(OLE MASON JAR Co-Founders Bradley Rhyne & Filipe Ho)
This past month, OLE MASON JAR reached a major milestone...our 4th year of being in business. All too often in this industry, it is easy to get caught up in thinking about the future and only focus on moving forward, so it was actually nice to pause and reflect on how far we have come in those 4 years!
Then & Now
In March of 2013 we literally started out of a spare bedroom, with only a handful of t-shirts, button downs and some leather koozies. Flash forward 4 years later, and we have a physical store front right in the heart of uptown Charlotte, are in multiple retail stores (other than our own) and have vastly expanded our product offering. Today, our product line now includes ties, belts, sport coats, suiting, custom clothing (shirting and suiting) and other accessories.
Additionally, we are incredibly proud that the core goals we were founded on still all hold true. Giving back is still just as important to us, as is our dedication to making goods right here in America. We can't tell you how many brands we have seen come in "flying the made in USA flag", only to slowly switch production to overseas as the years go on, usually unbeknownst to their customers. And honestly, we completely understand! It is hard, and we mean REALLY hard, to make things domestically. Forget about actually finding a manufacturer (hard enough on it’s own), but finding the customer that is willing to pay the premium is even harder. When it comes down to it, it's expensive to make goods domestically and most consumers just aren't willing to pay for that premium. Despite this, we are dedicated to keeping things here, and can comfortably say the OLE MASON JAR brand will always be made in USA!
Below our a few stats that we thought told a really great story of just how far we have come:
- Over 2,000 families fed through our Buy a Shirt, Feed a Family program and partnership with Second Harvest Food Bank.
- Over 1,000 Shirts Sold.
- Over 500 Suits/Sport Coats sold.
- Have sold to customers in 40 out of 50 states and 12 different countries.
For every success and accomplishment, though, there have certainly been many more lessons learned and struggles. As much as we would love to sit here and act like it has been success after success, it certainly has not been. This industry is tough, unforgiving and absolutely brutal. It is highly competitive, and ever changing, meaning if you don’t adapt to the change you will be left behind. We would be lying if we didn’t admit there have been some months (especially in the early years), where we sold almost nothing, and were pretty close to calling it quits before it ever even got started. Specifically? We will never forget a time in our first year where we were flipping through the pages of our very first magazine feature (an awesome article by QC Exclusive). The extreme joy of feeling like we had finally made it immediately dissolved as we looked at our sales report for the month. We had a whopping $32 in sales (1 t-shirt) for the entire month…talk about humbling!
Another major lesson learned was that the motto “if you build it, they will come” definitely does not apply to men’s clothing. Just building something (no matter how good it is) is only part of the equation, and ultimately takes pouring just about every ounce of time and energy into it just to give it a chance (entrepreneurs everywhere nodding their heads in unison). We were a little disillusioned at the start thinking if we were started a clothing brand, all of our friends and personal networks would come out in full support. There were certainly many that did, but quite a few folks that (still to this day) have yet to buy a single thing from us. And you know what...that is OK! It wasn't easy at first, but we had to learn that this isn’t for everyone, and certainly isn’t something that we should expect all of our friends to jump on board with. Plus, learning this lesson was far more valuable than the revenue we would have made from those we know supporting us. Just building something (no matter how good it is) is only part of the equation, and ultimately takes pouring just about every ounce of energy into it to give it a chance.
Lastly, and most importantly, we want to thank everyone that has been a part of making this dream of ours come true. The city of Charlotte has really embraced us, and the local Charlotte media/press has fully supported us and written some pretty amazing articles that we will forever be grateful for. Above all else, we would like to thank and attribute all success to God, for it is truly him that has allowed us to get to this point!
So what’s next? Well we are working on some pretty neat stuff! How about a possible second store location, an expanded product line and many more collaborations with local designers, makers and artists!
Thanks for following us on our journey, and we hope you continue following along in the years to come!
Brad & Filipe
OLE MASON JAR - Co-Founders