Sometimes, building something better means finding it through the hardest trials in your life. Adam Nugent and Kate Strong are joined by Colby and McKenzie Bauer of Thread Wallets. Together, they talk about the construction of their business and the difficulties. But, through it all, their sense of family and purpose brought them to their destination with a real sense of gratitude.
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In this podcast excerpt, Colby and McKenzie Bauer, founders of Thread Wallets, talk about how their business was born after Colby lost his wallet in the ocean. McKenzie also shares how she manages anxiety.
AN: Where did the idea come from?
CB: We were out in Hawaii. I moved out there for school and soccer. I was transferring back and forth from BYU to BYU-Hawaii. I go into the ocean with my wallet as an amateur would. I lost my wallet to the ocean. I then go online to look for a new wallet. I search men’s wallets on Google, and it’s just a never ending scroll of the same wallet. Every wallet was the same brown and black bulky bi-fold. I thought, “Man, there’s got to be a better, more minimalist wallet.” So, I started looking at Kickstarter, and there were a lot of minimalist wallets, but they were all still very boring—same black, brown, or very basic stripes. At the time, I was and still am into lifestyle brands and show that through what I wear. When I had all my cards, I put a rubber band around my cards and my cash, and I actually fell in love with the rubber band. I didn’t know if I needed a new wallet, but I ordered a wallet that was as close to a rubber band as possible. And I thought, “I bet you that we could make a better rubber band that has the expressive piece to it as well.”
So Mackenzie and I, this is when we started dating. We came up with the solution of basically a better rubber band, which is what you see today as our flagship product. It’s an elastic loop with a key ring attachment, and that’s where the idea was formed. It didn’t actually turn into a business untill later.
MB: We sewed them in my childhood bedroom together— the first few prototypes. It grew from there, but I think that first little bit of growth was unanticipated. We were just like, “Oh, this is kind of fun. We’ll use it. Our friends will use it.”
KS: You talked about anxiety, and you mentioned that you have found medication. What other things have you done to manage that or to shift out of that?
MB: I love being outside. Like if I can just get on like a walk or something and just detox mentally, like listen to a podcast or listen to something that has nothing to do with work and nothing to do with our relationship or anything. Just focus on me.