This transcript was completed by an automated system, please forgive any grammatical errors.
zipper, people, love, accelerators, patent, brand, outdoor retailer, pants, charlotte, product, design, company, women, process, fit, business, talking, college, experience, ended
Charlotte Massey, Mariah Parsons, Noah Rahimzadeh, Georgia Grace Edwards
Mariah Parsons 00:04
Greetings and welcome to retention Chronicles podcast with learnings from expert e commerce, brands and partners. I'm Mariah Parsons,
Noah Rahimzadeh 00:12
and I'm no Rahim today, if you're here, you're either on a quest for E commerce enlightenment, or you accidentally click the wrong link. Either way, we're thrilled you stumbled into our corner of the internet.
Mariah Parsons 00:22
And hey, even if you're not on the E commerce hype train, stick around. We promise it'll be worth your while. We've got pearls of wisdom for everyone, whether you're running a business or just trying to keep your house plans a lot. Exactly.
Noah Rahimzadeh 00:33
So before we unleash the brilliance of today's episode, let's give a shout out to our fantastic sponsor Malomo.
Mariah Parsons 00:40
They're the wizards behind the curtain, making the post purchase experience smoother than a jazz solo,
Noah Rahimzadeh 00:45
hit that subscribe button like it will increase LTV overnight, and check out our other episodes go malomo.com That's GOMALO mo.com yet
Mariah Parsons 00:55
ready for insights chuckles and possibly a profound realization or two. Here's our newest episode of retention Chronicles. Hello, everyone, and welcome to retention Chronicles. Super excited to have you both Georgia grace and Charlotte, thank you for making the time we are recording this right after Black Friday, Cyber Monday. So I know it is not easy to make it but super excited to have you all as part of our fifth season of retention Chronicles. I'm gonna start off with having either of you. Give an intro to yourself just real quick and then we'll dive in. So I guess Charlotte, let's start with you. Give us a quick background and introduce yourself.
Charlotte Massey 01:42
Awesome. Thanks for having us. I'm Charlotte. I co founded Nara with Georgia grace. And we originally had a third co founder as well. And I grew up in Washington state in a small mountain town called Leavenworth. It's the very end themed so I played the accordion and for dirndl and also spent a lot of time in the mountains climbing all of Washington's volcanoes with my dad and spent a lot of time outside very frustrated with how much more difficult it was for me to go to the bathroom than it was for my dad and my brother and met Georgia Grace at Middlebury College in Vermont, which is where we both went to college. And that's where we launched our company out of our dorm rooms. We did a crowdfunding campaign in the spring of my senior year of college and use that to do our first round of manufacturing. And then we worked other jobs while we were building out the company. So I have a background in paid advertising and also in community organizing, and I did a research fellowship on women working as mountain guides around the world congruent to launching our brand. Oh,
Mariah Parsons 02:59
that's awesome. I love it also very advantageous to have that fellowship like there, it sticks with what you all are doing at NARA. So I love that Georgia gray. So
Georgia Grace Edwards 03:10
yeah, Charlotte texted a lot of our early, early early prototypes on that fellowship on tall peaks everywhere. So it's cool. Um, I grew up in Appalachian Mountains in Western Maryland in another small traditional conservative town. And their outdoor recreation is definitely a part of living there. But I'd say even more so outdoor work. And so that's kind of my exposure growing up was mainly through that lens. And then my family took road trips every summer where we'd go across the US to national parks and my brother and I would become Junior Rangers at all the national parks. So that was a big part of my life growing up. And then in college, in Vermont, Middlebury, I studied international politics and economics, and had a minor in global health. So also did a lot of international travel, and outdoor rec there. And one of my summers in college, I worked as a glacier guide in Alaska. And that was the experience where I got the idea. For Nara, we used to be called Chi fly. So I was one of usually one of the only women up on the ice and spending eight to 12 hours a day up there. And in comparison to the male guides who could turn around and go whenever wherever I was trekking across the glacier carefully, avoiding crevasses completely removing three to four layers in freezing temperatures during my thing, putting it all back on hiking back to work. And it got to the point where I would just dehydrate myself because it was easier than dealing with all of that and I could fit more tours in if I didn't have such long bathroom breaks. And then I just thought there's got to be a better way to do this. And we did a deep dive on the history of pants. And it turns out that even in the United States women have no I've been wearing pants for that long, we weren't permitted to wear them by law at colleges and universities and on the Senate floor, up until the 90s. In some places, so very little innovation has happened in this space. And we took that idea and built it out. I took a four week entrepreneurship class, my senior year where you went from a working prototype, which was super rough, I'd gone to Goodwill. And then Joanne fabrics and so had like sweat pants and jeans and snow pants and velcro and snaps and buttons and zippers, and did some I hadn't sewn since seventh grade homak. So it was rough, but functional, and ended that class with a full business model and won the first pitch pitch competition, which was $250 and took it to a local seamstress and asked her to help make the design prettier than I currently was. And then after graduating, this remained a side hustle like Charlotte said, we I didn't know it was going to be more than a college project. So it's been cool to see it grow over the years. But my first job, I did a Fulbright Fellowship in the Czech Republic. So I was teaching English at a Business Academy. And then I worked in economic consulting in the healthcare and IP litigation space, which has ended up being relevant as well. And yeah, now we both been full time with the brand for just over two years and have a small team.
Mariah Parsons 06:29
Okay, there's so much dive into such a fun background, let alone just all the learnings I'm sure that you've accumulated through different experiences, and all the traveling that you two have done, but I don't even know where to start because I want to dive into it all. Um, I think probably the best place to for us to dive into would be like the entrepreneurial start. So starting in college, how because so background on me, I studied neuroscience. And so I was looking at med school until COVID hit and then I very much after shadowing a neurosurgeon saw that I did not did not fit the criteria of specializing in something I'm much more of a generalist at heart. And so, of course, had a freakout moment had to figure out what I was going to do, heading into senior year, and then found my way to this amazing company Malomo. And been there ever since. So I imagine since I was in STEM, the world of business and entrepreneurship is brand new, super exciting to me. Something that I never imagined myself. So it sounds like Georgia grace, you kind of had a inkling or like a you heard that entrepreneurship. Last like a little bit. Yeah. Well, it's
Georgia Grace Edwards 08:04
funny that you said your background because I started out pre med. And there we go. Okay, love. It was similar conclusion where I was like, I don't know, I seem to be a lot more on the fence about this than everyone else. And I don't want to limit myself, I want to keep all the doors open. And you can't really do that when you're pre med. So no, very much. And then I chose econ and poli sci because they were the two subjects I was least familiar with, like, you know, they're not in high school. But yes, the without that Middlebury entrepreneurs class, I don't know that this ever would have happened. And Charlotte and I both did another program in college called mid core, which is also about design thinking and problem solving, and business and negotiating. And so I think that also helped get us in the mindset of like, thinking about problems as these things you can actually solve instead of? I don't know just complaining about
Mariah Parsons 08:58
Yeah, just thinking about him.
Charlotte Massey 09:01
Yeah, I studied philosophy with a minor institutio. And the reason I went with philosophy was because that department let you ask most why questions, I kept getting in trouble for critiquing the perspective, the lens that disciplines us to approach concepts instead of actually talking about the concepts in my papers. So philosophy made sense. They celebrated that. And I did another fellowship in college. That was a social entrepreneurship program, where you got training over the whole course of your time in school and funding to study social entrepreneurship in a way that wasn't really offered at Middlebury and Middlebury is a very small liberal arts school. So George Grace and I pretty much maxed out the entrepreneurial programming it's offered academically through these two classes that exist. And the fellowship allowed me to study at the African Leadership University and be able to learn more about social entrepreneurship beyond just what was offered academically. And before working on Nora, I was running my own art business. And so I was focused on the advertising of that and sold art at an art fair in the summer as my job between school years. But I was realizing pretty quickly that it was really difficult to scale that type of business, and that I wanted to try to do something that was bigger. And it could also have a bigger impact, because it felt pretty repetitive to try to sell the same paintings over and over again, in the form of prints. And I didn't want to just be nailing everything myself forever.
Mariah Parsons 10:58
I'm glad you use art, because I was like, I'm gonna ask what type of art? Okay, love it. Where are you going to say, Where are you going to add something Georgia guys.
Georgia Grace Edwards 11:07
I'm just that I think the place where we ended up getting the most business specific educating or education and experience and learnings was from the two accelerator programs that we did in 2021. The first was the Moose Jaw mountaineering Outdoor Industry accelerator program. So that's hosted by Moose Jaw. And we learned a lot about wholesale relationships, and a little bit of marketing as well. And that accelerators, that's where we got our first purchase order to be in almost all stores nationwide. And then the second accelerator that started right, literally right after muestra ended was the mass challenge accelerator out of Boston. And that one was not outdoor industry specific. And so we were definitely in the minority as a product based business period. Within that, it was over 200 companies, and we won the top Diamond Award, which was $100,000 Cash, that we jumped out full time.
Mariah Parsons 12:05
I bet that goes a lot further than your 250 from the originals.
Georgia Grace Edwards 12:11
That on its own was not even enough for the first purchase order with the or with the factory we now use. So. It was a it was a lot of money at the time. But we have since learned that that is a drop in the bucket. stuff actually costs perspective
Mariah Parsons 12:26
it Yeah, it changes things. Right. Okay, so walk me through the accelerator programs a little bit. I'm going on a tangent which we love tangents here. Like, is it like a class room type? Layout? Or how are you? How would you describe it to someone like myself who hasn't ever researched or ever seen an accelerator program.
Charlotte Massey 12:51
There's lots of different types of accelerators and incubators. Incubators tend to focus on earlier stage companies. So if you just have an idea, but you haven't built a MVP, or you don't have any marketing going yet, you might do an incubator. And then accelerators generally are further along. So you have some kind of functioning product, you maybe have sold a few units, so you have one purchase order, and the accelerator helps you figure out how to move faster. And then they're also later stage programs. So you might be in a program that's focused on fundraising or focused on how to get deals with the military or something like that. The programs that we did, the Moose Jaw mountaineering accelerator was a partnership between the ice lab which is an incubation space in Gunnison, which is where our headquarters is now. And Moose Jaw, which is a big gear store, that's a Rei competitor. And they brought four companies together and we stayed on site for most of the program. The first portion was on Zoom. And we
Georgia Grace Edwards 14:04
bear, Shara and I were back living in a dorm for two months on site at western Colorado University, which is where ice lab the co working space is. And in my head, I was like this is either really good sign or really bad sign that I can a dorm room this many years after graduating working on this
Mariah Parsons 14:25
turned out? Yeah,
Charlotte Massey 14:27
definitely. Yeah, definitely. It definitely worked out. But there were classroom portions where they would bring in an expert to talk to us about a particular area and then also a lot of sessions talking with other entrepreneurs or people from the community who had different experiences or skill sets that could support us. A lot of accelerators are all online now because that's just a much easier and more cost effective format. You definitely lose a lot of camaraderie and relationship building when you have it online. But you You're able to attend a lot more sessions and you don't have to uproot your whole life. Judge Grayson, I had to move to Colorado for two months to live in this dorm. And I still had a full time job. So I was working my full time job around these sessions. And she had to take a sabbatical in order to do the program. And so that made it a lot more difficult. Whereas the program that we started that, literally the week after mash, or the week after me, straw ended was called mass challenge. And that one has historically been in person, but we did it during the pandemic. And so it was fully remote. And the way that that program worked was much more choose your own adventure. So you picked mentors who you wanted to connect with who would support you throughout the process. And then there were hundreds of sessions pretty much every day, there was at least one session that you could attend, but a lot of them weren't relevant to us at all. And so we would pick the ones that were relevant and join those zoom calls, and then try to connect with the people who led the calls after. And most of the support that we got out of that program was through mentors, some of whom continued working with us after the program ended. We joined then, one yesterday, so we're still in touch with a lot of those mentors. There. Yeah. And they did have some community building, we had a cohort that we were going through the program with, but it's just much harder to connect with people over zoom. Yes,
Mariah Parsons 16:26
yeah. Totally makes sense. Are you all in person, your team or remote or hybrid?
Georgia Grace Edwards 16:35
Charlotte, and I have never been in the same place working on this even pre COVID Because we ended up being different years in college. So yeah, we've always been all over the place in different time zones. We have a physical headquarters in that in ice lab in the co working space. So I have an office there. And we've had full time employees who also work out of that space in the past. But right now we're all in different places. Spread across the US, which means someone's always online. Yeah. And we do we try to do in person meetups quarterly, whether we're at a trade show or investor meetings, or some kind of event or meeting with our product developer to try on samples in person.
Mariah Parsons 17:19
Okay, love it. And then how many are on your team? Currently?
Georgia Grace Edwards 17:22
We're four full time right now. So very tiny team. Yes. Love it. But many contractors and other people who also helped us? Yes.
Mariah Parsons 17:30
Okay. Okay. We're, we're also fully remote, but headquartered here in Indianapolis. And there's 14 of us. So, also teeny, but, you know, we all carry a mighty sword, right? Where all the hats? Yes. Okay. So thank you for little quick TED talk on incubators and accelerators. So, Charlotte, I knew you were working in paid media, you said in something else. Like while you were also founding Nara, Georgia grace, were you also working full time? What was that? Like? What were you specializing in?
Georgia Grace Edwards 18:08
First, I was teaching and, and then I was in economic consulting. So lots of like statistical coding, and a lot of writing a lot of client meetings, project management, etc. A lot of surveys and data. And I don't know, reading case studies and stuff like that. Yeah, and then that was the job that I ended up quitting to go full time with Nora, which was a big decision for me for a lot of reasons. But I had student loans to pay off. So I needed to have a corporate job and wanted to be secure financially as an individual before joining forces with getting a business off the ground. Yeah,
Mariah Parsons 18:53
makes sense. You know, you want to protect your bubble, make good decisions. And it sounds like you both did, and now you're sitting here and you have an IRA. So for our listeners, can you give a either brief or lengthy you get to choose description of Nara. Obviously we have our listeners who are gonna go and visit your website hopefully but for while they're listening to this podcast, can you describe yet what products you will have? Because I can but you could do it better than I can.
Georgia Grace Edwards 19:29
Yeah, do you have a pair on Hancher Actually, today, so I don't have my secretly
Mariah Parsons 19:35
hoping you would have some to hold up.
Charlotte Massey 19:38
I'm gonna try my blur off.
Georgia Grace Edwards 19:42
The blur is too good. Basically, we have patented the go fly technology. So there is a normal zipper fly to get your product on and off. And then there's a second zipper that begins at the base of that top normal zipper that you're accustomed to and it extends all the way to the back waistband of the pant So we say number one or number two, Nora's got you. And it's covered by flaps on the outside. So it looks exactly like a normal pair of pants or shorts, and then covered by flaps on the inside as well so that it's super comfortable runs along the existing seam line in traditional pants and shorts. So it feels just like that. And we our mission as a company is to help everyone answer nature's call. And we mean that quite literally in going to the bathroom. And we also mean that and just being able to explore as we are no matter what our anatomy or gender or background or any other kind of qualifier is.
Mariah Parsons 20:39
Love it. Love it. Love it. Love it, Charlotte, anything you'd add, before I dive into my commentary.
Charlotte Massey 20:44
Right now we have pants and shorts, we're working on expanding our product line. And we also have some awesome P claws that you can use instead of bringing toilet paper when you need to go number one in the woods, as well as some shirts that we just launched that we're really excited about. Yeah,
Mariah Parsons 21:02
okay. Love it. So I like answering nature's call so cute. I'm a Marketing girl through and through, even though I didn't know it until this job. But I think it's so cute. Like the hat and kind of like the merch side of like having like sayings and having your brand be represented beyond just like the patented product that you all have. I think it's yeah, it's so fun. But I want to dive into the go fly technology before doing that. So Are either of you familiar with passion footwear by chance? Yeah, I I can't even describe how obsessed I am with just like the idea of things like that, where it's like, oh my God, how have we not had that since it's been downloaded? And I have to guess a little bit. When I first saw what you all are doing. I was like, oh my god, same thing. I was like, how do we not have this in 2023? And so like all the wonderful minds in the world? Um, so I am just now like, forever curious about patents. And like how you actually go about? Like pursuing the creation of actual technology? Like, who's on hand? I know, George, you're crazy. You're saying like you went to Joanne's, which being from New Jersey familiar. I'm familiar with Joanne's feel like I grew up in that store with my crafty mother. But like, yeah, how? Like, how are you actually bringing that to life? Like, with engineers? I don't even know. Like, who are you tapping in for those conversations, like manufacturers, all that stuff? How are you finding the right manufacturers and warehouse and everything? To bring your your design your, like revolutionary design to life?
Charlotte Massey 22:54
Yeah, so those are kind of two different areas. So one is the legal side. And then one is the manufacturing side. And they definitely need to work together, right, because it's not useful. If you patent something, that's not the way that you actually want to make it or not the most efficient and cost effective way to make something. So we definitely started with home excelling. And then pretty quickly graduated to think
Georgia Grace Edwards 23:20
just another detail here to help you visualize this, because we don't share really product photos often. They're kind of I can't believe anyone took it seriously. Um, but in the early days, especially in college, we were almost operating as more of a service than a product, a service being the implementation of the technology. So professors and people from the community and other classmates we had would come to us and be like, Hey, can you put a zipper in my cross country ski pants, or my pajamas or whatever, and we were like, we can't we can maybe like, I messed it up, I would try to find other friends who happened to be better at sewing to help. We can't guarantee how it will look but we can guarantee that will function. And so that's the early stages of how we ended up refining things was really trying it out in real time on people's actual pants.
Mariah Parsons 24:12
I wouldn't say that's like maybe even scarier, like, if someone has an adorable, like, they're an adored piece of clothing and you feel like wow, I can make it functional. I don't know how it's gonna look like that's a big leap of faith for both of like the person with the pant and, and you all to be like, let's let's do it.
Charlotte Massey 24:28
But I also want to we don't do that anymore. There you go. Stop doing that.
Georgia Grace Edwards 24:34
Stop doing that. But it speaks to the demand, right that people were so desperate to be able to do this that they didn't care if it was my seventh grade sewing level. Exactly. They just wanted something that did more than traditional clothing does.
Mariah Parsons 24:49
Yes, yeah, that makes sense.
Charlotte Massey 24:51
From there, we wanted something that would function and would also look good. So you could wear these in public and we'd didn't have to keep selling them. Because the other problem with adding in a zipper is that the product, whatever it was, was not designed with extra fabric and the crotch. And so if you cut a slit in order to add in another zipper, you're going to have to make the garment fit smaller. And so for a lot of people, that means it doesn't really work. So we worked with seamstresses, a number of different seamstresses, and designers to figure out the best way to put the zipper in. And like George Gray said, we also tested snaps, we tested Velcro, we tested different ways that the zipper could go different directions. We had many dozens, the iterations that were out in the world that people are testing and giving us feedback on. And we ended up deciding on our design, because it was the most discreet, it was most functional, it gave people the most confidence, it was really important to our testers to have the zipper pull be in the front and not in the back. Because then you can be sure that it's not falling down, which zippers No, like, all down on their own. Like, if you have a jacket, the zipper is not going to fall. But you just you want that security, you don't want to have the rest. Yeah,
Mariah Parsons 26:15
it's more of a mental thing.
Charlotte Massey 26:18
Yeah. And also, like people have fear of like someone coming up behind them and pulling on their zipper, which like, probably won't happen, but it definitely won't happen when it's from the front, and it's within your line of sight. And then we also wanted it to be the most cost effective from a manufacturing perspective. And so our zipper is not actually two separate zipper tapes sewn into the garment. It's one zipper tape that just has two zipper pulls on it. And so that makes it cheaper to manufacture. And it also reduces bulk. But it still functions as though it's two completely separate zippers. And so you can wear pants and just completely ignore that there's a second zipper there. If, if you like the comfort and the fabric that we've used in the fit. And we have customers who do that, who tell us they love the pants and that they don't even use the zipper or upset.
Mariah Parsons 27:14
Yeah. Or who are so obsessed with what degree pockets? Oh, the pockets
Georgia Grace Edwards 27:19
are just again, like shouldn't be that revolutionary, but is because women haven't been wearing pants and shorts for that long. We just have bigger pockets so women can actually carry what the things that they need, which is like not enough shouldn't be a novel concept. But there's a reason that when you tell someone you like their outfit, especially if it's a dress, the first thing they usually say is thanks. It has pockets. Yes,
Mariah Parsons 27:43
yeah, I've seen on tick tock just like a bunch of just you know, how creators are creating everything about everything these days, like how the design of clothes changes, obviously, like per gender, but also per like industry and all those things. And we had the we had our VP of Operations at Andy swim on the podcast, and she was telling me how, like the design of like taller torsos, like there just really isn't for swimsuits. There isn't like much flexibility in your like templatized swimwear. So she was saying how they had to like go through all this process of basically, like, revolutionising the design. So you could have the tall, right, the tall fit. And so similar, like ever since I listen, I heard her say that. Now, with I'm like, oh my god, it's just so interesting, all the little details that you wouldn't think about manufacturing clothing until you're actually in the industry. And pockets are also one of those things where it's just, it's, it's like a secret sauce. Even though it really shouldn't be, you know? Yeah.
Georgia Grace Edwards 28:55
So it's happening, like an inclusive size range. Because that requires a completely different size ingredient. Then the quote unquote core sizes traditionally, yes, something people don't think about.
Mariah Parsons 29:10
Yeah, I learned that, I guess it's like incrementally the normal or like how we've always done designing for clothing is like incremental increases, even though it shouldn't be right, like, just because like you don't it's not a direct like one to one relationship, right? Like there's like so many different variables, you have to take into account where if you're looking at different sizes, then it doesn't make sense to have like a one to one ratio about like just the way that clothing would fit you. So it's always fascinating the sense
Georgia Grace Edwards 29:49
yeah, like if you have a bigger waist, it doesn't mean you're taller, so like dragging a corner up doesn't fix it. There's another interesting podcast that's about the history of apparel. and sizing, and like all women sizing standards today have come from the dimensions of like one specific woman in history who was just IDed is the ideal, whatever size, and that's how like all initial sizing was created. So when women complain about having a tough time finding things that fit, it's because like, initial sizes.
Charlotte Massey 30:25
Yeah. Now what brands do is every brand picks what their customers shape should be. And that's called your fit model. So you might have your core size be like six or two, depending on your size range. And then you fit everything back to that person. And that person might have a really different body type, they certainly do have a very different body type than everyone who actually wants to shop a brand. So like I know that Patagonia clothes fit me a lot better than product clothes do. And even if it's the right size, it's not the need to size up or size down the shape. It's just not right. And women feel that when you're going to the store to try and close. But it's real. And it's a fact of how we're mass producing clothes. Like it's really difficult to make clothes that are going to fit everybody when you have to just make 1000s of that exact style. And so we've added a lot of stretch and our fabric and a lot of adjustability. So there's a tie at the waist, so that you can cinch it in. The fabric is super, super stretchy, it feels almost like a legging. And then you can also roll them up at the bottom and snap them into capris. And you can cinch them into a jogger. And so that allows a lot of adaptability. Because bodies change even over the course of one trip. Like if you're going on a three day hiking trip, your body might be really different on the last day, or if you're going up to altitude, like your body might blow a little bit and you want your pants to still fit. And just changes over the course of the year. And you don't want to have to have multiple sizes of something just in order to wear it. But I love finishing my answer to your first question about patents. Yeah,
Mariah Parsons 32:18
sorry. What happens is we just keep talking. And it's like too good. So thank you for bringing us back. That shouldn't be my job. But you know what?
Charlotte Massey 32:27
I love it. Oh, we first had to figure out what design we wanted to actually tie in to because it's a very expensive and long process to patent something and you don't want to patent something that is not what you're going to actually produce because then you're not covered. So there's there's multiple types of patents, there's utility patents and design patents. And with utility patents, you can file a provisional patent. So that basically says, we're working on this idea, we have a bunch of different ideas, we haven't narrowed it and we haven't finalized exactly what it is yet. But like we're putting our flag in the ground and saying that this is something that we've invented, and that we're going to pursue a patent in. And then design patents are more basic. They're mainly just a drawing. And so with the design part into your patenting, the way that something looks, whereas with utility patent, you're patenting the way that it functions. So that means utility patents are harder to get, because they cover more, but they also provide more protection. They're also more expensive. And it's a very long and complicated process of making sure that you're drafting everything correctly, that your drawings are done correctly. If anything is off even slightly, it totally changes what is patented, if it finally gets granted. And then you also have to decide where you're filing. So do you want to have this covered internationally? Or do you just want to cover it in the US, and you have to decide for each individual country. And so we would get a whole list like okay, here are the countries where you can get it patented, it's a different price. And it's a different process in it each time. Oh, yeah. And then you file everything. And then maybe two years later, you start getting notices that they're looking at it. We've done calls with the examiner who was reviewing our patent to help her understand it and understand if there were changes that we could make that would make it got approved. And then if you got it approved, the process isn't even over you have to keep renewing it and making sure that it's active. And so that's additional work that needs to be done on maintaining the IP. And then of course, if somebody decides to copy you and infringe on the pie, and then you defend it. And so it's not something that's ever really fully over. But it was really important to us to protect our design because we knew that it was some thing that is actually innovative. And we knew that there was a lot of potential for us to partner with other brands to put our zipper in their products. There's infinite applications, and we're constantly getting emails and requests for new products with our zipper. And we can't make all of them. It's not feasible from a manufacturing and financing perspective, but also from a brand perspective. And so we would much rather find the brands who are making the best version of each garment already, and then work with them to put our technology in their products. And the only way that that works is if we have the IP protection on it.
Georgia Grace Edwards 35:41
I love it. Some industries where that where IP makes things less successful, like an economic consulting, I worked a lot with pharma companies. And obviously, that's always in the news, particularly when it comes to like insulin, for example, the fact that it was proprietary for so long means that it's really inaccessible and really expensive to everyday consumers to be able to use because only one company was allowed to produce it. But in this case, it's actually the reverse in that the way that we get this technology into as many hands into as many applications as possible, is being able to license it out. And because that's been the view from or, you know, our goal from day one is to get this technology into as many hands as possible. We started all of these legal processes, while still in college, which was very time consuming and very expensive. And it's I mean, there's so we've testified to the US Senate about the current process with IP, there's a ton of issues with trying to obtain any kind but particularly patents. And it's everything from like, the representation gap, the fact that women owned over 50% of small businesses in the US yet women have less than 16% of patents, like we're only inventors on 16% of them total. That's a huge inequity. And then also, it's, there are a lot of things with startups where you can be scrappy, and you can teach yourself it but law and particularly intellectual property is so convoluted and intentionally designed that way so that you have to go through a lawyer, it's very rare you can we try to get as far as we can ourselves and then bring it to a lawyer when we have to for hundreds or 1000s of dollars an hour. But yeah, there are a lot of things in the process that make it really inaccessible to people and the USPTO is trying to make things more accessible. But it's a process. Yeah,
Mariah Parsons 37:33
I got, like having to even just hearing on the surface, the process of even just like the steps, right, it's like you had said econ and poli sci was nothing like it wasn't taught to you in high school. Right? So how are you supposed to know if you don't? If you're never taught something? And so the notion that someone would know, even just like the general steps, like I'm sitting here, I'm like, I've no idea. I know, founders and whatnot, and I'm in the space. But until you have a second, or have someone to dive into at all, then you wouldn't, you wouldn't know. And it doesn't make it accessible for the masses. And I think one of the fun things that I've found with entrepreneurship and just e commerce in general, is it e commerce enables a lot of people to have to have it, there's a lower barrier of entry, to be able to pursue your ideas, which is great, but there's still so many barriers that you have to I guess, get over yourself or find someone who can help you get over those hurdles. And so I think like this, this is the first time we've had even just any kind of patent discussion on this podcast. So I'm excited about it. I think it'll really help our listeners, and I'm looking at the time and it's flying by so well,
Georgia Grace Edwards 38:53
for time later at a lawyer's hourly rate. There
Mariah Parsons 38:57
we go. Yeah. Perfect. Yep. But I do okay, so I wanted to touch upon, I'm going to drive us away from parents because I could keep talking about it for hours, just hours at my own interest. But collaborations, like you had talked about licensing out, obviously, and getting your technology in as many different designs and retailers and brands as possible. But I'm gonna hardcore pivot us to collaborations because thread wallets I want to make sure I give McKenzie a shout out because she's the McKenzie Bauer, I should say, she's the one who connected us all to be on this call. And she co founded thread wallets for any of our listeners who might not recognize the name. So yeah, I want to chat about it. How did you all meet? How was that like collaboration gone down? Yeah, I will. I want to know I want to know what all
Georgia Grace Edwards 39:50
we I mean, we've had so many parties in common with Mackenzie but I think the way we actually met was that we've been going to Outdoor Retailer which used to be the low Just Outdoor Trade Show in the industry for several years now since college and thread always has one of the big booths there where you can actually like walk into it and mentor and lots of giveaways. And one of our first shows I remember I went in and got talking with, I believe it was her brother who then was like you have to Mackenzie's not here, but you have to talk to McKenzie. And so then we followed up via email and got on calls together. And then this summer, we got to spend a lot of time with her at female founders only, which is an initiative she started of bringing female founders together. In these experiences that are either outside ours was at Glacier National Park, or involve travel of some kind, the second cohort went to Morocco, I think this fall. And so that's been a great network to tap into. I
Mariah Parsons 40:54
love it. I was jealous of seeing Yeah, everyone, on on both both those retreats because I was like, Oh, what a good. Just the few founders that I knew that were going and then just what a great experience. So love that, um, would you say like trade shows? I don't know if that's what you would call the outdoor retailer, retailer show. But like, is that okay, so tradeshow? Would you say that's in, especially the early days, like where you're making a lot of the Connect connections with other people in the network?
Charlotte Massey 41:27
Yeah, I mean, the first outdoor retailer that I went to was before we launched, like we, we were an Instagram account with a few 100 followers and no product. And I was walking around with a pair of Parana pants with a zipper sewn in them. JoAnn Fabric. There you go. Fabric zipper, trying to explain the concept. And that's where we met a lot of the press that featured us around our launch, we were on the women who explore Instagram. And then we also were in the she explores podcast. And that was really good. And helped us a lot in the early days with our crowdfunding campaign. And then we also just started meeting people and building connections so that people in the industry knew who we were. And it's a lot easier to build those connections and also explain the product, especially when it doesn't exist yet in person. But with the pandemic, the show didn't happen, and then it's moved. And a lot of brands aren't going anymore. A lot of press isn't going anymore. And so it's harder to find those spaces where everyone in the industry gets together. And it's harder to build those early relationships to launch something.
Mariah Parsons 43:01
Yeah, yeah. That
Georgia Grace Edwards 43:03
outdoor retailer, also we're the we're the only company that we know of that's won their innovation award back to back years last year and this year, for the go fly technology in different applications. And so that was a huge piece of press that really legitimized what we're doing. And we've also spoken on panels there and like Charlotte said, had other opportunities for press, which was great. But yeah, it's really changed. And now, a lot of brands don't go to that show anymore. There's Colorado's tried doing versions of or that I also don't think I've been super successful. And so now they're it's a lot more regional and it's a lot more specialized. Like it'll be just a direct to consumer trade show or just a wholesale retail account trade show, but only for small independent retailers or it's everything's a lot more disjointed without one big show where everyone is. Oh, that's interesting.
Mariah Parsons 43:57
Okay, I would have guessed that a lot of that community aspect would have maybe moved online, but maybe it just Yeah, shrunk down.
Charlotte Massey 44:07
To cover people tried to move it online. There are a couple of online shows. But they just weren't very fun at the same. Yeah. And what was fun about outdoor retailer was that everyone was there from the biggest brands to the smallest brands, influencers. If you were in the industry, you really had to be there, that's where everyone was the big brands would bring in their sponsored athletes, so there would be huge names who would be there speaking, and then everyone would go to the same events after. And so you would be at a brewery or a party or in a climbing gym with everyone who you needed to meet basically. And then as the shows have gotten smaller, a lot of those people have stopped going because they don't need to their brands are big enough or their followings are big enough that they don't rely on the shows and so It's a lot of the smaller brands and smaller influencers and then press who are still going because they want to build that community. And there's just no way to get that connection between people who would never otherwise set up a call. If you don't have something happening in person.
Mariah Parsons 45:20
I see. Yeah. Makes a lot of sense. Okay. Super interesting to me. How
Georgia Grace Edwards 45:24
I built this podcast, the Thai Haney episode on outdoor voices, outdoor retailer is also the show where she got her start. Um, it really is the place where all new companies started looking at that after we found their marketing, you know, everything found, yeah,
Mariah Parsons 45:42
a lot of word of mouth. Recommendations, I'm assuming happened, like where it's like, oh, you need to talk to this person, you need to talk to this person, but a lot of lot of natural connection, which I always love. And I would love to get back to a point where that is happening more. So hopefully, fingers crossed, that happens now. I know we're coming up on an hour being here. So I want to be gracious of our time. Do you two have an extra couple of minutes to round out our two last questions? We do. Yeah. Wonderful. Okay, I'm hardcore. Pay that again, because I just need to race through these questions. So one of the things that we're always curious to hear from a brand side of things is where are you looking to learn? Obviously, we just ran it out a conversation talking about trade shows and connecting with other people. But when you're not attending those trade shows, who are you looking to? Are you looking to other brand operators for that word of mouth recommendation? When it comes to like when you're trying to solve a specific issue? Are you looking at online forums? Are you like doing a deep dive in Google on, you know, on like different websites? Where where's each of your like, go to places when you're trying to learn about something new that you might not have a solution for?
Charlotte Massey 47:10
Yeah, I usually start in Google, and maybe a YouTube video and try to get a sense of what the options are, what the comments and suggestions are, and then I will take it to founder founders group, so I'm in a couple of different ones. And that's really helpful. Because if you say, Hey, I'm looking at these three platforms that all provide the same service, what does everyone else do? Do you hire someone part time? Do you use an agency? Do you use this Shopify plugin? And usually, other people have gone through the same process and might have experience with all of the products or a particular one and can give input?
Mariah Parsons 47:55
Love it. Georgia grace? What about you? Same thing, you shaking your head? Yep,
Georgia Grace Edwards 47:59
I do the same things for my workflows. And then the next level that we both utilize as well is that we send out a monthly mentor newsletter for people who have been fans of the brand and have helped us in the past. And we always put three asks, each month that it's just like, hey, we're considering doing this. Thoughts, basically, whether it's for intros or advice or help of some kind. And that's also a good way to get more tidbits. But yeah, generally talking to other founders is the most useful because they're the closest to it. Okay,
Mariah Parsons 48:33
awesome. I know, because I'm in the limited supply Slack channel, that there's like, founder groups in that community. Are there any other like founder communities, you'd want to shout out for our listeners if they're looking to join some?
Georgia Grace Edwards 48:50
Um, yeah, there's um, it all depends on the scale and size and industry of your business. ones we've used are the founded outdoors slack. And then we have a slack for each of the accelerators that we've been in. And then Shara was a Tory Burch fellow this year. So she has that channel. I was a futurist project fellow and a wild gift fellow this year. So I have those groups. I'm trying to think if any others come to mind. I don't know there's I could pull up our slack.
Charlotte Massey 49:27
Groups too, like if you search for your industry and entrepreneur, you'll find some thing on Facebook, but they're going to be the most helpful if they're quite narrowly tailored towards whatever your business is. And also you can start one like, I also have some just chats with people who have similar businesses and even though there's only a few people in it, that can get the best results because they really understand what it is we're looking for.
Mariah Parsons 50:00
Yeah, love it have those trusted individuals that you can go to the drop of a hat. Okay. Thank you. Thank you both for sharing, I always find it so interesting to see what people say to that question of where they go to learn. And then to round out the episode. I also wanted to ask, is there anything you're focused on right now new launches, like I said, at the beginning of the call, Black Friday, Cyber Monday just ended. So, yeah, all we'd love to open up the question, if there's anything our listeners should be attention, be drawing their attention to, as they finish up listening to this episode.
Georgia Grace Edwards 50:40
I can think of to shard chime in if you think of anything else. Um, we're recording this right after Black Friday, Cyber Monday. So we are coming off a really strong sales period. And we hope that it's still going strong when this airs in January. So if you're listening to this now, we're still trying to sell a product. So please buy. And then the second ask is that, in addition to our direct to consumer online revenue channel, as well as our wholesale retail channel, we're working on a licensing channel. And so getting the go fly technology into those other products, like we mentioned. So if there is an application that doesn't exist, that should have a go fly zipper in it, let us know and put pressure on whatever the brand is that you want to see, incorporate the go fly tech, because that goes a long way in helping start and continue that process.
Mariah Parsons 51:32
Love it, love it, Charlotte, anything you would add?
Charlotte Massey 51:34
Yeah, I would say, following us online helps us a lot. And more funny, we promise you that. Tick tock, Instagram, Facebook, signing up for your email list SMS, it really helps us. And if you can engage with posts, share them, save them, even if maybe the product isn't the right fit for you. That helps us word of mouth is still a huge driver of sales for us. And so spreading the word really makes a difference and is not insignificant at all.
Mariah Parsons 52:12
Love it, love it. And hopefully even if you know it's not the right time for the product, you can send it to someone else who you know is outdoorsy, you know, Instagram, tick tock, they make it so easy. I feel like I get like 20 messages a day of people just sending me tech talks that I should watch. So love it. Thank you both for being here, again, to make the time during such a busy time and season. But really just any time. I'm always grateful for our wonderful guests who do so and it has been so fun chatting, I can't wait to continue to learn from you both. I think our listeners are really going to enjoy this one.
Georgia Grace Edwards 52:48
Well, thank you. And I'm realizing we didn't fully answer your collaboration question. So we can sneak it in as an ask at the end of it in some collaborations with other companies like we just did a big game giveaway with CamelBak. So same thing, if you work for a company where you think there's alignment in what we're doing and what you're doing. We are also always open to that and do a lot of social collaboration. So that's an option to
Mariah Parsons 53:13
love it. I love a good social club, you know, makes the world go round. So a lot of fun. Thank you again.
Charlotte Massey 53:19