We Got Into Urban Outfitters, yey!

Last Update: March 24, 2016

As some of you already know, my girlfriend and I started a little side project business by making and selling beard oil. (doesn't matter if you don't know what it is)

As of last week out product is being sold at Urban Outfitters in the USA which is completely crazy. I never imagined that some day I'll create my own physical product that would retail at a huge store chain! At this point though I started reflecting on the whole process which made me realize why some people get these kind of results while others don't.

Please allow me to share the whole story with you as the lessons I learned from this venture apply to most businesses, online and offline.


p.s. warning, this is a long post. read at your own risk ;)


1. Idea is worthless is you don't take action.

We made the oil for my beard than thought: "Why don't we try selling it?" So the very first action we took was listing the product on Etsy. Besides simply listing it we enabled PPC and sales started coming in. We proceeded doing some instagram and other social media marketing to get more sales.


2. We got noticed.

Because we started getting sales, we started getting reviews, and because of sales and reviews are rankings within Etsy went up. This means more exposure. At some point in December we got a message on Etsy from a purchasing agent at UO asking for a sample. The very same day we ran to the post office paid for express shipping and sent a free sample to UO.


3. Being persistent.

A few weeks went by (and tracking showed the item was received a while ago) but no reply from UO. So we email them asking for updates. They reply with: "We got the sample, please send us your price list.

What the heck is a price list? I mean i have an idea of hat it is but how do you create one, specially for a single item, not much of a list... So at first we needed to research how to make a proper price list. Then we spent time researching what out competitors charge the wholesale buyers. Based on all that research we finalized the price list and sent it to UO.

2-3 weeks go by, we are now in mid-January 2016 and no response. So we decide to keep being persistent and email them again, asking if they are ready to go ahead and place an order. The same day UO replies: Yes, we would be interested in placing an order

I am sure that Urban made the same offer to other sellers. However, I am also sure that many others gave up on the idea because they didn't get a reply from UO. We were persistent and kept showing that we are serious and want to move on.


4. Corporate road blocks.

So we get the instructions from Urban. There are loads and loads of documents filled with words we've never heard before. We are extremely overwhelmed. I am su many new members at WA feel the same but thankfully WA offers a step by step training which makes everything clear. At this point we decided to take the WA approach and move on step by step. One thing at a time.

We had to register as a vendor on one service that works with UO, then we have to register with another service for the actual fulfillment, then register at UO itself... what a mess. I realize that not everyone would spent countless hours and sleepless nights figuring all of that out. But we don't give up. Finally at the end of January everything ready for the first order, and here goes silence once again.


5. Big companies are slow.

At this point we are getting used to such slow process. We understand that a huge company like UO has a lot of stuff to take care of, every decision and document must get approval from different departments. So we are expecting a delay of several weeks. Here is the problem though, we are leaving on a 4 months trip to Asia on February 1st.

So we decide to make 50 bottles, package them and leave them with my sister who would ship them out if needed.


6. The purchase order

We are in Asia and it's around mid-February 2016. All of the sudden we get an email from UO asking if we can deliver the product by the first week of March. We are super excited and awaiting further instruction.

As we look through (yet more) documents we realize that UO wants very specific information on our labels, as well as specific packaging which we do not have. Their first order is also quite a big larger than 50 bottles. Here we go again. Should we just give up? Should we fly back to Canada? What do we do?


7. Problem solving

I call my sister and ask her if she would be able to make the product to which she agrees.

So we go to our local supplier's website and order all of the raw materials, bottles, etc. However they are unable to give us an estimated delivery date. They buy the products from smaller suppliers and sometimes it might take a lot time to get a hold of some organic oils. This is when we start panicking. We call them and explain that this is an emergency and we would really appreciate if they could fulfill the order asap. We get luck and the items are delivered 2 days later.

At the same time we also re-designed our labels and ordered them online. We also ordered packaging supplies as per UO instructions. We also order UO specific bar code labels from their partner company - all of that is delivered to my sister's job.

There were other complications and setbacks which I wouldn't mention because I'd have to write a novel on that...


8. Sending in the shipment.

The final product is ready, packaged and is going to be shipped with DHL from Canada to USA. We chose DHL because they act as broker at the USA customs which will allow us to pay the import fees online (if there are any) because UO made it clear they aren't dealing with the customs. Fair enough.

Our delivery due date is in one week so we pay quite a high price tag for rush delivery which DHL promises to be 2-3 days. Yey.

2 days go by then 3... the shipment is stuck at customs. We call DHL and all they can say is: "an agent will get in touch with you with more details..."


9. The deadline

So now we're calling DHL every single day as the deadline for delivery is in 2 days. We're going though a roller coaster of emotions and we're feeling helpless. There is nothing we can do.

Finally DHL gets back to us stating the shipment got stopped by US customs for verification and they need more details. What is the value of the shipment? I get angry but try to keep my cool. I tell that what the value is and I explain that the same value has been declared when it first shipped out from Montreal (you can't ship across the border unless you declare the value in advance).

DHL takes 24 hours to get back to me: is that US dollars or Canadian dollars? wow... I get back to them and explain it was Canadian dollars and remind them it was already mentioned. The duty declaration sticker on the package clearly states what's in there, how many items and what is the exact value in a specified currency.

another 24 hours go by.

I've sent quite a few shipment to US in the past, often of higher value but never had issues.


10. The customs

At this point UO is asking questions. We kindly explained that the shipment got stuck at customs and that we're dealing with it every single day. Thankfully the people at Urban are super supportive and understanding, they also know that we can't control how customs work. Urban offer to extend our deadline by 1 week. Love them!

A big problem here is that I we are in Thailand, 12 hours ahead of Eastern US. This means that when DHL and customs start their working day, it's time to sleep in Asia. So I give up sleep. I have an alarm to wake me up several times a night to make sure that I reply to their emails ASAP. On most days communication happens between 1am and 5am... And they reply only once every 24 hours or so.

They proceed by asking really weird questions, such as "What is Your Relationship with Urban?" Seriously? At this point I am starting to think that DHL in Montreal must have messed up the customs declaration, this is why US customs are asking all these questions.

Finally they ask us for some legal papers which we simply don't have because we are not a US registered importer. We find a company in the US that is willing to work with us, so they provide all the required paper work. Now DHL is asking for more proof of the company and other stuff. Mind that we have NO IDEA what these documents are, where to get them and so on. But remember what I said before? Step by Step.


11. The release?

Finally DHL says alright you're good to go... but first you need to go through FDA approval which should take 1-2 weeks. WHAT?????????????????

This is when I am 100% sure that DHL messed the whole thing up. They didn't declare the product in the right import category. You see, products like food, soap as well as medicine need to be approved by FDA. Our product does not fall into that category. In fact I made sure to consult a specialist who confirmed that our product is not controlled by FDA or any other agency of that sort.

Wow DHL, well done.

I reply to the email right away supplying even more information which explains the right category for our product. The very same day the product is released from customs and delivered to UO. At least the last DHL agent I dealt with read my email and understood where DHL messed up.

The express 2 days delivery took 2 weeks.


12. Finally

Now once again, I did not mention every single roadblock we ran into because honestly I do not remember them all.

However, as we were going through all of that we were talking to lot of people and pretty much everyone told us "it's way too complicated, you should just forget it and move on". I think this mentality separates our product from many others that are not for sale at UO.

You want to succeed? Get out of your comfort zone. You are overwhelmed? Take things step by step. This applies to any online and offline business. Be ready to push harder than the guy next to you, only then you'll get better results.


Sorry for the long rant but I had to share this story with someone.

I know that many of my acquaintances will say: "they got lucky, made a product and it got picked up by Urban". If only they knew what we had to go through.

It's very important to note that ALL of this happened because I stumbled upon WA in 2007. If I didn't, I'd probably still be a miserable $15/h employee at some mediocre office.

Keep grinding Wealthy affiliates,

Alex




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Trujunco Premium
Alex,
Thank you again in detailing the process of your efforts and set-backs in the building of your business. So often you read of these journeys and what is left out is the realtime effort it takes to succeed...Yours is chock full of small accomplishments through big challenges. Enjoyed this post immensely!

Respectfully David
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marilynmyers Premium
Good story with a lot of solid information telling how you were able to have patience and achieve the goal with a lot of persistence!

Thanks for sharing it with everyone! Marilyn
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LouisaB Premium
Thanks for sharing this Wealthy of information!
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ESI Premium
I am SO inspired! Thank you for sharing your amazing story. I can absolutely see how your trainIng here at WA helped you accomplish this. Obviously your actions and perserverance were ultimately the key to your success though.

Congratulations! Kinda wishing my husband had a beard. ;)
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StefanoSosa Premium
thats so awesome!!
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Ohjilly Premium
Congratulations!!! Where is the love button?!
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seanchase Premium
Wow what a powerful testimony. You are a very tenacious individual. Many points and lessons we can all learn from your experiences. VERY happy to have you as part of our WA community!
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JoyNelson Premium
Your post reinforces my online business belief system which is that hard work, perseverance, passion for your product and integrity combined with a bit of pixie dust is what it takes to reach success!

Thank you for sharing your intense journey with us! I am so happy I stumbled upon your blog post it is truly inspirational and a good reminder to shoe who are hoping to create financial freedom with a four hour work week...

My of the day is: Be fearless in the pursuit of what sets your soul on fire! I don't know if beard oil sets your soul on fire but it sure sounds like the two of you are truly passionate about your entrepreneurial pursuits!

Have a lovely weekend and thank you again for the inspiration!

Joy
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AlexSol Premium
Thank you for such an awesome comment Joy!
And pixie dust was certainly the secret ingredient ;)
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JoyNelson Premium
Pixie dust beard oil would be pretty sweet lol.
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AndiTointon Premium
nightmare, glad you got through it.
Andi.
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camandche Premium
Beard oil? Crackup, that's absolutely amazing Alex! Good on you guys for being proactive in your passions when hitting brick walls! Yes it would've been a rollercoaster of emotions but I bet you guys have learnt loads from this experience & you'll be better prepared for the next round! Good on you for being persistent! All the best!
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lottie0808 Premium
Amazing story, we learn by making mistakes, and as you say the most important thing is to take action. Thankyou
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MyMentor Premium
Hello Alex. This is Wayne. Just joined WA less then a week ago. Love the community input and positive spirit of everyone. I read your entire (long :-) post about "We Got into Urban Outfitters". No one roots for people to succeed more than me. I always believe in being straight forward with people. I've sold physical products in the past with some success. However the attraction of Affiliate Marketing is that the companies we choose to become an affiliate with takes care of a lot of the headaches you had to go through. You obviously have learned some valuable lessons and there is no reason you can't be successful.
I've recently grew a beard and have learned the value of a good beard oil. I wish you all the best.
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AL13 Premium
Thanks for sharing, Alex. This is a great story! We need to move out of our comfort zone and act! Wishing you continued success. Adam
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AlexSol Premium
Thank you so much Adam ;)
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Kit-Wealth Premium
Awesome post, thanks!
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AlexSol Premium
Glad you liked it :)
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FOXMOBILE4U Premium
Congratulations on your success. I like to read stories like these.
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AlexSol Premium
Thanks for reading ;)
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NORZ Premium
Wow, great story Alex. I'm really fascinated that you are also doing an offline business. Great advise also. I will always keep it in mind. :D
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AlexSol Premium
The important thing to keep in mind is that WA led me to it. If I never joined WA I would have probably be at a typical boring 9 to 5 job...
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NORZ Premium
That is I'm still sticking with WA even though I'm making nothing yet from my website. I know someday I will be there. Thanks again bro. :)
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RKingsley Premium
Cool history! I love this kind of stuff (once it works out!)
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AlexSol Premium
Thanks! If it didn't work out though, it would have been a good lesson ;)
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RKingsley Premium
Absolutely. But not as cool a story - just a good one for telling at the bar ;)
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RKingsley Premium
I've been having a similar struggle to get beer to Japan - unfortunately my contact with the introductions is keeping his contacts very close to his chest, so I have to hope that he is as proactive as you :-/
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AlexSol Premium
Yeah that's understandable. Also... BEER? That's huge :)
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KatieMac Premium
That is wonderful news Alex congratulations and thank you for the inspiring post
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AlexSol Premium
Glad you liked it ;)
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mjN4success Premium
Great story, very inspirational! Congratulations!!!!
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AlexSol Premium
Thank You for reading ;)
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Dinh Premium
Wow Alex,I admire your perseverance!
congrats on getting picked up on UO. Best of luck with the product!
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AlexSol Premium
Thank You Dinh!
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Pios2012 Premium
Congratulations and thanks for sharing. Have a nice day. Good luck.
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AlexSol Premium
Thanks!
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dickw Premium
Alex you are truly remarkable in your persistence and pursuit of detail. Not too many would have bothered working with bumblers. Congratulations......Dick
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AlexSol Premium
Oh thanks man ;)
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hoover Premium
Thats a great story and great success!!! Thanks for sharing and congrats!
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AlexSol Premium
Thanks for checking it out.
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JauA Premium
Hi Alex. Congratulations on your success, and most of all, for not giving up. Great blog which certainly relates to us here when we feel that nobody is going to look at our site, etc. etc. Being new members, what we need most of all is success stories. We can do it! Regards. Jan
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AlexSol Premium
Thanks a lot Jan!
Success stories from others always motivated me to keep moving, especially here at WA!
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Mike-Writes Premium
Glad you didn't give up. All your hard work paid off. Even though it was stressful. Well done!
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AlexSol Premium
Thanks Mike. Giving up is not a choice anymore ;)
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JackTomon Premium
Alex, Great story and Inspiring. Great perseverance. Well done and thanks for sharing. Jack
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AlexSol Premium
Thanks for reading the post Jack ;)
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Swangirl Premium
Congratulations! Thank you for sharing this. It is really an inspiration for me to not give up on my business dreams!
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AlexSol Premium
I am so happy to hear you liked it ;)
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gmegs Premium
Wow Alex!
Than's an incredible story, and we don't know a lot of it.

Well done indeed - congratulations!
I'm inspired by and proud of you.
I can't believe DHL - I hope they compensated you for their nightmarish blunder.

I think I would have been totally gray by the end of this ordeal if it had been me.
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AlexSol Premium
Hahaha, it seems like my family is gray hair resistant :)
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Westwaters Premium
Glad things finally worked out. Some day when you look back on this whole situation you'll know it was definitely all worth, and "Behind you now" !
Good perseverence...I'm sure we'll all take a page from your experience!
Kathy (Westwaters)
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AlexSol Premium
Thanks Kathy. There is always something to do when you're an entrepreneur :)
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LesleyHamlin Premium
I'm know we're all proud of you here at WA to have accomplished so much.
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AlexSol Premium
Thank You! The good thing is that anyone here is capable of doing it!
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lorenzow93 Premium
This inspirational story gave me the extra push I needed. As I myself am currently in the process of setting up my own business outside of WA and it is a lot of work. Thanks for sharing your story and congratulation to you and your significant other for making it happen. No matter how many problems came your way you were able to maintain focus and composure and got it done!
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AlexSol Premium
I am glad you got your push ;)
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jallen4 Premium
Thanks Alex. Hard work, persistence and that never give up attitude leads to your success. Well done.
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AlexSol Premium
Hard work definitely matters ;)
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SJB Premium
You're not lucky! You are a hard worker with the right success oriented attitude! Good for you and thank you for this story! WOW! You must be and SHOULD be so proud of yourself! Congratulations!
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AlexSol Premium
Thank You :)
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NatNiches Premium
Wow, what a journey. So true that people just assume things - and don't realise what has gone on behind the scenes. Congrats with your product!
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AlexSol Premium
Totally :)
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Ventures2000 Premium
Thanks Alex. It's a great lesson on never giving up. The very definition of an entrepreneur. Well done
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AlexSol Premium
Never give up is right :)
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TonyHamilton Premium
Awesome Alex,

Great that persistence does indeed payoff and not giving up separates those that accomplish things from those that just dream of accomplishing things.

Thank You for sharing Alex, I found this to be a truly inspirational and motivating post that everyone and anyone that has ever thought of quitting because of a roadblock here and there should read.

Tony
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AlexSol Premium
Thanks Tony!
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JennsTips Premium
Wow, thanks for informing us all about the long process that's really involved in manufacturing your own products. Kudos to you :)
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AlexSol Premium
Manufacturing was the easy part :)
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JennsTips Premium
Well that's good to know :)
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Cortex2k Premium
Wow Alex.. Inspiring story. It really proves that being persistent by never giving up and believing in yourself will make You a winner!
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AlexSol Premium
Thanks!

I see it as "If others have done it so can I" :)
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Polycount Premium
Jesus! That's amazing and very interesting. Thank you for going through the whole process and explaining your thought processes behind everything. Cool stuff and very inspiring.
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AlexSol Premium
happy to hear you liked the post
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OldMCSEGuy Premium
ABSOLUTELY WONDERFUL!!!! THIS IS WHAT I LOVE TO HEAR ABOUT.
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AlexSol Premium
Thanks!
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dianegailit Premium
That is fantastic and I am a big fan of Urban Outfitters :-) Long process but well worth your persistence. Congratulations, Alex!
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AlexSol Premium
Thank you so much!
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Junkexchange Premium
Congrats! Please send me a private message re: wholesale - We are opening a store here in Waco on May 1, and are looking for unique items. College town. Great location. Thanks, Rod and Troy
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AlexSol Premium
Done ;)
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DanielLara Premium
Congratulations, Alex! Really great story, and a lot of lessons behind. Being from Brazil, I am very familiar with dumb bureaucracy and how that impacts businesses. The good news is that once you start building a personal relationship with the people in your supply chain (invest in this!) you will be able to do stuff faster and easier.
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AlexSol Premium
Oh yes that's a big one!
We now have an "in" at UO and that could be big for future ventures :)
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DanielLara Premium
It's easy to trick ourselves into thinking that even though we are working online we will not have to work with "real people" in the "real world". As soon as you spread your wings, like you have, you will be forced to deal with some of the issues that are often the reasons why we open online businesses. However, where there is a pain point there is also an opportunity. Not everybody is wiling to put in the effort like you have, and you have already broken an important barrier that you will not have to break again. Invest in your product and keep this path to UO open - it seems like a great opportunity. Soon enough you will be able to sell other similar merchandise.
In Brazil, there's a company called Men's Market, which were pioneers in men care items. They created a ghost company called Malmo that caters to a similar genre that you are working on - beard oil, shampoos, hair pomades, etc. They were initially greeted with prejudice, as many people thought that the Brazilian market wasn't ready for this due to prejudice and culture. Turns out that in 1 year they are a premier level start-up, and are more and more able to centralize things such as logistics and product production.
Anyway.. This is just to say that I think that the beard oil is a great idea, and that there is a niche and interest in the market for handmade products with an identity and the notion of being hand-made nowadays. Think about expanding to other similar products once you have the scale!
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AlexSol Premium
Very interesting story! I'd have to look up Malmo for more info ;)

We have a second product under the brand that sells well on Amazon and we'll be expanding our line of products this summer when we come back home from our 4 months travels :D
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DanielLara Premium
My mistake - Malmo (http://www.mensmarket.com.br/vito)is the accessories brand. The "beauty products" so to speak is Vito - http://www.mensmarket.com.br/vito. Could be an interesting case study; even though the Men's Market website is is Portuguese it's easy enough to figure out what the products are, especially because most of them are name (somewhat) in English.
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Brooklyn2008 Premium
WOW What a journey you just went through!! But you're right, step by step and remain calm is the only way to get through it all. Congrats on your success :)
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AlexSol Premium
Thanks ;)
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Buddle Premium
Congrats Alex. SUCH an achievement!
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AlexSol Premium
Thank You!
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DKirsch Premium
You're story is one of perseverance and inspiration.

The late North Carolina State basketball coach Jim Valvano when speaking about his most dire circumstances of stage four cancer implored, 'Don't give up. Don't ever give up'.

These words ring true.
Whatever uphill struggle one is battling, never give up the fight

Kudos to both you and your lady, Alex.
You ARE inspirational.
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AlexSol Premium
Thank You so much ;)

I've interviewed some very successful business owners and they all admitted they had no clue what they were doing while building their million dollar businesses. It's pretty much the same for everyone ;)
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billybons Premium
Hi, Alex!
Once again you're proving that consistent action will prevail. As they say- the water grinds the stone drop by drop. Congratulation! Kirill.
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AlexSol Premium
Haha, drop by drop is true :)
Thanks for checking it out Kirill!
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billybons Premium
My pleasure!
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Tyler96 Premium
I know the pain, I can't even began to list all the problems I encountered when launching my first product! It was hell, but I got through it.

If anyone can take anything from this it's not everything is going to be easy, ESPECIALLY the things worth doing, like Alex said step by step, couldn't be more true.

When I first started I would stay up at night unable to sleep stressing about everything that needed to be done and everything I needed to know... DHL, branding, communicating and negotiating with suppliers, UPC codes, the whole mile, it was new to me, and I was overwhelmed

I had to eventually come to my senses and stop wallowing in self pity and decided to do something about it.

It took as much as me literally planning my day, day by day, hour by hour, taking one task at a time and pacing myself to ensure I was taking steady action.

This can be applied for those of you new to WA, just follow the training and don't bight off more than you can chew, baby steps!

Anyway, awesome post Alex!
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AlexSol Premium
Exactly man. Totally loving the "not everything is going to be easy, ESPECIALLY the things worth doing" statement. That's so true :)

I had no idea to which point the retail world is different from online world. This is why Affiliate model is so amazing, you don't need to worry about what I described or what you described :)
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joshdsouza Premium
This is the kind of story that summarizes what owning a business means. Even after so many hassles you would rather stick to running your own business than go back to a job with a steady paycheck....I hope :)
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AlexSol Premium
Quit my last job over 8 years ago and not planning on ever getting another one ;)
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Haymanc75 Premium
This is a really cool story! I appreciate you sharing all of the details. It really shows that your hard work and persistence paid off!

I wish you the best of luck in your sales. I just shaved off my beard for which I already had a beard balm and oil I was very happy with.

However, after hearing your story, when I grow my beard back, I would be happy to try your product. If your product is half as awesome as your story, I am sure I will be a very satisfied customer.

Thanks for the inspiring story as well. I needed encouragement in persistence and taking things step by step as I get overwhelmed sometimes when I don't see results in my site and completely want to give up even though many have said that my site is coming along well and my content seems very good.

Thanks again and best of luck.
Chris
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AlexSol Premium
Oh no Chris, poor beard of yours ;)

On a serious note though, sometimes it takes very long to see the results but if you keep at it the results will eventually snowball! I've seen that happen too many times :)
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IgorVonE Premium
Wow, what a rollercoaster! Good job on following through on everything (never realised it's such a hassle to get something onto a shelf at a store). And Congratulations for making it happen!!!
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AlexSol Premium
To be totally honest, if I knew it would be such a hassle I wouldn't have started it. Which kind of proves the point: Don't try to learn everything at once, take it day by day ;)
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Sui_generis Premium
That's amazing!!!!!! GREAT job!
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AlexSol Premium
Thank You
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AlejandraB Premium
Great Job Alex, !
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AlexSol Premium
Thanks ;)
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sloane Premium
Alex, tenacity and hard work pay off. For sharing your detailed email. I found it extraordinarily informative and appreciate your generosity. I just joined WA less than a week ago and these kinds of posts just provide the kind of motivation I need to figure out how to get a successful business online step-by-step! Bravo and good luck with sales at UO!
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AlexSol Premium
Thanks! Hoping they'll sell fast enough ;)
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3dandelions Premium
Woo-hoo!! Congrats to you and your determination!!
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AlexSol Premium
Thanks ;)
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JudeP Premium
WOW! Just wow! Well done to you :)
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AlexSol Premium
Thank You!
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