Friday, December 21, 2007

Pocket Slippers' Grand Canyon Adventure

This is me. Staring into Bright Angel Creek at the bottom of the Grand Canyon... Wearing a biker skull bandana that I bought a few days earlier at the rim (not my usual style, you may have noticed.) Why? So that I wouldn't cry.

See, I figured that since I was representing Zinetic Pocket Slippers, I should probably try and act like I've done something like this before. I didn't want to talk to Rangers and lifelong outdoor enthusiasts about the merits of Pocket Slippers while I was crying from exhaustion, hypothermia, hunger, or pain (you pick). So, I got a safety net. You just can't cry if you're wearing a skull bandana. And it worked!

But, let me start at the beginning...

A couple of months ago, a few of my cousins and my Uncle Ron were planning a backpacking trip into Grand Canyon. They are avid outdoor adventure seekers. Climbing, camping, backpacking, skiing, horseback riding...they do it all. I overhead them talking about it and recklessly asked, "Hey, can I come?" It sounded like fun, not to mention, a great opportunity to do some field research and product testing for our next phases of Pocket Slipper development.

Fast-forward to Dec 15th....and here we are. 9 Sloans in total, loaded up and ready to go down. Do take special note of the snow. Yes, it is cold in northern Arizona in December.

We headed down South Kaibob Trail, an 8 mile down-hill hike, in hopes of arriving at Bright Angel Creek before dark. By the time we arrived, we were all doing the "Kaibob Shuffle," a sad and painful way of setting up camp. My toes were battered, my feet were swollen and all my joints were protesting. The first thing I did, was take off my hiking boots and slip on my PS. Aaaahhh, that felt better. So far, field research was going spectacularly.

Throughout the trip's 35 miles and 4 nights, we used our Pocket Slippers often. They were great around the campsite at mealtimes. We kept them in our daypacks to slip on during lunch breaks. And when we had to climb out of our tents in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom, they were quick and easy to slip on.

I'm not really supposed to advertise this, but you may even see some National Park Rangers padding around in Pocket Slippers soon. If you're reading this, Ranger Greg, It was great to meet you. Thanks for your help regarding the attack of the cacti!

This is Abby lounging in PS during a 14 mile day hike to Ribbon Falls... a Cliff bar never tasted so good!

The other side of Kristy's perch is a 50 ft. drop followed by a steep slide to the bottom of the canyon. But, oh, what a feeling! And an awesome photo-op. We couldn't pass this one up!

All in all, it was a great trip. To be honest, I probably won't do it again in December. Sleeping outdoors in 16 degree temperatures, coupled with the snow/sleet/rain mix during our hike out the last day made for a very cold Kimberly. But, I hear October is nice!
Even though I was cold, tired, and in some severe muscular distress, every moment was a memory that will make me smile the rest of my life. I am so blessed to have a family that encourages one another to experience new things, pushes each other to greater accomplishments, and loves unconditionally. If I have to work (and like most of us, I do) then I am glad that I get to do it surrounded by and in partnership with these people, my family.
Have a great Holiday everyone! Next time I write, we will be in the throes of Trade Show Season. I can't believe its almost upon us....

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

EORA Greenville, SC

The Eastern Outdoor Reps Association show was located in Greenville, SC, a town that I had never visited until this show, but will be happy to visit again. In fact, I probably will!

These pictures are of our SE reps and myself and in our booth. Rob Robinson, Elliott Hardin, and Dan Williams are all wonderful reps and also great guys to hang with. They also represent Yakima, Timex, Camelbak, Eurosock, and a new footwear company called OboZ. A good group to be in.

Thanks for showing a Yankee girl a good time, guys! :)

Oh, by the way, in case my Dad or Wendall is reading this, the trip was beneficial from a business standpoint as well. It wasn't all just fun. We opened 10 or 12 new accounts at the show and gathered many good leads for future orders. I'm still following up now.

Lots of work to do, gotta go!

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Great Feedback!

Here are some fun photos that have been sent to us from Seth Anderson, who bought a pair on his way out of the show and headed straight to the mountains to try them out. Here’s what he wrote:

“We enjoyed the Pocket Slippers we bought. They were very comfy and convenient. The slippers were much more comfortable than I expected. We had very little extra room for this trip so the packability was nice too. We are looking forward to years of fun with the pocket slippers!”

Seth Anderson and Randi Marsh
Grand Junction, CO

Here’s another believer in our “Boots Off. Happy On.” philosophy:

“Hi Kim, We met at the O.R. show last week. I purchased a couple pair from you. I must say that I love them. I posted them on my blog: I thought you might want to know.”

Melo Jubilo

MEDIA COVERAGE - published 8.12.07

Outdoor Retailer
28 DayFour•August12,2007 OutdoorRetailerSummerMarket

Creators of Pocket Slippers Hope
For Retail Traction at Summer OR

Kimberly Earlewine and her dad are putting their money where their feet are. So if slipping tired and swollen feet into a super-light pair of slippers sounds good, drop by Booth #32845 to see Zinetic’s Pocket Slippers.
Earlewine credits her dad, Dr. Dale Sloan, a Ft. Wayne, Indiana, surgeon, with pushing the idea of developing a lightweight pair of slippers that would appeal to skiers, hikers, climbers and those counting ounces in their packs.
"I’ve skied my whole life and I loved to take off my ski boots and walk around the lodge, but not in my socks," Earlewine said. While on a family ski vacation, her dad started tinkering with the notion of latex slippers that would slip smoothly into a pocket or pack. When lunchtime rolled around, pull off the boots and slip on the slippers.
"We looked into it, but using latex wasn’t practical," she said. Instead the father/daughter team went back to the drawing board. Using a thin, high-traction rubber sole, surrounded by a synthetic fabric upper combined with lightweight mesh, they developed a 7.5-ounce pair of slippers that roll up into a tight and tidy nylon bag.
"They have a bare-foot feel," Earlewine said. And the method used to roll them up is unique enough that a patent is pending on the design. "Cyclists told us they would use them when road riding. Others said they were perfect for backpacking and adventure travel. Everyone had a personalized use for them," said Earlewine.
Last winter she got a booth at SIA and launched the product. It took hold and is now sold by retailers in 13 states.
The slippers, made from stretchy fabric, come in sizes ranging from extra small to extra large and are sold in pre-packs of 30 pair. At the company’s booth, retailers can toss a rolled up pair into a ski boot, hiking boot and pack.
Hit two out of three and Earlewine will enter your name into a drawing and some lucky retailer will win a lifetime supply. Earlewine picks a winner today at 2 p.m. at their booth.

Coming Up for Air...

I'm not even sure what to write here. I've barely had time to think, but I know some of my family, friends, and loosely connected acquaintances may want to check this blog because they probably think I'm dead. Well, the reason I haven't called/talked/seen anyone is because I've been working 24-7 for 2 weeks straight. (The week before that I was on vacation.) AAAAHHH....vacation...

Just a second. I need to daydream for a little bit and remember what that was like. Here's a picture. :)

OK. I'm back. So, here's the story, morning glory:

On Tuesday, Aug. 7th, I flew into Salt Lake City, UT for the Outdoor Retailer Summer Trade Show. The show was supposed to start on the Thursday the 9th, but I got there early to set up. Needless to say, I could have got there at the last minute because trade show logistics lost my booth display until 6pm on Wed. night. So, there I was, sweating in my empty booth all by myself in the very farthest darkest corner of the Salt Palace for 2 days. If you haven't been to Salt Lake City in August, let me tell you that air conditioning is a necessity. The Salt Palace does not use air conditioning during set-up. Nice.

My booth space was also hidden behind a 3-story skyscraper that Saucony (running shoes) was trying to pass off as a trade show booth. I was feeling lonely, discouraged, and like a little fish in a very big pond. A nobody.

The show started. I started talking about our humble little product to anyone who happened by and before long, orders were being written. ORDERS, I said. ORDERS! The first day I couldn't leave to go to the bathroom, get a drink, eat, or answer my phone. I had no help and no breaks. I couldn't believe we were this busy. There were times when I was talking to 7 or 8 people at once. Finally, Dad got there and I at least got to go to the bathroom. That made me happy.

The show continued that way for the next four days. We sold about 100 pairs to people at the show who weren't buyers, but just wanted a pair for themselves. So, that was cool to see people from a consumer's perspective getting excited about Zinetic Pocket Slippers. Dad did a great job of fitting people and talking to buyers and press, as well. He seemed to be having a good time and getting pretty comfortable with the sales pitch as the week went on. Me, I have no shame when it comes to sales. I was selling all day long and late into the night.

After show hours ended at 6pm every night, I would head to the parties to network. And I must say that I did that quite nicely. But, even better than getting people to stop by the booth the next day or collecting important business cards, was that I made tons of new friends! Here's a shout out to: Eleanore, Brent, TJ, George, Lindsey, Galahad, John, Kyle, Bruce, Britt, Moe, Melo, Micah, Nick, super-awesome massage therapy student guy whose name I can't remember... and the list goes on... I can't wait to see you all again in 6 months.

So, to make a long story short. I've been working on order fulfillment, following up on leads, sales forecasting, product development, production schedules, new packaging, collecting outstanding payments (Oh, that part sucks by the way).

I do regret to tell you that I was so busy I didn't even get a picture of the booth. But, I am attaching our awesome press hit! The Trade Show magazine published an article on Zinetic Pocket Slippers! Read to your heart's content and smile for us.

Friday, June 1, 2007

Photo Shoot

I spent all last night with a very talented photographer named Melissa Mowat and some super hot models doing a photo shoot for our outdoor crossover marketing collateral. We're going to change up the website and our marketing pieces and gear them more towards the summer buying season. The photo shoot was really fun. I love doing that kind of stuff. And we got some beautiful shots that really evoke a new mood and give clarity to the purpose and uses for Zinetics.

Here's some of my faves. Let me know what you think.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

"Office Space"

Anybody out there ever see the movie "Office Space" where the company hires the business consultants to help them clean up their act? Well, that's what we did. We hired a well-known, very experienced, business consultant in the outdoor and snowsports industry. It was a good move and worth every penny. Wendall, if you're reading this, thanks for all your ideas, encouragement, and advice. So, now I've got even more work to do -Promotions, incentives, new package levels, PR, sales management initiatives. Now I need a housekeeper and a babysitter. I wonder if Wendall has any connections on that front. :)

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Quick Update

I know, I know, its been awhile. But, I've been a little busy, okay? Inventory went okay....actually, I gave up and coerced my husband, Damon, into doing it. I owed him for quite awhile. And then, around the first of May, we sent out the first shipments. So far, noone has returned them, so that's a good sign. ;) While I was in the warehouse overseeing the order fulfillment (ok, I'll be honest, I AM the shipping clerk) I decided that the next warehouse would have airconditioning and a radio....oh, and some more employees.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

18,000 pairs, 600 boxes, 2 confused kittys

Wow. They are actually here. I'm glad I didn't order more this go 'round because we've almost filled up all our warehouse space. The boxes are tilting precariously in stacks 9 ft. tall, organized by color and size, and causing our mousers some serious anxiety. Suddenly their home of wide open spaces has turned into a miniature cardboard city, complete with skyscrapers and one-way streets, back-alleys and dead ends. I just hope they don't start a domino effect of catastrophic proportions or decide to personalize our pocketslippers with a signature scent...
I'd like to take this space to give thanks to all our helpers. You guys were awesome! We made it in just under 2 hours and I couldn't have done it without you. Obviously. Thanks a million. I owe you.
I guess its time to start shipping now, right? Oh, wait. Inventory. I'll let you know how that goes. Should be a blast.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Tested and True...Finally

Who's got their happy on? We Do, We Do.

Well, everybody out there in blogland, this is my first foray into your domain. For mostly professional and sometimes recreational purposes, I will attempt to utilize this blog to keep everyone updated on the product development, market research, and community-minded efforts of Zinetic Inc.

I just spent the last nine days with 13 of my family members on a spring break ski trip to Breckenridge, Colorado. Good 'ol Breck Town is a place full of good memories, good shopping, good restaurants, and most important....good skiing and riding. And this year, we also had good snow. You just can't beat a white out at the top of Peak 7!

So, with all those good feelings floating around, it was the perfect time to test out our new product, Zinetic Pocket Slippers. Originally developed for use during lodge breaks, Z Pocket Slippers have morphed into a multi-season, multi-sport product with unlimited market potential. They are lightweight, comfortable slippers with a waterproof rubber sole that roll up into an included nylon pouch. The pouch can be carried in a pocket, backpack, carry-on suitcase, glove compartment, or gym bag for convenient foot comfort anywhere. The primary selling feature is the portablity of the pocket-sized slippers, but other key features include: Compact Size, Comfort, Sport Styling, Breatheable fabric, Good Traction on wet surfaces, multiple sport, travel, and lifestyle uses.

Sorry, had to spit that part out again for anyone out there who didn't already know what Zinetic Pocket Slippers are. But, pretty soon, we'll be as ubiquitous as Crocs (Psst, look it up, I won't tell.) and I won't ever have to explain again. Cross your fingers!

Back to my "working"vacation: We all crammed into one old motor-home with an average speed of 40 mph and set out from Indianapolis to Breckenridge, ultimately averaging 4 miles to the gallon. We also had a terribly-two year old cooped in the same automobile. Needless to say, the product wasn't the only thing being tested!

Once we got there, I handed out Zinetic t-shirts, Pocket Slippers, business cards, and brochures and briefed everyone on how to handle questions. I'm happy to report that the Pocket Slippers held up great and felt awesome during those lodge breaks, to and from the slopes, and on the shuttle home. Everyone on the trip was relieved and excited to have their "Boots Off" and their "Happy On." Feedback from other skiers was extremely positive and many asked where they could buy a pair. Next year, we will be able to direct them to a local Breck-Town Dealer.

We are really doing this thing! Now, let's just hope my higher education pays off. ;)