Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?
My name is James Montgomery, and I am the owner and CEO of Everyman. Everyman is an everyday carry (EDC) eCommerce company that focuses on providing premium products for men. Our main products are wallets, pens, travel packs, and EDC tools. Over the last three years, we have become best known for the Grafton Pen and the Hideout Pack.
Our main demographic is men between the ages of 25 and 45 seeking the minimalist lifestyle that necessitates the use of high-quality EDC products. We describe ourselves as those with a sense of wonder who, in essence, desire to live Everyday. Better. As one who travels over 100,000 miles internationally each year and takes only what I can carry, I am constantly looking for functional and built-to-last gear.
Last October we completed a major revamp of our brand and website. We are currently producing about $60,000 per month in revenue and plan to continue growing our product line.
What’s your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?
A few years ago, I began researching businesses that I could purchase. Growing up in part internationally exposed me to entrepreneurs and innovative marketplace leaders in a variety of settings. In addition, my vocation as a global leadership development and training executive stokes my interest in business.
Since my life has continuously involved international travel and business exposure, naturally, I kept my eye on gear that would serve an adventurous pathfinder well. I also didn’t mind spending extra if that meant purchasing a thoughtfully tailored product. Sometimes it’s an adjustment in quality, design, or presentation that makes all the difference. Some business people are simply able to do business and make money. It has less to do with a specific product or service for them. They’re just wired to do business. In many ways, I envy those that are able to function this way. For me, I had to be excited about the service and/or products sold.
I enjoy thinking out of the box. Taking no for an answer doesn’t come easily. I am driven to find a way around obstacles. Some influential years on the streets of Istanbul Turkey as a military brat had its benefits. Life is surely short, and it’s important to push myself beyond the place where I’m comfortable. I believe that we can experience incredible rewards if we can navigate onward through entangling fear. My greatest passion is simply pressing on to create new opportunities. Everyman has been a powerful creative outlet for me.
It’s been a little over a year since purchasing Everyman. The previous owners, though they built the company to be sold, had keen insight regarding the development of a successful business. I also made sure I had surrounded myself with the right people to complete the due diligence on every aspect of the company considered for purchase. All around, having the right people involved at each phase of this journey has been critical. I also thank my wife and children for their unending inspiration.
Take us through the process of designing, prototyping, and manufacturing your first product.
Currently, we design and engineer our products in the US and work with manufacturing representatives based in Taiwan. Having representatives who are truly out for our best and can assist with all manufacturing efforts in other countries has been an exceptional experience. When developing a new product, we go back and forth multiple times with the manufacturer to perfect the product.
Again, having the right people carefully monitoring this process makes all the difference. I have worked directly and indirectly with manufacturers. There are benefits to both modes of development. In either case, it comes down to communication and knowing with whom I’m working. The benefit I have is that most of the existing relationships forged by Everyman prior to my purchasing the company are still going strong.
Describe the process of launching the business.
Given that this was a purchase, I can talk more about specific product launches. My first experience in product launch was our Grafton Mini Pens and Mini Twist Pens. About two months after purchasing the company, I launched these pens using Kickstarter. This was a huge learning experience but allowed me to critically investigate all aspects of business operations and marketing.
Prior to this Kickstarter campaign, Everyman had successfully completed seven new product launches through Kickstarter. All products went through Kickstarter to brace inventory costs and cash flow. To my detriment, I missed some guiding principles regarding cash flow. Excited to make sure we were fully stocked with products that had sold out in addition to our new product release, I doubled down on manufacturing and was overzealous in building our inventory. Looking back, I could have been more conservative with our level of inventory until I knew our product burn rate more accurately. We still did well with my first campaign and have more product launches in the works.
Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?
Customer service is everything. Of course, you must have a decent product or service, but relationships are built on personalizing an experience. I learned this as a kid. As a military brat, I can be classified as what is called a “Third Culture Kid” (TCK). I was living in a foreign country while representing another country. Since I did not belong to the country where I lived and shared this experience with other expatriate people there as well, any and all experiences together were intense and influential. We quickly drew close to one another. However, as quickly as we became friends, our goodbyes arrived swiftly too.
How does being a TCK play out in customer service and retention? I desire to connect with others through shared experiences while being mindful to create these experiences again and again. The intensity of Kickstarter was very similar to my expatriate interactions as a TCK. In addition, I continue to communicate, be present, and issue no quick goodbyes. Backers remain involved for the longer term because they care, and many have become part of the Everyman team as customers. Customers remain loyal in part because our experience with them attempts to meet their individual expectations whenever possible. This personalization empowers them to be part of our Everyman team as well.
Our focus now is to create sustained business growth, understand what our customers want, and meet their needs as a customer of premium EDC products.
Most of our marketing centers on Facebook, Instagram, and Google with a strong emphasis on email marketing as well. We average about 35% returning customers with a database of 70,000 plus. Our average customer spends $50 or more on our site with about 1,200 visitors per day. We are now generating a higher CRO while also trying to increase our AOV. We were careful to monitor and augment these analytics when we expanded to Amazon – a totally different animal.
We launched on Amazon in June 2019. By November, we were doing $30,000 plus in gross revenue a month averaging $70,000 per month between the two stores. Since COVID19 we have seen a decrease in sales on Amazon but an increase on our site. Our focus to go on Amazon was to increase sales but not without increasing our brand. If you are more focused on developing your brand, Amazon may initially provide less benefit for you as a business owner. We pretty much live and die by reviews, and it is more difficult to have a personal connection with the customer. Hiring a skilled firm that appreciated our brand and protected our products was vital for us to be successful on Amazon. Also, our brand was initially strong enough to naturally create a protective moat around our products.
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
The cost of goods and our gross margins allow us to spend more on marketing. However, it is a daily fight to make sure our marketing dollars are well spent. Depending upon our inhouse skill set, we work to ensure every aspect of the business is covered. Currently, we outsource all our marketing except email which is something I personally handle – part of my creative outlet.
So many PPC companies are purely focused on creating traffic. They also focus on ROAS but still may not produce the desired results. Initially, our site was not integrated with what was going on with PPC and our ROAS was way too low to be profitable. Today I am learning to ask the right questions pertaining to the specifics of marketing my business.
Our focus now is to create sustained business growth, understand what our customers want, and meet their needs as a customer of premium EDC products. Our plan for long-term growth is to scale the business which we have learned goes beyond an increase in CRO and ROAS. Scaling growth for us has more to do with the business model and how we introduce new products to the market while caring for our customers all the while.
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
Our platform is Shopify, and we use several 3rd party Shopify apps. Some of our favorites are the following:
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?
Life is short. The beauty of starting or running a business is that it has the ability to tap into your strengths and ingenuity. Know both what you are capable of as well as your limitations. Sometimes we have a tendency to focus on either one too much.
My fears were front and center in deciding to purchase Everyman. However, I had done so much due diligence on the front end that it made sense to pull the trigger. Hire according to your limitations and surround yourself with the right people. Face your fears head-on and know that even with the risk, there is a reward on the other side.
Where can we go to learn more?
If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!
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