**Thank you Feedspot for featuring us in a roundup of the Top 30 Vegan Blogs! Such an honor to be included on this list.**
They told me that manufacturing was a long process. I was convinced I could get it right on the first try. Everyone else: 1, Jenny 0.
In honor of the long, arduous back and forth and shameless following-up that is manufacturing, here is a little recap of what’s happened so far!
- April: Piece together the initial design
- May: Receive our first disaster of a sample
- June: Visited the factories, and asked 4 of them to manufacture our first design
- July: We receive all 4 samples from the factories we visited.
We liked Factory A and Factory C’s samples the best, and decided to work with them moving forward for the second round.
There were a few problems with each sample that we wanted to address:
Factory A: Way too heavy, and a bit too structured. Using two layers of thick 1.2mm leather looked great, but I dreaded carrying it in fear of future shoulder and back problems. The stitching and glue was also a little bit sloppy. It weighed in at a hefty 3.2 pounds.
3rd round iterations: Making the bag much lighter, changing the lining material, removing laptop sleeve, design updates, and greater attention to detail.
Factory C: Looked fine, but didn’t hold up well during the day. In fact, it sagged under the weight of my few belongings. Attaching the pockets directly to the lining was also a bad idea, since the bag showed every lump and bump of my laptop and pens – not exactly the streamlined look I was going for. The suede lining also shed, and the logo was all wrong.
3rd round iterations: Finding a way to add structure to the bag, evaluating different methods of attaching the interior pockets, minor design changes, and removing the shoulder strap (after interviewing users who reported they rarely used it), and lastly, locating a lining material that didn’t shed.
And thus starts the daily dance with the factories, coordinating and communicating changes.
7/11: I leave for Europe! Factory C develops a new bag that incorporates the suggested design updates, and I had them send it to my parents, who would come meet me in the next week and bring it along.
In the meantime, I used Factory A’s sample to take product photos for the website and instagram since it looked great and didn’t require any aesthetic changes (just structural). I also wanted to wait until I saw Factory C’s sample with the new design updates, to see if they looked good before asking Factory A to make another sample incorporating the new details.
7/12: On the hunt for a new suede lining material! Preferably one that was light, resilient, and didn’t shed. It’s cute when small animals shed, not so much your bag.
7/13: Place an order for a 30 meters of the 1.2mm material in our second color shade! We want to test the final sample in both black and the neutral color, to make sure both held up well and was easy to maintain and clean. Because white Chloe bag fiascos are meant to stay in the past.
7/15: Alexis’s family ships out samples of our new color 1.2mm material to Factory A.
7/16: Samples of a few different suede lining materials are shipped out.
7/17: I’m travelling with my best friend in europe, forcing her to take pics of me and the freja bag around the world! We had planned this trip way back in January, before freja was born, but the timing worked out well.
7/22: Meet up with my parents, finally see factory C’s new sample, and fall in love! The new design updates looked great, and I send over my feedback for yet a few more changes. I also make my dad be my stand-in photographer.
4th round iterations: Adding a closure, designing a new logo, small design changes, making the bag a bit bigger, with an even sturdier bottom. And adding a special element you’ll have to wait and see!
I decide to have Factory A make another sample incorporating these changes.
7/25: Ship out new color 1.2 material to Factory A.
7/29: Relay more changes for the two factories to incorporate. I think they both want to bite my head off at this point, and I am rather inclined to agree. But I’d rather be insufferable, than launch a product I’m not 100% sure is my best effort.
And that concludes how I spent the greater month of July – it was a month full of action. While waiting on samples, we also completely revamped our blog, grew our social presence, interviewed inspirational women for our #myessentials column, talked to industry experts, attended networking events, test drove our designs, conducted market research to understand our audience, and reached out to press and other blogs in our sphere.
It was also a month full of space and introspection. Digging deep (am I making the right decisions?), internalizing our mission (and believing I could make it happen), and deciphering the current landscape (we literally sat outside stores observing the customers who came and went), to make sure we were headed in the right direction with Freja.
And since I was also traveling for most of the month with friends and family, it was also a month full of adventures (both unforgettable and traumatic) and re-evaluating my priorities in life. Work will never end, and life will never pause…I think it’s so important to figure out exactly what you’re working towards, why you’re working towards it, and learn how to weave work into life and vice versa, instead of keeping them in 2 parallel universes.
Of course, this could just be me trying to justify going on vacation…stay tuned for Freja’s resort collection!
Head in the clouds Jenny