Location: Houston, TX, USA
No job, few responsibilities, and a passion for product design… what could go wrong?
A Young Lad vs. The Texas Heat
Houston, Texas in July is a beast. Much like the inside of a rundown sauna, it makes you sweat, and it really makes you stink. Stepping outside is a risk one must take at times, but when returning to the office, the concern becomes clear as you sit down at your desk and question what body of water you just escaped from.
While it’s not quite as bad as I make it out to be, the truth is, surviving the Texas heat is near impossible, even in a pair of the highly praised pants from that citrusy yoga brand. But it’s not their fault. They’re from Canada. They’ve never experienced the panic of trying to quickly, but effortlessly, navigate from their vehicle to the safe confines of the air conditioned office building without profusely sweating through the seat of their pants.
When fall rolls into town, it has maybe a 30% chance of actually bringing any cold. What should be a cool and comfortable season fluctuates between a lovely day and a questionable reminder of the summer’s wrath. I had made it ¾ of the way through the year, but hadn’t been able to consistently or comfortably wear the $100 pants that everyone raved about. How could these pants be worth so much, if I could never wear them outside and they only seemed to be taking up precious closet space? I was frustrated to say the least.
Christmas without a career
The promise of Christmas kept me going. I knew I’d finally have time to relax and not think about another Shopify order until the new year. The morning of December 18, I walked into the office and felt a strange air about the building. My boss walked in earlier than usual and the bottle of scotch I gifted him the day prior was still sitting on his desk. Strangely enough, it was also the day we were supposed to receive our bonuses. I shrugged off the eerie feeling that something felt off and buckled down to work.
The sound of tape peeling and boxes shuffling filled my ears. By the time lunch rolled around, I scanned the office to find everyone had left early aside from my boss, and it wasn’t long before he called me into the office. Fearing the worst, I braced myself expecting to be let go. My intuition did not steer me wrong. I packed up my things, headed home, and called my family to let them know I would be home early for the holidays.
During the 15 minute drive home, I racked my brain for what I could have done differently. I knew I was a valuable asset that simply went underappreciated. Instead of letting that anger bring me down, it lit a fire within me. I would prove myself capable of running a business by building a brand myself. I would design the pants I had been envisioning the past 6 months, along with all the other product ideas I had ever dreamed up. I called my mother as soon as I got home and told her the news. We booked a flight for me to Colorado, and I was on a plane the next day.
I spent the entire plane ride sketching the pants, writing copy, and building out my business plan. I even wrote a poem for the first time in my life. I thought I’d share it here.
Man on Fire
“I got fired yesterday
But the beauty of having a will of iron
Is that fire allows me to bend
I can be shaped by this
So really I just got fired up
And the best part is
A man on fire doesn’t care what he looks like
That which has set me ablaze
Is simply the fire for my forge”
While I certainly am not a writer, I knew I needed to record my thoughts and feelings during that time. I needed the fire at my heels to keep me moving. I wanted to prove myself. That I could wield the hammer. That I could forge something great out of this mess. I just had to get my parents on board.
Walking in the door to our place in Steamboat, my mother greeted me and encouraged me to start applying to new jobs. Trying to let her down easy, I told her I’d be taking the next few months to build my brand I had worked so hard on in college. Much to her dismay, I was unwavering in this, and she tried her best to be encouraging. I proceeded to outline my course of action for the next few months to show her and my father that I would not be wasting my time.
Small steps towards big dreams
The next few months consisted of countless emails, design files, and phone calls with various businesses to help close the gap towards my first pair of pants. Each tiny win felt inconsequential, but I knew I had to keep moving forward. It was months before I saw the first prototypes, and when they did finally arrive I had countless remarks and improvements to make.
Yet I found myself wearing them everyday. And they’d get softer after every wash. I could organize my pockets with my knife no longer in the way. My thighs could breathe. My days were uninhibited by the pants I put on in the morning. While I knew I would still make some changes, I was continually impressed by how well they performed in every situation.
August slipped away into a moment in time, only for me to look back and realize I hadn’t once felt too hot throughout my day. I had chased redfish in Charleston, wake surfed on Lake Travis, and hiked through the Texas Hill Country without wishing I could free my legs and escape into a pair of shorts. Call me crazy, but I almost preferred wearing these pants to shorts.
September was much the same, but October brought a new challenge. My girlfriend and I decided to embark on a road trip out west through Colorado, Utah, and Arizona. Over the next 30 days, I climbed Angels Landing, chased mountain goats, caught multiple species of trout, slid through flooded slot canyons, spilled coffee, devoured fried chicken, and ventured over 4000 miles, all in a single pair of QuickDraw pants. I was stoked.
But I faced a new problem. I was out of ways to test them. I had designed my perfect pair of pants, and yet I had no way to sell them. realized I would now have to face my fear and actually put them out into the world.
Where we are now
After discussing various options with friends, family, and potential customers, I landed on Kickstarter as my market entry. I spent the next few months building a campaign to highlight the benefits and features of our QuickDraw pants. Thanks to such a supportive community, we were able to raise almost $17,000.
That was 6 months ago, and our first purchase order is almost here. I cannot wait for everyone to try these out, and I want to thank y’all in advance for any and all support. It truly does mean the world to me. With so much in store for this brand, I hope and pray you’ll stick around for the long haul. I’m committed to seeing this through and always creating products through the relentless pursuit of perfection. You won’t want to miss this.
T.L.D.R. - Lost my job, got fired up and inspired to build my own brand around great products for great people. Designed our QuickDraw pants, tested them across the country, and launched a successful Kickstarter. Praying y’all will stick around to see where this goes.