How does a small business stay in business--especially when the world as we know it gets turned upside down? One success (and one screw up) at a time. On the sixth anniversary of our founding, as we continue to push ahead (and quite frankly “own our own shit”), we share Part I of Devium’s wild, crazy and very messy beginnings. For every entrepreneur who has walked through fire to create and continue to operate a thriving business through thick and thin, we are kindred spirits.
Our Beginnings-- Part I (Warning: It’s Ugly)
Every company has an origin story.
Devium’s bedrock philosophy, to make apparel from start to finish in America, came to us, we’re embarrassed to say, ass-backward-ly (if that’s even a real word) and belatedly.
It was early June 2015, and we had spent the better part of a year preparing to make skateboard and snowboard apparel in China. The business structure was built. The staff was on board. The designs and product development and prototypes were done.
We were working across 6,500 miles of Pacific ocean and 15 time zones, almost solely via email, with faceless people in industrial manufacturing plants. They were doing an adequate job, and we were moments away from placing some huge orders with these unfamiliar overseas factories.
Pull. The. Plug.
…..And then we pulled the plug. On the hard work we’d done over the prior year. On the orders. On the clothes. On the business as it was first created.
Turns out our entire core staff, including what would go on to be the founders of our New Thing, were all feeling like we couldn’t possibly, with any integrity, build a big company through the faceless and nameless business model, where nobody really knows who is actually making your stuff or even how those workers are being treated. It just felt all wrong.
So we sat around a dining room table, and recreated what is now Devium USA on Flag Day, June 14, 2015. Over the next months, we reworked the business model to fit our own unique definition of success. We thought hard about the communities we wanted to band together with (from textile sources to button makers to sewing houses to customers). And thought just as hard about communities that we would never want to partner with again. (“Over our dead body” is a phrase that comes to mind.)
Every business has a biography. Some companies like to tell highly sanitized, fairy tale versions of their beginnings. We, on the other hand, wear our origin story, with all its flaws and scars, as a badge of honor.
Six. Then the Next Six. And The Next Six.
Six years into it, Devium continues to be rooted in our Made in the USA philosophy. From start to finish, Devium is committed to American-made materials (more on that in upcoming blogs), sewn in small batches in USA-based family owned and small businesses, where the artisans are experienced experts who are proud of and love what they do for a living.
The first six years have been both highly rewarding and ridiculously humbling. We expect the next six years, and the next six after that, to present its own set of makes and bails. A few stitches, casts and scars are just part of the territory.