Ever had the urge to create something? Sweet. Has it been something that you're skilled in making? Cool, me too! Have you ever been sick of your job and looking to move onto something else, then realized the only thing post-secondary taught you is how to draw pretty pictures? Oh. I guess that was unique to me.
By combining a need for change, some marketing & dev skills and identifying a small gap in the market, I gave man-birth to a nifty little brand named Circle Footwear. If you followed along with the campaigns, then you already know the timeline. If not, let's recap it quickly:
- All 2015 - Worked on Circle evenings and weekends
- Mar 2016 - Launched first collection on Kickstarter
- Apr 2016 - First collection funded with 61k
- Apr 2016 - Dedicate my efforts to Circle full-time
- Aug 2016 - Ship all 356 backers
- Oct 2016 - Launch second collection on Kickstarter
- Nov 2016 - It rises as quickly as a brick in the wind
- Nov 2016 - Second campaign is unsuccessful
- Dec 2016 - Realize I'm not really good at dealing with failure
Now that you're caught up, you're probably wondering what launching a kickstarter project was like? It was one of the most exciting experiences of my life. In the beginning I'd spend hours going over small details, endlessly trying to perfect them. Hell, it took me 3 full months to finally settle on Circle as a brand name. My first choice was Uniq - pronounced Unique. I had to change it once a few friends asked me why I wanted to call my company eunuch. I'm pretty sure I annoyed everyone around me enough for two lifetimes with my non-stop talk about Circle.
The video was a whole different story. I don't strive to be the center of attention, so being put on camera for the whole world to see was an uncomfortable prospect. Luckily my good friend Tom made it easy. We just hung out, I talked about the brand and he pieced it together in a way that made it look like I almost knew what I was doing.
Putting a project that I poured my heart, money and time into for the public to judge was nerve-racking. Seeing the first collection grow and surpass the funding goal was indescribable. I pounded out permanent dents in CTRL+R just from refreshing the page over and over.
Quitting my job to dedicate myself to Circle Footwear full-time was terrifying. I've consistently had some form of income since I'm 13 years old. The realization that I'd be living off my savings and the small amount of profit Circle brought in... that was hella real.
I paid the factories, initiated production and started building a second collection. By mid-August, the shoes were in. I spent two full weeks in a storage locker unpacking, sorting, repackaging, labelling and shipping all the shoes that had been purchased. I loved it. It was validation that something I created would be out in the world for people to enjoy. Or hate, I mean, not all reviews were positive.
When I launched the second campaign, I was pumped to repeat the success. That didn't happen. Circle didn't get promoted to the front of the Fashion page and two other major Kickstarter footwear brands launched in the same week.
Dejected by the failure, I went over my marketing and sales strategies again and again. I was trying to find the reason the campaign had failed. Eventually, after a week of compulsive review, I realized I was stuck. So I did what everyone does when they're stuck on a problem: I googled it. How to deal with failure. I came across an article that was really helpful.
It told the story of Don Shula, an NFL coach who holds the record for the most career wins. He uses the 24 hour rule. The coach allowed himself, his staff and his players 24 hours to celebrate a victory or brood over a defeat. During those 24 hours, Shula encouraged them to feel their emotions of success or failure as deeply as they could. The next day, it was time to put it behind them and focus their energy on preparing for their next challenge. Why? Because one success or failure doesn't dictate who you are. The amount of work you put in, day in and day out, that's what determines how successful you are.
Should you launch a Kickstarter? Maybe. I mean, one guy raised 55k to throw a potato salad party. If you do chose to launch one, let me know. I have some interesting ideas we can discuss for poutine parties.