It’ll now be a total of 16 months since the pandemic first started, and 8 months ago since I last wrote The State of The Coldest (you can read about that at the world ending at the bottom lol). But I believe many of us saw the silver lining emerging. After writing that previous email below, many of you wrote back describing your struggles through it, but also the encouragement meant to push through it. Your words encouraged me as much as mine may have.
So one of the biggest secrets I’ve kept till now, was that The Coldest for the past 6 years, STILL worked out of my backyard. Literally my backyard! Initially, it was out of a 1 car garage in Naples Park. But when I ran out of space and we grew some more, we moved to a bigger property in the outskirts of Naples, that was pretty much in the boonies (for cheap land), but it gave us more land and space to operate. I had employees using my bathrooms, kitchen. The second bedroom was converted into an office. I’d wake up, and walk 10 feet right into a bustling business with 13 employees working at full pace packing orders, organizing the warehouse, doing customer support and sometimes just hanging out after work. It was non-stop.
As it grew, created a semi-truck entrance on the far side of the property because 53′ foot truck trailers couldn’t fit on the regular driveway. This allowed us to get way more inventory in versus smaller box trucks.
But keep in mind it was residential. So over the next few years and into 2021, my backyard ended up having over 20 forty-foot storage containers. (Good thing I’m not married lol) This strategy was genius in my eyes at the time because it would save us so much money storing goods. The land is insanely expensive here. However, by December of 2021, my neighbors complained, and the show was over. Collier County code enforcement was not happy about 20 containers in the backyard. For good reason. Can’t complain. I tried, I tried.
How did you hide 20 containers in your backyard though?
Easy, I had set up defenses, lines of areca trees (native Floridian hedge trees) that grow up to 20 feet tall and they surrounded the entire property so densely, you could barely see-through. Think of Harry Potter Movie 5, the maze in Goblet of Fire….you can’t see through. The neighbors, who are snowbirds who live next door for 2 months of the year – shouldn’t have complained (lol). (Its’ all for a reason -I keep telling myself)
So in December, We were being forced to move headquarters, else face significant fines.. ($500/day in fines) and I went through the whole process of business bank loans. What a headache. We got denied by 3 banks. Bank of America, Synovus, and a local bank all said no. They don’t like “risky businesses”. Frustrated, but not defeated – we went back to the drawing board,
As March turns the corner, we get wind of a crazy idea.
We launched our first store at Coastland Center, here in Naples, Florida. (It really happened as abruptly as that)
Why would you open a physical store when there is a Pandemic going on and no one is shopping?
It wasn’t crazy, IT WAS MADNESS! This is Sparta!!! (terrible joke if you haven’t watched the movie 300) In all seriousness, mall stores have been always out of reach for us. A corporate store that was there won’t say their name (jk, Sketchers) had just left and we thought it was a good idea.
Joe, Kaira and I~
[Joe’s my twin, also head of Marketing for the Coldest,
and Kaira (who was the second employee who joined during COVID)]
would travel to the mall almost every day bringing inventory, designing the layout, installing signage, setting up products, adding shelving, tables, setting up point of sale etc, the list goes on. Knowing what we know now… we probably wouldn’t have done it. I think you just have to be completely naive about what you’re getting yourself into.
And so the first COLDEST store was born.
View this post on Instagram
It just so happened that as we opened the store, we discovered the location of the new HQ. And so the big move started happening at the same time as the store was opening. This involved moving all 20 containers and inventory 45 minutes away from my backyard (lol) while onboarding a new team for the store.
And on top of that, we had to remove/ the 20 containers from the property to come into compliance.
This was taken a couple of weeks ago! We did it!
The journey has been intense, rough, fun, crazy. But the COLDEST is getting stronger by the day.
Since we are now fully moved onto “commercial property” I can reveal the secret of how we were in my backyard for the last 3 years without punishment from the local government.
Lots of epic new inventions coming soon. The Coldest Coldie, has been something we’ve been working on during COVID and drops in early July! Sneak peak it through the link.
This rollercoaster is just beginning so get ready. It’s getting absolutely crazy and it is truly a pleasure to serve you all, every day, especially through the hard times. (X2)
CEO/Engineer of The Coldest Water
P.S – Yes- The Coldest Coldie was also created during bad times and epic! It’s built to be your last can insulator, for sodas, beers, and seltzers. They are currently in pre-order, as we have limited quantity when they drop.
Also p.s x2: Congrats for getting to the end. TBC.
View this post on Instagram
(Written September 20th, 2020)
8 months ago… when Covid hit, we were at around 8 people, 2 internally and 6 remotes. Sales had dropped 90%. My local team had stopped coming to work in fear of Covid and started working remotely. I was back at day one, 6 years ago, as if we lost all progress.
Because of government benefits 5 days later, 8 months ago
my remaining team wanted unemployment rather than remote employment. They left…
We were effectively in hibernation mode with Stark (me) fulfilling products on the empty assembly line. My mom and dad came in to help (what supportive parents). My mom was spraying clorox everywhere.. and I was like what is going onnnnnnnnnnn. The news changed how we thought, felt, and perceived everything.
Like many other business owners facing the pandemic, the entire business was in ruin. We cut all non-essential software, paused shipments, advertisements, endorsements, and other running costs eating the business alive.
For 14 days, I put on my headphones, listened to my favorite podcasts, and quickly went to Hogwards (the warehouse). There I’d fulfilled orders, ran logistics, and operated all areas of the business and went into survival mode. In the midst of this, inventory was super low. I had witnessed our logistics chains get absolutely destroyed, delayed, months leading up to this. The entire world had come to a screeching halt. Everyone was in fear and panic mode.
Enough was enough. This is COLDEST. 14 days, 8 months ago
After 2 weeks in this though, I was sick of waiting for Covid to end. It was out of my control. We were burning cash through passive expenses faster than revenue was coming in. But what the heck. Lets go full gung-ho at it. Yolo – literally what I thought in my head. I told Joe, my twin- who heads Coldest Experience, “Lets send it.” I literally threw all my energy and remaining money against the Covid waves smashing in. I was fed up. I was sick of watching the news, and hearing more and more bad news from around the world.
I went full attack at the unknown, with an intense focus on calculated risks. PEW PEW PEW. When no one was hiring, we started hiring. When no one was inventing, we were drawining up the next epic coldest products. Fast forward 240 days later, covid is still going on with no end in sight, and while most businesses stayed in hibernation/went out of business, We are charging forward with cautious optimism in continued expansion. Now at 120+ people full time, we can do a lot more, and we will. This rapid change will inevitably cause many things to break, and I encourage everyone to embrace it. It will be the new normal. Consider it awesome when things break. I tend to smile and get to work thinking about how can we make this more robust. So to this point I’ll say, love the chaos, and immerse yourself into it. It can be delightful.
You have always been our #1 priority, over selling our products, over making money, and over our own ego’s. Our main mission is to treat our customers like kings, and just ask for patience when things get rough. Our focus is relentless, on creating the best coldest products ever, even if it takes longer.
Currently, I am scaling both the Local HQ in both space and local employees. Yesterday I was visiting several warehouses in search of our first main distribution hub with a min of 15,000 sq ft. In comparison, our current warehouse is 2400 sq ft.. This will likely require internal Coldest Trucks, manned by coldest team members who will drive them. We will do everything internal, just like Elon would do.
Lots of epic new inventions coming soon. Something big is coming. I love saying that not only because it’s true but because it gets me mad excited. There are so many really epic inventions in our pipeline, and they will be launching in the next 6 months. I believe that they will be the best in the market, by far, using some of the latest best coldest, engineering techniques known to man.
This rollercoaster is just beginning so get ready. It’s getting absolutely crazy and it is truly a pleasure to serve you all, every day, especially through the hard times.
CEO/Engineer of The Coldest Water
P.S – Yes- The Darkest Coffee was created during bad times and “is a thing.” The Coldest is literally powered by freshly brewed darkest espressos. Not all my team drinks it, but I do. During Covid we decided to just come out with a darker, better and fresher tasting espresso – hence -well yes- The Darkest Coffee was born. We offer nearly free samples.(0.25 cents with any order) We’re pretty sure you’ll love it if you’re a true coffee aficionado.