Why I Choose People Over Profits
One of my favorite things about owning a small business is that I can say whatever I want to say. Typically I don't say much at all. I'm a firm believer that words are valuable, and the more often you speak, the less often people listen. I don't have investors, board members, stockholders or anyone else muffling my words.
So here goes....
This past month has been a very challenging time for Fatwood Beard Co. For the past few years I have tried to make sure that every order goes out the same business day or the next business day. One of the reasons I started Fatwood Beard is because I hated waiting on stuff. Yes, Amazon has spoiled us. However, now we're 5-7 days behind on orders and the reason why is the reason I'm writing this article.
Our main supplier also sells hand sanitizer. They have been so backed up on orders that now they're shipping times are delayed by 2, 3, even 4 weeks! Instead of pausing orders they've kept them open, have continued sending out emails, and even advertising on social media. They report that their daily orders have increased 10 times over. They're still making profits on each of these new orders. In the meantime, small businesses like Fatwood Beard (more like micro business, let's be honest) have spent money on supplies that aren't being delivered. Okay, that's why we have backup suppliers. Our backup supplier is the same story. Hand sanitizer.
Unfortunately, I can't just go to the store and pick up the oils that I need. Fatwood Beard Company uses the finest, and most expensive oils available. Yes, I'm sure every company says that, but I haven't found one that has ingredients that come even close to ours, and if they do they use words like "Premium" and charge $25-30 a bottle. Big, established companies can get away with that, but I wouldn't pull those shenanigans regardless of our market share. Check out the prices on pure sandalwood oil, vetiver, vanilla, argan oil, jojoba oil, etc. Below is a photo of the ingredients used to make our Morning Wood oil. The ingredients would have been too expensive to purchase and keep at our price point, so I just started making the coffee and vanilla oils myself. I want to provide the best beard products available, and I want people to have access to them. Selling beard oils at $20-25 would price us out of our core demographic, which is just your average guy. Because I'm just your average guy.
So where does all of that leave us? I have to make some important changes. I'm going to be very transparent with the reasoning.
1. Beard oils and balms will be priced at their real market value and will adjust according to supply and demand. For now that means $17. I believe that's still undervalued, but as I stated earlier, I want these to be affordable.
2. No more free t-shirts. Believe it or not, I don't get the t-shirts for free. The customers do. That was fine in the beginning, but the issues that have come along with it just aren't enjoyable. The fault for that is solely on me. For starters, the lowest price I can ship a t-shirt for is $5+ and if the order is 1 pound or more that number increases to an average of $8.50. Shipping two t-shirts to the West Coast costs me around $11. Since we've been in business USPS has raised shipping prices every year to the point that our average shipping cost is over $6.
Then there are the complaints. We're not an apparel company. We're a beard company with a great logo and great designs that people like to wear. It's also a way for me to be creative and to support freelance designers and other businesses. We don't price for returns, especially when we're giving t-shirts away. Our t-shirts come in 6-7 sizes to fit millions of different body types. Have you ever thought about that? I haven't until recently. There are several sizes designed to fit millions of people. I can't tell you how many exchanges we've done because a free t-shirt didn't fit correctly. I am by no means angered by anyone that returned a t-shirt, that stuff happens. When buying clothing online you don't get to try things on, and yes, sometimes the shirts aren't consistently sized from the manufacturer. I'm simply being transparent about why we can no longer offer them for free.
There is good news though! If you've taken advantage of our free t-shirt offer in the past (including until April 26th) I'll make arrangements so that you can always get a free t-shirt when you spend $30+. Our newest designs are on hold because of some of the aforementioned reasons, but we are going to continue to roll out more awesome designs when things calm down. We're also going to be launching Fatwoodclothing.com so more people can enjoy our designs and we can price our apparel appropriately.
We'll still be doing free offers for other items. We all need some wins from time to time! Soon this crisis will be over and I don't want to be one of those companies that crapped the bed when people were already struggling with regular day-to-day life.
I owe a lot to Fatwood Beard Company and for all of the right reasons. I love the relationships that I've made, the customers that I've become close with, and many other little things that you just don't have with larger businesses. You'll never see Fatwood Beard Company on your shelves at the local supermarket or barber shop. The reason for that is simple, I love this company and the people that support Fatwood Beard. If you place multiple orders I'm aware of it and your name is familiar to me, and I want to make sure things stay that way.
Fatwood Beard Company will always choose people over profits. We just have to make some changes so that this business stays sustainable. I want to sincerely thank each and every one of you for your support. Thanks to you I've been able to turn a passion project into a business that I'm proud of. Also, thank you for your patience during this COVID-19 crisis. Stay safe everyone, and don't hesitate to shoot me an email if you have any questions. - Russell firstname.lastname@example.org