On a sunny day at Stowe, VT, Hemetic’s co-founders Matt McGinnis and Jake Caggige were riding a chairlift when they found themselves lamenting the number of brands selling cheaply made products, while offering “lifetime” warranties and referring to their products as “American”, despite being made overseas. Soon after, the two decided to test their idea for a high quality, modern Made in USA brand via a Kickstarter campaign.
In the months that followed that initial conversation, the team at Hemetic set about creating what we considered to be the ideal Kickstarter campaign. Marrying quality with technology, Hemetic launched its campaign for “The Twenty Four Backpack”, a backpack featuring a classic heritage aesthetic, paired with a mobile charging system. The concept of course, was that commuters and travelers could charge their mobile devices while on the go. As soon as the campaign launched, orders began rolling in, with over $10,000 pledged in the first four days of the campaign. Unfortunately, that initial boost was short lived as the following 26 days resulted in inadequate sales. Ultimately, that campaign fell short of its $35,000 goal, having raised $18,305. Feeling a mix of disappointed and encouraged, the team took the rest of the year off to reconsider the route forward.
When you experience failure, something special happens. In addition to the disappointment, there’s also an endless amount of questioning, ultimately resulting in deep reflection. Such was the case at the start of 2014 when the team at Hemetic had to determine whether the $18,305 raised in our initial campaign was a strong enough sign to move forward with the brand. In addition to that question, there was also the consideration of what would have to happen differently so that a second effort would be a success. After much deliberation, it was determined that the strength of the brand was rooted in the complaints that launched the idea. That is, the Hemetic Trading Co. should be a Made in USA lifestyle and carry good brand offering high quality, stylish products for a reasonable price. With that core concept established, the team rolled up its sleeves and got to work producing a small line of products to offer in a second Kickstarter campaign. With a lower goal and a stronger product offering, the second campaign was successful, raising $22,947 and generating enough business to successfully launch the brand.
In the lead up to Hemetic’s first two Kickstarter campaigns, and the year following the second effort, Hemetic had been sharing an office space with local video production company The Main Idea. As both businesses grew, Hemetic found itself in need of significantly more space. As a result, the brand moved to a second-floor location on Burlington, VT’s iconic Church St. This new space put wind in the brand’s sales, being the first iteration of the team’s dream to have a space which featured retail space in the front, and workspace in the back. In this space, Hemetic grew from a Kickstarter brand into a business that offered product customization and an expanded product line. While the move was full of positives, it ultimately became problematic financially.
As any bootstrapping individual will tell you, growing a business without funding can be extremely difficult. Through a confluence of factors, Hemetic found itself enduring financial difficulties throughout the second half of 2016. As a result, the tough decision was made to close up shop, and instead relocate to the finished basement of Matt’s rental. While this process resulted in incredible levels of stress, it also lead to an equal amount of reflection and consideration, with big questions like, “why would people choose to wear the Hemetic brand?” taking center stage. Eventually, the brand weathered the storm and stumbled into two discoveries in the form of a new revenue stream and a renewed sense of purpose. Realizing the commonality of financial and marketing hardship amongst all forms of creative pursuit, be it music, art, business, or sport, the idea for Fuel for Thought was born. While not glamorous, this period proved crucial to the brand's development, and symbolic of how failure can be transformed into motivation.
Now, nearly six years into this business, the Hemetic Trading Co. has become a brand that’s focused on supporting the next generation of creative leaders, while simultaneously creating a community of individuals that is collectively inspired to dream big and pursue their passions. While the future has yet to be written, we’re more excited than ever to welcome you on this journey with us!