We had the privilege of speaking with Bill Acorn, creator of the DIVORCE RECOVERY KIT FOR MEN:
BILL ACORN: It’s my pleasure – I am pleased to provide some insight into the concept of the Divorce Recovery Kit (DRK), specifically, and OakStreet Man in general
DIVORCE SALOON: One of our Internet researchers found your press release and brought it to our attention in a board meeting. Everyone concurred that it was a brilliant concept and there was a consensus that we would try to speak with you. How did you come up with this idea and concept?
BILL ACORN: The idea of the DRK came to me when I conceived the OSM concept three years ago – to provide “Exceptional Goods for the Uncompromising Man.” Having experienced a divorce, I knew first-hand the trauma and frustration, not only of the demise of a relationship, but also from a more practical perspective. Inevitably after a divorce, you experience the loss of many possessions and both personal and household necessities. I thought: wouldn’t it be great to put together an ensemble of products that are not only functional, but elegant, durable and high-quality for the next chapter of my life.
DIVORCE SALOON: Your background is Engineering, Project Design and consulting. Your bio also indicates that you are a family man and father of five boys. Where does someone with your background find the inspiration for something like the divorce recovery kit?
BILL ACORN: As an engineer and entrepreneur, I’ve had the good fortune of coming into contact with many successful people and many opportunities to travel to wonderful places. When I could find time during those business and pleasure trips, I always enjoyed shopping for gadgets, accessories and essentials. However, I often found myself disappointed with either the quality, the aesthetics or the price of the items. I thought there must be a better way to find the products I wanted and needed. So you see, being an engineer and appreciating the finer things are not mutually incompatible. Have I shown you this great pocket protector I found in San Francisco?
In fact, being divorced and being a father of five boys are not incompatible roles. After a divorce, it is still possible to maintain a sense of family and have good relationships with your kids. Having a comfortable, welcoming home (whether it be an apartment, condo or “van by the river”) enhances that ability. DRK products can help establish that sense of home and stability.
My personal experience as a divorced man with a family and my background as an engineer together with my own sense of aesthetics and quality have all contributed to the DRK concept. It also helps that I’ve affiliated with a great group of experts in a variety of product fields to assist OSM in our selections.
DIVORCE SALOON: On this divorce blog, we continue to marvel at how rising divorce rates have become a global phenomenon. Divorce knows no boundaries of country and jurisdiction. Do you believe that men, more than women, need help in “recovering” from a divorce? If so, why? If not, what might a comparable recovery kit for women look like in your opinion?
BILL ACORN: I definitely think men need more help recovering from divorce. Men generally tend to be more isolated after a divorce, whereas women typically have friends or some type of network to provide moral and emotional support. Based upon my own unscientific survey and personal observations, I believe men have a tendency to retreat from social settings following a divorce. I also think that people may be more inclined to comfort, support and stand by the ex-wife, leaving the ex-husband to find a new circle of friends.
At the same time, the guy is likely to find himself without the basic physical accouterments of life. This is where OSM comes in. The items in the Divorce Recovery Kit will help a man get back a sense of normalcy, well-being and the quality of life he wants. While material things do not make a quality life, they do help create an ambiance that is conducive to recovery from divorce and personal loss.
DIVORCE SALOON: That’s probably true. In looking at the items that are included in the kit which you have put together for the OakStreet customer, it was interesting to note that in addition to Riedel wine glasses and Viking kitchenware, you’ve included items such as Glycerin Cleansing Bar, facial cleaner and Sea Salt body scrub…… How would you describe your quintessential customer for the Divorce Recovery Kit? Is he a metrosexual for example? Is he sort of a Wall Street tycoon type? What does he do? What does he read? What is he like? Who is this guy? What is his persona?
BILL ACORN: Clearly our products sell at price points that favor the affluent, but an OakStreet man doesn’t need to be a Wall Streeter. He is most likely between 35 and 70; he is successful; he appreciates quality; he expects functionality to complement pleasing aesthetics. This man takes care of himself and those around him. He is not obsessed with himself, but doesn’t make excuses when he pampers himself a bit because he has earned that privilege. The OSM customer is a professional, an entrepreneur, a business leader or simply a man who has made his mark in some niche and isn’t afraid to enjoy the fruits of his skill and efforts. He is not a man who spends indiscriminately; he expects all the virtues and value of fine products. Because he is busy doing, he doesn’t have a lot of time to shop. Accordingly, he appreciates the convenience of a source that has vetted the products he is looking for and narrowed the options to those that fit his value/quality criteria.
Is he metrosexual? A female friend once told me that I was. After defending my honor, she explained that by her definition, the metrosexual man is sophisticated, intelligent and masculine, yet not afraid to admit he likes nice things (other than cars and motorcycles). By this definition, the OakStreet man may indeed be metrosexual.
Frankly, however, I don’t believe there is a stereotypical OSM customer. At OakStreet, we simply want to be the one-stop-shop for men who appreciate fine things and have the ability to acquire them. He doesn’t need to be wealthy; we have a variety of fine products that are not expensive – and you pointed out some of them – particularly in the grooming store.
I like to think the OakStreet man is a guy like me. Not rich, but successful; hard working; serious but not stuffy; ready for adventure and full of life; interested in a variety of intellectual and physical activities; well rounded and inquisitive. The OSM is undoubtedly like a lot of guys you know.
DIVORCE SALOON: How old is this particular project? Is the Divorce Recovery Kit a new addition to the OakStreet Man’s brand? Or has the kit been available for some time?
BILL ACORN: The Divorce Recovery Kit is one of the first products I thought about when conceiving the OakStreet brand. Yet it is one of the newest products in our lineup because we needed to assemble a critical mass of individual products in order to put together a comprehensive package. While the general OSM product line is evolving, we expect the DRK to contain certain consistent essentials that will not vary much from the current package. Having said that, OSM is here to serve its customers and we look forward to feedback from anyone who has a thoughtful suggestion for improvement.
DIVORCE SALOON: And what is the average cost of the kit?
BILL ACORN: Purchased separately, the items in the Divorce Recovery Kit would retail for over $8K; however a DRK from OSM sells for about $6K. Pricing varies depending on bedding specs, whether Queen, King or California King,
We are evaluating offering range of DRK options. For example, we’re toying with something called the “Ultimate Divorce Recovery Kit,” which would come with a custom, turbocharged motorcycle. That would inject a shot of adrenalin in the mix.
We can, of course, assemble special, customized packages upon request to meet the needs/desires of individual customers.
DIVORCE SALOON: In the current economy, do you have any concerns about pricing yourself out of the market? The kit is not exactly inexpensive?
BILL ACORN: Of course, any company needs to be mindful of the economy, both on a macro and micro level, as it impacts its customer base. The DRK – like all of our products – represents outstanding value as well as unparalleled quality. Taken together, the items are deeply discounted from retail, and when you factor in the value of the time that would be required to research, shop and procure these essentials, it is definitely a value proposition. Our customers realize this.
DIVORCE SALOON: Actually I’ve read in the Wall Street Journal that the economy may be picking up and that the affluent are spending disposable dollars again. Do you anticipate a huge market for this product?
BILL ACORN: It does appear that the economy is strengthening, and this is a good sign for all retailers. It is also true that affluent men will always spend for items they want and need. The intangible psychological lift of purchasing and receiving this kind of “recovery” product will be remembered long after the price is forgotten.
We are also encouraged by the concept of gifting. Some men will receive this kit as a gift from friends or associates who want to help a colleague to make a quicker recovery. It doesn’t hurt that they will know that when they visit their friend, his new domicile will be well equipped and they won’t have to drink a good wine or scotch out of a Styrofoam cup.
DIVORCE SALOON: Where can customers actually get the kit? Is the OakStreet Man and the Divorce Recovery Kit only available online or do you have a storefront as well?
BILL ACORN: OSM is a web-based retailer at this time. This was the basis of our business plan from day one. At some time in the future, we expect to have one or more brick and mortar stores in high end retail locations such as NYC, SF or Las Vegas.
DIVORCE SALOON: What attracted you to the Internet/Anywhere/Virtual format to begin with for a product such as the Divorce Recovery Kit? I mean, is the Divorce Recovery Kit something that you think will sell better online? Why was your business plan web-based?
BILL ACORN: Our belief is that Internet retailing is here to stay and is a viable venue for OSM in general and the DRK in particular, allowing us to compete in the larger market that is afforded by the web. The web is a great equalizer – OSM could potentially have the same reach as an established high-end retailer like Ralph or Williams …
We know from personal experience that web based shopping and purchasing, even for big ticket items is increasingly the place where shoppers look. In my own experience, I purchased a sports car and a motorcycle, both sight unseen on the web with great success.
DIVORCE SALOON: You are quoted as having said “My experience has shown that a project never gets any better than the concepts upon which it is based. Many projects represent the right answer to the wrong questions. This is why I focus on the 5% of the project time and investment that ensures success for the remaining 95% of the project.” That begs a number of questions: Speaking of the Divorce Recovery Kit’s initial concept, why do you think the concept will work? I mean, I assume you believe strongly that it will in fact work?
BILL ACORN: Based upon my own personal experience and that of friends who have been in this situation, it is simply my genuine belief that there is a need this product can fill. My operating premise for the whole OSM concept is that if I would be interested in the product, then others like me would as well. In addition, based upon our informal surveys and discussions with friends and colleagues, the concept has merit.
DIVORCE SALOON: What questions were you trying to answer with the creation of this product?
BILL ACORN: I never really thought of it in terms of the questions we were answering – but how about – “Oh sh_t, what am I going to do now?” … or “Where is that cork puller I had last time I opened a good bottle of wine? … or “How am I going to find the time to furnish this condo, so I don’t feel like I’m living in a hotel?” On a more serious note: … “How can OSM provide a service to our newly single brothers that gets them off to a good start on their road to recovery and the next chapter of their life?”
DIVORCE SALOON: Why are you so certain that the kit is the right answer to these questions?
BILL ACORN: For all the previous reasons – quality, value, carefully edited products and combinations of products that fulfill the OSM man’s quest – these are exceptional goods for the uncompromising man. I believe that any man that buys this kit will feel some level of relief, having taken a positive step towards his life after life.
DIVORCE SALOON: Do you think this kit will be a hit with the affluent set?
BILL ACORN: Is success all but assured in your opinion? If not, what might lead to a failure of the product to launch? I take nothing for granted. I’ve been a success in business as a result of hard work and thoughtful planning. I believe that the marketplace will let us know if this is something affluent men want and need. I certainly hope it will take off and help us to establish our brand – with the help of visibility in resources such as the Divorce Saloon, perhaps that dream will become a reality.
DIVORCE SALOON: Well, thank you Mr. Acorn for sharing with us and allowing us to pick your brain about this project. We think it is a stroke of genius. We love the idea and expect to hear that it is hugely successful. We wish you great success.
BILL ACORN: I appreciate this opportunity to speak to your audience and thank you for your kind encouragement.
OakStreet Man is the inspiration and passion of successful Arizona entrepreneur Bill Acorn, a globe-trotting businessman, sportsman and family man who has long been frustrated with the Internet shopping experience. “Affluent males desire unique goods and services of exceptional quality and value,” says Acorn. “I got tired of spending hours wandering the web, searching for the best-designed Dopp kit, the most luxurious linens, the one corkscrew with just the right heft, look and functionality. What I really wanted was one site where I could find a collection of products that were pre-screened for taste, quality and value, and backed with 100% guaranteed service. I couldn’t find such a site, so I created it.
“Through my travels, I’ve encountered real experts in the things that interest me most — entertaining, grooming, sports, and so on. In creating OakStreet Man, I’ve enlisted the help of these professionals. Each lends their expertise in selecting or creating the best of the best for our stores. These authorities also share the thinking behind their choices, and provide advice and tips on related topics, both here at OakStreetMan.com, and on our companion blogs. OakStreet Man is a reflection of my taste and expectation of quality, and that of the recognized experts I have the pleasure of consulting with.”
Acorn is the principal of engineering firm Acorn Consulting Services. He’s been involved for 35 years in the analysis and design of hundreds of technical building projects, ranging from laboratories to semiconductor cleanrooms. He’s been honored with numerous awards for technical excellence and is recognized for his achievements, innovation and foresight in the advanced technology industry. He’s an author, a sought-after industry lecturer, consultant on regulatory affairs, and forensic engineering expert and litigation consultant. Acorn gives back to the community through academic appointments at Arizona State University in Phoenix, and the University of Arizona in Tucson. The father of five boys, he has considerable first hand experience with the needs of men. He enjoys spending time with and entertaining family and friends.
CARLA MARIA SMITH
512.992.8890 (c) | carla.maria.smith (skype)
Exceptional Goods for the Uncompromising Man