not so great, let’s kind of dial it back. But that’s, and that’s kind of what I found with advertising that every time that initial test it’s just an experiment and experiments, some succeed, some fail, but it’s okay. But either way you learn and if it failed and we should learn what not to do and you weren’t sponsoring parties in LA, might not be the thing.
Robert: 45:27 That was not the one, but [inaudible] to elaborate on that, it’s interesting because we do use Google and Facebook and those are our primary advertising methods that are consistently every month. You know, we spend about $7,000 a month on those two, but every time like we’ll see one of our ads is killing it. You know, we’re 10 X thing on this one ad and there’s, you know, on an ROI on this one out is like great. So we go to double it and then all of a sudden it drops down. Yeah,
Charles: 46:01 South.
Robert: 46:01 It’s like in that, had that happened with, with Google recently we were, we were seven X-Wing on our Google ads. And so our co, the company running our PR and it’s third grid company, I’ll promote them, white shark media. I think they do a good job, but you know, they were like, we should let’s, we’re doing great. Let’s go ahead and increase budget and, and we’ll double revenue. And when you double spend. So we, we just went from like 1500 to 3000 on that particular promotion and our, our, our ROI went to two, you know, so then all of a sudden it’s two to one and it’s like I could’ve just stayed where I was but we always get greedy, you know, it’s like, Ooh, this is working, let’s double it. But then it throws off the algorithm I think. And then you end up losing money.
Charles: 46:51 At some point you’re probably saturating all the, the easy kind of a low hanging fruit and then to get the next level up, it’s just a lot more to reach that next level of people. It becomes more expensive than another level of that. It’s just more so I could talk to about this all day, but I know in the interest of time I will, I will end it there, but if people want to look up the site, kind of find more about you guys, what you guys are working on. Or if there’s anything you want to plug any Kickstarters, what can they do that?
Robert: 47:22 Let me just reiterate. Sheath underwear.com we are an Amazon prime, but if you use e-commerce, which is your business for what’s the, what’s the show called? Exactly the business of eCommerce. Exactly. So you use e-commerce promo code during checkout. We’ll save 35 30% on, on your first purchase. So if you want, if any of your listeners want to go to [inaudible] dot com when you go to checkout, put in that code and we’ll save 30% on your first purchase. You can give us a shot. We do have a 100% money back guarantee. So if you don’t like on your first pair, you know, don’t buy 10 pairs, we’re not going to give you all your money back on that per se. But on your first pair if you don’t like ’em, we’ll just give your money back. You don’t have to send it back.
Robert: 48:09 That’s how much we believe in the product. I got a tattooed on my back. I’m head to toe. She, we actually have some socks coming out, but that’s not probably til next, you know, for maybe like like next year I have some hoodies, hoodies coming out and, but, and just a bunch of new styles. So like 13 new styles would be coming out here right before Christmas. And if you check our Instagram, please follow us at Sheetz underwear on all social media. But Instagram in particular, we’ve got a really cool page and a lot of big names you might see and we really appreciate the support and we’ll support you. You support us and it’s a win win on all. And when I say we will support you, I mean the underwear will support. Awesome. So, all right. People should check that out and especially the Instagram cause it’s so cool. Yeah. Thank you very much. Come on show. I definitely appreciate that. Thanks Charles. I really appreciate you taking the time out of your day to have me on and you know, we can do it again anytime.