I built the KUIU business plan to support a level ...

I built the KUIU business plan to support a level of growth that we quickly exceeded. I projected the 1st inventory purchase to last 15 months. Refilling again in June of this year.

As most of you know, KUIU is a new business model, wholesale direct online only. There was a lot of educated guessing building this business and financial plan. Most people I talked to about a direct online only brand thought it would not work because we would not sell enough product.

I believed building trust through transparency, delivering twice the product at half the price is a recipe for success if enough people would try our products. Once they tried KUIU the word would spread. Well, this happened a bit faster than I expected.

KUIU did more our 1st week than Sitka did our 1st year!

As soon as I realized I underestimated the demand for KUIU I placed a second purchase order with the factory. And then increased it a month later.

The challenge with Toray is the strict quality requirements for Primflex yarn that creates long lead-times. 6 to 8 months depending on the time of year. Throw in an earthquake and tsunami and it extended our lead-time even further.

We use Tamoda Apparel to cut and sew, a boutique operation in Vancouver. They focus on quality and are unable to turn out large volumes of product like a large overseas facility. Because of this, factory space is limited and our production runs take time. But we get a very high quality product.

These are the challenges we have been dealing with and the reason we have been out of stock for so long.

Not being happy with this situation, I have been building a new plan to manage the increase in demand.

Since the launch, I have worked with Toray, The Merino Company and Tamoda to increase how often we deliver products. This will keep us in stock more consistently by refilling on a more regular basis.

Out growing my original business plan, we needed growth capital. In December I secured a substantial bank loan to pay the larger inventory purchases to meet this seasons demand.

I share all of this with you to give you better insight to the challenges we faced this first year and the work and planning behind the scenes to insure we have product available this season when you need it. I am optimistic these measures will help meet the demand this year.

Since the 1st of the year we have been receiving shipments from Tamoda filling in on our back orders. Over the next 3 to 4 weeks we will be receiving a shipment a week, which will put us back in stock on most items. Your gear is coming soon.

Thank you for your support, patience and understanding.

Repectfully,

Jason

This article has 60 comment(s)

  1. Jason Hairston Reply

    Thank you for taking the time to comment!

  2. Rocky Reply

    Jason I really like feeling like I’m in the loop and thanks for taking the time to talk to me twice on the phone to answer my questions. I hope kuiu doesn’t get too big to lose this personal touch.

    • Jason Hairston Reply

      Thanks Rocky! I promise we will not loose the personal touch. This is one of the reasons I wanted to sell direct.

      J

  3. Curt Cabrera Reply

    Jason, Your 110% effort is always greatly appreciated bud. Looking forward to what 2012 has in store for KUIU and glad to be along for the ride!

    • Jason Hairston Reply

      Thanks Curt! I appreciate the comment and kind words my friend.

      JH

  4. Josh Wright Reply

    Thanks for update on product. I would like to get more of a preview for the 2012 new products. Will there be new solid colors for the attack pant and/or guide jacket? Some of us have the electronic gift certificates and I know I am curious on what is coming out for this year. Thanks.

    • Jason Hairston Reply

      Well noted Josh. I will do a post of the up coming 2012 products soon.

      JH

  5. Ricardo Laborin Reply

    Hi Jason, I’ve bought some of your stuff and like it very much (raingear and merino shirt). Appreciate the honesty and would like to contact you regarding this post and some opportunities, please send me your email address so we can further discuss.

    • Jason Hairston Reply

      Hi Ricardo,

      Thank you for the comment. My email jasonh@kuiu.com. I look forward to hearing from you.

      Jason

  6. Will Jenkins Reply

    Very cool Jason! Glad to see that KUIU is growing so quickly! Thanks for the insight!

    • Jason Hairston Reply

      Thanks Will!

  7. Lindsey Reply

    Jason,
    Thank you for KUIU, your commitment, and service. Im proud to own many Kuiu clothes and will continue to buy only Kuiu hunting gear. It just simply works!

    • Jason Hairston Reply

      Thank you for the comment Lindsey!

      J

  8. J.R. Young Reply

    It has been fun to watch this evolve so quickly and see demand so high, and communication so frequent. More and more as the hunting television shows from the 2011 fall season start to come out I am seeing a lot of KUIU from the Vortex commercial, to a Best of the West Episode and a Swarovski show with Lance K.

    I love when I can get products directly and not have to pay for unecessary overhead. When Sitka announced their Waterfowl line at the Shot Show and posted a link on Facebook someone replied with “Damn, is the Chinese Labor Unionizing?” in reference to their pricing….the comment was quickly removed.

    It is clear that KUIU can win with this model, not only be the leader in quality but be the leader in price. I’m sure it won’t come without challenges as demand continues to grow, but kudos for providing an uncomprimising product at a superior price with the cherry on top of great customer service.

    • Justin Starck Reply

      Funny FB comment. Sitka removed me as a fan…said something about not having to settle for Sitka anymore…

    • Shane Reply

      I could possibly be a Sitka fan if they cut their prices by about 30%. Even then I don’t think they could pull me away from Kuiu. Kuiu just has a better quality product.

      Hmm, Sitka’s new waterfowl pattern looks an aweful lot like Kryptek’s LEAF pattern that came out about a year ago.

    • Jason Hairston Reply

      Thanks J.R. for your comment and kind words. I really appreciate it.

      JH

  9. Shane Reply

    Jason, thanks for the information. I was one of the individuals on the forum questioning where all the merchandise was. Though dissapointed I will not be able to make the purchases I wanted to for my upcoming hunt I’m very pleased to know that your are responding to your customers and continuing to strive towards producing the best product possible. My wish list will just have to wait a little longer. I can’t wait to see what 2012 brings!

    • Jason Hairston Reply

      Hi Shane,

      When do you leave for your hunt?

      Jason

  10. Ken Reply

    Thanks, Jason – Appreciate the info.

    • Jason Hairston Reply

      You are welcome Ken! Thanks for the comment.

      Jason

  11. Bryan aka Tradrag Reply

    Appreciate the update…but…no need to apologize! KUIU kicks ASS! I bet there are more than a handful of start-ups that would like to have sold out within weeks. Hats off to you Jason!

    • Jason Hairston Reply

      Thanks Bryan! I appreciate your support!

      JH

  12. LEE JOHNSON Reply

    Thanks Jason, I got everything I wanted in a timely manner I guess because I was on board early.Great job on a great first year.Looking forward to this years hunts. I’m sure I’ll need some more gear.

    • Jason Hairston Reply

      Thanks Lee for taking the time to comment! I really appreciate it.

      Jason

  13. Cameron Meier Reply

    I understand completely and thanks for telling us all this. I never would have guessed you would have sold this much stuff so quickly!!

    • Jason Hairston Reply

      Thanks Cameron. I could not have guessed either. Have a nice weekend.

      JH

  14. Steve Shannon Reply

    Jason,
    Thanks for the update. I have been frustrated with the lag time, but I am always pleased with the service I get and the product I do receive. As stated earlier, I hope the growth brings in more product availability, but not at the expense of the service and product quality we have learned to expect from you all at KUIU. Thanks for doing what you do, absence makes the heart grow fonder. I am willing to be patient for greatness.

    • Jason Hairston Reply

      Thanks Steve for your patience and taking the time to comment. Gear is coming. It will be worth the wait.

      JH

  15. Steve Ameral Reply

    Just one of the many reasons we stick with Kuiu. The honesty and openness is unbeatable. Keeping customers informed is a big part of my business and completely unheard of in yours.
    Thank you for your honesty.

    • Jason Hairston Reply

      Thanks Steve for such a nice comment! I always appreciate your support.

      JH

  16. Matt Bustos Reply

    Hi Jason,

    As an Army veteran, I quickly learned that there is a tangible difference between “Manageers” and “Leaders”. Unfortunately, folks who may have managed people or resources well in one capacity, don’t know how to “Lead” from the front once they’re in a Leadership position. Too often Managers brush over what’s really going on in order to satisfy numbers or Wall Street. Leaders jump out front and add transparency and accountability. Kuiu will continue to outpace itself with your Leadership. Thanks for the update and I look forward to more inventory to rid you of!

    All my very best,
    Matt Bustos

    • Jason Hairston Reply

      Matt, THANK YOU! These are some very kind words. I really appreciate you taking the time to comment.

      Jason

  17. Trevor Reply

    Thanks for the heads up Jason. It is funny how success brings about a whole new set of challenges and the solutions to those problems. I am currently watching the problems that UA is having with a glut of inventory and difficulty in unclogging the inventory pipeline. This is where your model will shine! Thanks again for keeping us informed.

    • Jason Hairston Reply

      Thank you Trevor for taking the time to comment. It is interesting what success brings for sure.

      J

  18. Brendon Reply

    Life happens. I like the way you do business and I’m sold on the product. I look forward to the 2012 lineup.

    • Jason Hairston Reply

      Thanks Brendon for the comment.

      Jason

  19. Tim Rushing Reply

    You guys are doing a stellar job with KUIU! I appreciate many things about the way you do business (personalized service, high quality product, unique design, wholesale pricing) and it’s those things that will keep me coming back for the long haul. I enjoyed meeting you guys in Reno and look forward to new models of gear coming out this season. People just need to plan ahead and get stuff ordered early – not a day or two before you leave on a trip.

    • Jason Hairston Reply

      Hi Tim,

      It was great to meet you in Reno as well. Thank you for your business and your support.

      Jason

  20. Mike P Reply

    Thanks for the update.

    On another note, now that you have moved the blog do we need to subscribe again? I did not get my usual 5 am KUIU email for a blog update and just happened to be on the site and noticed this update.

    Cheers,

    Mike P

    • Jason Hairston Reply

      Hi Mike,

      You should not have to sign up again. We will double check as this was our first post on our hosted blog. Thanks for the heads up.

      J

  21. Dustin Reply

    Great job Jason. Updates like this (and the high quality clothing of course) are why you have a customer for life right here. Keep it up.

    • Jason Hairston Reply

      Thanks Dustin for taking the time to comment. I really appreciate it.

      Jason

  22. Aron Snyder Reply

    After using Kuiu clothing on several multiday trips into the wilderness, I can honestly say that the quality, price point, durability and functionality is second to none…. I would wait twice as long if needed!

    Thanks for keeping everyone posted and I hope Kuiu has a great 2012!

    • Jason Hairston Reply

      Thanks Aron for the comment! I always appreciate the support.

      J

  23. Page Norton Reply

    Great news. Can’t wait to put an order in.

    • Jason Hairston Reply

      Thank you Page!

  24. goathunter Reply

    Jason,

    Thanks for the update. I really applaud your choice of sticking with your cut/sew vendor that provides top quality. Personally, top quality is what I’m after, even if it means paying more and waiting longer. The market is flooded with low/med quality, mass-produced products and we certainly don’t need more of that. Looking forward to the 2012 gear!

    –MATT

    • Jason Hairston Reply

      Hey Matt,

      Thank you for the comment and support!

      J

  25. John Reply

    Thanks for the update. I would much rather wait, knowing that quality is not compromised. Haste makes waste!!

    (I assume we have re-subscribe to the new blog since I did not receive this post in my email?)

    • Jason Hairston Reply

      Hi John, you should have been transfered over. I believe Eric has taken care of this now. Thanks for taking the time to comment.

      J

  26. Pete V. Reply

    Thanks Jason.

    Hey, I’m really impressed with the approach you’re taking in starting and running this company. Score one for the West Coast, baby.

    I am curious what your influences were. What other companies out there — in any market — do you admire? Who else is building a business on the types of values and practices that are important to Kuiu?

  27. Jason Hairston Reply

    Hi Pete,

    I am a big fan of Apple and how they keep a very narrow product line focused on delivering a best in class product and not a bunch of average products. They are committed to a complete brand experience from start to finish.

    Lululemon is another brand I really appreciate. It is a yoga brand that is focused on a direct model with great products and they continue to reinvent themselves on a regular basis through product innovation and design for their core customer.

    J

  28. Brian McElrea Reply

    It was enjoyable rocking KUIU at this year’s SHOT show. Amazing how many gear/clothing companies are out trying to get a piece of the industry. Funny to see first hand the level of mediocracy between all of them.

    I’m happy I went “all in” early on to avoid the inventory challenges.

    Continue delivering on your original mission statement and your success will be incredible. Even your boy Seth Godin would be proud! Lol.

  29. Pete V. Reply

    On the subject of the “complete brand experience,” you may appreciate this — I saw an industrial designer named Robert Brunner speak at South by Southwest last year and was impressed with his vision of a designer’s role in the product development process: rather than design “objects,” he tries to design “ideas.” A designer’s role is to try to influence how customers FEEL about their products.

    His team is the design team behind the Beats by Dre headphones (huge success story) and he also makes Fuego BBQs: http://fuegoliving.com.

    To your point — narrow product line; complete brand experience; products that influence their customers’ lifestyles. Bizarrely, too few companies think this way, but Kuiu is there. Well done.

    Here’s some video from the SxSW talk: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PwHjJ4dIX1g

    Here’s the full audio of the talk: http://schedule.sxsw.com/2011/events/event_IAP000005

    • Jason Hairston Reply

      Thanks Pete! I really appreciate the feedback and the links to this talk. I am a student of business and great design and love to learn.

      J

  30. Rowdy Reply

    I greatly appreciate you taking the time to inform me “the consumer” of your inventory issues. I have been trying to get my hands on this stuff for almost 4 months with nothing being in stock. After numberous emails back and fourth with a quick reply each time, I stumbled across your January 26th post, which in turn relieved my worries of not being able to get any clothing. I know its a busy time but am somewhat curious, how long til the backorders are caught up and the items will be available for purchase via your site on a regular basis? I have quite a few friends very interested in your product and am axious to show them what I’ve seen! I personally don’t have any KUIU, but one numberous hunts this year I ran into guys that were supporting and wearing KUIU and absolutely loved what I saw!

    Respectfully,

    Rowdy
    Anchorage, AK

  31. Tim Reply

    Great Job Jason. You have won me 100%. Love your business model and appreciate your growth problems having done it a few times. Love the “Made in North America” brand. Never go overseas, no matter how many bottlenecks you have. They are going to build plants again in America. It will get better. Your timing is perfect with the “Bring jobs back to America” theme going on right now.

    Tim
    BC Outfitter

  32. Larry Schwartz Reply

    Jason,

    You made the comment that KUIU sold more in its first week than Sitka did in its first year. I have wondered about how big that number was. If it’s not giving away any competitive information, how much product has KUIU sold in its first year, 100 pieces, 1000 pieces? Breaking it out by item would be interesting too; beanies, baselayers, rain gear, packs, etc.

    Larry

  33. Allan Reply

    Jason,

    I have at least one, and often two or more, of just about every item in your product line, but (to my surprise) the item that I have worn the most and enjoyed almost daily is the Attack Pant (I thought it would be the Guide Jacket, which is one of my favorite pieces). I now have 3 pairs of the Attack Pants with 4 more pairs on back order. They are my favorite pants EVER for both hunting and daily wear! I am thrilled that you have responded to requests by me and others to add additional solid colors to the product line. As I expected, your choice of colors is perfect. Although I will soon have spent more than $1000 on Attack Pants alone, and several thousands more on other Kuiu products, I believe my money has been spent wisely on the best outdoor merchandise in the world. I have also back ordered a set of the Chugach Jacket and Pants in the up-coming darker solid color that will be a terrific all-purpose supplement to my Chugach set in Vias camo which I love. Sometimes I think designers forget that getting to the mountain areas to hunt often requires extensive travel where excess clothing and equipment is not practical. I don’t like to wear a bunch of camo In non-hunting environments, so solids let me pack lighter and have clothing that does double duty.

    I’m very happy for your wonderful successes!

    Many thanks,

    Allan

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