Ch-Ch-Changes

Ok, this post has nothing to do with Bowie, but – it does however have to do with changes taking place with the brand.

 

I used to make everything myself, made to order, meaning – I didn’t make the item until someone bought it. I would not keep any inventory, and all orders had a 2 week wait until they shipped, to give me time to make it. It was good in that I didn’t have to store inventory, I didn’t have to predict what I thought might sell. I would just make one of every style, do product and lifestyle photoshoots, and only make items as people would purchase them.  If there was a style that didn’t do as well, who cares, I didn’t spend that much time, money, or energy making inventory.  And at the end of the season there wasn’t any left over stock that I had to figure out what to do with.

 

I did ‘collections’ twice a year – which involved a new color palette, new styles, and new photoshoots. Although I loved curating collections and photoshoots 2x year, this became incredibly overwhelming (control freak over here doing everything myself). So the hunt started for some help. That is a whole long story, that you can read more about here if you are interested.  In 2015 I decided that I’d like to be they type of brand that, instead of doing full ‘collections’, I would have a set of simple basic styles that would always be available in the shop, and available in many colors. I was making them to order anyway, so it was really no big deal to offer so many colors.

 

I started working with production help, which has really been a work in progress, trying to figure out 1. what my job is now, and 2. the most efficient way to offer and produce styles. When I first started with production help, I would give them orders ‘made to order’, just as I had been doing myself, for example- 1 x gold mae, 1 red rebecca, etc. It quickly became clear that this wasn’t super efficient. To anyone who also hand makes things, you know it takes the same amount of time to make 1 thing as it does to make 5. I also felt like it was unfair to give them orders with such a short lead time. Not to mention, when someone would email me asking ‘when their order would be ready’ – which always gave me so much anxiety, sometimes I would just make it myself anyway so I could satisfy the customer, and not bother or rush production.

 

This went on for a while, until I decided I needed to completely take my hands out of production. the first step was to no longer stock my studio with leathers. This also made the process more efficient, as I had been stocking my own studio and production’s studio with about 20 different hides at all times. It was A LOT ($$).

 

Going back to the ‘anxiety’ of getting customers their orders asap – (by the way, most customers are super cool and understand that we were making the items they purchased just for them, so it would take some time). But then there’s always people who don’t read the description or don’t understand the concept, and it just really stressed me out when someone would ask when they could expect their order and I would have to say, ‘as it says at check out, it will take 2 weeks to be handmade’. Sounds like no big deal I’m sure, but I just hated making people wait. SO – I decided I would still offer all the colors I had been doing (was like 22 I think), but I would start to build inventory. Only items I had ready to ship immediately would be available for purchase. Because I sell on my own site and on Etsy, I have to keep a separate spreadsheet with inventory laid out so I can manually updated the numbers for both shops. Over time I built inventory by adding onto wholesale orders, or if a customer requested an out of stock color, I would put in an order for a bunch instead of just 1 like in the past. So I did inevitably build inventory, but then it became clear it was just too much to try to keep stock of all my styles in all the available colors. It just doesn’t make sense for a brand like mine. I don’t have the space for all that product, and to give production an order for every combination of style and color would take a year to complete.

 

So here we are, still (and probably always will be?) in the learning process of this business. I decided I needed to refocus and regain control of the line, by removing excess colors, and rebuilding with a small, manageable palette that I truly love. I rebranded my hangtags and promotional cards, I basically wanted a fresh start. I needed to regain control, and feel excited about the line instead of completely overwhelmed. I can say I am very excited about launching a more focused line and color palette. I feel really good about it and I can’t wait to show you soon!

 

In the mean time, here are the changes I am making:
DISCONTINUED COLORS
Cherry red
Silver
Coffee
Saddle
Lavender
Stardust
Whiskey
Black patent croc.
Dune
Mocha
Camel
Ballet pink
Ink
Spice
White
*For the time being all colors will still be available in our original hair ties.

 

DISCONTINUED STYLES / OR CHANGES
Maddie- Maddie was always priced too low, and it takes up so much leather. I’d rather use the yardage for something  more universal like a tote or shoulder bag.

Sam- Sam belt wallet will also be discontinued, but replaced with a version sans belt loop on the back. I love the Sam wallet, but I never use it on my belt, I had severely underpriced this one also because I was afraid to make something so small so expensive. Going forward the options were either to raise the price, or remove the belt loop. So, it will be returning as the perfect little simple pouch with button closure; it will look so cute in your clutch or tote!

Mila- Mila purse (or small tote) has been redesigned slightly to include and interior pocket with zipper closure, more secure stitching where the strap meets the bag, and a larger, stronger magnet for closure. These changes did raise the price of Mila, but I can only put something out into the wold for you that I am truly proud of and confident about. These changes were necessary for functionality and longevity of the style. You will have it for a long time ;).

Who’s making these bags?

For 5 straight years I did everything myself with the business. I hit a wall and was completely burned out (but we’ve already talked about that, so I digress ;). I had to look at the areas that I loved working on, and the areas that were taking the majority of my time and energy. It was clear to me that production (i.e. cutting and sewing every single bag myself) was completely draining me. So started the hunt for manufacturing help. The problem with all the manufacturers that I was visiting was when I saw the products they were making, to me they looked, well- ‘manufactured’. It looked very different from the product I was making and proudly offering in my shop. The hunt went on for a long time, all while I was still sewing every order. Ultimately, I found – an actual god send – a very small local business of leather crafters that wanted to help me with production. (In Brooklyn too! Manufacturing outside the US was non-negotiable for me).

 

I worked with them very closely to make sure the finished product was exact to what I was already offering. It needed to have the same handmade / loving feel and quality. It took about 2years to fully transfer everything over to them. It’s a process. For every item I wanted to hand over I had to: make a copy of the original pattern, make the actual item – taking pictures along the way, later putting it all together in a .pdf document with written instructions and images. The thing with manufacturing is there are a million ways to make something, and so much room for interpretation. The more detailed your instructions are, the less back and forth there will be in the long run. You can’t just say, ‘please make a leather pouch’. I mean you could, if you didn’t care about the construction, materials used, or the overall look. But I am not one of those people. Yes, I am probably over controlling, but I have only ever wanted to offer a product that I love and am incredibly proud of. I am so glad I waited for the perfect team to partner with, and I now have the mental space and energy to focus on the areas that I love, like designing! xoxo (New things coming soon!)

Burnt

Opening up publicly is slightly terrifying. But pretending everything is great and fine doesn’t work either, it ends up translating as stiff, and distant. So here’s the truth, this past year has been really, really rough. (Let me first preface with- I’m not ignorant to the fact that there are many people who have, and will always have it much worse than I’ll ever know- I just want to be honest here about my own experiences). This past year it was really critical for me to take a step back from the business (i.e. constant stress) and focus on improving myself, my work/ home life balance, and my health.

 

Working so intensely for so long really had a negative impact on me in the long run. I don’t just mean ‘Im tired’, I mean actual life altering outcomes that I really needed to focus on healing and reversing. Even though I tried to still give the business attention, I could barely muster the physical or emotional strength to design one new item. (Not to mention all the changes beyond my control to deal with – algorithms, having to move studios 4 times, etc. On top of everything else – its enough to make me want to just freak the f* out daily). Because I’ve been in such a weird place, I know that it translates into my content and you can probably feel something is off (I’ve had so many unfollows on instgram – am I even supposed to admit that?? 😳haha). I probably should have just been open and honest from the beginning, but its a scary thing to be vulnerable. You think – ‘why would people want to engage with me if I can’t even hold it together?’. When in truth, I know when someone opens up and is honest I am even more drawn to them. So, I just wanted to say thank you for still being here through the ups and the downs. And honestly, I am still working on centering and balancing every day, I have made so many changes, and I am so excited to be back to working and designing with a fresh vision.
xoxo

Back when my studio was basically in my closet haha.