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Discontinued

I'm Alex, I co-created Emerald Scales and with the help of many others, we rehomed and sold exotic pet reptiles to and from all 48 contiguous states.

 

I don't currently have plans to continue Emerald Scales. It was a very exciting project to explore but my conclusion is the concept simply isn't sustainable. However, the past 5 years have been undeniably eventful!

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80 species rehomed & Sold
lizards
Geckos

African fat tailed gecko

Chinese cave gecko

Crested gecko

Leachianus gecko

Leopard gecko

Madagascar day gecko

Mourning gecko

Standing's day gecko

Tokay gecko

White lined gecko

skinks

Sulawesi water skink
Eastern BTS

Fire skink
Indonesian BTS
Kei Island BTS
Northern BTS

Monitors & Tegus

Asian water monitor
Savannah monitor
Nile monitor

Argentine B&W tegu
Gold Tegu
Red Tegu

misc

Bearded dragon
Chinese water dragon
Curly tailed lizard
Green iguana
Mexican alligator lizard
Panther chameleon
Plumed basilisk
Red iguana
Saharan Uromastyx
Yellow Uromastyx

snakes
boas

Amazon tree boa
Boa constrictor
Boa imperator
Brazilian rainbow boa
Colombian rainbow boa
Dumeril's boa
Hog island boa
Kenyan sand boa
Mexican rosy boa
Nicaraguan boa
Peruvian Longicauda boa

colubrids

California king snake
Corn snake
Eastern hognose
Eastern (black) rat snake
False water cobra
Honduran milk snake

Puebloan milk snake
Mexican black king snake
Mountain king snake
Northern pine snake
Ridley's cave racer
Rough green snake
Sinaloan milk snake
Western hognose

pythons

Ball python
Burmese python
Carpet python
Woma python

turtles
amphibians
turtles

African side neck turtle
Blanding's turtle
Chinese pond turtle
Eastern box turtle
Map turtle
Mississippi map turtle
Musk turtle
Ornate box turtle
Red eared slider
Yellow bellied slider

tortoises

Red foot tortoise
Russian tortoise
Snapping turtle
Sulcata tortoise

frogs

Pacman frog

Tomato frog

Toads

Colorado river toad

Fire bellied toad

Smooth sided toad

Misc

Axolotl

who is "we"?

A common misconception is that Emerald Scales was just one dude unboxing reptiles. In reality, there were between 2 to 5 people hard at work on the project at any given time. It was an ever-changing team behind-the-scenes who specialized in animal care, logistics, customer support, video production, social media, local pickups, deliveries and much more.

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I narrated everything below.
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a complete timeline
2016
2015
2017
2018
2019
2020
2021
2022
today

In late 2015 the co-creator, Ethan discovered my YouTube channel and we became avid viewers of one another.

 

In May 2016, we happened to recognize one another at a local frozen yogurt shop.

We began collaborating on projects including herping videos over the next year.

In September 2017, a viewer asked me to take a ball python and Ethan offered to take it. This person was not local and shipped it to him in the mail.

This sparked the idea to breed our ball pythons together, sell and ship the hatchlings to our subscribers. However, we didn't have a way to fund the project.

In October 2017, I wanted more reptiles but couldn't afford animals at reptile shows. Instead, I began buying cheap animals on Craigslist. This gave Ethan an idea.

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By the end of October 2017, we had compiled a hundred potential Craigslist listings and designed a website called "Into the Jungle Exotics".

In November 2017, we changed the name to "Emerald Scales" and bought a breeder ball python online after realizing Ethan's snake wasn't sexually mature.

We quickly discovered the new ball python had health issues, shipped it back due to a lack of funds and cancelled the project as it was too late into breeding season for another.

Instead,  we began buying reptiles on Craigslist, OfferUp and NextDoor in December 2017. We bought 2 ball pythons and recorded an announcement video.

We launched January 30, 2018 with 10 reptiles. The website went public during a livestream and we sold one animal.

In July 2018, we attended our first reptile expo as sellers with about 15 animals.

By the end of the year, we had acquired over 80 animals and made a profit just under $1,000 with the help of an assistant and customer support manager.

For the first half of 2019, we had a surplus of animals and a huge audience, but no revenue because animals were too slow to recover.

 

 

 

The animals quickly became too expensive to turn a profit despite selling at 2x the market value and Emerald Scales was in debt by June.

Ethan and I couldn't come to an agreeable solution, so we parted ways in an attempt to find solutions individually and under separate brands.

In July 2019, I began increasing prices and specifically marketing Emerald Scales as a place to send reptiles for a fee. Emerald Scales merged with what's now GoHerping, LLC.

In August 2019, I rented a home and allocated all of the living space to reptiles.

By the end of 2019, we had taken in over 300 animals and sold over 200. Despite raising the cost to rehome and increasing the sale prices to 3x the market value, we still only profited $3.50 per animal.

In January 2020, I began posting unboxing videos which very quickly became popular.

By March 2020, I was still over $2,000 in debt despite earning thousands in revenue from intakes alone.

In June, 2020, I rented a second home to live in while using the first home exclusively for Emerald Scales.

By November 2020, reptiles were being sold at steep discounts to clear space for new intakes, the primary source of revenue. Animals were being shipped in and out daily.

At the end of 2020, Emerald Scales broke even (a second time) with $80,000 in revenue but only $1,500 in profit.

In January 2021, There were 50 to 100 people waiting to send animals at any given time and our wait time increased to over 1 year. I raised prices of intakes and switched to basic racks to lower costs and open up space.

In March 2021, I used the Reptile Unboxing video earnings to put a down payment on a home.

By July 2021, both rental leases ended and I received up to 5 intake payments per week, which we could not fulfill fast enough.

By the end of 2021, I profited $17,500 by avoiding renting, sick animals, new supplies and streamlining customer support and animal care.

I went into 2022 with the plan of drastically decreasing the number of animals at any given time and began declining all new intake payments.

Up to August 2022 has been a game of catch-up and declining sales due to minimal inventory, high prices, infrequent unboxing videos and Emerald Scales being banned from Instagram.

For Emerald Scales to work, I believe a complete restructure of everything from the ground-up would be necessary. I would need different solutions, a lot of money and an immense amount of passion, none of which I currently have... :/

potential solutions

Since anyone that's read this far is likely one of the more dedicated followers, I don't want to end your scrolling with so much uncertainty. And trust me, I've never put so much thought into anything before. I've truly gave consideration to every solution from the thousands of comments and continually take note of them. After all, there are very few projects I've felt a similar amount of passion towards. Emerald Scales is in the top 3, alongside my YouTube channel and Minecraft server I ran as a kid.

Over the past couple years, I have undeniably have lost interest in reptiles as a whole - and many of you have been able tell based on my demeanor. But at the same time, I've been so laser focused on these exotic pets for so long that I am left with few other interests.

When people ask for advice on starting "their own Emerald Scales", I've developed the bad habit of just saying: "Don't". I truly don't know if this concept is even possible to turn into a profitable endeavor. I'm not saying you can't do a better job than me, but my 5 years of daily, first-hand experience make me very confident in what definitely does not work. Not only is it a product based company, it's also service based. Both sides rely entirely on living animals and a lot of human cooperation. These aren't animals I was able to produce either. I don't know who raised them, how they were raised and just how many underlying issues they have. The fact that we accept so many species of so many different conditions means we are constantly having to adapt everything for every animal. We can't just have a bunch of identical racks for identically healthy breeder ball pythons. We can't even be certain the animals will arrive to their destination without dying.

For a while, I thought we'd just need to take the common approach that other companies do: Your main product/service is not your profit. It's simply how you attract customers to spend money on other stuff you offer. After all, this is what I've accidentally been doing. The animals were simply a resource I could use to create "Reptile Unboxing" videos, which is how I actually paid the bills. The problem is how unstable YouTube is. To rely on ad revenue from a company that doesn't even knows I exist as the only form of income to sustain living animals and myself is a bit risky. I've already seen that risk take place as my ad rates have been drastically declining to unsustainable levels.

 

So, I explored other products and services, which I couldn't even fit into the timeline. We bred amphibians, invertebrates, created and sold unique products and even drop-shipped. We considered boarding animals, exotic pet-sitting, and paid events. But each plan had even more foreseeable complications that would create more instability than the original problem I was trying to solve.

Normally, when somebody creates a new company, it will be suggested by smart people to re-evaluate what you're doing at the 5 year mark. 60 months of experience, experimenting and adjustments should be enough to form a realistic roadmap and clear vision. To most people, spending so long on something just to learn whether it might work sounds like it's not worth the time, but it's now been 5 years and it flew by so fast. I also learned that, no, it does not work.

To spend even another week trying to do things the way I have would be a complete misuse of time. If I decide to give it another go, it will be under the same brand, but every single piece of the system would be gutted entirely. Emerald Scales will go back to nothing but a JPEG file of a sideways green square. It would likely take another 5 years just to see if it might work, again.

In a way, this sounds exciting, but I still can't figure out how to re-kindle the flame of passion that I last felt in late 2019. The break I've taken the past few month has made me feel much more free, but the freedom comes with a feeling of directionless.

I'm also a massively different person from 5 years ago. I was a kid, working out of the bedroom in my parents' house and with no responsibility. Now I have to like, buy myself food and pay for my house and stuff. You know, the whole staying alive part of life. Thankfully, I have no dependents (aside from pets) but each risk I take leaves more on the line. I also have less time, since I must maintain a full-time career simultaneously. It's very possible - adults with jobs achieve outstanding success in their ideas all the time. It's just that I'm kind of tired right now. Thanks for reading! I'll keep you updated, mostly on my YouTube channel.

And finally, thank you to everybody that's purchased from Emerald Scales: Aaron Abby Abigail Adam Addison Adryan Aidan Airene Aisha Aiyana Aleah Alex Alexander Alexandra Alexis Alfonso Alicia Alina Alisa Alison Allison Ally Alyson Alyssa Amanda Amber Amethyst Amina Ana Anais Anakela Andrea Andres Andrew Andreyah Angel Angelika Angelita Angie Anita Anna Annabelle Anthony Arasely Archawee Ariel Asher Ashley Ashton Auburn Audra Audrey Austin Autumn Averi Avi Azur Bailey Balabuszko Bear Becca Becky Bella Ben Benjamin Brandi Brandie Brandon Breana Breanna Bret Brian Briana Brianne Bridget Bridgette Britney Brittany Brittney Brooke Bryan Bryce Buckminster Bunnell Caily Cailyn Caitlin Caleb Calvin Cameron Cari Carrie Casey Cassidy Cassie Cathy Celeste Cesar Chad Chance Charlee Charleigh Charlene Charles Chelsea Chelsey Chera Cherish Chloe Chris Christian Christina Christine Christopher Christy Cody Colby Connor Corbyn Courtney Cristina Crystal Cynthia D Dana Daniel Danielle Darcy Darius Darnell Daryn David Davis Dawson De Deanna Debbie Deena Denise Destry Devin Devon Dimitri Dinah Dios Donovan Dori Dorothy Douglas Dustin Dylan Eddie Eduardo Eli Elisheva Eliza Elizabeth Ellen EmikoMarie Emily Emma Emmeline Eric Erin Ethan Evan Evelyn Faith Farryn Finley Fiona Fredrick Freely Gabriela Gabriella Gabrielle Gage Garret Garrett Garritt Gasper Gavie Gavriella George Gerard Gerardo Gil Gina Gloria Grace Grayson Grey Greyson Hallie Hannah Haylee Heather Heidi Helena Henry Hill Holli Holly Hugo Hunter Iria Iris Isabella Isaiah Ismael Iyla Jack Jacob Jade Jake Jakob Jalyssa Jamee James Jamie Janel Jaret Jason Javier Jay Jaye Jeanette Jeff Jenae Jenna Jennifer Jenny Jeremy Jerika Jessamine Jesse Jessica Jessie Jillian Jiyoun Joanne Joao Joe Joel John Johnnie Jojo Jon Jonathan Jordan Jordyn Joseph Josephine Joshua Josie Joy Jude Julia Julie Justin Kacey Kaia Kaiti Kaitlin Kaitlyn Kaley Kalyb Karen Karissa Karma Kate Katherine Kathi Kathlien Katie Katlyn Kay Kaycee Kayla Kaylee Kayleigh Kayson Keith Kelly Kelsey Kelvin Kendra Keshawn Kevin Kiandria Kiernan Kierra Kierstin Kiley Kim Kimber Kimberly Kitty Koby Krista Kristia Kristin Kristine Kristy Kurt Kyle Kylie Lacey Lan Laura Lauren Lauryn Layla Lee Leif Leigh Lesli Leslie Lindsey Lisa Lochlean Logan Lola Lori Lorraine Luc Lucas Lucky Luke Luna Lynette Lyric Mackenzie Maddie Maddy Madeline Madelyn Madisen Madison Maegan Maggie Mahala Mailo Manzur Marcos Marie Marin Mario Marites Maritza Mark Marleigh Marta Martin Mary Marygrace Mason Massengill Mathew Matt Matthew Max Maxime Maximus Maya McElroy Mclean Mea Meagan Megan Melainie Melinda Melissa Meredith Michael Michele Michelle Mikayla Mike Miranda Mistica Montana Moore Morgan Naomi Nayeli Neel Nicholas Nick Nicole Nieto Nile Noah Olivia Orion Owen Paige Parker Peaceful Pearl Petra Philip Philius Phillip Pierre Prema Rachel Racquel Randy Raven Rayven Reagan Reay Rebecca Rebecka Reece Reese Reina Ricardo Richard Rick Robert Rochelle Rodolfo Rojas Roni Ronnie Rose Rosemary Ross Rouse Royal Ruben RubyLove Rudy Ryan Rylee Ryley Sabrina Sackville Salem Samantha Samuel Sara Sarah Sasha Savanna Savannah Sawyer Scott Sean Secrett Serena Shalisa Shane Shannon Sharice Sharla Shelby Shenay Shiloh Siarah Sierra Silas Sky Skylar Sofia Sophia Spencer Stacie Stephanie Stephen Steve Susan Susy Sydney Talia Tamara Tanya Tatiana Tayler Taylor Teah Teresa Teri Terri Theresa Thomas Thuy Tiffani Tim Tom Tommy Tony Tonya Tori Tory Tracy Travis Trevor Trey Trinity Tristan Tru Tyler Vanessa Vargas Veronica Victor Vince Virginia Virrey Waal Waylon Weber Wendy West Whitney Will William Wilson Xavier Yair Yalissa Yishai Yosiel Zach Zachary Zjala and Zoe.

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