Case studies

Flowfold: minimalist gear, maximum wholesale success

BY Crystal Gilliam 20 Dec, "16

Flowfold makes “minimalist gear for everyday adventures”. They want to be the wallet in your pocket, or the bag on your shoulder when going up the hiking trail, or on your next rock-climbing adventure, or as you fight the crowds on your morning commute.

As a company, Flowfold banks on the idea that a simple product idea, created by a tight-knit team and backed by strong core values can turn a business into an international wholesaler and retailer.

We spoke with Flowfold’s COO, James Morin about their commitment to producing and selling quality, made in America products that inspire an active lifestyle and environmental sustainability.

A brief history of Flowfold

Flowfold started from a simple moment: when founder Charles Friedman’s wallet fell apart. He was working in a sail loft in 2005, and as quick fix, he took a few scraps of material out of a trashcan and sewed together a new wallet for himself.

The scraps were material from discarded sails - sails that were used in world class, Olympic-level sailboats. With this light and strong material that would have gone to waste otherwise, Charles made a durable wallet that would last for years to come.

That wallet became the prototype for a business that Friedman, along with Devin McNeill and Nick Power, slowly built up to what it is today. From just a few customers in 2010, now in 2016 they are a retailer and wholesaler with a staff of seven, including 2 local production workers and sales on all 7 continents (yup, even Antarctica!)

Flowfold team

Behind Flowfold

Flowfold’s products are made from materials that are given a second life - those that would be sitting in a landfill forever if not repurposed by them. They’re also committed to being ‘Made in the USA’ - creating local jobs and supporting their community with thoughtful, ethical manufacturing.

When asked, James was clear about what makes Flowfold different from any other company around - following their core values no matter what:

We want to get people outside, help people get back to enjoying being outdoors, and not as a marketing initiative  publicity stunt, but because it’s in our core values. That’s what makes me want to come to work every day: sticking to the values that make our company great.

Flowfold’s products

For a long time, Flowfold was making one product: a wallet, with a target audience of 18-35 year old men. Now, they also offer more wallet varieties and several kinds of bags, and are working on expanding further into other products, including more unisex and women oriented lines.

They’re now wholesaling successfully with stores and distributors all over the world, including L.L.Bean and Eastern Mountain Sports, two big brands in the US with international exposure.

flowfold made in USA

Finding TradeGecko

Flowfold, as a typical bootstrapping company, started out managing their inventory in spreadsheets. They knew from the beginning that they would need one system not only to manage inventory, but all their other operations - so they set out to find one that would grow with them. After a lot of research, they found TradeGecko.

We wanted to work with somebody that had great customer service, responded promptly, could assist us with some of our issues as we were learning the system and learning our own business, and that could grow as we grow.

Flowfold is focused on making their operations as efficient as possible, so they can grow and scale easily. They see TradeGecko as a big part of that growth plan. They plan to use as many of our integrations as possible, including Quickbooks and our B2B eCommerce platform for wholesalers.

The TradeGecko effect

From spreadsheets to TradeGecko, the biggest difference they’ve seen is access to data in the intelligence section. It’s a place where they can quickly and easily tell which sales are up, which are down, what’s selling well, and why.

"TradeGecko is going to be my one stop shop for the information found in the intelligence section. I use ShipStation and QuickBooks among others, but I don’t want to have to go into 4-5 different platforms. I see TradeGecko being the one platform that saves me a lot of time."

Even without the integrations, Flowfold is seeing the difference when using TradeGecko to handle purchase orders, sales orders, samples sent out to prospective customers and invoices: 

Before TradeGecko, orders would get lost, and customers were lost. Now we can expedite the payment process, because we can see what invoices haven’t been paid - there’s been a really positive financial impact since starting to use TradeGecko.

Seeing the future of Flowfold

These ambitious millennials are looking forward to an even bigger 2017. They’re looking for 100% YoY growth, bigger and better operations, more wholesale customers and increased efficiency with the support of TradeGecko.

Flowfold knows they’re not the ones helping you climb up Mt. Everest - but they are they ones who make the wallet (or tote, backpack, purse, etc.) that’s in your backpack when the idea to climb that mountain first pops into your head….all the way until you’re sitting in a rocking chair 80 years later telling your grandkids about the time you did it.

Check out their sustainable products on their website

--

See Also: 

Beginners guide to B2B eCommerce: an eBook

How do you make a great business better?

Maui and Sons Europe: how an old school wholesale business is taking on eCommerce 

Subscribe for insights into building world-class eCommerce companies