ScubaDoRag is now Sweet Sixteen!

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May 28, 2016 By Suuz Martines

Fashion with Function For Divers

Like many who start scuba diving, I was lured in by the sirens of the sea, not knowing my life would forever change. I left my “Home” and became a very small fish in the enormous ocean.

While a designer in real life, I developed CoCoCheznaynay® SecretAgent of Truth & Style™ as a branding vehicle and a truth-seeking character who disperses CoCoCourage, wit and wisdom. CoCo’s about owning all of who you are and facing your fears. When I started scuba lessons, this unknown, overwhelming performance anxiety/fear made me realize I had masked being bullied as a child, never knowing the extent of the damage – this is a danger in thinking we will teach others.

ScubaDoRag

 

So the CoCo character started teaching me. I was not scared of the equipment, the water, trying new things – it was that I had to perform the skills, underwater with none of my usual coping skills in front of others and chance being judged. After blowing out my ear because I descended too quickly in the pool, I went to the doctor, secretly wishing he would tell me not to go back but instead to wait two weeks. During that time, I knew if I did not overcome this forgotten fear of being bullied or ridiculed, it would cripple me for the rest of my life. So I went back. I sucked, but sucked it up and got my Open Water at the end of 1999.

I asked friends to join me in January but no one could go so I remembered if you wait on others, you may never do it. I went on eight trips by myself in 2000 and honed my skills by being honest that I sucked – and wanted to learn, by watching the skills of those I admired, and asking lots of questions.

Every time I got on a boat, people complained about their hair – or lack of it. I had short hair. My complaint was no matter how observant I was on the surface, most divers were wearing black and after 20 minutes, everyone looked the same to me underwater. So I started researching and made the first stretch, high-performance headgear complete with a Secret Compartment in crazy visible prints, the now patented ScubaDoRag®.

Before my December trip to Mexico, I called the magazines I submitted editorial copy and asked if they would be publishing my press release. They didn’t know but it became apparent by the emails and phone messages I was receiving from hungry customers. You know how wonderful excited, ravenous customers can be about new gear.  Our website was under construction and it was static. I called my WebGuy who worked thirty straight hours and we were live.

We had incredible beginner’s luck although I had some industry professionals telling me I could not sell at that price point but I knew what the fabric was costing and the labor. I made the first ten myself then searched for a quality place. I was in five different plants with “experts” telling me how simple my product is to make – they all offered excellent samples then freaked on the cut of stretch fabrics. Anything is easy if you have enough money to throw at it – my numbers were too small to command attention.

More editorial copy followed in business publications and Charlotte Magazine. Tony read about me. He was interested in investing and was a diver, a gentle man with a nice family – someone who believed in me, CoCoCheznaynay® and my potential. We met several times and with attorneys. This was promising and it was going to work. By this time, I had to pay for the patent work and advertising bills I instigated before my would-have-been investor was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor.

So I was on my own … I developed many more products, traveled to many shows and paid lots in advertising. For the first 3 years, it was a struggle to educate customers to believe in the value and for the industry to know I was real.

I had many scary adventures and dangerous missions in the early Wild, Wild West of ecommerce on the Internet. When the server we were on had not applied security patches, it was hacked by changed software on code level which enabled them to credit more than what they charged to a debit card. Then they cleared out the account in Barcelona, Spain who would now not cooperate since they were out the money. So I really was missing the $9,990.00 out of my checking account. My bank did a deal to reverse this loss and put the money back in my checking account but now the deficit would make the next 9.9K in sales non-existent in my merchant account until it was paid. And, they left themselves a way back in for another $19,000 (which also disappeared from my account but was thwarted and returned)

Imagine a time when in reporting procedures online, I could only claim one category yet this was 3 categories – International, Credit Card/Debit Card fraud and Internet.  So when I was explaining to FBI and the Secret Service, they asked about CoCoCheznaynay.com (ScubaDoRag.com came later), I told them it was my Secret Agent character. Now they think I am a nut. You can’t write this stuff … I filed Police reports, stayed constantly on the phone and email with the server and Merchant Services security. After 45 days Merchant Services called and said if I would assign my rights, they would sue the server on my behalf – they were returning my money whether they won or not. I asked what I did right. They said they had been concerned with them anyway and by my constant, nicely questioning the servers, I tricked them to admit in writing they were negligent in their security.

This reads like a book and I have learned to respect a character you create for they will surely reflect and teach you.

We now have dealers all over the world and happy customers we appreciate. We have ScubaGoodHoods, ScubaTubeSocks and in Super Size, FashGuards, Flirty Skirts, Hose Covers and more to come. And, we have competitors calling themselves original – really? No one can take these life lessons from me – and CoCo.

We truly appreciate our lessons and when finally embraced by this passionate group, it is sweet.

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June 5, 2016 |

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