It is now mid-April and it seemed like an appropriate time to deliver a short FNO update to our loyal fans. Some of you may know, and some may not, that FNO intends to take a large leap of faith in the coming months. Unfortunately I have to write about this in future tense and not past tense, but it the element of the unexpected that makes the start-up adventure most challenging.
Early in 2014 I had planned to take Father Nature Outdoors to the public. Up to this point FNO is followed by my friends, friends of friends, and occasional camping fanatics who stumbled upon FNO in its early stages. We have used a total of $0 on marketing up to this point, and that was on purpose. I didn't see the point in advertising on a large scale until we had a product worth showing off, and for that matter, a product with a substantial inventory behind it as well.
Well in late 2013 we finally had a product worth showing off. It is an integrated camping blanket which took about a year to design and perfect. It is a three-season (summer-focused) camping product which takes an innovative spin on a backpacking design. There are a few backpacking type blankets on the market, but they are restricted for a number of reasons; some require additional sheets, partner pads, cinch cords, etc. The design we made eliminated these constraints, and attempts to garner more universal appeal among the camping market rather than backpacking market. And it is as comfortable as anything.
We went through a number of rounds of prototypes in 2013 testing the right outer shell materials, inner lining materials, and synthetic fillings. We knew what we wanted, but we wanted them to be perfect. Outer shell was easy for us- soft, yet durable nylon. Inner lining was simple too- lightweight and smooth to the touch. The filling was the challenge.
We eventually created our own mixture of synthetics which felt soft and lofty like down, but had the benefits of being a synthetic. On the spur of the moment we coined it “Superloft”, because every brand in the camping industry has to make their filling better than the next. With the filling created, we had our trifecta finished in December 2013.
So with our product in place we were set to take off. Due to previous small sales we had two options for a small funding amount. First we had the option of a low-risk small business loan with a former start-up program, or we could attempt to gain the same funds on a Kickstarter. Either could be used in order to secure our first round of inventory and both were low risk. So with everything in order we went to prepare our manufacturers, but it was there we were hit with the biggest bump in the road yet.
Due to a shortage, part of our synthetic mix Superloft was out of stock. The process of making it was so unique it couldn’t be produced without a substantial investment upfront, or without a much larger order. And this meant 5X the size of the original order.
We tried to find other solutions and get the product back on track, but it hit a stall. It is still possible, but in the meantime we searched out other avenues to make the product happen. Luckily, two of those avenues have appeared to pull through. So a little behind schedule it appears that we are back on track. In the next month we should have confirmation if were a “go”.
The quick update ended up being not-so-quick, but it is all details of the journey to start-up. It is a challenge, but I am actually happy it took place. It has given us even more time to prepare and calculate our next steps as we try to grow. Hopefully in the next few months you will be seeing us much more, and we still appreciate your support every step of the way.
Father Nature Outdoors
Because Mother Nature (and some manufacturers) can be a pain