Wausau Whitewater introduced me to many people who I would never have met otherwise. One of those people is Shawn Feddema from the Hammock Shop in Langlade, Wisconsin. I met Shawn on the Wausau Whitewater course in 2000-something. He donated some hammocks to be used as prizes for one of the freestyle rodeos. He gave demonstrations throughout the weekend, hanging a hammock or two in various places for people to try out.
Shortly after, Shawn’s business was started. As he says on his website, “Our business was founded in 2004 when we decided to “go public” with some great fabric hammocks. Response was immediately overwhelming. Starting from a friend’s basement, we now have a nice shop, this website, some wonderful fabrics and equipment, a monthly newsletter, and we continue to grow.”
Here’s a little about his business philosophy: We use heavy, industrial sewing machines and commercial quality fabric to create our unique and one-of-a-kind products. We pride ourselves on making soothing fabric hammocks in a wide variety of eye-popping colors and fabric combinations.
You have to work to find The Hammock Shop. It’s not in the large shopping mall or frontage strip and the manufacturing process isn’t down in an industrial park. It’s located in Northern Wisconsin in a fairly unpopulated area. But Shawn doesn’t let that get in the way. He gives complete Bing map and directions on his website including the ability to map directions from your location to the shop.
He recently created a new website complete with a shop online option. In fact, there isn’t much you can’t find on his website, such as how to Hang your Hammock, a page describing options for custom hammock designs, a portfolio of photos, and more.
Just look at the fabric selection:
Shawn is on Facebook and I just found him on Twitter the other day, where he is just figuring out if Twitter will work for him. Integrating a unique business strategy with online and social media promotion is going to take this little business that started in a friend’s basement to a potential global business level. He offers his Hammock of the Month newsletter to feature a different hammock and package combination each month. You can opt-in on his website.
I find myself admiring people who take an idea and run with it. People who do something well (like Shawn’s ability to make hammocks) and turn it into something bigger while still maintaining the character that made them unique to start out with.
Shawn is already diversifying. He is offering fleece blankets for those people who are not into hammocks. A business that started by creating a product that met the needs of the paddling community has tremendous potential for a much broader marketplace.
This is a tough economic time but I believe that if you analyze the market, create a quality product, use the myriad of marketing options that are ever-evolving, a business no matter how small can thrive.
What do you think? Is there some idea that you threw away because it just didn’t seem feasible?
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