Last February, as we celebrated one official year of Alpine Parrot, I shared 10 things I learned from those first 356 days. Now, as I wrap up my second year as full-time CEO of Alpine Parrot, I'm pleased to say the lessons have continued to come. As we celebrate birthday number two and reflect all that year two has brought, including our successful Kickstarter and the Ponderosa Pants being worn by people around the world, I’m excited to once again share 10 things I’ve learned over the past 365 days.
The community is THERE for you.
When we launched our Kickstarter campaign in April, I was genuinely blown away by all of you - we reached our goal in only THREE hours, and then DOUBLED our goal in eight! And our community played a huge part in getting us there by supporting us, sharing with their friends, and more.
What this means for Alpine Parrot: Y’all showed up for us, and you can trust that we are always going to show up for y’all! The Ponderosa Pants are only just the beginning - I can’t wait to show you the other products we’re working on!
Timing is everything.
When creating apparel, each season needs to be considered. We’ve been working super hard building up this team and company, but in the process of planning past the Ponderosa Pants we missed a couple of deadlines for things to come. That means we’ve had to rearrange our production schedule so that we can release products in a different order than we had originally planned.
What this means for Alpine Parrot: We’ve added a production manager to our team! We’re no longer going to be relying on solely me and my time to build every new product. 😅 We also are continuing to be nimble and adaptive as we deal with supply chain issues and more.
Shipping is terrifyingly expensive.
The global supply chain crisis is no joke, y’all. We’re spending more on shipping than on the actual goods we’re buying (often with a factor of 3x-10x), and while I wish we could avoid it all by having all of our trims and fabrics made in the USA, as of now, that’s simply not possible.
What this means for Alpine Parrot: We’re constantly watching our costs, making sure that at the end of the day, we’re building a sustainable business. We’ll always be transparent with any changes in our prices so that you know what’s going on and why - but also recognize that small businesses don’t have the same margins that larger companies do. Our goal is to serve this community - to do that, we need to make enough profit so that we can do this full time. Thank you so much for your understanding 💖
Word of mouth is the best advertising.
We can tell everyone how great we think Alpine Parrot is until we’re blue in the face, but the reality is that people trust their friends more than they trust a brand. Our small brand gets so excited when y’all share your joy in the outdoors while wearing our gear - THANK YOU!
What this means for Alpine Parrot: We’re working on creative ways to get as many of our products into the world as possible, as quickly as possible, while maintaining a quality we're proud of. We’re also taking your feedback and iterating on our products so that folks get great products that they’re happy to tell their friends about!
The right team makes the work seem almost easy.
Over the last year, we’ve gone from one full-time team member (me) and two regular contractors, to one full-time team member (still me 😅), one part-time team member, and four regular contractors. We also have an intern and a team of occasional contractors who come in right when we need them. Alpine Parrot genuinely wouldn’t be as successful as it already is without this incredible group of humans who so firmly believe in our mission and Get Things Done!
What this means for Alpine Parrot: I pride myself in being a really good manager. I’m always looking to give away my LEGOs, but I’ve learned how to step in to make strategic decisions when needed. We will continue to grow our team, but we also won’t grow faster than is necessary. When you talk to someone on Instagram, send us an email about your order, or any other interaction with Alpine Parrot, you're working with a passionate person on our small team who truly and deeply cares about your experience with our products.
Rest counts as productivity.
There’s an insidious narrative that claims success is born out of non-stop work. This is simply not true - to do our best work, it is imperative that we take the time we need to recharge our batteries!
What this means for Alpine Parrot: We have a four-day work week. Yep, even as an early company. Culture is easy to create and difficult to change - so we’re living now the way we want to live later! Trust me, I’d rather give it my all four days a week and take it easy the other three days - if we can’t pull it off now, it’ll be even harder to change the company to pull it off later
Take charge over the things you can control, and let go of the things you can’t.
We are still - despite my many wishes we weren’t - in the midst of a global pandemic with a supply chain crisis. Whether a boat gets stuck in a canal, vendors decide to discontinue products we depend on, or the stitchers on the factory floor get sick, it’s easy to feel like the world is out to get you. (Spoiler alert: It’s not, even if it feels that way!) When the days feel impossible, I take a moment to focus on what I can do to move things forward, even just a little bit.
What this means for Alpine Parrot: We don’t sit still, lamenting how hard things are. Instead, we reach out to our partners, vendors, and community to change course, find alternatives, and share silly animal gifs. It all works out in the end! And, we do our best to be open about changes in timelines etc. for our customers, too.
The product is never perfect.
I like to sum up engineering as “break and iterate”: we make a thing to the best of our ability and let it out into the world as quickly as we can. The sooner we can get feedback, the sooner we can fix any issues! We made the Ponderosa Pants based on extensive feedback from our Fit Testers, and we’ve already started updating the current Ponderosa Pants based on feedback we’ve received from our earliest customers. We can’t wait to show you what that means.
What this means for Alpine Parrot: Everything we make is put through the wringer before it gets into your hands, but we recognize that we don’t have all the information at the start. We take your feedback VERY seriously, and welcome it (good, bad, or ugly). When we can, we’ll use it to make our products all that much better.
The industry is ready for us.
Last November, we were invited to meet with and show our products to independent specialty retailers from all over the United States. Although we (at the time) only had one product to show, the reception we received was so enthusiastic!
What this means for Alpine Parrot: When I started this company, I envisioned a world in which me and all of my friends could walk into an outdoor specialty store and find clothes that not only fit our bodies, but fit our personalities and our purpose: no more settling for clothes that are “good enough,” but excitedly purchasing apparel that keeps us safe and comfortable in the outdoors. We are one step closer to this reality, thanks to our retail launch partners, who we’ll be revealing in a later blog post 😉
Stop when you’re done.
Okay, so maybe I only had nine items for my list - but! Sometimes we get into a habit of repetition and expectations, which can actually hold us back if we’re not careful.
What this means for Alpine Parrot: I have a rule when running meetings - the meeting is over when we’re done or when time is up, whichever is sooner. This forces us to stay on track, but also to use our time as efficiently as possible. Along the same lines, we are constantly checking in on our routines - are we doing what we need to do? Or are we simply doing what we tend to do?
Well, that's it for now. Another 365 days and somehow TWO years of Alpine Parrot has flown by. Thank you for being here, for being a part of this community, and for being curious and excited alongside us as we head into what the next year brings.