OME Gear with Jules Weldon & Stacey Pierce feature #44 of Together Talks
Updated: Oct 25
"Together Talks" feature #44: OME Gear presented by KLS, freight company
Some Background on OME Gear
For today's edition of "Together Talks" campaign, KLS had the privilege of interviewing OME Gear with Founders Jules Weldon & Stacey Pierce. They are a female-founded and led outdoor gear company that is innovating solutions to make your outdoor experience more enjoyable. What if there was an innovative product for fishing, camping, outdoor sporting events, the beach, tailgating, etc. where you could haul all your stuff and then have it easily transform into a comfy chair? Well… look no further! Their flagship product, the award-winning Wanderr, is a 5-in-1 innovation that converts from a cart that hauls up to 150 lbs. to a lower beach chair, a higher camping chair, a fully reclinable lounger, and a camping cot. They are changing the game in the outdoor space.
20 years from concept to reality
The company was incorporated in 2018 by Jules and Stacey. But the original idea started almost over 20 years prior! In 1998, Jules parents were on a boardwalk and watched a single mom with 3 kids, struggling to pick everything up and carry everything. Jules' parents who were not innovators of any sort went back home and drew up the sketch. Soon thereafter they had the idea patented. However, nothing ever materialized and the idea sat on the shelf for over 20 years until one morning as Jules told us, "It was 12 years after it was patented, I remember I woke up one morning at 1:30 AM thinking about my parent's invention. I was in a place professionally where I needed a change. I called my Dad at 8:30 the next morning to ask if he remembered their idea. He started crying and told me 'Hunnie you can have it'. I remember thinking I'm just smart enough to think I can do this, but just dumb enough to think I could".
Ultimately Jules and Stacey improved on the initial idea evolving it from 2 functions to 5 which became the award-winning Wanderr.
OME Gear has the benefit of organic advertising, usually through word of mouth. As Jules and Stacey told us, "Our customers love and hate our product. They love it because it does exactly what we preach it will do and they hate it because when they are using it everyone comes up to ask them about it!" The product is found at True Value, Tractor Supply, Home Depot, Camping World, QVC, Amazon, and specialty retail stores. The initial design process took $350,000 for the prototype which then allowed the company to find a manufacturing partner in 2019 before taking the product to market in 2021. As Jules told us, "Our whole mission is to make things easier for people outdoors and be the multipurpose 'swiss army', 1 product that satisfies several needs plus accessories". But one moment almost sunk the company before they had a chance to reach their full potential.
With Kickstarter orders to fulfill, Jules and Stacey faced an insurmountable obstacle in 2020. Their manufacturing partner went silent on them during Covid. They found out their products were hidden in the warehouse and ultimately orders were not being fulfilled. This caused the founders of OME Gear to look each other in the eyes and ask the hardest question, "How much do you believe in this?". Jules and Stacey looked at each other and pondered their belief in their relatively new company. Jules shared with us, "I turned to Stace and asked her and she said 100%. We agreed we had to push all the chips in. We sold our house to get the equity to buy our products out from the current manufacturer and continue our operations. We bet on ourselves." An unbelievable pivot, beyond courageous.
This moment would prove to be critical in the journey of OME Gear. As they shared with us they are strong in their faith and believe they possess just enough mana to get through each day. They were tested early to see what they were made of, but their grit is one of their greatest strengths. Their grit has allowed them to be on the road for the last 2 years in their RV. That determination and commitment is what makes their story so easy to admire.
2 years on the road creates challenges for OME Gear, but Jules and Stacey praised their team (all remote by the way!) for their buy in and collaboration. Both commend that 'their story' isn't just the two of them, but their entire team that makes up OME Gear. As Jules explained, "Our whole team hung in there and as a result we grew together. We have overcome so many hurdles and have been forced to be uber scrappy. There are times where we feel like we are going to break, but we keep believing. And the support we have from our team believing in our mission and vision provides us such confidence that we are on the right path". The all remote team, the founders described as amazing. A culture of trust and encouraging responsibility to handle tasks without micro-managing. They are committed to never being a 9-5 company, instead they view their team members as humans first and employees second. They care about each and every family and extended family and what they do outside of work. Without surprise this embracing culture has resulted in extreme buy in from employees, where everyone has a voice.
Jules and Stacey are prepared to change the game, not just with their products, but with the makeup of the outdoor industry. They shared these incredible numbers with us when discussing one of their biggest challenges, funding...
2.7% of funding from VC goes towards women
1.7% of that is women in tech
1% of all funding to women outside of tech
Being women-owned in a space dominated by men-owned businesses, is an immense challenge, but barriers both are compelled to break down. They want to be for up and coming founders what they didn't have, female presence.
The duo plans to do this by giving back to female entrepreneurs through their motto of 'filing in the potholes with rocks so the road isn't so treacherous'. They credited having many mentors throughout their journey, but majority have been male which is the incentive to create an avenue to reach up and coming female creators. One way they currently do this is running a coaching/consulting firm working with female entrepreneurs.
Partner with KLS
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Starting a company is difficult enough, but imagine being over 50 and trying to get acclimated with social media. Stacey described this unique challenge, but opportunity to us, "Technology is always going to change and upgrade, we have to be willing to make tweaks to our approach. One aspect has been the two of us getting on TikTok and producing content. Trying to learn social media has been an event, but we've learned to enjoy the process". As evident, the hard work pays off, look at this LinkedIn Post from Jules in June!
The fearlessness demonstrated here translated as well when they participated on Big Idea pitching their product and WINNING the competition. But that isn't all, they also pitched on America's Big Deal which was live on USA Network, and they won that as well earning 3 offers to select from: Macy's Lowes, QVC. Ultimately they decided on QVC which they recently appeared on!
Stacey elaborated on the path they didn't expect to travel, but glad they did as she shared, "We thought we would grow a lot faster, Covid had a big impact on that, but as a result there has been a lot of learning. Every day we joke we are in a greenhouse of learning. But what we didn't realize is all the obstacles we've overcome and adversity we've endured has molded us into the leaders we need to be to take this to the place we want it to go."
The Bright and Right Future
OME Gear is positioning themselves for explosive growth to round out 2023. They are on the verge of obtaining funding that will empower them to ramp up and scale up. They shared they have been building the foundation for a while, and are ready to really enter into aggressive but sustainable growth. Jules and Stacey plan to continue developing strategic partnerships on the retail side while enhancing the community they are helping curate. The goal for their community is to change the way people do outdoor activities, no longer being a drudgery being a pack mule.
We asked the founders of OME Gear what is their favorite part about their career and both answered, "creating and doing this journey with my wife".
That is right, not only are these two breaking barriers in a male-dominated industry, but they are doing it while married. They are so proud of their story because they know their story is not only unique, but authentic to them. Julie told us, "The pride I feel completing the initial vision of my parents, and 25 years later we were taking it to market and then seeing consumers reactions when we demo the product". And Stacey shared, "Being together 24/7/365 and loving every minute. Jules is the leader and our captain which has allowed me to push my ego to the side and support my wife and partner as we honor and build Jules' family's legacy".
We tasked Jules and Stacey to think of one moment that meant the most to them as they've built OME Gear and Jules started, "It makes me emotional, but when we pitched on America's Big Idea. We rehearsed so many times, then finally we did it live with Stace by my side and had almost my entire family in the audience and we crushed it and won. And what is interesting about the design of this show was that 7 days prior to the show we could sell up to $15,000 of product. We sold out 2 days prior. After the show where every contestant had pitched, you could sell another $15,000 in product. We were the last to pitch, we sold out our 2nd allotment before we even pitched".
And what is even more remarkable is the show initially rejected their pitch. Jules told us, "We received the rejection and we emailed them back stating we respectfully accept your decision, but this is why we truthfully feel you are wrong. We provided them the reasons we believe we belonged and deserved the opportunity. They reached back out and said we were in, and then we won it."
Grit. Adversity. Perseverance.
To end our chat, we were curious as to if there was a destination the married partners were chasing and both agreed there is a future they both envision. Stacey started, "We have a vision for how far we plan to take this and when we get to that point we will have accomplished everything we set out to. At that time we will work on finding the right partner, which is critical for the next phase of OME Gear". Jules continued, "We are building the company to ultimately sell it, but not until we have got it to the right point. It isn't time or metrics, but a feeling, we will know when the time is right, the partner is right, and we are ready to move on to our next calling."
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KLS wants to thank Jules Weldon & Stacey Pierce of OME Gear for today's "Together Talks" feature. Keep up to date with OME Gear by following their blog on their website, check it out here. Follow along for the OME Gear journey with their social handles below!
OME Gear was featured in the following as well!
Klimson Logistics Solutions - OME Gear with Jules Weldon & Stacey Pierce feature #44 of Together Talks
*Klimson Logistics Solutions is an Industry Leading Customer Service 3PL. Our focus and commitment to our clients has us striving to be the BEST customer service 3PL for LTL, FTL, Reefer, and Drayage in the country. KLS, freight company, is a 3PL providing nationwide logistics solutions. KLS shipping services include: LTL freight, FTL freight, Reefer LTL freight, Reefer FTL freight, and Drayage. Klimson Logistics Solutions thanks you for viewing our marketing campaign, "Together Talks". If you have any interest in being featured or questions regarding your freight operations please contact us today!
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We handle every shipment with the exact same process. It does not matter if you move one shipment a year or ten per day, you will receive the same level of customer service from us. When we started this company, we had one goal in mind, treat every shipment like it was our own. With our vast knowledge of the industry, we understood what a customer would want from a communication standpoint. We applied that process to be the standard here at KLS. Our reliability and being able to depend on our consistency is why we have such long-standing relationships with our clients.
Every shipment in our industry starts with a quote. We are firm believers that time is money, thus we strive to have quotes back in a 5-10 minute reply time for LTL and FTL, any FCL quotes are at the mercy of the carriers getting back to us. For LTL we have the flexibility to quote both off of NMFC and also Density depending on the carrier. Utilizing our services, you’re allowing us to use our expertise to class your freight accordingly to ensure we are providing the best rate we possibly can.
Once a quote has been submitted and a client chooses to proceed with KLS handling the arrangement of the shipment our full process begins. We create the BOL that will be used for the shipment. If it is a new location for our system, we will obtain all the important/special details (reference numbers, contact details, shipping hours, closed for lunch, dock/doors, etc.). We meticulously build every detail into our software for all future shipments involving that location. After we have both locations built and necessary reference numbers have been applied we will tender the shipment to the carrier. We use this method because it provides us a real time pickup number from the carrier to obtain updates prior to pickup. Our staff will either email the BOL directly to you or to the shipper (at your request) the minute after the tender has been accepted by the carrier. LTL carriers require a 2 hour window prior to close time in order to schedule it for a same-day pickup attempt.
The following morning you’ll receive an email from us. It will either provide the reason the pickup was missed (driver’s trailer filled up, driver missed the close time, truck broke down, shipper said no freight, etc.) or if the pickup was successful you will receive the PRO (tracking) number from us, along with the eta for delivery. Our staff will track it throughout the duration of transit and advise if anything happens that will alter the estimated delivery date. The day the shipment delivers we will email you with confirmation and the POD (Proof of Delivery), should you require it.
Your shipment has been quoted, scheduled, picked up, and delivered. The next step is waiting for the carrier to invoice us and make sure the rate matches up. If it does, we close out the invoice from the carrier in our system and automatically your invoice is created and sent to the requested party at your company. In the event the carrier has an additional charge on their invoice “Variance”, we will never send you an invoice with an additional charge without first identifying you of the charge.
Let us repeat, NEVER WILL WE JUST BILL OUT AN EXTRA CHARGE WITHOUT YOU BEING NOTIFIED.
You are our customer, we represent you. Should the carrier provide an extra charge on an invoice, “Lift gate, additional weight, reclass, detention, etc.) We notify you of the charge via email first. Second, within that email we identify what is required should you choose to dispute the charge. Again our goal is to honor your request, if you want to dispute, we will dispute. During a dispute we will provide you updates every step along the way. Once a dispute is closed out, whether it is approved or rejected, then we will invoice you as the invoice has been resolved.
For reference, our company only had 6.2% of all shipments go to dispute in 2022 and we successfully won 91% of those disputes on behalf of our customers.
This is our process for every single shipment you move with us. We don’t cut corners, we don’t hide from difficult situations. We believe in being available, honest, and transparent. We don’t ever want to tell you that a shipment is lost, damaged, misrouted, but it is our duty to notify you the second we find out something has gone wrong. We hate to present bad news, but it is part of the job. What you can guarantee is that we will work a shipment all the way through and turn over every stone until we get a resolution for our clients.
Our core business is LTL and FTL. Within these options we have options for both dry and refrigerated/frozen. We also offer FCL/Drayage options. Our company as a 3PL has nationwide options and services clients across the US.
Let’s breakdown our services more in-depth
LTL: Standard and Guaranteed CFS (Imports & Exports) Tradeshows Hazmat Anything that is on a pallet can be moved LTL. Typically LTL is up to 10 pallets, but the sweet spot for a carrier is 6-8 pallets at most for an individual shipment. LTL quotes are good between 5-30 days depending on the carrier. LTL can be quoted either via NMFC or density to determine the class (we do this for you).
Volume: Anything over 10-12’ of space in the truck is the technical rule for a volume shipment. When we run a quote for you we will determine if it qualifies for volume and provide you a rate if available. Volume moves allow you to get a reduced rate for larger shipments. The caveat to volume shipments it the quotes are only valid for 3-7 days and they move on capacity between terminals. If a terminal is backed up they will move their LTL freight first before the volume freight, which can lead to longer transit times for volume moves.
FTL/Dedicated/Expedited: 53’ Dry and Reefer 26’ Box trucks with lift gate Sprinter Van The main difference for FTL vs LTL is space and transit time. For standard pallets you can fit either 26 or 30 pallets in a 53’ dry van. The other main difference is transit time, for FTL each day counts in the transit time, whereas LTL does not count the day of pickup, weekends, or holidays in their transit time.
Reefer/Frozen: LTL and FTL We specialize working in the CPG space with food manufacturers. We regularly deliver to the following locations: Kehe UNFI Core Mark DPI Wegmans Cugini H.T. Hackney Netrition HEB ALDI Chambers and Owens EBY Brown Nassau Candy Harris Teeter Wakefern NU INC Long Distribution
What makes KLS different?
There are thousands for freight brokers and 3PL in our industry. Barrier to entry is rather easy and agents or owners will often hire sales people without any intention of properly training them. It results in high turnover for many freight companies and a forgettable experience for the client. We choose to operate differently through our consistency. We truly care about doing right by our clients and prospects too. While we would love to help provide our services to every company we speak with, that just isn’t realistic. We won’t always be the right fit for every company that moves freight and that is ok. Our authenticity as a shipping company sets us apart from the competition and that is backed up by our testimonials. We also run a marketing campaign bi-weekly called “Together Talks”. We interview, highlight, and promote two businesses every week. Our goal is to grow our network, make new connections, and learn something new with each collaboration. Check it out on our website and if you’re interested in being featured reach out.
Our company also runs a year long charity promotion. Book your first shipment through KLS and we donate to the charity of your choice in your name. Our way of thanking you for giving us an opportunity to show you the KLS way and what makes us one of a kind. This entire package is what we offer to every prospect and every client. Our goal is to help provide answers that customers may have when it comes to shipping. We want to always be available as a resource and will always offer a lending hand whenever we can.