Lots has happened since the close of the campaign on November 30, 2020 and I wanted to give you all an update on what’s been going on and what to expect in the coming months.
As you may recall, the original "ask" was 56K, which would have let me order all 4 Truli designs in every size while meeting the manufacturer's minimum order quantity. However, 2 weeks into the campaign, it was clear I wasn't going to hit the target, so I connected with the manufacturer to figure out what options I had. They allowed me to reduce my order quantities, but with restrictions. From the manufacturer's perspective, there are 3 different sizing sets: standard, plus, and long torso. Each of these were given a reduced minimum order quantity.
Based on the new information and with permission from IFundWomen, I was able to reduce the target to something more achievable at 20K. We continued to work our butts off spreading the word and by November 30th we had surpassed the 20K with pre-orders and contributions amounting to 25,219USD. Additional orders outside of the campaign made in Canadian dollars equalled approximately 3,800USD. I felt SO PROUD of this result! Despite so many "non-ideal" parameters, this achievement demonstrated a very real demand for women's wetsuits in all sizes as well as a trust in Truli from the public that we were the ones to make it happen.
All in all, there were a total of 97 wetsuit orders:
Once the campaign closed, I spent the first week doing the accounting and making the payments owed to the IFundWomen platform, payment provider, partners Stream2Sea and Scuba Sisters and organizing shipments of Truli t-shirts and tanktops.
I also collected customers' size measurements to understand fully the range of sizes that were needed. There was all kinds of number crunching going on in December to see how it was possible to get the best inventory order possible within the restrictions they set out and with less than the actual amount needed to make a full purchase. But it just wasn't adding up. I looked into additional funding options like loans and investors to make up the remaining funds to purchase what we needed, but the clock was ticking and I needed to send the manufacturer funds or they were going to cancel everything.
Inventory Purchase and Hard Decisions
In the end, I made the hard decision to cut out 2 of the designs for this particular inventory purchase as well as some size groups, like the long torso and standard sizes. NOTE: The 2 new sizes that bring the total Truli size range from 21 sizes to 23 were included and will be available with the new inventory.
I put in an order for the Truli-Ful the Beautiful 5.5mm full coverage wetsuit in sizes from Empower and up. Anyone who pre-ordered and whose size is below Empower, I decided to take from the current inventory to distribute. That means they will be able to receive their wetsuit sooner.
The other design I chose was the next most popular, the Truli-Capri 3.5mm sleeveless capri. I purchased sizes from Leader and up; however, I was not able to purchase any long torso sizes.
The Truli-Mi design only had 14 orders and the Truli-Hapi with 9 orders. I've given these customers the option to receive a Truli-Capri instead or the potential to upgrade to a Truli-Ful IF their size is available.
Once I made the payment and got the confirmation from the manufacturer, I could see that their expected finish date is July 7th, 2021. The transit time for it to arrive in Canada will be 4 weeks after. On top of all of that, I got a notice from them stating that due to the depreciation of the USD and an ongoing increase in raw materials, they are requiring an additional 3% payment prior to shipment until it improves - awesome.
I've felt pretty bummed about having to make these adjustments and this crazy delay, but at the same time, once I finally made the decision I felt relief and a clearer vision of what needed to happen next and for 2021.
What's up 2021?! I'm ready for you!
SO, these are the very cool things that will be happening between now and when the next inventory order arrives….
🔥 Another crowdfunding campaign in the spring is very seriously being contemplated to top up the inventory and get all the sizes we weren't able to get the first time around. Now that I am really familiar with the process of crowdfunding and what needs to happen even before launch, I feel that the reach can be SO MUCH greater.
🔥 It's time to scale. Yes, there are uncertainties. Yes, there are delays. Yes, there are things I need to learn and figure out. The world of water sports is opening up for women and I want to keep moving forward to help support us on our water adventure goals. Even before the pandemic, I knew that I would need some outside help to support Truli's growth, but I had no idea how to approach this. I started to make contacts and do research and feel I've got the support network to be guided in this next stage with help from the IFundWomen team, locally in my Canadian county through the Grey Bruce Catapult program, and at my alma mater Wilfrid Laurier University women's entrepreneur network. I'll be taking the next little while to fine-tune my pitch deck and be intentional with approaching investors as opposed to reactionary and trying to throw things together to meet a deadline. This is the side of being an entrepreneur that I LOVE!
🔥 Product Development. All the while the campaign was on, I was preparing to submit an application for an incubator program for small businesses through the Faculty of Communication and Design at Ryerson University in Toronto. Their Creative Innovation Studio has these awesome programs that connect startups like Truli with students, advisors, and technology. I was particularly interested in their Fashion Zone as I was hoping to find individuals locally who could continue to help me fine-tune the Truli sizing system and online fittings, offer alterations, and start working on prototypes for some cool new wetsuits I have ideas for. As it turns out, they were super interested in Truli's neoprene world and the challenges I've been facing in ethical design, size diversity, and a sustainable business model and my application was accepted! So for the next 14 weeks I'll be working with their design team. I've been looking to collaborate with this type of creative skill set since I started THINKING about making wetsuits 8 years ago - I can barely contain my excitement on this endeavour!!
🔥 Wetsuit Sales. Although it will be some time before the NEW inventory arrives, I do still have a lot of wetsuits for sale! Don't stop connecting to learn what size we'd recommend and checking what is in stock. As well, if you are a Truli Wetsuit owner and you aren't using your Truli so much these days, consider posting it for sale in Sisterhood of the Travelling Wetsuit FB buy/sell/trade group. Every day I am accepting more women into this group who are looking for a Truli at a good deal and it's a perfect way to continue the life of your wetsuit.
My Truli Life ❤️
Personally, I'm still up here in the remote village of Tobermory, Ontario for the winter and for the foreseeable future. I work from home on Truli, I pick up some shifts at the local grocery store to stay connected to the community and have been moving A LOT slower than I have in the past. I didn't celebrate Christmas and New Year's in a traditional sense this year, which is not so unusual for me after spending so long working in tourism overseas. We decided out of an abundance of caution, to not leave our "zones". I stayed off social media a lot during this time and instead focused on getting outside. I've been layering my Truli-Hapi as a base layer underneath my Truli-Ful the Beautiful and trying my hand at SUP surfing, cold water snorkelling and diving. The extreme temperatures are thrilling and keep me on my toes to ensure I'm safe in the water as well as after and I'm really enjoying how incredible it feels post-cold water sessions. I don't actually enjoy cold water (does anyone???), but having the right gear to play outside, sure does make this lockdown much more manageable.