Since I started this company with Amedeo, I’ve had so many valuable experiences that are leading us where we need to go. They all came with lessons that are propelling us forward.
Some of these things felt like a golf shoe to the face and it knocked me fully on my ass. And others were a really lovely surprise, kind of like a hot coffee hand delivered to you when you haven’t even gotten out of bed. That good.
Allow me to give you a ticket to the rollercoaster that’s been the last 2 years. Hop on.
The Golf Shoe Experiences
⛳ Getting our Federal Firearms License (FFL) was so much harder than it should have been. It’s $30 for f’s sake. But it came with a lot of prerequisites and a lot of money I had to spend BEFORE I could spend the $30. Waiting, spending, begging, mountains of paperwork, and more waiting. All in all? It took A FULL FREAKING YEAR and THOUSANDS of dollars to get that important little $30 piece of paper.
My Lesson: Be patient, let it be what it is, keep your day job while you wait (I did).
⛳ Some people have NO patience for us being new to a REALLY hard business. They want what they want, when they want it. No compassion, no kindness, no manners. Gimme cheap bullets, gimme now, and go to hell while you’re at it. I’ve fielded many snide remarks like “are you even a manufacturer?” and continue to. Good times.
My Lesson: You can’t make everybody happy every day. Sometimes it’s best not to try. Other times, it’s best to be remarkably transparent.
⛳ We built a sales team to bring our products to market with local and national retailers, and could NOT close deals. Our team was striking out and disappointed in us (can’t blame them). Our pricing was too high, because we were buying in quantities that were too small to get the deals that are *100% necessary* to compete at all.
The kicker? We could NOT get any access to pricing BEFORE we got our FFL from any OEM manufacturers for components. They refused to talk to us. We had to spend the thousands and the year FIRST. Then try, without funding, and then fail. We were locked out. We lost our sales team, and all of those opportunities.
We had to start over, adopt an entirely new target market (the end user, not a retailer), go after funding to buy components at scale, and create an entirely new business plan.
My Lesson: Sometimes you do your best and it’s not going to be good enough. You will have to pivot, pivot fast, and have zero ego about it.
⛳ Fundraising is way harder than I thought. The endless meetings, pivoting, presenting, and trying to squeeze myself into a space I don’t know much about is really hard. YouTube University is a help, but oh… my… God. It’s so much. It’s also exhausting emotionally. We’ve got a lot riding on this, and it’s very tempting to cave in and just give up half the company, but we aren’t.
My Lesson: Get on YouTube and learn. Ask questions. Do due diligence. Ask for help from anyone willing. Have 10x more conversations than you think you need to. Be patient. Stay humble. Stay firm. Be a (polite) pain in the ass.
The Hot Coffee Experiences
☕ People want to help. Like… genuinely, no-strings-attached, want to help. Sure, there are those who sniff around to get paid (good for you, man – keep hustling!)… but people are so generous with their wisdom and really want to help us succeed.
I thought for sure I’d be treated to a whole lot of sexism and excluded (being one of the few women in the weapons space), but nope. Instead, I’ve been treated with incredible respect, kindness, gentlemanly behavior, helpfulness, and overall caring. It’s legit blown my mind and I am in awe of this community.
My Lesson: Stay open-hearted and humble, admit what you don’t know, and people will extend a hand up.
☕ People in the Second Amendment space are really down to earth, by and large. Like…. genuinely salt-of-the-earth, good, kind, helpful, smart, loyal people. *MY* people. The very people I struggled to find for years. I’m blown away at the sincere, genuine friendships I’ve found since we got started, and the incredible warmth I’ve found in every corner.
Not only is there incredible support, but huge respect for our transparency and our journey. The more we let people peek under the hood, the more they respond with kindness. It blows me away.
My Lesson: You’ll find your real friends when you least expect it.
☕ Pivoting doesn’t suck. Sure, we lost the time and momentum we had when we were busy going in the wrong direction… but we learned a TON along the way about the industry, the people, the marketing, and we’re finding the right relationships to help us move forward. None of that priceless education is going to waste.
Going after a consumer audience and doing direct to consumer opens up a WORLD of possibility and direct relationships with our customers that we wouldn’t have otherwise had.
My Lesson: Pivots are nudges from God, IMHO. Little course corrections. Welcome them, take the lessons from the wrong road, and keep running.
…is just getting started. We’re working hard to get funded by the end of the year. We’re in serious talks with some amazing people about helping us get the dollars in the door that we need, so we can:
- buy components at the best possible prices (so we can bring our 9mm to the market at rates that people would be silly to pass up)
- start creating jobs for Patriotic Americans who want to help us run the company here in Florida, and remotely
- buy a lot more equipment to produce/QC/package our 9mm on
- invest in more QC machines, systems, validation programs
We’re busy as hell. I’m busy as hell. I just don’t talk about it a lot because until I have something to show for it, I’m generally quiet.
For now, if you want ammo, email me to discuss your 9mm needs. They are not in stock, but we WILL make them for you! Orders are 500qty intervals, in free ammo cans (cool!). We can do 115gr FMJ, 124gr HP, 124gr FMJ, 147gr HP, and 147gr FMJ.
We’ll have something huge to share soon. It’s happening. Bear with me. I’m on it like stink on a monkey.
(Psst – want to be the first notified when ammo is back in stock and we’re doing big stuff? Sign up for our emails at the bottom of this page.)
My Lesson: Be transparent. Your true people will never think less of you for it. (Still learning this one, TBH)