After losing his wallet in Hawaii, Colby Bauer went online to buy a new one only to find a never-ending scroll of bulky, boring ‘George Costanza wallets.” So, instead of buying a wallet, Colby decided to carry his cards loose in his pocket until one day, as he walked through Foodland, his eyes caught a thick rubber band wrapped around a broccoli stem. He found his new wallet and used it for a year until his Entrepreneurship teacher challenged the class to design a product and launch a Kickstarter campaign throughout the semester. As Colby explored the wallet category further, he found a growing need for a combination of minimalism in functionality and expression in the aesthetic.
“I started developing the first prototypes. I found a way to print onto elastic, but I needed a sewing machine. I met a girl that helped me sew, and long story short, we fell in love, got married, and decided to give this wallet idea a chance. We started selling them at farmers’ markets in Hawaii. We sold well enough to realize we might be onto something, so at the beginning of 2015, we moved to Utah and ran our new business out of her parents’ house. Within six months, we were able to quit our three jobs and dive in full-time with Thread, and the rest is history,“- Colby remembered.
Over the years, Colby and his team at Thread Wallets have asked, listened to observed their clients know what they want from the company. Presently Thread Wallets offer four distinctive styled wallets that suit different people and hit a range of different price points. The company also provides a range of prints that appeal to its target audience. Recently, it has collaborated with brands like The North Face, Brixton, and Cotopaxi.
When it comes to expanding its product category outside wallets, Thread Wallets has been highly strategic.
“As we observed how our customers use our wallets, we noticed they would attach them to a lanyard and stuff the elastic pocket with their chapstick. This led us to offer our collection of Lanyards (Neck and Wrist sizes) and our famous Lipbalm Holder,“- Colby said. “Our goal became to own “The Keychain.” We focused on offering products that worked together as a system. Our best-selling combination is known as the Trifecta, which is a Wallet, a Lanyard, and a Lipbalm Holder.”
More recently, Thread Wallets have entered the category of bag offerings Crossbody Bags, Fanny Packs, Totes, and Mini Backpacks. Since its launch, Thread Wallet has witnessed an overwhelmingly positive response to its bags.
The Greatest Accomplishment
Colby feels his biggest accomplishment is creating a company that cares for its employees by helping them find a healthy balance of work and life. He is very protective of the culture of freedom and humility he has created at Thread. Colby is also proud that he and his team are using the business to drive impact in people’s lives.
“It can be easy to get caught up in hitting revenue goals for the sake of growth, but I’m happy we’ve landed on our WHY and truly investing in wanting to better people’s lives. I believe that is the best way to do business,”- he said.
Colby feels that he is yet to learn how to run a business without getting into arguments with his wife. “This is extremely difficult to do, but it is not impossible. I am ashamed and embarrassed every time I let business get in the way of treating my wife with the love and respect she deserves. Learning from this is ongoing. We are both relentless at figuring out how to communicate more effectively. I’ve learned a lot about how to navigate tough situations/conversations,“- he explained.
Over the years, Colby has learned a lot about his personality and how to bridle his passions. He has also learned a lot about his wife and what makes her tick or get frustrated. Having said that, Colby is grateful for the challenge. He feels it has unified them more, and they are both better people because of it.
Looking at the Future
Thread Wallet’s goal is to become the go-to carry brand, which will include several subcategories, including Wallets, Bags, Accessories, Tech, and Travel.
Thread Wallet’s slogan, “Carry On,” has become the core of what it does and why it exists as a company. “The Carry On narrative references the ‘carry’ category we live in, but more importantly, it is the message of relentless progression and triumphs over the trial. Everyone in this world goes through their fair share of trials. They come in all shapes and sizes, but one universal thing is the need to be able to carry on when life gets rough. At Thread, our mission is to inspire and empower people to Carry On,”- Colby explained.
Also, one significant project Colby and his team have been working on is launching the Carry On Foundation, a non-profit division of Thread, which will teach youth resilience skills through action sports and outdoor recreation. You can learn more about it at carryon.org.