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Life Beyond Kickstarter: When your campaign isn't fully funded

Good jeans, good food, good style and good reads

Good jeans, good food, good style and good reads

Life Beyond Kickstarter: When your campaign isn't fully funded

Hope Voelkel

The morning Kickstarter launched, I was blasting a Calvin Harris song (the Rihanna one) and willing the peppy tunes to get under my skin just enough to push out the worry, self doubt and plain old fear. Everything I’d been working toward over the last year was about to be thrown out into the wider world. Would people think this whole idea was too crazy? Would they hate the designs? Think it overpriced? 

But those first hours—that first day—I felt okay. I felt more than okay. Backers were coming from all sorts of places, people I knew and didn’t know. And then Kickstarter gave us the little "Projects We Love" stamp. Hem + Haw was conquering the fashion world! 

And then we hit the famous Kickstarter lull (right after I’d spent the previous week emailing and emailing complete strangers trying to pique their interest in what we’re trying to do). I realized I’d exhausted my network of friends and friends of friends (though you guys are the best, really and truly). Finding a lot more total strangers (like $10K’s worth) to get excited about the brand was kind of a long shot. 

I was pretty sure I’d set the campaign goal way too high. I was pretty sure I hadn’t done enough pre-marketing. I was pretty sure we weren’t going to reach the end goal. I began to accept the fact that Hem + Haw may very well have another Kickstarter stamp: Funding Unsuccessful.

Oddly for my somewhat melancholy perfectionist personality, I wasn’t discouraged about it. Was that thing happening that I’d heard sometimes happens as you get older, a thing called perspective?


Ultimately, I want to build a brand, not just a Kickstarter campaign, which forces me to ask the question: what relationship do I want to build with customers and potential customers? What will go beyond Kickstarter? 

I want the brand to be like a favorite pair of jeans—comfortable, down-to-earth and empowering.

Honestly, Kickstarter was a great place to launch from. As smarter minds have said, it’s ultimately a marketing tool. And I learned a lot related to pricing and human behavior, marketing and my product in general. 

In a process like this, you learn a lot about grace. It’s practically forced on you because it’s impossible to do everything perfectly. You’re juggling too many balls.

Starting this entire project was a lesson in humility and discomfort. Manufacturing was a world I knew nothing about, but I really cared—deeply—about what I was trying to do: reuse something beloved and do it in the U.S. That’s still a driving force. 

“Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.” - Winston Churchill

It’s why I’m still so enthusiastic. What I came to accept is that what’s worth loving about the whole entire thing—successful funding or no—is that I’m learning something. 

We all love to talk about failure being ok and part of the process, but being the one it actually happens to is a little less fun. Still, on this side of things, I’m reminded there is merit in the cliché: embrace failure.

All products will be offered at the original Kickstarter prices for another 48 hours, so head to the website if you'd like to resubmit an order. I'm grateful for the support.

Photos by Bishoto