Our first open letter

So I’ve been bip-bopping along learning lots of new things.  Sometimes, it’s been fun, sometimes it’s been overwhelming, and sometimes I’ve face-planted from tripping over some huge piece of information I didn’t know.

So I’ve been bip-bopping along learning lots of new things.  Sometimes, it’s been fun, sometimes it’s been overwhelming, and sometimes I’ve face-planted from tripping over some huge piece of information I didn’t know.

For fun times, see this post. For overwhelming times, see this post. And for face-plants…well, that’s what THIS post is all about.

Nathan and I had successfully survived all of our “learning experiences” (including things that put us behind in our schedule to get our Luggers to a manufacturer a few times), and we were confident that we were finally almost done.

We were “like ohmygosh over-the-top excited” to finally have a product, to finally be able to give all of our gift certificate holders their cool Luggers, and to finally start seeing income so we could stop paying for our expenses from our personal bank accounts(!).

I started calling around to order the different parts so the manufacturer could put our Luggers together, and…*face-plant alert*…when I called the company that we wanted to purchase the mounting system from (the part that attaches the bag to the bike), they said they would not sell it to us.  

After calling a second company and hearing the same thing, I knew we were in trouble.

(*Sidenote #1: These companies didn’t want to sell us their mounting system because they use it on their own products. In other industries though, companies put their parts on EVERYONE’s product, because it’s a great way to spread their name and get additional revenue.  In truth, I didn’t know the cycling industry wasn’t like that, and I don’t understand why it’s not.)

After digesting this new reality for a little bit, I realized that 1) assumptions are ALWAYS a bad idea, and 2) we’d have to make our own mounting system.

The upside is that Nathan has already talked about ideas for making a mounting system.  The bad part is that making a mounting system takes a LOT of time.  Our game plan was to use a good, pre-existing mounting system on our first Luggers, and then, while they were up for sale, Nathan could take his time to create a new mounting system.  Now we’d have to take that time up front…bummer.

This means putting our Luggers up for sale would be delayed again…but not just by a few weeks, by a lloott.  I don’t even know how long. Months?  *face-plant*

After wallowing in faceplant misery for a while, we decided to turn our lemons into lemonade.  We focused on Nathan’s engineering skills, remembered that God knew this was coming (so He must have a plan now, right?!), and dreamed about how great it would be to develop a really cool new mounting system.  I mean, if we got it right, it would be a major competitive edge for Natril Gear, and it could even encourage people to get more involved in cycling!

We knew we needed to let everyone know about this enormous setback and also about the enormous potential it held, so we wrote our first Open Letter.  In it, we pretty much laid it all out there.  It was honest.  It was a bit embarrassing.  It was full of hope.  It made us feel vulnerable.  It made us nervous.  We posted it on our website, linked to it on our Facebook and Twitter pages, and even wrote everyone on Natril Gear’s email list to tell them it was there.  You can read our open letter here.

I wasn’t sure what kind of reaction to expect from our friends and supporters, but to my surprise, the responses were very encouraging!  Here’re some of the things people said to us (my favorite is the last one):

  • “like” your attitude! 
  • would you be interested in alternate systems? bet we can figure something out!
  • Hang in there! There must be another way around this obstacle. Is there only one company making mounting hardware? Can I buy them for Natril Gear?!

No one ever said ANYTHING negative to us about this new setback.  I was stunned, shocked, amazed, overjoyed.  I thought people would just start bailing out on us, but that didn’t happen. It was awesome!

(*Sidenote #2: I just finished reading Patrick Lencioni’s book called “Getting Naked”….and unlike the title might suggest, it’s actually a really well-written and intriguing leadership book about the power of vulnerability. I would HIGHLY recommend it!  It really has helped to guide us through the less fun and less pretty times with Natril Gear.)

Open letter out of the way, we started looking into how much it would cost to make an injection mold so we could make our mounting system out of some type of plastic.  We were SHOCKED to learn that it can easily cost $10,000+ per piece…and we need TWO pieces!  (…I thought we were done face-planting….apparently NOT.)

So we’ve started looking into alternatives and learning about all of our options.  And let me tell you, custom molding is yet another topic I am learning A LOT about that I never thought I would get involved with.  It’s been fun to dream about our options and painful to think about the super-high costs, but it has definitely helped us keep our “flexibility muscles” strong.  (Gees, yeah it has.)

So, anyway, I suppose this is an accurate picture of me right now:

No longer face-planting (at least I hope we’re done!), still bruised, talking a little funny, but standing up, looking ahead, and smiling.  (If you look close, you can tell that he IS smiling. :-))  Thank you to EVERYONE who has encouraged us and helped us to keep a healthy perspective.  You’re awesome!

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