We’re starting over here.
Starting over is never 100% fun. For a lot of people, it’s more like 5% fun, and for some of us like myself, it’s maybe 80% fun. It’s never fully fun though.
Let’s face it, starting over means there’s been failure and wasted time, and thus there’s inevitably losses to grieve and work that has to be done again.
Yet, sometimes you just have to start over. You have to press the reset button. That’s what we’re doing here.
We’re not just slapping on a fresh coat of paint on the house here though. We’re not even simply gutting and remodeling. Rather, it’d be closer to say we’ve just torn down and completely built new. We even rebuilt the very reason SOZO, LLC exists as well as the plan as to how it will continue to exist as a business.
Now though, you’re just witnessing us applying the last finishing coats of paint and some decorative touches about the place.
So why are we starting over?
The First Start Story (aka The Back Story):
SOZO, LLC was birthed as a business in Kansas as a brainchild of myself, Riley Adam Voth, and my good friend at the time, Ben Jurney in 2014. We were in our second year of living in Lawrence, Kansas when we were having dinner with the wives and the four of us chatting about life, current work and future plans, and I pitched an idea I had been considering. In a nutshell, Ben and I both badly wanted more reasons to create things, build things, fix things up, and make money off of things, and we liked the idea of doing this with everything from a small piece of wall decor we might make, all the way to refurbishing an entire house and flipping it.
Let me add, it’s not like we just flipped through the equivalent of a book of baby names for business ideas and chose one that sounded great — we both had experience and skills relating to this. Neither of us had “flipped a house”, but both of our families had flipped and remodeled homes at times and had experience with rental properties. Both of us enjoyed working hard labor and using power tools, and we both had a knack for cosmetic and aesthetic updates as well as the ability to quickly learn about anything we needed to learn.
Plus, there we were in a university city where people make big money off of flipping homes every week. On a smaller level, things get left on the street sides every day and the market around here and Kansas City is booming for picking up old used cool things and making them new refurbished awesome things.
Ben also was already making some pretty stellar home furnishing and decor pieces. I was already collecting old pieces for repurposing or restoring from mid century modern furniture to antiques and even new things that could be hacked for a better looking or more functional use-case.
So we began. We began creating and selling. We began finding and repurposing. We formed an LLC and I began creating a website for us with a shop and portfolio to feature everything in. We began filling out an Etsy shop as well.
I spent hours and hours forming a brand and a website that could grow with us as we did. We had a long term vision, though slightly vague (but what visions aren’t vague when they start?), and we spent hours on a business plan. After talking to banks and other mentors, we realized we’d need a large chunk of down-payment cash to ever touch a house, and so we figured we’d just start small and work our way up or find partners along the way.
We were off. “Going and blowing”, as my father would say…
This is when the name, “SOZO Collective”, was born. We were
The Stop Story:
There’s actually not much story here. At least not that I can tell. Divorce is a horrible thing.
No, neither Ben and his wife, nor me and mine, got a divorce. Ben’s in-laws did. Long story short, right as we were about to launch our website and really make a full-on push with our work and brand (and I was even lining up local partners in the area), Ben’s mother-in-law had to move into their apartment with them. This greatly changed the nature of his life and how he could spend his time and money, and well, how he needed to make money.
The short story is that they decided it was going to be best for them to all move down to Houston, TX where family was, and in a matter of months they were gone and what we were calling “the SOZO Collective” abruptly fizzled into one guy with no business partner and no official collective partners actually on board yet (though they were calling and wondering what was going on).
So, we stopped.
Business ideas fail every day, but the saddest part to me (and of course I was biased cause I spent a lot of time on it) was never getting to use our really cool name, brand, and website I had worked so hard on…
The Start Over Story:
I kept doing what I was always doing — a hodge-podge mix of many things from working for our church start-up to running my magazine and advertising business to doing my freelance marketing and web development on the side.
Along the way, I made the decision to exit the magazine and advertising business (a story and reasons all of its own), and then to focus more on my web development skills I was acquiring as well as my public relations and marketing degree and skills I had invested in once upon a time.
Two years have passed, and that brings us to current day. This year I took more web development courses through an online academy and landed more projects while working for our church. As my wife and I have considered our future and the possibilities we have to create that future, something began to become clear: I needed to make an actual business or career out of this web development and marketing stuff, or else just go get a job shoveling poop or something. Ministry doesn’t pay the bills that well. Part time web development doesn’t pay the bills that well. A wife who wants to have children won’t pay the bills that well either. So, it was time.
And, I happened to still own a really cool brand name and licensed LLC with branding work already completed (that I had been renewing each year for the price of $50 per month — thanks a lot for nothing there state of Kansas).
So I jumped in here, renewed our awesome domain, cried a bit as I scrapped all the old work on the website (okay not really), and completely started from scratch on a new one for this new business!
We have refactored the name a bit now to be “SOZO.DO” instead of “SOZO Collective”, officially. That’s not just because it matches our domain either — though that’s a pretty convenient piece of branding work there too, if I do say so myself.
What’s fun is that though it felt a little forced at first to fit a web development business into the shell of an old handmade goods and services / fixer upper and restoration business, the whole concept has really come to take on it’s own meaning and significance for me now.
The word “sozo” means to save or to restore, and while we may not literally be doing that with items anymore, because of my faith I believe that the work of “sozo” has happened to me through the work of Jesus Christ. I have been restored to know goodness and joy in relationship with my creator and God. And, as Christian faith believes, if you’ve truly experienced and know goodness of this magnitude then you cannot help but want to share it and to pass it on to others. Hence, we “do”.
We are “saved” and know goodness to “do” goodness. We don’t “do” to be saved and know goodness. That way bring a miserable and joyless life. It only works with doing flowing out of our “sozo”.
So, on one hand, who knows, we may actually get to help “save or restore” a non-profit, business, or entrepreneur and their website or work (cause good branding, web design, and marketing can do that for an organization), but, more likely, we’ll be specializing in helping organizations and individuals who do much of this “passing on of goodness” to others. That is, after all, a niche market I know very well, having spent my entire life in church, doing ministry, and working for churches and non-profits.
It’s also the type of work and businesses my wife and I love to do and support — giving out of that which has been given.
Furthermore, we are “giving back” with our work and will be putting more and more of the portions of the profit from this business toward helping others. Currently we use a portion of our profits to fully fund a Compassion child.
I also have a pretty awesome — eh, we’ll call it — “marketing plan” and partnerships for the near future with this kind of work and these kinds of businesses… but it’s not time to talk about that in detail yet.
So here we are! We’re starting over!
We’ll be updating all our social media accounts and begin posting completely new stuff soon! No more of this kind of stuff on Instagram. It’s going to appear to be a shocking change. Haha!
Sometimes, you just have to give an honest look at who you are and what you’ve got and simply go to work with it. In the long run, that’s actually the much more satisfying work.
So here we go! There’s much work to be done (on this site and client’s sites), and we’re open for business!
P.S. To see our new work, be sure to check out our portfolio “Works” page. It’s updating weekly.
Also, give us a follow on Instagram and Twitter for sure (links in the footer below)! We’re pretty much every where else too!