As part of our Christmas American maker series we have been getting to know a few of our favorite brands and partnering with them to tell their stories. This week we are sharing the story of Jon Tuck, the owner and creator of Tinlid Hat Co. I asked him to share in his words a bit about his brand and his journey being a small business owner. Read what he had to say below.
We started Tinlid Hat Company in August of 2014. Initially, we made some hats for us and our friends that said "FROLF" on them because we love to disc golf. We started selling them at our local disc golf course and decided to run with the idea of a hat company. Hats were not something we were that into. Of course, we would wear the occasional cap before Tinlid, but the reason we got started on hats was just to make something other than a t-shirt.
We all sort of pitch in ideas for a design, but I (Jon) do most of the design work. I enjoy the creativity involved and designing the caps are one of my favorite parts of running Tinlid. We found some manufacturers that make our hats. In the future, we hope to be able to buy the machinery and start making them ourselves, but that may be a bit down the road. Most of the ideas for our products come to us while we are in the outdoors. We don't necessarily set aside a specific time to think of new products. We like the ideas to come to us naturally.
I've always believed in social entrepreneurship. I was interested in this concept at a particularly young age. Over the years, I've read and studied about it, and when Tinlid began, we decided to implement a social cause. We plant 15 trees through Trees for the Future (trees.org) for every product purchased. We believe in preserving and restoring the earth's forest for a number of reasons, one being that we just love to be outside. I love being outside. There is so much to do and so much to discover. Our hobby of disc golfing actually started the whole brand, and we thought of the side strap on the hats for pencils when we were out disc golfing one day.
I think one of the most important things I've learned since we began is the idea giving efficiently. For example, we used to only plant 1 tree for every product sold, but now we plant 15- for the same cost. It's important to do your due diligence and not just throw money at causes. There is so much to enjoy about running Tinlid. The thing I take the most pride in is giving back. Some customers have gone out of their way to write letters and email us to thank us for our work. It feels amazing knowing we are making a change!
I've been given a lot of advice. It's hard to come up with just one thing. One piece of advice I received from my friend and a mentor was don't be afraid to reach out to people and ask for help. Even if it seems like they'd have no interest or reason to help you, if they like what you're about and you're genuine, they are willing to help. If I could give a piece of advice to anyone, I'd tell them do what you love and find a way to make it impact others. Our biggest challenge was the first 2-3 months without a doubt. We pretty much just stumbled our way through it. I remember one of our first goals was to make just one sale on the website. I think we sold only two hats online during September 2014 so the biggest struggle was just learning how to market the brand. Eventually, we started to figure things out, but we learn more every day.
FOR MORE VISIT: TINLIDCO.COM