“Consciously sharing prosperity through e-commerce product sales.”
Katherine Ruiz realized at the young age of six that she wanted to help others. Her first moment of consciousness came when a new student, who spoke barely any English from Mexico, was sitting alone in the cafeteria after others learned she had the chicken pox. Katherine, who was bilingual, sat next to the little girl when everyone else had left the table. Now, she did get chicken pox soon after the next day but credits her handful of pox marks to the good act. She realized from that point forward that doing good can mitigate the challenges that one is up against and help lead to greater outcomes for all.
As a recent graduate of Venture Forth (#29 – it was her anniversary present!), Katherine has hit some major milestones with her startup KR Industries, whose first product ShearStore.com launches at the end of this year. ShearStore.com will sell “social scissors” to help manufacturers from third-world countries earn more money, improve their working standards and expand their market. While she’s been pitching and promoting herself and the company all around town, it was a bit of a roller coaster ride. After making her first wholesale in Ecuador in December 2014 she realized that her dream could be a reality. Unfortunately, she quickly realized that her original business model wasn’t going to work for the impact she wanted to achieve and she would have to re-invent KR Industries. It was at this point that she attended a Tech Ranch Campfire and signed up for Venture Forth. In her own words, “Venture Forth kept me engaged, propelled me and my business forward and created strong connections that continue to provide support, encouragement, acceptance, confidence and strength.”
About KR Industries:
We are taking small steps and making slow, but consistent progress. We have been working to create a marketplace to help those who are skillfully making high quality products but are unable to sell directly to wholesalers or consumers due to a lack of knowledge and resources. With the branding of our first product (hairdressing scissors), we have established a solid “proof of concept”: Essentially, that there are viable ways of establishing sustainable and conscious business models that can lead to equitable benefits for the marketer/seller (“Us”), the skilled maker/craftsmen/worker, and the customer in terms of profit, wages, education, better standard of living and consumer savings, to name a few. We understand that “business as usual” would make “Us” the greater margin earner, especially with markup potentials of 700% – 1500% and the justification of marketing, travel, branding, employees, and other expenses may make it seem fair to keep most of this profit/benefit, but the reality is there are truly fair methods to make a decent profit while being more equitable with makers and the consumers.
In the hair scissor industry (as with others), there are many layers of middlemen that make significantly greater percentages of profit than the craftsmen of the product. As an example, one standard quality hair shear from a well known brand, handmade in Pakistan with Japanese Stainless Steel, retails for $259 (premium-line shears, retail for $699/per scissor). The craftsman in Pakistan earns $200-$300 per month depending on his skill set (working over 48-hours per week and barely covering food and shelter). One skilled craftsman’s monthly income is roughly what one standard shear sells for at retail; making the disparity astounding. On the other hand, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average U.S. hairdresser (who often needs a minimum of three scissors) earns $10.95/hour or $1750/month gross income (a single tool of the trade costs 15% of one average hairstylist’s monthly income – that does not include all the other tools and products they purchase regularly).
Thus the road to take is clear to us….Our plan is to sell our brand online directly to our customers (wholesale and retail), offering standard to high-end shears, with the goal of a fair financial benefit for each of the main three parties…where we and everyone working with us makes a decent living and our customers get quality products at decent prices.
What we learned from Katherine:
Favorite Word: Espectacular (yes, that’s Spanish, Katherine was born in and still has a home in Colombia)
Favorite Pastime: Cooking
Advice for Entrepreneurs:
- Don’t stay at home and expect business to move forward
- Find connections, take advantage of resources in town and don’t skimp on investing in yourself as an entrepreneur
- It is important to sell and not feel shame doing so
Finally…a request for our community:
Please tell any hairdressers you know sign up for launch notice and offer for KR’s social scissors on ShearStore.com. It is a great deal for a quality tool with an underlying mission!