Why This Trendy Outdoor Startup Chose Portland Over San Francisco


At this last Maker Meetup, hosted at The Joinery, makers convened surrounded by gorgeous hardwood furniture and accessories. Before jumping into a presentation by Wylie Robinson, The Joinery provided a live edge cutting board for a raffle prize. From there, Jim Hassert jumped right in, reiterating his goal of making these meetups the best hour and a half possible.

Next, Hassert introduced the speaker for the night, the founder and CEO of Rumpl, the makers of the “sleeping bag blanket.” The brand is great at marketing, which is why Hassert asked Robinson to talk about the steps he’s taken to grow Rumpl to what it is now.

Robinson just moved Rumpl to Portland from the Bay Area seven months ago, but the company started back in 2014, during the heyday of Kickstarter. Their innovative product caught the eyes of several backers on the crowdfunding platform in addition to several ecommerce retailers, and Robinson soon had more channels for sales than he knew what to do with. The internet was flooded with Rumpl product, but demand wasn’t built up to sustain retail sales at all of the outlets who had expressed interest. Worst of all, the weakest performer was Rumpl’s own website. 

Robinson and his team conducted an audit to see the impact of each retailer. Based on the results of this audit, Rumpl opted to limit ecommerce partners to Amazon, REI, Huckberry, and their own website. Sales at all outlets exploded. The moral of the story? When you’re starting out, limit your retail channels to a handful that best align with your brand.

This stripped-down approach clearly yielded results for Rumpl, and the brand soon had mass-market retailer Target asking for a significant order from them. However, Target wasn’t exactly aligned with Rumpl’s aesthetic, so Robinson created an economy sub-brand, Roamer, just for them.

One of the things that Rumpl does best, though, is direct-to-consumer marketing, and one of their most creative tactics is directing target demographics to landing pages built specifically for them. For example, for the 40-plus family man with a focus on safety, an advertisement on Facebook might appeal to their wish to protect those they care about. By clicking on this ad, the customer is directed to a specialized page on the Rumpl site that continues pitching the product to this specific customer type.


This led to another question, though: How does Rumpl definitively know what target customers exist? Robinson stressed the importance of surveys and talking to customers directly, but also the importance of gut instincts. Since Rumpl is an extension of the people who created it, they’re confident in at least a few of their audiences based on inward reflection.

This wasn’t the only question for the night; in fact, the Q & A portion of the evening was particularly popular at this meetup. One question resonated with those in attendance: Why would a brand like Rumpl choose Portland over San Francisco? Because, Robinson said, people in Portland are excited about brands like Rumpl. Even better, they’re experts in crafting and are known for their creative spirit, something we know to be true at Portland Made. This was especially evident at the conclusion of the evening, when The Joinery offered a tour of their workshop.


Words by Katey Trnka

Photography by Sarah Toor