Deco Slides

Slide sandals with swappable straps

Under 10 Employees
Multiple Founders
Founders Code
Design
E-Commerce
Fashion
Shopping

We just want to make fun slides that everyone can enjoy

Advice For Dealing With Physical Products

Coming from a software background, I vastly underestimated the headaches that would come with dealing with a physical product. Inventory shortages, pricing fluctuations, unreliable suppliers, big orders blowing up projections... There are a million things that can and do go wrong.

Some of these issues cannot be avoided, but many can. A few pieces of advice from someone who is learning the hard way:

  1. Project sales over the course of the lead time for a given piece of inventory. If you don't have at least double that number on hand, you should have already ordered more.
  2. ALWAYS, ALWAYS read the invoices carefully and be aggressive about requesting clarifying modifications, especially when dealing with people that aren't fluent in your language.
  3. ALWAYS, ALWAYS check to see that you've received 100% of the goods you ordered, even though it can be tedious to do so.
  4. Don't be cheap when sourcing new materials/products. Sample fees and shipping costs more than pay for themselves in the long run.
  5. When a customer says they need something ASAP, there's often some wiggle room. If it's going to end up costing extra to get something out the door on a tight schedule, make sure that you are actually dealing with a hard deadline.
  6. Know all of your costs (materials, shipping, labor, etc) like the back of your hand and always be on the lookout for potential savings.
  7. Be careful about committing to partnerships with wholesalers /collaborators. Is the increased sales volume worth the decreased margins and logistical overhead? I was listening to an episode of How I Built This with Lululemon founder Chip Wilson where he mentioned his former company, Westbeach, and the double edged sword of wholesaling. While the potential volume may be tempting, a rigorous cost benefit analysis is prudent (and something I'll need to get better about in the near future).

Outsourcing the busywork, update

For the last 6 weeks or so we found 2 guys home for the summer after their first year of college to do a lot of the manual labor. Hiring them was the best decision we made -- it freed up a ton of time and gave us good insights into what it would take time and effort wise to manage a team of employees.

A few takeaways:

  1. You're probably always going to be the fastest/best at the work you outsource. That's to be expected -- you know what needs to be done better than anyone else and have ultimate motivation. The key to successfully delegating is to acknowledge that fact and decide what your bar for performance is among your employees, factoring in how good their work is, how much they cost you, and how hands on you need to be with them.
  2. Your time is (nearly) invaluable. You can't grow the business if you're stuck doing busywork. If you can efficiently put additional hours into growth vs operations, figure out how to outsource operations ASAP.
  3. Micromanage at first, then back off. I don't enjoy looking over shoulders because I hate that feeling when I'm on the other end (as I assume most Indiehackers do), but when you're training someone it'll be better in the long run. Back off as you feel more confident in the work produced, however DON'T make the mistake of checking out completely.

Milestone: Outsourcing the busywork

One of the things that makes our product awesome is that we print all of slides on demand from our workshop in upstate NY. Because we do this, we don't have to hold nearly as much inventory as we would otherwise and can turn around custom work within a day. On the flip side, someone has to actually do the physical work of printing and shipping the slides.

Up until now, that someone has been the two of us, which has helped us set up good processes and understand our product. However, at this point it has become a huge time suck. Starting tomorrow we're hiring part-time labor to do this work for us at $12/hr. This should free us up to focus on the marketing and business side of things, which we're really excited about.

Idea: Cold Emailing Likely Customers

A major part of our business is selling slides with custom designs on them to nascent brands, teams, or small businesses. We've noticed that in particular we get many requests from beauty salons wanting to put their logo on slides, for both personal and resale use. Since it seems like this could be a hot market for us, we wrote a quick script that uses the yp.com API to pull email addresses of hair salons in NY state near us. We're going to try and send a cold sales pitch to these businesses to see if anyone bites.

First revenue goal: $4k for June

We're 5 days away from the end of the month and currently at $3,399.62 in revenue for June. Our goal is to get to $4,000 by eod June 30, so it'll be close. Most of our revenue comes from larger orders that usually have a 2-3 week sales cycle, and I'm not sure that we have enough in the pipeline to get us across the finish line. Fingers crossed!

We just want to make fun slides that everyone can enjoy