In case you're new to our little gang, and in honor of this March Meet The Maker Challenge, I thought I'd take a moment to share a little about us and why we started this wild li'l bronco of a business.
We currently live in Reno, Nevada (the Virginia City Highlands, to be more exact), but Outlaw didn't start in a Wild West town (as much as I wish it had).
The year was 2013. We both lived in Los Angeles. I worked a corporate job in a cubicle. Russ was a handyman mostly, at that time, doing dirty jobs for reasonably high-importance film people (building fences and stuff).
We had a long road to the Wild West... but just like Tom Mix says, “The Old West is not a certain place in a certain time, it’s a state of mind. It’s whatever you want it to be."
And we had a bite of the Wild West spirit, even there in the heart of one of the biggest cities in the world. We wanted gravel under our boots during the day, and a sky of undampened stars at night.
People ask how we learned to make soap, but the soap came second. The desire came first: The desire to smell like campfire and whiskey and the high desert and all the things that were really who we were, circumstances and concrete notwithstanding.
Soap was the easiest path from concrete to wilderness.
It required almost no startup costs (which was lucky, since we didn't have money). It required no special skills (which was lucky, since we have a special set of skills and advanced chemistry is not among them). It required no sales ability (which was lucky, because I could not, at that time, sell my way out of a paper bag).
In 2015, I wrote that we were not soap people before Outlaw Soaps. And neither were many of our early customers. Since our scents are quite unique, it's just not possible to go to the store and grab anything that smells like a tack room after a gunfight.
I mean, unless you're walking into a tack room after a gunfight. Which is very seldomly if you're anything like me.
So we started selling to our friends, and then this one famous ESPN writer, Baxter Holmes, tweeted about us (yes, really @Baxter 😅 you were our first real total stranger order).
And it has not always been a rocket ship to the moon (or a fast pony out of the gate, or whatever metaphor suits your fancy). There are a lot of overnight successes out there, and we aren't one of 'em.
Because we had no real start-up money and we didn't know a thing about investors, we were always sold out of everything. As soon as we made a dollar, we spent a dollar. It has been like that pretty much until the end of last year, believe it or not.
Customers love that our products are made in small batches in the USA, but honestly, we did it that way because that was the only way we knew how. And now that y'all have told us how important it is, we're still doing it that way (though our batches have been getting bigger).
Because if we've learned one thing, it's that our customers will help us build the best business if we let 'em. Which is why we've always considered our company very democratic.
We've been lucky enough to have customers like Matt, who would not rest until we made body wash, or Travis, who introduced us to the idea of solid cologne. And now we're lucky enough to have employees who make a scent quiz to help customers find their favorite scent (you have Davida to thank for that!).
So really, meet the maker? Hold up a mirror. You made Outlaw.
Thank you for being on this adventure with us.