Now I work with a bunch of California womenfolk called Chic Execs Public Relations and their deal is to tell me about interesting stuff so’s I can write about it. Awhile back they told be about some outfit out Nevada way that makes smelly soaps and other niceties that are meant for men. That’s right – men. Now, I never heard of such a thing, What in tarnation would a feller be thinking if he was wanting to lather all up with fine smelling soap or even more confounding – lotion? These people sounded like snake oil salesmen to me – or worse – varmints. Anyway, them gals over at ChicExecs ain’t done me wrong yet and said they’d make it so I could ask this Nevada crew some questions. To kinda find out for myself what they was all about. My suspicions were placated and I’m willin to try some of that fancy-smellin stuff and write about it soon. They claim I’ll smell good and not like some dude from back east. We’ll see about that. Anyway, I do appreciate these folks answerin some questions to help put my mind at ease. Oh – this outfit goes by the moniker of Outlaw Soaps. Still sounds a might suspicious to me ~DesertRat
1. OK, I’ve been doing this for decades and I don’t get intrigued much anymore. I’m intrigued! How on earth did you get into this business?
I was working a desk job, but at heart, I’m definitely a desert rat. The open sky, the crunch of gravel under my boots, having a steaming hot cup of coffee outside on a bracingly cold morning, the scent of sagebrush in the hot air… that’s my preferred state. So when we realized that we could make soap (and cologne and lotion and all that other stuff) that smelled like literally anything, we started with our favorite thing.
And it turned out that smelling the desert even when sitting at a desk job… well, it definitely isn’t the same as being in the desert, but it’s better than just sitting at a desk. (Now, we live outside of Reno, and that’s our everyday scent)
Lust in the Dust is specifically inspired by my love of the Mojave, but Fire in the Hole and Blazing Saddles are also inspired by our times in the desert.
Once we started making this stuff and selling it, we realized a lot of other people would prefer to smell like sagebrush and leather than lavender and peony. You know what I mean, right?
2. What came first? The soaps?
The scents came first. The soaps were just a low-cost, relatively easy-to-make way to deliver the scents. We started this whole business because I found a bar of soap that smelled like our honeymoon, so soaps seemed like the natural starting point, but really, it’s always been about the scents.
3. You’ve got soaps, cologne, lotions and a bunch of different scents. Do you feel it is more important to add scents, or products, or both?
What we’ve found — and definitely experienced ourselves — is that once people find the scent that works for them, they want that on everything. So, for example, Blazing Saddles smells like leather, gunpowder, sandalwood, and sagebrush. I think of it as the scent of Clint Eastwood walking into town in A Fistful of Dollars. If that’s your scent, then you don’t just want your shower to smell like that, you want your car, your home, your body, your sheets… It’s an everything thing.
Kind of like your soundtrack, but in scent.
So for now, we’re making sure that we have our most unique scents pretty well represented across every aspect of life.
And we’ve found that, of our Magnificent Seven scents, there’s really something that almost anyone can find as their scent soundtrack.
4. Can a business like yours have too many offerings?
Definitely. We worry about it. People get confused and aren’t sure which scent is the right one for them, or if you have one product that’s just an outlier, and everyone asks for it but no one buys it, then what are you keeping all that inventory around for? There’s a risk of over-expansion, and we’re really small, so we have to pick and choose.
For example, people ask for beard oils in their favorite scents, and we did have a beard oil for a while, but it just didn’t do too well… It was super stuff, but a lot of companies make beard oils, so it’s not like people with beards are out there desperately hunting for beard oil. So we have to decide, “Is this going to help us attract more customers who wouldn’t have bought from us? Or is this going to serve current customers only? And if it’s mostly our current customers, how many of our current customers have beards? How many people are going to be delighted by this?” And as we get more Outlaws in our gang, more people will be interested in our beard oil, but we have to wait until that time comes.
As more people discover us, though, that of course opens us up for more experimentation. 🙂
5. What has been your biggest challenge so far, getting the products developed and to market?
Honestly, inventory. We have had a really hard time keeping up with demand. But we recently moved to Reno, so we’ve hired a lot more people (yes, in this economy… it’s something we’re very proud of that we’ve been making jobs when unemployment is so high, and we have our customers to thank for it!), and so our inventory challenges are hopefully resolving themselves soon!
6. What has been your biggest surprise so far?
Our customers ….. I mean, I knew from the beginning that anyone who wanted to smell like campfire and leather and the high desert would be really cool people, but WHOA our customers our amazing. Many of them are in the military (or are veterans), first responders, medical professionals, police officers (yes, even the police force is heavily infiltrated with Outlaws!), truck drivers… I’d say most of our customers are in the service of our country in some way or another, and all of them are life enthusiasts, getting out there and seeing the world (I follow people on Instagram …. I see it).
And it’s a real honor to be in the presence of such awesome people, providing something that makes them feel most like themselves at their best. I knew that would feel good, but honestly, I didn’t know how good.
Our connection with our customers is absolutely the most surprising and rewarding thing, and we see it every day. On this past Saturday, one customer wrote:
“I have a precious memory thanks to this lotion. Last year about this time, I went to see my oldest sister for the last time. She didn’t know me at first but the second morning I went to see her, she took my hand and held it close to her face for a moment and then her face lit up and she said she smelled cinnamon and I told her it was my lotion and she said I’d have to bring her some of it next time I came. We were able to have a fairly clear conversation for awhile. The next day i brought the lotion and shared it with her. She thanked me by name and it was such a precious moment. Thank you for your wonderful products, most especially the Calamity Jane lotion. Oh, and my sister’s name was Jane. ” – Vicki
I mean, I can’t even tell you how incredible that feels.
People have told us that our scents have even helped them recover from PTSD. One group from the Air Force scent us this Certificate of Appreciation. It’s just not possible to articulate how much that means to us.
A close second – biggest surprise would have to be how rewarding it is to be able to provide employment to people. We have an incredible team of dependable, hard-working, amazing folks from all walks of life and all experiences. And to be able to provide a steady job with a safe place to work is very rewarding. I am surprised by how rewarding it is.
7. Companies are making custom, individualized scents now. Some say there is a science to scents. Do you think certain scents work better with certain individuals or personalities, or heck – should we just pick the one we like best?
Scent is such a personal thing. If you can’t find anything that works for you, absolutely find the right one. It should make you feel like the superhero of your own movie, so no matter whether you’re standing in line at the DMV or stopping a kidnapping, you smell like the person you want to be.
That said, custom scents are expensive, and having that scent across your life is even more expensive… we have been testing scents since 2013, and found these seven are perfect for our customers:
Blazing Saddles – The scent of leather, gunpowder, sandalwood, and sagebrush
Fire in the Hole – Explosively awesome campfire, gunpowder, sagebrush, and whiskey
The Gambler – A warm, complex scent of bourbon, sweet tobacco, and leather
Calamity Jane – Spicy and sweet: clove, orange, ginger, cinnamon, and whiskey
Lust in the Dust – Heat rising in the desert, sagebrush, sandalwood, and campfire
Mountain Hideout – A wild scent of the damp forest after a soft rain
Home on the Range – The fresh, comforting scent of ripe blackberries, fresh laundry, and cut grass
I’d say try whichever sounds most like your favorite thing, and try it. If it’s not what you wanted, we have a 100% satisfaction guarantee and we’ll replace it with something you think might work better (or refund your order).
8. Where do you see your company five years from now?
These are complex and uncertain times, so seeing the future is really hard. We try to be of service how we can, and go day-by-day.
Ultimately, as hokey as this sounds, we want to be a company that helps people be their best every day, and we want to do that everywhere we can, whether that’s in grocery stores or truck stops or hardware stores or the Military Exchange… We believe in our product and our company, and how it helps people.
9. For readers who have never heard of your products, what would you like them to know about your products and/or company?
Outlaw is a company unlike any other… we make products with unique scents and natural ingredients, using ethical production methods (cruelty free, low-waste production, fair wages and benefits for employees), and are committed to US manufacturing. My husband Russell and I founded this business in 2013 because we believe that if you smell the things that remind you of who you are at your best, you’ll be that person. And it’s true.
We have a happiness guarantee, so if you don’t love what you ordered, that’s no problem at all. We’ll replace it or refund your order.
10. Looking at your website, it (and your products) appear deliberately fun. Is that who you guys are, or is that a marketing strategy?
Yes, this is who we are! I know some companies have a carefully crafted marketing strategy to sound fun, but this is who we are every day. Russ and I are just a couple of goofballs who love Westerns (I started making a movie guide, if you’re interested: Movie Guide and love the outdoors.
This business has been built on all of us being ourselves (not just me and Russ, but all our employees, as well as our customers, and anyone we work with). Even the vendor who provides our military, first responder, teacher, and trucker discounts told us that he remembered us because I stood out as a fun and friendly customer (I was really flattered).
I don’t think we’d be able to keep up a ruse like this for 7 years. I mean, that’d be a loooonnnnnng con, speaking as an Outlaw…
When people say they love our marketing, I always wish we could hang out so they could see what we’re like … because it’s not marketing, it’s just us. And yeah, there are a lot of challenging days (especially recently), but I write about those things, too: Outlaw Blog and then one customer had such an inspiring response that I wrote about it the following day: Be Your Best
Being ourselves gives us the opportunity to have real conversations with our customers and vendors, and sure, that’s good for our business, but it’s also part of the fiber of who we are. We wouldn’t be able to do it any other way.
I think this is part of having integrity, which is something we try to do in every aspect of our business, whether we’re working with vendors or customers or each other. It’s not easy, and we’re not always perfect, but we do the best we can, which is all anyone can do, right?
Thank you for interviewing us! We’re so glad to be here! ~ Danielle
I’m much obliged to Miss Danielle for ponyin up and answering my inquiries. I’m thinkin she’s a fun little filly to be around. Smart as a whip to I suspect. I’ve agreed to try some of these sundries to let you know how I like em. I reckon in the next week or two I’ll be needin a bath, so that will be an optimimum opportunity to try some of this new fangled smelly stuff. Maybe if the missus dont like it, I’ll have to check with Maybelline down at the saloon. She seems a might more amenable to my activities than the missus does most of the time anyway. Stay tuned. ~DesertRat