On February 6, we launched our “marketing” plan. A.k.a not much more than than an informational post to sprinter-source.com and a friend pushing out a blurb in his weekly newsletter.

The main question, and central cause of stress in my life, was if anybody was going to buy our product. It made sense to various #vanlife friends that were open to the idea, but there was still this feeling of diving into the unknown. You’re putting something out into the world to be judged. That is a vulnerable place.

Starting a business looks nothing like this!

But the product took. We made eight sales in three days. One of our first customers left me this note:

“Thanks for filling a need with a great product. Really like your product and how it serves the DIY community. Excellent download too.”

To have sales and start reclaiming our costs was one thing, but to connect with someone who shares your values is another. And when they really ‘get’ what you’re trying to do, that generates a feeling that is hard to describe.

What are we up to?

Since launch, we’ve created a 1-1 scale paper template to add-on to the kit. This is so you can cut their own shelf with matching hardwood. Most of our customers seem to be going this way now, and I’m not that surprised. Wood is just as sturdy as metal, and a whole lot cheaper than going the fabrication route. If you’re already building out a custom camper, what’s cutting another sheet of ply?

We completed the 2019+ bracket design in late February. The kits will stock on April 10. Here’s a snap from our early scan data and development of the new model year variant – can you make any sense of it? Good thing we have an engineer handling the important stuff…

We are now working with an ISO-rated supplier in Indiana to produce our aluminum brackets for the Headliner Shelf Kit. North American manufacturing can be incredibly expensive and we were honestly unsure if it was sustainable. Some quotes we received were initially about $15 per bracket, not kit. Yikes! This would now be our third production run with them, and they have by far done the most impressive work we’ve seen. The powder coating is called “Mock-rock” Grey, which gives a subtle contrast to the existing headliner fabric, and would look fantastic with a darker-stained wood as the shelf surface. All Sprinter Headliner Shelf kits will have this finish moving forwards.

headliner shelf bracket kit

Safety has been at the front of my mind lately. We’ve had a lot of requests come in about selling a standalone paper template so that users can DIY the whole headliner shelf setup. I don’t argue with them, it looks like a simple job. But the problem lies within the resources people are following. For example, there is a video on youtube showing how to mount a shelf with velcro. Others are using dollar store bracket, bending them once, twice, and a few more times. Is it not common knowledge that when you bend metal one way, and then bend it back, it becomes extremely fragile? Do I need to comment on the velcro?

We’re really not comfortable with selling something that might be fundamentally compromised in the process of it’s application. People, you don’t need to die trying to save $50 on a load bearing shelf that rests over your head while you are driving. If affordability is seriously an issue, just email us and we will send you a kit for free.

What’s next?

sprinter van modular console table

Our Webasto heater bit the dust just as we were heading out on a ski trip at the beginning of march. One burner, and glow plug assembly later, we made it out for a few days of skiing in the rocky mountains before spring fully sprung. Lots of time to test out a table we’re developing – this modular unit mounts in the center console when in use, and folds flat for storage when not. Tell us what you think about our concept?