A guest blog by Xan Hood founder of Buffalo Jackson Trading Company. Lessons from an unabashed entrepreneur.
Blog post by Xan Hood
How to Trump the Survival of the Fittest
Headlines on capitalism make out
the world to be a vicious lion versus lamb mentality. Only the strong survive.
If you don’t have the resources, you’ll get eaten.
In some ways, I’ve seen that. I
started my menswear company, Buffalo Jackson, with a few hundred bucks and
absolutely no experience in clothing in 2009. Clothing is not a great business to
get in if you don’t have much cash, because clothing is made in bulk. It gets
cheaper the more you make.
But here is where the analogy of lion versus lamb goes
missing: the power of human relationships.
The power of working together for hopes and dreams. And the room for the little
guys… like me, and maybe you.
I was at a manufacturing trade show
a year ago to look for some apparel manufacturers. We had struck up a friendly
discussion with one supplier named Gary. I was hoping to work with him on some
flannel shirts. And then we came to the part of the
conversation where we started discussing how many shirts I could make. Ten
thousand? Twenty thousand? Fifty thousand?
Most people at this trade show were
large clothing companies. Quite frankly, I didn't have in my bank account the
quantity of their orders in dollars, let alone to put in an order that size.
“How about a hundred?” I said.
He had reason to be offended. This
show was for folks looking to do big business. And I was there because of the
future of where I believed our company was going to be one day. I had been turned down by plenty of
booths. But he thought about it.
Then he gave me a price, a high
price, and said, “Can you at least do 200?”
The flannel shirt supplier looked
at me after that deal and said, “I want you to know that even at this price I
just gave you, I am not going to be making any money on this deal. But I want to build a relationship with
I am humbled by many things--being
small, having fewer resources, options, and leverage than most. But one thing
that has humbled me the most is that relationships matter, and people are
willing to risk for them.
The same happened when we got a
call from a fulfillment center in Charlotte, NC. The two owners, Quancy and
Brady, said they’d like to ship our products, so I could quit shipping (out of
my garage) and focus on my business. It sounded like a great plan. I was
literally getting kicked out of my garage that week for having a “fulfillment
center” in a condo complex.
It began when I boxed up the
products with no SKU’s, tags, or labels and shipped them from Colorado to their
operation in North Carolina. They said, “We will sort it out.“
I don’t know if they would say it
has been worth it--we sure have given them plenty of headaches being a young
company--but grew twenty times larger in the first month of shipping with them.
And we've grown ever since.
Truth is, most folks have turned us
down as we have reached out. A bank wasn't interested in giving us a loan when
I brought in my 36 page business plan. I've learned how to get near the back of
There is a friend in Austria named
Tobias who has a conviction for details in jackets. I had to explain our orders
might be small to start. And he said, “I know that, but we believe we have a
That is why I believe in the free
It is this beautiful web of risk
and reward, hope, and trust. This web of commerce and transactions linking us
all together--is it perfect? No way. But it offers an opportunity. For those
with a lot, and those with a little, and for those with dreams.
Xan Hood is CEO of a successful clothing company. In his spare time, he likes to out run lions by being a human being. His company begin with a few hundred dollars and a dream. For more information on Buffalo Jackson Trading Company, visit their website.
Labels: Buffalo Jackson Trading Company, Entrepreneurs, Guest Blogs, Guest Moments, lion versus lamb, Marketing Moments, start ups, Xan Hood