Autumn Auston and Jake Bastien, co-founders of FishHeads, are out to bring nature back to the masses with headgear designed for “reel” fishermen. Based in San Diego and Clyde Park, Mont., they pride themselves on excellent customer service and seek to make honest connections with their following.
The beginning of FishHeads
What inspired you to start your business? When?
Fishing has always been a passion of ours. Being outside and taking in everything nature provides is what drives our passion for the outdoors. We wanted to create a brand that really simplified the fishing culture and lifestyle. Keeping it simple, but intricate. Having woven hat patches that were fun, but beautiful at the same time. It was important for us to depict the beauty in every fishing themed patch we design. FishHeads was created in September of 2017.
How did you identify your niche in the market?
Fishing exposes you to the elements. We wanted to hit the fishing market with great headwear at an affordable price. It’s also important for us to not only have a cool product, but to also be able to connect with our customers through all social media outlets. It’s a brand for them as much as it is for us!
What first steps did you take to launch the business?
We can break it down into eight steps:
- Design a logo.
- Define the brand.
- Create a slogan — “We’ve Got You Covered.”
- Secure a website and domain name — ShopFishHeads.com, courtesy of GoDaddy.
- Product marketing — We built our website two months before we added our first saleable product.
- Social media marketing on all channels.
- eCommerce build out and digital marketing (SEO, etc.).
- Paid search on many channels, including Google and social media outlets.
Tell us about your business model.
We focus on the customer and delivering on their expectations. We keep it simple and real at the same time. Our model is centered around transparency and loyalty to our brand.
Goals and philosophy
What are the goals for your business?
To touch as many people across the world as we can. No limits, no barriers — we want our hats on your heads.
Our product has already opened so many doors for us. We have made a ton of friends by walking through that door of entrepreneurship.
Our goals for FishHeads is to use it as a vehicle to interact with people and make many connections along the way, because our customers not only love our product, but they also love what it stands for.
What’s your guiding business philosophy?
Our business philosophy is based upon the desire to bringing a piece of simplicity back to everyday life. FishHeads sits upon the foundation of integrity, transparency, quality, customer focus and building a connection with all the lives we touch and whose lives also touch ours.
Our passion for a quality existence must include a chance to recharge our batteries. It is all about the simple things life has to offer that we miss in the day-to-day hussle. We very much want to bring this simplicity back to the average family.
For those who could use a nudge toward the nature that awaits them beyond the four walls they are standing in, we wish to send that message. The one and only thing someone might truly need after their daily grind is to hang it all up and simply cast a line. FishHeads is our reminder to take a deep breath, relax, and enjoy the sound of the wind in the trees, the warmth of the sun on your face and sound of your line hitting the water.
Fishing is a sport anyone can do, and it is the most inexpensive therapy session for the hard-working man and woman.
It is a teacher and, at times, a parent to a growing child. It is a way to escape to a place where people are genuine and kind. Our philosophy reminds us — and we hope it will remind our customers, aka FishHeads family — that despite all of the stress around us, the river still flows, the fish still bite, and everyone is welcome in the arms of mother nature.
This vision is what guides Jake and I every day to never give up on our dream of ensuring our message is shared. We hope others can benefit from reconnecting with nature as we have. We created our hats as a reminder of this, and when your FishHeads hat is in your home, we hope our passion for product design and quality, as well as our customer service (warm and welcoming approach), will be something that reminds you of how things should be, once were, and can be again. Then, we hope it inspires more and more people to get outside and cast a line.
What three words epitomize success in your book?
Positive customer experience.
What strengths do you bring to the table as an entrepreneur?
I am driven by the brand. I believe in it. I represent it. I live for its success. You have to 100-percent believe in what you create. I am not the most patient person, but my co-owner drives home the reality of being an owner. Patience and perseverance.
What obstacles did you face as a startup, and how did you overcome them?
It’s very difficult to know which direction you are going to go. Designs come to mind and you want to get the product out the door as soon as possible. It pays to be patient and remain focused on the customer. They come first!
What’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learned since starting your business?
Be patient and believe in what you built. Represent your brand and represent your customers! Always.
Where do you see your business in five years? Ten years?
All over every fisherman. From the U.S. to New Zealand. I believe we can represent every fisherman both on and off the water.
Online tools for success
What online tools do you use? How do you use them, and why are they important for your business?
We market heavily on social media. It’s important to get feedback and build around that feedback. We utilize analytics to track website indicators. We target demographics and age groups in certain regions to get the branding and product in front of the right people.
What difference have these tools made to your business?
Focused selling increases efficiencies!
What was it like to build your website using GoCentral? How long did it take?
It was very simple! The design and goal we had in mind was just that. Keep it simple, yet fresh. It took a couple days, and the initial site was up and running. Its very easy to buy a domain and let GoDaddy do the rest! The eCommerce storefront was also very quick to deploy. We set that up in a couple days, as well!
You’re using lots of GoCentral features, including online store, email marketing, blog, promo banner, product reviews, on-site video, Apple Pay and more. What do you like best about it?
Ease of use. We can spend more time focusing on product design and fulfillment, as well as customer satisfaction. All of these features help us be efficient. Using one without the other would hinder our ability to go to market quickly.
Do you have any power-user tips for new GoCentral users?
Yes! Here are three we rely on all the time:
- Use GoDaddy support! The team answers the phone when you call.
- Do your homework on SEO. Organic search is helpful.
- You have to pay to play. Get the right platform and use the GoDaddy features and add-ons if you feel it will increase sales and drive users to your site.
You wrote a blog post about traveling to Alaska to hang out with the crew from Discovery Channel’s hit show Deadliest Catch. How did you stumble on that opportunity?
We met Landon Cheney online via Instagram, which started our relationship. He is a deckhand on one of the boats on Deadliest Catch. We then designed hats and shirts for the crew with his feedback. He is an awesome connection to have, and we can truly say we made a new friend through this. You can catch FishHeads on Deadliest Catch airing this April aboard Captain Bill’s vessel F/V Summer Bay!
Personal life and advice
What’s your best overall advice for other entrepreneurs?
Be passionate about your brand and remain customer centric.
Was there a turning point in your life that led you to where you are today?
I think the turning point for both Jake and I was losing our dads to an early death. Both of our fathers were men who brought nature into our lives, and it is without a doubt what has led to our current adventure. The idea of FishHeads was our inner voice telling us seek nature in all ways! We both happen to love fishing and feel this is a great vessel to keep the gift alive that our fathers once gave to us.
How do you balance the needs of your business with your personal life? How do you unwind?
We spend time in Montana fishing. Travel. Enjoy life … And when a vacation is not in the cards, we get outside for a hike, work in the yard and feed our hummingbirds, This way, we can sit and watch them in their element while we come up with new hat designs. It is extremely relaxing.
Thank you both Autumn and Jake for sharing your stories with us! If you want to learn more about FishHeads, be sure to visit their website. You can also follow them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram (or on Deadliest Catch!).
Also published on Medium.