September 30, 2008
Back to top
I can think of many things more humiliating than this, but I got my new Amex card rejected at Barnes & Noble this evening, and it was really, really embarrassing.
I called AmEx to see what happened, and after the sales rep entered my information, he then put me on hold to speak with his manager about my account. Of course that made me wonder if there was some sort of freaky fraudulent activity taking place that I was somehow part of. A minute later the sales rep’s boss got on the phone and asked me several security questions, while intermittently asking me, ”Is the card currently in your possession?”, as if I was stupidly handing my credit card to random strangers while I was taking to her. Then after another minute or so she said, “Your information has now been verified, you are free to use your card again.”
No apology, no nothin’.
While I appreciate the credit card companies trying to protect themselves and their customers from identity theft, I think it’s risky for them to cut people off if they want to randomly run them through their security clearance. What if I had just used that card to pay a manufacturer and gotten my card rejected? Or what if I was in the midst of paying for the dinner of a big name client with my Amex?
This is f’ed up.
September 29, 2008
Back to top
I’ve spent most of the day writing the executive summary and industry overview sections of my business plan. There’s not much to report – it’s tedious, repetitive, and I find it weird to talk about yourself as “The company’s management”. It’s weird to talk about yourself in 3rd person too.
Tomorrow I’ll be writing the marketing section of the plan, meeting with a graphic designer, dropping by a boutique, and eating ice cream. I like my new life.
September 28, 2008
Back to top
What a fun weekend it’s been for my husband, aka my ”CIO”, “CTO” and “unpaid intern”. On Friday night he set up my email using Hosted Exchange, provided by Go Daddy. For only a few bucks a month, he and I are both connected to Outlook, and we get email pushed out to our phones. Woohoo! So despite what some people have assumed, I will be keeping my Win Mobile (6.1) phone and not running to the at&t store at breakneck speed to buy a 3G iphone.
The other thing my husband and I accomplished this weekend was creating a (*cough* lame) “coming soon” page on jonesmarketbags.com. We wanted to make sure we had a placeholder web page instead of the spammy-looking godaddy default page. I wish you could have seen us try to figure out how to get a simple visual and accompanying text on a webpage. We have no formal web design or programming training. It took 3 hours to do this simple task.
This coming week I will be working on some sketches and finalizing the important parts of my business plan. Apparently the internship program director at SPU needs to see a business plan (geez, so demanding!) so I guess I should get moving on that so I can get myself an intern.
September 27, 2008
Back to top
I’ve spent the last few days ripping up laptop bags, messenger bags, backpacks, and luggage.
I learned a few things through my primitive R&D process:
1) Almost all of the padding in the luggage and bags was a white, spongy styrofoam-like material. Very little was neoprene
2) Nearly all of the “stiff” structural support was actually just thin plastic sheets
3) A lot of luggage and bags are made in China, I suspect the materials are sourced from the same places
4) The construction of the bags and luggage was surprisingly simple
Who knew that I would find bag innards so fascinating?
September 26, 2008
Back to top
Today I visited 2 small apparel and messenger bag companies based in Seattle. Both of these companies touted that all of their products were made in the USA, and both had factories in-house. I had a chance to peek into both the manufacturing facilities and saw that nearly all of the factory workers were Chinese! And not ABCs (American Born Chinese), they were Chinese folks who only spoke Cantonese.
I was unnerved by this discovery. Sure, those products are made in the US, but they aren’t made by Americans. Maybe these companies should re-label their goods to “MADE IN USA, WITH CHINESE HANDS”.
September 25, 2008
Back to top
A couple of people have asked me (nicely) if it was a wise choice to leave a good job and start a business in a recession. In my opinion, this is as good a time as any. I will be funding my business with my own savings and not looking for a bank loan, so from a funding perspective I should be fine for at least a year. And as for the slowdown of retail, I’ll probably start out with a growth rate I can actually manage. While my competitors are missing their sales goals, I’ll be ramping up.
Today I went to the Seattle Central Public Library to see if I could find free fashion resources. It was weird to see how crowded it was on a weekday afternoon. Wamu headquarters is nearby, so I wonder if there were Wamu people at the library trying to use the free internet to stealthily search for jobs on Monster.com.
The library resources for fashion design were not as good as I would have liked. But I ended up walking down the aisles at random and accidentally finding books on leather stitching and fabric printing, which is helpful given that I know so little about these subjects. I also discovered that the quilting section of the library was extremely large, which I found a little scary. Even scarier was that in the afternoon I saw a crazy man surrounded by gun and artillery books and magazines (“Guns and Ammo”, “Gun Supply”, etc) and he was furiously taking notes. And then by 5pm, he disappeared.
All in all a good day.
September 24, 2008
Back to top
I accomplished a lot of things today (*patting myself on back*):
- Opened up a WellsFargo small business checking account
- Found a fashion internship program at Seattle Pacific University and got in touch with the program director. Looks like I’ll have “employees” to help me out soon!
- Made a list of ALL of the things I need to do in the short- and medium- term. Scary stuff
- Visited a boutique nearby and got her recommendations on trade shows I should try to attend: CALA, Designers & Agents, and Brighte– I’ll look into them tonight
Not bad for day 1. I even squeezed in 2 loads of laundry, lunch and dinner prep time, and 1 episode of Heroes
Though today went well, I can see that I may get a little lonely soon since the only interaction I had today other than the people at the bank and boutique was with a homeless man– I asked him to please scoot over so I could enter my building, and he coughed at me. I probably have TB now.
So assuming I am TB-free, if anyone is up for grabbing weekday lunch or coffee, let me know!
September 23, 2008
Back to top
I can’t believe it’s been 8 years since I left NYC.
I miss the corner delis, the Sesame Street and 227-esque brownstone apartment buildings, and I miss the Korean food, Mexican food, and huge slices of pizza.
But I have to remember that there is a reason why I left. One ordinary evening in 2000, I was off to meet some friends, and I had just taken a shower after going to the gym. As soon as I came out to street level from the subway stop, I was suddenly caught in a wind tunnel between 2 really tall buildings. And for an entire minute, a swirling wind of trash encircled me, and followed me down the avenue block. Candy wrappers, used napkins, and condom wrappers all touched my newly washed hair. Yes, it was gross.
So even though I have some solid business connections in NYC, I don’t think I’ll move back anytime soon.
Back to top
I got a hold of the “fashion district source book” which s a resource guide to shops in the fashion district in NYC– how to source everything from fabric to trim to lace…did I mention that my bags will be 100% lace? I also got a 5 page list of sample makers and prototype vendors in NYC.
I also got a tip from my friend Jessie (a fancy schmancy designer) to read the book “eMyth”– so I am going to order that as soon as possible.
Making some good progress!
I’ll be back in Seattle late tonight. Glad to be home soon, even though I heard the rain season has started. Not sure I will be able to handle working from home if it’s pouring rain outside, but we’ll see.
September 21, 2008
Back to top
A couple of people have asked me whether I would be designing my own bags.
At the start, yes.
After talking to some luggage and handbag industry folks about the manufacturing process, I think my bag design will be focused about 30% on looks, 70% on functionality. And after doing a ton of research, only about 10% of my collective time will likely be focused on designing the bags, because the hard part about starting a business will be in the operations and business development. Whether this is good or bad, I have the design aesthetic of the first few bags in mind, so I should be ok at first working with technical designers turning my concept into something that can be executed. But soon I will need to find a freelance designer who can help me with design once the line launches.
One of my next steps is to find a samplemaker. I’ve gotten some leads in LA and NY, and I am optimistic. Just last night I went to a party (or should I say, I crashed a party of a friend of a friend) where the hostess happened to work at the GAP and was a freelance clothing designer. Though drunk, she gave me some good leads and gave me her business card. How nice!
I am excited about how things are working out so far– everything seems to be falling into place and I am grateful.
Thanks for visiting.
(Note 11/24/08: wordpress archives is buggy, and after 2 months of waiting for them to fix it, I decided to just add my first blog post here so people can understand context.)
FIRST POST: 9/10/08
The original Jones Market, a tiny convenience store/laundromat located in East Nashville, was owned by my dad from 1978 to 1994. My dad actually spelled it “Jone’s Market”, and when we tried to tell my dad to correct the spelling and get rid of the apostrophe, he refused to change it.
My sister came up with the idea to resurrect the family company name. A lot of blood, sweat and tears went into that place, and it I can’t wait to bring the business back to life. One main difference though is my dad’s store sold malt liquor, cigarettes, chewing tobacco, and rolling papers. I hope to not resort to that.
So you may now be wondering– what is Suzanne’s business venture? Not stand up comedy, I hope! Well, here it is in a nutshell: work bags and travel accessories. In my current job at Microsoft, nearly 20% of my time is spent traveling. Finding business-appropriate, travel-friendly bags has not been easy for me. I don’t want a work bag that makes me look like a bike courier or a mountaineer. I also don’t want anything quilted, reminds me of Northern toilet paper. My goal is to introduce high-quality, visually interesting products to the public (for women and men) in just a few months. The company name will be “Jones Market” and the URL will be “jonesmarketbags.com”. The main thing I haven’t disclosed to many people is the design aesthetic. Wanna know what my designs will look like? You’ll have to check back here later
I’m just at the beginning of my long journey. I am reading lots of trade publications, meeting lots of helpful people, getting to do grown-up business things like form an LLC, register an EIN number with the IRS, look into trademarks, copyrights, patents, non-disclosure agreements and learn as much as I can about textiles in my spare time.
Here are things I am doing the next 2 weeks, so you know what I am up to:
- Meeting graphic designers
- Cutting up laptop bags, work totes, backpacks and luggage just to understand materials and construction
- Trying to find a template for a non-disclosure form so I can send my design to my first manufacturing contact
- Opening up a business bank account
If you know anyone who might be interesting for me to talk to, let me know. It doesn’t have to be someone in the design/luggage/handbag industry. If you know any good contacts (small-business accountants, lawyers, web developers, successful entrepreneurs, anyone really), feel free to pass along the name.
Cheers! And thanks for visiting
Next Page »