Carepackage to Afghanistan

I was supposed to send my friend Ted in Austin a Salsabol; but as those things sometimes go, I completely spaced out the task and ended up sending it six months later than I planned.  Everything was fine, except four months ago Ted was deployed to Afghanistan to fly helicopters.

Luckily for us, the USPS subsidizes packages sent to military addresses overseas, so it was really simple to get the package sent out.  Bringing it to the post office to mail, however, was probably the easiest part of the journey.  We packaged the chips, salsa and chips pretty well, but I have a sneaking suspicion that mail might be delivered like this:

We’re not worried though, because we included enough chips and salsa to feed an army (literally), as Ted let me know that salsa is a pretty rare commodity over there.

 

We hope they enjoy it!

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Salsabol Visits the Apple

 

Greetings from Salsabol HQ! It’s been too long since we’ve posted, so we’re back! The latest news:

This week, I went to New York on actual Salsabol business, meaning I got to ride an airplane for the Salsabol! I was, however, quite confused when the stewardess would not let me sit in the Business section of the cabin. I clearly explained to her that I was on the airplane because of business.  ? Anyway.

Our goal has always been to make sure that we give the Salsabol the best chance to succeed, so we are constantly contacting potential new retailers in the hopes that we can get the Salsabol some facetime in front of buyers. We’re aware that it’s a tough consumer world out there and we’re not going to find retail success at every corner, so our goal is basically exposure first…and then we kind of make everything up after that if someone shows interest.

A little while back, a very chique and truly awesome retailer did show interest, and they wanted us to come in and talk about the product. Whoa! This was our first face to face meeting with the buying department at a large physical retailer. The meeting is over, I’m alive, and it is way too early to predict whether or not this meeting will grow into a sales opportunity, but no matter what happens, I still think it was a huge moment in the life of our project.

When I walked into the office, I was greeted by three team members involved in the housewares department. They we’re all experienced figures in the housewares industry, professionals I feel so fortunate to have had the opportunity to meet. I was pretty darn nervous, but I did tuck in my shirt, so that helped. I thought I looked good.

Thankfully, the conversation started off talking about how the project began and I told a quick tale of the history of the Salsabol, an easy first answer if you will.  We then talked about the distribution rules and regulations for new vendors and some of the challenges and financial disasters that can occur when small vendors make big make mistakes shipping product to stores of this scale. This was the beginning of what I know will be a crash course in major league retail distribution, which will begin at Salsabol HQ on Monday at 9am sharp. Right now, I think we’re doing very well in the AAA league, but we’re gonna have to figure out how to make the final jump to the pros.

We then talked about the product itself, its strengths and weaknesses, and whether or not we had any companion products in the pipeline to couple with the Salsabol. We talked about gifting, our proposed target market, the results from a survey we did last year, and what they would like to see coming from us going forward. All in all, it was a comprehensive discussion that touched on a lot of things that represent big changes and growth for us. There were certainly no guarantees, but we have a set of great challenges ahead of us now that we’re poised to tackle.

A wild ride and a great experience! We’ll be sure to keep you updated!

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Going back to the Matador Red standard

We’re really excited to report some fantastic success in the last few months!  We’ve been growing our business as more and more people want to experience the magic that is the Salsabol.  Unfortunately, one little snag we’ve had to overcome is getting loans in order to buy more inventory.   Turns out that the recession is real, and one effect of it is that banks will not provide small business loans to anybody except King Midas and maybe a few Saudi princes.

In fragile economies like this, where do you turn to for financial security?  With the latest drop in the stock market and the bond market rates approaching zero, it seems like options are few and far between.  But have no fear!  Salsabols make a fantastic investment, and have started to become a currency instrument (at least around our house and among friends, “I’ll trade you a salsabol for a ride to the airport?” “deal!”).

So quit investing in stocks and start investing in ‘bols!  Here’s a  quick rundown on the most important aspects between the two:

 

  Stock Market The Salsabol
Has not lost 50% of its value over one year period 
Can keep a portfolio of securities (red, green AND yellow)
Great for serving dips

 

So there you have it; the Salsabol wins 3-1 as the investment instrument of choice in today’s uncertain times.  Hopefully you’ve found this advice useful!  Stay tuned for next week when we tackle how to solve the disappearing honeybee crisis by turning Salsabols into beehives!

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Kamakazie Arts and Crafts.

What do styrofoam paper plates, children’s sandals and a kickboard all have to do in common?  They were all used in our arts and crafts project.

 

One of the biggest problems Tom and I have been having in getting carried by retailers is getting the attention of the buyers, the people who make the decisions about what should or should not be carried in any given store.  It’s not that they don’t like the Salsabol—it’s that they get dozens if not hundreds of inquiries a week about new submissions, and most of the time your message gets lost in the crowd.  It’s a lot like creating a resume: how do you make something that stands out and gets the important person’s attention?

This is what brought Tom and I into a pedicure shop on Union street, with me trying to explain the rationale for why we needed a free pair of those super thin flat disposable sandals they give people after they get their pedicures (you know, because they can’t put on shoes and all, right?).

We may have sounded crazy, but I had a very good reason for needing them: they were the perfect density and consistency to cut up and make custom stamps out of.  It was our intention to make custom “Salsabol” stamps that we could use to stamp the handwritten cards we were going to be including in our letters to the big important buyer people at a variety of large department stores.

Though they couldn’t help us, they suggested the Walgreens down the street.  That was where we hit the conundrum:  would it be kid’s sandals, a kickboard, or paper plates that we would use as the ore from which to fashion our magnificent custom stamp that would garner praise from all who saw it?  We settled on the plates, because it was the least weird thing for two grown boys to buy at the store.

Plates in hand, we wandered down to the Paper Source store to try to find a stamp pad.  After about five minutes of staring at the stamp pad selection in confusion (“Acrylic?  Do we want that?  How about chalk?  What, you can’t make stamps from chalk”), we were approached by a nice employee named Kelly who seemed fairly concerned for out well-being.

“Can I help you?”

“Uh yeah, we’re just trying to make stamps with these um, foam plates.”

“Ok, do you have a heat gun?  Because that ink you’re holding is acrylic and needs to be heat treated.”

“I’ve got a hair dryer, does that work?”

“Nope.”

“Iron–?”

“Didn’t reading Ray Bradbury teach you anything?  And since it sounds like you guys are trying to conduct some kamikaze arts and crafts with no exit strategy, let me recommend you an ink.”

Eventually she got us all set up and even let us play at the crafts table with our plates and ink to make sure it would work.  Turns out the styrofoam plates actually make great stamps!

Armed with our plates and special Michael & Tom Proof Ink, we headed home and finished our cards.  Hopefully the recipients read them?  We certainly won’t be telling them how we made our cool custom stamp.

 

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We are not buyers

“You could die in here and nobody would find you for weeks” was the last thing I wanted to hear out of Tom as we explored deeper into (what could only be described as) the catacombs of the San Francisco Gift Center.  Decrepit mannequins stared out unflinching from darkened exhibition spaces, following our moves past shuttered doorways.  Boxes littered the hallway while the occasional lighted portal would showcase rotund Greek men with bug-eyes bulging through loops as they tinkered with jewelry.

Werelost

Tom and I had entered the twilight zone.  Or more correctly, the exhibition space at the San Francisco Gift Center, which was supposedly hosting a consumer product exhibition but for all intents and purposes could have served as the set of a zombie film.
Technically, this show was “open to the Trade only” [sic].  Why the Trade was capitalized, or how we could become one of the Trade, was a mystery.  Apparently, all we had to do was show a business card at the front desk and the gilded doors to the expo were opened.  It was rather lackluster, however, until we stumbled onto the fifth floor.  What had been shambles of jewelry turned into acres and acres of tableware–like the Valhalla that plates you accidentally break in the dishwasher go to.  We met some great contacts and some good competition, but it’s fun to be part of the Trade…even though we don’t really know what it is.

Wearenotbuyers

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Practice makes perfect

Photo_8

You would think that taking a simple photograph would be easy.  Boy were we wrong.  What started out as a simple operation on our dining room table turned into something so much more.  We realized that you can’t do things like mix natural, fluorescent and tungsten light (unless you want all your photographs to come out brown).  We realized that if you photograph on a dark-wood surface, you get dark-wood light reflected into what you are taking a picture of, and it doesn’t look right at all.  After a few failed attempts on the dining room table, we moved to the entryway hall, where Tom created an immaculately constructed diorama box that we hoped would light the Salsabol the way we wanted it.  I took about a hundred photographs and was content that we would get something good.

A week later when it came time to finish the site and add the photos, it turned out nothing had come out right.  The lighting, the background, nothing we wanted had worked out, and we had given it our all– “We tried our best and couldn’t do it,” said Tom.  Luckily our friend Anne was able to suggest a budding professional photographer friend named Abe.  When we walked into their studio in an old converted chemical factory, we realized that they actually knew what they were doing.  We were elementary school T-ball to their major league setup.  It took them less than half an hour to snap all the photos we needed, in massive high resolution shots that came out beautifully.  And that’s what we have on our website today.

I don’t know if there’s a moral to be taken from this or not.  The closest I can come is “if at first you don’t succeed, get help from somebody who knows what they are doing.”

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A well deserved rest

Photo

After packing a total of…two press-kit boxes, Tom decided that he had earned himself a siesta on the carpet.  This wouldn't be an issue except he decided to use the stack of flat boxes as a pillow.  We've still got a long night ahead of us, but I think I'll let him sleep a little while longer.

And yes, that is a copy of the 1997 bestselling publication, Learn To Surf sitting on the coffee table.
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Salsabols like pope hats

Photo_7

Our Salsabols came in from the warehouse today, and I went ahead and got a dozen crates so we could begin sending out samples.  Unfortunately, “a dozen” cases on paper seems a lot smaller than “a dozen” actually is in real life.  There are Salsabols literally strewn about everywhere in my apartment.  I can’t get from the couch to the bathroom without completing a Nickelodeon Guts style obstacle course.

 

It reminds me of one of my favorite “best of” craigslist posts, which is probably my favorite because it reminds me so much of real life.  It has been reposted below:

——————-

Because of this terrible economy, I’m having to shut down my business. I have OVER 1300 Pope hats (replicas) that I REALLY need to get rid of. The pope hats came from China and are a little too small for most adult heads and are also irritating to the skin, so you would need to have long hair or wear a smaller hat underneath (just like the REAL POPE). Dogs do not like to wear these pope hats, but maybe a large cat or maybe a nice dog would wear one. My dogs will not but they are not very nice and always hate being dressed up like for Halloween when we tried to dress them up like batman but they became very very agitated and bit a neighbors kid. I will lock the dogs up when you come get all of these pope hats. 

My wife is a devout catholic and she finds the presence of all of these pope hats all over the house to be blasphemous. I have pope hats in every closet, pope hats under the sing, pope hats full of other pope hats. She will not stop talking to me about getting rid of the pope hats and has started lighting candles all over the house for my soul but these pope hats are extremely flammable so its a problem in my house (there are pope hats everywhere) 

I payed 10x what I’m asking for when I bought these pope hats. I still think there is a market for them maybe when the economy turns around. Act NOW! Don’t miss this great deal! I have 1,325 total (I counted this morning). 3 of them have some dog bites and one of them is burnt to a crisp, but you can take that one or leave it. Bring 2-3 strong friends. 

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WE’RE BACK BABY

Hey everyone!

After what feels like several lifetimes of waiting, Salsabol HQ is finally back in action. We’ve actually been quite busy since Christmas making vast improvements on the Salsabols, but its been hard to feel like we’ve done anything at all because we’ve had no bowls to show for it.

Now we have new colors, great boxes, a new factory, and lots of exciting opportunities to look forward to for the rest of 2011. AND…We have a visual!

The POS Yantain sailed under the Golden Gate bridge in San Francisco on its way to its final destination at the Port of Oakland in SF Bay. We’ve been tracking her for a few days now, excited that we happen to live in the city where the bowls are being delivered. At around 4 pm today, we ran down to the water’s edge to salute the Salsabols and welcome them to their new home! The pictures on the post are of the Salsabols cruising past Alcatraz. Nice!

That’s all for now. We’ll be posting more news in the coming days as things heat up in the Salsabol world. Yeah!

 

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Lights! Colors! Packaging!

3_color_and_packaging

Yesterday Christmas came early…again.  We got our packaging hot off the printers, and we have to say–it's a big step up from the cardboard with "MADE IN CHINA" stamped in 300-point typeface on both sides.  Combined with the new colors that arrived last week, our new lineup is looking fantastic.  Can we..maybe..almost call ourselves a real business yet?

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