From Crawling to Walking
On Saturday, November 9th, KOOSHOO officially turns 1.
It’s been a huge, life-defining year for us. It’s also been the single most humbling year of our lives. Yes, part of that is due to the hard knock lessons we’ve learnt along the way, and yes, another part is due to the realization that no matter our best intentions, our big-picture visions for KOOSHOO are not something that will come to fruition overnight, but more than anything, we have been humbled by you, the incredible friends and strangers alike that share your love and support with us
I want to share a story with you that hasn’t travelled beyond the confines of our little group.
About 6 weeks ago we got broadsided by some very unexpected news: one of our key suppliers decided to increase their minimums four-fold, while simultaneously letting us know that they didn’t have a manufacturing opening for another 6 months. That news essentially meant we wouldn't be able to continue working with one of our key manufacturers.
Later we learnt that what had really happened is that they had simply lost their appetite for the risk inherent in growing together with a start-up. In their defence, they are a rare breed of North American based manufacturers trying to compete on cost with incredibly cheap competitors in Asia and what was happening is that they were being squeezed of margin by their bigger customers. The elimination of that margin meant that there just wasn't the cash flow available to work with smaller partners like us.
Believe me when I say that writing that last paragraph comes a lot easier to me today than it would have on the day I first heard the news. That day, by contrast, I was feeling all the emotions (anger, sadness, frustration...) true of a relationship freshly broken up.
I think its human instinct in those situations to want to curl up and hide. No question there was a prominent voice in my head saying “this is too hard, let’s catch the next flight out of here and put this dream behind us”.
Thankfully though, I’d learnt early in this entrepreneurship game that that voice doesn’t actually have my best intention in mind.
So what we did was gather as a group – me, Rach, Leilani (our product developer) and Gemma (a dear friend and freelancer) – to discuss our options and next steps. We eventually agreed, half-heartedly at the time, that this had indeed happened for the best and that we would overcome it. Despite our best efforts, the tension in the room that afternoon was palpable.
Late that night I sat down at my computer and wrote a Facebook post straight from my heart. No editing, no holding back. Just a post alluding to the day’s events that flowed from me in all its vulnerability and authenticity.
When I woke up the next morning I logged back into Facebook and saw that the post had exploded. In just a matter of hours it had become our most interacted-with post of all time. People from around the world – both friends and strangers – had taken time out of their day to ‘Like’ and comment on the post. The overwhelming message: “don’t stop, keep living your dream, we have your back”.
Here's the post:
Suddenly, what one day earlier had felt like the beginning of the end had turned into the strongest message of success that we’d yet had. We had the backing of an entire community. Clearly, this was no moment to “run away”; rather, it was a brilliant opportunity to evolve and grow even stronger.
When I hear successful entrepreneurs talk about that cathartic moment in their company’s rise, that famous moment that every entrepreneur seems to have, the symbolic darkness just before the dawn, I think of that day 6 weeks ago. I truly believe that day will be one that will forever define KOOSHOO.
Today that day seems like a distant memory, left behind in both the excitement of the present and the brightness of the future.
Below we’ve put together a fun little list of our top 5 milestones from this first year. Please have a read and get to know us a bit better. But if you are to navigate away at this moment without going any further, please know one thing that is more true than ever before: our small team here at KOOSHOO is more committed than ever to making this a company that you can truly be proud of – one that makes beautiful things, but more importantly, does so consciously and in a way that leaves a steady wake of ‘feeling good’ wherever we go.
Thank you for inspiring us on this journey. We are so grateful to be sharing this life with you.
KOOSHOO's Top 5 Milestones
1) Launch Day
On November 9, 2012, at the Vancouver Yoga Show KOOSHOO officially sold its first product, a Amrit Vela Shawl to one of Vancouver’s most inspirational yoga teachers (thank you Teresa). We had worked for more than 2 years to get to that point and the feeling of seeing that work manifest was one of the proudest times of our lives. We celebrated with a dinner at The Old Spaghetti Factory and then promptly fell asleep, exhausted from the hardest working month of our lives.
2) Fifteen Wonderful Wholesalers
When we launched, one of our commitments was to work with retailers that in are committed to uplifting their communities. It’s with tremendous pride that today, one year on, KOOSHOO products are available in community-driven boutiques in all corners of North America (special high fives going out to Newfoundland, Ontario, New Jersey, California and BC). Click here to see our full list of LOCATIONS.
In addition to those incredible brick and mortar partners, we’ve also aligned with 3 fantastic online retailers: Spirit Voyage (THE online community for all things kundalini), Evolve Fit Wear (THE preeminent online yoga boutique) and category pioneers and innovators Halfmoon Yoga.
3) Brand New Website & Video that Tells Our Story
Last Spring we decided we could do our website better. We then spent the next 8 months working together with a phenomenal friend and coder in the Ukraine bringing it to life. In the weeks to come we’ll be posting about some of the extra special sections of the new site but if time allows, please check out:
- The Instagram walls where you can share pictures of you being You in KOOSHOO.
- REWARDS page where you can both earn serious KOOSHOO cash AND learn about how your purchases are helping those in need.
- The brand spanking new MEN’s section.
- Our hand-illustrated breakdown of what building a feel-good business means to us.
Every shipment we sent in the past year went out in a biodegradable bag, with 100% recycled packaging. In the fashion industry it’s understood that for every product sold, a plastic bag goes along for the journey. We weren’t OK with that so we chose to do it differently. Yes, we pay a premium for our packaging bags but the beauty of the bags that go out to keep your KOOSHOO gear dry is that not only can it be reused but it can be buried and it will decompose within 6 months. BOOYA to doing things right!
5) By donating 11% to charity 1000 beautiful, deserving human beings have got to attend a yoga class
We’re pretty proud of all of the above but nothing gives us more soul-warming happiness than this point. When we dreamt up this company our number one goal was to create a company that helps people feel good. A massive component of that was uplifting those less fortunate in our communities.
Over this past year we have donated 11% of the proceeds from EVERY PRODUCT SOLD to Karma Teachers Centre for Yoga and Meditation, a charity based in Canada’s poorest neighbourhood. Karma Teachers provides free or by donation yoga to their community, with particular focus on those without the financial means to attend. Amongst that 1000 people who have attended a yoga or meditation class care of KOOSHOO sales, are women from the Beauty Night Society, homeless youth from Covenant House and a host of other equally deserving individuals.
Overall though, what we most want to communicate to you with this post is how much your support means to us. Building this business has been incredibly challenging. Our values and principles are continuously challenged and at the end of the day, it is knowing that we have your support that keeps us on this path. Naive or not, we sincerely believe that business can be one of the single greatest means for positive change in our world and we are committed to continuing to make beautiful, inspiring products in a way that fosters this vision.
Jesse, Rachel and Leilani