Episode Show Notes and Transcript Coming Soon
IANWA - Andrew Gibbs Dabney
TZL Open [0:11] It's time for another episode of I am Northwest Arkansas, the podcast covering the intersection of business, culture, entrepreneurship, and life in general here in the Ozarks. Whether you are considering a move to this area or trying to learn more about the place you call home, we've got something special for you. Here's our host, Randy Wilburn.
Randy Wilburn [0:42] Hey folks, and welcome to another episode of I am Northwest Arkansas. I'm your host, Randy Wilburn. And I'm excited to be with you today. I am here with Andrew Gibbs Dabney. And Andrew is the founder of Livsn, and Livsn is a company that is all about the great outdoors, and they make a pair of pants that are beyond comfortable. And I just got connected with Andrew by somebody else that reached out to me and told me his story and said, you should have him on the podcast, and I have always looked for ways to highlight individuals here in Northwest Arkansas that are doing some great things. And his skill set and ability with his company has gone beyond just Northwest Arkansas and he's basically taking the world by storm with some of the most comfortable pants known to man. So without further ado, Andrew Dabney, how are you doing today?
Andrew Dabney [1:34] I'm doing good. And thank you for the excellent intro. That was nice. I appreciate that.
Andrew Dabney [1:40] You’ve done it before, right,
Randy Wilburn [[1:41] I have, this is not my first rodeo. Yes, sir, but I appreciate that, and we're glad to have you here on the podcast. I'd love for you just because everybody that listens to this podcast is usually fairly comfortable with getting into understanding who they're listening to. So I would love for you to share with our audience your superhero origin story. How did you end up where you are right now today?
Andrew Dabney [2:03] Let's see; I guess we can just get through a little abbreviated history here. First of all, I'm from the area. For the most part, I was born in New Orleans. I’d like to say I moved here when I was two, but I don't think I had much choice in it. But my family came here when I was two. And so I've been in Fayetteville and then a little brief stint in Fort Smith and grew up in these Ozark Mountains. And that has a lot to do with it a lot to do with where I am now, obviously, and in the business that I'm in and in the culture that I strive to be a part of. Growing up in Fayetteville [inaudible 2:34] near Wilson Park, I spent my waking hours outdoors as a kid to go from school, went out to the park, came home for dinner, went back out and came home for bedtime. Nowhere in there was I sitting inside so my range grew a little bit I guess from downtown Fayetteville and or I guess from Wilson Park to downtown Fayetteville to campus to the greater Ozarks and now kind of anywhere where there's mountains and outdoor recreation around the world and around this country. So you kind of gleaned it from that but the outdoors have shaped a lot of where I am. Young memories going out camping, college, high school, going out camping with friends doing slightly different activities, but still enjoying the outdoors. Following it through college, getting into more sports, spending some time as a raft guide out east and Tennessee on the Ocoee River really spent a lot of my recreation time camping, hiking, mountain biking and boating. I like to go canoeing, and all that has really spilled over into just who I am. To tie a dress, the vocabulary that I use the culture that I research and the community that I'm a part of. I had the opportunity after and during college to change degrees and go through transition time there to start working at a local apparel company called Fayettechill. And some friends of mine had started that, and I had a little bit of experience working in the University of Arkansas receiving department so I was very qualified to come in and be the operations manager, or, so I was told. So I came in and started working for that company as it was growing and was fortunate enough to be there through a great pretty fast growth. Lots of learning. So we figured out how to first make T-shirts, and then make more complicated clothing- store it, ship it, hire people, build a company culture and open a retail store. All these things that were just really in retrospect, really educational. And then also just the growth and development and maturity and everything of a company which is something really interesting and always unique as you go through that. And so that process really gave me a lot of the tools to build the company that I have now to understand the supply chain, how products get made, marketing in this space, but also just blending my views as a consumer, someone who buys the things that we are making a lot longer than I've been making. I'm seeing what I wanted to do was missing, and then gathering some of the tools and experience to create the products that I couldn't find and create things that we are creating in a way in which I wasn't seeing it done. And so that process, that experience that tradeshow can't be understated. And when I left there I actually spent a little bit of time at a tech company in Silicon Valley and pitched and did the whole back end of that industry and hated it. I have nothing against tech companies, it's just the conversations that happen behind the scenes are not the same as they are behind the scenes in the outdoor industry. The kind of people that I was hanging out with and doing business with typically more of the people that I want to go hang out and go ride with, go ride around bikers or go get a beer with afterwards; and that's what I missed. And so part of it lifestyle design part of it circumstance and experience and part of it, just who I am, why I'm here now.
Randy Wilburn [5:40] Yeah, it's almost like you came from one Silicon Valley to another, right, because I think Northwest Arkansas, in its own right has seen the birth of a lot of organizations and companies like yours, where people are issuing the big cities or the coast to create something. And they're doing it right here in the heart of the country, right here in Northwest Arkansas and other places, of course. But I'd like to lay claim to that as to say that this is going to be the new and that was actually the title of one of my podcast episodes is, could Northwest Arkansas be the next Silicon Valley? And, you know, I had some people that said, yeah, it's possible. Some people were like, well, we don't want to be like Silicon Valley. I used to live there. And we don't want to replicate that here in the Ozarks. But I think if it were to happen, it would be in a much more informed way, in terms of how these companies would come about. And I think you, your company, what Moe Elliot has done with Fayettechill, those are great examples of how to embrace the community around you and build something around that. And it feels like that's kind of what you're trying to do. I did have a question for you. How did you settle on a pair of pants as kind of coming out of the gate, that this is the first thing that we're going to create, or one of the first things that we're going to create to really kind of share with the world.
Andrew Dabney [6:59] You know, we really didn't. And so there's an interesting story on how we got to that being the part that's that we're most well known for. But I wanted to touch on that last thing you said just real fast. I was going to start this company and I had already lined out the values and the principles and the products and the way we're going to build it; we almost left to do it. My wife and I were looking at going and resettling either in four major Colorado, Boulder, Fort Collins or somewhere like that, Provo, Utah, Portland, Seattle, you know, all the hotspots that you would think that you would go to to start an outdoor apparel company. And we weighed a lot of things in the pros and cons of those areas versus where we're from. And the fact that I'm from here was almost a negative on the decision making process, right? It's like you want to go experience other things. But, we really decided that Fayetteville was in Northwest Arkansas, in general may move around within the region a little bit, was a place that made perfect sense to do what we’re doing. And when you layer on that, friends, family, it gets more lucrative I guess, when you're from here. But then also just what's going on, the river currents going one direction everybody is swimming right towards the outdoors now to recreation, a mountain bike culture, and this quality of life and this triple bottom line of living this layer goes for; not to just make as much money, but live a great life. So anyway, that figured a lot into it. I want to just give a nod to the area that I love and kind of reinforce what you're talking about, like we chose to stay here because of the way that it is. So I'll answer the question you actually asked.
Randy Wilburn [8:25] No, that's why I appreciate you expanding upon that, because I didn't give you a chance to respond and that's just kind of the interviewer in me. So I do apologize about that. But I appreciate you expanding upon that thought because I think it's important for people to hear that individuals like yourself and others are deciding to put their stakes down right here in Northwest Arkansas to build something and we don't know where your company is going to go. I mean, you could end up on wall street for all we know. But I mean, the bottom line is that your humble beginnings are right here in Northwest Arkansas and there's something to be said for that. So, go ahead you can answer that other question that we had.
Andrew Dabney [9:04] So about the pants. When I started this we went into the design process with about 10 designs that I had sketched and briefed out saying this is the material that I'm thinking about. This is the use case kind of feature and starting with we had a jacket, a fleece sweatshirt, button down shirt, short sleeve, long sleeve base layer pants overalls almost like a canvas jacket. And we decided the green light for products to go into development with and one of those was a pair of pants. Another one was this fleece that we made called the high wool fleece. And by the time it came to like the window where we needed to launch because I didn't have just an unlimited timeline it would just go into R&D forever and make it perfect and you have to get out there. The fleece and the pants were ready. And the pants weren't the focus of our initial launch, they were something that I just made on the side for me because I'm a fairly thin, athletic guy and the outdoor industry is not very known for having well fitting clothing in general and especially not well fitting pants. They are just baggy and they don't look good on someone like me. And so I wanted to make a pair of pants that were tough and multi use and all the things that I wanted that actually fit me. So we did have the opportunity to do that, making clothing. So I made those pants kind of alongside these other products and we were really launched with focusing on the fleece, the high wool fleece, which we are phasing out now. It's a good product, it's a really breathable, active fleece that has anti odor properties, all the kind of bells and whistles that I was missing or wanting. But you know, conveniently laid out without a lot of the extra stuff that I didn't need or most people didn't need. So we launched a Kickstarter called [inaudible 10:37] Livsn Designs, and here's the Hi-Wool Fleece and the Flex Canvas pants and the whole first part of the campaign was the Hi-Wool Fleece. Most of our marketing material or creative or graphic designs, everything was devoted to the Fleece but at the end of it, we were like and here's the pants, and here's these, we made these two. Turns out in that initial campaign we outsold pants to Fleeces, I think it was two to one, it's been an [inaudible 10:58] since then but it may have been three to one. I think it was two to one at that initial campaign; they were cheaper too at half the price, which helps. And what was really illuminating to me was after the campaign, we sold out of pants- we might have made extra. We sold out of pants in a matter of weeks and we actually had fleeces in stock. And during that time, after we'd sold out of pants, we were still out selling pants to fleeces. I think it was three to one. Once again, I used to have [inaudible 11:23] but it was three to one or four to one. After we were even out of stock, people were buying them out of stock for presale for like six months later before they would buy the fleece. And so that just told me from a market perspective, the [inaudible 11:33] world has enough fleeces, our customers have enough fleeces, but there's something that we hit on with these pants that people are really into. It wasn't just the sales data that was just anecdotal and ad hoc emails and messages on social media to me, saying, hey, I love these pants. When people really like a product, they don't usually just tell you how much they love it, they tell you what you could do to make better, because like, I love these pants, but---it'd be perfect if you did this. And so I got a lot of that. And after just so much of that and turning those into some actual reviews on our website by investing in the interview platform and sending it out trying to get the positive feedback in there, which happened, we launched a more formal feedback campaign asking for feedback results, what we could do to make it better and then implemented them. Not all of them but the ones that got a lot of favor and things that obviously that I thought were useful. And we made those edits to the pants and launched another Kickstarter campaign. At that point for the updated pants, we launched the same product again. And there was some necessity out of that, too. It wasn't just like we just want to do this, that's what we had ready. We weren't fully funded. We weren't like on a cash cycle that made sense for the company to just keep on going developing new stuff. We needed to work with what we had and end up working really well. In that second campaign it opened a lot of doors that legitimized us to some of our customers. We made a lot more pants that time were able to so we were able to go on to direct sales. And then since then, the good customer reviews have been piling up. But then, I started meeting people at trade shows like Outside Magazine people, some of the review editors there. Gear Junkie, met the founder and some other people at another trade show and just was handing out pants. Here, look, this is what we make. Try them out. And then lo and behold, they really liked them. And they ended up being the pants that all those guys were actually wearing when they were testing all this other stuff that came into the door. I don't know if it's true or not but someone told me that outside those review publications [inaudible 13:19] get like 100 products a day to test; they're the ones they are making. So anyway, that's kind of going on, but it just has become apparent that people really like the pants we make. And now we're not just focusing on that one pan but we are keeping ourselves within that category, which is especially below the waist; we have a niche now. We have an area of expertise and so we're doing women's pants, we're doing a technical version, like a quick, dry, more stretchy version of the ones we make now that are no cotton content and we're making shorts. So we're just basically branching out from what we know. And a lot of that is based on our philosophy, the brand, which is to not just to make a bunch of clutter and waste, not just create a bunch of things for the sake of creating it, but create it because there's a need for it, and the market said there's a need.
Randy Wilburn [14:02] Well, I love that. And you know, it's so funny, I have so many different thoughts and so many directions I want to go based on what you shared. Because I don't know about you, but I know that I am a creature of habit when it comes to clothes. And I like clothes, I mean, I have nice clothes but I always find myself going back to the same thing that is most comfortable and most familiar for me, especially when it comes to pants. And I don't know how you feel about that but if I can figure out a way to do it, I will wear the same stuff over and over again. And when I find a good pair of pants and everything else be damned because it doesn't even see the light of day and I'm just constantly in my rotation of wearing things. And so I can see where that would be the case with these pants and like I had gotten a chance to read a ton of the reviews and I usually geek out on reviews because I always like the social proof before I buy something; and I think that's important. A lot of people had like, hey, could you do this or could you do that. But I mean, overall of the overarching line that I saw was that people just liked the quality of the pants. That they fit, right, there wasn't a bunch of bunching or anything like that and they were just very comfortable to put on. You could dress them up a little bit, you can dress them down, and they really work for all intents and purposes. So I applaud you for that, because that's not an easy feat. And I also applaud you for staying in that lane and not saying, okay, well, we've done that, let's keep going back out. And let's do a whole line of T-shirts, and a whole line of this or whole line of that, because sometimes I think with clothing stores, they just become too many options. And I don't know about you, I mean too many options are not good for me in terms of my decision making process.
Andrew Dabney [15:46] The process to get to that state, and obviously pants won't fit everybody, someone's gonna nitpick something. But the process to get to that, like you said, no extra fabric, they just fit well, there's nothing that's kind of in the way that glares at you like these would be great except for this, is not, you don't just arrive at that. And that's not something that was easy for us. I think at this point, we're probably up to 20 or more revisions on that pants. Now we're on our third production run but in between each one like to get to that first one, we probably went through six or seven. We have probably gone through about the same between each production run of small refinements, and our factory sometimes doesn't appreciate this but we're making quarter inch adjustments to small elements like the hip with the front rise, back rise, the spacing of the belt loops, just small little things that we see. I see, I wear them every day. I see people wearing them every day and I kind of critique them when my friends are wearing them. I'm like, oh, the pockets a little bit too flared, right? It's like they're making these small adjustments and it takes a while to get there. So I take a lot of pride in that. I don't think people see the backend of making a product like that and it's also one of the things that you get to do when you don't have dozens of products. Maybe hard to refine, like we do if we had 36 skews or something basically the more traditional apparel company route. So yeah, it's been fun to develop and that's why we are developing more products now but we're staying in the lane that we've learned so we can apply a lot of what we've learned to them before we move out again. [Inaudible 17:10] test again within the next year or two with other pieces but right now we're looking to dig in.
Randy Wilburn [17:14] Yeah, I hear you. Well, if you ever need a crash test dummy, I'm gonna throw my hand up and say I'm available so I’ll get out there. I'd love for you to share with the audience the name. I know the name is unique, and it actually has a meaning. In addition to just Livsn as you say it, you just think, oh, this is something that you live in, right and it's just something that you use all the time. But could you share a little bit about the origination of the name and how you came about it and what it actually means?
Andrew Dabney [17:42] Sure, the livsn thing was kind of a happy accident. Actually, it's not where it came from in the sense of like he lives in that church. But the actual name is derived from the Swedish word and, it's hard to pronounce in English correctly, and make it sound right. But, phonetically it livsnvatari (sp)*, it's pronounced more like live vitara(sp)* in Swedish, but either way, it means one who lives life fully and someone who lives life to the extreme. I guess there's a French counterpart called Bon vivant; I'm not sure there's an English one. That's actually how I found the word was looking for European language words that did not have an English counterpart. So I figured that was a good place to start looking for unique words. And I don't know if a lot of registers have gone through this but naming a brand and naming products for that matter is probably the hardest part of doing this. You find something you love and it's taken like 10 times over and everything's trademarked, and then you have to keep moving down the list. And when I found this word livsnvatari (sp)*, I saw that root and it's really not the root but it's the first part of the word livsn. And I really liked it. I like the way it rolled off the tongue, it was five letters. I liked that it was symmetrical and I kind of sketched out you can see the logo on my background. I know that your listeners can't but it's the L and the N make a symmetrical design on the end. The V is in the middle. And then I was rolling around my tongue and I was like, oh, well he lives in like he lives in his clothing and oh, well lives in, the guy lives in life or something and all this stuff. I was okay. And so I did a trademark search, like a social media search and nothing. I was like, this is a nonsense word. This is perfect. So I just went ahead and got it all right, then and started out. When the stars align that many times you have to run with it.
Randy Wilburn [19:22] Oh, absolutely. You have to. I mean, you were even able to get the website too right. Looking here, you've got livsndesigns.com?
Andrew Dabney [19:31] Actually, that's the one that I got for free at the beginning because livsn.com was actually taken, oddly enough. I have since gotten an auction and bought it. So, instead of changing our website to livsn.com you just go there and redirect to livsndesigns.com. Now we own our own domain. your domain.
Randy Wilburn [19:51] That’s huge. It's nothing like having a nice top level domain that identifies with the business like that. That's a great story. Where are you guys headed next with what you're doing? It sounds like you are in the throes. Where are you headed next but with everything that's going on with the pandemic, how are you guys managing that? And how has it affected you? Because at the time of our recording of this, we are still many months into the global pandemic of COVID-19. We're recording this on the last day of the month of August of 2020. So I'd be curious to know, how has this affected you? And are you doing anything differently because of the pandemic?
Andrew Dabney [20:36] Yeah, it's obviously had an effect. It's actually been a positive effect on our business more than anything. Not by design, but just by the way the cookies crumbled in building this business. We've just been built the way that a lot of companies are trying to position to now. Low overhead, low payroll, because it's mostly me doing it with some part time and a lot of outsourced help digitally, native, fully online, so all of our sales are online. Our inventory fulfillments are done by a third party logistics company, right so we didn't have our own employees and warehouse to run and we didn't have a big retail exposure. So we didn't have our own stores, we don't have much brick and mortar accounts. So as far as the initial effects of the pandemic, in an economic sense, it was good for us. Online sales jumped, like crazy, really fast. The world's shifting online, and we were already there, that plus people's interest in the outdoors has skyrocketed. It's not just interesting, it's one of the only things socially acceptable allowed to do is, go out for a hike, go out with your family, and go camping or, spend time outside, and so we have a product that facilitates people going outside, which is so rare. All these things by no design, no foresight just kind of happened for us. And, so we thought we had pants clear through the end of August or September as far as inventory, and we ended up selling out before June. It was cool. It's been kind of a bummer to be out of stock for July, June, July, . It's not fun to work with that but we're making more. We have more coming in like two weeks so it's getting better. It's been interesting. Now, it has affected us in the sense that one like our restock is a month late because the supply chain disruptions in Asia were made in Vietnam. We are bringing on wholesale partners, and we're actually fulfilling the orders, we wrote the spring to retailers. I'm here when that inventory comes in, in a couple of weeks, right and so we haven't had any canceled orders from those retailers. But spring summer so our sales season for next year that our reps are out in the field trying to write preseason orders for us for next season, basically disappeared. As a sales season like reps weren’t making calls, trade shows are canceled. All the business activity that typically happens to facilitate that kind of business model just stopped. It moved digital. It's all back online now in a digital way. So anyway, we were adapting to that. We saved a lot of money not going to the retailer trade show in June so that's a good thing, I guess. It was a big risk. And now we push those plans back and we're concentrating on direct to consumer, but we're also building much more digital tools for our wholesale side as opposed to relying on knocking on retailer doors and making house calls.
Randy Wilburn [23:19] Well, and so with that said, besides going on the website and ordering the pants, where can people here in Northwest Arkansas find them?
Andrew Dabney [23:27] Currently just online? So we haven’t built any retail yet.
[disruption in audio]
Andrew Dabney [23:32] No, we don’t.
Randy Wilburn [23:31] Are you in communication with any right now? I mean, like, could I eventually maybe go into Lewis and Clark and may potentially find them or is that even on your radar as far as that's concerned?
Andrew Dabney [23:44] No, it is. Actually, Gearhead, Packrat, Lewis and Clark, those are all areas where you would be likely to find Livsn here in the next few months.
Randy Wilburn [23:55] Okay, good. Because I think once people see these pants, and especially our listeners when they go to the website and visit they're going to want to---. Some people I don't know about you but I'm kind of an instant gratification guy. If I see something sometimes if I'm like man, if I can get it quicker physically going into a store, I actually will still do that. I know that's [inaudible 24:13] but there is something to be said but nowadays you get stuff within a day or two anyway online.
Andrew Dabney [24:20] The install part of it is an important part of the buying process for sure. I mean, we do apparel and we make pants. A big part of pants is how they fit so obviously we get a lot of people that shop online and they're happy the first time but we definitely do some exchanges. We get people buying one or two or three sizes and send in back the others. That's one of the reasons why physical retail is not going to go away especially for apparel. People are going to want to go and touch and feel things and especially outdoor apparel and outdoor gear in general. There are good stores that do it well and have knowledgeable staff and that's who we're selling to. They are the ones that still do it right and deliver an experience if you can't get online. A lot of people touch and feel the products and have good customer service to support it. A big part of our model and plan alongside online is to have that kind of strategic retail presence to give ourselves a physical footprint in stores and industry where you, you know, I think it's better to have that. Maybe not go full blown, wholesale, but it's good to have that.
Randy Wilburn [25:15] You're absolutely right, there is a benefit to that and I know I've been guilty of going out and testing and touching things before I actually physically buy them, and then I may still end up going online and purchasing them; which is kind of crazy but it's the way things are nowadays. We're in a different day and time when it comes to our consumer buying habits online. It's much more evolved, and it's only going to continue to grow. So, you decided to stay here in Northwest Arkansas? If you were talking to somebody that's not from this area make your claim for why this is a special place, because you did mention some other cool places that you could have gone to? I mean, I have some friends that live up in Boulder, Colorado. I actually lived out in Berkeley, California for a long time, so I really loved it out there but Austin's not a bad place, although the traffic is murder. But what makes Northwest Arkansas so special,
Andrew Dabney [26:11] It's hard to pinpoint any one thing. For me, I can speak to it from my personal point of view, more probably better than broadly. But personally, I like the size and I'm not saying that it's going to be terrible if it grows, because it is growing and I think that's going to be fine. But, even in a market or a city like Austin, there's a lot of people and if you're someone that loves the outdoors, you know, it's not like there is no outdoor access there, there are places to go, but they're crowded. I mean, no one can really do anything about it, you just get a certain amount of people in a small amount of area, especially if they have aligned interest and they're going to swamp the good places. And that is true for restaurants. That's true for theaters. It's true for hiking trails and swimming pools, or swimming holes. And so, Arkansas still is and probably will be for a long time compared to a lot of those bigger markets, a pretty reasonable size and fairly spread out when it comes to Northwest Arkansas. [Inaudible 27:01]. Arkansas Springdale [inaudible 27:02] has been built, and there are places to go, and there are lots of access to the outdoors and you can get around. There's traffic at certain times a day, but it's not that bad; it's just not as crowded. So when you combine the population count and the density of people with the access to amenities that are outsized for a population center of this size. So we've got a really good shopping, we've got great nightlife, we've got what legitimately world-class museums, legitimately world-class theater venues, concert venues, food, dining, right, and a lot of this is by no accident, it's originally supported by the biggest companies in the area to bring people here to work here. But, if you're not working for a Walmart, Tyson, or JB Hunt, and you just happen to live here, you get to take advantage of all this great infrastructure that's built as part of [inaudible 27:52] focuses to support those businesses. And so you bring in a low population, great amenities and then what really is it for me, is the outdoors so those are mountains. They're not as grand in the sense of height or elevation as the Rockies or even the Appalachians but there's something special about it. You know, when you get kind of deep in there, they're rugged, when you get that rugged you can get lost in the backcountry, probably not terribly lost. But you can wander around. There’s enough public land to stretch your legs. There are beautiful rivers. There’s great climbing. There's good boating. I haven't even mentioned not [inaudible 28:26] which is the [inaudible 28:27] do and so we shouldn't ignore that. Like I loved a mountain bike and you can't go three weeks away from your favorite trail system without a new trail being there when you get back. And so that's just being spoiled for choice, you know, excellent mountain biking, and all this stuff. So that's been a big factor that's really increased my desire to stay is just to keep experiencing all the great mountain biking that keeps popping up, including what's already here.
Randy Wilburn [28:52] Yeah. As you said, you've been around here for a long time. I mean, obviously, it wasn't necessarily the mountain bike destination that it is now but I mean, I know people that are actually traveling here to Northwest Arkansas to just ride the trails, whether it's slaughter pin, whether it's little sugar, there's a few out there and I'm actually more of a road bike guy myself, and I tend to ride the Greenway quite a bit and getting more into gravel riding. But I mean, mountain bike is on a whole nother level here. You ride around Bentonville on a Saturday and there are just mountain bikers everywhere, riding the trails, riding through the city. Every coffeehouse has a bunch of mountain bikes just sitting on each other as people grab their cappuccino espresso before they head back out for their afternoon run. So I mean, did you ever imagine it was going to be like this?
Andrew Dabney [29:47] No, not at all. Actually, it's been really cool to see. I mean, growing up here I've mountain biked. Let's see. I had a BMX bike when I was really little and kids bikes, but when I had my first mountain bike I was probably ten or younger, fully rigid mountain bike. And my family would take a yearly trip every summer to Keystone, Colorado. My whole dad's side, all the cousins and all that, and we'd stay there and we'd mountain bike; that was our sport. So we'd all go rent mountain bikes and take the chair, lift up and ride down. And back then, we were running bikes with like, one inch of travel, and like the scary thing about the bike, you're riding down that mountain, but either way, I'd go right out there, and then that would give me the bug. And I'd get another mountain bike, and I come back here, and I'd ride basically Devil's Den, which is really one of the only places to ride back then. And then I think maybe I rode around the hiking trails on Mount Sequoia before they really had mountain bike infrastructure and stuff like that around Fayetteville. And just never really would I consider myself a mountain biker, or because there wasn't enough trail to ride. Like it wasn't like a culture around it. And so we'd still go out west and go ride in Colorado and get a bike and come back and I wouldn't ride very much. And then, let's see, I was in college. I don't know exactly when they built the slaughter pen. We could probably look it up but it was somewhere in the early 2000s, mid-2000s I can’t really recall when we heard about slaughter pen, and went riding and it was awesome. This is really great. There are actually now bike trails. And then, it seems like maybe there were some small developments. You know, five years later, it started to really pick up steam, and just in the last five years, it's just been incredible. And I guess it's been more than five years, but really, the last five years have just been just this incredible boom of mountain biking and not just in Bentonville. Like I ride even more this year than I have in the past couple of years and I've only been to Bentonville twice all year long. So, I've been going to Mount Kessler, down to Fayetteville, Fitzgerald, and Springdale like Weddington, the new trails of Centennial Park, and Fayetteville. They're not just building Bentonville, they are building everywhere. Went down to Russell Road, Mount Nebo and that's part of the same effort, right. It's pretty cool. So anyway, to answer your question, no, I didn't see it coming. But I'm extremely glad that it's here.
Randy Wilburn [31:49] No, and I can appreciate that. And like I said, when I first moved, I actually bought a mountain bike, but then I got a road bike. And it's a long story, but I can really appreciate what they have done to this area. And a lot of my friends that are big outdoors people, that's all they ever asked me about. What are the trails like and I got to come visit you so I can co-ride and so I think that's really cool. And I think again, something that people don't realize when they think of Northwest Arkansas, that we are such a big biking community period. It's a culture here which is a lot of fun.
Andrew Dabney [32:24] There's something that's happened even the last two years since I've been building Livsn is at the very beginning, which I work with people. Most people I work with professionally are out west somewhere, you know, in some kind of beautiful area of the Rockies or the Pacific Northwest or Northern California. And at first they're like yeah, Arkansas, I drove through there once visiting my grandma in Nashville, or now it's more like, oh, Arkansas, I was gonna come there with some of my buddies, we're gonna rent a van and go mountain biking. Like I hear that a lot now, and it's not a small amount it happens all the time, which is really cool. It kind of helps legitimize us from where we are, from that point of view. Gets less eyebrow raised and more like, okay, I understand why you're there, from the industry at large. And, anyway, I do want to say something in case someone from the city of Fayetteville is listening because it's a big thing. It’s been on my mind, you mentioned in Bentonville how people are at the coffee shops on their bikes, there's mountain bikes everywhere, super riding my bike [inaudible 33:15] from downtown onto the trails. And that's the one thing that, you know, it's hard being living down in Fayetteville that we get kind of envious of our northern brothers and sisters out there is that I got to get in my car, pretty much to go to a mountain bike trail for my house. Not cool. Yeah, there are trails, but I'm gonna ride, you know, 510 miles to get there, if not more, right around some on some public streets. I wish that the leadership of Fayetteville would start stimulating some suburban access mountain bike trails so that we could do the thing where you can leave from downtown by the square and get on some dirt that fast. I know there are small efforts towards that, we could bring it into the city center.
Randy Wilburn [33:56] Absolutely. Well, I'm sure bike NWA and others have been grabbing the ear of Mayor Jordan and the city councilors to talk about that. And I'm sure the more that people shake things up and maybe we'll have to sic some of the Walton, grandkids on them and encourage them to do some more development down here and we'll see what happens. So, anything's possible. Anything's possible. Any final words that you'd like to share with the audience before we sign off?
Andrew Dabney [34:24] You know, I'd be remiss to not kind of plug our upcoming Kickstarter campaign if that's okay.
Randy Wilburn [34:29] Oh, please. And we will make sure when the campaign actually kicks off, no pun intended, we will be sure to put that in the Show Notes so people can access that even if they're listening to it later. But yeah, please plug away.
Andrew Dabney [34:43] Yeah, so it may actually end up being an Indiegogo campaign this time. Either way., we're doing another crowdfunding campaign for our newest or really only new pants we released in a long time and it's that second pair of pants that I was talking about the builds on the success of the flex canvas. They're called the Eco trek pants, and it's a recycled nylon spandex blend. And I'm really happy that the nylon does actually source from recycled ocean waste, specifically fishing buoys. So they've been recovered from the ocean remanufactured into a really great fabric that is just really stretchy, really lightweight, moisture wicking, sweat wicking, moisture resistant, you can spill water on a splitter coffee on it, this is gonna fall right off, quick drying, using basically the same fit and features of their flex Canvas pants, but adding some trail specific stuff like an internal waistband, drawstring and some bigger pocket, bigger pocket for your phone on the leg. Anyway, the point is, they're really great. And they're called the Eco trek pants, and we will be launching them on Kickstarter in October. That's the plan. So we're kind of out there, we're still doing pre launch marketing, but it'll be our third campaign we're looking to show growth on that and launch a new product for the first time in a while and we're pretty happy about it. I'm actually really stoked on the product itself. And a lot of those media that we've made a relationship with, for our flex gamers pants have the early version of the Eco trek pants, and the feedback has been really good too. So we're excited to see what the industry at large thinks about.
Randy Wilburn [36:04] Oh, good. I love that. Well I know that somebody is sending me a pair of pants, so I will be sure to talk about them and chat them up on social media just to let people know what I think about them. Not that they care but I will certainly be sure to put a good word in. And definitely, if you can keep me posted on when you kick off with the next Kickstarter for October, we'll be sure to publicize it and also share It with our audience so I will make a separate announcement, in addition to putting in the Show Notes. But if somebody wants to reach out to you, what's the best way for them to connect with you right now?
Andrew Dabney [36:41] With the brand. The best thing to do would be to get on Instagram, honestly and send us a message. So we're at livsndesigns. With me, I answer the info at livsndesigns.com email address, so you can always email that and it will come to me. If you're a customer and you receive the wrong size or you need an exchange you can reach out to us the customer service at livsndesigns.com or via Instagram or or send an email over to firstname.lastname@example.org. You'll get me.
Randy Wilburn [37:08] Perfect. That's the life of an entrepreneur, right? You're always available to your customer. So yeah, that's perfect. Well, Andrew, thank you so much for taking time to connect with our audience here at I am Northwest Arkansas today, we really, really appreciate it. And we appreciate you sharing your story. We wish you nothing but success and we hope that you get to a place where you're able to employ a bunch of people in this area, and really continue to build quality products that people enjoy wearing in the great outdoors. So thank you so much for coming on.
Andrew Dabney [37:42] Yeah, thank you so much. Appreciate it. Thanks for having me.
Randy Wilburn [37:45] All right, cool. Well, folks, there you have it. Another episode of I am Northwest Arkansas, it was so great to get Andrew Dabney on on the episode today to talk about Livsn. And I think that you're going to really like these pants. I'm going to make sure that we put all this information in the Show Notes so that you guys can access it, find out more about it. And if you do get the pants and you really like them, please let us know. Let Andrew know, let his team know and give him that necessary feedback so they can continue to improve that this product and so many others that they're in the process of working on. We appreciate you guys listening to the podcast as always. Remember, a new episode comes out every Monday. So we look forward to continuing to bring you the intersection of business, culture, entrepreneurship and life here in the Ozarks. That's all I have for you this week. Remember, you can find this podcast wherever great podcasts can be found. You can rate or review the podcast. Let us know what you think, what we're doing right, what we're doing wrong, and just continue to stay in contact with us on a regular basis. And if you have ideas about people like Andrew that you'd like to hear on the podcast, let us know give us a shout out shoot us an email at email@example.com and you never know you might be surprised that a future guest may be one of those individuals that you recommend it to us. That's all I have for you this week. I will see you soon. Peace.
TZL Open [39:08] We hope you enjoyed this episode of I am Northwest Arkansas. Check us out each and every week available anywhere that great podcasts can be found. For Show Notes or more information on becoming a guest, visit iamnorthwestarkansas.com. We will see you next week on I am Northwest Arkansas.
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