There is a very real possibility that our business will fail.

"More than 90% of internet startups end in failure within the first 120 days."

"Nobody cares that your mats are environmentally friendly. I've been doing shows for 38 years.
Believe me, the only thing people care about is price."

"Your business model is terrible. You can't make money if you sell things that last. You'll only make money if you sell things that people have to buy over and over again."

"Dollarama has just opened its first online store."

"In January of 2018, China stopped accepting the world's plastic waste."

"We don't want a mat that lasts 10 years. We'd get sick of it."

"Your mats are expensive. We can get a mat at Walmart to $5."

These quotes, comments, plus the constant referrals to Walmart and Dollarama and Amazon for product recommendations instead of little, local, Mom and Pop shoppes like ours make our dream of succeeding with our environmentally conscious venture seem impossible.

Each time we hear a message like this, it feels like taking a sucker punch right to the gut. It's terrifying because they're all true to some extent.

On our recent supply runs to NY, NH, Vermont, Maine, Pennsylvania and Ohio where we drove the backroads through architecturally-stunning, once glorious historic towns, our hearts sank. So many shoppes stood vacant and abandoned, only to be replaced by a Walmart or Dollar General on the outskirts of town (fun fact: Dollar General has grown by 72% since 2006, it's even putting Walmarts and grocers out of business.)

Through MadMatters, Fred and I have chosen to play the odds. We're taking a chance that we can connect with enough people like you who will care and share our message so that our little green caterpillar of a business might transform and send a tiny butterfly kiss out into the world.

We know that we are paddling upstream and that we might not make it. There are days when it is so scary that we don't want to go on.*

And then an order comes in, or a fabulous review, or we get a visit or call or email from someone who just wanted to tell us how much they love the mat they bought from us or a regular customer comments on our FB posts that "she loves us"... and we perform the happiest of happy dances.

Or we listen to tearful Ellen Page talk about climate change with Stephen Colbert and panic that 2030 is only 11 years away. Hurry, we think. Tell people. Shout from the rooftops like the Soda Stream guys do... "Shame!" "Shame!"

Then we think about Tenille at Beach Relief and her daily discipline picking up litter from our beaches and we cheer and commit to the 5 Things Clear pledge to pick up litter more regularly now that the snow is thawing.

Or we read a post from Random Acts of Green and learn about individuals who are doing their best and are also willing to learn how to do more.

Or we learn about BoomerangBags down under and Morbags in the UK and we think of the number of plastic bags we don't distribute or purchase or use. And the number that come to us and get re-used. Look... it does make a difference.

Or our favourite zero-waste supplier in England who now makes the most stunning line of soft indoor/outdoor mats entirely out of water bottles, sells them to us at a reasonable price and asks us to become their Canadian distributor.

Or we read our friend's post about the students in Ottawa who assemble in front of Parliament Hill each Friday to advocate for our future.

And we think, "hey... we're not alone". People care. Lots of people care.
Lots of people are taking action.

So... on we will go though the weather be foul. And on we will go though the Hakken-Kraks howl. FU Hakken-Kraks! We've got this.


Fred is on the phone with a woman from Vancouver who persevered in her internet search through the high-ranking Amazon and Walmart SEO placements to finally find us so that she could order a second, matching Hugrug to the one she's had for 6 years and LOVES.
"You were so hard to find", she said, "but it's worth it".
"We're trying to make it easier", we said, "but Google favours the big spenders and not little guys like us. We rely on our friends, family and customers to spread the word."
"Oh I WILL", she said.
"Thank you".

*Oh the Places You'll Go by Dr. Seuss
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1 comment

Excellent article.
It is a struggle but stick with it, there are people who do appreciate what you are doing. Take the negative comments with a smile and keep going. We raise our own alpacas, we make about 80% of our own products here at home, we are very environmentally friendly, alpaca is very sustainable, yet try to explain to someone why they should pay $40.00 for a pair of alpaca socks when they can get 10 pairs for $10.00 a Wal-Mart. Alpaca socks last years, I’ve been wearing only 2 pairs of socks for 5 years to prove a point, they are warmer than wool, hypo-allergenic, I’m sure Wal-Mart can’t say that about their socks. :) The struggle is real but it is worth it.
Keep up the amazing work.
Laslyn Alpaca

Carolyn Lilleyman

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