We’re closing down

When KK read me the email, it truly felt like someone had punched me in the stomach. For a couple of days, we both floated in a bubble of denial, hoping our contact in the US would reply to our list of frantic questions with a solution. It never came.

The news was not what we were expecting to hear. They have decided to restructure and stop the international distribution model. Basically, our supplier will not be supplying us with anymore stock and advised us to close down the CW-X SA business.

Gutted. Angry. Relief. Disbelief. Hurt.

The timing was bitter sweet. After spending so many months getting our business up & running, we had just engaged in negotiations with a few partners to start advertising in top notch media. After a great evening hosting a stand at the Valentine’s Day Night race at Harriers, we had made plans with a few other clubs to sell our goods. Business had picked up! The tingling excitement when my phone beeped signaling a new order had come in never grew old!

Now we are sitting with the dilemma of swapping our growth strategy for an exit strategy.

It’s the weirdest thing. I’ve ping-ponged between feelings of complete sadness to days when I look back and at how much KK and I were able to accomplish in the last couple of months.

There are no regrets.

The purchasing process, registering our company, opening up bank accounts, setting up the website, learning about the product, selling to customers, the late nights of prepping social media posts and running campaigns on Facebook & Instagram. Every day I felt more alive than ever!

KK and I learnt so much about ourselves and one another too. Want to know how strong your marriage is? Run a small business part-time with your spouse! We’ve grown tremendously during this journey together.

The pic is dark but it was a selfie we took the evening we had finally signed offer & loaded the car with stock. We were entrepreneurs!

The first delivery! After being held up at customs for 5 weeks, this was one of the highlights! Unpacking boxes of our very first order of stock!

The Sunday afternoons practicing setting up the banners and gazebo in our garden.

We can’t thank our family & friends enough for the support during the last couple of months. You have been part of the success and the fun. The excitement you showed, the stories you listened to, believing in our vision. It has meant so much!

Thanks especially to all our brand ambassadors and loyal CW-X fans: Dan, Kirsty, Gwynn, Timaya, Advocate Karen, Julia and Zara, Carl, Isabel, Jonty and Portia. It was a hell of a ride!

So where to from here? A huge clearance sale of the stock we purchased. Updating the site to reflect the sale prices and trying to get back as much of our investment as possible. The learnings continue and I suspect it’s preparing us for our next business venture.

As readers who follow my blog, you’re the first to hear the news before we send out official comms to our customer database. The good news is that you’re also the first to take advantage of the sale prices. Head over to the site to grab first dibs on the most amazing running clothes you will soon not be able to get locally before we shut down the site.

x5 tips for turning busyness into activeness

Technology frees up time. But the tragedy is that we use that spare time to be even more busy. We work more instead of doing the things that bring us joy. There have been a couple of articles floating around describing society’s busyness as an epidemic. Our self-created stress. 

The crazy thing is that we sacrifice the activities that help de-stress us. Our hobbies, our down time, the time for gym, running, cycling, playing with the kids or walking the dog. Making time has become harder and harder. Notice, I said “making” and not “finding” because as my running Junkie friend Brenda always reminds me, you will never find time. You need to make it.

So in making time to be active, here are a few tips:

  1. Pack your gym bag for the whole week, not just one session. I fill my bag with x4 gym kits for the week ahead. Socks, tops, the works. This commits me to training for the entire week with no excuse that I did not have time to pack my bag.Gym
  2. Try a service such as UCook which helps take the pain of deciding what to buy & cook away. We have been testing out UCook for the last three weeks. The big win is that supper is decided a week ahead & when I get home, all I do is grab the brown paper bag full of delicious fresh groceries out of the fridge and off I go. No need to think of creative meals and defrost and prepare. All of this is done for you!img_4239
  3. Train whenever & wherever you go. I had almost cancelled a meal at my Dad last week because I had not yet completed day 4 of my training program. I realized that doing the program would be simple enough to do in his lounge, while he cooked supper. I arrived at his place, threw my gym mat on the floor and with Shadow, my favorite dog, circling me, I managed to do my x3 sets of squats and lunges (before we tucked into macaroni cheese).img_3911.jpg
  4. Monitor your steps. I’ve started to track my steps during the day to monitor when I’ve been vegging at my desk and only taken 3000 steps compared to some days when I’m able to reach a goal of 10 000 steps. On the low days, it’s easy to re-route myself and take the stairs to the staff parkade and even head out for a 20 minute walk to watch the sun set, just to ensure I’ve moved.
  5. Weekday/weekend runs are the new coffee catchups. Meeting up with a friend for a walk or run is the killing two birds with one stone philosophy. You have no idea how much chatting you do when you’re running together, but also how great you feel after the run. Skinny & loved! *jokes* There are so many opportunities to do this that have popped up too; Parkruns and CMIYC (Catch me if you can) come to mind.

Winter is coming! Seriously though, the darker morning and evenings limit the time we have to spend outdoors even more. It’s cold and every fibre of your body will beg you to stay under the covers. So that’s why I’m putting plans in place and getting into the habit now to make time for the things that matter.

Any tips you want to share that have worked for you?

We reluctantly came. We nervously saw. OMW, we sold!

The choice of touch points or channels has always been quite a strong focus of most of my career. Where to target customers, on which channel, when and how. So when we launched our small business CW-X SA, I seriously thought that I would be able to lure customers to the website via a range of beautiful imagery on Instagram and engaging stories on Facebook.

Sales have been slow. 

We realized that the brand had dipped into very low awareness levels, the competitor environment was fierce and that unless we put money behind our social media posts, no one was really seeing our brand.

We decided to get our faces out there and approached Randburg Harriers Running Club asking if we could promote our goods at their Thursday evening time trial. I won’t lie, a social media collaborator and an engineer, face-to-face sales was not our strong point and we were dreading it.

The nerves ran high!

But here’s what we learnt:

  • Our brand needs to be seen in the real world. Once people saw the banners, it suddenly felt real.
  • Our faces need to be seen and recognized by fellow runners to make the connection between our brand and ourselves. Why? Because trust sells. Relationships sell. Networking sells.
  • And most of all, word-of-mouth is key! Once people realized its was us and they knew our faces and names behind the brand, they were really excited and started to tell other people.

Mini brand ambassadors were born.

I’m all for eCommerce but it doesn’t allow for much human connection. With the face-to-face interaction at time trial along side the track, it was easier to question and probe. We showed an interest in people and their stories.

It created a comfortable space for people to share their running injuries, their eating struggles and their choice of what running tights suited them more. People opened up to us about personal stories they would not necessarily do online.

After one evening, we’re no experts. But what an eye opener.

And here’s one more nugget. We fell out of our comfort zones and rolled straight into realizing that maybe, just maybe, we can do this thing called sales.

Thoughts on a run, when everyone else is on a plane

I’m surrounded by a rather small group of people in my life. A close-knit family, a handful of friends and then colleagues who I share pretty much majority of my week with. But in recent months, I’ve started to notice that more and more people are moving away, leaving me somewhat ‘behind’.

My decisions to dedicate myself to the blue bank has been largely influenced by the people I work with. Inspiring leaders, thoughtful team members and colleagues who have become good friends. But some of these leaders have left, team members have changed roles and some of my good friends are leaving SA.

Talking about leaving SA, the number of close friends who have left is now being counted on both hands, not just one. Friends who have made the decision to start their lives in other parts of the world. A re-start for some, an adventure for others.

Even though we have the technology and social media to stay in touch, I’m feeling a little sad. Actually very sad.

I’ll admit that it’s a heavy burden to carry knowing that I’ve decided to stay & commit to a life in Johannesburg and South Africa on a continent I call home, knowing very well that KK would be on a plane to any other destination without hesitation tomorrow.

My reasons for staying have always been my close-knit family, my handful of friends and colleagues. But what happens when they’re all gone?

Thoughts such as these make my escapism afternoon runs actually mentally exhausting.