Welcome to our New Year Time Capsule Recap: Everything that happened at Tera Kaia in 2023

If this year had a soundtrack it would have to be Destiny’s Child: specifically Survivor and Independent Woman. This year came with equal parts huge break throughs and near-death-of-the-biz level challenges. When I started out on this project there were more hands on deck, and when I look around at everything TK has become, the hands that are still here are my own. 

Hi, It's BK. 👋

This year TK became a one-woman show. It's been a big personal challenge for me - to find the confidence and belief in myself that I can run this business solo. I’m really proud of everything TK has become, and I’m working on getting better at recognizing how much of my own creative ingenuity made that happen. Over the last six years, I’ve gotten into the habit of overcoming insurmountable obstacles like a professional hurdler. It can sometimes feel like the pressure of instability is too much to bear, but when I can pull my head out from the mud I see a beautiful, thriving business that just needs a little more effort to get to a place of sustainable financial viability. 

Tera Kaia founder and owner Bridget hand painting a sign that says Tera Kaia

Let's Start the Recap with the Wins:

2023 was a crossroads year that lead to huge changes and breakthroughs.

Over 370 TK Supporting Members help keep TK alive and fund production.

By far, the biggest win of 2023 was the advent of the TK Supporting Membership. We kicked off the year by nearly going out of business. So, I mustered up my creative energy and came up with a new idea: asking the community for help. Members paid a $100 entrance fee (which gets a Basewear Set) and committed to pre-ordering our new products: helping fund production and predict how much to make.

Not only did it help save TK in her most dire times, but it has also solved one of our biggest operational challenges: knowing how much Basewear to order, and in what size. We can fund our new designs including the TOURA Shorts, and the upcoming TOURA Crop Top, and release them into the wild. Inadvertently, the memberships help us be more sustainable: because we aren’t producing more than what we need. It’s alleviating the biggest cash flow challenge to this business, and I could not be more grateful.

Never in my wildest dreams was this how I thought our business would make it.

I always thought we’d go to tradeshows, get into a big retailer, and make it big in the outdoor industry. You know - all the advice I’ve gotten over the last 6 years from the other businesses in the outdoor industry who made it to success? Turns out none of that applies anymore. Selling goods after 2020 is the wild wild west and so I’m paving my own way.  

I’m leaning fully into this new business format and finding ways to grow and streamline the program into 2024. My new goal for 2024 is to reach 700 members to cover expenses between each pre-order. We’re halfway there. So, if you want to be a part of this change for TK - head to the link below to become a member. 

TOURA Basewear Shorts were Released into the Wild

Speaking of our member pre-order - thanks to our first member-funded pre-order the TOURA Short has made it into the wild. 

Available in two inseams: 5” or 7” the new TOURA Shorts have a literal truckload of technical features. I’m so proud of this design. It’s truly one of the most innovative creations we’ve ever made and every single one of you reading needs to own a pair. 

Don’t wait for your size to run out of stock - we won’t be restocking any time soon

TK is becoming her most authentic self.

I had a bit of an identity crisis with Tera Kaia over the last four years. After having to change our logo countless times, a full name change, and getting the feedback that we looked too sleek and polished, I finally said f*ck it. I stopped caring about what TK looks like. Coming from a graphic design and branding background this was a bit of a mind warp for me to get my head around. 

Now I’m embracing the DIY, homegrown, grassroots, solar punk identity that I’ve always felt embodied TK’s true soul. Minimal design and slick graphics are out the door and hand-painted signs are in. Instead of sleek studio product photos, we grabbed a backdrop sheet and went outdoors. I’m not modulating TK’s tone as much to appease a wider audience - I’m just saying things how they are - no bullsh*t. If you’ve met me in real life you probably know this is way more authentic to the actual me (BK). It feels like a relief to stop walking on eggshells and trying to maintain a certain aesthetic. 

Basewear, Remade: Sewn Locally in Bishop.

In the years past we worked with some pretty horrific factories. At one point we had to cut our losses mid-production and gather all our supplies. There were fabric pieces in various stages of cutting and sewing that sat in our office for over a year, waiting to be recreated into Basewear. Our lovely product designer Jen was able to finally bring all these scraps to life again with Basewear ReMade. Now, we’re making small quantities of Basewear using scrap fabric and getting them back into the wild. 

Recycled, everything. (Sadly, this one wasn’t entirely a win).

Over the last 4 years, I’ve been trying to replace our fabric from virgin plastic fibers with recycled fibers. It was really tough to find the same fabric quality for compression, stretch, and hand feel - because it didn’t really exist on the market yet. Once we did it came with a price: bigger yardage minimums. This meant we had to commit to one color and make as much in it as possible. Black seemed like the most secure choice - a neutral, and crowd favorite. 

Unfortunately - this was a hard lesson learned. Sometimes making changes for sustainability doesn’t translate to profit. Once we released our all-black lineup sales took a huge downturn. For our customers, the more important choice was having a selection of beautiful fabric colors inspired by nature.

“There’s no colors? Oh, I’ll wait for the colors then.” was the worst phrase of 2023.

That one really broke my heart. To have spent years finding the perfect replacement, only to have that effort lead to the biggest downturn in sales we’ve ever had was… rough to say the least. 

BUT, each year I get better at predicting things like this. I’m becoming wiser and more well-rounded with every challenge. 

Now to Recap the Challenges we Faced in 2023:

Things weren’t all wins and giggles - some pretty huge problems are still being worked out here at TK.

As my friend Dennis likes to put it “we’re all choking with our necks under the boot of capitalism”.

Our Biggest Challenge: Living under the Boot of Capitalism.

This harsh reality is most evident for small businesses in the post-2020 environment. The price of living and working has skyrocketed, while the expected cost of goods hasn’t changed much. Businesses that thrive best here are huge corporations that push to produce more and more stuff - even if it ends up in a landfill. Consumers are conditioned to expect free and immediate shipping and low prices that small businesses just can't manage to charge. I really try to focus my mind on not leaning into these realities as stopping points but it’s absolutely true that to make it in today’s economy is 1,000,000.00% harder than it was in decades past. Especially if you don’t come from wealth and resources. It's a reality I have experienced very viscerally since starting this business.

That’s reality, but it doesn’t have to be a reason to give up. I’m using this as fuel to my fire. Every time I'm able to use my creative thinking, and entrepreneurial spirit to overcome these challenges it lights the fire in me even more. To make it in this economy is much more difficult but also all the more satisfying when it starts to work out. I’m inviting that in as an opportunity to embrace my most Solarpunk dreams: to be able to run a sustainable, grassroots business that does good things despite all odds. 

Cashflow, baby.

Who runs the world? Money. Sorry Beyonce, but we gotta be real for a second. Our second biggest issue is cash flow. Disclaimer: the TK Supporting Membership program did some serious work in solving this one. Big proud of that. We’re not out of the woods though. Maintaining sales at scale is the name of the game right now. I’m trying my absolute hardest to refine my skills in marketing to grow TK to a scale where our sales outweigh our expenses. It’s a scary leap into a big new world. I’ve spent the entire year learning and refining my plan. Now it’s time to commit in 2024 and dive into a pool of bigger scale.

So what’s coming for 2024?

Well, if you look back at our past Time Capsule Recaps you’ll see a lot of next year's wishes that didn’t come true. So, this year I’m keeping it open. I’d love to have TK become profitable, stable, and financially secure. I know for sure we’ll be launching the TOURA Crop Top, and seasonal colors, inspired by nature. My goal is to double the quantity of TK Supporting Members in 2024. I would love to see more energy in our store TK Bishop. Appointments are available again, and we now have locally made Basewear in small quantities. 

I’m going to put those ideas out there and leave it up to the universe to take us to where we need to go. 

I couldn’t have done it without you all this year.

Thank you to my day ones who have been through thick and thin with me.

Thank you to LB. for sticking with me as best you could and ultimately making the best choice for yourself, which always leads to the best outcome for everyone.

Thank you to Meesh for being my most fabulous model and one of my best friends. There is no shortage of sparkling manifestation magic when you are around! So glad I lucked out and landed in a house above you.

Thank you to all the models, TK biz brunchers, and my local community for being magical af. Thanks to Sierra for always capturing that magic on film.

Thank you to every single TK Supporting Member for rolling with me this year - committing to become a part of funding production and being patient as we work out the kinks in pre-orders. Thank you to my VA Juilana for making those pre-orders happen, and all the TK Retail Associates for packing orders with love.

Thank you to everyone who has been on the TK Product Team and whose dedication to solving problems brought the TOURA Shorts to life. Special thanks to Jen for bringing a new fresh energy into this year’s product design and local Basewear sewing. Big thank you to Cami, our production manager in Colombia for working with us, and always bringing the butterflies.

Thank you to my Mom for being the biggest Basewear fan, and always being supportive and kind.

Finally, to channel Issa’s entrepreneur speech, thank you to me. For bringing relentless creativity and ideas, handling unbearable amounts of stress, and showing commitment and belief even in the face of insurmountable odds. Go me. I’m looking forward to someday reaping the reward of all the hard work I’ve put into this business. Hopefully, it will come even sooner than expected.


December 25, 2023 — Bridget Kilgallon
Tags: Time Capsule

Welcome to the Journal: official blog of Tera Kaia Basewear.

Here we tell stories about the outdoors, sustainability, and life through the lens of outdoor women. Get the latest on TK events, and a "behind the seams" look at everything that's going on with our brand.