Stay focused on your vision (Down the Line, Stran Smith)

The Western Market in Denver just wrapped up and I couldn’t be happier with the response for STS Ranchwear. This was just our second year and we took more orders in the first few hours than we did for the entire market last year. The other day a customer came in the booth and I was trying to help him. He asked what my role in the company is, and I answered, “I’m head of product testing. I’m the crash test dummy and if it survives me, it gets a thumbs up.”

Lots of folks have asked how and why we started this business. As ranchers, we recognized a void in the marketplace for actual ranchwear. There really wasn’t a line out there.

When we need to have a photo shoot for a commercial or ad, we don’t have to set anything up. We just need someone who can take great photographs and knows how to stay out of the way while we’re working on the ranch. These are actual products we need and use in our ranching lifestyle.

Usually I’m talking about seizing opportunities, being aggressive, and making
“it” happen. That has both helped and hurt me in and out of the arena, but that’s just my personality. Especially in business, it’s important to look at all scenarios, weigh the options and be able to see more than just blue sky. Sometimes the best decision is to not do it.

For these reasons, though we believed there was a need for these products, we proceeded slowly and took our time. First we teamed up with specialists. Carroll Leather is the #1 leather wholesaler in the United States. Also, many people don’t know that my wife, Jennifer, is a great designer and has great vision for fashion and other design. Her STS handbags have far outsold our expectations.

We now have many opportunities to expand our line and brand in different directions and products. The biggest challenge is to stay on course and proceed slowly. Though it’s taken a little longer, I believe we’re enjoying this success because we didn’t try to grow too fast and we remained focused.

Finding a balance between seizing the moment, or opportunity, and being prudent will always be a challenge. At this point in my life I’ve learned the value of taking some time and “sleeping on it.”

Until next time, God Bless, and I’ll see you down the line.