We had the good fortune of connecting with Evan Wooldridge and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Evan, what matters most to you?
Integrity is one of the most significant values that I try to keep at the highest standard of my business operations. The importance of honesty and transparency with yourself and your customers is extremely important when growing a business. Someone I look up to in my sector of business, Chris Charlton, defines integrity as “Doing the right thing when no one is looking.” I have realized that it’s not the business that is necessarily difficult, but doing the right thing becomes increasingly more difficult. My responsibility lies in transparency with myself and my customers at all times, especially in a space where that might be the priority for others.
My goal is to build a long-lasting company that lasts in an industry where people come and go. Proverbs 10:9 says, “Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but he who makes his ways crooked will be found out.” Any company can behave dishonestly and cut corners, but I genuinely believe they can’t do so for long. Dishonesty requires presenting different faces to different people and keeping track of what to say to whom, but when you act with integrity, you only focus on doing the right thing. From first-hand experience, I’ve seen the hypocrisy of businesses getting caught in their entangled web of lies that they got themselves in from hypocrisy. From this point, it’s extremely difficult to salvage any pieces of your reputation if you even have the courage to get back up and confront your mistakes. So while integrity might not have short-term wins, I am more focused on the bigger picture.
What brings people to Decked Out Geckos is the quality of Leopard Geckos that we offer, and what keeps people coming back results from our labor that stems from integrity. This encompasses customer service before and after the transaction and education. We owe it to our customers, other breeders, and the hobby to represent things as they truly exist.
What should our readers know about your business?
At Decked Out Geckos, our mission is to serve those looking for healthy, beautiful, and ethically produced Leopard Geckos, no matter the level of experience. Leopard Geckos are terrestrial desert-dwelling lizards that are a great first pet, as they require little maintenance, space, and come in many distinct color morphs and patterns. What brings so many people, such as myself, to Leopard Geckos is the array of colors that they come in. Many people who aren’t familiar with the species might think that all the different color variations (aka morphs) are another species instead of different morphs of the same species. The choice of morph affects how they look, and can have a tremendous impact on availability, ranging from extremely common to very rare, which has a knock-on effect on the price. Via different genetic variations, we have bred for specific colors and pattern variations. Once you understand how different combinations are genetically inherited, the sky is the limit when it comes to line breeding and genetic combinations.
We strive to create cutting-edge Leopard Gecko morphs and educate along the way. We believe that we have a responsibility to help others, and we do so in many ways, such as our podcast, Strength In Leos. We are here to leave the reptile world a better place than we found it through the quality of the geckos we produce and holding ourselves higher than the industry standards. By pushing boundaries and creating informational content to serve our customers, we hope to shift the narrative to keeping these fantastic creatures.
However, the road to achieving success is never as linear or upward sloping as it seems or as you hope. Especially as a younger entrepreneur, you have to work ten times harder just to be noticed or receive the same respect as others in the business who are older. There are a lot of unexpected bumps that come up in the road, especially when working with peers that are very passionate about their work, in addition to the ethics of live animals. But this is where integrity comes in and reminds you of the honesty and hard work that needs to be done to get to the light at the end of the tunnel. At times, the market is fickle, but it’s essential to have faith that things will work out as they often do.
I believe that the fruit of our labor is truly shown through the impact we leave on individuals. One of our primary goals is to pioneer genetic combinations and morphs in Leopard Geckos. There is nothing more exciting than being on the cusp of creating new morphs in this industry. Creating worlds first and being one of the few in the world to have specific lines keeps the world of Leopard Geckos exciting. But what fun is it if you can’t take others on the journey and bring others on the journey who aspire for the same dream?
We aim to do to empower everyone from reptile entrepreneurs to a kid getting their first pet. We hope to redefine what is possible in the realm of genetics and allow others to get started in keeping reptiles as their first lizard. This is what I hope people can notice about us that sets us apart from others doing the same thing.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
A great weekend in the city comprises great experiences and food. While in LA, you have to take advantage of the culture, food, and sights that are unparalleled to any other city in the world. A calming morning walk on the beach followed by brunch at any of the many brunch spots found in the city is a must. For a late afternoon meal, you can’t go wrong with authentic Mexican food, which you can find anywhere from high-end restaurants to street corners in downtown. Closing off the night, I’d have to go to one of my favorite views of the city at Griffith Observatory, where you’ll find the most beautiful panoramic view of the entire city. And we can’t forget about dinner, and I’d recommend soul food that will most definitely have you sleeping well that night!
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I want to dedicate this shoutout to all the people who have supported me in the most minor ways, to the significant sacrifices that allowed me to reach my levels of success. The top of that list is definitely my parents, but it goes all the way down to the most recent person who has liked one of my social media posts.