August 29th, 2011

From the Ladies Room…A Journey of Quips, Musings and TUMS…the story of Prois!

By: Kirstie Pike, CEO Prois Hunting & Field Apparel for Women

I was recently approached to pen an article about the journey (or what we fondly refer to as the ‘Death March’) that resulted in the birth of Prois. I quickly realized that placing this into 800 words would be tricky given my rather verbose tendencies. (See what I mean?) As Prois has grown into a nationally branded company, the lessons and stories we have learned could fill volumes. As well, many of my quips and musings rank among the “Things We Shouldn’t Share With the Outside World Without Legal Counsel Present” category. Other quips and musings rank among the “Things That May Make Your Friends Question Your Sanity” category. Well, with those limitations… it looks like I should be able hit that 800 word limit after all.

The ‘Death March’ has been an incredible journey. When I look at where we started, I am still amazed that we were able to grow this business. Given the fact that there were no “Idiots Guide to Starting a Manufacturing Business During an Epic Recession” references, nor was there a “100 Imperative Lessons for the Idiots Starting a Manufacturing Business During an Epic Recession” audio series…we learned pretty early that we were on our own as we developed this fledgling idea into an international manufacturing corporation.

I do believe that I would now be qualified to author either one of these potentially best-selling references. (Not that I believe I am a pundit on entrepreneurialism. I simply believe in learning through mistakes. Needless to say, I have learned a lot.) I believe the Table of Contents could look something like the following…

• Chapter 1: Look Before You Leap. On Second Thought…Don’t. (Really, you would chicken-out if you knew what was about to happen . Let’s be honest)

• Chapter 2: Global Sourcing- Where in the WORLD do I find THAT? Literally. (Did you know you must order each component in a zipper? Ordering those suckers from China is more challenging than it might appear.)

• Chapter 3: The Fabric of our Lives- the Guide to Chic Fabric Buzzwords. (Apparently, it IS easy to confuse 100% polyester with, well, 100%polyester. Yes, it is different. Who knew?)

• Chapter 4: What’s in a Name- the Reality of Trademark Rejection. ( Much worse than a bad break-up. At least a break-up cannot potentially result in a cease and desist order. Well, not usually.)

• Chapter 5: Minimums. Don’t be Fooled by the Name. (I am still wondering what to do with my 20,000 plastic cap snaps that didn’t work. Thankfully 20,000 was the MINIMUM.)

• Chapter 6: NAFTA- the Guide to Navigating the North American Free Trade Agreement Without Gouging Your Eyes Out with an Ice Pick. (This was a traumatic experience that causes an acute outbreak of hives when I discuss it)

• Chapter 7: Label Libel- (Check out the inside of your clothes. Did you know that the 15 various labels sewn into the uncomfortable seams of you shirt are actually required by law?! This must have been instituted by the same people who deem the removal of mattress tags a crime punishable by death.)

• Chapter 8: Bar Codes Have Nothing to do with Tequilla. (As a true testament to the fact that nothing is free…did you know you must BUY each bar code you use? Each and every one. What a racket. I think I need a drink)

• Chapter 9: Sales- Where’s Waldo? (So, you have a great product and you want to sell it to major big box sporting good chains. Easy, right? WRONG. Finding the buyer for your particular product is a process that rivals the search for the Holy Grail. I am no longer surprised when I find the buyer in an underground cave muttering the words “my precious”)

• Chapter 10: Marketing- Everyone is Your Best Friend…Until You do NOT Sponsor Their TV Show. (I originally thought everyone just plain liked us and wanted to be our friend. Silly girl. Don’t you know that apparently manufacturers can only have friends if they give out free gear AND pay someone to wear it. Who knew?)

So there it is. A brief discourse (and possible best-seller to be sure) on the journey that has brought Prois to the outdoor industry. All we can say is that each day is an adventure…sometimes a journey, sometimes a death march. Either way, TUMS and Ibuprofen are in constant demand.

Check it out…758 words!

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