We recently sponsored District Time. For those of you who don't know it's an annual one-day watch show in Washington DC featuring unique and affordable timepieces from around the world. That combined with the launch of our new line of NTH Subs helped persuade, our friend, The Time Bum to interview me. Check out some of the interview below and click on the link to The Time Bum's site to see the entire interview.
TB: We’ve got some history. I launched The Time Bum in late 2013, right about the time of your first pre-order. In fact, the Riccardo prototype was one the first watch I reviewed that didn’t come out of my own collection. Since then, Lew & Huey has grown into Janis Trading Company and NTH. What has that trip been like?
CV: You’ve seen the movie “Vacation”, right? Long journey, lots of mishaps along the way, you might get a little irrational at some point, and punch a talking moose.
We passed the five year anniversary of our first sale this past April, so that was a time to look back and reflect. Whenever you do that, it’s a mixed bag of pride and embarrassment. If you’re asking me, “was it worth it?”, I’m not sure yet. I think I’m playing the long game, and we’re somewhere in the middle of it, so, maybe ask me again in another five years.
It was great that our paths crossed when we were both starting out, and it seems like you’ve also covered a lot of ground since then, so I’m sure you must have a lot of the same feels.
TB: You have participated in every watch event I have hosted and you signed on as the primary sponsor for District Time. First of all, thank you. It has been great having you on board. Second, why do you do it? Your business is entirely internet-based and rather successfully at that. What benefit do you get from schlepping down to DC from Philly every year?
CV: Well, when you put it that way… DC is two hours away from Philly. I have friends down that way. I’m used to the drive.
Yes, most brands selling in this mid-market price range are doing most of their selling online, but that leaves customers struggling to assess quality and fit, and all the other things you can do in a store. I think it’s a good idea, for micros especially, to take advantage of every possible opportunity to get their product in front of its intended audience.
TB: I’ve met quite a few microbrand owners and while all of them take their watches seriously, very few have made their brands a full-time endeavor they way you have. Do you think that affects the way you approach this business?
CV: It has to. When you have a full-time job that pays your bills, that’s your focus, and your business is just a side-hustle.
When your business has to pay your bills, it forces you to think more, to be more deliberate, to learn more quickly, to react more quickly, to see around corners. I know a lot of my part-time peers, and it can be hard to respond when they ask how to achieve the same results.
It’s like asking how to run a marathon when you never run more than a mile or two per week. How do you wrap your head around the training you need to do to be able to run 26 miles nonstop? The best times are clocked by people who ran 38-44 miles per week. It takes commitment.
TB: Everyone with a product to sell has some engagement on social media, but looking at your activity on the forums, Facebook, and Instagram, you seem to live in it. How do you maintain that level of activity and how has it affected your brands?
CV: I eat a lot of carbs.
It really only makes sense if you know me personally. I grew up being the overlooked underdog, and I figured out early on that I was only going to get where I wanted to go if I was willing and able to out-think and out-work my competition.
Social media is just a digital/global playing field, where I’m just doing what I’ve always done. It’s been good for the business, obviously, but I’ve had to accept the nastiness which comes with the territory. You run your business in full view of the public, expect some heckling.
I try not to take it all too personally or let it bother me too much, but the only way I know how to do that is to just turn the receiver off. But then, of course, it becomes obvious to everyone that you’ve tuned out, so you lose your fans. I don’t know how to stay connected AND be immune to the BS.
Read the rest of the interview here: