2019 in review
- January 9, 2020
- Business insights
In January, 2019 looked like a promising year. Despite I had no money for whims (as a new wetsuit), my personal life was somehow promising and some exciting things were happening at Van der Waal. In partnership with the factory that VdW works with, we have developed a new grip solution that seemed to work perfectly and had all the features that I aimed for our grips (soft to the skin, ultra-clear, wetsuit friendly, high grip…).
Turned out that 2019 was probably one of the hardest years for me and for sure the hardest year ever for Van der Waal so far.
Not only this version did not work as well as the tests suggested, but a series of flaws turned up. Some glue/material issues forced me to make a tremendous financial effort to replace and/or refund a lot of orders. With some unhappy customers, flooded with complaining emails and messages, I was suddenly questioning the value of what I was doing, the path I had devised for Van der Waal and, the worst and painful part, I was definitely not following my brand values, written on the day we’ve created Van der Waal, together with Afonso. As a side but meaningful note, I was at the same time facing my relationship fall apart no matter how hard I’ve tried, Afonso was totally out of Van der Waal, making some obvious wounds in our friendship, and I was running out of money.
Until mid 2019, I was overwhelmed, out of focus and totally lost. For the first time in 3 years of Van der Waal, I left some user emails unanswered for weeks, ignored some complaints and refund requests and keep postponing roll up my sleeves and come up with a solution.
The question here is that I own a business — no matter how profitable it is or not — and I was (I am) selling a product created by me and a friend, that owes all success, achievements, margins of error and even cashflow to all the people (and they are a lot, as you can see at the end of this email) who have bet on us. Not only our customers but also friends, family, bloggers, testers, etc, people who have helped us somehow and most important that put all their trust in our project. Personally, I also started to realize that I owed my daughter every time I changed her father’s time for fairs, surfing championships or working nights and weekends.
I know it is lame, but soon I realized that it turned to be urgent to roll up my sleeves and repair every single aspect that I’ve put aside for almost an year. In August I’ve decided to clean up my life, grasp everything that I was in control of and get the tools and helps to solve what I couldn’t.
In just two months, I’ve made a partnership with a new factory, developed a new product, replaced almost all the early 2019 defective orders, got back on rails again and regained a proud feeling of what I’m doing. Again, Van der Waal is becoming what I stand for in life. And that, regardless of how the sales are going, is invaluable.
I still feel my bruised knees, and from time to time I feel insecure in my decisions or kind of lost in Van der Waal path. On those days, I look at my scars, read Theo mail informing me that Van der Waal is a Selected Brand of ISPO Brandnew 2020 and get back to work.
Turns that 2019 ended up really well. And I have no word to say thank you. For all your patience, comfort words, trust, your time and sometimes money, especially for all the help to get back on rails. Here is a not so shortlist to all that I want to say thank you:
For obvious reasons: my mother, my father, and all my family and friends in general.
For all the help on making Van der Waal behave like a business without losing our core values: Eduardo.
For the never-ending calls and all the patience to listen to all my problems: Joana.
For the care and support in all situations: Djali, you feed my workdays, my ego, and sometimes even my stomach 😉
For her friendly smile and motivating force: Jana, from Sober&Naked.
For all the help for me to have time to surf once in a while: girls from BluePepper: Rita, Maria, Ana, Ana, Dani, Ronilva.
For all the learnings and opportunities: Marius from Magic Quiver, Ruben from EcoPro, James, Nic and Cei from Surfbunker, Stillwell brothers from Surfout, James from Sett, Mark from FreezePro, Bruno Suarez from Swell Consulting
For his patience and goodwill: SangWoo
For all the feedback: Rodrigo from PKSC, Joaquim and Gero from Fatum Surfboards, Sean from Wavegarden, Manu from LineUP, Miguel, João and Zé Pedro
For all the help with videos and photos: Joaquim Pedro, Bruno, Mendo
For the kind words: Mark, Robbie, Federico
For the support at our IndieGogo Campaign: Lenda Carlos, Christopher, Ken, Maximilian, Artur, Simon, Mark, Raisa, Pina, Alain, Hemmaoui, Sergio, Pedro, Franck, Rolf, Adrian, Tor, Amaya, Patrick, Dominik, Alain, Pierre Emmanuel, Jenk, Chris, Michael, Sebastian, Kevin, Pierluca, Marco, Colm, Richard, Mike, Christian, Thomas, Richard, Beinat, Eyal, Yahn, Geoff, Boreth, Jeremy, Colin, Joana, Nuno Ferreira, Francisco e Joana, Ana, Mendo, Dias, Piusca and Francisco.
For the most valluable gift I could ask, trust: Mark, Olin, Ignacio Matasán, Dalton, Craig, Ryan, Subscriber First Name, Haris Zambarloukos Bsc, Matt, Dean, Vaughn, Todd, Mateus, Jon, Bouchitté, 자랑, Kirsty, Eyal, Angelina, Jack, Mike, Alessandro, William, Michael, Vinh, Derrick, Alexander, Ira, Jens, Frederic, Enrique, Vincent, Darragh, Trevor, Mat, Jonathan, Manuel, Jason, Sergey, Robin, Craig, Justin, Andri, Nicholas, Marcel, Mark, Cezary, Pedro, Henrik, Vinicius, Bart, Benjamin, Diego Montoro, Alexey, Emily, Miguel Angel, Stephen, Padraig, William, Valery, Duncan, Tiago, Melissa, Derk, Elijah, Kevin, Tasha, Luke, Pedro, Radek, Jason, Grant, Bailey, Conrad, Sarah, Richard, Jose, Max, David, Johan, Ezequiel Ignacio, Martin, Daniel, Lucy, Abdul Ghani Bin, Piero, Gordon, Leclercq, Kevin, Alexander, Henrique, Tiago, Enrique, Tomer, Mike, Ulrich, ניר, Daniel, Francisco Javier, Nichoas, Federico, Riccardo, Shlomi, Danny, Regan, Zaymian, Martin, Benjamin, Vincent, Joshua, Chan, Freddie, Finn, Sean, Victor, Unai, Stefan, John, Sanchez, Luke, Claire, Trevor, Daan, Craig, Elias, Nathan, Carlos, Tom, Alex, Joby, Mike, Charlie, Dubravko, Wijbrand, Jeroen, Rubén, Gregory, Chris, Ryan, Jamie, Martin, Ulysse Hein, Matthias, David, Miguel Salcedo, Allen, Shaun, Ryan, Mikael, Luciano, David, Sören, D, Eiko, Anders, Grace, Ola, Kevin, Nicholas, Bjoern, John, John, Paul, Conrad, Kevin, Edwin, Le, Charlotte, Alex, James, Kristaps, Dirk, Laurie, Adam, Enrico, Joao, Alan, Gavin, David, Myke, João, Michele, Wei Jin, Pedro, Manuel J., Jorge Luis, Yves-olivier, Joe, Antony, Nicolas, Dylan, Stephan, Felipe Paulo, Gaetan, Alexander, Joel, Sarah, Jorge, Toine, Julen, Michael, Joshua, Petter, João César, Ricardo, Grégoire, Francisco De Paula, Stefan, Gilles, Benjamin, Alex, Roberto, Amit, Maria, Mike, Marcin, Scott, Colm, Josh, Manuel, Tristan, Ee, Alexander, Ryan, Cédric, Wai Yee, George, August, Kezia, Maxime, Paul, Rodrigo, Eyal, Greg, Sarah, John, Mario, Russell, Adam, Sean, Frachet, 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