This week, JD sits down with fellow retailer and friend, Ian Sturgeon, President of Double Under Wonder, the creators of the most customizable jump rope for CrossFit. After opening and training at a gym in Canon City, Colorado, Ian saw a need for sturdy jump ropes that would appeal to his growing base of female clientele and continually support their workouts. Although Ian invests in online advertising, he explains why customer generated content and personal referrals perform best for his brand.

You can find Double Under Wonder on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!

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Ian: If I wouldn’t have launched it with that mindset, it definitely would’ve failed even within the first month.

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JD: What are the actual tactical things that you’re doing to attract people?

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JD: Hello and welcome to E-Commerce In The Trenches. I’m JD Crouse. And today I’m excited to bring to you a good friend of mine, Ian Sturgeon of Double Under Wonder. And I’ve known Ian for several years now and we’ve actually done work together and welcome Ian.

Ian: Hey thanks for having me JD.

JD: Yeah. Absolutely. So I wanna start off by talking a little bit about Double Under Wonder and then we’re gonna … I’m gonna hopefully pull out some nuggets about your varied work history. Of all of the things that you have done in the past.

Ian: How much time do we have?

JD: Yeah. 20 or 30 minutes. So I don’t know that we have enough time to go through every job that you’ve had but it should be fun nonetheless. So tell me about Double Under Wonder and why does it exist? Why did you create Double Under Wonder.

Ian: So why does Double Under Wonder exist? In the beginning I was just searching for something that my wife could do in her spare time. And so I went to work just looking for products that I could sell online and something that I would care about and she would care about and it turned into my project instead of her project and I just sort of ran with it.
At the time I was training at a gym. At a gym that I founded actually. And over the years … When I opened our gym I expected it to be me and my guy friends from church gettin’ together and workin’ out together but I quickly saw that a lot of women were coming in. And that it was more female based than I imagined it to be when I started that gym. And that gym eventually turned into our town’s crossfit gym and I was still a trainer there.
Just seeing all these women coming in and as a crossfit trainer I would always build jump ropes and if somebody’s jump rope broke I would fix it and I would cannibalize one jump rope to build … I would cannibalize three jump ropes to build one good one sometimes. So I was building jump ropes and I was looking for something to sell online and all those different things were in play and I just had this idea for the world’s most customizable jump rope. And so that’s what I built and well it started out as just finding something for my wife to do in her spare time, it turned into a company that supports women that are trying to be active and they care about style and want something fun and things to keep them interested in the gym. That’s kinda where we’re at now. I left out a lot of pieces of how we’ve evolved but that’s the short answer.

JD: Nice. So basically you started to sell jump ropes?

Ian: I mean yeah. We started to sell jump ropes but we quickly realized that we were not gonna win the price game. We’re not gonna sell the world’s cheapest jump rope so we had to inject a lot of personality and the customization of them is a piece of it too. Woman can go online and pick all the colors of their jump rope and different patterns and mix and match all of those colors and patterns to get the world’s most customizable jump rope. Yeah we knew we had to bring something unique to the table or it wasn’t gonna go anywhere.

JD: Nice. So it was actually my next question for you. So your USP or your unique selling proposition is what?

Ian: I would say that we were the world’s most customizable jump rope and you know the other piece of that is that we have a lot of personality in all of our marketing. We can’t just sell jump ropes, put something up on Amazon and hope it sells to people. We have to be speaking their language, writing content that matters to them to draw them into our tribe and really just be speaking to that audience on a regular basis.

JD: Right. And knowing you and knowing your business, I think that one of your unique selling propositions … I mean the thing that stands out the most as your competitive advantage is the fact that you know exactly who you’re serving. And you know exactly what their language is and when you put you know WOD, w-o-d in email copy or you put MERF or you put any one of the other acronyms that is crossfit related, that I don’t even know what they mean. Even though my wife does crossfit, you know exactly how because you are a cross fitter. Because you are a Double Under Wonder user, you do double unders awesome. And for those of you who, like me a couple years ago, had no idea what a double under is. It’s doing two spins of the jump rope with one jump. Right Ian?

Ian: Two times under your feet for every single jump that you do.

JD: Yeah.

Ian: With the jump rope.

JD: Yeah.

Ian: And so you’re absolutely right. There is no way we could write the copy that we write and write the blog posts that we write, if I wasn’t a trainer at a cross fit gym. And so we know the problems everybody faces, the things they struggle with so we write a lot of content. We write funny stuff and we also write things that help people get into a healthy mindset and not just looking for aesthetic benefit from working out and things like that. We want it to be something that is really healthy for them, for their bodies and for their mind and their stress level and all of those things. And so we write about all of those things and speak directly to our audience. And it’s niche and because of that we can speak to that audience really, really well.

JD: Yeah. Cool. So talk to me a little bit. This podcast I really wanna cover the three tenants of a successful e-commerce business and that is; how do we attract prospects? How do we convert prospects into customers? And how do we get them to return and purchase again from us? So talk to me a little bit about some of the things that you’ve done maybe a couple promotions or things that you do ongoing, just a few things that might benefit those listening and they might be able to apply to their business. How do you attract prospects? How do you attract people into your tribe? Into engaging with you?

Ian: Yeah so we spend a little bit of money on Facebook. We used to spend a lot of money on Facebook but we kinda scaled that back and we’re learning more and more the longer our company exists. And some of what we’re learning right now is to make the customer the hero. And so we use a lot of customer generated images from Instagram and customer generated videos to showcase them and let them tell their story and when they tell their story it’s super authentic and people relate to it and they believe it. And so it makes them interested in buying our jump ropes.
Its funny sometimes we post some super high quality, beautiful photo on Instagram or Facebook and it gets very little engagement, but if we post a video of some lady getting her first string of double unders of unbroken double unders, that will generate a ton of traffic sometimes. So we started this system of testing a lot of different post and putting a really low ad spin on all of those posts and then just letting them run for a really long time if their converting. And so that has helped us a lot. Just our customers reaching out to us, using our product and showing that they love it and then us just shining a light on them and just celebrating their achievements has done more for us than tooting our own horn ever did.

JD: That’s awesome.

Ian: And so that’s one thing. And then we also have started working with some other podcasts and just sponsoring those podcasts. Giving out discount codes that they can use on their podcasts and tell their listeners to go check out. And that, if you get the right podcast, can be really beneficial. We’re learning that if you are getting a recommendation from someone that they know, like and trust, then they’re going to show up to your site intending to make a purchase. So that’s been really good for us as well.

JD: Very cool. Can you give some details on the opportunity that you had with the box … the monthly subscription?

Ian: Yeah we were able to be in the Barbella Box in the month of March. And Barbella Box is a subscription service that sends you a box of premium crossfit goods every single month. And so for us to be in that box and for thousands of cross fitters around the country to be able to see our product and have it in their hands and be talking about it, was really awesome for us. And it also happened right when crossfit announced a very important workout that had jump rope in it. Needless to say it was perfect timing for everybody to have one of our jump ropes in their hands and to be talking about it.

JD: Nice.

Ian: So that was really big for us.

JD: That’s awesome. And I know that you were very active on Instagram, reaching out to everybody that was talking about Double Under Wonder, doing double unders. I can’t even say double under without saying Double Under Wonders, so you’ve absolutely … Talk to me about the name. We haven’t even talked about the name. You’re like the naming genius. You have helped Amy and our business name a lot of our products. You and Debbie came over when we came up with the name for BolderBand and BeBolder and all of that. So tell me about the significance of Double Under Wonder’s name and what it means to you?

Ian: We like the sort of play on words. So double under wonder would obviously insinuate that you are a wonder at doing double unders. But also we like that there was a bit of a play on words there where you show up to the site and you wonder what your jump ropes gonna look like. And also just the double under in general is a pretty amazing thing. If you think about all the coordination that goes on in your body to perform a double under, its just this beautiful talent that you could cultivate that’s really good for you and is a great exercise. And so yeah it all came together. I thought of the name and it made me laugh and the URL was open and the rest is history.

JD: Great. So why do you think the timing of launching Double Under Wonder was good? Or when you launched it in April of 15, how would you have answered like now’s the time to launch Double Under Wonder. What was the impetus around that? What was your motivating factor because it’s not easy to launch something new and release it out into the wild.

Ian: It’s not. And you know as a guy launching a jump rope company that sells polka dotted jump ropes you always have a little anxiety about … of launching a new thing and how it’s gonna be received and if it fails I’m gonna be so embarrassed and all of those things run through your mind. For me it was like this is a good idea I’ve put it off as long as I can possibly stand it and I’m going to move forward. And we weren’t even ready. We didn’t even have our flagship product wasn’t even perfect yet. We launched our company before you could even had designs to the handles, you could just mix and match the colors. And so it was like I’m just gonna launch this company and I’m gonna work on it as hard as I can and just keep moving forward. And I think that mindset of I’m jut gonna keep pushing this forward no matter what it takes, if I wouldn’t have launched it with that mindset it definitely would’ve failed even within the first month ’cause we faced some pretty hefty challenges right away.
I think that if you’re dead set on pursuing something then you just need to move forward, even if its not perfect. Even if you feel like you could tweak a few things and make it better. Obviously you wanna hit the ground with a product that people are going to enjoy and all that but don’t let that hold you back from pushing the start button because if you do that you’ll take forever. I mean you hear this stuff all the time but it really is amazing what you can launch with as long as you do it with a mindset of constantly evolving, doing whatever it takes to move everything forward.

JD: Love it. Love. Love it. You are a guy of action and I think that’s one of the reasons you are successful. So once you attract somebody, you use user generated content, its great bait for the people that you’re fishing for. I love that analogy. And once you get them to your site what has worked well to convert them? Do you run promotions? Do you run discounts? Do you bundle things? Do you just straight up ask them for full retail? Like give me a little insight into some conversion strategies or tactics even that have been successful for Double Under Wonder.

Ian: Yeah. So we’ve done some pretty cool things. In the beginning we did a promotion that was a super deep discount where we gave everybody a $20 dollar gift card if they would purchase a product from us.

JD: And everything on your site was $20 bucks or more, is that correct?

Ian: Yeah $20 dollars or more.

JD: Okay.

Ian: So we gave them a $20 gift card, so we did that and we knew that if we did that people would be like, “Hey I got this cool jump rope, here you should get one too” and give it to their friend. Or they would come back and start to make a habit out of purchasing from us. So I think that was good in the beginning to just get people running through the site and get people talking about us and sharing something tangible in real life with their friends and talking about us.
And then you know we’ve done all kinds of other things. We like to do a lot of gift with purchase stuff because in the users mind say for example if we gave a free tank top, in the user’s mind you’re giving them something of $20 in value, but on your end it’s just cost of goods sold that you’re adding to it. And a tank top doesn’t even increase the shipping very much. And so you’re adding a lot of value to that person’s life without taking a lot off of your bottom line. So instead of doing like a 50 percent off sale. We would just do a gift with purchase that in their mind is 50 percent off, but in our bottom line it’s not.

JD: Right. Right.

Ian: Does that make sense?

JD: Totally. And one of the things that I think is neat about your tank tops, really about everything you do with Double Under Wonder, is you have a lot of really unique designs specific to your audience, obviously, that you have put on tank tops. And they really tell your story and invite people deeper into the Double Under Wonder culture and tribe.

Ian: Yeah and we use those … It’s funny ’cause lots of times we’ll launch a tank top and see that the … say the ad on Facebook is converting really well. And then we go back and look and their like, “Wait a minute they’re not really buying tank tops, they’re … it’s a way for them to come to our site, experience our site and then you know half the time they end up buying a jump rope instead or some wrist wraps instead. But it’s a way for us to talk to our audience and for people to share our products ’cause you know a funny tank top is something you share with your friend and say, “Oh we need this one.” Or whatever.

JD: Right.

Ian: Well you may not need that tank top, but you may need a jump rope. And it showed you our company and some of our personality and stuff. Yeah it’s been interesting and it’s a way for us to talk to our audience and we’ll let our audience vote on their favorite tank top slogan or whatever and it’s a way to stay top of mind and interact with our customers.

JD: Nice. Well that kinda segways into the third success component of a successful e-commerce store and that is retention. How do you get people to come back and repeat purchase? So can you weave tank top design and just a few different things that you do that you see has caused repeat purchases with your customers and I think it’s safe to say that a Double Under Wonder jump rope could last a couple years. I mean depending on how many double under wonders you do and if you’re doing it on a mat or if you’re doing it on concrete.

Ian: Yeah.

JD: It’s problematic right?

Ian: It is.

JD: They’re not running out of it every month.

Ian: Yeah we realized that pretty soon. We’re like, “Oh wait. People only need one of these every … Once every year or year and half or so.” And so-

JD: [crosstalk 00:18:33] I could get one to last ten years. Sorry for talking over you but it’d last me forever.

Ian: You’re our worst customer.

JD: I know.

Ian: So yeah we decided that we needed something else to sell and so we started moving into other products. The tank tops and wrist wraps, weight belts, things that we could have produced that would be function and a great product but we added … like everything that we do we like to try to add something a little bit extra to. So instead of just adding some black standard weight belts to the site and hope somebody buys it, we’re gonna add a weight belt to the site that has multi colored polka dots on it. Or something that’s fun and our style and we’d play around with those products. Sometimes they’re really well received. Sometimes they’re not. Sometimes I think my jokes are funnier than they are and they don’t translate into tank top sales.
But you play around with that, you add new products to your site to see if you can get those repeat sales and this question is something that we’re continuing to try to solve. I mean one of the things that we are really looking into is a subscription product. Something that can sort of guarantee a certain amount of sales every month. Depending on how much attrition there is, when you wake up on May first you know you’re gonna have x amount of dollars to budget with.

JD: Its like a holy grail.

Ian: That’s something that we’re actively pursuing now.

JD: Yeah. It’s the holy grail of an e-commerce business huh?

Ian: Yeah absolutely. Its becoming so popular I hope that we’re not too late for that, you know?

JD: I know.

Ian: All these subscriptions boxes or this or that. Things that people subscribe to. I had another business that I ran a couple years ago that was a subscription based digital product. I think that may be even better model than just the subscription ’cause there’s no fulfillment but-

JD: Yeah tell everybody briefly about that business. What it was called?

Ian: Yeah so I ran, a couple years ago I ran a e-commerce store that sells digital downloads to radio producers around the country. And they’ll likely be nobody in this audience that hears your podcast that would need to buy anything from that site. But the site is and we used to have a subscription service where you could sign up and download a certain amount of sound effects and music beds to use on your radio station. That’s such a niche audience that we moved on from there but it showed us that there is definitely value in the subscription model because of what it just affords you and peace of mind. Knowing we show up and do our jobs well there’s gonna be a certain amount of money in our bank account every month and we love that.

JD: That’s right.

Ian: Yeah we’re hoping to use that same model somehow on the Double Under Wonder site.

JD: Awesome. Awesome.
So I wanna cover a couple more things but before we do, talk to me about the fairy dust project that you-

Ian: Double Under Wonder dust.

JD: Yeah.

Ian: Yes.

JD: This is like the best. I can’t believe that I almost forgot about it because this is the best thing that you’ve ever done I think.

Ian: Okay. So Double Under Wonder dust. That is literally us just sprinkling glitter on your jump rope and your jump rope bag and I got the idea because I was needing to send out a marketing email and I had no creative blog posts, I had no product, nothing. And so Double Under Wonder dust came to me and the joke is it will help you with your double unders if we sprinkle this magic glitter on your rope. Obviously our customers know that isn’t true. We even link to the Placebo Effect in the product description and we tell them the glitters gonna get all over their pants, all over the gym floor, their gym owners gonna hate them if they buy it. All of those things we warn them about it.
But its very personality driven and those are the sorts of things that set us apart from the cheap jump rope on Amazon. And being willing to pay a premium for a product that makes them feel good, that is fun, that is … you know their part of a community in some respects when they purchase from us. And so there’s a personality there that is valuable. That’s one of the best examples. I won’t bore you with tying to paraphrase the whole product description. But Google, Double Under Wonder dust and it will likely come up and you’ll see what I’m talking about.

JD: I love it. I love it. It’s amazing. So if we are down to three final questions I wanna start with what is the worst moment in Double Under Wonders two plus year existence?

Ian: Oh man. The worst. How can I pick. No. There’s a few things that come to mind. The first one … Or the one I’ll share is when we got our first order of ropes that had stars on them. We sent in the artwork and we thought it looked really great. And everything looked good. I’ve learned that when communicating with a manufacturer you have to be just absolutely, specifically clear about every little thing or you’re gonna have mistakes come back to you. Anyway, we got our first order in the mail when we got our first order of stars. And the stars on it, a lot of the stars were cut in half on the design. And it just didn’t look the way we wanted it to look.
But you know we’re very small company just starting out, investing money that we don’t have, in jump ropes that we don’t know we can sell and we get this huge batch of stars on jump ropes that are cut in half and don’t look good. And so then … a mistake like that in a company’s early existence it can kill you. You can close up shop if you get something like that and so that was really hard for us. It was sort of a low point. But like I said earlier, if you start with the mindset of I’m just gonna push this further down the road, however I can, and make any changes I need to make to move the product and the site forward then you just accept those things as a lesson learned. And you keep on going.

JD: Right.

Ian: ‘Cause there were definitely many points along the way when Facebook ads weren’t converting. Or stars on jump ropes or legal issues or whatever it is. There are things that will discourage you greatly and they make you want to go find a nine to five job really early in your pursuit.

JD: Absolutely.

Ian: That’s my short answer.

JD: Cool. Well I’m glad you pushed through. Well talk about one or two of the best moments in your time with Double Under Wonder.

Ian: Yeah so I’ll give you a couple of best moments. I mean the first one was when we got our first sale to a total stranger. That’s always-

JD: Yes.

Ian: It’s validation. It’s like, “What? We can sell these to strangers.” Cause you know your mom will buy one. And everybody at the gym bought one but you know half the time you wonder well is that just ’cause they’re being nice to me. I mean it’s obviously a step in the right direction if you can get anybody to pay money for something. But when we got that, I had Shopify set up on my phone so it would pop up and notify me when we got a sale and I was texting my web guy, “Do you know this person?” No I don’t know that person. Yay. We did it. So there was that moment.
I think I touched on it previously but one of the big moments for us was when Barbella Box approached us about carrying our jump ropes. ‘Cause they’re a very respected company in the cross fit community and they’re just a really admirable company. And so for them to come to us and say they wanted to feature us in one of their boxes, was just really a big day for us and when they did that I knew we were doing somethings right. And so yeah. That was a point of celebration as well, when you can partner with somebody whose really respected in your specific community. That was really a good day.

JD: Right. That’s awesome. Cool. If you haven’t figured this out yet, if you’re in need of a jump rope and you are wanting to customize it, go to and have a field day and go ahead and order some of that double under wonder dust-

Ian: Yeah. It’s only a dollar.

JD: It’s only a dollar.

Ian: And it definitely works.

Absolutely. Absolutely. What are you looking forward to? What’s on the horizon? What can you share with us?

Ian: You know I can’t share a lot but in talking about the subscription model we’re actively pursuing a product that will be on a subscription basis. I can’t tell you exactly what that is, but I can tell you that maybe even a year a go a company my size just would not have been able to handle the minimum order quantities and things like that but the world is changing and you can sort of do whatever you want, from anywhere. As long as you just continue talking to people and trying to figure out ways around roadblocks. So this is a super vague answer I know, but we’re coming out with a subscription product and it’s going to be hopefully something that puts us into a new level of being able to budget and have extra funds for advertising and count on extra revenue and I think it’s going to be a really great product. Is that vague enough for you?

JD: That’s totally vague enough. Yeah. Yeah. Great. Well Ian, thank you my friend for sharing your experience with Double Under Wonder. I just wanna wish you much greater success. Continued success and it’s been fun, as your friend, it’s been fun to watch and it’s gonna be fun to see what the future holds for your new product and whatever else you decide to come up with. Whatever Double Under Wonder dust what other iteration of that you come up with.

Ian: Yeah.

JD: Yeah. So if you haven’t, check out Ian’s site and you have any parting words.

Ian: No. I really don’t. Thanks for having me on the show. It was great to talk to you and just anytime anyone asks your opinion on anything you know you’re doing something right maybe. So I appreciate you having me on the show.

JD: Absolutely. All right. Thanks for tuning in to E-Commerce In The Trenches. Again, JD Krause. I had Ian Sturgeon with me today. Come on back and check out our next show. Adios.

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