So, umm, here’s the short version of 2014. Launching a new business is not as easy as it sounds, but it can be done, if you keep putting one foot in front of the other. The long version goes something like this ... January was rough. A chasm developed between myself and the person with whom I initially started Garage Grown Gear. Which led to more chasms, and eventually me buying this individual out. The fallout left me depleted, but still determined. Luckily, my family had a two-week vacation to Costa Rica scheduled for the end of February. Something about white sand beaches, exotic jungles and time away from it all put life into perspective. Without any effort, rather just a moment of clarity, the way forward for Garage Grown Gear solidified. Here's one of my favorite photos from Costa Rica of my daughter and my dad. To see some of the other good ones and read more about the perspective I gained, click here.
In March, Garage Grown Gear’s online magazine officially launched with seven days of giveaways. And, it was a success. People came and nothing broke down. Whew. Also, the Teton Valley Business Development Center offered me incubator space. My very own office, baby!
Starting a business can be like a roller coaster, and life is no exception.
As I was basking in March’s momentum, April delivered a devastating personal below. One of my closest friends and former roommates was murdered while on a service trip with her church in Nicaragua. I was totally and utterly derailed, and with it went my May and June. You can read my tribute to Karen here.
While a day still doesn’t go by when I don’t think about Karen, I eventually dusted myself off enough to keep putting one foot in front of the other. The other important half of Garage Grown Gear, the online store, still needed to launch, and before the holidays. I mustered up my nerve and started calling my favorite independent, early-stage outdoor brands to be part of it. The month of July, I celebrated. First 5 brands with a firm yes. Then 10. Then 15. We’d eventually launch in November with 20 of the best brands out there. OK, I had some momentum again with the business. Plus, on the personal side of life, summer was turning out to be awesome. My husband and I started competing in one-day adventure races, and miraculously winning a couple of them. (A huge shout out here to the Teton Ogre Adventure Race and the amazing job Abby and Jason did putting it on ... highly, highly recommend it). And, I was spending lots of time outdoors with my nature-loving two year old. You can see my top 10 outdoor family photos from the summer here. Here's one of them.
But I also had a gigantic and looming hurdle: money. Savings were running out, and quickly. This ... stressed ... me ... out. This stressed my husband out. Living out of a van just does not work when you have a kid. But I also tried to remember to breathe, deeply. And that helped. In August, I dove headfirst into a small fundraising round. I met with potential investors. I put together a pitch deck. I structured a term sheet. And ... drum roll ... got some funding. Wala ... now I had the resources to start building a team. I was and am completely overwhelmed, in the best way possible, by the strength of character and raw skills of the people who jumped on board. You can meet the team by clicking here. By the end of September, I had a team in place and money in the bank account. Now, we only had one minor (ha!) task ahead of us: launch an online store before the holidays while continuing to grow the online magazine.
We buckled down and, lo and behold, in October, Garage Grown Gear’s online store went live, in a soft opening. Then after a month of franticly working out the hang ups and polishing the rough edges, we officially launched in November, just before Black Friday. Here's the article we published when we launched. Amazingly, miraculously, it worked. It’s working. Heaven knows there are plenty of problems we still need to solve, but you wonderful people are here, reading this and finding just the right something in the store.
As December 2014 draws to a close what most strikes me is that Garage Grown Gear is no longer just my vision. It’s a shared vision. It’s shared among the brands who we partner with, the investors who believe in the idea enough to contribute money, the advisers who freely share expertise, the team members who are giving time, heart and soul to this fledgling company, and you, our customers. Together we're supporting and celebrating independent outdoor brands making wildly cool gear. While I trust that Garage Grown Gear will continue to prosper in 2015 – and of course encounter the inevitable obstacles – today let us celebrate the trail miles already traveled.
Just for fun, here are the top 5 most popular articles in 2014:
- Top 10 list: best yoga gear from independent brands
- The enLIGHTened way
- Top 10 companies making truly novel outdoor gear
- Farm to Feet wool socks redefine made in the USA
- Top 10 boutique ski companies