Strupz Journey Blog – From Concept to Customer
Celebrating 10 years
The 24th September 2020 marks the 10 year anniversary of my little product coming to market and I’m proud to say it is still selling online 10 years later. I’ve designed an anniversary logo, written this blog, created a talk to add to my portfolio for the public speaking circuit about my journey from concept to customer and created a Facebook Ad to reach more people with a £3 discount offer to celebrate the anniversary.
How it all begun
One cold autumnal October evening in 2008 I was getting ready to go out and tucking my jeans into my long black leather boots. It soon became apparent that my jeans wouldn’t stay tucked in neatly and were folded and uncomfortable around the ankle area. I decided then and there, there had to be a solution. I quickly checked online and couldn’t find anything. I remembered years back having a pair of ski pants which had elastic stirrups on the bottom of the legs that were fastened with buttons on either side of the trouser leg. I realised that was what I required on my jeans but didn’t want to sew buttons into all my jeans. There had to be a different way…
Making my prototype
I decided shortening a pair of braces might do the trick. So I popped along to my nearest charity shop and they only had a pair of children’s braces. This was a stroke of luck as it meant the metal clips were smaller than on men’s braces. I purchased these for £1, came home and started cutting them to approx. 4 inches long and adding the clips to each end. Initially this was too long, so I had to shorten them to ensure the clips sat comfortable below my ankle bone. I fastened them to my jeans and immediately solved the problem of comfort and baggy knee look. I was very pleased with myself
Over the coming days I started showing friend and family. I was receiving requests to make a pair of them. This made me think that maybe there as a market for this fashion accessory product.
And so the journey began…….
Early 2009, I met with a business coach from Business Link which was a free service from the Government at that time, and with his guidance I produced my business plan. I drew my technical specifications. found a manufacturer in China, and in November 2009, 12 months after my initial idea, I had my samples arrive – 8 colours. 5 of each colour. I couldn’t patent the product as clips and elastic already existed. I hadn’t created anything different. I had just used the same materials to make a different purpose for them in a short stirrup design.
I had an NDA – non disclosure agreement to keep the idea under-wraps especially before the brand name had been registered. Friends and family tested them for me. I started to talk about them in my networking world, doing market research and picking up testimonials from those testing them.
Confirming my first order with China
My first order for 3,500 pairs was in July 2010 ready for the big launch online and offline as Snow and Rock were my first retail suppliers. My pitch to Snow and Rock was a great experience and I was thrilled that the buyer placed an order with me. It was very exciting
They were officially available in their stores on 24th September 2010 – 23 months after the initial idea.
A Press Release was written and the media noise in November and December along with heavy snowfall and Christmas trade meant I was snowed in and snowed under. It was all hands on deck from family to help me with dispatching the orders. It was a bit mad for a while. I was a victim of my own success. My 2nd Order was placed in May 2011 – 7,000 pairs. I had a few other retailers from garden centres, independent shoe shops, sailing stores and outdoor clothing and accessory stores.
I used Social Media as a way to market the product directly to people using twitter and facebook initially and subsequently Instagram directing people to my website www.strupz.co.uk. Orders also came in via Ebay.co.uk. Strupz have continued to sell throughout the autumn and winter months predominantly in the UK but also around the world including the USA, Australia and around Europe.
Possible future opportunities are to look to white label the product and bring out new colours and patterns. I wish to thank all my customers and supporters over the past 10 years. It’s been a great business journey with so much learning along the way. Here’s to the next 10 years….