Dinner with the Bonaccis, Round 2! National Mom and Pop Business Owners Day
March 29th is National Mom and Pop Business Day, a day to celebrate small, family-run businesses around the world. This time last year, we sat down with Bomber's own Mom and Pop, Jamerien and Tommy Bonacci.
The owners of our brand have a LOT to look back on this year -- we won't use the word "unprecedented" because we know we're all getting sick of it! Read on for this year's interview with Tommy and Jamerien!
1. What have you learned over this last hectic year?
JAMERIEN BONACCI: That being able to adapt to change is so important!
TOMMY BONACCI: Exactly. We had to shift our attention to more digital platforms, and move away from our heavy in-person event focus. At the same time, we had to figure out how to tighten our budgets whenever possible to prepare for whatever would come at us next. I don't think we could have survived as a business if we couldn't quickly pivot like that.
JAMERIEN: In a time when so many businesses have closed their doors, and ours are still open, it just makes us so darn grateful to our Bomber community!
TOMMY: We're only here because all of you have supported us through these crazy times.
2. How has Bomber reacted to COVID?
TOMMY: A few of our friends work as first responders, so we heard about the PPE shortages right away. We knew we wanted to help with that however we could. The first thing we did was give extra safety glasses to first responders here at home, since the supply was so limited.
JAMERIEN: Seeing how such a small action made such a huge difference sparked the idea for our Civil Service Discount Program, which offers a 50% discount to all first responders, teachers, and more. We wanted to get glasses into the hands of people who needed them as quickly as possible, without price gouging.
TOMMY: While developing that program, we also made additional donations of PPE and glasses to hospitals, fire departments, ambulance companies, jails, and lifeguard organizations throughout the country.
JAMERIEN: We were so honored and proud to support our first responders through this crisis.
TOMMY: One other thing we did was based on a complaint from our first responder friends -- because of the masks, everyone's goggles and glasses fogged up like crazy. That's why we focused so much of our resources on developing a new anti-fog line this year. We wanted to make sure we had a top-quality product to offer first responders, to keep them safe and comfortable -- not to mention, you know, able to SEE -- on the job.
3. Have you learned anything new about each other while adapting the business this year?
TOMMY: I learned that we are truly each other's best friends. Not being able to see our circle of friends during lockdown made us really turn to each other for that extra support and encouragement that we used to share with our best buds.
JAMERIEN: We were spending more time together than ever before, and we just kind of embraced it!
4. When it comes to running the business, what do you think are the biggest sources of your success?
JAMERIEN: Partnering with the right people has been key! When we first started out, we pretty much did everything ourselves -- from buying toilet paper to filling orders, designing marketing materials, figuring out marketing strategies, inventory planning, budgets, payroll -- the list goes on and on.
TOMMY: As we grew, that list of tasks just kept getting longer. And we realized we couldn't do it all ourselves.
JAMERIEN: We've since hired some AMAZING people who are now in charge of most of that stuff, leaving the majority of our time open to focus on what we love -- Tommy gets to design, develop, and improve our products, and I get to focus more on the marketing side of things.
TOMMY: Jamerien still buys the toilet paper, though. ;-)
5. Looking back on 2020, what are you most grateful for in your personal life?
JAMERIEN: The simple things: Our health, having a roof over our heads, the ability to be able to provide for our family.
TOMMY: 2020 was rough and we needed a constant reminder to stay positive, so we actually put this sign up in our home that reminds us to be grateful every day:
Your terrible JOB is the dream of every UNEMPLOYED.
Your HOUSE is the dream of every HOMELESS.
Your HEALTH is the dream of the ILL.
Your LIFESTYLE is the dream of somebody else.
Don’t let DIFFICULT times make you forget your blessings.
TOMMY: It's kind of cheesy, but it actually works. We all need the reminder sometimes.
6. How about in the business?
JAMERIEN: With everything we've had to navigate in 2020, we cannot thank our Bomber community enough! You are truly the only reason why we are still here!
TOMMY: I just want to say THANK YOU to every single customer. Every single employee. Every single partner. We're so glad we could join you for all those do-it-yourself home projects, all the outdoorsy things like hiking and camping and beaching with your Bombers in tow. And most importantly, we want to thank the essential workers who have battled and continued to battle every day.
JAMERIEN: We wouldn't be here without you.
7. Have your goals for the business changed at all since this time last year?
TOMMY: This time last year, we were scrambling. Events we'd sponsored for the year were getting canceled left and right.
JAMERIEN: We used to sponsor a TON of events throughout the year -- jet ski races, surf contests, automotive shows, off-road races, fishing competitions, you name it!
TOMMY: And showing up to those events, meeting our friends and customers, was a major income source for the company. We had to find a way to make up for all the lost revenue we usually associated with those events.
JAMERIEN: Our solution was finding new ways to connect with our community. Our focus became turning our attention to our digital strategy -- and it still is!
TOMMY: We can't wait for the day when we can start sponsoring and attending events again, but until then, we're focused on growing our online presence, creating a better customer experience on our website, and coming out with new and improved products.
8. What advice to you have to couples like yourselves starting or growing a business in 2021?
TOMMY: For us, it comes down to five main tips.
JAMERIEN: One -- recognize the strengths that each of you have, and learn to delegate the workload. Just like running a household, where one of you is better at cooking or yard work and the other is better at wrangling the kids, it's the same for a business.
TOMMY: For example, Jamerien is better at organization and being creative. While I'm working on research and development or running numbers, Jamerien's focused on marketing and connecting with the community.
JAMERIEN: He designs the products. I focus on how to sell them.
TOMMY: Two -- help each other grow.
JAMERIEN: Tommy teaches me to be more chill -- like taking a day off, just because. And I teach him how to be more organized, by showing him all kinds of apps and techniques that help him better budget his time.
JAMERIEN: Three -- Make it a point to recharge away from each other. I still do yoga every day that I can, and Tommy still surfs every chance he gets.
TOMMY: Four -- Make time for Date Night. And try not to talk about work while you're at it.
JAMERIEN: And five -- Make an effort to be kind to each other.
TOMMY: This one's critical. Oftentimes, the combination of work and home can get so frustrating and stressful. You have to make a conscious effort to be nice to each other.
JAMERIEN: When we've had a rough day, the biggest thing we do is focus on our victories from the week, or the month -- or just on things we like about each other. If you aren't with someone who adds value to your life, then what's the point? Just stay single.
TOMMY: (Laughs) Or at least, don't go into business together.