Today marks Redpants' first anniversary!
[Insert pre-recorded fanfare here]
Well, technically yesterday was the anniversary, but I'm posting this after midnight so... oh well. Whatever. The point is that I officially founded Redpants, LLC, as a business one year ago. Looking back over the last year, I'm really quite shocked at how well things have come together. That's not to say it was easy. It was incredibly difficult, in fact. But all the work is paying off.
I'd already spent an ungodly number of hours researching and tinkering with my Aston before I even thought to start Redpants. And even when the idea of starting a company first popped into my head a couple years ago, I was actually very hesitant to do so. I already had enough on my plate and was stretched too thin. But a year ago I had one of those "now or never" moments and made my move. I've got a bit about Redpants and where the name came from on the About Me page, so feel free to give it a quick read if you're interested.
Looking back, what stands out the most is the incredible support I've had from so many people in this little internet venture of mine. Widespread support has been the most noteworthy thing to summarize the year and, truth be told, is what got me through the sleepless nights and empty bank accounts. It was pretty rough for a while. I was sleeping only 4 or 5 hours per night, 6 nights per week. My life revolved around work - get up, go to work, come home, work on my website. But it wasn't just a matter of writing content to put on a webpage - it was literally every aspect of the company. Inventory management, accounting, packing and shipping orders, answering emails, filming and editing videos, taking pictures, creating do-it-yourself guides, working with suppliers, coming up with new product ideas... and since Redpants is my first attempt at anything like this, I have to learn as I go.
Funding everything out of my own pocket added to that stress. I didn't have any money to invest since I'd just bought a house a couple months prior, so money was ridiculously tight at times. At one point I had a whopping $37 in my checking account. That same day a storm ripped a couple holes in the roof of my new-to-me house and left me with a $1000 deductible.
Stress was my natural state for a long time.
That's why the support I got was so important. Without it, I probably would have walked away a couple of times. It's not like I need the website for my income - my day job covers that (*knock on wood*). Redpants has been a project born from passion, not basic necessity. I'm fortunate in that, but at the same time it makes it too easy to walk away from. But the support I got from people kept me going. It isn't hyperbole when I say there was a moment several months ago when I was sitting here at my computer thinking of closing up shop and I got an email from a guy literally thousands of miles away thanking me for the work I'd been doing. It was a short email - only a few sentences - but so unexpected and so timely that it really was a deciding factor in continuing with Redpants. There have been a ton of emails like this one that kept me going as well, but that the timing on that one was so absurdly on point that it stands out as being a key moment for Redpants as a company.
I've had a lot of support from other companies as well. I basically cold-called a few of them and explained what I was doing and asked if they'd be interested in working with me. There were a few companies that balked at some of the ideas I had, but most were eager to pitch in and supply me with the parts I wanted to sell. Being able to make these connections was vital to putting together the ever-growing product portfolio I have in my online store. (I have access to a ton of other products and brands that aren't represented there, however I've chosen to stay focused on my Aston Martin niche and only list those items directly relevant to our cars.)
I set some fairly arbitrary goals for my first year, and blew them all out of the water. Now I'm approaching my second year with a lot of optimism, but cautiously so. There's a thin line I'm walking here - Redpants has been a great success so far, but I don't want it to become a victim of that success. What's made Redpants work is that I'm very personally involved. I take a lot of helping people out, whether it's through my website's content, chatting directly via email, or working with someone in person. The more popular Redpants gets, the more difficult it'll be for me to do so many things at once. I'll have to hire someone to help out and, with that, my overhead is going to skyrocket. Trying to find a way to manage growth is ultimately going to be my biggest challenge. I've got some thoughts in mind for how to do that, and I'll cross that bridge when I get to it. But as things stand right now, Redpants has had an absolutely incredible first year. So thank you all for your continued support, and I look forward to another year!