This is a follow up story for Slyde Handboards. If you're interested in reading how they got started, published over 5 years ago, check it out here.
Hello again! Remind us who you are and what business you started.
My name is Angela Watts, I am the founder and co-owner of Slyde Handboards with my husband, Steve. Slyde is based out of San Clemente, California. Handboards are little surfboards that strap to your hand that give you more lift, speed, and control when bodysurfing.
Handboards have been around for centuries, nobody is quite sure where or when they started, but there is evidence of the ancient Polynesians using palm fronds or driftwood placed on their hands to get more speed, distance and lift when bodysurfing. A headboard is the perfect ocean toy, which allows anybody no matters their age or skill level the ability to ride a wave like a pro. Handboards are the most portable and lightweight wave riding equipment, which means you don't have to be the local pack mule when going down to the beach. It is a sport that is super easy to learn and safe for kids to get comfortable in the ocean, without having the worry of a big board. As with any awesome sport, it’s fun to master, plus it’s perfect for getting barreled.
Our handboards allow you to take your ocean fun to the next level. We also have pro-models that are ridden by the very best bodysurfers in the world at some of the best surf breaks, like Pipeline and Waimea in Hawaii to Australia, Brazil, and beyond.
It still seems pretty incredible to think that we have sold millions of dollars worth of these tiny bodysurfing handboards around the world!
Tell us about what you’ve been up to! Has the business been growing?
We have been up to a lot since the last we spoke. We have been wanting to expand and use our eCommerce expertise on other brands, so we created a company called Fun Brands. Fun Brands is a management company that creates and builds eCommerce brands. The first company that Fun Brands created was Veldskoen Shoes, sustainably, hand-crafted shoes made in South Africa. We launched Veldskoen in November of 2018 and in our first year of business did over $600,000 in sales and now in our 2nd year will do over 1 million in sales even in a pandemic.
By adding more brands to our portfolio we have been able to hire my Dad for accounting, my Aunt as customer service, and bring on our part-time employee to full time for social media and brand partnerships - and take raises for ourselves!
You will never know everything, so find people that can help you in those areas that you are weak in.
We have focused heavily on social media marketing, SEO, and email marketing. Those three things have always done well for us, we just make sure to keep an eye on our spending and cost per acquisition on social media paid marketing and adjust as needed.
What have been your biggest lessons learned in the last year?
Like many businesses, we were not prepared for a global pandemic to hit us. I quickly learned that cash is everything, and we did not have enough in the bank to last more than 2 months of overhead. We had just paid for $130,000 worth of inventory at the end of February, so we had a lot of cash tied up in inventory. That was a learning experience for sure, and we will definitely move forward being more cautious with our cash flow.
I learned that instead of putting all our money into shipping over a full-container of goods to save a few dollars per product, we should have stuck to smaller-air shipments that would have allowed us to make smaller, monthly orders and in turn, tremendously helping our cash flow, and not to mention making it easier on inventory management.
What’s in the plans for the upcoming year, and the next 5 years?
We plan to add at least one new brand to Fun Brands every year. We have one that we will be launching in September (top secret) so keep a lookout for that! We will always focus on eCommerce through Shopify and Amazon, but this new product is in the home goods category. With the current pandemic and the home goods category one of the few categories that are expanding right now, we think this is a great time to launch this new brand.
Steve and I love creating and building new brands and helping other entrepreneurs grow brands/products that they created. The idea of helping more entrepreneurs build their businesses really excites us as we think about the future of Fun Brands.
In the short term, we are just focused on getting through 2020, building our cash reserves, and making sure we keep adapting to what is going on in the economy.
Have you read any good books in the last year?
I have not been reading as much as I should be but am an avid podcaster, and my favorite is NPR’s How I Built This with Guy Raz. It is so inspiring to hear the stories of all the successful entrepreneurs and learning from them.
I also love Masterclass with Chris Voss on Negotiation. This is not a book or podcast, but an online class. He teaches you how to master the negotiation and gives you actual work to do in order to apply it to your business and life. He does have a book called, Never Split The Difference. But I do recommend Masterclass for the $180 for the year - it has some great business courses as well.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who might be struggling to grow their business?
One of the best things I have done for our businesses is to build a team of advisors around me that I can meet with on a weekly/monthly basis to just reviewing my business and mentor me.
You will never know everything, so find people that can help you in those areas that you are weak in. Most seasoned or retired business people love to help others, just for the love of business.
I also recommend Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small business program. I recently graduated from this program and I can’t tell you how much this has helped me just think bigger. Goldman Sachs pays for you to go through their business program and teach you how to accelerate growth.
Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?
We just recently hired a few positions, so we do not have anything open but soon we will be looking for an in-house marketer. So if you know the ins and out of social media and paid marketing - reach out to us!
Where can we go to learn more?
- Websites: Slyde Handboards and veldskoenshoes
- Facebook: Slyde Handboards and veldskoenshoesusa
- Instagram: Slyde Handboards and veldskoenshoesusa
If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!
Hey! 👋 I'm Pat Walls, the founder of Starter Story.
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