Archive for the ‘Updates’ Category

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 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.

Starting a business online

Monday, July 21st, 2008

Week 2 update:
I decided to try Google AdWords today. From the reading that I did, it seems entirely possible to go broke with Adwords, and if not for the “set monthly limit” feature, I would not have signed on. Of course, that is assuming that there is that much interest in men’s underwear (boxer briefs) to begin with, and that people start clicking on the campaign advertisement. Yahoo appears to have something similar, but after starting my business with Yahoo small business, I am a little concerned about doing everything through them. I have not had any hits to my site to speak of, and the one thing that I liked were my chances of getting hits through Yahoo searches. Clearly I made an uninformed assumption.

Also of note, I purchased DreamweaverCS3 and Intuit Quickbooks 2008. I don’t know how to use either, but looking at it from a distance, it seems like a good idea to just give it a shot. I am guessing that my opinion will change once I actually start to dive in and realize that I have no idea what I am doing. While I like a challenge, sometimes it sounds like a better idea in theory than in practice. Of note though, is the fact that I did the graphics for my website as it currently stands using Photoshop and Illustrator, two other programs that I had zero experience starting out on (but they are more geared towards instant gratification -meaning you do something right, and you see it instantly). I am looking forward to improving the look and feel of my site, and if confidence increases enough, possibly changing providers. While I have many ideas, the real challenge(s) will be to see if I can bring them to reality.

I do have some updates worth mentioning… I have provided my product to an AMA motorcycle road racer (Chris Siebenhaar of team Matsushima Performance Suzuki), who fell in love with them…so much so that he wanted more to give to some of his racing friends, among them being Jamie Hacking, and Ben Spies. Yes Ben Spies, but as of this week they have not seen my product. This weekend was the Laguna Seca MotoGP weekend and both Hacking and Ben were wildcard MotoGP factory riders for the weekend, so they spent 90% of their time in the MotoGP garages…Chris did not run into either, but he reportedly did give some to his teammates -Danny Eslick and Garret Carter who reportedly liked what they saw. I hope to have something substantive to report in the future on this front. Regardless, from the standpoint of comfort on a motorcycle, they are getting thumbs up from roadracers (I ride a little Supermoto myself, as well as MX) which I suspected might happen having spent the past year developing and wearing them to the track.
That’s about all for now. As mentioned earlier, I hope to have something real to report out in my next update. I was hoping for weekly updates, but if there’s nothing to report, then I will likely not waste space with drivel. If you got this far, thanks for tuning in.