Wednesday, July 30, 2014
The Paracord Planet Experience
An Interview with P2's President, Ryan Aldrich
CEO Ryan Aldrich, shown above, describes P2 as "an experience."
I had a very concrete idea of what my first internship would consist of. I would be grabbing coffee for my manager, filing papers until I lost sanity, and be called “kid” or “temp” instead of my actual name. My experience interning for Paracord Planet has debunked all of these theories and then some. I walk into the office where I’m greeted with a heartfelt “good morning, Jack,” I take a seat at my desk amidst the rest of the marketing department, and I am able to converse with the company's executives every day. Not many of my friends can say the same. Here’s some further proof of how awesome my internship is: I got to interview the CEO. The free-flowing of communication and transparency of business affairs are part of the “sense of community” that Ryan Aldrich, my boss and the president of P2, says makes our company extraordinary. Here’s my interview with Ryan…
Me: How did Paracord Planet come into formation?
Ryan: We were originally an online retailer of a lot of sporting goods and tactical goods, and paracord was one of those items. I noticed that survival bracelets were becoming very popular, and we decided at that point that it was a market we could get into. We had the custom ability to enter the market because of some of the products we had been selling, including Phiten titanium necklaces. So, our original thought was that we were going to enter the bracelet industry, and got our website set up for that. We also did offer just the hanks of paracord, too, and those started taking off even more than the actual bracelets. We started to look at the needs of the bracelet-makers out there and it just kept expanding.
Me: What kind of advantage does selling the raw materials, as well as the finished bracelets, give Paracord Planet?
Ryan: There are a lot of people out there that sell the raw goods, but what gives us the advantage is that we do both, and we do both well. We try to stay very in touch with our customers and what they need, and having made bracelets, as well as now selling the materials to make bracelets, we’re able to stay in-tune with the needs of our customers.
Me: Asserting “Paracord Planet” as one of the largest names in the industry, what would you say is the main reason for this company’s success? What makes P2 special?
Ryan: I think there are a few things; one of them being the passion that our people here have. Our goal isn’t to sell paracord, our goal is for an experience. We want our customers to come to our site and not only buy paracord, but also to interact with other people through our social media, see examples of how paracord can be used, and so on. We’re not just a retailer. We’re here to help customers have that experience with our product.
Me: Paracord has really heightened in popularity over the last handful of years. Do you see paracord crafting as just a “trend” or something with more longevity?
Ryan: That’s a good question—trends are always hard to predict. Our initial thought process was that it might be a trend, but now I think that we can control it a little bit. I mean, just look at the diversity of cords we offer; When we started, it was just 550 Cord and it was 60 colors. Now it’s 550 cord, its 425 cord, it’s nano cord, it’s shock cord, and so on. It’s 350 different colors. It keeps expanding, and I think that will continue. There are some people that will be doing it just for the popularity, yeah, but even after that, we want to be the resource that the rest of our paracord users can come back to. Paracord is used for a variety of different applications, and I think we will continue to see that grow and expand.
Me: Just from operating our social media, I’ve seen how paracord has taken off overseas. Do you think that Paracord Planet is an organization that is scalable enough to deal with the increased demand abroad?
Ryan: Oh, definitely. I mean, we already ship to Canada, Sweden, and the U.K., and we’re actually looking at China, right now. There’s a lot of vendors coming out of China now, and although Paracord Planet will never branch away from offering “Made in the U.S.A.” products, as the quality of cord improves abroad, it’s another option for us. As the Chinese market develops, it helps us open up our capabilities and reach. Things are really starting to pick up in the U.K., too. That’s going to be the target of our focus in August, though, is an international scope. We’ll actually have Cari (VP of P2) switching over to an international role so we can adapt to the growing popularity of paracord around the world.
Me: How has your life changed from “Paracord Planet”?
Ryan: Personally, my life outside of work hasn’t changed a whole lot. However, inside of work it’s been a dynamic change. It’s a lot easier to work with paracord than it was to work with some of the tactical items. There were a lot more rules and regulations with the tactical goods, and a lot more that you had to deal with in regards to advertising in that market, which isn’t the case with paracord. The ease with which we can do business in the paracord industry really helps us open up and increase our capabilities. The one thing that has really changed is that when I started working here, we sold products. That’s what we did; now, we’re a brand.
Me: Final question: if you could pick any type of paracord to describe yourself as, what would it be?
Ryan: Oh boy, that’s the hardest question on here…
Me: I know. You did this to me during my job interview though, so it’s payback.
Ryan: This is hard, they’re all strong, so…
Ryan: I might actually kind of veer away and go with something like “shock cord.” It’s a little bit more flexible.
Flexible, indeed. A big “thank you” to Ryan for allowing me to interview him, and thanks to all of you for reading this interview! I hope you’ve enjoyed learning a little bit more about Paracord Planet and our journey. Make sure to like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, add us to your Google+ circles, and check out our Pinterest! We are also on Snapchat at “ParacordPlanet.” We are constantly running contests on all of these social media sites in which you can win FREE paracord, and would also love to connect with you and help grow our “community” that Ryan spoke so highly of! Join the #ParacordFam today.
Written by: Jackson Yakowicz, P2 Intern
Contact at firstname.lastname@example.org
For more of Jack’s work, view his full blog.
Wednesday, July 23, 2014
Validating Cord-Crafting as a form of art
I’ve never described myself as an “artist.” I think there is a certain presumed aura surrounding the artistic type; an eccentric, and sometimes doleful, nature that I have a hard time elucidating in my own character. Can I draw? Sure, I can draw stick figures on the notebook at my desk. Can I paint? Indubitably. I painted a pretty formidable mustache on my face last Halloween. But, were these acts of quasi-art enough to validate me?! Probably not, however, I eventually found my niche when I completed my first paracord weave. My girlfriend, a summer camp counselor with some paracord experience, taught me how to make the “fishtail bracelet” and I was hooked. I started crafting on my own nearly every day after that. I was addicted to this hobby—rather, I was addicted to this art. Sheldon Cheney describes art as “the formal expression of a conceived image or imagined conception in terms of a given medium.” This blog post aims to convince any doubtful readers that crafting with paracord is, in fact, a form of art.
Part 1: "The formal expression..."
Image from Wikipedia
Cheney begins his definition of art by calling it a “formal expression.” What that means is that there is a tangible process to the creation of your art. This is very much evident in the crafting of paracord. Whether you are basing your bracelet design off of a tutorial, or experimenting on your own, you must follow a set of steps to achieve your final product. From the measuring of your rope length, to the progression of your weave, there are many requisite actions that must be undertaken before your beloved design is completed. Crafting paracord most definitely satisfies this portion of Cheney’s definition of art.
Part 2: "...a conceived image or imagined conception..."
Image from Makezine
Few paracord designs are derived by accident. Whether you are following the instructions of a previous crafter, or have an idea of the knots and weaves you plan to create, there is most likely a conceived image or imagined conception to your design. Paracord crafters are often visually-oriented individuals, and can benefit from looking at a picture or video tutorial. To create art, you must have an idea of what you are wishing to create: paracord crafters do. Without help from video tutorials, my art would have never come to completion. Once you learn a certain amount of pre-conceived designs, you start conceiving your own. This is where your art will really take off.
Part 3: "...a given medium."
Image from FoodStorageSurvival
Cheney ended his definition of art by saying that a “medium” must be determined. The medium with which we create is paracord. We are able to take a small piece of rope and create beauty and art from it. The medium through which we work is our hands. Perhaps you use a jig or a fid to help you along the way, but have you ever finished a paracord design and just thought ‘wow, I made this?’ The medium in which we share our work is what really allows our art to take off. Whether we are sharing designs on social media, selling finished products to our friends, or donating crafts to charity, we are allowing our paracord talents to be seen. Art is meant to be shared. Through our various mediums, we share it.
Crafting with paracord is art in its purest form. I’m very grateful for my newfound obsession, because without it I may have never realized my potential as an artist. For me, and maybe many of you, paracording is the stepping stone to a life filled with creative expression. I wonder if Picasso would have gotten his start from paracord, too?
Make sure to like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, add us to your Google+ circle, check out our Pinterest, and send us a snapchat at "ParacordPlanet." We are frequently running contests for FREE paracord on every one of these social media mediums, and we'd love to get to know you all better!
Written by: Jackson Yakowicz, P2 Intern
Contact at email@example.com
Wednesday, July 16, 2014
Young Paracording Entrepreneurs
Tomorrow's Business Leaders are Crafting Paracord Today
Theo Waitkus, Paracord Planet fan
The value of a dollar is vastly inflated in the eyes of a child. As a kid, I used to do anything for a few bucks. I remember the dog days of summer, when my neighbors and I would set up a streetside lemonade stand, beckoning walkers-by to make a purchase. It took us about 6 hours to accrue a whopping $5 in total profit, and only 30 seconds to blow that entire amount on candy at the local gas station. We didn’t care. We were young, ambitious, and hungry for any little portion of wealth we could find. The same entrepreneurial passion is alive and well in the hearts of youth ten years later. I grant paracord some of the credit for this. Paracord crafting has not only become a way to spend one’s afternoon, but also has become a viable business venture for children of all ages. Listed below are the most valuable lessons a child can learn about running a business from selling paracord bracelets to friends and family.
Lesson #1: How to be creative
Image from Rothco
The first thing a paracord crafter must establish is their competitive advantage. What can you make that nobody else can?! You have to keep a watchful eye on your competition and make it your sole objective to create more original products. This requires creativity. A child’s imagination is his/her most coveted asset. The uninhibited mind of a child is able to develop an unfathomable range of ideas. This means an unlimited amount of paracord designs. Creative weave and knot patterns will be the stepping stone that children use to further their business. When they enter the corporate business world, it’ll be the same. A creative product is as necessary in the industrial market as it is in the market for paracord bracelets. Young entrepreneurs will learn how to continually expand their creative minds through selling paracord designs.
Lesson #2: Understanding supply and demand
Image from Lead Energy
My first economics course in high school was nearly the death of me. I also never crafted nor sold paracord bracelets while growing up. Coincidence? Maybe. Seriously though, kids can learn a major lesson in basic economics through their bracelet business. How many bracelets do I have to craft this week? How much raw paracord and how many paracord buckles will I have to buy to satisfy these orders? Not only will a child learn the relationship between supply and demand, but also will learn how to increase demand through marketing. Whether they choose the word-of-mouth route, wherein Billy tells Jessica that Little Joey down the block can make an awesome bracelet, or they go to social media to post listings for their products, children have the opportunity to make their brand known. Learning how to price their products is another lesson for these young saleschildren. Selling paracord bracelets is the ultimate Economics 101 lesson for a kid.
Lesson #3: Distributing your product
Image from Mambo Sprouts
After a product is created and a customer is interested in purchasing said product, your saleschild is going to need to get the product to their customer. This is where their lesson on distribution will come in. Whether the distribution involves packing bracelets in one’s backpack and delivering them at school or sending them in the mail, kids will learn a valuable lesson here. Not only does the product have to stay safe and in-tact, but it also must be delivered at a reasonable time. The same concerns emerge in the corporate world. Quality and timeliness are the keys here. Our young entrepreneurs will learn the benefits of having a proper distribution system during their bracelet-selling endeavor.
Lesson #4: Managing customer relations
Image from Cindy Tansin
The final, and arguably most valuable, lesson a child will learn from crafting and selling paracord products is customer relations. In an ideal world, every customer we ever encounter will be exuberant and joyous with their love for our product. Unfortunately, universal satisfaction is a mythical goal. A child may encounter a few customers who are less-than-happy with their order. They will learn the ramifications that come along with an unhappy customer, and will learn how to improve the quality of their product to avoid encountering this unpleasant event again. Children will learn how to respond to adversity and persevere, which is very possibly the most important lesson for any businessperson to learn. Our young entrepreneurs’ early lessons in regards to customer relationship management will really set them ahead in the business environment of their future.
Making paracord bracelets most likely will not make your child rich. However, it will make them rich with knowledge of important business concepts. I firmly believe that the best entrepreneurs and business executives of our future are busy crafting and selling paracord bracelets today. So, encourage your child, younger sibling, or neighbor to get into paracord crafting; it just could be what leads them to success in their future.
Image from Grand River Toys
Make sure to like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, add us to your Google+ circle, check out our Pinterest, and add us on Snapchat at “ParacordPlanet.” We are frequently running contests and giveaways on all of these social media mediums, and would love to connect with our fans here!
Written by: Jackson Yakowicz, P2 Intern
Contact at firstname.lastname@example.org
Wednesday, July 9, 2014
Bracelets for Men
Four paracord bracelets designed for guys
I’ll always remember the time I was emasculated by a 4-year-old. I’m entrusting you readers with a hallmark moment in terms of my awkwardness, so feel honored. It was last summer, and I had just finished playing some beach volleyball at the local lake. On my drive home, I became flooded with an overwhelming urge for ice cream (these things happen, just go with it). I swerved into a Cub Foods parking lot, quickly found the freezer aisle in the store, and grabbed a carton of Haagen-Dasz. It was late in the afternoon, and naturally the lines for the cash registers were jam-packed. Behind me in line were a young mother and her son (my future nemesis). The boy piped up “Hey mom, why is that guy wearing a bracelet?! Is he a girl?!” I blushed, looked down at my yellow Livestrong bracelet, and nervously shuffled my way into a different checkout lane. Bill Cosby wasn’t lying; kids do say the darndest things. I realized however that this little boy’s opinion reflected a greater societal belief. The rigidity of gender roles in modern society limits jewelry to the confines of a female-only accessory. I’m here to change that. Listed below are some of the roughest and toughest paracord bracelets that will change the preconceived notion that bracelets are for girls only.
#1: The Fire-Starter Bracelet
Man’s obsession with fire is virtually universal. From the early days of cavemen creating sparks with stone to the more modern applications in campfires and fireworks, I think every male is at least partially pyromaniac. With a flint-rod buckle, your paracord bracelet can be transformed into a fire-starter, too! Using the seven interior strands in your paracord as kindling, you can easily set your kindling aflame with the buckle. This bracelet is applicable in a multitude of survival situations, but also in simpler situations such as creating a smaller bonfire. Check out this video to see how the fire starter paracord bracelet works.
#2: The Fishing Bracelet
Image from Paracordable
My frequent readers are already well aware of my fascination with paracord’s fishing applications, but I can’t help it! A paracord bracelet that can be used to reel in some dinner out on the lake is just incredible to me. By removing the interior strands of your paracord and filling the outer shell with fishing line instead, you are well on your way to a successful pontoon ride. Take the picture above as an example of how you can better use your paracord bracelet as a makeshift tacklebox. Check out this video to see how the fishing paracord bracelet works.
#3: The USB Bracelet
Image from Finders Keepers Creations
Now this one is unique. As an office worker, I’m accustomed to the frustrations of a missing USB flash drive. I’ve seen a lot of ways in which a flash drive can be better accounted for, including attaching it to a keychain or the handle of your watter bottle. However, this is new. A USB that acts as the buckle on your paracord bracelet is as awesome as it is creative. While you’re at the office, you never have to worry about misplacing your flash drive or being unable to access your files. Check out this tutorial to see how you can make your own USB paracord bracelet.
#4: The Monkey Fist Bracelet
Image from Paracord Forum
I’ve always been intrigued by the monkey fist. When I first started working here at Paracord Planet, my desk buddy was playing around with one. I asked him what he was holding, and then he started whipping it around in the air. Accidentally (or so he claims), he lost hold of it and it missed my head by only a matter of inches. I literally dodged a bullet. Whether you are using the monkey fist for self-defense or demolition, it surely does the trick. Attaching a monkey fist to your paracord bracelet makes for a pretty awesome piece of jewelry. Check out this tutorial to see how to create your own monkey fist paracord bracelet.
The next time I’m approached by a 4-year-old sexist in a checkout line, I will proudly boast my paracord bracelet. The paracord bracelet is truly a unisex accessory, and designed for people of any age, as well. The applications of paracord bracelets and capacity for creative crafting are infinite. What ideas do you have to enhance your bracelet? Let me know in the comment section below!
Make sure to like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, add us to your Google+ circles, check out our Pinterest, and add us on Snapchat at “ParacordPlanet.” We frequently run contests and giveaways on all of these social media venues, and would love to get to know our fans even better!!
Written by: Jackson Yakowicz, P2 Intern
Contact at email@example.com
To read more of Jack’s work, view his full blog.
Wednesday, July 2, 2014
Stars, Stripes, and Paracord
The history and expansion of paracord in the USA
U.S.A., U.S.A., U.S.A. Go anywhere in America, start that chant, and I can almost guarantee the room will erupt into a thunderous roar of national pride. OK, don’t try that in a movie theater or at a silent auction, but you catch my drift. Say what you will about Americans and the shortcomings of the United States, but one thing we have in surplus is pride in our country. The Home of the Brave and Land of the Free also deserve a lot of credit for the discovery and expansion of paracord. As the 4th of July approaches, I want to dedicate this blog post to the unique relationship between my beloved country and paracord.
Image from WW2 in Color
To trace the lineage of paracord, we have to journey to the battlefields in World War II. The United States Military introduced a new form of cord—“paracord,” as it would be later known—to be used as the suspension lines for their parachuting expeditions. Once paratroopers were in the field, they began to develop new uses for this paracord. The slender, strength-resistant rope fulfilled many functions including attaching equipment to harnesses, tying rucksacks to vehicle racks, securing camouflage nets to trees and vehicles, and being used as a pace counter to estimate ground coverage. Outside of the initial uses discovered by the military, paracord’s versatility continued to expand domestically. In 1997, during one of the early shuttle missions (STS-82), NASA astronauts accessed the highly useful cord to repair damaged insulation on the Hubble Space Telescope. It could be said that over the seventy years since its inception, paracord has subtly shaped American history.
USA-Themed Paracord Projects
The popularity of the red, white, and blue combination amongst bracelets is indicative of how prideful paracord crafters from the States truly are. We love our country, so why shouldn't our crafts indicate that?! Displayed below are some of my personal favorite USA-themed paracord products. How sweet are these?!
Image from Etsy
Image from Survival Straps
Image from The Hansens
Image from Unique Rope Craft
The "Made in the U.S.A." Promise
To be honest, before interning with Paracord Planet, I didn't realize the intangible added-value of a domestically-made product. Paracord Planet is a true American company. We hire employees right here in Fargo, choose domestic suppliers to responsibly source from, and pride ourselves in helping the U.S. economy continue to climb upwards. Not only that, but parachute cord was originally created by Americans. We can manufacture the best paracord, because we invented it. Every package you receive from Paracord Planet displays the "Made in the U.S.A." emblem to serve as a reminder to our customers that they are helping their country with every purchase they make. Stars, stripes, and paracord: that's my America.
Have an awesome Independence Day!! Make sure to like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, add us to your Google+ circle, and check out our Pinterest. Also, add us on Snapchat at "ParacordPlanet." We are giving out free paracord ALL THE TIME on all five social media venues!! Don't miss your opportunity to win all you can!
Written by: Jack Yakowicz, Paracord Planet Intern
Contact at firstname.lastname@example.org