Alumni Spotlight: Reclaimed Stitches

A Business From The Need For Change

The world has changed. Not only has the world economy shut down, but people are also on edge. This is likely because we can’t leave our homes, and this can lead to isolation. 

We have lots of family members who work in the health industry, and talking to caregivers is eye-opening. Each family member has their own stories about health care workers getting sick and how our hospitals are becoming overwhelmed and turning into warzones. 

Along with the ongoing mayhem at hospitals, my wife and I started seeing first-hand how nervous people looked at the grocery store or other public areas. Who knew that the riskiest part of our weeks would be stepping out of the house and getting eggs and milk. 

Crazy times. 

Instead of becoming victims, we wanted to take action and provide solutions to our community. We saw that Amazon and other outlets were out of face masks, and our family wanted to help. 

The Beginning Of A Business From An Idea

Reclaimed Stitches has a humble start, and it is the brainchild of my wife, Ayasha. During one of our daily walks around our neighborhood, Ayasha said: “you know, I want to do something to help people who can’t get face masks.” 

In usual fashion, Ayasha laid out a “touchy, feely” vision of a business that makes masks and provides to our community while also giving masks away to people who can’t afford them/ in need. 

I am not as compassionate as Ayasha, but I knew she was onto something right when she told me about the business idea. 

Right, when we got back from the walk, we started discussing the idea with my mom, who happens to be a great seamstress, and we started fleshing out the overall concept and vision of the business. 

Entrepreneurship: Building A Business To Deliver Solutions

From the moment we started talking through the business idea, I started implementing the process and strategies I learned during my time at StarterStudio. We knew that we had to validate our concept, research competition, design product, and focus on a go-to-market strategy to deliver value as quickly as possible. 

It was a whirlwind of brainstorming, cutting patterns, and creating an online platform to sell our products. We had to focus on the end goal by validating our assumptions in an accelerated fashion, including: 

  1. Validate Our Business Idea: We used the process outlined by StarterStudio’s Idea State Accelerator to research the need for our potential product. This phase was pretty easy because we could look at Amazon and Walmart to see face masks out from stock. We also talked with 20 friends and family members to learn their needs and see if they would be interested in buying a mask from us. 
  2. Collect Feedback From Potential Customers: After we validated our business, we collected feedback from a core group of friends and family. We designed and produced 20 masks (they looked ugly) and sent them off. We asked recipients to wear the masks and provide feedback. This was easy because we used an online form with some questions, and we received some great feedback that helped us design better products. 
  3. Determine A Sustainable Business Model: We can make the best masks, but if we can’t differentiate our business and make money, then we wouldn’t be able to help our community. We determined the cost of material, cost of competitor products, and weighed those factors to how many masks we can make per hour. We found a sweet spot to charge a reasonable price while keeping quality high. 
  4. Communicate Our Business: Our masks are not thin paper masks, and we added a pouch to our masks to allow users to add a filter. This is just one factor that differentiates our product from competitors, and we worked to iron out the messaging to showcase this difference. The message continues to evolve, but we are centering all messaging around confidence, transparency, and trust… I think that’s important during this time of crisis. 
  5. Increase Sales & Marketing: I have been working with Starters StarterStudio for years, and Ayasha and I own a local marketing agency, so getting our product out there was pretty easy. We set up a simple 5-page website, installed e-commerce, and attached it to PayPal. We also started promoting in our circles and social media. Nothing special, but the important thing is that we got our message out quickly and started generating sales!

I think many entrepreneurs overthink stuff and get lost in the “high” of the dream. Dreams and thoughts are cheap; the only way we were to make any money was to get products made, shipped, and start promoting ourselves. 

I should mention that we went from concept to our first sale in less than five days. Five days! That’s crazy, and I know that we would not have been able to pull this much production off without the knowledge that StarterStudio provides its students. 

Move Fast & Fall Forward

We are building the business on the run, so it is tiring, and we have run into issues. For example, just today, I found out that our e-commerce system broke, and people couldn’t buy any products from us. 

That’s a bad thing! I had to do about an hour of troubleshooting to find a solution, but now it is working correctly (hopefully). 

We have lots of ideas to improve our messaging, add images, grow the product line, etc. But the bottom line is that we need to grow with iterative success. 

I am thankful for the tactics and mind-frame that I learned from StarterStudio. I know that we would have taken much longer and likely missed the opportunity if we didn’t know how to react, plan, and execute in a quick manner!