Tuesday, April 1, 2014

We're at it again! New stuff! New stuff!

In case you stumble on this entry days after it was originally posted, please take a look at the day it was published before reading any further. Then remember that date should you start asking yourself if we really mean any of this ...

Yes, you read that right: New RDB stuff! Two new products, as daring as anything we've yet dared!

When we introduced our Real Deal Brazil Cuba Libre hat a few months back, followed quickly by our beefy Rio Branco Rucksack, the response to both was even stronger than we'd anticipated (as anyone who got that unfortunate "Item temporarily on backorder" notice when they went to buy one already knows all too well). Which is to say we promptly ran out of both products, and then had to wait on reorders from our sewing team in Brazil! Then, once we got our stock back up, and sales continued to be strong on both items, we started thinking we'd like to try a few more new-item experiments.

That said, it's crazy some of the suggestions we've gotten these last few years, for products we should start making. Most involve clothing items:  duster- and bomber-style jackets, jean-style pants, shirts, vests, even chaps! The problem we run into in all those cases is money, plain and simple: High tarp costs, combined with international shipping fees and all the additional sewing time and resources that would be required of these labor-intensive items, would mean huge up-front expenses that would then translate into what we feel would be exorbitant prices for the finished goods. We're simply not comfortable asking that of our customers. So we've steered clear of making any clothing … until now!

Because it recently struck us: We could fashion a few personal clothes items for those folks who really want to take the Real Deal lifestyle to its fullest extreme, items that would not actually require a great amount of tarp, would involve minimal sewing time and would weigh very little when it came to shipping. Items we could therefore keep relatively inexpensive when it was all said and done!

Items, as it turns out, for the Real Deal boudoir!

So, while we haven't yet established prices on our two as-yet-potential RDB offerings, we have gotten some mockups done, and just shipped to us from Brazil, to share with you, to gauge customer interest before we officially incorporate these products into our lineup. So, Real Deal nation, we present to you our newest planned additions: the Real Deal Brazil Recycled-Tarp Sumo Diaper (first picture, below), and the Real Deal Brazil Recycled-Tarp Battle Thong (second picture, below)! The same rugged heavy-canvas material you expect, with patches, fraying, shifting tarp colors, ink marks, the whole nine (or, more likely, a few inches less, if we're to be realistic here). That same proud Real Deal spirit of balls-out individuality (OK, not balls out, but possibly involving some real cajones, regardless).

We would, of course, be offering each of these in several sizes. We ask only that you would then be realistic in ordering, particularly you male customers, cuz there won't be much we can do with these if you return them should they not, y'know, fit. Seriously. That's just gross to even think about.

Unfortunately, we couldn't get a single person here to model either of these new items in the way they're meant to be worn, so we were forced, in the case of the Sumo Diaper, to create a simple graphic representation, since that item doesn't really look like much all by itself. The point is, it takes a big personality to pull this off, and if there's one thing our fans have, it's personality, for days!

The Battle Thong pictured here is the actual item. Our RDB designer's kind of a geek, but once we saw the finished product, we thought the Star Wars rebel insignia was an inspired touch (until Disney shows up to tell us differently, of course). We told our designer he needed to model it for us; he told us to go to hell. Some rebel he turned out to be.

Frank: "Not just no. HELL no!"
We even tried our PR Guy, Frank, who's usually so lacking in good sense that he'll do anything we ask. But even he drew the line on stripping down and Real Dealing up, falling back on the fact that we don't even pay him. Of course, that all may be a very lucky thing, in afterthought: We're not sure the world is ready for so much of him suddenly so very visible. We honestly shudder to think of it.

So let us know what you think! And if we add these two items, and you one day buy either or both for yourself, you really don't need to send us pictures, at least not if you look anything like Frank. Seriously. Please don't.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Sometimes, It Can Really Get a Bit Too Real ...

It’s easy to understand people thinking the story we tell of how and where our tarp products are made is embellished, or exaggerated. Great PR, yada, yada, yada, but hardly real, no matter what our name might suggest.
But nope. It’s all real, all right. And sometimes, like right now, even a bit too real.
Right around two weeks ago, our pending shipment of hats and several bag styles had begun its journey out of the remote little equatorial town where Real Deal Brazil products are handmade. Our stuff was crammed onto a little bus that typically leaves town about every two weeks to take local craftspeople and traders to a bustling Friday-night market in one of the big cities along Brazil’s booming coast. And when we have hat orders leaving the town, the bus carries those, too.
By about 5 a.m. on the day in question, the small bus, with its total of 10 passengers, had already traveled about 30 miles out of town, along terrible roads. And then things went all to hell.
Bandits. Real live ones. Four of them. With guns.
Their car, coming seemingly from out of nowhere, pulled up alongside the bus, the armed men yelling at the driver to stop. Instead, the young driver, an off-duty policeman, sped up in an attempt to outrun his pursuers. At least one of the bandits began firing at the bus, and after a couple shotgun blasts hit a side door, the driver pulled over.
The thieves beat the young man severely, in front of his mother, who was a passenger on the bus.
In a frantic note, Sharon A., who helps coordinate transport for us in Brazil, filled in some of the blanks for us on what happened next. Her English is pretty solid, but not perfect.
“The driver's mother was terrified because her son is a policeman who makes these trips on his day off,” Sharon writes, “and if the thieves discovered [that he was a policeman, they would likely have killed] the boy, it is common this happens.”
The gunmen next forced the wounded driver to maneuver the little bus to a nearby gravel road where they again pulled the bus over, this time into the woods. Another car, with another gunman, was waiting for them there.
“Then,” Sharon writes us, “they began to torture and steal everything of the people with threats of death if they did not give everything they had.”
The thieves yanked open a number of the Real Deal Brazil shipping boxes, stealing what hats and bags they could carry off in their cars, and leaving many of our products strewn in the sand. They also took passengers’ cell phones, wallets, purses, credit cards, personal documents and luggage, plus some other products being transported to the market for sale or barter. Sharon puts the total value of stolen items at 50,000 real (the Brazilian currency), or roughly $20,000.
Keep in mind that in this remote part of Brazil, most people are barely making a living. This was surely a devastating loss.
“After the raid, they arrested all people inside the van and took the key,” Sharon writes, meaning the gunmen locked everyone inside the van and then left them there. Fortunately, the driver’s mother had a spare key tucked in her clothes, and after the passengers had waited a few hours to make sure their assailants weren’t coming back, the frightened group ventured back out onto the road, seeking help. They didn’t ever find any.
“The police is on strike in their State,” Sharon writes, “and everything [there] is slow and difficult.”
Since day one of getting into this business, we’d heard how unsafe the roads in that part of the country can be, and that bandits were out there, and something like this could always happen, at any time. But in the more than five years we've been doing this, it never had. And after a while, we perhaps stopped thinking it ever would.
It’s a horrible reminder for us of the kinds of problems that can spring up out of nowhere in getting our products from Brazil to you, made better in this case only in that no one got irreparably hurt, at least not physically. It’s shaken us all up a bit, as you’d guess. And it leaves our current Brazilian transport setup in a very uncertain position at the moment.
So if you buy a Real Deal Brazil hat or bag in the next week or two and discover a little sand in it, consider it perhaps a kind of trophy, showing that your new RDB product has lived an even more exciting life than our products usually do.
Beyond that, we thank you for your patience if we're again temporarily out of stock on what you were hoping to buy.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Tales of Real Deal Brazil hats lost, and found

Our hat winds up in some pretty surprising places, no question.

There's the story of this guy, Shawn, from Kiowa, Kan., whose father gave him a Real Deal Brazil recycled-tarp hat after Dad fished the then-new RDB out of a Dumpster in Longdale, Okla. After seven years of constant wearing since then, Shawn sent his RDB, above, back to us for some re-stitching around the brim; once fixed, this trash-to-treasure hat will be bound back to Shawn's waiting head.

Not only do we think that's a really cool story, but Shawn’s much-beloved hat turns out to be one of our very first, a literal prototype, from 2008, with an oversized logo on the side; we're not even sure if we would have sold that to anyone. So how it ended up in Oklahoma, we'll never know ...

 And then there's the phenomenal story recently emailed to us, also from an RDB-wearing Sean, the scuba guy immediately above:

"I am from Pinedale, WY and often go scuba diving in the clear mountain lakes we have here. This past Sunday, I was diving at about 30 feet in Fremont Lake when I saw something that didn't belong. As I swam over to the irregular shape lying on the bottom among the rocks, I was surprised to find this RDB hat. I picked it up and put it on my head and immediately started to surface. It dried beautifully and one would never know it had (been lying) in the bottom of a mountain lake for who knows how long.

Inside the crown, you make the claim that you can do nothing to this hat that hasn't already been done. I would bet that this is the only RDB hat that has laid on the bottom of a mountain glacier lake at an elevation of almost 8000' and been recovered to be worn again. Only the hat knows for sure.

A big thank you to the person who was unfortunate enough to lose this great hat."

Also, a big thank you from us, to these two guys for sharing these stories!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

National Nude Day 2013: Several days late, and a couple of coconuts short ...

OK, for those of you who got here from Facebook, you can't say we didn't tell you what to expect. Coconuts. Actual coconuts.

Though truth be told, those really are some oddly shaped palm fruits, huh? Not that we're the kind of people to judge or anything ...

We've posted this picture in a slightly belated homage to National Nude Day, July 14. We missed this year's celebration entirely, not knowing such a day even existed, wandering around as we were amid all those other folks with their clothes on.

But we have faith these two island naturalists were naked that day, if they knew said celebration in honor of shedding clothes existed.

We're pretty sure the guy in our hat is Chester Elizondo of San Antonio, Texas, one of our longtime favorite RDB wild men. No clue on the identity of his buddy, though the two are seen, almost in their entirety here, in Puerto Rico, where Chet has gotten into plenty of Real Deal mischief in the past.

His April 2011 "exploration adventure" to several different Puerto Rican beaches, involving much "sun, surf, rum and fun," produced what may be our favorite photo explanation of all time, for the below cockeyed-hat shot he sent us back then:

"Ya’ll make one hell of a hat. I swam in that thing…buried it in the sand..stuffed it in my back pack…had sex in it…filled it with ice and used it as a small ice chest….at one point it was my loin cloth while I chased a chicken naked down the beach (not sure how I ended up naked…and the chicken was very very fast)…"

Notice any kind of pattern here? We're thinking it's probably pretty nakedly obvious ...

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Our hats on to Real Deal dads this Father's Day!

Longtime RDB pal Darin Gagne of Manchester, N.H., leads us all by example. So, to you fellow Real Deal dads out there: Rattle the bars on your cage today! Yawp your barbaric yawp! Do something that, if found out, will perplex and unsettle everyone who knows you! Real Deal it up and straight back down again!
You have our express permission to run amok today… right up until that point where you decide to call us for bail money. Because don’t waste that one phone call, is all we’re sayin’; we’ll simply pretend we’ve never heard of you, and then hang up suddenly. It’s our money, after all, and we intend to squander it on ourselves in Vegas.
Of course, you could just call Darin here instead. Cuz obviously, his example is what led you astray in the first place …
Happy Father’s Day!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Team Tallahassee rides again, with Real Deal Brazil sponsorhip, and RDB hats in tow!

Whoot, there we are! The Real Deal Brazil: proud sponsors of Team Tallahassee.
Sometimes, you’ve just gotta break your own rules.

We recently gave a modest sum toward Real Deal Brazil mega-fan Greg Bickford’s participation in Rally New England, a 1,200-mile fundraising drive supporting the nonprofit Camp Sunshine in Casco, Maine. This idyllic lakeside getaway for children battling life-threatening diseases, and for their immediate families, doesn’t charge people to stay, and includes onsite medical and psychological support.

The Real Deal Brazil is a small company, and we’ve had to make it our policy that we don’t do cash donations; it’s simply not something we can routinely afford. Yet with Greg, this is actually the second year in a row we’ve broken our own rule on that! Because how could we not? Greg is such a huge fan of the Real Deal brand, promoting us at every turn. And we’re big fans of his own efforts to turn his free time into a, no pun intended, vehicle for helping others.

Rally New England drivers start their trek July 22 in upstate New York, winding up four days later in New Brunswick, Canada. Each of the participating 85-plus cars is a team of two or more people. Last year, Greg’s Team Tallahassee – named for his current hometown in Florida, and maybe even a little for his love of “all things Zombieland” – was filled out by his brother, Chris; this year, Greg’s dad, Richard, is handling co-pilot duties.
Greg Bickford, right, and dad Richard, with their pre-sponsor-stickered Mustang GT:                          Team Tallahassee.
And again this year, Team Tallahassee is driving Greg’s black 2010 Ford Mustang GT, with a big white RDB logo to be prominently displayed on it, alongside those of other sponsors. But the Real Deal Brazil will be there in more than just logo: Greg and his dad will also be sporting our hats along the way.

Last year, Team Tallahassee rode in Rally Dixie 2012, a 1,300-mile fundraising drive supporting the national nonprofit Accelerated Cure Project for Multiple Sclerosis.

We’re not suggesting you should donate to Camp Sunshine via Greg’s team; this email is just an FYI of what we’re up to, and to say how proud we are to be even a tiny part of Greg’s efforts. But should you wanna check out Team Tallahassee’s fundraising site – https://www.firstgiving.com/fundraiser/team-tallahassee/rallynewengland – y’know, that would be mighty cool, too.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

'You guys make the best hat ... In the World!'

"The best hat ... In the World." Well, OK, then!

Sometimes we just have to share the nice stuff that people say.
And Real Deal Brazil fan Nathan Cantu of Lynchburg, Va., who sent us an email with that very same declaration of our awesomeness in the subject line, also included this:

"I love my RDB Hat! After my first summer working at a camp in Texas, I knew I needed a decent hat, but can't rock the classic Texas Stetson. A friend recommended the RDB hat, and after I realized it was "The Zombieland Hat" I knew I needed one of my own. It's stayed with me through the whole summer, and kept me cool in the sun, and dry in the rain! I love it! I attached a picture (above) of four of us at camp all geared up to go to battle with the camp property. During yardwork on a 100+ degree day, this hat was a God send! ...

Thanks again for making a great hat!"

The Real Deal Brazil. Not that we're braggin' or nothin' ...