Supporting People that Support People
A few weeks ago, in an extreme moment of stress and a little bit of faith and hope, I word-vomited a Facebook post about how BlackCat was looking for a truck and an espresso machine.
Plot Twist: Every event that you guys have allowed us to attend, we have been on borrowed gear, chances we don't deserve, and a prayer that somehow, some way we get through it well enough to not catch on fire and embarrass ourselves in front of the community we have wanted to be a part of even before we started BlackCat-even before we starting pretending to ride motorcycles.
So I put this post out. In my head, I'm thinking, "Oh. Well I'm just gonna put the feelers out there and hope that someone knows someone, who knows a friend that works for a guy that gave another dude a high-five, and that guy will tell us where we can find all of this gear that we're too broke to afford."
It took 20 minutes.
I got a call from a friend that I haven't talked to in years. Actually I wouldn't even call us "friends". We've never hung out. I haven't had the opportunity to spend time with this person. I mean, I think they are so cool and I would love to hang out with them. But I barely really know them, they don't owe me anything, I'm no one to that person from a business sense. Yet they took the time to ask for my number, reach out, and say, "Hey. I work for this company. I want to help. Let's [do this and this and this and that]."
Here's the thing:
In a time where small business should be pretty cut-throat, where you're fighting for your "spot" as a business, trying to carve out your own niche in the market you want to be in, you wouldn't think that helping another business would be the best move, right? I mean, I give everything away to other companies because, "friendship is tight" and seeing buddies wear your gear and drink your coffee and give you little shoutouts on Instagram is cool, but from a purely fiscal stand point, there is really no major benefit to giving away or hooking up another small business-ESPECIALLY one that shares the same market as you.
I read a small article about community written by The Ikeda Center (You can read it here ) where in 2005, the center asked several people whose work involves community building what community meant to them and why it was important. The simplest answer was the thing that nailed me down. Hard.
Thats it. One sentence. "Community is about growing with others." It is such a simple-almost TOO simple concept to understand and apply to everything that you do. THIS, without us realizing it, is what BlackCat's foundation was built upon. People supporting people- one company growing with others.
I realized that the market we have put ourselves into: coffee, motorcycles, small-batch clothing, and a little bit of philanthropy, all of these types markets rely heavily upon the community that they surround themselves with. We rely on the chances and the opportunities of support that we are not only given by the people around us but through the chances and opportunities of support that we provide for those people as well. We have somehow "friended" our way into first-name basis, hang out, visiting on the weekends status with some of the biggest companies that we have only ever seen in magazines and Instagram.
There isn't a moral to this story. I'm not sure that there really is a story here-I mean, it's not over yet. There is so much to do for BlackCat and there will probably always be things to do. But it has been so rad to realize that we are not alone, fighting our way through the establishment of ourselves as a brand. Which is great, because we are going to need just all of the help.
There is one thing that I know for sure:
It is never, ever, detrimental to support another company. It doesn't hurt your company to cross-promote a similar brand or a brand that you truly just believe in. And I think that is just so rad.