Archive for the ‘XOG -Starting a business’ Category

The Tennis Pro and XOG

Tuesday, August 2nd, 2011

At our Gym, (In-Shape Tracy) we have a really nice tennis facility. I have made a lot of friends there, and if I am not at work, or at home, I am at the club hitting balls.
I have also had some reasonable success with XOG underwear at the club as well. I have no issues with giving a way a free pair if someone will at least try them. One person in particular is the tennis pro, AG. AG has become someone that I would call a good friend, and I have never even taken a lesson with him. NOT that I wouldn’t mind you. After playing Tennis for 16 months, it sounds silly to say that I just cannot seem to find the time to schedule a lesson. The wife thinks that I spend far too much time there…and she may have a point. Prior to the baby, I was out there 4-5 times a week. Open nights are Tuesdays and Thursdays, with Saturday mornings having the same format. I hated missing even one of these “social” events. And once I began to meet people, or I guess the right way to word it would be, once my skills advanced enough, I found that I was able to play on other evenings and Sunday mornings. There area few folks that are as caught up with Tennis as I am, and fortunately for me, they are all better than I am. This means that my game started improving even faster.
Anyway, back to AG…I gave him a pair, and I kid you not if AG did not call me that same evening asking for 10 more pair! Since then I pretty much pay him in product for my racket stringing -which he does a great job. (to be continued)

Update:
AG has left our club, and with his leaving, so has our contact ended. I cannot seem to get hold of him and I wish he and his family the best.

Talk about not getting with the program

Wednesday, July 28th, 2010

That is the best title that I could come up with…sad.
I recently updated my index page for www.xovergear.com based upon feedback from a guy I just met this week. I was scheduled to play flex league Tennis here in the Tri-valley area (Bay Area), but due to tearing my meniscus I was basically unable to play for more than a month. I got pretty far behind schedule for my matches, but everyone in my flight have been pretty good about it.
I am playing in a mens’ flex league at the 3.5 level -since the flex league season began, I have been moved up to a 4.0 rating based upon some doubles performances that I have had… Getting back into the flex league after more than a month off, my lunch time opponent that I played against yesterday (I scheduled 2 matches, lunch and evening) mentioned that he visited my site and asked if I would like any feedback. “Of course” was my response, so he basically cleaned up the text on the front page. I sent him a pair of briefs for the help -actually, I was sending them to him regardless as he sounded interested, and I could use all the interest I can get. BTW -I beat him in 3 sets, and am happy as I seriously thought that I was going to get pounded. He beat me the first set 6-2! The next two sets were both tiebreaks which I squeaked by. I remember thinking going into the 3rd set that win or lose, this was a fun match. Maybe I am actually starting to mature??? J/K I am still competitive, but seriously not too concerned with my singles skills as I am not sure how long my body will hold up to singles competition. It is partly due to my competitive nature that I feel will ultimately do in my body, as I tend to play each point too hard. I am starting to realize that at 45, I really need to play more intelligently and not run myself ragged -even though that is fun in itself and is a good portion of the reasoning behind my picking up tennis in 2009 in the first place. The best way to preserve my body I have found is to avoid single competition and stick to doubles…but singles is the truest test on a tennis court that there is.
Anyway, in summary, sport has once again provided the motivation to get around to updating my site and trying to take this underwear project more seriously. The desire is there on my part, but in streaks…I don’t want to make excuses, but I do have a lot of them (excuses that is).

MAGIC Las Vegas Day three

Wednesday, February 25th, 2009

MAGIC, Las Vegas, day three (Thursday Feb 19)
The last day was a wash for us. I wanted to attend a seminar today, but I attended it yesterday completely by chance. The show itself was winding down all day. So we walked and talked. We met some pretty cool companies… The folks at 180S kicked down a free pair of gloves to the wife and me. Nice gloves for skiing and boarding and will definitely come in handy. Easy to talk to folks and I want to give a shout out to them. So when you are looking at ski gloves, 180S has some really cool features…one of which includes a special finger for operation of iPods without having to remove your gloves. So if you ski or board while listening to tunes, there is no other option than 180S. The gloves are quality, not gimmicky.
Also talked with some folks from Kuhl (pronounced cool). Not really fashion in the strictest sense, but some nice outdoor wear and base layer stuff. Very high quality and I can already attest to the functionality of their gear. It is cold and rainy here in NorCal right now and I am wearing a wool 3/4 zip pullover with a unique lining that is similar to fleece, but different. Retails for around $100, which is pricey for a guy who looks for sales when buying functional clothing, but clearly quality stuff. I will be washing it this evening to see how it holds up –always important.
One other goal of my trip to MAGIC was to try and find sales representation…I feel that a rep can do a lot with a good product. In one of the seminars, I was called upon to explain why I had raised my hand to a “survey” type question, and in explaining, I mentioned that I was a startup with product warehoused in our garage at home. So a rep from the Las Vegas area approached me and we exchanged business cards…I called to follow up but no response as of yet. Perhaps men’s underwear was not what she was looking to add to her line card? As for other leads regarding reps, I have nothing to report, though I was told to look into LinkedIn…I am already on LinkedIn, so was apprehensive about doing something not related to my primary job since I have many contacts from within my present company. So I have opened another account with XOvergear as my company.
Summary:
By the end of the week, I was exhausted. We were so tired at the end of each day from all of the standing and walking, we failed to partake in any late night activities. The most we did was eat out and one night we went and got foot massages. 75 minutes well spent. My legs still felt exhausted afterwards, but the process of getting the work done was so relaxing. I wanted to get a full body massage, especially being in Las Vegas…but I am still nursing some cracked ribs and simply could not imagine trying to lay on my stomach. I can’t even lay face down in bed yet and it has been 3 weeks since using my upper body to try and break up the ice while snowboarding. I will also admit that walking the show opened up a lot of ideas for us, with decisions as to how we might move forward. Business decisions that we will need more time to consider.

MAGIC Las Vegas Day two

Wednesday, February 25th, 2009

MAGIC, Las Vegas, day two (Wednesday Feb 18)
Today I spent some time attending seminars and quickly learning that the seminars appeared to be primarily geared towards larger established companies or companies that are quickly growing/expanding. In fact, I am starting to feel that the entire show is that way. I was amazed at how many smaller retailers and companies were on display…and the reason for my amazement was that according to discussions with others, a single (smallest) booth (8×8) runs in the neighborhood of $5000 for the show!
Anyway, back to the seminars. I attended a couple of seminars regarding global sourcing (strategies and options) as well as how to lower cost of landed goods. Again, I got the distinct impression that startups really have to work hard to pull relevant information from these seminars as they tend to focus on how to manage and rate multiple factories in multiple countries etc.
Closing out the seminars on Wednesday was “e-retailing and marketing 101”…finally a seminar that applies to someone in my position! So the seminar begins, and I find that it is actually a seminar called “Fashion business Inc. presents “starting and branding a new clothing and accessory line””. I am thinking to myself that I must have confused my days, since the guide that I have shows this seminar to be on Thursday at 4:00. It turns out that it was in fact moved up a day, and was the ONLY other relevant seminar for a new business/start-up and was on my short list to attend. Oh, and the discussion that I had planned on attending? –it was moved to another room FOR THE SAME TIMESLOT! Ok, the message is pretty clear by now. If you are a small business or start-up, you are not all that important. I mean, I spent the better part of a day listening to the issues facing companies like Ann Taylor and JC Penney, companies I might add, that have very little in common with me and those like me, only to find that the two seminars most relevant for new businesses are arranged so that they are in the same timeslot but in two separate rooms. I fully understand moving the discussion from Thursday at 4:00 –after all, the show ends on Thursday. But in moving, clearly no thought was given to the timeslot selected. Not to mention that the guide which I picked up on Tuesday afternoon was incorrect. I did not occur to me to investigate the accuracy of the shows and their respective timeslots.
It is not my intention to be a whiner. I learned a ton by walking the show as well as attending seminars. In fact, I met some folks in the same boat as me w/r/t starting their own businesses and feeling that the discussions were ignoring them. I hope to continue communicating with some of these folks…

MAGIC Las Vegas Day one

Wednesday, February 25th, 2009

MAGIC, Las Vegas, day one (Tuesday Feb 17)
Today is the day where we finally attend THE clothing tradeshow. It is called MAGIC and it is huge! The wife and I flew together and met her sister just a few hours later. Her sister decided that she wanted to come along at the last minute and I was all for it. She is a seriously gabby girl, and I figured I could use all the help that I could get. She is also a lot of fun to be around, and she was only going to do the first two days before heading back to the family.
The first thing that I learned after getting our badges is that we arrived a day later than we should have. What I mean by this is that being a start-up, my goal was to attend as many seminars as possible, and Monday, day one (the day before the show opens), was the first of their many seminars. “Sourcing ABCs” followed by “Developing a fashion product and getting it manufactured” were on the agenda for Monday, and both really apply to what I’m trying to do at XOver. Of course, one thing that I learned by the end of the week is that the guide I was carrying with me was subject to change. In fact, it did change in one instance which made little to no sense to me –more on that later.
There were no shows of interest to me on Tuesday, so I spent the day in the Sourcing building talking about fabrics and possible manufacturers for future production. I am still very happy with my contact in Shanghai, and I look forward to doing more business with him, but I need to be able to keep him honest with pricing. So I dropped some samples with various manufactures in the hope of getting competitive pricing bids for comparison purposes as well as samples to check their quality. –I fully realize that I may very well have to redo a lot of the work that went into getting a finished product if I were to change suppliers at this time. The first time around, it took the better part of a year to iron out all the details and I would expect nothing less a second time around –unless I was able to travel to China and spend significant time overseeing things.

SEO rambling

Wednesday, December 17th, 2008

I believe that I have mentioned in previous posts that I have retained the services of a company that specializes in SEO –search engine optimization. The company name is Visible.net, and the nice thing about this outfit is that they are there whenever I need them. Meaning, when I call them during work hours, I have had at least a 95% hit rate when it comes to getting a person to actually speak with. Unfortunately, having a day job means that not only do I not have the time to call during normal work hours, but I find that I have trouble thinking of intelligent questions to ask of them when I do. I mean, I do have one question…when are sales going to increase? –in case you are wondering, yes, I have asked them this very question –earlier today in fact.

Having recently installed Google Analytics, I am now able to track hits to my site in a far more comprehensive manner than using the Yahoo! based site tools that come with hosting through Yahoo!. I can even view the location of visitors to my site. Things are so slow right now; I have the time to look at every single hit. Visible.net is supposed to help me with getting my web page to show up on web searches for any number of things…from men’s boxer briefs, to men’s cotton underwear. One thing is painfully clear to me. Traffic is not getting to my site. I would venture to say that I have a fairly encouraging “sale to unique visitor” ratio of maybe between 1% and 5%. But with some days only having a single site hit (unique visitor), or worse, none…it is hard to generate sales. I have taken to selling on ebay with seriously discounted pricing levels from now until Christmas. Profitability is extremely low, but I am really hoping that folks buy and if they like what they see, they return. There is where my confidence is high. –as mentioned in a previous entry, the sizing is the only area where I have some reservations, and that is easily overcome…just order a size larger…

I have also gone and joined MySpace, as well as Facebook. MySpace seems better suited to promoting XOvergear.com than Facebook, But that might have more to do with my complete lack of familiarity with both. Visit me at Facebook…under the name of Xover Gear. I am not sure how to search…but if you are familiar and reading this, it may be a simple thing. Suggestions are always welcome.

Just to be clear, my efforts mentioned above are targeted at SEO. As much as I like the folks at Visible.net, after 4 months I have not seen any improvement in site visits. Anytime that I see a spike in visits, I can pretty much trace it back to a particular event that I did on my own. eBay is a perfect example. I have posted some product for sale on eBay in which I have posted a link to my xovergear.com site for additional sizing information, -this realized a rather quick increase in site activity.
I know that I also need to work on my social bookmarking. Some sites that come to mind include the following that I have or am in the process of joining…technorati.com, delicious.com, flickr.com, partnerup.com…as well as some that I am hoping I get started with soon, including, twitter.com, dmoz.com, etc… I am sure that there are more, but I am guessing that using what I’ve already signed up for might help me the most. I have started searching for forums on entrepreneurship, and starting a business, but have had limited success. I did find a discussion forum on MySpace forums, but I have not had time to read through much of it.

Tell you what, I sure wish that I knew how to work with sites like Facebook and MySpace, and even wordpress –which is what I use for my blog. I want to improve the appearance of all three, but find you need to know code, not to mention the complete lack of an intuitive building structure. I have attempted some things on MySpace with very (extremely limited) success. Same goes for wordpress. You are reading my blog now.

I wonder if using MSN homepage and their blog page would be helpful? I am guessing that it may not be worth my time, especially considering the issues I have with what I am currently engaged.

Anyway, getting late and I gotta run…
“keep the rubber side down:

Shrinkage???

Wednesday, December 17th, 2008

I just got feedback from a fellow traveler that I gave a free sample to, (who turned around and ordered a dozen more). He sent me an email letting me know that his shorts seem to be shrinking! His comments were to the effect that they shrunk even after the first wash. Now, I have attempted to replicate just about every scenario that might exist in the design of my underwear, and I have noticed that the underwear will shrink a small amount after the first washing, but I have not seen any noticeable changes after that. In fact, I wrote the shrinkage off to a fabric that was no longer relaxed and flat (as it comes out of the package).
Further communications with this fellow traveler to see if I might learn exactly how they are being laundered failed to turn anything up that would be considered out of the ordinary. I include laundering instructions on my packaging indicating to steer clear of hot cycles and more importantly, very hot dryers, but that was more for fear that the heat, especially during drying, would attack the rubber in the Spandex. A fear that has not yet been confirmed in all the wash cycles that I have subjected my product to…

But this does raise a concern –and some comments as well. I did all of my own design work, meaning the shipping of samples back and forth between the factory and me, using leftover material that was of similar composition to my material, but NOT the same weight. Similar in this case meaning the cotton/spandex ratio of the material. The weight that I am using on my first shipment is a heavier weight cotton/spandex than one can purchase directly from a supplier (off the shelf). I have noticed that my sizes of the finished product are not exactly what I was expecting (and had designed). While I still wear a size M, the production sized M is much snugger fitting than the samples that we sent back and forth during the course of a year of development. A reality check confirmed this to be the case as I still have all my samples (which are all size M) in my underwear drawer and they fit loosely in comparison.
If money was not an object, I would be placing another order with revised specifications for size, and would discount the existing units to try and move quickly. This size issue seems to affect the all cotton shorts more so than the mesh with cotton. Of course, discounting them now just might help with sales, since traffic to my site has been dismal. See other update…(SEO)

Once I get to reorder time I will be updating my sizing, as well as getting some new colors out there. I am also working on a few other ideas, which I will discuss in another entry…

Technorati submission

Monday, November 10th, 2008

This is my submission to Technorati
Technorati Profile

As an FYI, this is a part of my attempt to increase traffic to my website: XOvergear performance apparel as business has been slow. I will not blame the economy as I do not believe that the economy is doomed. Things will bounce back, and let’s face it, good economy or not, folks need underwear. I cannot help but think that our boxer briefs and trunks are the best deal in designer men’s underwear period. I will admit that they are not for everyone, but if you like them, you love them. I would say that better than 50% end up wanting more. The fit is snug, some call it a “European fit”…I call it an athletic fit. I want achieve success, if for no other reason than to prove my theory that the big manufacturers are only in it for the money. I badly wish to move forward with new colors and designs. I want to release my ideas for women’s sleepwear -which will simply be boy shorts for the bottoms along with form fitting tanks and tees for the tops.
Then there are the men’s dress/workout XOver tee shirts that I want to start designing and offering. All logos will be placed strategically so that they can be worn under white dress shirts. Later, you can wear them at the gym without having to look like you are wearing wife beater or bargain tee shirts…

More to come…

SEO and other updates

Tuesday, September 16th, 2008

Where to start? Online business has not picked up…in fact, I would venture to say that it is down or even non-existent if the past two weeks are any indication.
We have signed up with a company (Visible.net) that specializes in SEO as well as web marketing. They cautioned me not expect to see much improvement for at least 4-5 months. It is all a matter of trying to move the XOver website up in web rankings with search engines. To that end, I am trying a few things on my own…this blog being one of them. It turns out that Blogging is supposed to be helpful for online businesses. To think, I thought that it might be interesting to just document this whole “starting a business” adventure. So the blog idea came way before my learning that it won’t hurt my website any. As mentioned earlier, it does not seem to be helping either come to think of it.
Starting this business, little did I know or realize how little time I would have to focus on this. That is the price one pays for actually having a day job that extends into the evening more often than not. This is not me whining, just stating fact. I am sure that it comes as no surprise to anyone that has actually started a business in their lifetime. This is not to say that it is not rewarding, it is actually fun. Even if not exactly financially rewarding, the fact that I was able to follow up an idea and actually do something about it…and the thrill of knowing that the result really works as been it’s own reward. I have been wearing my underwear designs for a year now, and I still love wearing them. It is hard NOT to use the blog as an avenue to self promote, as I really believe in what I am doing, and only time will tell if I am right. At least there are others that feel the same way that I do. While I would expect friends and family to support me, my very first online sale to a customer in Indiana resulted in a Yahoo feedback being completed (unprompted I should add) with “excellent” ratings across the board. While it has not yet resulted in more sales to this person just yet, I feel a small victory nonetheless.

I have also managed to receive some testimonials. I asked a few customers if they would be interested in having their comments appear on my website in the form of testimonials, and I had two responses within the day. Doug and Doug. I just posted another testimonial from Allen, and they can be seen at XOver testimonials . In the event that you might have visited my site, I expect that I will be pulling down the hair and skin care page. For starters, we do not warehouse any of these items, and if someone were to order them, we would basically make nothing on them. The wife will not like to see these things gone, but

More positives… I am told that Chris Siebenhaar loves his shorts (Chris races AMA formula extreme, as well as Supersport (both are 600cc) with Matsushima Suzuki). He has presented samples to his teammates, though I am not sure about Garrett, but reportedly Danny Eslick likes them and has even asked for more. With the last race of the season coming up at the end of September in Laguna Seca (2 weekends from now), these guys will need to go back to their hometowns to train and prepare for next season –not to mention the need to go back to work to try to earn some spending money. Danny is reportedly asking about selling XOver gear in Oklahoma and surrounding areas (where he is from). Chris on the other hand is expected to be a rep for Suomy helmets, and had shown interest in talking up XOver when travelling the country to different shops for Suomy (though I certainly do not see any conflict, I will not support any activities that might jeopardize his primary function).
Here is Chris:
Chris -Infineon #42

July 29 Update

Tuesday, July 29th, 2008

7-29-2008 Blog entry

This past weekend was very busy. I had 3 Saturday appointments scattered all over the bay area…from Napa to the UC-Davis area to Oakland. In total, the wife and I covered about 290 miles that day. I will discuss stops one and three.

However, before all this could happen we had to prepare enough 5X7 cards in order to have some sort of product display that was more than just an 8.5 by 11 bag with underwear inside. I have several thousand 5×7 zip-lock style plastic bags, and wanted to have my shorts packaged in them, and had to design and print 5×7 cards to insert into the bags. A quick stop by Fry’s for heavyweight paper stock, I ended up buying 5X7 photo paper in Matte finish as well as some 65# 8.5×11 heavyweight paper, not to mention printer ink for our printer. For DTM, I dropped off 24 pairs of shorts and for rideSFO I had some 20 pieces. We ended up heading to sleep at 4:00AM. We had started working shortly after 9:00PM that evening, and this is after starting my Friday with my typical 4:00AM wakeup as my Fridays often start in Oregon (I do have a day job that takes a minimum of 10 hours a day –frequently much more than 10).

DTM Motorsports
Stop one was with DTM motorsports in Napa California. Steven Giovanonni (sp?) is a friend of mine that has a small business and agreed to take some XOver gear product to display in his shop. I easily spent an hour there just waiting to talk with him as he was working with customers and his place was pretty busy. That is what’s great about DTM…the customer service and interaction. I like his business model to differentiate himself from other shops through superior customer support. Any time that you visit him, he can suggest great places to ride, or where the races might be that weekend…nevermind that he really knows his products. Anyway I digress. I finally get to talk with him about the product, and we still have a small audience of folks hanging around his shop just killing time. Next thing you know Steven is talking up my boxer briefs to a couple of guys…”I wear these when playing Indoor Soccer…and they are fantastic”. “Jogging and bicycle riding are so much more comfortable with these shorts…” etc. Steven has had pre-production samples, but never really provided much in the way of feedback in the past. After all, we do ride MX as well as pitbikes together, and we talk about just about everything. So this is the first time that I have heard him say anything about my product, let alone sing it’s praises. Needless to say, I was pleased. I expect to learn a lot from working with Steve.
On a positive note, Steve has reported a sale the first day that product was displayed…in fact, he was in the process of setting up a small display after getting his price tags installed.

ride SFO
Quan (my wife) is friends with Phil, founder of rideSFO who does freeride and downhill mountain bike protective apparel and lifestyle clothing. Our meeting started a little late and we were up against a hard stop on his end, but what can you do with bay area traffic the way that it is? Regardless, once you get Phil started on a topic, there is no stopping him. He now has roughly 20 pairs of our boxer briefs in store. I hope that he has evaluated some by now…he indicating that he thought that they would work great for a new hobby that he has taken up –Yoga. Phil went on for some length of time about how he was unable to find the perfect underwear for yoga, and that he easily spent a couple of weekends searching for the perfect underwear, but wound up short. I hope that his search is over.
Anyway, we talked about everything under the sun, even discussion how to get involved in conventions, which conventions to try to attend, and even offering some floor space at an upcoming show. (I will provide more details later as they firm up) Regardless, Phil is an idea guy who loves the challenge of starting a business. I hope that I am able to meet up with him on a more regular basis as his enthusiasm is truly infectious. I have yet to hear back from him on the shorts, and am hoping that getting this blog entry will help prompt him into action. I like the fit of XOver gear with rideSFO.