Founder Series: Soft launch highs and parking fine lows
At this point during SOS, I was incredibly overwhelmed with just how much needed to be done to get anywhere close to running a successful business. In my mind, I wanted to essentially speed through all the small business mistakes and quickly get to a point where I had strong branding, an awesome website, lots of customers and SOS was a serious activewear contender!
The phrase 'Don't run before you can walk' springs to mind.I think it's a generational thing where thanks to the technology that we have grown up with, we are accustomed to efficiency and speed without much effort. It's really hard not to get impatient and anxious when things don't fall into place as quickly as you had hoped. Bringing this back to SOS there was a lot I had achieved but it didn't really feel that way and instead I could only focus on what needed to be done.
What I had achieved:
- I had a sample of each product with full production booked
- I had the backbones of a website
- I had my branding and packaging designed and purchased
- I had a soft launch date with family and friends
Now in hindsight these are pretty big achievements but everything was a little unsettling for me and chaotic and yet despite working so hard to get to this point, I still felt miles away from actually making a reality out of my dream.
Where I wanted to be:
- I had no professional photography and my poor Iphone 7 wasn't cutting it so I needed to get proper content for my social media
- I wanted a website like other big brands (unrealistic and silly)
- I wanted more in my collection and more colours to launch with
In short I felt like I had a long way to go and so much more to get done in a short space of time. With 100 million things going on, I now needed to plan a photoshoot and was also offered to attend a little pop up ahead of my official 'Soft Launch' at a local gym. A fantastic opportunity and trial run before my official soft launch and I am so grateful for this.
The high and low of my soft soft launch
I was so excited to host a little pop up at The Body Society - A lovely boutique gym in Fulham who kindly offered some space for me to have a rail up during their promo video shoot.
I raced to order rails, hangers, brown bags, hangtags and a device that will allow me to take direct payments and it was a great run through ahead of my official soft launch. It was also here where I made my first ever 2 sales which were for the Terra Tie Top and it was so exciting, although strangely I felt like a fraudster as I had no experience but the two lovely customer reassured me that they were thrilled with there orders!
As with any high you feel when running a business it is almost certainly going to be followed by a low. This low came when I packaged up these orders and delivered them by hand...
I excitedly parked, ran into the customers building and as instructed I left their delivery with the concierge so thrilled and ecstatic to be dropping off my first ever sale!! I left with a huge smile on my face only to turn the corner and see a big yellow sticker on the windscreen of my car....I had received a parking ticket amounting to more than the revenue for both the 2 sales combined and I just had to have a little cry in my little Nissan Micra.
This wasn't the first wall that I hit and it certainly wasn't my last. There are so many times when starting a business that you think you should stop and want to give up and truthfully this was one of those moments for me, but if you really believe in your idea you will keep trooping on!
The high and low of my actual soft launch
So it was the morning of my official soft launch, I had sent a lot of invites to friends and family as well as setting up an Eventbrite where over 80 people (strangers) had said they would attend! (Later I learnt that for those people to attend it's much better to charge for the event... not one of those 80 came!) The alcohol was purchased, cocktails ready and I started setting up.
You would think this is a high and I must have been so excited and you would be right (despite the obvious nerves) and so naturally the low was inevitable...
I got changed, put on my SOS gear that had arrived the previous day and it is at that very moment my nightmare with the leggings began. I looked in the mirror and the design had changed that I hadn't tested. It resulted in an incredibly unflattering leg shape and I just knew no one would want to own a pair of leggings with such a feature.
Given most of my savings has been spent on these leggings I was so upset, every pair had the same problem for the launch and over 50 had already been made at the manufacturers ready to sell. The high I was feeling completely dissolved away from my body. This also wasn't irrational and has caused me a huge amount of expense and stress ever since! More on that later...
I had 1 hour before the start of the launch and no choice but to put on a brave face, wipe away my tears and THE SHOW MUST GO ON!
The launch was great, so many familiar faces came to support me and it was so lovely to hear so much positive feedback about SOS and the products. A lot of people placed pre-orders and I was so so thrilled. As predicted the leggings were an issue and became a headache for many months after but you'll have to stay tuned for more details on this.
I guess the purpose of this post is to highlight the highs and lows and what may seam perfect on the surface is certainly far from it. Starting a business is hard work both physically and mentally but you do truly learn from every challenge and hurdle thrown at you!
Up next I organise a photoshoot, get a terrible allergic reaction to something and start thinking about 'what next' with SOS.