August 31, 2009
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My patternmaker for the laptop sleeves and purse organizer went over the patterns with me today and explained what all of the pieces were, so now when the manufacturers ask me questions about the pattern I should be able to answer them without having to call her in a panic. After today’s meeting I can say with confidence that I have no aptitude for sewing. My mom and my sister got the sewing genes, I got the “save a crapload of money so I can start my own fashion business even though I don’t know how to sew” gene.
Several days ago I called Bank of America to ask them to increase my credit limit on my Alaska Airlines business credit card, and one of the sales reps finally gave me a call today. After 20 minutes of interrogation, the rep came back on the line to tell me that they really like my personal credit profile, but my business credit limit could not be increased until I showed them 2 years worth of sales figures. WTF?! I asked him if I could trade personal credit limit for business credit, and he said no. He ended the call by saying that if I had any future business needs, I should feel free to contact Bank of America.
Just before I could feel down about this B.S. credit issue, I got the UPS/Chase rewards credit card in the mail, and then I felt a whole lot better. Thank you Chase! Now I am debating whether I should stop doing my personal banking with Bank of America. Who knew a bank could piss me off so much?
OK, it’s dinner time. See you manana!
August 27, 2009
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The recycled nylon delivery saga is over. FINALLY! When the delivery guy arrived I let him know he had one of 2 choices:
1) He could deliver the 2 gigantic cartons of fabric directly to my apartment, but that would entail taking an elevator, walking through a courtyard, and climbing up a huge flight of stairs,
2) He could deliver one of the cartons to my storage closet, which was close to the freight elevator, and deliver the other carton to the FedEx-Kinkos, a block-and-a-half away. No stairs.
I could tell that with the 88 degree weather, the stair option was not his top choice. I also noticed he didn’t have a handtruck, and I noted that dragging the cartons up the stairs by himself would be really painful. Then I casually mentioned that I’d pay him $20 tip to do option #2. It wasn’t a hard sell after that.
After I paid the delivery guy 20 clams, he dragged the carton down the sidewalk, and after a we walked about a block, the box split open! Crap! I then had to run to FedEx to ask them for a handtruck, and the sales guy not only gave me the handtruck, he came outside to help me get the carton! The 2 men helped me get the box to the FedEx location, and the delivery guy even stuck around a little bit just to make sure everything would be ok. The FedEx guys weighed my huge-ass box on one of their desk scales (141 pounds!) and then helped me tape up the ripped part of the box. Here’s a picture of my FedEx heroes:
"I knew I should have taken the morning shift"
After they were done mummifying the box with packing tape, I asked them if this was the largest box they’d seen. And the answer was yes. Thank you to the FedEx guys on 5th and Jackson!
I’m heading to LA tomorrow, so I’ll be back to blogging on Monday. Adios!
August 26, 2009
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I went to the contract sewing shop in Tukwila today to pick up my laptop sleeve sample, and guess what? It wasn’t finished yet! I called the owner yesterday and she told me to come by today to pick it up. When I arrived this morning she instead presented me with a stack of cut fabric pieces, and then said to me, “I have a few questions.” What’s infuriating is that she’s the one who asked me to stop by, and she gave no indication over the phone that there was any problem. I’m really wondering how people get things manufactured in another country. I know companies have local production managers who handle manufacturing supervision, but this woman spoke perfectly good English, and she still didn’t communicate to me that the sample wasn’t ready. Now I have to go back tomorrow to follow-up to make sure she’s doing her job.
After months of procrastination, I called a few places to buy a bulk order of velcro. One of the sales rep asked me if I wanted “88 hook and 1000 loop”. Uh, what? It’s so weird to me that every part of my supply chain seems to speak their own alien language. Maybe after a few years I’ll develop my own language and force my suppliers to adapt to my ways.
Now some good news– my customs-cleared fabric is scheduled to arrive tomorrow! I’m a little freaked out because once I get the delivery I will need to send the enormous fabric to my manufacturer via FedEx. I hope the FedEx delivery guy doesn’t hate me– I live in a second floor walk up, and that carton will be huge!
I’m calling it a day. Thanks for reading. See you tomorrow.
August 25, 2009
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I was finally approved for a Chase UPS rewards credit card with a limit of $10K today. It took them several weeks to process the paperwork, and they sent me a notice last week asking me to send them a copy of a utility bill with my name on it to prove that I live at this address. I am glad they are being careful about fraud protection, but they could have easily just cross-referenced my other Chase personal credit card account to confirm my address. Since my husband is paying for all of the utilities right now (sucka!) we converted nearly all of those accounts to his name. Lucky for me the phone bill was still left in my name, so I sent a copy of the bill to Chase. I might have been denied credit if I couldn’t prove that I lived at this address! So to all couples who might have someone in the household who wants to start a business– make sure you have a utility bill in that person’s name, othewise he/she might not be able to get a business credit card.
Someone asked me today, “Do you miss the ’soft or are you happy to get out?” That’s an easy answer. I am still glad I left Microsoft. With my new career, I do something every single day that I’ve never tried before. For example, today I ordered 40 hides of vegetable-tanned, waterproof leather. Never done that before! Most of the time I feel like I am barely averting disasters because I don’t know what I am doing, but with each small accomplishment I feel really proud of myself. I expressed my exasperation to my mom today, and she reminded me that my dad started the original Jones Market grocery store without any idea of what he was doing, either. I pictured my dad, who had questionable mastery of the English language at the time, trying to get a beer license from the city. I started to feel like a sissy.
I’ve got a busy day tomorrow– arranging delivery of my nylon fabric shipment (FINALLY!) and picking up my laptop sleeve sample. Things are looking up again!
August 24, 2009
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Fortunately I think I have the customs issue under control now. I’m pretty relieved I was able to find a service provider that could handle customs clearance and also deliver the huge rolls of nylon fabric to my apartment. Of course, this all came at a hefty cost, nothing comes free (or easy) when it comes to dealing with the textile industry! I sent an email to my sales rep explaining in detail why they did a poor job of handling my order, and outlined what steps they should have taken to have prevented the problems from occurring in the first place. I don’t know if they’ll even bother to read my feedback, but it felt good to express my anger in a constructive way. Soon I will get my fabric and I’ll be one step closer to getting my bags made, so I’ll stop griping now, it’s not healthy!
I mentioned last week that I’d blog about the New York International Gift Fair, so here goes nothin’. When I tried to pre-register online, they wanted to charge me $150 entry fee, which I didn’t want to pay because I was planning to walk the show for only a short while. When I showed up the 3rd day, the nice customer service person let me go for free because it was a slow day, and I’m guessing that I looked harmless enough, even though I was sweaty and drippy from the lovely 100% humidity that day. Overall I thought NYIGF was better than all of the other tradeshows I’d attended. Maybe it’s because I’m on Twitter now and felt more comraderie amongst the other attendees and exhibitors, but I felt that the show was less pretentious and the reps were much more approachable. Aside from the high booth costs, the other drawback for an exhibitor was the vast array of specialty goods that ranged from fancy schmancy soaps to handmade sock puppets. There were lots of knicknacks that a crazy old grandma would like too. In short, it would be hard to cut through the clutter. I did like the show though, and it would be one of my top choices if I decided to invest in wholesale sales.
After 2 days of dealing with tough work situations, I actually thought about switching professions this afternoon. For some reason I thought about making organic moonshine. I thought it would be funny to bottle it in big recyclable jugs and distributing it in Whole Foods.
I’m hoping my crappy day streak is over. Looking forward to tomorrow.
August 21, 2009
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OK, I almost had a meltdown today. My first real “I’m going to kill someone” day. Good thing I was working from home so no one could hear me scream every profanity I’ve ever learned. If you’ve been following my daily ranting you know that I’ve had particular difficulties with my recycled nylon supplier. This recycled nylon is uncommon and it’s the only material I need to import — I have been able to source everything else domestically. So right when I thought nothing else could go wrong with my nylon procurement, I contacted the sales rep today to ask about my shipment (it was already 1 week late), and she let me know that they hadn’t added in costs for port freight clearance and delivery, so my 5 rolls of fabric were just sitting in customs somewhere in the port of Seattle.
I spent the entire afternoon trying to figure out who to hire TODAY to get my goods cleared, because after a certain grace period, they charge you a storage fee. And my delivery had already been here a week. I contacted the Port of Seattle, and an awesome man named Steve Queen directed me to Expeditors International, which is a company that provides customs clearance broker services. They are pricey, but they seem very professional and were very clear about what I needed to do next. I just finished scanning all of the shipping paperwork and filled out a power of attorney form, and I am stopping by their office on Monday to go through the logistics of the customs clearance.
I will forever be scarred by this experience. With the added freight charges, shipping costs, broker fees, duties and taxes, this fabric ended up being 35% more expensive than the original price quote. My goal now is to find a domestic mill that can supply me with recycled nylon so I never have to go through this again.
I’m all tuckered out and need to call it a day. I’ll blog next week about the trade show I attended. Now I will have wine and watch Project Runway on Tivo.
August 14, 2009
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After receiving some great guidance from my husband, I called the sales rep for the webbing company and said I would not pay for something that I wasn’t 100% satisfied with. Somehow this really resonated with her, and she cancelled that order! I was a little worried about playing hardball because this particular webbing company has a huge marketshare in the webbing industry, and I was a little wary about a throw-down. Luckily it all worked out, and there were no hard feelings. In fact, after the drama had ended the sales rep and I had a good laugh. I actually put my rusty comedic skills to good use. Who knew my comedic repartee would come in handy when talking with a webbing sales rep? Not me. Next week she’s shipping some webbing recommendations to me and we’ll start the process over again. Hopefully this time I’ll get to see the final sample before the production starts!
I also met with the patternmaker and production consultant for the purse organizer, and we’re working on the revisions to the patterns for the 2nd sample, since the 1st sample was kind of a disaster. The tweaks are actually relatively small, but these little changes will likely make a big difference on the structure of the organizer. I’ve decided to micro-manage this situation because it seems the production consultant’s project management skills are not very strong. In fact, they kind of suck. So I hope that I can run interference and move things along a lot faster.
I’ll be headed to NYC next week to walk the New York International Gift Fair (NYIGF) and meet with the lead designer at the textile mill. I’ll blog all about my experience when I get back.
Have a great weekend!
August 13, 2009
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I’m blogging a little earlier than usual because I want to end the day a little early. Just before breakfast I found out that my husband’s car was vandalized, and someone didn’t steal much except for a few CDs, including his Britney Spears album . We went to the body shop and they said they could replace the window with a brand new one, or a used one. You can purchase a pre-owned window? Who knew! The damage won’t be too expensive to fix, but it’s just a huge inconvenience. Mr. Burglar, you ruined our morning!
I met with a sales rep for a company that can help provide padding and structural support for my bags and accessories. I was surprised how many options they have for bag structure and cushioning. He’s taking my sample back to his engineers and designers to see what materials they’d recommend, keeping in mind that I need a cost-effective solution.
Since I got burned by the recycled nylon guys a few weeks ago, I swore to myself that I would go out of my way to never have an order get screwed up again. Well, somehow it happened anyway. Damn! The company supplying my shoulder strap webbing went forward with production before I approved the final sample. I wasn’t 100% happy with the webbing’s design, so when I got the sample I called my sales rep to explain what my concerns were. She told me that it was too late, the order had already been processed. I even have an email between the sales rep and myself saying that I wanted to see a final sample before the production began. After a lengthy conversation she admitted that someone in her production department jumped the gun and said she’d try to help resolve the situation tomorrow morning (she’s in Alabama). I hate having confrontational discussions like this, but these orders are really costly and it’s not acceptable for me to be dissatisfied with the materials. I’ll see what the salesperson says tomorrow.
I’m shutting down my computer now, I need to decompress after a crazy day! Bye bye.
August 12, 2009
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Lately when I’ve called up new supplier prospects, I’ve used my Google voice number as the primary way to contact me. When someone leaves a voicemail, I get a transcription of the voicemail via Gmail and text message. Today I received 2 messages from a sales person who specializes in protective padding, and he left a message saying that he was calling me back because I had reached out to his company about cushioning and foam options. Google Voice translated “cushioning and foam options” as “Christian. It’s all options.” When I saw the voicemail transcript I was like “WTF?! How did a religious group get hold of my Google number?!” Luckily there is no longer any confusion, and I’ll be meeting with this sales rep tomorrow. I’ll see if he brings along a bible.
I stopped by Alchemy Goods (a local company that uses old tires and banners to make bags) and the sales rep was super nice. My goal is to branch out and make an effort to meet more local designers. The next person I’ll be lucky enough to meet is Lizzie Parker, who makes really comfortable, stylish sustainable clothing. I scheduled a coffee meeting with her when I get back from NYC. Y’know, this networking thing ain’t half bad.
Well, it’s the end of the day. See you tomorrow!
August 11, 2009
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OK, do you want to hear the good news or bad news first? I’ll start with the good news. I finally picked up my purse organizer sample! The bad news is… it looked like someone with a very large foot had stepped on it. It is evident that the sides and bottom of the organizer need more structural integrity because the exterior looked warped and “bendy” (yet another word I have concocted because I don’t know the appropriate manufacturing terminology). I spent the rest of the morning calling a bunch of vendors looking for materials that can help stiffen the exterior. I found a place in Yakima that provides this material to other local bag manufacturers like Brenthaven and Tom Bihn. I’m glad the problem seems solvable.
I also spent some time researching line sheets, which is a sales tool that buyers expect to see when they are first approached by a new designer. It shows line drawings or photos of the product, along with style numbers, wholesale prices, minimum quantities, and delivery dates. I was a little worried that this might be really expensive to develop, but a former classmate of mine who owns a boutique sent me a few line sheets from a some designers (including Lauren Conrad!), and I was relieved to see that these layouts are definitely doable on powerpoint (converted to a PDF of course!). I never thought I’d see the day that be soooo happy I have Office 2007 pre-loaded on my computer.
That’s it for me today. Bye!
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