If you own a tablet or iPad, you’ve probably shopped for a case for it. And if you bought a case for it, did you ever run across beautiful leather cases that looked like books?
If so, you and I have the same taste. Pad & Quill makes those luxurious cases.
Our guest today is Brian Holmes, President, and owner of Pad & Quill. He started the business in 2010 with his wife, Kari.
It was a desire to create exceptionally crafted luxury accessories (rather than profits) that motivated Holmes when he chose to start the business with a budget of just over $1,000.
Pad and Quill is the tale of a shop formed with bookbinders, carpenters, a painter and a working mom coming together to create beautiful handmade iPad/iPhone cases, leather bags, and other dry goods.
In this episode, we dive into his seven-year journey in ecommerce and discover what he’s learned along the way.
- How Pad & Quill got started
- Their direct approach to launching the brand
- Why you should embrace your passion
- The advantage of lifetime warranties
- How to Brian pitches the press
- The golden rule that governs Brian’s marketing
- Why he moved from Magento to Shopify Plus
- And his advice for entrepreneurs
I want to send you a sample chapter of Ecommerce Bootcamp, absolutely free.
Tell me where to send your sample at ecommerce-bootcamp.com
Kurt: Hello, and welcome back to The Unofficial Shopify Podcast. I'm your host, Kurt Elster, recording from Ethercycle headquarters; about 10 minutes from O'Hare Airport, if you're familiar. And today I'm talking to a wonderful, seven year-old eCommerce store owner. Well, the store is seven years old. The owner is not seven years old, I should say, I should be specific. But we've got this app called Crowdfunder, and it's not the easiest thing to install if you're not familiar with HTML.
So people ask me, "Hey Kurt, can you install this thing for me?" And I say, "Yes, of course." And in doing that, I always get to check out some interesting stores. And in this case, I said, gee this seems ... I was looking at a store, it was called Pad & Quill, and I thought, this seems awfully familiar. So I went and I searched through my email, and sure enough, I had bought an iPad case from Pad & Quill in 2011. So I reached out, and I acted like, this seemed familiar because it is familiar; I used to have your case on my first gen iPad, and I would love to hear your story. This looks like a fascinating brand, they were in the process of moving to Shopify Plus. So I wanted to hear that story.
So joining me today, is Brian Holmes, who is the President/Owner of Pad & Quill. He started in 2010 with his wife, Kari. Prior to running Pad & Quill, he's a Tradesman for over 16 years; we'll find out in what. He and Kari have been married for almost 27 years. Congratulations! It is so much easier to do this with a supportive family, and doing it with family helps.
But Brian, thank you for joining us.
Brian: Kurt, thank you for having us on. I appreciate it, having me on.
My only question is, you've only boughten one case since 2011, Kurt. What's goin on?
Let's see, I had-
Kurt: So for the longest time I just had the standard iPad case on there. And then one of my kids dropped it on the kitchen tile floor like two or three years ago, and we have not had an iPad since.
Kurt: Someday I'll get around to buying another iPad.
Brian: Yes. Well, you're right I'm not seven years old, I'm almost 50, but I've been doing this for seven years. That is correct.
Kurt: Very good.
Kurt: For our listeners, what is Pad & Quill?
Brian: So, Pad & Quill is a, we are a luxury accessory maker. So we design and craft luxury goods for tech and play. That's kinda what we like to say. They're durable goods. They're artisan made. Those four words are very important to us.
We don't wanna make anything that is going to fade away within a year and breakdown, et cetera. So all of our products come with longer warranties, and we want them to be very well made, as far as what we call good art. So when we make a product, to us, it should be both beautiful and functional. Cause you can have a lot of products out there that are really nice to look at, but they don't last, or they're really, really functional, but they're just ugly. So what we're trying to do is create these kind of beautiful leather bags, iPad cases, MacBook cases, things like that, that are unique, but also provide a function, provide a utility and are durable. They last a long time.
So that's kinda been our focus. We're a typical company, that when we started, we started one place, and ended up somewhere else. That's very common in startup stories, that the products you started with aren't always the products you end up making five years later.
Kurt: So somewhere along your line you had to pivot. Going back to the beginning, how did you start Pad & Quill?
Kurt: And what was your first product?
Brian: Yeah. So we started with $1,200, and I-
Kurt: Very good.
Brian: I painted my web designer's deck.
Brian: She painted it ... She still works with us, she's still a consultant, Kathy. She made our website. She coded it on ... I can't even remember where it was coded, what platform; think it was WordPress. And we started an original ... She built it all, all I knew is that I had seen a product out in San Francisco by a company called DODOcase.
Kurt: DODOcase, another Shopify store.
Brian: Yeah, they made a wood and book case, and I saw what they were doing. And I thought, my word, we could do this, but we could more than what they're doing. We could do, like, MacBook cases, and iPhone cases, and all kinds of stuff.
So that kinda was the inspiration. So we took the $1,200, I paid a photographer far less than he deserved; he still works with me today. Now he's making money, but he knew we didn't have a lot so he gave me a deal. We built four prototypes, and we put up the site, it was in late June of 2010, and just started reaching out to the press saying, "Hey, we've got these products. They're on pre-order, they'll deliver in six weeks." You know, basically, help us fund this, in many ways. Reached out to everyone you could think of. Some Wired, I was talking to Walt Mossberg at The Wall Street Journal, who turned me down, of course.
Brian: But what happened was, we got picked up by a couple people. So Gadget Lab picked us up at Wired, and then someone at Gizmodo wrote about us; and it started to pick up. Sales started coming in, and what had happened is, it was really born of not an idea that I had been thinking about. It was born out of a passion of a product I already saw, that I liked, which was the iPad and then the book bindery style case. And it just, kinda like, came together one evening. I was just like, "Wait a minute, we could do this. And we could do this better." You know, cause typical entrepreneurs think they can always do it better. So I was thinking, we can do this better, or different.
Kurt: So when you saw that original DODOcase-
Kurt: You saw an iPad, [inaudible 00:05:50] and you saw ... And at that time, that was very early; I don't know if that was the first gen or second gen iPad at that point.
Brian: First gen, first gen.
Kurt: First gen, okay. So very early on.
When you first held an iPad, it did have kind of a magical quality to it, where it's like, it's just this big, solid glass display that I can poke at.
Kurt: And at that time, apps had really ... Like, a lot of them had these very novel interfaces; it was pretty exciting.
Brian: It was.
Kurt: Back six years ago, it seems like forever ago, and now we don't think twice about it. But it was exciting. And then you had seen, you're right, DODOcase in San Francisco who was using traditional book ... Really, I mean, they were making cases using just traditional book binding-
Brian: Techniques, yeah.
Kurt: And you're right, in the typical, the entrepreneurial mindset, you said, "I love both of these. Why can't I do this? Why not me?"
Kurt: That's often how businesses start. Why not me?
Brian: Yeah, and it didn't have, necessarily, a logic behind it. It had an opportunity, is what was seen. But here's the interesting thing, what happened was, is that as Kari and I started working on these products, all of a sudden there was something that connected for both of us; which was, these devices by Apple are beautifully designed, made of aluminum and glass, steel, gorgeous, gorgeous finishes, but they lacked warmth.
Kurt: Yeah, they're ultra modern, which-
Brian: Yeah, they're ultra modern
Kurt: Can often make them feel cold.
Brian: Which is fine, but we love, and that's a huge passion of ours, is that we love traditional materials. So it wasn't just book bindery, and that's why after the first two years of selling I ... I mean, we shipped about 3,000 iPad cases out of my basement window-
Brian: In the first nine months of the business. So what we were doing is we were having a bindery in Minneapolis make the books. And we were having a CNC Maker make the wood, and they were putting it together for us. And then we would take it to our basement and do some finishing touches, and ship them.
So, we continued our press push. We constantly were reaching out to the press, coming out with new products. So we were in a never-ending cycle of creating new things. So we created a book-style case for a MacBook Air, which was very unique to the market, and that got us a lot of pickup. We just kept working through all these different products.
We did stuff for the Kindle, at that time. This again, back in 2010 when the Kindle was pretty popular. Yeah, and then after about 3,000 or 4,000 products, my wife was like, "I want the basement back."
Brian: So that's pretty much what happened. So we found a spot in Northeast Minneapolis, which is kind of an arts community area of Minneapolis, in downtown. We found a little spot there, and that's where we've been since. So, we've been there since I think May of 2011.
Kurt: Did you, at all, have a background in business, entrepreneurship, manufacturing? Did you have any unfair advantage or skills that you think played a part in the success? Or at least, did you just have so much hubris you said, "You know, I think I could do this and then figure it out."
Brian: Yeah, it's interesting you said unfair, cause that's an interesting term; that it's unfair. I mean, I know what you mean, like did I have something that I could leverage, that other people wouldn't typically have.
Here's the thing, I had been a painting contractor. So I had done wall painting, like, house painting. I'd done that for 16 years. We had four kids. I didn't wanna be a painter for the rest of my life. And then the last five years of my trades work, and this was my own company, and I had a couple guys working for me, we were pretty small. In the last five years, I got into more artistic designs. So I was doing a lot of artisan finishes on walls and design work.
Kurt: Like French plaster, and that kinda thing.
Brian: And Venetian plasters, all that stuff. And what was interesting was, I really enjoyed that part of it. I, then, got my four year degree. In those last five years, I got my four year degree at night, in Psychology, ironically.
I had never finished my four year. I went and got it, never used it. Think I decided at the end of my Psychology degree that I couldn't listen to people that long.
Brian: So I ended up not doing anything with that, but I took a job with a small tech startup; cause I wanted to get out of painting. I didn't feel like I was using my skills the way I wanted to. So I took a risk and jumped into a small startup, which failed. It failed in about 18 months. It was a tech startup with a guy here locally, he was an inventor. It went poorly.
What happened was, is that, the idea for Pad & Quill, the idea for me ... Like, I didn't have any manufacturing background. But my time, those 18 months in that startup, taught me almost a Master's level about here's how you'd operationalize a product; here's all the things you would need to make a product happen. And so, I think Pad & Quill was kinda like, a culmination of multiple life experience; running a painting company, being part of a small startup. It just kinda all came together, and I thought I could do this, and here's how I'd do it.
And as I've moved further away, I'm realizing I love design. You know, I have no background in actual design. I have no background in product design. It was very much self-taught, but it's following ... I'm good at reading what people want to see in the markets, and then kind of taking it and putting my own flavor to it.
So early on you started with, it starts with your passion, and it sounds like you have a passion for product design, which is great.
Kurt: It's so much easier to run a business when it's exciting to you, versus I'm just going to do this because it will sell. That's such a struggle; and some people have the discipline to do it. I think it just makes life harder.
Brian: It does.
Kurt: Certainly easier if you enjoy the product.
So you created this ... How many products did you launch with, like, within the first 12 months?
Brian: Two. Oh, in 12 months, probably-
Kurt: So you started with two.
Brian: Started with two, and then we added some Kindle, and then some MacBook products. So they-
Kurt: And they're all variations on ... They're essentially the same product in different form factors.
Brian: Exactly. It was the same product on the same theme. So then, in 2011, the iPad 2 came out, so that was a big lift for us; and we became a competitor to DODOcase. And there was another company, I believe called Portenzo, out there at the time; and Treegloo. There was a few other competitors doing what we were doing.
But here's what happened, and this was a huge shift for us, in 2012, so I'm a good two years in, I was noticing that these books were falling apart. So what was happening is, these books were made in traditional book bindery techniques, using really good book material; but they were falling apart. And I was like, they look beautiful, but they don't last. And I was realizing this is a ... You know, people love our product, they love our design, but I don't love that they don't last. And if you're cynical you could say, well that just means people will come back and buy another one. And my comment to that is, no, it means people will be disaffected by your brand.
Kurt: I agree.
Brian: They'll say your stuff isn't gonna last.
Kurt: The brands I've seen where the product is incredibly durable, where they're comfortable in giving, like, really outlandish warranties on it because it's so durable; those are the brands where people, they don't have to worry about it falling apart and someone buying another one because people like it so much, they recommend it and they often will buy multiples.
Kurt: A good example would be, oh there's a Reddit group, I think, called Buy It For Life, where people just recommend products that they think will last a lifetime.
Brian: Oh, funny.
Kurt: Yeah. Off the top of my head ... And some are leather goods. But often times we see Saddleback Leather's bags mentioned, Beltman leather gun belts, which a gun belt-
Kurt: Just turns out, it's a very stiff belt.
Kurt: I'm wearing one right now; it's a client.
Kurt: Yeah, those are great.
Kurt: What's the other one? Another good example. Oh, we use Everest bands as an example; they make watch straps for Rolex, but out of this unreal durable rubber. We had a review where someone said that they run it through an autoclave on a weekly basis, and the thing's fine.
Brian: Yeah, yeah.
Kurt: And it doesn't hurt their sales, people buy multiple products. So, no, I'm with you.
Brian: And so what happened is, in 2011, I said that's it. It was late 2011, I said we have gotta shift to leather. We've just gotta shift, cause this is not a sustainable ... We're doing the eCommerce thing well. You know, by the way, we're not buying any ads from Google for the first three years.
We are existing purely on reaching out to the press with new products. Any press that'll listen to us, and you know, if you have something kind of sexy, they'll write about it.
Kurt: So that's a-
Brian: And that would bring in sales.
Kurt: Alright, that is an excellent point. But it's so difficult.
Brian: Mm-hmm (affirmative)
Kurt: Early on, the only marketing you were doing were two things, PR and these continuous launch cycles.
Kurt: So you're coming out. You end up, kinda trapped in a thing where you're always launching new products; and that could be good, or it can be a struggle.
Brian: Yeah, it's a little of both.
Kurt: It's a little of both.
Kurt: But it gives you a reason to keep reaching out to the press. And once, I think, you've gotten over that initial hurdle where they're interested in you, and you start developing relationships, it helps.
Kurt: But what do you think goes into, like, what makes a good press pitch? Cause this is so difficult.
Brian: Yeah. This is a good question. This is a good question.
Two things, be real. You know, don't sit there and try to ... Don't talk to a press person like you're not pitching them; you are pitching them. But, with that said, be brief. Okay. Brevity is the soul of wit, is a famous saying. I love that saying; it's very true. Be very brief in your communication.
Send a big fat image to the press. Make sure you're taking some photography of your product that looks nice. Pay a photographer friend, if you're just starting out, to maybe give you a hand. Because good imagery goes a long ways in a writer's mind, because in the end, what they're looking for is, are you offering me something my readers would care about? Is this interesting to my readers? Cause if it's interesting, yeah I'll write about it. I'll mention it. I'll tweet about it.
So, be brief, be very real, just be open. Say, "Hey we're just starting out. We're a family business." That's what we used to say. Our pitch was, "Hey this is Brian from Pad & Quill. We're a small family business here, in Minneapolis. We've got these beautiful new iPad cases we're just releasing. Here's some images. Thanks for any considerations, if you'd cover us."
I still say that same email, what I just said to you just now, today.
Brian: I still email that exact same way, today, when I'm emailing Wired.
Kurt: I'm sure it works.
Kurt: I am on the receiving end of so many awful pitch emails, and outreach emails.
Kurt: That when one comes through where it's like, alright, it's not a giant wall of text. It's concise, it's to the point, it tells me what the advantage to me and my audience is, and it's not trying to trick me, or in any way mislead me. It's saying, hey, this is who I am, this is what I can offer you or your audience, and if you wanna know more information, here's next ups.
Kurt: And it's genuine and real.
Brian: It is, and I think that, that has a huge benefit. Again, it's that whole idea of, are you serving people? So I come from the place of serving my customers. I serve my customers, then I'll be able to create an income for myself and my family.
If I serve my vendors by creating a customer base, then my vendors will be loyal to me, and continue to make products on time; because they know that I have a loyal customer base. If I'm going to the press, am I operating from a place of service? How am I serving the press person? Not using, serving. There's a huge difference between those two. Because in serving someone, you're saying, how can I help your column to be more interesting? Would this be a way to do it? And the press person may say, "No, this is not of interest to me right now," and that's fine.
But it's better to come from that perspective, more of humility, than to come from, "You know, you should cover this. We have a lot of customers. You should cover our products, they last forever."
Brian: That doesn't go very far with the press.
It's funny, I wanna finish that pivot because you brought up a company I wanna kinda tie you into. So, in 2012, we wanted to move to leather goods. I wanted to get into more leather cases. I wanted to make an iPhone case. We were making them, at the time, out of traditional book bindery material. They'd last, honestly, about nine months. We were charging, like, $50, and I'm thinking, that's too much money for somethin that falls apart. You know? How do we do this?
So I started reaching out to leather manufacturing companies, and I came across a company called Saddleback Leather Company.
Kurt: Very good.
Brian: And I hit up their PR guy, and I said, "Hey, I wanna do manufacturing." And they said no. And on the third time, I kept coming back, they gave in. So, all of our, the majority, I shouldn't say all, but the majority of our leather goods are made by Saddleback's manufacturing. So, Dave Munson's a good friend of mine, that developed over the last four years from all this. So it's funny you brought up Saddleback, cause I was like, "Yep, that's our people."
Brian: And that's the thing is that, what I knew I needed, I don't wanna make just a beautiful item, I have to make something that lasts and is durable. And we have been so thrilled to be working with Saddleback's team. They have a plant in Mexico that we use, and it's just phenomenal, they treat their people really well. I've been there, I've seen what they do. It's just a fantastic company to work with.
Yeah, so that's who we use for all our leather. So that happened in 2012, and we launched this little leather wallet case with them; and it was partly made here, actually. Some of it was made here, some of it was made in Mexico. It was all brought to St. Paul and assembled, and that took off in 2012. We had a huge, huge sales cycle, our biggest year ever in 2012; at that time.
Kurt: This is just a leather wallet? This was your-
Brian: Yeah, it was basically, like, a leather wallet case with our wood frame. We had our unique wood frame attached to all leather, so it was really durable. And that started in 2012, it was featured in the New York Times in 2013. We had a big year in 2013 and 14 because of it.
Yeah, iPhone cases were real good to us in the first three years. And then, in 2013, 14 is when we started developing our lifestyle line. That's when we started bringing in bags, we started creating ... Our first bag launch was in late 2013.
Kurt: I'm admiring your Classic Journeyman leather wallet on your website. I gotta-
Brian: Oh yeah.
Kurt: Pick up one of these.
Oh, and it even comes in different colors.
Brian: Oh yeah.
Kurt: Oh that chest-
Brian: Yeah, if that Chestnut looks familiar, you've seen it at Saddleback Leather. And I have no problem promoting Saddleback, cause honestly, it's a great company.
Dave and I are different designer styles, definitely, but he makes great bags. He makes great bags.
Kurt: Yeah, I see right on here. It says, "30 day, money back promise, and 10 year leather guarantee."
Kurt: So tell me, was it scary to offer this kind of warranty?
Brian: Yeah. Yeah, it always is. It was funny cause I had a guy from inc.com, I was doing an interview two years ago, and he asked me, "Why not lifetime warranty? Why 25?" And I thought, it was a good question, and I thought, because lifetime is so cliched; everyone says lifetime. But by putting 25 years, what I'm trying to say is, it's gonna last two and half decades. You're gonna get a lot of use out of it. And by the time they last two and half decades, you're probably gonna want another one anyhow. You know, we'll have new stuff by then.
Brian: I think we put a year around it because it gives it a definitive, like, wow this is built to really last. Yes, it's built to last.
Is it scary? Yeah, it is, because you do have things break. Hardware breaks, stitching fails; it happens from time to time. We repair it and take care of it, but yeah. Put it this way, I don't feel nervous about the quality we're putting out, though. Does that make sense? We got a lot of confidence behind what we're doing.
Kurt: Right, if you're confident in it, it shouldn't be scary.
Kurt: If you believe in your product, you shouldn't be afraid of it.
Kurt: I mean, really, your only fear is will people abuse it? And you're always gonna get someone who does.
Brian: Yeah. I mean, we started coming out with ... We found a book bindery material that lasts more than six months. We found one that lasts for years. Now, we put a one year warranty on it, but it'll last. We tell customers, it's a one year warranty, but you'll have it for years. Because we found this really tough buckram, that's really beautiful; it's used in the library of Congress. That's what we wrap our iPad cases in.
Brian: So for us, it's all about the materials. Will they last? So I guess I'm ... No, to answer the question, I'm not too worried because we're trying to use the materials that will last.
Kurt: So you've got, you're in the process ... Well, probably by the time this airs, maybe, your Shopify store will have launched.
Brian: Hard to say.
Kurt: Hard to say. Maybe it has, maybe it hasn't.
Brian: We actually see a delay coming because of, and you can edit this out if you want, or keep it in, I don't care. We may be unable to switch for at least a month or two because of a new iPad coming out in a few weeks.
Brian: Because of that, we're gonna have so much lift on the site, we are very hesitant to shift platforms until the sales calm down.
Kurt: So what platform are you on now?
Kurt: And you're switching to Shopify Plus. Tell me-
Brian: Thank God.
Alright, so what happened? Why are you doing that?
Brian: We were told early on, I had talked to a consulting group, and they said, "Oh, you should be on Magento, it's scalable, you can customize."
All true, all true. I call Magento, kinda like, the PC, and Shopify is kinda like a Mac.
Brian: That's how I see the two. I mean, you can do a lot of customization on Shopify, but it's very plug and play friendly. And for the entrepreneur who wants to start a company, the last thing you want, is to be figuring out how many hours you can pay a $150 an hour developer. Because if you have a Magento site, that's what you're doing all the time. You're paying a developer, constantly, for the smallest changes.
Brian: Whereas, on Shopify, you have app store, you have plugins. We're, of course, with what we're doing, we're paying developers to help us with small projects here and there. But for the most part, it's really a lot easier to assemble a Shopify site. Magento is definitely customizable, but boy, you better have Magento Pro engineers, who are doing all your coding. They have to do all your maintenance, manage all your plugins. If you have conflicts with your plugins, that's up to you to figure it out. Shopify does all that for you. They do that thinking for you.
Brian: That's something that is a huge benefit to us. We were debating Magento 2.0, last year, or Shopify, and came down on Shopify.
Kurt: What was the straw that broke the camel's back, where you said, alright it's time to make the switch? Cause it is not an easy task to change platforms when you've got an existing, running business.
Brian: It's not. I think, a couple things. One, we designed this site about three to four years ago, it was starting to feel three to four years old. The current site at padandquill.com if you go there right now, it's three to four years old design. And we're kinda, you know what, we need to make this a little cleaner. We've moved more into a luxury lifestyle brand. We wanna even display more large imagery about our lifestyle and what we do, and what we love. So, that was kinda the impetus to go, okay, what platform do we want it? We were thinking, originally, Magento 2.0, and then we started considering just how much technical work was required; and that's when we reached out to Shopify, and it was a pretty easy sale. Cause we were like, "Sounds good!" I mean, we'd pay a certain fee. We're on Shopify, what's it called? Shopify Plus?
Kurt: Shopify Plus.
Brian: Yeah, so we're paying a fee, but that's like, I already pay that fee with a developer right now to guarantee 99.9% uptime.
Kurt: Right, yeah.
Brian: I have to pay someone that right now.
Kurt: Yeah. The thing you're trading ... It's interesting to sell, trying to explain the benefits and the value proposition of Shopify Plus to an existing Shopify store owner. They're like, "Alright." You have to figure out, like, what's the problem you're facing, and the Shopify Plus will solve it. Versus when someone is on Magento and they're looking at switching and you go, well you don't worry about, you know, for one flat fee, someone else is gonna manage and you never worry about hosting uptime, updates, security, all of that goes away, and support.
Kurt: And it just becomes a no brainer.
Brian: And we've had security issues, just being open with you. We've had some security issues pop up because of outdated plugins.
Kurt: Right, and those-
Brian: And all kinds of stuff. And it was, like, an outdated plugin in a blog.
Brian: On our Magento site. And someone had gotten in through the back door, and we caught it, fixed it. But it was one of these things where we're like, okay Shopify does all that for us.
Kurt: Yeah. I have, literally, never seen a security vulnerability like that happen on Shopify. Whereas, previously we did a lot of WordPress development work, and that was like a constant, constant battle trying to keep those things locked down.
That's the last thing you need to be worrying about. Right?
Kurt: Yeah, that's just such an unnecessary-
Brian: I mean, that's the last thing. When you're designing products, you're trying to ... Cause what am I? I'm a designer. I'm a salesman. I'm a community developer. Like, we have a family of customers, that's where our focus needs to be. You know? Not on security issues on the site. Cause 98% of our revenue comes from eCommerce, our store.
Brian: Yeah, we are not in wholesale. We're very much like Saddleback; we're eCommerce only.
Kurt: So, we're coming to the end of our time together. You have had a long, successful, and wonderful journey over the last seven years. What are some of the things you've learned, that you would go back tell yourself when you were starting out?
Brian: Oh, that's a great question.
Did I tell you to ask me that question? That's a good one.
No, no. You said what three things have you learned building a brand?
I would say this, if you have a product you're making that's starting to sell, and it's selling pretty well and you love making that product, and other products like it ... Whatever the field is, whatever you do, be very careful to not listen to consultants too much. There is wisdom in a host of counselors, there really is. But in the end, your passion has to be from you about what you wanna sell and bring to your customers. So be careful how much you listen to consult ... I did a lot of consultant listening early on, that I wouldn't do now. I would just be who I am. And the more that Kari and I have just been who we are as a couple in this business, the more success we've seen. The more we have followed what other people have told us, "Well, you're getting big now. You really need to think about strategic changes." Those are big disasters. Not disasters, that's a heavy word. Those have not been fruitful.
So, be who you are. To the degree that you can do something you love, is a huge blessing, it really is. Not everyone gets that opportunity. Like I said, I was painting for 17 years. I was thankful I was able to bring in an income, but I didn't really enjoy painting. So, where you can match a passion or a desire to income, it's awesome. But it's not ... I don't think it's something you can always do. Does that make sense?
Kurt: No, absolutely.
Brian: I'm not trying to paint a rosy picture here, because it's pretty hard to do that.
Kurt: I think it comes down to having an authentic voice, being true to yourself, being true to your brand.
Kurt: The hard part is figuring out what that voice and brand are, and then letting that show through. Every time I've been scared to include more of my personality in my marketing and my work, it has always paid off. You know, people like having that authentic voice; and that's what part of the podcast is.
Kurt: I'm myself on the show, and then by the time someone says, "Hey Kurt, could we work together on this?" And we get on the phone, they go, "I feel like I already know you." Yeah, because the whole time, I've been myself, and that's so important.
That is so important. It is so important.
Plus, you'll just be happier with yourself, at the end of the day. Cause you've been true to yourself, even if the business doesn't work out. You just don't guarantee that any of these businesses will succeed, right?
Kurt: No, absolutely not. It's always a risk.
Brian: But in the end of day, if they fail, were you yourself? Were you trying to be yourself? Yeah.
Kurt: So, Brian-
Brian: A good entrepreneur gets back up and says, "Okay, what can I do next?"
Kurt: Yeah, you learn from it, you move on.
Kurt: And try the next thing.
Kurt: So Brian, where can people go to learn more about you?
Brian: Yeah, so, the best place to learn about us is at www.padandquill.com. So that's our website, click on About Us if you wanna see our story in more detail; that's at the bottom of the page, About Us. You'll see a picture of Kari and I, and there's kind of our story, and kinda what drives us, our passion is very interesting as well.
Also, coupon code. We have a coupon code for your listeners.
Brian: So bhappy. So the letter B, and then happy, H-A-P-P-Y, number 10, just one zero. That's 10% off anything, any product, including bags, leather bags as well.
Kurt: And they are beautiful bags. 10%.
Brian: Thank you! Thank you.
Kurt: Alright, I wrote that down, I will include it in the show notes for folks.
Kurt: Brian, thank you for everything. I appreciate it.
Brian: Yeah, Kurt, thanks so much for having us on, and wish you best with your success on your podcast.
Kurt: Thank you.
That's all for us today at The Unofficial Shopify Podcast, and I'd love to hear your thoughts on this episode. So please, join our Facebook group, The Unofficial Shopify Podcast Insiders, and let me know. Or sign up for my newsletter, kurtelster.com, shoot me an email. Either way, you'll be notified whenever a new episode goes live.
And of course, if you'd like to work with me on your next Shopify project, you can apply at Ethercycle. Com.
As always, thanks for listening, and we'll be back next week.