Our mission to Support the Underdog runs throughout PBC’s entire DNA. I started thinking about this idea in January, 2012. After a few months of tossing the idea around and with the encouragement of some amazing friends, I actually started doing something about it. The first course of action was to get a prototype made. Certainly this will be easy enough, right? It’s only a rubber collar! I knew nothing about getting prototypes made but came across an awesome company (Anza Design) and guy (Dave) who helped me immensely. Dave drew up my prototype in the CAD and proceeded to put me in touch with injection molding companies. One thing we knew was that to continue to “Support the Underdog” meant that the collars needed to be MADE IN THE USA. To give you an example of the costs incurred with injection molding, quotes for a mold came in from $20K – $40K. WHAT? Holy Cow. I thought this was going to be easy. It’s just a rubber collar. At this point in the venture, I had become too attached to the idea to let it go. So, I decided to sell some stocks and fund Project Blue Collar.
Production started in June 2012 and I recruited Kristin Waters to be Co-Founder. We found a local fulfillment center, The Point, which is an organization designed to help special needs adults. Since 1972 The Point has offered inclusive programs via a fully integrated approach in community settings to those with special needs. We continue to find jobs for them from tagging our merchandise to picking, packing and shipping.
A key point in our business plan is our “Give Back.” We donate a portion of our sales to animal rescue organizations in a variety of ways. We are doing this because we are rescuers and know how much rescue groups need support to continue their lifesaving work. Knowing that we are giving back makes our job exciting and inspires us on a daily basis. But the assumption is that a company like ours needs to be out of the red before we start giving back, right? That’s a lot of collars to sell in order to make a difference, and sorry, but we can’t wait for that! It didn’t feel right to delay our give back when it was so integral to our mission. We also felt that we needed to have our early supporters feel as if they were making a difference, too. How could we have them spread the word if we weren’t authentically living our mission? We view our give back as part of our operating expenses. Despite not coming close to paying off our startup expenses or taken a penny out of the company at this point in time, we still can GIVE! And we feel great about it. Since launching in November 2012, we have given the equivalent of over $10K in product and cash to 8 rescue organizations.
So, what do you think? Is it a good idea to give before you take? We’d like your feedback!