We’re nearly a week in to everyone’s at-home experience. We have been slow to respond at Rheos because quite honestly we’ve been busy — busy adjusting to a new environment like everyone else.
This news came at a critical time for our business. We’d been planning and investing for nearly a year to launch our Nylon Optics line in partnership with outdoor gear shops and independent retailers across the country in March. Within 72 hours, we had more than 100 retail doors cancel their orders even as they were packed and ready to ship (and rightfully so). Their doors were required to close. They needed to conserve cash in these uncertain times. We have called and spoken with as many stores as we could to offer words of encouragement, and we will continue to be there to help in any way we can. These are our customers, yes, but they’re our friends too. They share our love for the outdoors and getting people on the water where the best of us comes to life. We support them now and are ready to support them into the future when we are on the other side of this thing.
Simultaneously, travelers stopped traveling. A huge portion of the population moved from outside to inside. Our annual Kickoff to Spring Clean beach sweep and fundraiser event was canceled. Needless to say, spring 2020 has changed dramatically from both a business and community standpoint. And that’s okay. We need people to stay home. To stay healthy. To get healthy.
To our fellow business owners: it’s okay to hurt. We hurt. Whatever plans you had for 2020 are definitively different as of today than they were last week. And they may yet change again. Just remember that from a business perspective, we’d rather see revenues drop 90% for 2 months than 50% for 6 months or more. We must be prepared to tighten our belts and ride this storm out together. At Rheos, I had already paused my compensation back in December of 2019 to be sure we could reinvest heavily into a successful Spring launch. I am now indefinitely extending that pause in order that we can keep our team employed and at work. They are the lifeblood of the business’ future and must come first.
Over the last few days I have been reminded of a sentiment from David Goggins, “The more you think about everyone else the less your personal pain matters." There are others hurting worse than we are, and we need to care for them first. Most specifically those organizations that can’t wait because the health of those they serve is affected.
For example: Extra Special People. This non-profit is based in the beautiful town of Watkinsville, Georgia just down the road from Athens (the home of the UGA Bulldogs). ESP provides after-school care and summer camp programs for children of all abilities, and many of their campers are immunocompromised. ESP families are trying to balance work — and in many cases unable to work at all — while giving extraordinary care to their extraordinary children. These families are now living in intense fear and isolation. They need groceries, counseling, caregiving support and more. And there are plenty of other organizations and people that need just as much help in your community.
As much as we want to save the small businesses around us (and we do!) and learn new hobbies (yes please!), let’s spend our energy and resources first being sure we keep ourselves and our neighbors healthy. Let’s help those that need it most adjust to and stabilize in this new norm.
Support your community. Be supported by your community. It’s the little things that become the big things.
And lastly, let’s all accept the gift of time and pause. Spend time with your loved ones. Spend time with yourself. Purge the things that felt urgent but deep down you knew weren’t important. Reset your priorities and start fresh.
We’ll be back in touch soon with ways to stay healthy and keep the energy up and go out in the world (while staying clear of each other for a bit)! Ride the wave my friends!
- Jake Berton, Founder/CEO