## All the Maths!

It’s been an exciting day! I spent my time with pivot tables and counting tiny parts. While it’s not an ideal way to spend a Saturday, I’m so glad that I did…  because I almost made a rookie mistake. I was set to order more inventory without truly reviewing the numbers. I can feel all of the Sharks giving me the stink eye for even considering it.

###### Strap Savers are small.

It’s easy to look at the pile and estimate how many we have! (note to self! idea for giveaway: guess how many Strap Savers in the jar?) It appeared that we might be running low on a few sizes/colors.

But, of course, looks can be deceiving or this wouldn’t be a blog post, would it? And, I had to take into account that, as we will announce soon, we are phasing out the ¾” and 1” regular Strap Savers. (short answer: we feel that the “extra strength” does the job and are only .7mm thicker. That’s half of an American dime, our thinnest coin) It was more than just seeing if what we had was enough.

###### EXCELlent

I spent some time with a spreadsheet and created tables to look at our numbers first by size, then by color and then strength. And then strength, size and color. And then every other permutation imaginable, to see what worked best to try to forecast sales for the next year. As a person who spends their days sifting through data, part of me wonders why we didn’t do this sooner. The rest of me knows it is because there are just so many other things to do when running a business. As long as we had inventory to sell I could consider this part of the job “done”.

My next step was to start counting. I took a short cut and pulled out a scale. Do you have any idea how many ¼” Strap Savers fit in the palm of your hand? The answer will not surprise you: a LOT! And… I found that we have enough inventory to make it through the year based on the last year of sales with 30% growth.

###### Plan for the future – act now

I hope that we grow more, obviously. I always have plans, but we’re “living in uncertain times” (trite but true!). If we need to buy more inventory, we always can. It doesn’t take much lead time and we have advanced warning. (Unless, Sophia Vegara decides to tweet about us, then all bets would be off anyway!)

The takeaway is that it frees up our funds for things like direct advertising and partnering with influencers. Yes, I see that will lead me back to needing more inventory, but I can certainly handle that problem. It’s much better than having much more than I need and no path to reaching potential customers.

We even have a nice stock of envelopes, instructions and pink bags! Now I just need to find someone who lives to silk screen tiny logos in small bags. Any takers?

## What’s the Deal with Stainless Steel?

We had many choices when it came to materials for The Strap Saver. There are a plethora of metals and plastics at several different price-points. Our options felt endless but our goals were clear.  We wanted our product to be:

• strong (after all, boobs are heavy!)
• for everyone, even customers with sensitive skin.
• made of something that would hold up to sweat, salt water and chlorine. (we’re active people and we need a product to keep up with us!)

When our smart engineers explained the benefits of stainless steel, it became the obvious choice. It’s light, strong, resistant to corrosion and plentiful. It was not, however, the cheapest but building the best product possible was the more important. We chose the most popular type – 304. It is also known as 18/8, which is imprinted on the back of most silverware.

For the science nerds, stainless steel usually contains 18% chromium and 8% nickel. It’s the chromium (mostly) that keeps it from rusting. (that’s the short answer, for more information, here’s the long answer.) For the history geeks, stainless steel has been around in some form since the early 1800s. (for the record, I’m all nerd and geek…)

It’s the perfect material because it helps us to build a quality product. We hate that so much that so much that we buy is disposable. Stainless steel will outlast several bras and bathing suits.1 The Strap Saver should not wear-out or be affected by sweat, the ocean, or the pool.

Although it does contain some nickel, all stainless steel is classified as hypoallergenic.  The process of making it involves chemically binding the nickel so tightly that it cannot leach out.  Customers with sensitive skin should feel comfortable giving us a try.  (If there are any issues, we do have a 30-day money-back guarantee)

Stainless steel can also be beautiful and shiny (see: top of the Chrysler building) in addition to strong. We think it’s a great symbol for those of us behind The Strap Saver and those of you that use it.  (minus the susceptibility to fingerprints!)

1We cannot guarantee it against if they are misplaced, which is probably the #1 reason they’d need to be replaced.  Strap Savers are small.  The best we can do is offer those pretty pink bags to keep track of them!

## Cast A Wide Net

photo credit: Beth Lieberman, Hong Kong

The best advice that I could give anyone starting a new venture of any kind is ASK! Chances are, someone around you has done something similar or knows someone who has. Most people are more than happy to talk about themselves – I mean, tell you about their experiences and help you learn from them. Although my product is new, starting an e-commerce business or manufacturing a part is not. There’s no need for me to schlepp down that path and over that hill if someone else can explain to me why it’s not useful for me. It’s not about laziness; it’s about efficiency. I know there’s a ton of work ahead of me, and it’s important that I put my energy where it’s needed. I’m lucky to be surrounded by an amazingly diverse group of helpful people, with knowledge in areas I never imagined I’d need. Everyone around me has been very supportive and willing to share what they have – making this process a lot easier. (note: I didn’t say easy!)

Without a doubt, I chose wisely with Marc, my better half. In addition to his “required” job of cheerleader, he’s making important contributions in almost every area of the business (and the magenta pom-poms bring out the brown in his eyes). He’s also helping me to build my network – through him I met an engineer* and the three of us designed The Strap Saver. He introduced me to a friend who worked at a law office where I consulted with an attorney who happened to have won several patents for bras (really, what were the odds?). Another friend of his helped me by printing the first prototypes on his 3D printer. I also had a chance to speak with a chemist, someone with experience in materials and someone who has a very successful online business. I’m thankful for his eclectic group of friends and their generosity with their time.

My own crew has made a sizable contribution as well. I’ve received advice, a Google app domain, an offer for product photography and many friends willing to test. (A special shout out to the friend who offered to provide extra support in the form of his own hands in case of a Strap Saver snafu, not that we’re anticipating issues, but it’s nice to know that he’s there for me) A friend from college studied the prototype intently for a few minutes and came up with a more efficient method of installing. I’m going into “throw back” territory, my high school friend and comedian Charlie Hester is going to produce the promotional videos for the product. She also referred me to the company that is manufacturing the final prototypes and hopefully the final product.

Thank you all very much. It feel like the 7 degrees of The Strap Saver are forming a big web of support. I know it won’t keep me from faltering, but hopefully it will be enough to catch me from falling flat on my face. :)

(*names have been omitted to protect the innocent, draw your own conclusions about Marc, Beth and Charlie)