As I begin this month’s blog post, I want to shed some light on my past.
My year as an overseas humanitarian worker radically changed my perspective on what life and opportunity truly mean. I lived off of $50 per month during that year and finally understood what “American Privilege” meant. I think that "American Privilege" sometimes carries a negative connotation, but I think it is probably one of the most positive pieces of my story. I could have just as easily grown up in South Sudan where children are exposed to the inner workings of mass murder plots and the terrors of kidnapping before they ever encounter a simple and filling breakfast meal. With this knowledge, I wanted to make a difference in the lives of those around me and around the world.
My aim to is to give wealth to those who have been enslaved by ignorance due to a lack of schooling, enslaved by poverty because there is no chance for opportunity because the only way to grow in prominence is by paying off the higher powers, and finally those who are enslaved to misdirection and darkness because they haven't heard of the beautiful narrative of a God who so loved them that He sacrificed His son so that they may forever be rid of bonds that keep them.
Ok, I am stepping off of the soapbox now and on to the updates...
SWAYY just whirled through the busiest time of the year, and we experienced our first real growth and with growth came some pain. We recently made the decision to change the material used for our 1" webbing tree straps because the old was having some issues. We decided to switch to a new type of polyester and Dyneema blend called Polypro. This was a hard lesson learned because as a maker, I want everything to be perfect on the first try... In reality, though, this is impossible. If it was, how would innovation happen ? We decided to swap the strap material because we had a customer report a failure, which is never easy to take. Upon further conversation with this customer, I was hurt because he basically said: "the material you are using for the webbing, it's terrible." I became a little defensive and wanted to blame it on operator error and I may have done that a little bit, but I soon realized want an important lesson this could be. I realized that my pride should never step in front of innovation or improvement of any kind. As I write this it sounds silly that I had to experience this lesson to learn it, but indeed, I had to take the long way.
Another order of business that I really want to share is about the (OR) Outdoor Retailer + Snow Show in Denver, Colorado this January. Several weeks ago I talked with our brand partners at PrimaLoft™ and they mentioned the possibility of showing our products on their show floor at the exhibition; the only problem was that I had just requested them to send back the demo I had sent them! Big mistake, to say the least. After picking my pride off the floor I asked if there was anything we could do to get our hammocks sent back out to them. There was no definite answer, but I was told that if I could get a pass to the OR Snow + Show and I stopped by, then we could possibly have a discussion about showing it, so that is that. Patience: I am learning patience!
With the possibility having SWAYY products shown on a show floor where giants like Patagonia, The North Face, and Big Agnes are flexing their muscles, I couldn't resist and instantly looked into getting a ticket, only to find out they are $550 per person... I called up an old friend from the textile industry and asked her if she knew of any way to get in for less. She told me there was, but I had to register as a buyer. I looked on the OR website and sure enough, it was free: all you had to do was to enter a few documents and they should push you right on through. Well, 24 hours later I got an email saying that I didn't qualify. Determined not to give up I called the number from the site, asked for a registering specialist, told him my story, and received the phrase, "Please hold."... Waiting in silence I tried racking my brain to find a solution. "Could I just show up and try to walk it? Or maybe I could try to go as a worker with our brand partners? No... Maybe I cou.." *CLICK* the cheap music on the other lined stopped and I heard "Mr. Hill, I now have you registered as a buyer for the snow show at no cost, have a great show!
With a little persistence and divine help, I was off to the races just like that. Now all I needed was a plane ticket, a room to stay in, and a method of transport. Long story short I got an $11 plan ticket using miles and a free place to stay all within that week. Can I get an Amen?! I think this show has a lot of potential for SWAYY. We can find new customers, brand partners, suppliers, sources, the list goes on and on. I will be updating you soon on that, so be on the lookout across all of our social media platforms.
Over the past week I have been working on a new kind of business lead that I want to note, and that is our progress in receiving a license for government contracting. This has been a very laborious process, to say the least, but could potentially be a great form of funding for SWAYY. We are aiming to register as an (8)a regulation small business so that we can be eligible for small business set aside contracts for the military. Every year the U.S. Government allows for approximately $400 Billion dollars in military spending, and a portion of that goes to contracts that only (8)a businesses can be awarded. I have heard from several sources these contracts are given to the first bidder 9 times out of 10. More to come on this later so stay tuned!
And that leads us right to our last update point. The fellow who introduced me to the process of applying to become a government contractor is actually our account manager at Dunlap Industries. We are now working closely with Dunlap Industries to create quality customer zippers that we can outfit into our hammocks. This will allow us to increase the quality of our products while also keeping operations close to home as this factory is only a few miles from our new potential manufacture in Dunlap, Tennessee.
Well, that wraps everything up! I will be posting updates as we move along, so tune in and remember...