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Dawn and Dave Foster find magic in developing Urban Carry Holsters
By Michael Laderman
SANFORD, Florida — Dave Foster was always good at promoting himself. As an inventor, business owner, and part-time amateur magician, he was adept in the ways of marketing and advertising, be it with web sites, social media, and in-person guerrilla marketing.
So when it came time to get the word out about his and his wife, Dawn’s, new company, Urban Carry Holsters, Dave had a good idea of what to do to generate some publicity.
“I figured that we’d make a video, one that I hoped would drive our company’s message home in two minutes,” he recalled. “My hope was that it would be simple and effective. It seemed to work.”
That, in itself, is an understatement. When it premiered, Dawn and Dave had no idea what was about to happen. Before the video came out, on this fateful day in November 2015, their lives were relatively organized. At the time, Dave was trying to grow Urban Carry Holsters, while still devoting much effort to his other company that developed solar-powered cases to charge one’s iPad and iPhone. Meanwhile, Dawn was working part-time at a law firm, full-time at Urban Carry, and going to school in-between to become a first responder.
They were busy, but would still make time for themselves. For fun, the two would attend gun shows on weekends. They soon, though, would work the shows with their new company, as Urban Carry made its debut at a local gun show in Deland, Florida in September 2014. It was a steady business, one that, slowly but surely, was growing.
But then the video went live.
And then the video was viewed.
And then the video was shared. And viewed. And shared again. To the magical tune of more than 15 million times within a week.
And as they were about to find out, Dawn and Dave had developed a product, along with co-inventor Cecil Gordon, that so many gun-owners just had to have.
“I’ll never forget, we were working at the gun show in Palmetto [Florida] for the weekend,” Dave said. “It’s Saturday morning, right around 10, I’m talking to customers in-person, and I’m feeling my phone buzzing, just constantly buzzing. I thought the phone was broken, it was buzzing non-stop. Well, I didn’t know it then, but it was buzzing because those were new orders for our holster coming in. I’m trying to sell a holster to somebody at the show, while feeling my phone constantly go off.
“But then I saw the site counter on our website, and saw that the video was going viral.”
“And then we just started working round the clock,” Dawn said. “We went from 10 to 15 orders per day, to, suddenly, overnight, thousands a day. So needless to say, we needed to ramp up production.”
For Dawn, Dave, and their then-small team, the next few weeks would prove to be a magical whirlwind. So much so, their leather production team – a third-generation leather craftsman, located in the foothills of Tennessee – had to begin producing thousands of holsters per week.
Their company would quickly need to grow from an intimate staff of three – Dawn, Dave, and Drew Rennolds – to a team of 40, including an increased team in Tennessee with the leather craftsman, his family, and other hires.
It was so busy, the couple worked non-stop, often for 18 hours per day, for 473 consecutive days before taking a single day off.
They also outgrew their local office and production space – not once, but twice within the first few months of their company truly taking off.
“I remember our first office, it felt like it was only 100 square feet,” Drew said with a laugh. “We had a desk, and a work bench in the back, and the belt rack. Dave would come in and sit on the floor, and would have to cut holsters by hand. Dawn would be at the desk, and I’d be packing boxes behind her, boxes that were stacked to the ceiling. It was packed with the three of us in there.”
It was a good thing, then, that the three of them were as close as they were. Drew and Dave first met when they were both in high school, and have worked with one another since. And Dave and Dawn, by this time, had already been married for nine years.
“It’s great that we get to do all of this together, which makes it even better,” Dave said.
Mind you, he gets to do that thanks to some other magic he pulled – on New Year’s Eve, 2001. It was the night he and Dawn first met. Both were at a party, celebrating with separate groups of friends. Right after midnight, Dave’s friends asked him to perform some of his magic tricks. Dave was more than happy to do so, but he needed, as he said, “a pretty girl” for one of his tricks. His eyes came across Dawn, and so he asked her if she would partake. She did, and Dave “took a beer bottle, shoved it through her stomach, and pulled it out of her back.”
“And we’ve been together ever since,” Dawn said. “It was instant chemistry.”
Chemistry and magic that has served them well over the course of time. Like so many in America, they went through tough times in 2007-08, with Dave having to sell one of his companies, and Dawn working in a business that brought her to tears many days. But together, the two of them had a perfect combination for success in business: Dave, being a 15-year entrepreneur, who is the visionary and creator for many of his endeavors; and Dawn, the integrator bringing those visions to life, with 20-plus years in corporate law and intellectual property under her belt.
So they knew that they were onto something special when they first met Cecil, and when they first began developing their new holster.
They just didn’t know how special, nor how magical, it would be.
“It’s been crazy, but with so much to learn and so much to do, there hasn’t been that full absorption of just how crazy it is,” Dawn said. “But it’s not just been great for us, but also for our staff. We have a huge staff now, many that weren’t working before we took off the way we did. Now, people are completely comfortable. That’s what this is really about, the human side of what we do, the benefit of seeing the people come in here to work, happy to be here. It’s like family, and that’s important to us.
“A lot of hard work has gone into this,” she added, “that, and a lot of heartache. So many people might have said, ‘we just went viral, sell it now!’ But we were like, ‘okay, we got this, let’s keep pushing, let’s keep growing, let’s expand this.’ And we did. It’s been an interesting journey for sure … but one we are exceptionally grateful for.”