Our One Year Anniversary

Our One Year Anniversary

Our One Year Anniversary

Parang and cookpot near campfire cover image

It's been a year!

Well folks, it has officially been one full year since the first boxes of parangs landed on the doorstep. Since then, it's been a great little experiment filled with excitement, worry, and a constant list of "How do I...", "Maybe I should...", and "What about..." questions and wonderings. I thought all weekend about how exactly to organize or structure this post, but ultimately it just seems more real to sit down and share how the year has been, stream of consciousness style.


Consider that your disclaimer. This is going to be a wall of text, with few pictures. Hopefully there's something here that's entertaining or useful. If there's something you genuinely have a follow up question on or about, don't hesitate to send an email to info@bodarktool.com and I'll get back you.


The Experiment: Curious Beginnings

Let's quickly cover how we got to a few hundred parang ending up on my doorstep from Malaysia in the first place. It's surprisingly simple. In late 2019 I wanted a parang, but I wasn't sure if I wanted to pay $100+ for one. I didn't even know if I would like it, and I sure didn't need to throw that much money at something to sit in the camp equipment closet. I also have always really admired the rustic, unrefined, "real" tools you see actual farmers and day laborers all over the world using in their daily job. If someone can use it all day, day after day, doing heavy work outside in the rice fields, fruit plantations, or jungles of some tropical country... it'll probably do just fine on my typical one to three night trips into the woods. And so began the quest: find a real parang from Malaysia and figure out how to order one.


It wasn't super difficult, but it took some time. The largest roadblocks were the language barrier, and that I was only ordering for myself. I actually spoke to two other manufacturers before the one I found who just upfront said they didn't know how to ship to the US and had no desire to learn. Then the company I found said they would ship me a sample and a catalog to help me price larger orders for my business... something I had made up to justify ordering a single sample from a wholesale manufacturer across the planet. I ordered three different blades mid 2020. They sent three and an extra they thought I would like, and a catalog.

The Heavy Parang I liked, it felt good in my hand, I liked the slight forward curve, and it was just a cool looking blade.

The earlier version of the Farmer's Parang was the same shape, but much larger. It felt awkward, bulky, and clunky. If I was going to use this, it needed to be smaller.

The Brush parang I loved, and I wanted it to have more reach. The first trip into the woods I decided to explore down the bank of a creek and used it to clear brambles, weeds, and giant ragweed... I was hooked. It was great.

We do not speak of the extra blade. It was... terrible. It has been given to a buddy who beats the hell out of it digging/prying up roots in his vege garden.

So that was it for a while. I took the blades one at a time out into the woods, played with them, had a blast, and every trip when I got home I would look through their catalog. These things weren't really pretty (they don't even use wood for their handles), but man were they fun and sturdy.


By this point we were into early fall of the 2020 pandemic, and I was getting awfully stir crazy and work slow, I was looking for something to new to do. Ordering a few hundred parangs and learning how to sell them just seemed like a fun experiment. I'm not particularly great with computers, and I actively avoid social media, but it seemed like something worth learning. After crunching the numbers a bit and a few weeks of back and forth with the Malaysian manufacturer on pricing, I figured my budget (wohooo for all those cancelled pandemic plans... I had a little extra saved up!), and finalized my order. I got super lucky having a friend who's company imports a lot of tools, so he connected me with the ocean freight company they use and their rep made a special exception for my super tiny, low volume, insignificant order. It was done! Now I just wait!

 a few hundred parangs finally making it to Texas from Malaysia

The Steel Arrives

So in case any of y'all missed the first quarter of 2021, it was a bit of a s***storm. The parangs were supposed to show up between December 28th 2020 - January 7th 2021. They arrived February 12th. DFW, Texas became a frozen land of chaos & crisis the next day. Literally. The poor guy driving the truck was unloading my boxes of metal in sleet, and my stuff was the only stuff on that truck. Anyway, there were also some other events at the beginning of the year that really screwed up some things, one of those being all of social media ratcheting up security and blocking/removing all ads for anything that would be considered a weapon... aka anything with a blade. I had spent hours working on a few different graphics for Facebook ads to kick off the parang sales. I had saved aside and budgeted $20 a week to see how it worked, and have been reading online blogs and marketing sites and watching youtube constantly to learn how to get Facebook and Instagram ads to work best for me. It was all ruined. Gone. It felt like the wind got knocked out of me when I woke up sat morning to the email that my items are forbidden on both platforms.


Back to the drawing board! I doubled down on learning how (aka committing to actually) social media. I begrudgingly took 5-12 pictures each weekend when I took the dog hiking or went on over night camps with friends. Since then, I've tried to make it a habit to post at least once a week. In April I opened up shop on Etsy. Also a smaller influencer picked up some of my blades and asked if he could make some vids of them. All that to say that it's taken a bit of grit, patience, and ingenuity, but it's started to work. In the process I've learned a ton, as I'm writing this I've decided I'll outline all those learnings in another post sometime this week.


Just an hour or so ago (it's 10:00 PM at the time of writing) I confirmed payment for four more samples of new blade styles, and I am slowly grinding away at the next mission: Find just the steel blades, and then let local craftsmen/women here in Texas make premium, nicer handles for some higher quality blades. A friend on the other side of Dallas is currently on prototype #3 for a leather sheathe (fitted to hold either a Heavy or Brush parang).


What's Next?

In short, it's been a helluva ride, and I think we're just getting started. Do I think this will replace my full time job? Very slim-to-no chance. But it's been fun and it stays fun (most of the time). I've built a website, I've explored social media, I've fought with the State about sales tax, I've experienced the excitement of lengthy, wonderful 5-star reviews, and the disappointment and frustration of a single 1-star review with zero feedback (how can I make it right if you won't say what's wrong or respond?), and I've learned just how bad I am at taking pictures. Now the brain is turning and figuring out next steps, and how to make the project more meaningful and creative. I want to make more stuff, finding cool things across the planet was is nice, but I want to do more. This sure beats sitting around playing PC games.


Next Post: The list of stuff I've learned. Stay tuned!



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