Jenna and I (Braeden) ask ourselves almost every day whether we are crazy for starting Overland Outfitters or not. Usually we decide that we are, in fact, very crazy. It's been a wild ride from the idea's conception until now; but as we come up on our 1 year birthday, it's fun to look back and remember why we started.
We had only been married for around a year by 2015, when we were finally able to put some money towards having a better camping set up with our trusty Tacoma. We had just discovered roof top tents and they immediately went to the top of our list of things we wanted. We were able to team up with some friends and share the expense, and purchased a Tepui Autana Ruggedized. With that tent, we found ourselves camping almost every weekend. Our truck always ready to go (all we had to pack was clothes and food and we were ready to leave) so we would find ourselves filling any spare night with campfires, hiking, fishing and wheeling. Some trips were less than 24 hours, and mostly driving time, but we loved it.
At some point, the idea of renting roof top tents came up. I like to take credit for the idea, but our friend Moira may have actually said it first... But this is my blog, so I definitely thought of it all on my own. Our goal wasn't necessarily to make a business that made a lot of money, but something that would help enable others to get out camping and enjoying nature as much as we were. After many discussions and conversations, we were on a road trip with our friend Caleb when we finally decided to just go for it and see what happens.
We contacted several different RTT brands about starting a little company called Overland Outfitters to rent roof top tents out. Only one of those brands even bothered to respond to us. Tepui told us that they would love to help out a small business, and were willing to take a risk on us. We ended up with a pallet of five tents, which was a huge moment for us!
Living in our rented 550sq.ft basement suite, we installed and uninstalled tents in the back alley. I'm not too sure how much our land lords liked us bringing so many random people to their back door, but we made it work, and spent 2 summers renting out our 5 tents. At the end of the second summer we were exhausted from working two full time jobs, and spending almost every evening installing and uninstalling tents. We reached a point where we had to either go all in and try to make a real business out of this "overland" thing, or give up and go back to just working our regular jobs.
After many late nights trying to decide what to do, we finally figured that in the future when we had kids, we would rather tell them that we tried something cool and failed, than that we had a dream and just never went after it. Minds made up, we went all out. We found a location, moved, and spent 14-18 hours a day, 7 days a week building our retail store, website, social media, vendor list, licenses, insurance, and everything else that goes into starting a business. Many loans later, December 2nd, 2017 rolled around and we had our Grand Opening Party!
The turn out blew our minds. The support from our friends and families, and so many customers from the previous two summers, as well as locals, was unbelievable. It really encouraged us to pursue our vision for what Overland Outfitters could become. Without that initial morale boost, our first winter might have ended us then and there. We expected winter to be slow, considering we are a camping store, but it was honestly abysmal. We took turns being completely panicked, as well as making a lot of mistakes. (We are still making a lot of mistakes...) But we were just paying for our education, and we try to remember that, and use those moments to learn and grow!
We still try to get out camping as much as possible, but it's funny how we started Overland Outfitters because we love the outdoors so much, yet the business is what is preventing us from being out exploring as much as we used to. However, we are still so passionate about anything involving being out in nature. We are really excited to go into 2019 with more experience, connections, products, and hopefully a touch less stress.
We are so thankful to Tepui for giving us that initial opportunity, supporting us over these last 4 years, and for offering a great product. We also want to thank our friends and family; my dad basically lived in our shop for a few weeks helping build it, and Jenna's parents were always available to cover the store when we had to be somewhere for an event. And of course, we wouldn't be anywhere without our incredible customers, many of whom have become friends. So THANK YOU! We truly appreciate you all, and are looking forward to another year of growth, learning, and equipping adventurous souls!