Turning Five: A Letter from Brad & Filipe
Time is such an interesting thing, it can pass so slowly in the moment, but reflecting back it seems like the blink of an eye. It feels like yesterday we sat down to write our thoughts on turning 4, and it feels like only a couple months ago we turned our website on for the first time, and here we are celebrating 5 years…wow!
The past month has been a bit a blur, with this major milestone being the preeminent topic of conversation with family, friends, customers, etc. My “go-to” lines about turning 5 have been something like, “Sometimes it feels like 10 years, and sometimes it feels like 6 months” and “If we would have known what it would take to get to this point when we first started, we probably would have never started it!” I am joking of course, and in all seriousness this accomplishment means more than we could ever describe. It’s something Filipe and I are so incredibly proud of because this industry is really tough (most fashion businesses last less than two years), and to be thriving after 5 years is a pretty amazing achievement.
By the Numbers:
2,000+ Shirts sold
1,000+ Suits Sold
50 States with a customer who has bought something from OLE MASON JAR
35,000+ Pictures taken for product shoots, our website, etc.
110,000+ Website visits
2 Years with a showroom at 148 Brevard Court. (The first 3 were in Bradley's garage.)
4,251* Cups of coffee45* Bottles of bourbon
*Just an approximate, of course! ;)
More importantly, we are proud of the positive impact we have made. Over the past 5 years, OLE MASON JAR has fed over 3,000 families through donations to Second Harvest Food Bank and other organizations aimed at providing food and assistance to families in need. When we first started this thing, giving back was such an important foundation for us as a company, and to look back and see our impact through financial donations is a great feeling. Additionally, the fact that we have been able to support Made in USA, and even North Carolina, by producing products right here locally is an achievement we can’t speak enough to. We have seen so many fellow businesses start as Made in USA and switch completely overseas, so it means a lot to us to still be flying the Made in USA flag.
We often get asked what the hardest thing was when starting out, which is so hard to answer. When we started planning OLE MASON JAR, it was 2011 – There was no Shark Tank (also entrepreneur meant “unemployed” not “successful business man/woman” like it does today), no inspiring blog posts or “how to’s” for starting a business, no Instagram, no intuitive ecommerce platform with out-of-the-box beautifully created templates to drag and drop products/pictures, no Alibaba for overseas manufacturing, no Makers Row for domestic manufacturing (you literally had to call a lead, who referred you to someone, who knew someone, who had the number for a factory). It was us and a handful of close friends and family who were willing to spend their time helping us (shouts to everyone, you know who you are). None of us came from clothing/fashion, but we were passionate and wanted so badly to learn, and so learn we did- learned how to take pictures, learned how to write (well sort of), learned how to create tech packs and design garments, learned about fabrics, learned how to manage a website, and on and on. All these things were so hard starting out, but it taught us how to figure things out and evolve, and honestly, that is exactly what is missing today for many upstart businesses. Too much information is available, and it is actually too easy to start a business, which often times leads to weak foundations that crumble when things get tough (things will always get tough at some point in any business).
Another hard lesson learned about starting a business, was the sacrifices we had to make and the strain on personal relationships it would cause. To start a business is truly a full time job, and to do that while also having a full time job (essentially having 2 full time jobs for 3+ years straight) was not something we were fully prepared for. All the weekends spent working while friends were going to concerts/trips/events was a hard pill to swallow. Harder yet, was all the time sacrificed with family. Forget sacrificing your own time, but sacrificing the time of your family/significant other is even harder. They are supporting your dream, and trusting the sacrifice will pay off, but over time that strain takes its toll. Thank you so much to our friends and family that stuck by us along the way! We know it has not been easy, but we want you to know we appreciate your sacrifices and blind support for our dream.
So, what is on the horizon for the next 5 years? Well, we have a lot of plans and some exciting news to share. As we write this, we are in the final negotiations on our new flagship retail storefront. Much bigger in size and in a prominent location here in Charlotte, we are ready to take OLE MASON JAR to the next level. When completed, we look forward to not only being locally and regionally recognized, but nationally as one of the best men’s stores in the country!
Ultimately, the biggest reason for our success is our faith. It was God that guided us and gave us the initial push to start in the first place, it is God that has gotten us to this point and it will be God that gets us to wherever we end up! There really is no other explanation, as we should have been out of business at least 25 different times (seriously). The customer that ordered the very last day of the month with an order that covered our expenses the next month, the business opportunities that allowed us to pivot to being profitable, the perfect timing and luck that happened in the 25th hour when we were about to give up- all things that have no other explanation that being divine intervention. Some may shrug at this, but we hope will be an inspiration for others. Trust us, If we can succeed in this, anything is possible!
"Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight." - Proverbs 3:5-6
Congrats! So happy for you both. Great Product + Great People + Great Faith = Great Business