Rad Dad Stories: Interview with Ty Collum, Dad, coffee brewer & soapmaker

Ty and gideon - postcard

Ty and Gideon (photo courtesy of Ty Collum)

If you’ve received our August 2019 box, you have probably seen the soap that we’ve included in this month’s box. You may have also seen the postcard introducing the soapmaker, Ty Collum (Ty is also offering a generous 20% discount to Rad Dad fans on his Etsy shop – link below – with the code RADDAD). Ty is one of our customers and in addition to making soap and brewing coffee for Early Grave Coffee Company, he is also a Rad Dad to his 19 month old son, Gideon. The father-son duo also does vlogs of their activities and adventures over at Bad Dad Crafting (including a few videos of the Rad Dad Box!). We sat down with Ty to talk about his various entrepreneurial ventures and about fatherhood:

The Rad Dad Box: What inspired you to start making soap?

Ty Collum: To make a long story short, my Grandmother is my primary soap-making inspiration. She raised me as a child from the time I was 2 weeks old, and has been the single most positive influence throughout my entire life. She has been making soap for over 25 years, beginning when I was around toddler-age. In all those years, I’m sad to say I never once participated in the process or gave soap-making a single thought. In the last 3 years I have been fortunate enough to marry the woman of my dreams, welcome our son, Gideon, into the world, and purchase our first home. As I’ve watched my family grow around me I’ve begun to recognize just how important it is that I learn from and participate in my (grand)mother’s life. I think about the recipes I enjoyed growing up, the family history that only she knows, and of course, the soap-making. She goes to the gym 5 days a week and is the healthiest grandma I know, but she turned 80 this year and had pacemaker surgery just last month, so now more than ever I feel the importance of being connected to her.

Ty's Wedding

Ty and his grandmother at his wedding (photo courtesy of Ty Collum)

TRDB:  From what I understand, the soap-making is an outgrowth of your coffee roasting business. Can you tell us what inspired you to start it?

Ty: I’m the type of person that I call a serial-hobbyist. A jack-of-all and a master-of-none. If I see something that interests me I jump into it, get really excited about it for a small amount of time, and then move on when something else catches my eye. My past and current hobbies have included painting, drawing, woodworking, wood burning, designing t-shirts, social media management, web design, video games, disc golf, fishing, technology, producing music, writing poetry, blogging, and I’m sure there’s more I’m missing. The point is, I wouldn’t consider myself good at or super in love with any of these things. I try them, I enjoy them, and then when I get bored I try something else.

My coffee journey actually began as my (grand)mother buying me a cold brew maker for Christmas. My hobby of the moment was coffee, and I wanted to try cold brew. I let a few friends try what I was making and one of them wanted me to sell it to her. So Beardman’s Cold Brew was born. after about 8 months of selling coffee to friends and family and saving up for a fancy coffee grinder, I got bored. It wasn’t until the next Christmas when I tried making a peppermint cold brew and had a few people asking for coffee for Christmas gifts that I decided to re-brand myself and sell coffee again. Enter Early Grave Coffee Company.
Today, I’ve more or less quit selling coffee again. Actually all I did was stop promoting it. If you’ve ever dealt with building emerging brands you understand how essential advertising is to the success of a business. I always maintain enough coffee in my fridge for personal consumption, and in almost 4 years have drank my cold brew pretty much every morning. I may have a slight caffeine problem. If friends or family ask for coffee, I make them some. If they don’t ask, I just make it for me.
Original Soap

Original Coffee soap from Early Grave Coffee Company (photo courtesy of Early Grave Coffee Company)

TRDB: Is this your full-time job, or is it a side gig at the moment?

Ty:It’s funny you should ask about full-time jobs. I just left mine. I was working 60 hours a week between 2 jobs, working my various hobbies and side hustles, finding time to maintain the house and actively participate in my relationship with Haley, my wife, and raising my son as well as producing his YouTube channel, Bad Dad. I worked in management for a Fortune 500 retail company, but the moment my son was born I knew that I wanted out. I had been trying to secure a position where I could work from home when they eliminated my job. I had options to stay and they were more than accommodating, but I am proud to say that I chose to leave and pursue my real dream of being a full-time stay-at-home dad. To be truthful, I am totally terrified. We weren’t prepared to potentially make it on just Haley’s income, and there are tons of unknowns that we will have to work through over the next year or two. However, we are optimistic that we will make it work.

So to answer the question, I guess we’ll see what Early Grave is. For now just a side gig. This time next year it could be a life insurance company for all I know. If it’s not apparent by now let me be the first to tell you; I’m just making it up as I go along.

TRDB: What advice do you have for dads who would like to start side gigs?

Ty: If it sparks my interest, I try it. If I like it, I keep doing it. When I realize I don’t like it anymore, I stop. Also, I try to address different parts of my life with different projects. I make coffee because at this point I don’t think I could survive without it. That’s a passion for me and me only. I have a YouTube channel because I wanted a creative outlet that was just for Gideon and I as father and son. I now make soap as a means of connecting with my mom. I hate video games but I try to find ones I like because Haley loves them and it’s a way for us to connect. Lastly, I don’t take any of these things too seriously. As soon as I start treating these hobbies like jobs and give myself deadlines or schedules or budgets I lose interest. For example, I usually film YouTube videos with Gideon on Wednesday or Thursday afternoon, but sometimes it’s Monday and sometimes it’s at night and sometimes it’s not at all. I have to force myself to embrace the spontaneity, especially in dealing with a toddler.
The Airport Before Lake Tahoe

Goofing off at the airport (photo courtesy of Ty Collum)

TRDB: Do you have any time management tips you’d like to share with other dads? How can dads spend time with their children while working at a full-time job (and sometimes juggling side gigs as well)?

Ty:Time management, what a subject.

As much as I hate to say it, I thrive on an insanely busy schedule. I don’t always like it, but at the end of the day I find more joy in reflecting on everything I’ve accomplished than in having to always move my to-do list to tomorrow. I always tell myself, “I’ll sleep when I’m dead.” I wasn’t always like this, though. My teenage self wouldn’t even believe that I could survive on 4 hours of sleep or less a night.
I do this because it’s important to me. I always felt a lack of purpose until Gideon was born. He was the catalyst for so much positive change in my life.

As far as tips go, I would say if it’s important to you, do it. MAKE it happen. If I feel out of balance I add or take away something until I find balance again. In my case I’m usually adding, but in the case of my job, obviously I took away something major. The point is I don’t accept what others might say is possible or impossible and instead I choose to find out for myself. The outcome is usually that I DID have time to do that one more thing on a regular basis, or I AM capable of accomplishing a task or list of tasks that I was told or believed was impossible for me.

Think about that one thing you’ve always or lately wanted to do. Now go do it. Wake up earlier. Stay up later. Call or text or email or fax whoever you have to, reschedule what you need to reschedule, but MAKE IT HAPPEN. You can think about how tired you were AFTER it’s finished.

One more thing. While you’re making it happen, and for everything that you do, live in that moment. Put your phone down and FEEL what’s happening. Actively participate in the moments in your life and you will quickly realize why it’s so important to be exactly where you are. That will motivate you to keep making it happen in the future.

TRDB: As a dad of a 19 month old, do you have any words of wisdom for new dads?

Ty: The most important advice I was given in the moments before my son was born was this: “Don’t take advice from anybody.” I parent how I parent, and you’ll parent how you parent. What is stellar advice for me might be terrible advice for you.

With that being said, here’s what I feel is good advice. Love with all your heart. Be present. Get on the floor and play, or slide down the slide, or roll down the hill, despite how itchy you may get. Make all decisions in the interest of how it will positively affect your child, your spouse, and anyone else around you. Accept mistakes and learn from them. No one is 100% prepared to be a parent. Think about what you want to teach your child and teach it. If they aren’t learning it, try a different approach. Ignore what other parents say about snack times and nap times and bed times and who-cares-what-else times. Just do your best, and you’ll be okay.


What to pack in Dad’s hospital bag


Photo by Dids from Pexels

Are you wondering what you should bring to the hospital besides a camera and toothbrush? There’s plenty of advice out there on what Mom should bring to the hospital, but not so much for Dad. Having recently gone through the birth experience a second time, we decided now would be a good time to write about this while the experience is still fresh in our memories. So, without further ado, here’s our advice on what dads should pack in their hospital bags:

  1. Snacks. Labor can be very long, but at the same time, you may not want to leave your partner’s side for even a short period of time. Bring plenty of snacks with you to stave off your hunger. A dad who’s fed will be more alert and present during the birth!
  2. Water. As with snacks, you don’t know how long you’ll be in the delivery room, and you may not want to step out at all. Bring a bottle of water and stay hydrated!
  3. A long-sleeved shirt or sweater. Hospitals can be cold, and while labor pains usually keep Mom warm (at least, in our experience), it’s not the same for Dad! If baby’s due anytime during warm weather, be prepared for potential Arctic temperatures inside the hospital and make sure you have a long-sleeved shirt or sweater packed in that bag of yours!
  4. Pajama pants/change of clothes. Sleeping in jeans or dress pants isn’t comfortable, and you may not have the time or luxury to pop back home to pick up your pajama pants! Make sure these are in your hospital bag, ready to go, and you’ll be able to sleep more comfortably once you’re there.
  5. Toiletries. Toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, shampoo, dental floss, whatever you use for your daily hygiene routine, pack it in a carrying case and have it ready for you whenever you need it!
  6. Pillow. Hospital pillows can be flat and uncomfortable, as we discovered during our hospital stay with our second child. Bring one from home to help you sleep more soundly in those intervals when you are able to get some sleep!
  7. Camera (optional). Although some people are perfectly happy with their smartphone cameras, we personally feel that digital cameras take better pictures. We only had a half-packed bag when our first child announced he was coming, and forgot to bring the cameras, so all of the pictures from his first hours of life were taken on a (fairly mediocre) smartphone camera. It was better than nothing, but still! If you feel strongly about the quality of your pictures, learn from our mistake and keep an actual camera in your hospital bag (along with the charger!).
  8. Last of all, remember to bring the hospital bag with you into the hospital. Your trip to the hospital might turn out to be a false alarm, but it might not. It’s much easier to wheel a suitcase back and forth between your car and the hospital than it is to be stuck at the hospital without all of these items (especially the water, snacks, and long sleeved shirt/sweater)!

Did we miss anything? Let us know in the comments!

Update (9/24/2019): It looks like we did miss some things! Our long-time subscriber Alex, who has just become a Rad Dad for the second time, also mentions a cell phone charger, shower shoes, and a towel as items Dads should remember to pack! Thanks, Alex, and congratulations!