Founder’s Log 1.4
It’s really fascinating how quickly things evolve, how drastically ideas can change, and how fluid the business can be as time goes on.
Will and I have been hard at work recently, but the kind of work we are doing is new to us. We are doing things differently because we need to. Some of that change is driven by philosophy (considering life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness), some of it is driven by necessity (my expenses and my earnings not being the kind of math equation I want it to be), and an overwhelming majority of that change is actually being driven by the community and the ideas that we have collected and stumbled upon over the last year.
The most drastic change in the strategy of the business so far has come from the factors mentioned above. This change has adjusted our aim slightly away from the DTC or ‘Direct to Consumer’ business model, and more so into the B2B or ‘Business to Business’ model. At least for this portion of the year... We are trying not to get too locked into in the traditional definition of what a ‘business’ like ours should be doing, as we are simply looking to drive more impact through our operation, more material recovery, more positive environmental change, and then also to keep the roofs over our heads.
The way this is shaping up is considering how else our bags can be used and sold. One way we have thought of is as a promotional item that is reliably durable and utilitarian, and at the very least not bad for the environment. Consider the impact of all of these pointless pens, koozies, t-shirts, and more that are stamped, printed and branded all so that you walk away with something to remember company X. Personally, I am less impressed with companies when they use cheap materials, cheap labor, and an environmentally careless strategy for the promotion of their business. Of course, the impact of this kind of production is horrendous on multiple fronts. The energy required to extract, harvest, and produce these raw materials. Plastic comes from oil... The manufacturing of these raw materials is an energy intensive, resource intensive, and waste producing process. Then you have the logistics and distribution of all these pointless pens, shirts, etc. across the world. To transport these things around is taxing for the environment. All for what? So you can write some notes on a business card as you walk through the event and then throw that pen away... Maybe I'm looking at this the wrong way, but that seems like a very extensive and intricate network that winds up being pretty pointless...
This is just one example of one specific thing that we really don't like. But the core focus of what we are doing is starting to feel like eliminating the needlessness. Reconsidering the wastefulness and quite frankly the inefficiency of a lot of the systems that exist today.
This business is at the highest level about saving the world. But that's a massive task with so many different directions to focus on, so we can break it down.
This business is about saving the world through the lens of pollution. That's still an incredibly large and complex problem... What kind of pollution? What regions and areas of pollution? What material pollutants are we talking about? All are valid and necessary questions for us to continue breaking down our massive problem.
This business is about saving the world by eliminating a source of pollution that is probably the worst of them all. NEEDLESS WASTE. Now I think the pens and t-shirts as a marketing material is one example of a seriously inefficient system.
Think about where we started: Re-manufacturing the material from old sailboat sails. We isolated one specific material that is being thrown away not because it is inherently valueless, but because it is inconvenient to hang onto, and illogical for most people, businesses, clubs to keep them. But that doesn't mean the material is worthless, it just means that it is difficult. We don't mind difficult. What we have found even with just the small footprint and splash that we have made so far is that across the spectrum of industrial sewing and textile manufacturing (boat covers, sailboat sails, sun shade sails, vinyl restaurant seats, local upholstery shops, leather workers, and pretty much every other industry that exists) there is a constant flow of material that is being thrown away out of logical convenience. That is what we are trying to solve. So yes, old sailboat sails turned into nice bags is one way to repurpose a material, but think of all the possibilities. Think of all of the different industries with all of the different kinds of wastes, outputs, and inefficiencies that are throwing away material on a regular basis because it is inconvenient.
Dunsel’s is not a bag company. We are a waste management company.
A new kind of waste management company that focuses not on bulk removal of waste, but highly specialized, and highly efficient recovery and repurposing of waste materials for the sake of the environment. You might think about how this business could have any future if there is only x% of people interested enough in sailing to buy a bag, but I would argue that our products are neither about the materials or the products themselves, but rather what they represent. Needless waste that need not be. We can do better, and we are building better.
A lot of the work that occupies our time here at Dunsel’s is the hunting, sourcing, and collecting of used materials. Consider the small upholstery shop in your town/city. They have only so much space, and need to keep purchasing materials to maintain a proper inventory of fabrics, leathers, and textiles to run their business. This indefinite yet infinite churn of material creates massive quantities of ‘small’ rolls or forgotten patterns that make their way to the dumpster. Our impact is small still, but our vision is grand. We know a more efficient society is possible because of more efficient waste management systems.
All it has taken so far is a phone call, email, a smile, and the trust that comes from the consistency of presence for an upholstery shop, or a sail loft, or a custom boat cover manufacturer, to work with us to better manage their waste. People don’t love throwing these materials away, because they know what happens. But what are they to do? Not order the next rolls of fabric? Jeopardize their business? Their livelihood? Unlikely.
We can do better. Better systems will only come from better examples. As ridiculous as it sounds, I would happily work with and welcome any business that creates competition for this waste. Why? Because it’s not about the bags. I mean, it is, but it really isn’t. We are trying to recover unnecessary waste because it destroys the things that we love. If we can inspire someone or some other entity to join us in the hunt for unclaimed, usable, waste - GOOD. We can solve it together. There is so much more waste than we can or ever could handle because no matter how fast we grow or scale, this problem will scale faster. Every industry from sailboat sails manufacturers, to computer chip makers, to hospitals, to schools, to shoe companies, to literally everything ever. The problem exists no matter what, and it is only a matter of when - not if - this problem will destroy us.
I think the best chance we have is for a better management of that problem, and now to come full circle - that is what we are trying to do.
Any material, any waste, any problem that is going unaddressed. That is the possibility. We are a network and a system, and a series of processes that function to remove unnecessary waste from reaching the environment. That's what Dunsel's is.