March 6, 2012
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For those who have asked me who my product photographer is, I thought I’d virtually introduce him to you. His name is Ryan Slimak, he lives in Redmond WA, and he’s been working with me since the early days of getting Plaid Doctrine off the ground.
I was introduced to Ryan from a close friend. At the time, Ryan was looking to build out his product photography portfolio, and lucky for me I was looking for someone living close by who was interested in doing product photography. He’s been a great partner for me because he is creative, extremely dedicated, and very professional.
Here are some non-product shots that were in Ryan’s portfolio that I love:
You can check out more of his photography at www.ryancslimak.com. Enjoy!
March 5, 2012
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Are you carrying around a bulky, heavy wallet that has no suitable place to carry the ginormous receipts that you get from stores these days? Well, we designed a very simple pouch wallet that helps you quickly put away your receipts, credit card, cash, and coins at the checkout counter, without trying to cram everything in various impractical pockets and hiding places. The best thing about our zip wallet is it’s sustainably made from vegetable-dyed leather, and individually crafted in California.
What do I carry in mine? My iPhone, my license, a few credit cards, a Costco card, insurance cards, receipts, a few dollars, and loose change. For some reason I always have lots of pennies, and never enough quarters.
Our new travel wallet is made from water-repelling vegetable-dyed leather sourced from a tannery in the Midwest.
A perfect gift for family and friends– summer travel season is almost here!
February 21, 2012
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Traveling with a toddler is difficult, so we’ve come to terms with staycationing until she gets older. We took a trip to Disneyland last weekend, and we had a blast. I was glad to see that Disneyland had made a huge effort to offer healthier snacks around the theme park. Fruit crisps and fresh fruit were not difficult to find, and the price premiums weren’t as bad as I had expected.
When we took a lunch break at a Mexican restaurant, I picked up these harmless snack chips at the checkout counter. Not only was there a long list of hard-to-pronounce ingredients, but I was also shocked to see THIS ingredient listed: ANTI-FOAMING AGENT.
You mean this is the best sourcing that Disneyland could do? And there weren’t any local vendors who could make chips or crisps in a more natural way? Yuck. Thank goodness we brought our own snacks and treats! The tortilla chips and cinnamon crisps seemed like one of the better snack options. Who knows what’s in their churros and ginormous turkey legs!
January 5, 2012
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Happy new year!
We had a great time at the UniqueLA holiday show (thank you Sonia for having us!) where we introduced our new MERCER work tote. We’re finally in production now and we stopped by our bag maker’s workshop to see how things were going. Here are some behind-the-scenes photos that we think you’ll like. Each of our bags is constructed by hand by skilled, local artisans.
This vegetable-tanned leather is from a local mill
Our fancy zippers
Our bags are constructed by hand, piece by piece
Next week we’ll have the photos of the finished tote bags on the website. We can’t wait to show them to you.
Here’s to a great 2012 (*clink*)!
November 28, 2011
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We’re happy to announce that we’ll be making our next round of bags really close to our HQ– just 40 minutes away in fact. Now our carbon footprint is super low! These folks are true leather craftsmen with over 25 years of experience, and they do everything by hand. The best thing about it is that there is a really good hole-in-the-wall Korean restaurant around the corner from their building . Hooray!
And more good news– I am also sourcing all of my vegetable-tanned leather close by, too. If you’ve ever wondered what the inside of a leather tannery looks like, here’s a quick photo that I took inside their finished goods area:
- Um, can I just get some black leather?
I’ll be debuting the new zippered work tote at the UniqueLA show this weekend. It’s a very classic style with a very classic pattern: herringbone! These bags will go into production in 2 weeks, just in time for Christmas!
September 27, 2011
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Abbot Kinney Festival is a no frills festival where vendors have to bring everything for their booth. And I mean everything– it’s seriously BYOB (bring your own booth!). You bring your table, chairs, and there is no power. Luckily you can buy a 6′ folding table from Target for less than $50, and that was my biggest expense. I had sewn my own tablecloth because tablecloths are surprisingly expensive, and I decorated my booth with vintage items I had bought from the Santa Monica and Venice flea markets. I am now obsessed with flea market and yard sale shopping– I guess this whole experience has made me a much more conscious consumer!
So as a new vendor, I luckily did a lot of things right: I had a credit card swiper for my iPhone, I brought lots of $1 bills for change, and I collected a lot of email addresses of people who were interested in our new messenger bag (coming soon– October 15!).
There were a few things I’ve learned too– so if you are thinking about being a vendor at this festival, or any other “booth” events, here are things I’d recommend:
1) BRING A TON OF BUSINESS CARDS. I brought a lot, but not enough. In fact, I gave out so many that I had to use hangtags as business cards toward the last 2 hours of the event!
2) BRING SOMEONE TO HELP YOU. My dear husband was my loading and unloading partner, thank goodness. I don’t think you can do the driving and booth set-up by yourself, because at some point you need to leave your stuff to get your car, and you leave your booth. Being there solo I had the obvious absence of coverage during bathroom breaks, and I noticed that shoppers came to my booth in waves. I was only able to really talk to one person at a time. I would have loved to attend to everyone who came by. Perhaps with a partner I could have doubled my sales!
3) ANTICIPATE QUESTIONS AND FIND WAYS TO MINIMIZE REPETITION. The most popular question for me was “How are you fabrics made from recycled bottles?” I knew that question would be asked, but I explained the process more than 50 times! Next time I will have a poster or sign that explains the recycling process. Then I can focus on sales
4) DON’T SIT AROUND TWEETING AND FACEBOOKING ON YOUR PHONE. I actually didn’t do this (hence the lack of festival updates!) but I saw some vendors near me who were doing that, and I know it hurt their sales. They didn’t make eye contact with people and were too absorbed in their own world. Making connections with people is key at an event like this. Being in sales mode for 12 hours is hard work, and exhausting, but it’s what you signed up for!
I am sure there are other things I am forgetting– if I think of something else I will add them to the comments. Overall I had a great time and it was a good investment because I sold some inventory and was able to network with relevant people. And Andie MacDowell stopped by my booth, which made my day!
August 24, 2011
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We all know that leather is expensive (especially vegetable-tanned leather). After a lengthy conversation with a well-versed, leather industry veteran, I learned a lot more about leather pricing.
Did you know that the cost of leather is directly correlated with the consumption of meat? Leather is a by-product of the meat industry. It makes sense when you think about it, but it’s not something you immediately think of when you think about leather. So every time you bite into a juicy burger, you may be playing a part in driving down leather prices.
When the economy takes a turn, a la 2008, people eat less meat because it’s too expensive. As a result, the demand for meat goes down, then the supply of hides goes down. And as basic economics dictates, inevitably the price of leather goes up as demand exceeds supply in that industry.
Hope you found this leather pricing info as interesting as I did!
July 25, 2011
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Well, we’re finally settled in to our new home. It took a while to get ourselves uprooted and situated in our new city. We’re working hard to gear up for the holiday season (HOLIDAY! ALREADY?!?!), despite the lure of outdoors during this lovely summer.
We’re working on new bag styles (YAHOO!) and we’ve managed to find some new manufacturing partners that are closer to us (YAHOO x 2! We’re minimizing our carbon footprint even more!). We’re trying not to change too much at once, for our own sanity, but we do think these new partnerships are exciting and very promising. We’re happy to still be able to find ways to make our products in the US.
I also have an amusing update– we just got our trademark cleared. And yes, it took over 2 years! There weren’t even any problems with the mark, just slow processes at the USPTO with all the budget cuts, and apparently I managed to find a lawyer who liked to submit paperwork right before each deadline. In any case, we’re trademarked now, and we’re happy that Plaid Doctrine is so…permanent!
Thanks for stopping by. Have a good Monday!
May 2, 2011
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If you are a small business and have wondered whether Groupon is right for you, let me provide you with some anecdotal information that might help you.
My hairdresser recently participated in a Groupon deal a few months ago. He had submitted his salon for a deal and a Groupon sales rep contacted him pretty quickly and came to his place to make sure it wasn’t a sketchy dump. Then my hairdresser didn’t hear back from the sales rep a long time– a few months later the sales guy called him to let him know that his deal would be going live the following week.
My hairdresser offered a pretty basic deal: a $40 haircut for $20, for new visitors only. And thanks to Groupon, his deal was purchased by 500 new customers. You might be thinking– hey, that’s $10,000 revenue in one day! But let me break down the hairdresser’s numbers for you:
—GROUPON TAKES 50% OF THE DEAL PRICE. Did you know that?! I didn’t. This means that for services or goods that are advertised as 50% off, it’s actually a 75% discount for the business
—For my hairdresser only 15% of the deals were abandoned, so that means 85% of the people have followed through with getting a haircut
—My hairdresser is a one-man shop– he had to hire someone to help him get through the Groupon appointments
My hairdresser has had a few repeat customers so far, but the jury is still out on what the ROI is. He’s seeing his Groupon participation as a marketing expense (he usually spends money on local flyers and mailers in my neighborhood). Luckily for him, a haircut doesn’t really require purchasing any raw materials. The poor nail salon across the street also participated in a Groupon deal too, and sold 1500 discounted packages! But they definitely lost money using Groupon because their cost of materials (nail polish, nail files, etc) + the cost of labor exceeded the price of the deal. According to my hairdresser, they really regret their Groupon decision.
So there you have it. If you decide to participate in a Groupon deal, don’t say you weren’t warned!
April 22, 2011
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Wow, a year has already come and gone! I can’t believe it! It’s amazing that just one year ago we were just getting our website up and running. Oh, and I was 37 pounds heavier back then, being pregnant and all.
And now it’s a year later. The economy is slightly better, by just a tiny bit. The price of oil, leather and cotton has skyrocketed– organic cotton alone has tripled in price from a year ago. And just when everyone thought no one was buying anything, the iPad and iPad 2 completely stunned everyone with their record breaking sales.
So what’s in store for year 2 for Plaid Doctrine? Well, the biggest thing going on right now is bracing ourselves for a big move. So at the end of May we’ll be taking our online store offline until we get settled in our new digs. I’ll also be pounding the pavement like crazy trying to find new local vendors so we can minimize our carbon footprint.
We’re also finished with the messenger bag sample, and we are super happy with it. But given the timing of the move, we need to decide whether to produce the bags in the Seattle area, or wait till we move and delay the product launch until fall. It’s a tough call. I’ll keep you posted on the final decision.
Interestingly we’ve recently been solicited by many manufacturers outside of the US, and we’ve politely declined their offers. Have no fear– we plan to continue having our bags and accessories handcrafted in the USA. We are glad to do our part to keep jobs in the US.
From the bottom of my heart, thank you so much for supporting Plaid Doctrine. Happy Earth day, and happy birthday to us!
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