Roughly one year ago I made the announcement that we were pulling the plug on the mug department at MudLOVE.  I remember the anxiety surrounding that time in my life. The loss our community and die-hard mug fans would feel from this decision weighed heavy on me.  Talking to my team before the announcement left me feeling sick, thinking about how only a few words could change their perception of me, and the trust they had in me as their leader.  They built mugs at a high level, and none of this was their fault.  

When I decided we should give you all one more opportunity to order a mug, ha, well let’s just say we were surprised.  In the two days left to order mugs, sales blew up beyond what we could handle with our team that was just cut in half.  In fact, I had to make some calls to bring part of the team back just to get through the orders on hand. There were some mixed feelings in there, feeling the love and support from everyone ordering, and also the mourning of the end of an era of a product that fueled the start of MudLOVE.

Since then, I don’t think there has been one day that goes by where we aren’t asked about our mugs, especially through the holidays. So why?  Why did we make the decision to stop making mugs?  

Answers like this in small business often aren’t black and white, which in this case is no exception.  I don’t intend to list all the reasons, as I don’t think it’s necessary at this point. What I will say is that the company hit a point of needing a big change.  We needed to simplify the business and focus on doing one thing really well, and not do a lot of things at a mediocre level. The business was already in a pattern of shrinking.  We had to accept some short-term pain for long-term gain.  In the moment, the pain was real, and the long-term gain felt like wishful thinking.  However, we are here, and we have owned and reclaimed a pillar sales part of our business that helped us outgrow the garage back in 2011.  

Today, we have positioned ourselves as a market competitor in the world of custom bulk bracelets. Lame, right? Well, if reading this because you only cared about our mugs, I totally get it!  It’s not that glamorous to a mug connoisseur. However, as I thought about MudLOVE without mugs during this process, I took a hard look at what really helped scale the business, and it was bulk orders of bracelets. It reached the masses and helped us grow organically as people were given our product as a gift at an event, which then grew our purpose of love in action as people talked about the bracelet they were wearing.  The non-profits, churches, schools, small or large businesses that wanted to use MudLOVE to spread love to their constituents through a simple bracelet was exciting back then, and to me now has breathed new excitement into the future of the brand.

Let me explain a little more why this isn’t actually that lame.  If you want to buy bracelets in bulk, your options are limited.  You can go cheap with a throw-away silicone bracelet as everyone knows, or you can try the traditional friendship bracelet you see the Swifties wearing today.  There’s actually a big void here in the market, in products and in brands with a purpose. As an entrepreneur, exploring the void is what makes it exciting. Simple features, something as simple as having an adjustable - one size fits all - bracelet has never been a bigger deal to us as the competitors rely on the customer picking the right sizes for 1,000+ people. Gender neutral, plastic and silicone free are some other little things.  We’re leaning into the details that matter but aren’t “cool”, and working to get the word out about what we can offer to our customers.

As far as what is “cool” with the Swifties or Taylor Swift followers, we launched our own gender neutral, plastic free, adjustable (of course) friendship bracelets in bulk last year to try to ride the trend.  Check them out here. I’d like to be able to say that decision was a part of our master plan, it wasn’t. We just happened to finally figure out an efficient way to mass produce our own beads and ran with it. Call me crazy, but If handcrafted friendship bracelets being produced in mass volume that help women and their children break out of the cycles of poverty isn’t exciting, then I don’t know, I guess maybe I am a little crazy.

Despite my excitement, I can finally accept we may not be your mug of tea anymore. Our strategy is to be a unique, impact brand that has a competitive edge with product and price in the event and gift space, specifically bulk bracelets and accessories. It’s niche, it’s different, but it’s what built this brand in the first place and we’re all in again. It’s not going to connect with everyone we’ve worked hard to reach and keep engaged since the beginning, but it does feel good to get these words out, and be unapologetic about it because it’s something we needed to do for the future of the company.

If you do find yourself looking for small, but meaningful gifts for the people you serve, we’re here to help!  In fact, we will be running a bulk promotion every month offering bigger discounts and new product features. We’ve recently implemented a way to customize the clasp of our woven friendship bracelets, created friendship bracelets on elastic that lets us offer our biggest bulk discount yet, and we are currently working on a customizable keychain. 

Thanks for taking the time to read this and learn about what we’re up to these days.  It’s been a challenging past year, but I believe the challenge has made me better, us better, and our purpose better.




P.S. A frequently asked question is: “Will you ever bring mugs back?”  We don’t know at this time, but we know how much they have meant to our community, and that will never be forgotten, and so the idea of bringing mugs back will never leave the table.