There are some important updates at the end of this rather long blog post. If you want to skip straight to that, scroll on down!
It wasn’t too long ago that I was hospitalized twice due to a bacterial infection and a parasite, which I had at the same time. I’d done quite a bit of traveling leading up to that so it could have come from several places - Japan, England, Florida, Washington DC, or Connecticut… Regardless of how I got sick, it was really really bad and I may have been rather close to actually dying while slumped over barely-conscious in a VA hospital emergency room waiting area (three hour wait before I loudly demanded a doctor immediately or I’d shit blood on the floor in the middle of the lobby… not kidding, that’s what it took to get seen, and it was still another 20+ minutes after that before a nurse took me back).
So there’s some imagery for you.
Given how bad that was, you’d think I’d learned my lesson about taking care with my consumption of foods and liquids. Generally I’m pretty smart about things - I’ve eaten “weird” foods but very rarely get sick from them. I’ve had raw horse sushi in Tsukiji Fish Market in Tokyo, eaten raw fugu (that super-poisonous blowfish) in Osaka a few times, drank some kind of plum-based booze in Prague that I am still not convinced wasn’t actually diesel fuel, and had the worst food ever at the Prescott Hill Climb in England (sorry, and I hate to say it as the people were lovely… but the food was impressively bad). No big deal, no tummy rumbles from any of them.
But something somewhere nearly killed me and it was probably something dumb, like a carrot that a fly sneezed on while buzzing past.
Fast forward a couple months. I’d been working 16-18 hours a day almost every week day since then between Redpants and my “real” job, and 6-10 hours a day during weekends on Redpants. Yes, there’s really that much going on and it’s that demanding. My friend Luanna was visiting from Japan last week, which gave me an excuse to take off time and actually relax for the first time in longer than I can remember. We had ordered Indian food the day she arrived - a fun, easy thing to eat without having to go back out for dinner or do any cooking and cleaning after her 15-hour trek to get here. That was on Saturday, September 14th.
Monday was a very busy day, as they always are lately. I was rushing around and realized it was late afternoon and I hadn’t stopped to actually eat anything all day, which is usually the case. I opened the fridge and was excited to see some leftover Indian food. “Sweet, I love Indian!” I said as I popped it in the microwave and rushed off to continue working while the food cooked. I’d forgotten we’d ordered it on Saturday so finding it was a nice surprise, right?
A strange feeling hit me after inhaling the tandoori chicken and shrimp. And then I realized it wasn’t last Saturday that we’d ordered Indian food. It was the Saturday before that. The games began on Monday night and as of this morning I’m still not quite fit for reintroduction into polite society. Last night a friend of mine told me, “I believe I know more about your digestive system than even my own after these last several months.”
Don’t worry, this is all leading up to something.
It’s obvious the 16-18 hours a day of work I do is unsustainable. It’s been a few months now and I’m already starting to burn out. Taking last week off to spend time with Luanna while she visited was a huge help, but it doesn’t change the fact that things will not last much longer as they are right now. That means it’s time to do things very differently.
The Great Rebeginning
In addition to trying to keep up with an endless stream of phone calls and emails, packaging orders, working with suppliers, and sometimes doing adult things like laundry and eating not-9-day-old leftovers, I’m also doing a massive overhaul of Redpants. I’ve said in the past I was doing some restructuring but this is on a whole other level. At the rate I’m going, I expect it to be done by the end of the year.
The title of this blog post - Sometimes I’m Really Bad At Life - wasn’t just for being dumb and eating bad food, it was also because I’m trying to juggle two full-time jobs, one of which should be staffed by three people. Redpants has been a continuous learning process and will continue to be that way. I’m trying to learn as I go to make it as successful as possible. I’m very fortunate to have the problems that I have as they’re from an incredible amount of growth. Now I have to do what I need to do to catch back up.
And yes, “rebeginning” is now a word. hashtag TM.
The content on the Redpants website has outgrown the structure it’s based on. I’ve run into a number of problems with navigation paths and backend webpage organization that make the website clunky at best for visitors, and a huge pain to organize for me. To fix that, I’ll be switching to a completely new platform. The content currently on the website will be compiled, reorganized, and rewritten - all for the sake of making it more accessible and understandable for everyone. The blog posts will put through the same process but with different results. Technical information will be added to the relevant articles for those topics discussed. Event coverage will be expanded and retroactively documented to create event articles hosted on Redpants Unzipped. Personal stuff will mostly not carry over (including my digestive issues). I’m sure nobody will miss that.
Redpants Unzipped is also being completely overhauled. It barely has anything on it currently and I’ve stopped bothering with it until the new Redpants website is up and running. I’ll be using Unzipped for events, reviews, lifestyle, and travel, with occasional commentary, personal stuff, and so on. Redpants will be focused on car parts and information; Unzipped will focus on entertainment and the rest.
You may have noticed a lack of links in this blog post - it’s due to both websites (and the online store) being completely overhauled and recreated so they’d be going away anyway, and I need to focus my time on other work… completing this super-long blog post being one of them.
New Online Store
My biggest challenge by far has been the Redpants online store. The platform isn’t designed to handle everything I’ve been throwing at it and, frankly, I’ve barely listed much compared to what I need because the platform is so limiting. The new store is being built and will be the first change everyone sees.
If all goes according to plan there will be more product listings, better navigation, car-specific filtering, and a drastically improved checkout process as far as shipping is concerned. Basically, all aspects of the online store will be improved.
The online store is by far my biggest priority as it has severely limited my ability to sell products (which means lower revenue), and added a considerable amount to my workload as I have to spend so much time manually dealing with things that should be automated.
Subscriptions, Donations, and Alternative Means of Support
This is a weird topic for me because I’m a bit traditional, but several people have suggested it and convinced me it’s worth pursuing. Just to make this as quick as possible, I’m going to tear off the proverbial band-aid and be blunt.
It’s impossible to please everyone. While some people send me some amazing “Thank you” emails for helping them save hundreds or thousands of dollars per year owning and enjoying their Aston Martins, some think paying shipping for an order is a offense Amazon would never dare commit so how dare Redpants. I do take all the comments to heart but the bottom line is that it’s incredibly difficult to find the balance of helping people out and being price competitive without running myself into the ground by giving away everything at or below cost.
If someone wants to find parts for dirt cheap, I’m sure they can find a lower price than what I can offer. I get the “It’s cheaper on Amazon” argument. Trust me, I do - I do most of my non-automotive shopping on Amazon. On the other hand, how many times has Amazon spent countless hours providing in-depth information, DIY guides, and support at no additional cost?
This is where several of you convinced me to look at setting up alternative means of support.
“Rich, if you make a video showing customers how to do the job themselves and it saves them a few hundred dollars in labor each time they do that job, what’s that video actually worth to them? Why not give them a way to send some additional support beyond buying things?”
Some people have suggested moving some or all of the resources I provide behind a paywall. I don’t want to go that route as I do my best to be extremely inclusive and a paywall would limit that. Others have suggested a Patreon account, which I did create but never did anything with. I’m seriously considering that route (though not with Patreon) as it’d be entirely voluntary.
So, here’s the deal. Setting up a support platform will be used to bring more resources to you guys. I’m sure many of you have noticed that I haven’t been making too many videos lately. I just don’t have time, and I’m spending all of the money coming in from sales to fund investments in inventory, equipment, and projects. I started working with a videographer, Evan, and he’s great but I do need to pay him. Having him on board makes it much MUCH easier to create videos as it’s a huge workload off my shoulders so I can attend to the other endless number of things on my to-do list. If you’re interested in supporting Redpants so I can get back to making videos, which will bring along with them written DIY Guides and other resources, then please consider donating once I have that set up. If you’d be interested in that, please leave a comment at the end of the blog post or send me an email privately to let me know your thoughts.
Once the move to the new platform is complete and the websites and online store are running smoothly, I’ll be doing quite a bit of expansion. So far I’ve focused primarily on the maintenance and modification of the last generation of Aston Martins. That’s going to continue being the core of Redpants but I’ll also be adding products for other cars - the new generation of Astons, plus products for other marques.
To this point I’ve only sold parts for Aston Martin’s cars and have only sold non-Aston parts when specifically requested. Many of the things I sell do apply to other brands, though. Wheels, for example, can be made for just about any car. Same with brake pads, exhausts, and so on. My online store has been the primary limiting factor for going beyond Aston Martin (it can’t even handle that) so once the new store is ready I’ll be able to list parts for other brands. These will primarily be performance and aftermarket parts but I do expect some organic growth into the maintenance area for some other cars.
In addition to parts, I have other big plans for Redpants Unzipped - all entirely relevant and will be of great interest to many of you based on my conversations and interactions with people online and in person.
The new platform, specifically where the online store is concerned, is going to allow me to greatly scale Redpants so I can finally start keeping up with everything. I planned a trip to Japan for New Years Eve and Tokyo Auto Salon a few months ago - before this massive thing really got underway - and the big overhaul should be wrapped up before that trip, so I’m hoping my time there is a celebration of the next big stage of Redpants and my life (which I hope I’m no longer bad at).
Okay, all that out of the way, here’s the latest of what’s been going on.
The latest update from GMR is that the supercharger kits are coming along. They’ve been testing a new intake manifold design and are making a couple changes. The changes are all based on improvements in performance, reliability, and safety. I’ll be giving a comprehensive review of those details soon - and yes, price as well! In the meantime, I’ve been told the first kit will be arriving for my grey V8 Vantage around the end of November. Once I have it and give the green light to GMR on my end, orders can start getting fulfilled! Start saving up, Santa’s going to have some lovely packages to deliver!
The Cobra Nogaro seats being made for my car are coming along. We’re sorting out some logistical details to make things as seamless as possible for customers ordering and receiving their seats. I’ll be doing a lot of coverage of the seats once they get here so you guys know exactly what to expect for yours.
James from Aston Installations is coming to Tampa for a weekend. If you’re interested in having Apple CarPlay or Android Auto added to your car (and I’d highly recommend front and rear cameras with it!), contact me or Aston Installations to get signed up. He’ll be here October 5-8, and if we’ve got some people that want to come over to hangout and meet each other, I’ll host a cookout on Saturday afternoon/evening (Oct 5).
I’ve started creating articles about project cars and builds. The first is my grey V8 Vantage, and then I’ll do the red one I used to have. Following that will be a couple customers with some pretty large builds. These are meant to give ideas of what’s possible for your own car and to help you understand a bit more about the parts and options available. Here’s my grey one so far:
These will be carried over to the new website so don’t worry if they still aren’t finished by the time you find them. They take a really long time to create so it’ll be a while before they’re all done anyway.
I know I’m missing lots of things, but this has taken far too long as is…