Building Discipline: Bubba Albrecht of Give’r Tells His Story

Emmanuel: Welcome to the Journey to an Eight Figure E-Commerce Business podcast. We are back. I'm your host, Emmanuel Eleyae, CEO and founder of Eleyae Systems. And I'm joined by my co-host this season, Grace Eleyae, who happens to be the CEO and founder of and also my sister, and we are both joined by the fantastic, the gregarious, the gracious, the generous, the gallant and the peaceful one and only genius, Bubba, CEO and founder of Give'r. Welcome, Bubba.

Bubba Albrecht: Thank you very much. Excited to be here. I don't know about that introduction. You're a theatrical one, Emmanuel, but I'll take it. I'll take it. And really excited to chat with you both and, you know, share how the sausage is made here and hopefully provide some inspiration, motivation, some background, uh, things to chew on for listeners.

Emmanuel: I'm sure it's going to be great. 

The Beginning of Give’r 

Emmanuel: I'd love it if you'd start out just how would you describe your business and what you do and how you serve customers.

Bubba Albrecht: You betcha. So CEO and founder of Give'r, it's spelled G-I-V-E apostrophe R. It's a origin is a Canadian term. It means I give it your all, go for it, get after it. A lot of positive energy associated. And man, it's been a really interesting journey. Didn't start off with the intention of creating a clothing or an outdoor apparel business, but following my heart and passion. I love doing backcountry trips anywhere from three to eight days and an area that I grew quite fond of when I was younger in Northern Ontario. I started taking an annual trip there and was friends and family anywhere from three to ten people out in the middle of nowhere catching fish to eat for dinner like the good stuff. And as far as the origin of the brand, the fifth annual trip. It was myself and four friends from here in Jackson, Wyoming. So we have this gorgeous mountain range, the Tetons that are very, uh, distinct silhouette and, um, there's they're unlike any other mountains I've seen in the world, but I made hats for the crew that year that had the Tetons and the term give'r they were going to be exposed to up in Ontario. Uh, and I gave everyone the hats and we had an awesome trip and afterwards I kept wearing the hat and. People would stop me on the street and say, hey, what's that hat all about? What's give'r mean? And I'd explain it to them. And more often than not, they're like, well, can I buy one? I had friends and family like, hey, that's a dope hat. I love the energy behind it. I'm gonna give you 20 bucks when you make more, send me one. And the same happened with my other friends. And so it just became this, it truly like grew in an organic fashion of people interested in, curious about the hat. So started off with like, okay, shit, there's something here. So we made, uh, created a website, um, two hats and two t-shirts was our launch back in March of 2012. And the goal was, uh, and I'm sure we'll talk about this more, but okay, what's the minimum, uh, viable product to get out there to test this? And rather than taking three years to create all, you know, a massive collection of products and inventory or we're just like what does it take to get two t-shirts and two hats and that's where we started and there's a lot of bumps along the way.

Emmanuel: Nice. And you've been, you've built a very robust company and I have a very interesting question for you. At least I think it's interesting because you've had million dollar Kickstarter launches because you guys grew a lot with Kickstarter. You've also done some retail. You've built a seven figure e-commerce business has done seven figure months. And I wonder, do you feel like a success?

Bubba Albrecht: Hmm. It's a great question it's heavy. I feel we have had an eye of experience moments of success but it's less of the destination and more of like the journey towards succeeding in our goals So like the imposter syndrome is very much true like every step of the way like what am I doing? I don't know, I don't have a background in clothing or apparel or leather design. So who am I to pretend like I know what we're doing? But I think that's a big piece in whether or not we've achieved success is what timelines are our goals. The very beginning, the goal wasn't, hey, let's sell a million dollars in the first year of two t-shirts and two hats. It's like...we are very realistic. It's like, if we sell enough hats and t-shirts to make a few more, well, hell, that'd be awesome. And if no one buys a thing, we will have learned a ton. So I think establishing what the definition of success is and continuing to check back in with myself and the team, we have been wildly successful in that we've learned, we've grown, we've had a positive impact, I believe, on the world. And...our community and we're just trying to get better at that. So long answer, long answer.

Emmanuel: Yeah, I just, no, it's good because, and I get why. I think as entrepreneurs, we have a hard time saying yes to that question. Yeah, I'm a success. And that's why I ask it that way, not are you successful? Are you becoming successful? It is finite. Are you a success? It's hard to say yes, we succeeded. Even though by all intents and purposes, there's millions of people out there that would be listening to this and saying, yeah, he's a success. He's crushed it. I've heard of Give'r. They're huge. Those guys are successful, but here you are, you know, saying, well, doubting yourself. So yeah, kudos to you, man on what you've done. I want to, if you don't want to say it, I'll say it. You are a success, my friend. Success, you and your team and everyone else as part of it.

Bubba Albrecht: Well, in that, I think that's a huge piece of it is like, am I and have I been in the person or the crazy one to keep things going and to be the it's not crazy necessarily, but like passionate enough to power through the hurdles and the roadblocks that always come up, there's always reasons that it shouldn't work or that it can't work. 

Grace: Definitely.

Bubba Albrecht: So I have been the crazy one to keep pushing, but so much credit goes out to the team. And, you know, it could be cliche to say the community, but I firmly believe that. I mean, our crowdfunding story in itself, like we couldn't have done any of these things without a community that was diehard and they actually cared and they're willing to take a chance on, you know, a business who's growing and trying to figure things out. So, so the, the whole ecosystem, I would say, is a success or it has the ingredients to continue towards the path of succeeding on our goals.

Grace: Yeah. I want to hear more about how you started. So you're now, you've actually hit the, you're past the 10 year mark, you're at 11 plus years. Uh, so back in 2012, I even, you hearing you say, you know, we set up a website. I, I remember with us, like we, we've had to migrate from WooCommerce to Shopify. And back then, I don't even know if Shopify was around or as prolific as it is now. So let's start at the beginning, you know, what actually led you. We heard your story, but how did you start essentially and manufacture those minimum viable products and all that?

Bubba Albrecht: That's a great point. So we start that was just in the beginning days of Shopify and Part of what was really neat at the time I was involved in an entrepreneurship kind of crash course like a 10 week startup course where there were others who were trying to start businesses locally here in Jackson or online business as well was like a great mix and um, one of the other students was like yeah the this, this new company, Shopify, is really coming onto the scene as far as opening the doors for e-commerce. And so we kind of stumbled upon it, again, through great recommendation, and that has been our platform since the very beginning. And obviously, a lot has changed in the last 10 years. I mean, or the amount of energy that went into establishing a merchant bank account because they didn't have, you couldn't process everything through Shopify. That was one of the more painful things. And it's kind of like a dinosaur structure that doesn't really exist anymore. But the learning, oh my gosh, like the banking system is taking in, it's an insane cut. And we weren't making enough to really, to really have those numbers work out. But that's how we started and we were shipping. Again, we had two t-shirts and two hats. So, I mean, to me, this is a great example. One of my good friends, Brian, ordered on the first day that we went live and he bought a t-shirt, but our shipping integration systems, it was a $20 t-shirt and I think he paid $28 for shipping and that was like the only option. And so like, okay, if you look at that from the outside, it's like...Okay, something's flawed in the system, but part of our program was like, we gotta get it up and running and make it better. And rather than having perfection be the enemy of like actually doing something. So it wasn't a perfect launch, there were a lot of bugs and we were printing out labels, you know, on our desktop computers, fulfilling packages in our garage, taking them to post office, paying for a postage there. Like it was not...smooth sailing, but we at least got something up and running. Um, but yeah, I would say, so starting with those things, mostly, uh, e-commerce, we had a few, we had one retail store in the first year that was local and in town that carried a few of the shirts and hats, um, but it was a very, you know, uh, simplified business model. Uh, but the one thing we did is continue to look at, okay, if we sell enough t-shirts and hats, like what else? We want to make a different style of t-shirt. And so we started exploring, basically scratching our own itch, is like, what is it that we need or desire for day to day activity, recreation, staying warm, because it's really cold here for about eight months of the year. But that kind of started our scratching our own itch. And some of the ideas took five years to come together. Others kind of were accelerated just through customer feedback and yeah, scratching the itch as I said.

Grace: Yeah, so then how did you scale? So it sounds like from what you and my brother were just saying, you've gotten to seven figure months, but you're also, are you still shipping out of your house as well? 

Bubba Albrecht: We are.

Grace: Okay, how does that work? How do you handle all of that?

Bubba Albrecht: So that no, so that's been obviously like we don't still have that the disconnect of paying $28 for a $20 t-shirt and shipping. But we've optimized the garage office to be not only for production and gloves and mittens, leather gloves and mittens are our biggest product by far. And I'll get into the backstory there. But it is, you know, a scrappiness of like, okay, we don't have a ton of space, how are we going to optimize for shipments and packages? And then working with UPS FedEx to come by and pick things up. It's again, slow kind of optimization process that has some peaks and valleys as far as, you know, seasonal demands that we just got to be lean and scrappy.

Grace: Mm-hmm. I love that. So then how did you find your first manufacturer? So let's go from, you know, you found a market and then you had to find your first manufacturers and then you scaled. It sounds like using crowdfunding. So I'd love to hear a little bit of that story of the growth journey.

Bubba Albrecht: You bet, you bet. So when it comes to, I think the first, you know, say six to 12 months was just the t-shirts and hats, but soon after we experimented with leather gloves and translating our logo onto, you know, a work glove, an insulated work glove. So that's like when things changed significantly and we had bought, I think it was five different styles of gloves from the hardware store and a wood burner to see like, okay, can we translate the logo? And as we were playing around with that at one of the other co-founders in his kitchen, a few friends came through and they're like, oh my gosh, you guys are doing gloves now? And we're like, I mean, maybe, like would you wanna pay for these? And the first sale was like just kind of farting around and Liz said she'd pay 30 bucks for them. And she's like, well, can you put my name on them too? So branded her initials on them. And that kind of started what became 90% of our business, which is outdoor premium leather gloves that are personalized. So the first couple hundred, if not thousand, we were buying from the local hardware store or other hardware stores in the region as they sold out of them. And so then we just slowly went up the supply chain to like, hey, where did they get their gloves sourced from? And then, okay, where do they get them sourced from? And then getting actually to the manufacturer which that occurred over, you know, like six to eight months. So it wasn't like a few phone calls. But a bit of it, our model was like, well, we don't have the money to buy 2000 gloves, but we can buy 36 at a time. And the demand was there and increasing in a way that was very different from our other products. So like the, the stats and the metrics were there and people were willing to wait, like, hey, when are you going to get more gloves in? Great, I want to order 10 for my whole family. It was a very different feel than previously. So we started learning and asking questions. And I'd say after we more or less distributed, I'd say between 4,000 and 5,000, there was enough feedback of like, hey, we love these gloves, but you need to make one that's beefier and like can handle colder weather, more snow, great for skiing. And so we just kept pulling on that thread and that's led into the year and a half journey which led up to the Four Season Glove Kickstarter campaign back in 2016.

Grace: And so in 2016 when you launched that Kickstarter campaign, what was your goal to raise? And then how much did you end up raising? If you don't mind my asking. Okay.

Bubba Albrecht: So our, no, not at all. And the cool thing is everything's transparent as far as like on the site. And that was like a, you know, talk about like the constraints of sometimes allow for creativity and using that platform and sharing with our customers, hey, we got to raise $40,000 in order to meet the minimum order requirements. But we put in months and months of work in advance of that to be further along in the design. It wasn't like, hey, we have a concept, we might make this. It was like, we've tested out five, six prototypes and get it to the final point where it's like, now we know that this is battle tested. I think I have the gloves with me here, but it was like, yeah, we've tested them out. And like, I beat the crap out of them. And like, they stand up to the test of minus 20 degrees and a ton of snow and the worst conditions you could imagine. And then the goal was to have as big of a launch as possible and leverage and really lean on our community. And it ended up just over 200,000 as far as the funds raised. And we shipped out over the course of four months, I think it was around 40, right around 4,000 pair of four season gloves. So a it blew out of the water, you know, our precise goals. But the big thing was once we reached that goal 40,000, we knew we could manufacture and then, yeah, kind of took off from there. But then we kind of had to figure out how to do it.

Grace: Yeah. So then how did you, was the Kickstarter kind of twofold then? Was it for both raising funds and for marketing, or did that just kind of, was that just an added bonus that there was exposure?

Bubba Albrecht: Yep. I would say added bonus. I think it was it was a mechanism by which, you know, it's kind of like a pre order campaign or structure of like, hey, we have these ideas and like, again, how well we tell the story of like, the development we've gone into our history with the other gloves. Like this is our story. And we worked with Launch Boom as a partner. And this is a, this is a common thread throughout our whole history is working with great partners like Emmanuel, or in this case for the Kickstarter, it was Launch Boom and they were a young scrappy organization just came together to help brands like us who didn't know all the ins and outs of crowdfunding to really shape a structure and a plan that it's not foolproof and it requires a ton of work. But we had all those requirements that they were excited to take us on as a partner and yeah we put everything we had into the into the campaign.

Grace: That's really cool. And then was it one and done and you had enough for growth and you just would reinvest profits or did you find yourself doing the same thing again or how did you scale the next for the next level of growth?

Bubba Albrecht: This great question. So that initial like, holy smokes, we got to deliver 4,000 gloves and we shipped to like 30 some countries and we'd never done that before. So it was like first things first, we got to deliver for all these who like put their faith in us. And that took a lot of time. But through that we learned, okay, what our production, you know, we bake all the gloves in the oven and coat them with beeswax by hand. It's like, okay, we learned a tremendous amount about the systems and operation. And so first things first, we got to deliver for them. And then we had a lot of interest that resulted from it, whether it be from retailers or from people who didn't get them from the campaign. So the goal was deliver on that and then slowly but surely manufacture additional units to satisfy retailer orders, as well as, you know, the call the secondary market of those who weren't willing to support during the campaign, but then they've heard about them. So then it was just slowly but surely trying to manufacture as many as we could without sinking the ship and getting into that cycle.

Grace: Yeah, definitely. And so this is such a random question, but I'm so curious for you to use give'r in a sentence. Like, how would one use give'r?

Bubba Albrecht: Yes, great question. So, day one of the Kickstarter, I think we exceeded like $60,000 and like we had over a thousand units and it's like, oh my gosh, how are we gonna make this happen? And looking at the team and saying, guys, next three months, we're just gonna have to buckle down and just give'r like a hundred percent. And other cases would be, or other uses would be you know if you're about to lift something up with a group It's like one two three give'r like you lift at the same time or there's oftentimes especially in the Canadian language there's Expletives use either before or after to qualify just how much you're gonna be given her So it's a very all-encompassing term, but it's it the wholehearted you're giving it everything you've got is the proper definition.

Emmanuel: And I absolutely want to dub to, I love the idea of the Canadian language. Is it English? Isn't it Canadian?

Bubba Albrecht: Yeah. It is in my opinion, it's I don't know, it's beautifully specific and quirky. I would say I'm quirky, goofy in a lot of ways, especially with word choice and language. And I would say that has no or definitely has a connection with being exposed to Canadians. And yeah the Canadian language is beautiful.

Grace: I heard that too and I was like, I'm guessing they just, there are a few things that are a little different, you know, just like British English versus American English. But I, they're in Canadian, yeah.

Emmanuel: Up there in Canadian. Up in Canada, there's Canadians.

Grace: I love it because you've clearly givered for the last 11 years. 

Give’r’s Mission and Business Philosophy

Grace: And I think there's, I'm curious to know if there's additional development that needs to keep happening or like basically how do you find customers and nurture your current customers? Yeah, because you guys have grown so much over the last 10 years.

Bubba Albrecht: For sure. I'll touch real quick on what it means to be, like if our mission and philosophy is to inspire and encourage and support those given or in the ways that they choose, the things they're passionate about, they're like, man, that's why we exist, is like we're providing products in a community to help encourage and be just a spark of like whatever it takes to encourage one person or a group of people to go all in for something that they are really passionate about. It's very simple and like very, well, like duh, of course people should, you know, teachers and coaches and lifestyle brands should be encouraging that. But at the root of it, that's what we're all about. And then you reflect that back on ourselves of like, okay, when it comes to running a company and a brand, like your wholehearted pursuit of doing this, okay, where does that, where does tension come up? which is should we be working 18 hours a day all the time and like driving ourselves into the ground because it is difficult to start a company and to build it up. So like the, I'll call it the ebb and the flow of, okay, there are times where we need to step up to fulfill 4,000 gloves to Kickstarter backers. But like at the same time, we're not, we can't present this lifestyle and this brand and then be driving our own employees into the ground. And like that's something I as a founder and CEO have struggled with is like, when I do something, I go all in and balancing out how to run a team or manage a team, work with partners and, um, you know, how to dial things back, but also crank things up when it makes sense. Uh, it's been a, it's been a roller coaster ride for sure. Um, but I think we've learned through each phase of pushing for growth or given her and, you know, different ways to try and, whether expand our production capacity, expand our product line, our offering to customers. We've tried out a lot of things, but I think boiling it down to like, hey, how have you grown your community? How have you established a stronger foundation? It is taking chances, being okay with taking risks, as far as, you know, participating in an event somewhere, a ski event or...supporting a school or a nonprofit program, knowing that like not everything is gonna be out of the park home run, but each time we can take a chance, we learn a little bit more. And every time that we can connect with a person about our brand and what we're all about, like that's a win. And if it's just one person at a time, like sure that's slow and it's not putting a billboard up and it's not having a commercial during the Superbowl, but the...connecting and growing slowly one person at a time is what creates the deepest roots. And we have had mistakes in times where it's like, well, we have to grow more in order to support this size of a team or, you know, it's the chicken and the egg that comes up a ton. And you never know the right answer. There isn't a right answer. But I would say,

Emmanuel: And I'd love to - no you go ahead

Bubba Albrecht: I would say going back to like what how have we navigated those things? It's working with people like Emmanuel Whether be for advice and input or partnering of like oh my gosh I got way too many things bouncing around my head and I don't know the right answer But wait a second Emmanuel you're a pro like you have so much experience in this can you help me talk me off the cliff edge of feeling like I'm really losing it and wrap my head around like, okay, where does it make sense to take chances, as well as like stress test, some of our hypotheses.

Emmanuel: Yeah, and I'd love to double down on what you're saying because Bubba you have always impressed me with how disciplined you are With what you just described you said it so nonchalant so calmly But you have been very laser focused on building up organically Right to the point where even when it was like all your metrics were pointing to ads are gonna work Phenomenally well you were like no we're not running ads right there was there was a reason you had right correct me if I'm wrong, there was a specific philosophy that you had about acquiring customers, wasn't it?

Bubba Albrecht: For sure. Yeah, and that came down to a commitment of similar to what I was sharing with the Kickstarters. We have to deliver on the customers who are our loyal customers and who have, we have to honor those commitments. And I can be very clear that, man, we've dropped the ball, we've made mistakes, we are human, and even to our most loyal customer base or to our Kickstarter supporters like we've made mistakes and the kind of looking in the mirror is like hey, when have we made more mistakes? Because we've tried to grow more aggressively. It's like, okay, we can't we can't compromise on that, but we still have to take chances but I think that

Emmanuel: Yeah, and when you started, you even were like, I'm only going to grow from word of mouth. I was like, what? Tell me a bit more about that. Where'd that come from?

Bubba Albrecht: No, and that was part of that was the nature of our restrictions is like, well, we only have so much time, we only have so much money, and we only have these products. So if people aren't going to support us, like our closest family and friends, like if they're not willing to support us, then like you might as well fail fast or learn that earlier versus later. I mean, there were plenty of folks who were underwhelmed by the initial launch of the business and the company and like, that's fine. But we just wanted to and this is something I would recommend to everyone is like find out as early as possible if there is a market and if someone will pay for your services or product. Because it's not that humans are bad or that our friends and family are like evil. But the difference between like, hey, I've got this idea. Would you buy it? And someone saying, yeah, sure, I'd buy it. The difference between that and like, okay, if you buy it, can you give me $20 right now? Like getting the rubber hitting the road moment of will someone actually pay for it when they have to depart from that $20 or whatever it might be. Getting to that moment as early as possible will clarify things, I'd say the most clarifying moment to get to early as you can.

Emmanuel: And it always has shocked me, I still remember, because this was, we met probably five years into your business, but later on. And I was looking at all your numbers, like the amount of organic you've done, because you had even turned down pretty big retailers, right? Weren't there some retailers you turned down? Are you comfortable?

Bubba Albrecht: Yeah, and that was balancing Yeah, that was balancing out operational growth and capacity with like, hey, we can't compromise our core community, we can't compromise delivering to them as hard as it is to say no to a retailer or something that's shiny and bright that could result in a bigger, you know, more success or more revenue. Those were hard choices, but we could not compromise what we were delivering to our customers. And some of those decisions, you know, when you have some hindsight and you look back on it, it's like, oh man, that actually probably would have been a sweet deal. But I think the commitment to internally with the team, as well as like, hey, the one thing we're going to deliver for our customers, like that's, we can't compromise on that.


Emmanuel: Now and the thing is you can compromise on it, but you chose not to that's a level of discipline That is like worthy of applause because I can't tell you how many founders I show up I mean, I was literally talking with someone just yesterday that was like no I don't want to build an audience I think I'm just gonna you know Take some ads spend on ads and run them to my new product that I haven't even come up with yet, right? And it's like but they know immediately they're gonna go straight for paid ads and it's just a hard way to grow because you're building a business that has a rocky foundation a salty front because it's what if the ads stop working? There's nothing else. You don't have an audience. You don't have an ethos. You don't have a brand. And so you were disciplined with that to the point where literally I was like, so how much have you guys spent on ads? You were like 30,000. I was like, oh, you're about 30,000 a month. That's healthy, but you're like, no, ever. Like, you're about 30,000, ever. And this is after having seven-figure launches and having, you know, doing several big numbers and having six-figure, what do you call that, deals with retailers that you had turned down, it was like you're having all this success and you're not running ads? Wow, this guy, there's something about this guy. This guy is different. And it would be still another year or two later before we came together to run them. And sure enough, as soon as you got going with them, they took off. And from people listening, that's the way to do it. Build that organic foundation first, because everything just works better. Because now you have an audience that is easier to build lookalikes off of that is easier to rally behind. You can tell them, hey, we launched this ad, go comment on it, and you have retargeting audiences. That makes your ads so much easier, so that way, you don't have to spend as much wasting money on ads that don't work. So kudos to you, man.

Bubba Albrecht: Well, and I was going to say a lot of like, while maybe it would be foolish, not foolish, stubbornness of not paying for ads, a part of it was like we didn't really have any money to spend on ads. So that helped with the decision making is like, unless we started to take out loans, like we didn't have money to spend. But then talking with you, Emmanuel, especially in that stage of understanding what is possible even if you don't necessarily engage in it, it was an awareness of, okay, what paths moving forward we could take and then strategically deciding how to test that out. I mean, that was a great learning lesson was like, okay, well, we're kind of forced into not being able to spend on ads by our own choices, but let's continue to really double down on the community we do have. And I think, man, that honesty to this day, the ability to pull that audience and say, hey, what do you think of this, this and this? And to get like solid feedback, man, it's powerful, it's really powerful. And obviously like the word of mouth piece and like being boots on the ground and talking with people, whether at art fairs or at events or just out working shoveling snow, talking through and getting that honest feedback. Man, it's invaluable. It's really powerful.

Grace: Did you jump in full-time in 2012, or did it take some time before?

Bubba Albrecht: That's a great point and I find important to give the full context. When we first started, myself and the other two co-founders, we had at least one other job. I myself was working at the airport. So I do, you know, 15, 20 hours a week. And then I was working in a restaurant. It was just in the evening. So a flexible schedule that allowed for nights and weekends where we were really diving in and building the brand. And I maintained that for probably the first three years. So like a pretty lengthy amount of time, as well as when it comes to compensation, like I was getting, I was earning money to pay rent and cover the bills in other ways to, again, try and get the flywheel spinning with Give'r. So very much was an intense time of working a lot, but at the same time, we didn't necessarily, we weren't sending out 20 orders a day. So it was a chance to slowly build on what was working, adjust, but also not be in that kind of scary place of like, if we don't sell 20 orders, if we don't, you know, process 20 orders tomorrow, I can't pay rent. But man, that's, I tell you, that's a hard, that's a hard, question or hard insight to give an entrepreneur or someone starting off is like, you know, how all in do you need to be because you get some one person says, hey, quit your other jobs and leave like, burn the boats, burn the ships, right. And it's like, okay, there are times where you have to do that. But I would say there, at least for me, it was beneficial to know that I had other things in other work. It was actually better for me to have breaks, going and doing other work, interacting with other people. I mean, working in a restaurant was phenomenal and it was a good balance for me. And it did actually allow, kind of create the conditions to be, I guess, I'll use the word slower, but I think allow a timeline that was more natural and organic, especially with team developing products and me personally tinkering and playing and then product testing something for a year, it's like, okay, a drawn out timeline kind of worked for us.

Emmanuel: I think there's an inherentness. Oh, go ahead, Grace.

Grace: Yeah, and I love... I was just gonna say, you gave it your all, so you givered. And I don't think I'm using the past tense correctly, so you can correct me if I'm wrong.

Bubba Albrecht: It's okay. The greatest part about the term, there really is no wrong way to use it.

Grace: All right, awesome. You clearly did that, but you did it in a disciplined way. You know, I think that there is the thought that when you give it, when you jump in and you are giving it your all, if a retailer calls you, you say yes and you figure it out later, you know, like, but you are very, there's a, I feel like this is such an amazing example of how you can still give it your all and how being, putting up boundaries for yourself and for your growth is actually still just as much giving it your all as the one who jumped in the deep end, barely knowing how to swim. You know, so I love the way that you grew.

Bubba Albrecht: For sure. And I can give other examples that are the true, okay, what happens when you say yes to something? We did, it was kind of outside of our wheelhouse, but we said yes to a company to make, I think it was around 1,000 custom hats, and we tried to figure out a way to do this, because man, if we can make this deal happen, that's equivalent of a month's worth of online sales, and we said yes to them, and then we just didn't deliver on what they were looking for and it ended up being rather than like a net positive month of revenue. It was like we lost, I think it was around $5,000 that we had to like, we had to send them or we had to make honest on that agreement. And it, man, it was really painful. And like it, that was, okay, now we have to work on selling like an additional 250 t-shirts in order to like make up for it. But man, you can't just have principles and you know values that are executed when it's convenient. When it's inconvenient, it's really painful. Like, shit, that was, it was tough. But we had to do the right thing. And I think some of it then informed some of those later no's where it's like, okay, this is shiny and bright and could be great, but we've learned our lesson.

Emmanuel: I love that there was an inherent assumption in what Grace asked you about when you go in all in, 2012, the job. I did the same thing when I was talking to you because people recommend that. Quit the job and then once the business starts succeeding, you go all in the business and then you raise your standard of living, get a new car, maybe move into a new house, do all those things. I'm wondering, can you clarify, has that been your story? And if not, or if so, why or why not?

Bubba Albrecht: Uh, no, I mean, uh, it has not. Um, even though there were a lot of people recommending that, I mean, shoot, even my friend, like my family members who were like, Bubba, you're crazy. Why are you doing this to yourself? And it's like, I don't know. Like this to me seems right. And, um, and I think it's a, I think it's rooted in a full, like a firm belief in what we're doing is, what we're building and what we're doing is very powerful and it has so much opportunity and potential that it's not a sacrifice or it's not viewed, I don't view it in the term of like, oh, well, I'm sacrificing everything for this future state that is maybe going to happen. It's like, no, I believe in what we're doing. And so working other jobs to pay the rent, to cover bills, it's like, I know that this will give us a better chance at achieving what our desired goals are. And if anything, I've just been a little bit behind the curve in that I want to make adjustments or, you know, say you step away from my restaurant job once I know there's stability with the team and with our path forward. So a bit of like, I use the term like, we got to grow out of our pants before we get new ones. Like they got to be ratty. They gotta be basically like non-existent before we get new pants or shoes. You can use whatever metaphor.


Emmanuel: And to clarify, to give specifics, you're, what I meant is you've had success and you've achieved a lot, but you haven't done the, I'm quitting my job, I'm gonna get a big house, I'm gonna get a big fancy car, right? Like what is your current situation specifically?

Bubba Albrecht: Yeah, I would say I've remained incredibly frugal. And I would say that extends across our whole team. At the same time, we have taken chances. We have gone with products that we're not sure on or we've taken risks here and there. But I think maybe even to a fault, the frugality and conservative nature of, you know, expenses or yeah, probably to a fault. Um, but at the same time that has resulted in us having a, um, you know, more resiliency and shoot, you look at the last three years and it's like, okay, people are like, Oh, make sure you save for the rainy day fund. And it's like, well, okay, COVID hits and the world's in this wild spin. Who knows what's going to happen. Um, I would say some of our frugal choices or my frugal mentality has enabled us to sustain you know, in the best way that we could through those times. And.

Emmanuel: And I'm gonna keep pushing because what are those frugal ways? Because I noticed you're, yeah, because people need to know like you're still in the same spot, right?

Bubba Albrecht: Yes, you know, the living where we're working, you know, I have the same 1999 Chevy Suburban that I've had for a long time. And, you know, yeah, it's doubling down on the resources in the space that we do have. And personally, you know, working more and more to try and support the team. So wherever you can save 5 cents, 10 cents, that kind of scrappiness in bootstrapping remains, for sure, to the ground level.

Emmanuel: I love it because it needs to be more consistently talked about, right? Because most people talk about getting rich and getting rich quick or all of that. And we get that. That's kind of not the goal, but still a lot of us believe it. Like the goal is to get rich so that we can be something else. We can be richer. But I mean, you're still in the same garage that you started with, right? You haven't moved out. You're living above the warehouse where you guys work, right? And a bunch of guys live there too. Even though you're successful, driving the same car, still working the job even though you have this eight figure business, right? And it's just like, that is such a different mentality of how to run things, right? But it's also a testament to why you got to where you got to and how sustainable it is. That level of discipline and ethos to me is not talked about enough. So I commend you for that, my friend, kudos.

Bubba Albrecht: Well, I appreciate that. And yeah, man, there's endless ways in which to look at the good decisions, the winning moves we made, the, you know, where we've had hiccups. But I think, yeah, the frugality and being scrappy, man, it's made it easier to, again, be making decisions based on our values and what's best for the team when times are hard. So when COVID hit to say, hey, I don't know how we're going to do this. But like, you like we got a space, like we got a job for you here, we're going to figure it out. And I think maybe to a fault, but like, I'm not going to ask anyone on the team to do something that I haven't done or would do in like, to the nth degree. And I think leading by example in that way. Yeah, has resulted in a pretty powerful team that thrives on accomplishing and taking on challenges and accomplishing. Sometimes it's not always with a lot of positive energy or cheering of like, oh my gosh, how are we going to do that? But we've grown through each of those challenges of like, hey, last year we sent out 10,000 orders in the last six months of the year. This year we're going to do 20,000. And boom minds exploding, like how are we going to handle 20,000 shipments out of the garage? But then it's like, all right, that requires us to think differently. And man, every time we've come on the other side of one of those big pushes or like our frontier mitten Kickstarter campaign, it's like there's a tremendous amount of growth and camaraderie that comes from that.

Emmanuel: And can you tell us how easy it is once you hit that seven figure month, eight figure run rate and use it? Everything's easy street, right? After that, everyone thinks that, Hey, if I could just have a business like Bubba's man, I'd be set. Life will be great. I'll be rolling in dough.

Bubba Albrecht: I mean, I think a good way to describe it is that we've traded up for, I'm going to say better problems or better challenges. Like we as a team are committed towards tackling big problems and big challenges and how do we best deliver for our community and our audience. And I would say with, you know, increased revenue and having, you know, you know, the numbers are mind blowing when we look at where we were to what we had accomplished. But no, the challenges remain like the struggle is real. And if you don't have a share with all other aspiring or current entrepreneurs, like if you don't have the heart and the passion to keep powering through, you got to know that about yourself because man, there are times where even if we're, you know, doubling revenue from the year before, the struggles are quite real. But, but is it worth it? And at the core of who I am, it is, and at the core of our team, hell yeah, it's worth it. And it has to be hell yeah. If not, you gotta rethink things.

Emmanuel: Yeah, I'm sure that'll be sobering to some folks. It's hard and only gets harder the more money you make. Are there any positives though to winning like that once you get to that level?

Bubba Albrecht: Oh, the positives outweigh the negatives. So the challenges are real, and you're right to say that they, the size and scope of them changes, but generally more challenges come your way. Uh, but the fact that we're able to employ, you know, earlier on, it was myself and my cousin, and then it was, you know, we had two employees and then, you know, over the last few years, it's varied from 20 to 35, 40 people. And to be able to have a team and support individuals that have a job here, some of them part-time, 10, 15 hours a week, some of them full-time, who are involved and committed towards solving big problems, like that's a win, like that's a win. And I gave a talk a few months ago, this day and age, it can be, if you're not a company or a CEO that is solving role hunger or you know, curing cancer, then like we're a failure, right? Like it's in this current environment, there's a lot of struggle in the world, but I keep looking back at it as like we have a team that are putting good vibes out in the world and we're getting better at it every day and we're supporting families and we're supporting a community, you know, locally, regionally, nationally and internationally to some degree that's putting out positive vibes and is encouraging, is putting that spark of pursuing that, which you love and you're passionate about. And like, that's awesome. Like there isn't anything cooler than that and anything more rewarding. And hearing from customers or, man, I still freak out when I'm driving down the street and I see someone wearing our gloves that I don't know. I always share with people, hey, that fuels our fire. Because the challenges can be inundating, but knowing the impact that it has on people. And I know it's a stretch to say, hey, a pair of gloves is changing the world. But at the core of it, it is. We're providing an awesome product and over-delivering on what it is that we're putting out into the world to the best of our ability. And that's a, you know, that's a big win.

Grace: Yeah, definitely. So what are some of the...

Bubba Albrecht: But there are a ton of challenges in the world. It's tough, it's tough. And if we can be a source of positive change, as small as that might be, that's what we wanna do.

Founder Rounder

Grace: Yeah. So we can probably jump into a little bit of the founder rounder stuff, right, Emmanuel?

Emmanuel: Yeah, we love this founder rounder thing. We're trying hard to make that a term, but just round table, solving challenges together. Anything that you're struggling with that you'd love to just have us, we can just toss ideas out and strategize or even things that you're just curious about that we could help.

Bubba Albrecht: Yeah, yeah. So one question for both of you. I'm not a tech guy. Like, the core of who I am is not a tech savvy person. But the last four years, I would say, you could break it down into other chunks. There's been a tremendous amount of changes and shifting in, I mean, Google and Meta and advertising such that it's not gravity is no longer real, but things have changed significantly. And to someone who's not that savvy in that world, I think it's important for both of you to share from being kind of in the background and understanding a lot of ways that plays out with e-commerce and businesses, to what degree the shifting, how you'd rank it. And OK, it's a 1 out of 10, or it's a 10 out of 10 as far as how much has changed and how it impacts other business owners or e-commerce stores. That's great.

Emmanuel: 12, 13, I'll keep going up. And I know it's such a big thing, I could spend three hours talking about it, but I would curious like change in to what effect, to what end, right?

Bubba Albrecht: Just like the marketplace whether be for advertising or just means in which people are you know everyone loves the fact that hey if you're on the internet people can find you And it's like yes, that's true like we'd rather have the internet than not internet but the amount of changes that have occurred as far as the landscape for Privacy communicating with customers that the change has occurred in the last, again, three years compared to the prior 10 years has been huge.

Emmanuel: Been huge. Yeah. I mean, you think about it, just the internet itself coming up. I still remember people who were jumping on Google when you, when you just needed to have a website and it would rank in Google. And that was all you need to do to have a business SEO, right? It was all that it took. Or when Facebook ads came out, how massive a shift that was, but they didn't have a pixel. There was no pixel. So you were literally just doing like click campaigns and pays like campaigns. And those were right. And then they came out with dynamic product ads and syncing your catalog with Shopify. And literally all you would have to do, and this is right pre-pandemic going into the pandemic and before Cambridge Analytica and all that, where literally all you had to do is sync your catalog, which is just products, products on a white background and image of them with Facebook and Facebook could take that image, not even much of your text or anything, and find you people who are ready to buy that day, an hour later, you were getting sales. Like the level of creepiness and how much they know about their audience and who's ready to buy, like it was astonishing. You know, and then now here we are post all of that where, so what I'd like to say is that it was too easy then. That was just too easy. Like they knew too much about us. There was no way that was going to last. And so we had the reset Cambridge Analytica, iOS 14, iOS 14.5, iOS 15, you know, the whole quarantine privacy, like you said, and now we're in a different era now where we've gone through all of that huge splurge in tech, right, and you can, on internet sales just shot up and now that's gone. But what has not gone is tried and true business principles. Right, the stuff that you did phenomenally well, that's why I harped on it so much, is building an audience, building connection with that audience, solving problems for that audience, listening, nurturing a community, and then providing them content and solutions, right? Like billboards have worked for a long time, they're not gone. TV ads, right? Radio ads, yeah, we think these things are gone, but they're still in market form. And what do you need inside of each of those? Creative and copy. And so if you're really good at doing those things in a way that allows people to build community or take an action in a direct response way, that's gonna work no matter what changes, whether it's SEO or internet or TV or whatever it may be. And now with ChatGPT, I mean, to describe how tectonic of a shift things have changed, now ChatGPT's coming out, it'll write a lot of that stuff for you, right? We're fighting, a lot of folks are fighting, like, oh, I'm a writer and it can't write copy. Yes, it can, it's real good. It is shockingly good at writing. Don't fight it, let it go and use leverage it. So anyway, that's a long answer, but there's a lot of change. Grace, I...

Bubba Albrecht: No there has been a lot of change.

Grace: Yeah. Yeah, no, I feel like you said everything, Emmanuel. That's, I think I was just going to add what you said at that last bit, which is the essential, I feel like the essential elements are all the same still. You know, people still connect with story and you have a good story and you're a good storyteller. So no matter what channel you end up using, it's a good tool.

Emmanuel: And the key thing is people buy from people. And the more you can humanize, I think that is one downside that, uh, the, the whole rise of the internet sales type of how easy it was, it created this environment where you could sit behind your laptop without a face, without a name, without a brand and make millions of dollars in sales, right. And no one ever knows who you are, but it's just, there's a distance there. I think we're kind of coming, circling back to people want to buy from people again, and we need to go back to that in order to be successful and it does work. If, if people can see you as a human or see someone in your brand as a human, or see your brand as a human, someone that they can relate to, that's what's really making getting effective sales, effective ads, that's what actually is making the ads work better. And I think that's what the ad platforms are looking for. A lot of people ask us on the podcast, how do I do new customer acquisition? How do I make more sales? All those kinds of things. And the answer is focus on what worked before we got so easy. Right. People who learned ads in the last five years, they're struggling or the five years before iOS 14, they're struggling now because they learned a lot of media buying, how to be in the platform, not marketing, right? Not selling to people, right? People are human. They want to connect with a good story. They want to hear a story from your customer, a story from your brand, a story from you as the founder so that they can put themselves in your shoes and say, oh yeah, I'm like that person. I wonder if they can, they solved them, I wonder if I could solve them with their help too. And now you can. The stories I'm curious, you talked about your audience. Do you have any stories of your audience where you're just like, man, I wish I could tell them these things, how awesome they are, or this thing that I just would love for you to share some love for your audience here.

Bubba Albrecht: No, I would say the biggest thing is that we get a ton of ideas and feedback and we always share like, hey, we've tested out, I think of all the extreme ways I can test out a pair of gloves or mittens and I do that to the greatest extent possible. But I don't work in a lumber mill. I don't work in Texas in the hundred degree heat. I don't work training Navy SEALs off of a jet ski. And so...hearing how encouraging and inspiring, test them out in the ways that you see as extreme, the products, and then give us feedback, because that's how we make things better. I can only test to the greatest extent of my laboratory here in Jackson, Wyoming, or when I get to travel. But that feedback, while it isn't necessarily, we're not necessarily able to implement it overnight, it's the synthesis of all that feedback that allows us to make strategic changes and deliver for customers over time. Perfect example of that would be the Four Seasons glove campaign back in 2016. We launched that as like, all right, we know that there's a demand for a glove that is 100% waterproof, can handle minus 20 degree temperature, and handles snow really well. So we're going to go with this product. And we heard from a lot of people as a result of that campaign, hey, I'm a mitten person, you need to make this in a mitten. And I was like, oh shoot, I'm not a mitten person, but that started this thread of like, I need to get to know mitten people. And over the course of, you know, it was three plus years, talked with enough to learn, oh man, it doesn't matter like the dexterity piece that we built into the four season. There's a group of people that when their hands are cold at whatever temperature that is, it's miserable. Whether they're watching a sporting event, they're snowmobiling, skiing, they're just getting to their car whatever it is. So then it was like, okay now I understand this community of mitten wearers They get cold hands and so that's what we're gonna use to build the mitten and that took again It was multiple years, but then we played with alright what's We had some mittens that were like just like a look like a light bulb or a sleeping bag on your hand To play with like what's the maximum amount of insulation? But because we synthesize all that feedback and talk to those people, eventually we launched the Frontier Mittens and I'm very proud of what we did make happen and the final product. And then building on that, right now in October we're doing a breast cancer awareness partnership with the Breasties. So an organization that is, you know, an all community for community those who have gone through or experiencing or impacted by breast cancer. So we've made pink mittens where there's like a pink cuff and pink threading like a really cool exclusive product launch and donating 15% of those proceeds to the Breasties organization is hearing feedback from customers. Hey, do it in a cool color way or do something to support, you know or to bring attention and involvement to breast cancer awareness. So like that didn't happen right away, but when we finally did make it work, really proud of what they look like and again, taking in that customer feedback.

Grace: Yeah, that's awesome.

Emmanuel: Awesome. Well, thank you so much for joining us, Bubba. We're so grateful. And we, I'm sure everyone listening has gotten so much out of it. We want to support you. Is it, how can we, you've supported us, how can we support you? What do you got going on? And how can we put more money in your pocket and your team's pocket and support the causes you're supporting? What do you got for us?

Bubba Albrecht: Well, the breast cancer awareness push, check out our website, it's, it's You'll see that promotion there, knowing that 15% of proceeds are going towards the breasties. And then big thing would be, even if you don't live in a cold climate or you don't have a need for personalized premium outdoor leather gloves, they make for awesome gifts. And the personalization that we do, so we hand brand name or initials on the gloves. So as you're piecing together, whether it be for a family member, a friend, someone you're getting a holiday gift for, it makes for an awesome gift and a gift that's gonna last for a long time. So check that out and know that, I mean, that's kind of where we really had the initial spark was with the branding on the gloves. So it makes for awesome gifts. So I share with everyone that if there's someone you care enough about that you want to give them something kick ass, the glove collection and the personalization options are worth checking out.

Emmanuel: Awesome. We will do that, buying gifts for the whole family this year. Come and give'r gloves and y'all should do the same. Thank you so much, Bubba. Yeah, go ahead.

Grace: Awesome.

Bubba Albrecht: There you go. Well, no, I appreciate, I think it's really important listeners hear the degree to which, like I can't say it in words, the number of times you, Emmanuel, and Grace, through Emmanuel, have supported us and been, you know, me personally when I've been struggling or having challenges like the Intel, the willingness to just jump on a phone call and talk through things as well as providing guidance and insight on how to move forward. You guys are doing you have in the past and up until now made a huge difference and impact on our team and I know that Everyone who's listening and viewing To know that you guys are the real deal and the things you've gone through are entirely They're so valuable. And so I just thank you both for making it possible and being a source just as we're striving with Give'r of putting positive information and vibes out in the world.

Grace: Oh, thanks, Bubba. I know, Emmanuel's one of the best motivational coaches when you're down, for sure. So that's sweet. Thanks, Bubba.

Emmanuel: Thank you. That's very generous of you.

Bubba Albrecht: You bet.

Emmanuel: I appreciate you saying that. Thank you. Yeah, we'll continue to do that. We appreciate you. All right. Thank you. All righty. Talk to you soon. Bye bye.

Bubba Albrecht: Yeah, of course. Kick ass. Well, thank you all very much. You bet. See ya. Bye.

Grace: Thank you. Bye.

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