On this episode of our podcast, we hosted special guest Ted Baker. Ted is one of the co-founders of new age rings company, QALO. The idea started in 2012, when he and his best friend got married about a month apart and hated wearing their annoying wedding rings.
They wanted to honour their commitment to their spouses, however they also wanted to maintain personal comfort and peace of mind. Hence, the idea of QALO was born. They realised it was a pain-point that many men share, now they could showcase their commitment and not having to worry about losing the ring or having to take it off. The rings come in all different kinds of materials, so they suit all kinds of hazardous employments such as firefighters, police officers, tradesmen, health professionals and others.
Based in the US, they have spread into Canada nearby and started in Australia where they feel there is an overall culture of commitment. They look to also make their brand truly international by expanding into the EU. As well as expanding their brand, they are more importantly looking to spread their culture of commitment beyond materialistic means.
Along the journey, they have learnt that as a business, it is important to give back right from the get-go. Serve the community that you live in, because many a time they are the reason your brand existed in the beginning. Speaking of brand existence, Ted speaks a little about the qualities to look for in a business partner.
He highlights the importance of trust between you and partners, as time and again he received warning from mentors that he is to be careful of his partner. He describes his business partner as a great human being who he knows really well and is grateful that he doesn’t have a trust concern. It also helps that you put your ego aside and have the ability to generate a real relationship between partners.
Mr Baker also reflected on the fact that he was not selling the product, but rather he was projecting value and a particular lifestyle. A lifestyle that transcends on common-day materialism and focuses on the things money can’t buy. He denotes it as ‘going against the grain’ in order to project onto his customers what he feels is important and that is commitment. He believes that this value should be at the core of the relationship rather than the expense of the jewelry shedding light on how much you value an individual.
This represents a broader concept of innovation. For those working on business ideas, it is a complex world so in order to break from the fold of conformity and create something valuable, you have to think outside the box. He also attributes much of his success to ‘luck’. Rather modestly, he states that ‘[I] would rather be lucky than smart, because I’m not that smart.’
Throughout our chat with him, he places great emphasis on culture, particularly company culture and how that manifests itself with the various stakeholders. His goals for the organisation reflect this, where he and his partner are committed to making QALO one of the top 100 companies to work for. This being preferred over a monetary aim such as achieving 100 million dollars in annual revenue within 5 years.
Ted details some of the ways of achieving this and showcases the importance of employees being driven to come to work on a daily basis and enjoying that process. He doesn’t want employees to feel as if they are burdened with their job, and sees company culture as being the key to achieving that.
The biggest hurdle in the beginning was that of manufacturing. They attempted to produce their rings locally in the US, however none of the manufacturers were interested. Throughout this process, he learned why many companies outsource their manufacturing to places like Asia. He’s grateful that this occurred because he has been able to make some great relationships with people in Asia as a result. In terms of whether he will bring manufacturing back to the US, he admits that their latest contract with the US military may make that process simpler.
Starting a new idea/building a business should not be restricted by age or circumstances. The 70 year old has just as much right as the 18 year old. The advent of the internet has made it so that you can pretty much pick yourself up and make your dream a reality, no matter your circumstances. You can reinvent yourself many times over and nobody would really care.
There is much pressure to fit into a certain mould, therefore you need to dare to be yourself and keep it real. Don’t get lost chasing someone else’s dream, build your own.
Mr Baker enlightened us with his unique story and many other insights into making your idea a reality, should you wish to learn more, checkout his website https://qalo.com.au/
For the full podcast go to: https://www.ahmadelhawli.com/business-wilderness-podcast/