Hello friends <3
I hope you've been keeping well. Nomad Darren here, it's certainly been a long time since you've heard from me...almost a year after my last blog post. I am sincerely sorry about the radio silence, I truly am, but truthfully, I desperately needed a bit of distance as I was feeling on the verge of burn out.
To paraphrase Bilbo - I felt thin, sort of stretched, like butter scraped over too much bread.
Before some product updates, I feel that I needed to go into some of the circumstances surrounding my hiatus, it's a fairly long read and it has actually been split into two updates to make it a bit more manageable.
TL/DR Version: I was super busy and super stressed. Baby coming. Needed money. Did more client work to buy diapers. Nomad was pushed down the priority list. Felt sad because I'm addicted to bags and love my little bag company. Decided to come back to Nomad in a big way. *Cue Rocky music*
When my pre-order customer packages had finally shipped last year, it was after a particularly stressful period, which included an unfortunate system error that had created slightly incorrect mailing addresses for a number of customer orders, and due to the automated nature of the logistics system we use, we were only alerted to the error after all our customer packages had shipped.
We worked around the clock to ensure that we did as much as possible to minimize the damage, and thankfully we avoided any significant problems. At the time, it had the potential to be a very financially costly exercise, but we thankfully avoided that and almost all packages were delivered to the correct customers. The handful that did not make it into the hands of their owners were quickly shipped replacements.
BTW, before I go further, I'd love to hear how your Nomad Art Satchels are going and if you've had any issues or feedback - I'll get into it more later, but our team has grown, which has allowed me greater bandwidth to focus on customer service.
Anyway, one of the things with running a product development business alongside building its e-commerce distribution platform, is that there is always work to do, and if you're moderately successful, it quickly becomes more than any single person can handle. And the more it grows, the more work that isn't being done also grows. If you're not getting more hands on deck to help out, you become snowed under and overwhelmed, and you can no longer focus on growth, only playing catch up and firefighting.
This is precisely where I was finding myself, but I stubbornly resisted growing my operations...here's why...
SCARIEST THING EVER
When I was young, my parents started a jewelry business with pretty significant investment around the time I was in middle school, I think I was around 13 or 14. It was actually really cool, seeing my parents grow something from nothing through sheer hard work.
They rented a warehouse, drew up plans and decked it into a little factory with vats of expensive chemical drums, a small hand assembly line, spray booths, jigging stations, show room, reception area and a small kitchen.
There's so many things I remember about that place, the smells that hung in the air, the consistent late nights, the crowding around the kitchen table for dinner, cooked on a portable camp stove - it virtually became our home. Our real home, we reserved only for sleep at night and preparing to leave in the morning.
We spent countless hours in the office, taking after-school naps in my sleeping bag under my dad's mahogany work desk. I played computer games on the work computer and learned how to roller-blade around the factory to kill time after my homework was done. I went through my borrowed library books so quickly that to stave off boredom, I started reading all my sister's Sweet Valley High books too...they were actually kinda cool tbh.
Then the local newspaper came around and wrote an article on my parents' business - my mom had her face along side the article. It felt like things were becoming good. Someone even tried to break into our factory to steal our merchandise. I remember the anger at that, that someone was trying to take away from us the hard work we'd put into it, there was a sense that this was our patch of turf, this was our go at the pursuit of happiness.
The type of jewelry business my parents had set up was pretty unique - they used complex chemical processes in order to turn Australian flora & fauna into high quality gold plated jewelry and gifts. I still haven't seen any similar jewelry business which achieved the level of quality that they did.
Then, at a certain point, I don't remember exactly when, things started to go off track.
I'll spare you the details, but after a long downhill glide due to a series of unfortunate events, the business shuttered. It really hurt, and I wasn't even the one who did all the work, so I can only imagine what my parents had gone through. Leading up to the company going into bankruptcy, my parents and their employees worked around the clock for months to try to turn things around without success.
One of the things I remember now is that my sister and I attended martial arts classes a few evenings a week, and even through this increasingly trying time, my dad still found the time to take us in the evenings which provided some sense of normality to things. Now as a parents, I can really appreciate the enormity of such a seemingly small gesture.
But because of the ensuing fallout; the intertwined lives of all the people who had worked so hard at a singular goal, mercilessly scattered to the winds in an instant; the liquidators picking over the bones of my parents' hopes and dreams; my mother being stressed beyond belief...carved a very deep groove, warning me for over 20 years that owning and growing a business is perhaps the single most terrifying thing in existence.
I've had to fight against this programming for a very long time, and it feels like I'm winning most days, but it's still something that gnaws at me and sometimes causes me to be overly cautious, I actually get a physical symptom of this fear - it feels like a tight thorny ball right under my rib cage...which is why growing my business, and putting more people to work on it, has been a difficult thing for me to overcome. For me, growing Nomad is an almost spiritual endeavor - the pursuit of overcoming my greatest and most deeply rooted fear, by peeling them slowly away layer by layer.
CHILD UNIT 2.0
In the midst of all this work load and ongoing client work, my wife and I sanely (YEAH RIGHT...) decided we'd try for our second child early in 2016. It was something both of us had wanted to do and we were also aware that we were approaching the age when things of that nature would start to get a bit more complicated. Damn you biological clock.
Well anyway, we thought maybe it might take some time to actually fall pregnant the second time around, but apparently we're both pretty damned fertile and were able to conceived after a week. We were both overjoyed and severely terrified for the second time. The double whammy was that my wife most likely would not be going back to work for a while, meaning I'd be the sole bread winner for a period of time.
Our beautiful daughter Ava Scarlett Yeow was born into the world on the 22nd of September 2016. It was an amazing, emotional VBAC birth and I was so proud of my wife. It was easily one of the most powerful experiences I've been a part of in my life.
Here's a pic of my kids I took the other day. They love each other a huge amount, which is just awesome, and they're both super strong personalities.
A DIVERGING ROAD
Building a product company isn't cheap, having kids isn't cheap, and with the prospect of being the sole income earner in my little family, it wasn't long before I was bumping the inherently risky business development of Nomad down the priority list in preference of client work which paid well right now, rather than a year or more down the track (potentially).
Call it short-sighted, but this strategy actually made short-term sense. It let us save up for the inevitable expenses that would soon to come - but longer term, and creatively it made less sense.
If I am being completely honest, while I greatly enjoy doing client artwork and design (and I suspect always will), my true passion at this point in my life is working on carry items and physical goods. Sounds weird to actually say, but it absolutely is my burning passion. I actually go up to random strangers in the street and ask if I can look/touch/smell their bag. Yeah of course I know how weird that is.
After pre-sales shipping occurred, a part of me knew that I couldn't continue to serve two masters - freelancer clients and Nomad. They both demand significant focus and it was unsustainable to continue to do both.
In the end my growing frustration at being unable to truly work on growing my baby (Nomad) was beginning to negatively affect my mood and predisposition. I felt that without dedicated focus on Nomad, it would forever exist as a profitable little business experiment, and it would eventually be something I regretted not focusing on in later life. You only get one go at it right? So I decided to shift things around, and position myself to be able to work on Nomad 100% of the time.
I began putting out feelers into my contacts, actively searching for other people who could help Nomad as advisers, but my aim was to eventually secure investment as well...TO BE CONTINUED...
I'm going to end there for now so you can get back to your busy lives, but, before I go, can I arrow two things:
- If you're not already on our email list, I'd love to invite you to put your name down for our new newsletter. Similar to the blog, we're going to re-invigorate our email newsletter and share some pretty awesome stuff there first, including various art-centric resources, tips, tutorials and new artist products.
I'll leave you with a picture of my messy work table and maybe/maybe not teasing some new stuff I'm working on. We have a lot of big things coming up, I hope you can take the ride with me <3
Signing off, Daz.