Glampin' Life LLC® is a family-owned outdoor lifestyle brand based in Columbia, South Carolina. The business, founded 3 years ago by Mike Mayleben, manufactures and sells direct to consumer beach carts, accessories and apparel and is a licensed dealer for other brands in the recreational space.
Starting with just one product Mayleben manufactured himself, Glampin’ Life now provides accessories, replacement parts, and merchandise. He is clear about his business goals on the Glampin’ Life website:
We want to change the game for all camping and beach lovers with innovative products that will make your experience an unforgettable delight!
At the end of 2021, Mike secured an affordable SBA 7(a) loan for $200,000 to help him reach his goals. Here’s the story of his business journey:
Mayleben reports that he’s always had an entrepreneurial mindset. Before founding his business, he worked on a variety of side ventures in the digital space and served as a project manager and technology manager at creative agencies and software companies. He was successful but always kept his eyes open for other interesting business opportunities.
Founding Glampin’ Life
While on a beach vacation, Mayleben quickly realized that there was a need for a new product to ease the struggle of setting up on the sand. He says, “I simply could not find a beach cart for sale that suited my needs.”
He began researching and hand-built a revolutionary cart that evolved into the Ultimate Beach Cart XL. The one-of-a-kind cart features Balloon-Glide wheels that roll effortlessly across any surface (sand, concrete, pavement, grass, dirt). Mayleben calls it “The Cadillac of beach life”. He sold his boat to finance start-up costs of his business. In 2016, he left the tech industry to launch Glampin’ Life.
“Our beach carts are designed to move on the sand easily because our sole goal is to make beach trips more enjoyable,” he says. “And it’s perfectly suited for the person in charge of arriving before everyone else, hauling all the equipment, and getting the site ready.”
Growing the business
Mayleben’s vision started with one beach cart and has grown into a lifestyle brand geared towards beach vacationers and the growing RV industry. It’s a strong segment to target. Despite the poor pandemic economy, RV demand is at a record high, with manufacturers shipping upwards of 543,000 units in 2021.
As the Glampin’ Life brand grows, sales double each year and Mayleben expects to hit one million in sales soon. Starting in a 300 square foot garage, the business will soon be moving to a 7,000 square foot facility.
The entrepreneur life
Mayleben reports that he is much happier working for himself than other people. “I’ve established flexible hours and a visit to our warehouse only 3 - 4 times a week.” Mayleben says, “I’m not working from sunup to sundown anymore. I do handle the live chat on my website and customer phone calls but it’s manageable. The beauty of this business is twofold - I don’t have to hire a lot of people and I can still be a stay-at-home dad.”
He met his wife at 30 and they now have a fourteen year old and an eleven year old. Operating as a one-man-show without employees, his wife and daughters step up to help on occasion. “I enjoy having 100% control of business operations and making important decisions,” he says.
The need for business capital
As business spiked, Mayleben had a chance to appear on ABC’s Shark Tank program. However, he ultimately decided to forgo the opportunity due to an inventory shortage. In addition to inventory, Glampin’ Life was in need of additional commercial property space to run the business. Mayleben used two working capital loans from his payment processor to keep operating. The loans required daily payback based on a percentage of sales and he started looking for a better way to fund his business.
The SmartBiz application experience
Mayleben received an email from SmartBiz Loans® that outlined the advantages of a Small Business Administration (SBA) loan.
“I learned that SBA loans have lower interest rates and longer terms and applied for a $200,000 SBA 7(a) loan.”
Mayleben posted a 5-star TrustPilot® review about his experience with SmartBiz:
"Fantastic experience! The entire team that I worked with, specifically Pamela did a FIRST CLASS job. Communication was on point, I was in the loop every step of the way. Glad I chose SmartBiz Loans for our SBA needs."
SmartBiz Loan Operations Account Executive Pamela says:
"Mike from Glampin' Life was a pleasure to work with. He's created this outdoor lifestyle brand that specializes in selling beach carts, beach accessories, and camping equipment. With the funding the small business received from SmartBiz, it was able to significantly improve its monthly cash flow and purchase more inventory to further continue to grow its revenue. 2022 should be Glampin' Life's best year yet!”
Maybelen used the SBA loan proceeds to pay off two working capital loans, immediately strengthening his cash flow. He used remaining funds for inventory, product development, and to secure additional operating space.
Maybelen is not taking his foot off the gas in 2022. He was fortunate to remain profitable during the pandemic and expects business to grow. He plans to explore partnerships with hotels and others in the vacation industry and to test equipment rental opportunities in tourist-dense locations.
His best advice for aspiring entrepreneurs is to research, communicate, and document. “Paying attention to these key business practices has helped me become successful,” he says.
The SmartBiz team is thrilled that we were able to help another hard-working business owner. We look forward to the continued success of Glampin’ Life!