Inside Business #1

by Sam Culkins February 06, 2023

Boxing Up and Shipping Out: Culk's Journey to Outsourced Fulfillment

Brian Lance and I discuss the ups and downs of saying goodbye to in-house warehousing and the evolution of the brand.


Hey, what's up? I'm Sam Culkins. With me today is Brian Lance. Brian, how's it going?

It's going well.

I just wanted to give our customers an opportunity to familiarize themselves with the people behind Culk. To start, could you tell me what you do at Culk?

I'm the data boy and your business partner. I spend a lot of time managing customer service emails and tracking inventory in spreadsheets to ensure we have the right amount of stock. Yeah, that about sums it up.

Come on, don't hold back. What else do you do?

You wanna hear more?


I help our wonderful customers with their returns and exchanges. I yell at vendors for the stuff that's late or incorrectly decorated, f**k up management, I do lots of f**k up management.

Recently, we outsourced our warehousing and fulfillment needs. What are your thoughts on the impact of this change?

Previously, we handled fulfillment and storage in-house at our 16th Street warehouse. Now, we've outsourced these tasks to a fulfillment partner in South San Francisco. Their sole focus is on warehousing and fulfillment, freeing us from those responsibilities and allowing us to concentrate on product development, marketing and other tasks. So basically it reduces the amount of chaos and workload we have to deal with on a daily basis. Additionally, our fulfillment partner has a larger space, which allows us to grow without worrying about increasing our warehouse footprint.

Do you think there were any benefits of warehousing in-house?

It was great having a dedicated space for the business. All our employees worked under the same roof. It allowed for fun times and shared experiences which brought a sense of pride and camaraderie.

Do you have any concerns about the outsourcing of our fulfillment?

I'm partially concerned that we might lose some brand integrity by not doing everything imaginable ourselves. That being said, I'm not sure if this loss of control over the warehouse operations is actually a significant issue, and I don't know if it outweighs the benefits of having more time to connect with customers, create more products, and improve other aspects of the business. We certainly haven't got any questions or skepticism about the fact that we're not shipping the products ourselves anymore.

I’m not gonna lie, I miss the warehouse and the community it fostered but I think outsourcing warehousing and fulfillment was a smart long term decision.

I agree. Outsourcing fulfillment has already scaled our shipping output. Orders are getting shipped every day quickly. The only thing that's getting in the way of getting products to the customer is having inventory on the shelves, which is my job.

Yeah, that’s a tough job.

Yeah but because we’re not thinking about warehousing and fulfillment all the time I have more bandwidth to keep tabs on our inventory.

Totally. Since we've outsourced our fulfillment we no longer have staff and as a result you've added a lot more computer work to your plate. How do you feel about your current workload? Do you feel overwhelmed?

It feels manageable. We went through a steep learning curve for three months working with our fulfillment partner and figuring out a lot of details. Although inventory management fell off during the transition, we had already done most of our pre-holiday purchasing and it wasn't until after the holidays that we realized how much we needed to replenish. Short answer: yes, it feels manageable.

I just want to wrap up by acknowledging a shift in the brand. Culk is no longer operating from a warehouse with box walls, the skate swing, and fun personalities like 'The Master of Operations.' The change was necessary for the health of the business, though it came at the cost of the entertaining brand culture. I guess this conversation is an attempt to evolve the brand and develop a new voice. I'm in my apartment and you're in your house, but we're still just two business boys working hard and having fun, just aren’t as many boxes being smashed.

There's still plenty of boxes out there.

Yeah, you're right. Maybe someday the box walls will return. I don't know where, I don’t know when, but maybe.

Also in What's New At Culk HQ

👇New from Kristina Micotti👇

by Sam Culkins December 15, 2022

We have collaborated with illustrator Kristina Micotti to release her iconic bulldog illustration in multiple styles. The bulldog is available in a unisex t-shirt, a unisex crewneck, and a women’s t-shirtThe ink colors in this print turned out fantastic and really stand out on the dark fabric, with a vibrant green and a subtle pink. It's a pleasure to work with talented artists like Kristina Micotti and bring their work to life as a product. Anyways, give the bulldog collection a gander and happy holidays from San Francisco! -Sam Culkins

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