Learn how founder of Kula Cloth, Anastasia Allison, was able to triples sales and spend more time on what matters by partnering with ShipBob.
Kula Cloth is a reusable, intentionally designed antimicrobial pee cloth product that eliminates toilet paper waste in the wilderness. It’s a great Leave No Trace alternative that’s both comfortable and has a positive impact on the environment.
- 3x growth since partnering with ShipBob
- 2 production facilities in the US
- 73 orders shipped in a day without lifting a finger
Kula Cloth™ is a game-changing reusable microbial pee cloth, designed for hikers, backpackers, and anyone else who loves enjoying most of their time outdoors. It is an ideal Leave No Trace option — an ethical standard for any type of wilderness activity.
Many people believe that leaving behind used toilet paper outside will eventually disappear, but that isn’t the case. By using Kula Cloth, people can feel good by reducing the amount of toilet paper to preserve and protect the outdoors.
Anastasia Allison, founder of Kula Cloth, is passionate about the outdoors and loves hiking, mountaineering, and backpacking. She also loves her business.
As her business organically grew in rapid pace, she found herself spending most of her days printing labels and shipping boxes. She knew something had to give, so she started looking into fulfillment partners.
We had the pleasure to speak with Anastasia Allison to discuss the evolution of Kula Cloth, growth challenges, and how partnering with a 3PL has been a lifechanger.
Inspired by a passion for the outdoors
The following story was told to ShipBob by Anastasia Allison, Founder of Kula Cloth.
The idea for Kula Cloth initiated when I was on a backpacking trip in Alpine Lakes Wilderness in Washington. As I was enjoying the scenery at Robin Lakes, I was disgusted by the tremendous amount of used toilet paper left behind. I started researching alternatives to packing a ton of toilet paper and leaving it behind.
I came across Leave No Trace options, such as using a bandana or a piece of microfiber and I never looked back. From there, I had a vision to create a microfiber pee cloth that would become a standard piece of gear.
My thought was that if it was intentionally designed, more people would be on board to ditch packing and leaving behind toilet paper for good.
Hiking into unknown territory
Before I started Kula Cloth, I was a police officer living in Washington and teaching backpacking for a non-profit on the side. Ever since my trip to Robin Lakes, the idea never left the back of my mind, but I hesitated at first. Then, I was hit with a significant wake-up call.
In January 2017 my mom, my husband and I were traveling back from a trip and we were almost hit by a semi-truck. It was one of those surreal moments when your life slows down. I was so intensely in the present moment that I started reflecting on what I wanted out of my life.
I decided to quit my job as a police officer to pursue my idea for a more intentionally designed pee cloth that would come in different designs and patterns. I started buying fabric and asked a friend to help me learn how to sew a square.
Once I had a prototype, I started giving them out to people to test and took their feedback to tweak the design. Kula Cloth was officially launched on 20 July, 2018 with a pre-sale and sold 850 units!
Climbing the mountain
Soon after the pre-sale, Kula Cloth continued to grow, but my time became more limited. I was leashed to my label printer and my house to fulfill orders constantly. It would take me all day to pack and ship about 30 orders. If I wanted to go on a trip, I’d have to bring along my label printer, products, and packing supplies. It hit me hard when I was on a trip in Nevada with my husband and still spending all my time on fulfillment.
“I found myself on vacation constantly checking on new orders, finding wifi to print labels, and shipping inventory out of the back of my car. Now, I’m free. I could not have gone backpacking for 3 days without ShipBob.”
Anastasia Allison, founder of Kula Cloth
If I was going to proceed with the business and grow, I knew something had to change. I had to let go of some things that was preventing me from my own success, so I started looking into fulfillment partners and came across ShipBob.
Fulfilling 3x more orders by doing less with ShipBob
I partnered with ShipBob in May 2019. I was terrified to outsource fulfillment at first, but I knew that what I was doing was completely unsustainable. I would have prevented my own success had I kept trying to do everything myself. It turns out ShipBob has exceeded my expectations.
Since switching to ShipBob, my company’s orders have more than tripled now that I’m able to spend more time looking at the big picture, rather than doing things like stuffing envelopes all day. I don’t have to worry about the minutiae and day-to-day. I’m now truly the owner, not the operator.
Even when evaluating other 3PLs, ShipBob was by far the easiest, most reasonably priced option with the nicest, most genuine people. Other 3PLs gave me confusing pricing with many per-item fees, which were hard to grasp and calculate ultimate costs.
I’ve had nothing but good interactions with the ShipBob folks and their management team. My account manager walked me through everything, and I get genuine care with quick responses — not just transactional like paying a vendor — but they are really an extension of my team.
They’ve helped me experience more sustainability, freedom and success. I can’t imagine my business without them. It’s crazy — my sales will go up when I go hiking. I can see the orders come in while backpacking, and I don’t have to rush home to frantically stuff envelopes.
“To say that switching to ShipBob has been life-changing is an understatement. Thinking big picture, it was an incremental cost for me to ultimately sell a lot more. My business has tripled and I got my life back.”
Anastasia Allison, founder of Kula Cloth
The ShipBob integration with Shopify is so easy that even I can do it — and I need a reminder of how to turn on the TV. It’s that seamless and intuitive that even my mom, in her 60s, has helped me. I showed her how to use ShipBob’s technology and it was so easy for her, too.
What’s next for Anastasia and Kula Cloth
Kula Cloth has grown quickly — it’s really becoming an essential and standard piece of gear! I love seeing people on the trail with their kulas. It’s a bonding moment. I even get messages about women who were complete strangers and have became friends from conversations over their kulas.
I’ve also been fortunate to ship orders to customers from around the world. The process of shipping internationally to optimize costs has been easy. There’s no difference on my website for international shipping except adding tariff codes on products. Otherwise ShipBob handles everything for me. Best of all, the price that ShipBob charges to ship internationally is less than it costs for me to print a USPS label myself.
I’m excited to start partnering with more nature gear and backpack companies to better position Kula Cloth as an item that should be on every backpack, while normalizing the conversation around hygiene.
I’m also working on new prints and working with more retailers. I’m in a good place now where I can allow aspects of the business to grow organically without frantically trying so hard. I continue to ship to more customers around the world and feel very confident preparing for the holidays, 2020, and beyond.
If you’re considering outsourcing fulfillment, try to visualize where you want your company to go. Is your time well spent packing boxes? Most likely not. I highly recommend ShipBob to anybody who is running an online business.
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