I’ve always had an interest in entrepreneurship. Working for yourself, setting your own course, and pushing yourself towards success. It sounds great on paper and has potential to be far greater in reality. What I thought was the biggest challenge was coming up with an idea. An idea that when implemented creates value in society. Turns out, this isn’t the biggest challenge. Not even close. Below is a brief glimpse into coming up with the idea of ChipmunkBags and making it reality.
In hindsight, finding an idea is the easy part of the process. Live your life as normal and be inquisitive to what you do and why you do it. You’ll begin to notice pain-points in your schedule. Things that can and should be easier - in my case it was my laundry bag. Why did I have to routinely carry this awful sack to the cleaners? It was something I dreaded doing but did anyways. I joked about making better laundry bags for a long time but never acted on it – that is until I quit my job without future plans. I figured this was the time to give it a shot.
In the beginning there’re a million things to accomplish: name, logo, business structure, partners, financing, bank accounts, manufacturers, product features, pricing, quantities, branding – the list goes on and on. The good news is, at least for me, I didn’t know all the things I needed to do. I figured if I just Googled a few things, sweet laundry bags would show up on my doorstep and fly off the shelves. Turns out to be more of a blind scavenger hunt where one clue slowly leads to the next.
I came up with the name myself (really not sure why I settled on it) and outsourced the logo design to a graphic artist. I began searching online for people and companies to help with the product but the manufacturing world is somewhat hidden. There’s not an online list (at least that I found) of eager manufacturers ready to help a kid with a weird laundry bag idea. I wasn’t getting any traction on the manufacturing front so I said screw it – I’ll do it myself.
I ventured to the nearest fabric store and bought some canvas, webbing, thread and sewing supplies. Came home, painted the design I was originally thinking on the canvas and stitched the thing together. Then I went back to the fabric store, showed them my masterpiece and asked if anyone could help on a more professional level - I was handed a few business cards of pattern and sample makers. I began working with a pattern maker who helped with the first designs and samples. She introduced me to the manufacturing world and I slowly began to learn about the industry, Manufacturing and Design 101 if you will. When we were satisfied with the prototypes, she referred me to a manufacturer in Santa Rosa, CA (Made in America)! At this point I thought we were a month out from launch.
The manufacturer had ideas on how to improve the product so we continued the prototype process – changing features, designs and materials. We settled on everything and were halfway through production when I realized the product wasn’t right. We stopped production, tweaked things and continued. I realized you can change things until you go crazy - you eventually have to make up your mind and stick with it. Easier said than done.
From the time I decided to pursue this idea to opening the website for business took a year. If I were to do it again with the knowledge I now have, it’d probably take 2 months. That’s not the point. The take home message for me is that finding an idea isn’t the real challenge. The true challenge is implementing the idea. Taking it seriously. Putting one foot in front of the other and not stopping. You’ll reach checkpoints, but in the sport of business finish lines don’t exist.
Thanks for reading,