Let the manufacturing begin
LUXTRA's first ever production run, circa July 2018
Hi all. I hope you are keeping well.
We closed last week having perfected the prototype. As always, for the recent subscribers, you can catch up on Part 1 (design) here and Part 2 (prototyping) here.
So now that we’re deliriously in love with our new product it’s time to take it to the people. It’s full steam ahead to the P&O … oh, no sorry, the PO: the all-important Production Order.
The fans are going to go crazy with this latest drop. Surely...
One of the first decisions to make is the quantity to produce. I ask myself questions like: should I make 30 backpacks, or 100 backpacks? Do I take advantage of the better unit price for the 100-piece order, or do I play it safe, conserve cash, and thus keep the order low?
The answer to this question is directly correlated to how optimistic I am feeling. If the past few months have seen good sales, and I feel we’re on an upward trend, then I’m likely to go big or go home. If on the other hand, sales have been, well, bumpy [hello Pandemic] then I might - nay, then I will - err on the side of caution.
As any product-based business knows, it's a delicate (and never-ending) balance to strike between having enough stock and enough cash in the bank for all the other expenses that pop up.
Apple Leather swatch card: Choosing colours is the best part.
Once the quantity is decided, it's finally time for the fun part: selecting the COLOURS ! I’ll pull out my swatch books and make a selection of shades. I then survey friends and family, not asking what they "like" but rather what they would "buy". Important distinction.
Just this week I was asking about colour preferences for a new compact men’s wallet and it was very sweet to hear back that some boyfriends were really excited to be part of the “focus group” ☺︎
Once all these decisions are made, I finalise the Production Order. The PO is a document that lays out all the information the manufacturer needs to produce the *correct* product: material to use, thread colour, quantity, agreed price, delivery date, delivery address etc. And yes, when the PO isn't 10,000% crystal clear for both sides, then misunderstandings do occur. Painful, to say the least.
Stitching the final details on our cactus leather totes at Creative Workshop, one of our manufacturers in Florence.
Technically speaking, once the PO is counter signed and the deposit is paid, you could just sit back and “relax”, waiting 4-6 weeks until the product is ready to ship… but I wouldn’t advise it. Far better to be in regular contact with the manufacturer; ask if everything is going to plan; whether they need anything; are they confident they'll meet the agreed delivery deadline; etc.
On the manufacturer’s side, the coming weeks will be a flurry of activity. They’ll be unrolling, scanning, cutting, stitching, painting - using all types of weird and wonderful machines. For a peek behind the scenes, take a look at this video from one of LUXTRA's manufacturers: Cristian SRL, who are located just outside Florence.
Paolo and Sandra from Cristian SRL, our second manufacturer in Florence.
I'm conscious these newsletters make for a long read, so I'll leave it there for today. Next week will be the final instalment of this "How to make a bag" series. I would therefore love to hear what aspect of fashion / sustainability you would like me to explore in future newsletters.
So please - hit reply and send me a note. Go on, I don't bite! ☺︎
Founder | Plant Parent | Proud B-Corper