The ten years leading up to BEVISGEAR becoming a fully realized dream came with its fair share of setbacks, as well as small victories.
The roots of The Top Shelf date back to 2011. My brother, Matt, being a photographer, noticed there was a common problem with camera bags on the market. At the time, there was nothing that bridged the gap between quick access and capacity. Therefore, Matt planned to carve out a new niche in the camera bag industry by designing and producing something novel.
Primarily, he would need to acquire investment to begin the process of bringing his idea to life. Before production could even begin, designs would need to be drafted and prototyped, in addition, patents would need to be filed. While our mother was kind enough to loan Matt a small amount, the majority of the investment would come from the father of Matt's friend. He shared the idea with the two, and they immediately wanted in as partners. Little did he know, the duo would make an underhanded attempt to steal the company, resulting in five years of legal battles, lawyer consultations, and eventually a settlement in Provincial Court.
In 2018, after years of legal negotiations with the two unscrupulous investors, we finally retained 100% ownership of our company. After years of delays, we could get back to the business of pursuing our dream.
Shortly after the settlement, Matt left for Vietnam to spend an entire year working alongside manufacturers to perfect the details of designing and producing the bag. He went through prototype after prototype, not settling for anything less than his vision of perfect efficiency. If a feature was not up to par, he would go back to the drawing board. Through the various alterations to the basic design, features such as the sling strap, platform system, and open layout compartments began to take shape. After a year, Matt was satisfied with the final design and was ready to launch The Top Shelf Kickstarter campaign.
We made preparations for the launch and hired a marketing team. As our launch day approached, our plans came to a grinding halt as the pandemic hit. Our campaign was delayed for almost a year, but in February 2021, we carried out our original plan and opened up our Kickstarter campaign to potential backers.
While we used certain methods to enhance the reach of our campaign, we were fairly surprised at the amount of organic traffic we received. By the end of the month, the results of the campaign far exceeded our original goal, as well as our expectations. We had amassed over 3500 pledges from backers who believed in our product, which resulted in over $1.2 million in funds raised. Matt and I were elated to have tangible evidence that our efforts translated into real-world benefits for so many photographers. Wanting to show our appreciation for our early customers' support and patience, we offered a generous discount to those early backers.
Our family partnership has achieved much in the past year, however, this is only the beginning of the BEVISGEAR brand. Eventually, we plan to create multiple versions of the bag to expand the demographic of photographers we can serve. While we are closing off a decade-long chapter, we are also looking forward to the journey that awaits us. We’re sure that many hurdles lay ahead, but our excitement for the potential of our little company is unbridled. It is our sincere hope that you will join us for the ride!