SPORT - INTERVIEW
Monday, June 4, 2018
SPORT - INTERVIEW
by Mehmet Kaplan
Every camping experience is a new knowledge. Each of us uses this knowledge for different purposes. Wes Johnson used these experiences to develop the best product he could offer his users. He founded Lawson Hammock in 2005 and designed The Blue Ridge Camping Hammock as comfortable, safe and aesthetic hammock for outdoor lovers. And his new design was not a local success, currently, you could find Lawson Hammock products nationwide outdoor chain stores such as Cabela's and Bass Pro Shops.
I talked with Wes Johnson, Founder and CEO of Lawson Hammock, about The Blue Ridge Camping Hammock and his future plans. Enjoy the interview.
Could you tell us a little about your background? What inspired you to design hammocks?
I was a Textile Major at NC State University, so that came in handy but the “hammock” thing happened more by chance. I've always loved the outdoors and wanted to create a business around a cool product that would enhance the outdoor experience.
Wes, not many innovative products celebrate their thirteenth birthday. What is the secret? What are Blue Ridge Camping Hammock differences from the others?
That’s very true and I’ve been fortunate. Not sure if there's a secret, but creating a quality product that’s versatile, not “gimmicky” and that appeals to a wide demographic in a popular/stable industry (outdoor/camping) definitely helps. Our camping hammock has a spreader bar/arch pole system that keeps the bed of the hammock flatter and more taut, making it more comfortable by eliminating a lot of the banana and cocoon effect created by other hammocks. This system also enables use on the ground as a tent which is very appealing and greatly increases the camping terrain options available. It’s the best of both worlds…a hammock and a tent.
Between design and production, there are always very significant contentions. What was the biggest challenge you faced in the development process? How did you solve?
Yes, there are always challenges in every aspect of the business. In the development process, I’d say the biggest challenge was finding a manufacturer that we trusted and that understood the overall product, as well as the the detail and quality we required. I was lucky to connect with a great manufacturer at a trade show who dealt with high-end tents and checked off all the boxes were were looking for. We’ve been working with them ever since.
How could you describe Blue Ridge Camping Hammock? Why is it your flagship product?
The Blue Ridge Camping Hammock is a hybrid tent-hammock. It was our first product and the main product that the business was built around.
Is it easy to carry and use? How long does it take to set up Blue Ridge Camping Hammock in nature?
Yes, it’s very easy to carry and use. It easily attaches to the top, side or bottom of a typical backpack. It can be set up in only a few minutes.
What is Blue Ridge Camping Hammock capacity? How many kg/lbs can it carry?
The stated weight limit is 275lbs. It’s technically for one person, but we get plenty of customers who use it with two people. Really just depends how big the two people are and how they like to sleep.
Did you participate to trade shows for introducing your products to retailers and wholesalers? if yes, What type of feedback did you get?
Yes, I have exhibited at the Outdoor Retailer show in Salt Lake City (now in Denver). It was intimidating at first because all of the big boys and major players (Patagonia, Mountain Hardware, etc) are there as are all of the major retail buyers. All feedback was very positive, even if it wasn’t a good fit for their particular demographic. Everyone was supportive and feedback was generally geared towards what other products we should add or what stores we should approach.
We know that these innovative hammocks were your idea. Production to promotion, who are you working with? Could you tell us about your team members and their roles?
Well, I really only re-designed and improved on existing product and that enabled me to get a patent. As far as Lawson Hammock company, it’s just me. However, I have a great outside/third party teams helping me, including our factory, our warehouse/fulfillment company, our retailers and a couple of distributors.
Social media has changed some rules marketing. What do you think about using social media for marketing?
Social media is key for us. Our product is very visual, so we’ve had the most success with Instagram where we currently have over 43k followers. It’s great because our customers love our product and are always sharing amazing photos from cool places. Virtually all of our content is user-generated, so we don’t have to pay tons of money for professional photography or content. It’s so fun receiving messages from happy customers and checking out their incredible photos. Although, it does give me a major case of the wanderlusts!
Where can our readers buy Blue Ridge Camping Hammock and your other products?
Our website is www.lawsonhammock.com. Our products are also sold by various online retailers like Amazon, Moosejaw and Backcountry.com and brick & mortars like Cabela’s and Bass Pro Shops, etc.
You are located in the US. Could our readers buy your products from other countries? Do you offer worldwide shipping?
Yes, the company is located in Raleigh, North Carolina and our warehouse is based in Boise, Idaho. We ship all over the world and are frequently shipping our products to international customers.
What are your future plans?
To keep growing the company by adding other innovative products and expanding our retailer and international distribution.
Thank you Wes.