Julie & Stacey Invented The Only 4-in-1 Chair That Converts To A Cart
Julie Weldon discovered her greatest joy lies in helping business-minded people live each day to its fullest so she started A Salty Rim for business coaching and consulting. Weldon also launched a Kickstarter in Fall 2018 for a new outdoors brand O.M.E. Gear. She co-hosts the podcast, GSD Entrepreneur, to talk about business, life and getting sh*t done.
Stacey Pierce has always had a passion in the business start-up world where she has been on the ground floor of nine 10 start-ups. She also enjoys helping other business entrepreneurs navigate the waters of their business. Stacey is the Co-founder of A Salty Rim, a coaching and consulting firm based in Charleston, SC, and Co-host of GSD Entrepreneur podcast.
What motivated and inspired you to start your own business?
We both have an entrepreneurial spirit and enjoy the process of building new businesses. The concepts of O.M.E. Gear have been in the works for 20 years, starting with Julie’s Mom and Dad, and we wanted to make the dream come alive.
Tell us about your business.
Our company is called O.M.E. Gear (oceans + mountains = earth). Our signature product, The Wanderr, is a 4-in-1 transformer product. It is a recreational cart that you will load up and once you get to your destination it transforms into 3 comfortable chairs:
- A low to-the-beach chair
- A fully reclinable lounger
- A high off the ground “field” chair
The quick background story – my parents invented the concept of this product in 1998, got it patented, and tried to take it to market but ran out of money and know how. I picked it up, with a dear friend, 12 years later in 2010, redesigned it, then partnered with a mfg firm (sold them 60% of my company), and we took it to market.
We won best new invention at the Surf Expo Show and the Nat’l Hardware Show, and all the big players wanted it (Cabela’s, Dick’s, Costco, etc.). Long story short, our values and vision did not align at all with the mfg partner, so on the plane ride home from the trade show in 2014, after much painful deliberating, I wrote a 3-page resignation letter and walked away from it all.
Extremely hard decision, but one I had to make. Not surprisingly, they are dissolving that company, and my partner and I have redesigned the product a 3rd time, using all the consumer feedback, relationships built, and market research done to take this product to market right this time, and build a respected brand.
The former concept won best new invention at the Surf Expo Show and the Nat’l Hardware Show 4 years ago.
Where is your business based?
Charleston, SC, but our team lives in various places across the US.
What were the first few steps you took to get your business up and running?
- Questioned each other to make sure we really wanted to do this.
- Brought in the right strategic people to help us in the areas where we weren’t strong or skilled enough.
- Hired a patent attorney.
- Set up the business as a legal entity.
- Questioned each other again to make sure we really wanted to do this. 🙂
What has been the most effective way of raising awareness of your business and getting new customers?
- Utilizing our social network and business network to start sharing about our company to create a “buzz”.
- Purposefully building relationships with other brands in the industry.
- Creating and maintaining a presence on social media.
- Investing in hiring a PR firm (Chic Execs).
What have been your biggest challenges so far?
- Keeping our design firm on track and within budget.
- Finding friends and family investors that we like and trust.
- Getting the final prototype.
- Feeling the weight of spending each investor dollar correctly.
- Not having the actual product and trying to promote it.
How did you overcome these challenges?
- Lean into our team for their counsel / surround ourselves with “people smarter than us”.
- Being comfortable/confident with our investor pitch and realizing that every “no” brings us closer to a “yes”.
- Being hands-on with our design firm.
- Keeping our investors in the loop with monthly updates and how we are spending their money and what we are working on to move the project forward.
How do you keep motivated through difficult times?
- Knowing what we have is a good and quality product that we have validated in the market
- By leaning into each other and the team surrounding us
- Since it’s early on, every day is very exciting. 🙂
How do you distinguish yourself from your competitors?
- By inventing a product that doesn’t currently exist
- By making a quality luxury product at a fair price
- By making genuine relationships and connections be paramount in our company
- By calling/emailing people back quickly
What is the best advice you have received recently?
- Price conveys quality.
- When thinking of your long-term goal, don’t put a time limit on it, put a dollar value on it.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs?
- Don’t act like you know all the answers; ask good questions.
- Only say yes to the “hell yeah” things because so many things/people will pull at you. You’ve got to know you, and what you can and want to handle.
What are your favorite business tools/resources and why?
- Google Docs – easy to keep everything organized.
- Slack – great tool to keep a remote team in the loop and communicate.
- Zoom – great video conferencing capabilities to make conference calls more personal.
- Trello – project organization.
What is a good article or book you have read recently?
Clockwork by Mike Michalowicz.
What are you currently learning about for your business or looking for help with?
- Patience – that everything cost more and takes longer than we want.
- How to find the right investors who believe in you and buy into your vision.
- Finding the right products for our giveaway campaign… not being afraid to ask.
What are your goals for the next few months and how are you striving to achieve them?
- Finalize our product (almost there!).
- Make as many connections as we can with amazing people in the industry.
- Launch a successful Kickstarter campaign – doing a lot of research on various successful campaigns to learn best practices.
What social media outlets do you use? List them below.