The Magic of 40

Oakland Bridge

Earlier this week my wife and I had a fun but tough lesson during our French class. Our teacher had us translate the story of Noah’s Ark from English into French. We, normally, translate everything from French to English when reading so we are fairly good at that. In this instance, however, we had to mimic the same form of translation that our brain conducts when we are trying to speak by translating our words and phrases from English into French. That has been hard for us to say the least.

 

The interesting part about reading the story of Noah again, however, was the part about how the rain fell for “Forty Days and Forty Nights.” For me, this was especially relevant because I started the day thinking about what I was going to write this 40th blog about.

 

Noah’s story is interesting and relevant for entrepreneurs because 1) he withstood a lot of hardship in order to start a new life with his family and animals 2) he had to learn how to build a boat while actually building it and 3) he had to walk through this entire journey completely by faith and hope that what he was doing was what was right and what he was called to do. I think that all entrepreneurs and creatives can relate to any one of these feelings and tasks if not all of them at some point in time. In the end, though, the 3rd point is the most important to me. It is the fact that Noah conducted his duties of building the boat and gathering as many animals as he could solely by the sight of faith and his conviction that what he was doing would work to the benefit all of society.

 

The class was also relevant for myself and Jeanesis because during our translation I, like Noah, had to do the one thing in French that is hardest for me; translate from English to French. My former gym trainer and my favorite Australian used to tell me that it is the things that we hate the most while working out our muscles that we need to do the most. In other words, our muscles that are under-utilized are the ones that are inherently weakest and need the most attention. Despite the fact that this weakness makes it more difficult and more uncomfortable to strengthen those muscles, we need to try our best to put in the time to work on those areas of weakness.

 

I think that this same concept reigns true for us as entrepreneurs, creative and everyday people. As difficult as it may seem we all need to look at ourselves and our businesses inwardly from time to time and ask what our weaknesses are. Only then can we work to address those weaknesses and try to transform them into strengths, if possible.

 

I have been reflecting a lot lately on how Jeanesis can move faster and better as we continue preparing for our market test production. As you all know, we have had the usual entrepreneurial setbacks so now we are focused on trying to mitigate those while thinking of ways to improve our current prototypes and launch plans. I encourage you all to look inward this week and think about where you can improve so that you can all be better entrepreneurs and people in the future. If you are like me, however, you will have to walk the fine line between focusing on areas of improvement and being too hard on yourself. So, remember to be kind to yourself and congratulate yourself on the progress you have made while doing this exercise.

 

As always, have a great rest of your week and I will speak with you all soon.

 

Napa Vineyard

During my wife’s last semester of graduate school in California, we decided to take a quick weekend trip to the Napa Valley for her Spring Break. It was such a wonderful experience and the topography is beautiful. The area was recently ravaged by wildfires but we are certainly praying for those affected and that the many people and businesses are able to rebuild and continue to make Napa the great area that it is. This is a photo taken from the Quintessa Vineyard in St. Helena, California. This vineyard is a “biodynamic” vineyard which means that they utilize as much of the the natural topography, wildlife and vegetation to make a more sustainable wine.

 

 

 

 

“By faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household.” – Hebrews 11:7

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Sailing On

Sailing On

Hello again everyone,

The past month or so with Jeanesis has been tough, fun, productive and frustrating all at the same time. I thought I would give you a quick update on where we are with our test production. Hopefully, this will spark you to help cheer us on as we begin the final few phases of producing for our market test.

Before coming back to Chicago I had all of our sewing vendors lined up and ready to go. Just as a quick guide to denim production, there are typically three steps needed for production, which can each entail a different vendor. First, the fabric is cut using the pattern you have developed, and then it is sewn. Finally, it’s finished with a special sewing team that applies hang tags, label patches and care instruction labels. This degree of vendor specialization was quite surprising to me as an outsider who never imagined each pair of jeans required so many steps with so many entities. Luckily, I was able to leverage our connection with the group who has been helping us develop our pattern and prototypes and we found excellent vendors in the LA area. They are small and entrepreneurial just like us.  And the fact that they are U.S. businesses allows Rom and I better oversight, ability to easily site visit, and opportunity for better relationships.

Upon my return from the LA area, I began reaching out to the different suppliers to let them know our components would slowly be trickling in, and we’d be ready for production soon. At that point, one vendor let me know it’d recently become inundated with orders and would be unable to sew for us this fall. Once again, I was left scratching my head about what to do, as it was the only group for that step in the process willing to take such a small order.

I found out another small brand we had been in touch with had the same issue with its supplier. They had, however, found a new sewing group close to downtown LA who was a family-run business looking for new customers, even as small as us. I reached out to them and it looks promising! We are setting up a face-to-face meeting to insure everything is as it seems. As a denim brand with a higher purpose, it is paramount we get to know our vendors in person to make sure their facility and their people appear to be in working order for both the economic as well as social benefit of all stakeholders.  Even a quick visit can shed a lot of light on where a vendor’s values lie.

Admittedly, I was somewhat dispirited after the initial sewing vendor backed out on us but what helped me was taking a step back and looking at where we were, how far we had come and what could be achieved with this small market test production run. We already have the fabric, sewing thread and zippers with only a few more POs outstanding.

I thought back to two years ago when this was just an idea in our heads and I couldn’t believe we now had raw material inventory waiting to be transformed into the manifestation of our vision.

I’ve mentioned it before but it deserves to be reiterated. Sometimes, taking a step back and looking at the 30,000 foot-view picture is exactly what we need.  I got so involved in the day-to-day management of vendors and POs that I allowed one setback to mentally throw me off course a bit. Remembering to take a breath and focus on our vision and mission has been so valuable for me on several occasions now.

Recently, I’ve heard a number of similar stories of start-ups who have hit some rough patches. For many of them, turning products and services into sales has been tougher than initially imagined.  I want to dedicate this post to all of those folks out there. Know that you are not alone and that storms will come and go as you navigate the waters of business start-ups.

If you are an entrepreneur who has hit a snag, I hope this post gives you some ammunition to get back on the saddle and navigate your way out of the problem. At the end of the day, that is the true essence of an entrepreneur anyway. We are all, in a sense, problem solvers. Here to make things and services work better for the people that use them. Stay hungry, stay healthy and stay motivated and I will speak with you all again soon.

hibiscus.jpg

Upon our move back home I wanted to get something that reminded me of California so I purchased this Hibiscus plant since its a warm weather plant. When I first purchased it, the plant was just a bunch of dark green leaves in a pot. I was skeptical that it would grow but after a few weeks of consistent watering this flower bloomed and I was amazed. This is just another example of how far a little bit of daily TLC can take you.

 

 

 

“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” – James 1:2-4 ESV