In 2013 David Lindhahl opened a sort-of public service Twitter account. Its function was to alert people in his native Washington State when Mt. Rainier was seen, unobscured by clouds. He known as the account Rainier Watch, as in holding watch on that dominant landmark.
Quick ahead to 2023, and Rainier Watch is a neighborhood, an internet site, and a producer of mountain-themed attire. The enterprise is a aspect hustle to Lindahl’s day job as an online developer. However it could quickly require full-time focus. Gross sales have elevated dramatically, owing partially to in-person markets and native REI shops.
Lindahl and I lately spoke. We mentioned the corporate’s origin, launching the attire part, and the advantages of in-person promoting. All the audio of our dialog is embedded beneath. The transcript is condensed and edited for readability.
Eric Bandholz: Give us a rundown of what you do.
David Lindahl: I run a small attire firm known as Rainier Watch, impressed by Mount Rainier in Washington State. It began in 2013 as an internet neighborhood, and it’s grown into an attire model, which I launched a number of years in the past. I design and promote attire and donate a portion of every sale to the nationwide parks. I’m additionally a photographer, net developer, and a dad.
It began with me tweeting. Mount Rainier is that this cool landmark right here in Washington, and you may see it a whole bunch of miles away. Nevertheless, it rains rather a lot, so the mountain’s not all the time seen. “The mountain is out” is an area phrase. So in 2013 I began tweeting on my solution to work when the mountain was out, which solely occurs 50 to 75 days a yr. All of it snowballed from there. I hadn’t used Twitter earlier than that.
I launched the attire part in 2018 with no background in ecommerce, design, or web sites. I’ve discovered rather a lot and nonetheless haven’t scratched the floor of all the pieces associated to direct-to-consumer ecommerce. We’re a distinct segment and geo-specific model, and I’ve began to develop past Mount Rainier. I’ve stickers and hats coming quickly for the opposite nationwide parks right here in Washington.
I do my very own success. It’s been a small-scale operation — 200 month-to-month orders, roughly. This yr has been completely different as we’ve grown, however we don’t have so many orders requiring us to outsource. We ship to all 50 states. It’s fairly cool to see all of the mountain lovers nationwide. I attempt to add a private contact to every cargo. I’ve custom-made packaging and packing tape, and I used to handwrite notes and draw mountains on the again of playing cards.
Bandholz: How do you keep the eagerness for a aspect mission?
Lindahl: It drives me. For years, I’ve gotten up at 4:35 a.m. earlier than my day job. Most mornings, I work on the enterprise, designing attire and considering of creating beanies and hats. I get pleasure from it rather a lot. We’ve had astronomical progress this yr, like a thousand share factors, in order that’s been cool. I love creating issues and having a beanie I can maintain as one thing I made or handed to a designer to complete.
Focus may be tough. I’ve typically fallen into the squirrel syndrome of chasing shiny objects. There are a slew of enjoyable issues to work on. I attempt to give attention to a excessive return on funding and low effort, however I nonetheless wrestle. It’s not straightforward, however I restrict my to-do record. Making paper notes helps. I plan my week bullet fashion in a journal.
We’ve had a banger yr. I’m unsure I can establish a single level that has led to the expansion. Moving into REI a number of months in the past has been enormous. I’ve gone from zero shops to seven in lower than six months. I’m in REI’s buy-local program. Our wholesale enterprise went from zero to $10,000 a month. And D2C gross sales have practically doubled. We’ve gone from 100 orders a month to, once more, 200 or extra.
Bandholz: You’re doing in-person markets.
Lindahl: Sure. It’s been a great gross sales channel this yr. I employed somebody to run them for me a couple of months in the past. He’s been improbable. He’s been working upwards of 5 a month. It’s a piece in progress — studying which markets are good and which aren’t, particularly as they relate to our clients and the climate. In-person markets spike in the summertime and round Christmas time. Many variables go into it — some markets bomb.
It’s a ton of labor with a lot trial and error. That is the primary yr that I’ve outsourced the staffing. I hope we’re considerably worthwhile and it advantages him and me. On the finish of the yr, I see it as advertising and marketing. We’re getting our identify on the market.
A big share of parents desire in-person procuring. Having a sales space and REI presence are legitimizers. I typically get emails or direct messages asking the place somebody can discover our merchandise. The web site’s open 24 hours a day, however customers need to contact, really feel, and see issues in individual.
Discovering the fitting markets is a course of. There’s a number of them within the space. We don’t have actual winter right here. There’s no snow. So markets run all year long. We speak to different distributors and study which of them are good and which aren’t. The sales space charges fluctuate rather a lot. Generally it’s an evening market and prices solely $100 to enter. Different instances, it’s a multi-day occasion for round $700.
It’s good to be there explaining the model. Most individuals haven’t heard of us. I’ve my man there telling our story and describing our merchandise. I don’t see it as an enormous revenue middle. It’s extra exposing our identify and hopefully turning a revenue on the finish of the yr.
Bandholz: The place can listeners assist you?