The Ouloum Project's Team
Ouloum Project’s is a small family business supported by friends and loved ones, who pulled together their knowledge, skills and ressources to achieve their common goal. Right now, the “Ouloum Dream Team” as we call it, has only 5 permanent associates :
Jonathan “Ouloum” Rios, our managing director. He’s the one at the origin of the whole project.
Lola “Oulouma”, his most faithful assistant, who supported him both logistically and emotionally since the very beginning.
Eliot, our video maker, cameraman, and Jonathan’s right-hand man.
Michael, in charge of marketing, project management, website content.
Juliette, in charge of our communication strategies.
In truth, our roles and jobs are not set in stone, as we all communicate with each other, advise one another, give feedback, or sometimes just talk about our ideas for hours, on and on.
It is quite rare for any of us to work on a task all alone without any kind of interaction with other members of the team. We put communication above all else.
We respect each other’s strong points, areas of expertise, or particular talents. This is what makes our communication so fluid and our processes so lean. Therefore we never have any major conflict of ideas or egos, despite our chaotic side and our strong opinions.
Ouloum Project’s : the origins
Our story begins in 2018, in a galaxy far, far away… Just kidding. In 2018, 1 year after Jonathan became a professional warhammer models painter, he started to realise that something was missing in the hobby. The more he had to travel from one city to another, the more transporting all his equipment became a real pain.
There are a lot of good cases on the market to protect and transport your miniatures. We could give a lot of good examples. Though, it is quite hard to transport all your painting equipment without quickly being overburdened.
Just imagine : you have to carry your airbrush around, which means both the airbrush gun in his own little case but also the heavy and bulky compressor. You also need a cup of water when you paint, which means you need to carry the cup, but also very often the water in a bottle. You need your brushes, for which you have to protect the fragile tip, professional white lamplights, a power source for said lamplights which often means you have to carry a battery too (since there’s never enough available electrical sockets in conventions), and so on… you get the idea.
Jonathan also realised very quickly that those problems weren’t only a problem for him as a professional. Any hobbyist with a certain amount of equipment will encounter the same issues when they have to visit a friend - among a myriad of other examples.
For Jonathan, the issues this problem raised weren’t only a thing when he was attending conventions. It was the exact same issue that sometimes occurred when he was giving or attending painting lessons. They could be missing space on the tables (less tables than planned, or more students), or maybe the room would quickly be filled with everyone’s equipment until it became hard to even walk around it. Either this or there weren't enough electrical sockets for everyone. It didn’t happen every painting lesson, but it was enough of an occurrence to become annoying over time.
For me, Michael, it happened every weekend I went to my friends to paint - and we’re far from being professionals. We must have half the equipment - maybe less. And still, the living room would end up quite cluttered with our painting equipment. So as you can guess, those problems, we all encounter them sooner or later.
I would even dare add that even if you paint at home and never go to a friends to paint, painting equipment still takes a lot of space and sometimes requires its own desk and closet. Not to mention that every time I have a big project, half of my dining table is covered with models and bits.
Facing those issues day after day, Jonathan came up with ideas. The very first Ouloum Project’s Workbench was born (<friendly taunt> the first designs were crap by the way <3 </friendly taunt>). Our goal was to make it practical, lean, with its own stand-alone power supply on which you can recharge your phone. It could fold to take as little space as possible, be carried around easily and effortlessly, and include its own white lamplights. The dream.
Alas, there is little we can do for now about the compressor (though must airbrush guns can be shelved into the workbench) but don’t worry, give us a few years and we’ll definitely come up with a solution. If there’s a need, we’ll create a new, more developed version of our workbench to solve these issues.
Designing the Ouloum Project’s Workbench
We wanted to make sure our products would be top quality. After receiving feedback from a lot (and I mean it, a lot) of people, may it be friends, family, clients, and so on, we realised our Workbenches wouldn’t only be useful to painters. Sculptors would also be able to use it, and other kinds of artists in the miniature hobby. The amount of data to take in was becoming overwhelming.
That’s about when Jonathan decided to contact Occo’s team of engineers and asked their help to design his workbench. The “Ouloum Dream Team” is made of artists, dreamers, and strategists, but no real engineer. Thanks to Occo, we managed to succeed : our product is 100% made in France, and answers all our expectations. It was important for us to only contract local suppliers and manufacturers, instead of just outsourcing everything in China, like more and more businesses do these days.
Our commitments : 100% made in France
There are a lot of advantages to working exclusively with local French suppliers and manufacturers, and only one real downside. The first reason is ethical. The others are tied to the supply chain and the way things work.
It allows us to contact our suppliers and manufacturers at any time of the day (no jet lagging), deliveries do not take weeks or months (deliveries from our suppliers to us of course), and there are no translation or communication issues due to the barrier of languages (none of us speak Chinese and we didn’t want any intermediary). Also, it means we can see and choose top quality French materials for our products.
The only downside is obvious, the costs. We wanted quality at an affordable price, which means it would greatly reduce our margins. We’re hoping kickstarters we’ll help us overcome this issue, because we do not want to reduce the quality of our product : we didn’t want something that will fall apart after a few months. We wanted a product sturdy and everlasting. We’re now so confident in our designs that the pieces our Ouloum Project’s Workbenches are made of will be insured for 5 years.
As I am writing those lines, in October 2021, it’s already been 3 long years Jonathan began his journey, and we can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel : our kickstarter campaign at the end of the year.
We contacted tens of painters, sculptors, and illustrators to help us design and provide all the wonderful miniatures we will offer alongside the workbench during this campaign, and we hope you will appreciate their hard work.
For us, it is not an end, but a new beginning, a new adventure, and if you read this long story about us, we want to personally thank you for being here, for showing interest in our work, because you’re making our dream a reality.