This is a follow up story for GloveStix. If you're interested in reading how they got started, published over 4 years ago, check it out here.
Hello again! Remind us who you are and what business you started.
My name is Krista Woods and I am the Director of Stink Operations at GloveStix LLC. I live in Virginia with my husband Chris and we have 3 children ages 27, 21, and 19. Raising 3 kids in sports and spending thousands of dollars on athletic gear and even more money and time traveling to various States to watch them play meant lots of time trapped in the car or hotel with their stinky gear. If you have ever had the displeasure of experiencing gloves, elbow, and shoulder pads after a hot day of playing multiple Lacrosse games, then you will know why I spent my middle son’s college fund to start GloveStix.
When I first started GloveStix I was simply trying to solve the problem of stinky lacrosse and hockey gloves, hence the name GloveStix. It wasn’t until my customers started using them in shoes and cleats and sending me the most amazing feedback that I started marketing them for shoes. It was at about the same time, my sons’ cleats were starting to get rank so that’s when I created my second product specifically for footwear, StankStix. The StankStix are virtually the same thing; they just have different features that make them more versatile for smaller shoes and taller boots.
My customers range from professional athletes and weekend warriors to people of all ages that use them in everyday shoes as well. What started as a mostly lacrosse and hockey product, has turned into a product that is used in every sport imaginable. Soccer, boxing, MMA, baseball, football, volleyball, dancers, skiers, equestrians, hunters, fishermen. Not to mention firefighters, police officers, and my many Military customers who struggle with boot odor. Even your everyday casual runner has got stink. What they all have in common is odor-causing bacteria growth in their gear, there is so much STINK out there!
GloveStix and StankStix are unique not only because of their design but how they work. They will inhibit 99.9% of odor-causing bacteria growth for 10 years while also absorbing moisture and deodorizing at the same time. There is nothing on the market like them which is why I have done several million in sales.
Tell us about what you’ve been up to! Has the business been growing?
This past year we decided to take a new challenge on but as a family this time. We drove to Washington D.C. and tried out at the open casting call for the game show Family Feud. After competing against another family in a mock game we made it to the final round of tryouts which was the one on one and family interview stage. When COVID hit filming for the actual show was put on hold so we have no idea when it will happen at this point but we are grateful for the experience we had already. We had so much fun and I loved watching my kids’ behavior under pressure. Even better than that was their eagerness to try something new.
Whatever your obstacles may be at the time you have to figure out how to work around them and make the best of whatever it is you are dealing with.
I was an extremely proud mom, I know it's not easy to have to look into a camera and talk about yourself, and even though they were nervous, they nailed it! It's such great practice to challenge yourself in many different ways so you know how you handle the pressure and what you need to work on. More importantly, every time you overcome nerves or fears, it makes it easier to face them the next time. That is how you create your confidence and get better!
As far as the business, in 2019 (my 4th year in business) I had my biggest sales year yet. I was pretty proud of that considering my Shark Tank airing was back in 2017 and it is very common to see a surge after airing but a lot of people experience a decline shortly after. Since my growth has been steady year after year, I set a huge growth goal in 2020, my 5th year was going to put me over the top. Well, Covid-19 hit and like most small businesses disrupted my plans in 2020.
I was off to a great start and exceeding my projections when mid-March everything stopped. A large majority of my customers are athletes so with all spring sports coming to a halt, the impact I felt in my business was immediate and it wasn’t until the end of April that I realized it was not going to end anytime soon. I knew that if I was going to make it through this I would have to do something other than what I had done in the past, I had to dig deep and find new ways to market my products. I spent a ton of time reading through all my reviews and testimonials focusing on the different ways my customers used my products. I quickly realized that although athletes were a large portion of my sales, they were not the only customers I had. I had more “everyday users” than I thought that used them in work boots, shoes other than athletic shoes like vans and sandals, I even found other uses from people who were putting them in laundry baskets, attaching them to trash cans, and even using them to get rid of moldy smells in drawers.
I am extremely grateful that my customers share that information and leave such awesome reviews. I started marketing directly to those customers with Facebook and although I typically see a nice return on my Facebook ads, I wasn’t seeing it during the pandemic and my ROI kept shrinking. I started posting and sharing different uses with current customers through email campaigns and that seemed to spark a new round of business but it wasn’t going to be enough to keep up with my projections so I kept digging to see what else I could do. I was willing to try any avenues to move units. I had been approached in years past by different subscription companies and larger online retailers that have a huge customer base and do “flash sales” but since my focus was mostly direct to consumer and smaller retail stores, I had passed on those previously. When you do things like that, your margins take a huge hit and you have to balance whether it is worth it or not. This year, I decided to take that risk as I know the more people I can get using my Stix, the more they share about them, and the more return business I have. This year alone, 64% of my website business has come from previous customers so without that strong base, in addition to finding new ways to get my products out there, I would not be where I am right now during a pandemic.
I am thankful every day, that I am still healthy and so is my business. It’s over halfway through the year and 5 months into a pandemic that has been so detrimental to Small businesses everywhere my volume in units sold has grown 100% over last year! Yes, my margins have decreased significantly however my volume has increased so much my bottom line is exactly where I was last year at this time. I consider this a huge WIN especially considering the halt in business that started mid-March and six weeks into it I found myself sitting at my desk literally with my head in my hands having no clue what to do next!
What have been your biggest lessons learned in the last year?
I find myself constantly learning from past mistakes and having to find different ways to tackle and overcome obstacles. I have not had an easy year yet, there is always something that comes out of nowhere and I have to adapt and find new ways to overcome those obstacles. Last year, in the summer of 2019, I had my first ever defect and had to recall and fix thousands of units and it had to be one of the most stressful things I have encountered in this industry to date. I am a people pleaser and my customer’s happiness is my top priority so the thought that even one of my customers could have gotten a “bad” product was difficult to accept. In the midst of it all, I remember thinking over and over, “It can’t get worse than this!” Countless days that turned into months and money down the drain trying to fix what should have never been broken and I almost let it break me. I fought that feeling hard and just kept moving forward doing the best I could each day but it was the first time in years that the stress affected me physically as well. Thank God, I got through it and then I had my best 4th quarter ever and I sold out before the Holidays were here.
Well, enter 2020! The past 12 months I have gone from extreme lows to extreme highs, back to extreme lows again and my biggest lesson learned through it all is… it can always be worse and it will never be easy! You may have a better month or better quarter than others but lookout because you never know what’s coming around the bend and you have to prepare for the possibility that anything can happen, at any time, good or bad. Enjoy the NOW. Don’t say to yourself… “When I hit this goal, or I have this, I will take time to enjoy it then.” Enjoy it now and don’t sweat the small stuff. Don’t ever quit because your best month or quarter, might come right after your worst. Success is not guaranteed in life but one thing I know for certain is that if you quit. You have 0 chance to succeed! Enjoy the journey, dream big, and don’t ever give up.
What’s in the plans for the upcoming year, and the next 5 years?
I still plan on having my best year yet in 2020! It may not have gone the way I had thought, and I have had to do things a little differently but I will do what it takes to make sure it happens.
I just hit my 5th anniversary this past June and I will never forget that a year into this when a reporter told me he wouldn’t interview me because I was a startup business and most don’t make it 5 years and mine most likely wouldn’t either. I have held on to that all these years and whenever I am struggling, I remember what he said and I use it as fuel to keep growing, just to prove him wrong! The underdog in me loves a good challenge so that was my 1st goal. Just to make it to 5 years.
What are my plans for the next 5 years? Ha! I don’t think that far ahead. 5 years ago I had no idea I could have accomplished what I have or experienced half of the cool stuff I have since then. I have however been contemplating a new product idea that would work congruently with the current products I sell and that is always fun and exciting to think of the possibilities of creating something new. I am also currently working to expand Internationally, in talks with some key influencers who are well-respected athletes so I may go in that direction as well. It’s always an adventure, you just never know. So stay tuned!
Have you read any good books in the last year?
I am more of a podcast girl and some of my favorites are:
The MFCEO Project with Andy Frisella: This is his original podcast that is more focused on entrepreneurs vs. his current one (that admittedly I haven’t listened to yet) because I am still finishing these. He is a no BS, no excuse kind of guy and believes everyone is capable of anything if you have enough grit and grind to get there. Some days when I just have to get away from my desk and need a complete change of attitude I can put in my headphones, go for a quick walk and listen to an episode and he kicks me right where I need it most! I will warn you however if you’re offended by colorful language, he may not be the guy for you.
The Ed Mylett Show: His podcast is also focused on entrepreneurs and mindset but he has a lighter tone and a different way of delivering a similar message. I listen to Ed and his guests when I don’t necessarily need a kick in my butt, just a good solid nudge.
Rise Podcast with Rachel Hollis: She is more of a feel-good personality but has some amazing shows and guests. I love to hear their stories.
It’s nice to hear other people’s stories and all the challenges they have overcome to get where they are now. Oftentimes in regards to my business, I can feel very alone and when you listen to these podcasts it helps remind you that although so many of us are so different, we often go through very similar things.
The current book I am reading is:
Chasing the Bright Side by Jess Ekstrom: I am only a chapter in but so far it's great, it’s a super insightful easy read about embracing optimism, activating your purpose, and writing your own story. As you can tell, these types of books and podcasts are what attract me the most. Mindset is key!
Advice for other entrepreneurs who might be struggling to grow their business?
A lot of people are struggling right now, especially this year, but don’t use what’s happening in the world as an excuse. I don’t know a single person and I don’t mean just my business world, but in my relationships as well who isn’t experiencing some sort of angst or anxiety about what is happening but we all need to find our ways to get out of the funk. You have to purposely choose that path and then make a conscious effort every day to do it! It may not be easy but what I have learned over the last 5 years is that being an entrepreneur is never easy so frankly if you are looking for easy, entrepreneurship may not be for you. There is always something trying to stop you and a lot of the time… it’s YOU!
My advice, (I have to remind myself of some this as well at times):
· Continually search for new ways to market your business, consider bringing on new partners that you might not have considered in the past. Ultimately try new things, something different to switch things up, why not?
· You must decide how much you want it. It is in the tough times, where we find out how strong we are but you have to make that choice. Then dig deep, keep going and get through it.
· What is your why? Do you know? If not make that a priority to find out what motivates you. We all have different things that motivate us but you must know what yours is and when you find it, use that as fuel to push yourself.
· PLEASE… don’t whine and complain. Everyone has obstacles and setbacks, you are not alone, I promise. Growing up I heard this my whole life, “It is what it is” and I am constantly saying that to myself as an adult and now to my children. Whatever your obstacles may be at the time you have to figure out how to work around them and make the best of whatever it is you are dealing with. One of my favorite sayings is…. “Put your big girl panties on and deal with it!” No one can do that for you, it starts from within. You are much more capable than you can ever imagine.
· There is always more than one way to get to OZ! This has been one of my mottos all along. One of the biggest mistakes I see people making is when they compare their business or their skills with others and then they try to be like them or do things the way they do them. BE DIFFERENT, BE YOU! You may not fit in, but you will stand out. Don’t just follow the yellow brick road, it's ok to try and jump off of it every once in a while. Everyone has the unique talents that make them awesome so don’t worry what the guy or gal next door is doing. You are not them and vice versa. Use what you got and then don’t be afraid to ask for help with the rest.
· Remember to be grateful every day because it can always be WORSE! Learn to enjoy the journey of entrepreneurship, the up's, and downs, the highs, and lows, and focus on the now and not the result you are planning on. Odds are that what you plan to happen and how you believe it will happen, will likely end up very differently.
· Be open to advise and criticism but in the end, trust your gut! Some of the best decisions I have ever made were not what I “should” have done, but I trusted myself. I know that if it doesn’t turn out the way I want, I’m good with it because I truly believe that mistakes are not failures. Mistakes are meant to happen so we can learn from them but the only real failure in life is never taking your shot.
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