September 30, 2009
Back to top
I had lunch with my old boss today– a two-and-a-half hour lunch in fact! Wow, everyone in my old group is miserable, and I was lucky to get out when I did. I was also sad to hear that all of the people at the ad agency I worked with were laid off. I count my blessings that I chose my new career path last year and left at the right time.
I spent the afternoon with my accountant reviewing Quickbooks, filling out B&O state tax forms, and discussing sales tax for my future retail business. My accountant is great: she used to teach accounting and I bet she was a nice teacher who would merit many gifts of apples. As I spoke to her I couldn’t believe that I took an accounting class in b-school and I didn’t retain a single thing. What I do remember is that my professor’s name was Schlomi and he frequently wore a button-down shirt with a tweety-bird decal stitched on the pocket. His most evil moment was when he cold-called me after I had just returned to the classroom after having a coughing attack. Hmmm, now it’s becoming clear to me where my hatred for Quickbooks might be stemming from.
It’s been a long day. Time to get some shut eye. See you later!
September 29, 2009
Back to top
My productivity today was about a 5 on a scale of 10. I think it’s because my day began with a blaring fire alarm that ruined my morning routine and scared the bejeezus out of me. I grabbed my computer and ran out the door without even giving myself a once-over in the mirror. As I left the premises I noticed at least 50 other tenants who were loitering outside the building in their pajamas. I wonder how many of those people were self-employed, unemployed, or “working from home”. I wonder if they were wondering the same thing.
I spent an hour at Tully’s, taking advantage of their free Wi-fi. I noticed that there are a lot of business deals happening at my local Tully’s: I overheard one guy trying to get financing for his company from a VC, and witnessed some other guy trying to sell software to a small tech company. I kind of felt unprofessional in my oversized Cal sweatshirt and my mismatched yoga pants. But I sure am glad I didn’t wear my Hello Kitty pajama pants to bed last night. Those were in the wash.
When I was allowed back into my building I decided to do the one part of my job that I really dislike– accounting and finance. Eww and eww. I paid a few monthly invoices and worked on Quickbooks for a huge chunk of the afternoon. I’m all caught up (through September!), and everything is reconciled. Woohoo! I have a meeting with my accountant tomorrow and I want her to review my quickbooks entries to make sure I’m categorizing the data correctly. I also have some questions about state and city taxes that I’m hoping she can answer. A few months ago I said that the first person I’d hire would be a production manager. Scratch that– I want a bookkeeper!
OK, I’ve had enough computer time. Sorry computer– we need some separation time. Now it’s time to figure out how to turn on the central heater. Adios!
September 28, 2009
Back to top
I have to confess, I left work early on Friday to go play golf, so I didn’t blog that day. It was the last bit of warm weather in Seattle, so I decided pack up early and play 15 holes of golf (I didn’t quite make it to 18, I’m a wuss).
I called my manufacturer today and we walked through the next steps of production. He’s going through the patterns now, and since he has all of the core raw materials, he’ll work on pre-production samples of the totebag and briefcase soon. Once I sign off on those, we’re going into full-blown production! As for the purse organizer and laptop sleeves, the status is dubious right now. Once these final samples are made I will likely need to find new sewing contractors since the ones I’ve worked with were not good partners. I’ve discovered that many of the sewing contractors in Seattle have reduced their staff because of themarket conditions, and as a result they only have the personnel to handle their current workload. These places do not have the bandwidth to take on new work, and people like me who have new business can’t find anyone who can take on new projects…*sigh*. Luckily I have a few new local leads, so I’ll be busy calling them this week.
I received a “Notice of Abandonment” from the trademark office today for the Jones Market trademark application filed last February. It was strange to get a postcard from the United States Patent and Trademark Office. I guess a “Wish you were here!” postcard would have been even stranger. The postcard was sent as an acknowledgement that my trademark application was ”abandoned in full”. The trademark saga of Jones Market is now officially over. Finally. Let’s hope the fate is better for the Plaid Doctrine trademark!
September 24, 2009
Back to top
I received my chipboard samples today, and I’ll be honest, these look like pieces of cardboard. More specifically, it looks like the kind of cardboard you find on the back of a heavy pad of paper. The box company rep reminded me that this was just a sample and that chipboard could come in heavier weights and finishes, so I will need my contract sewer to see if this sample could work. If the cardboard…I mean CHIPBOARD…doesn’t work out, then I might need to look into die-cut plastic sheets for the purse organizer frame.
I spent a lot of time setting up important meetings with VIPs, namely my manufacturer, my accountant, and my web designer. It looks like I’m going to have a really busy October. I can’t wait!
See y’all tomorrow!
September 23, 2009
Back to top
Good news or bad news? I’ll start with the bad news. My laptop sleeves won’t be finished in time for launch because the sewing contractor is, as they say, a “hot mess”. The sample isn’t finished and the partial sewing I’ve actually seen is mediocre. Thanks for the referral, Precis Design! So I’m back to the drawing board to see if someone else can finish this sample and do the manufacturing.
OK, now on to the good news. The local photographer I’ve been courting has accepted the project! We’re still ironing out the details but it looks like the photoshoot will be late October. This photographer is an acquaintance with my web designer, and we were able to leverage that relationship to get a foot in the door. This guy knows fashion product photography, and he’s done a lot of work for the Nordstrom catalogues. I’m soooo excited I can hardly stand it. Big thanks go to my web designer for making it happen!
And some other good news: I get to pick up my chipboard samples tomorrow. Well, I guess this news isn’t all that exciting, so maybe I should have mentioned this before the photography thing. Oh well!
It’s been a great day. Let’s hope tomorrow is just as good!
September 21, 2009
Back to top
I know, I know, I haven’t even gotten my product launched and I am already putting energy into planning for the next wave of production. Seems a little crazy, but given how long it took to order many of the materials for the launch wave, I’ll likely have to place orders for the next production round in the next few weeks.
I had a good conversation with a leather vendor based in Santa Cruz. I met one of the company’s sales reps at the trade show I went to last week, and I requested samples of veg-tanned leather today. I am finding that the leather community is VERY small, and there really are only a few reputable tanneries worldwide that do a good veg-tanned leather. I let him know where I was sourcing my leather from, and he said that the supplier I chose was very high-quality. Then he asked me if my bags were higher-end based on my leather choice, to which I replied YES. He said the only leather that would be comparable to the leather I’m using now would be imported leather from Italy. The price he quoted me per square foot was less expensive than the domestic leather, but I had to remind myself of the additional costs associated with importing materials, specifically the freight charges, shipping fees, and import duties. After you take these importing costs into account, the costs for high-end Italian leather ends up comparable to me buying the leather domestically. Still, I think it would be good to see what other leather options are available.
I looked at my to-do list today and I remembered that I need to ask the photographer if he has a mannequin so we can do a few product shots where you can see the size of the bag relative to someone’s body. If he doesn’t have one, I may need to find one. Where the heck do you get a mannequin in Seattle? And one that isn’t too creepy? They are usually missing arms, hands, or a head. I guess worse case scenario I can beg someone to model the bags. If you know anyone who is photogenic and likes Korean-Americans, please let me know.
I may be stuck in Tukwila all day tomorrow, trying to get those laptop sleeve samples (ugh). This will likely lead to a very boring, angry blog entry, so I may resume blogging on Wed so I can have a cool-off period.
Have a good night!
September 18, 2009
Back to top
My web designer and I spent quite a bit of time figuring out our website gameplan today. The original plan was to do a combination of illustration and photography for the website, but that proved to be too cost prohibitive. In addition, I wouldn’t know until after the money had been spent if the illustration and the photography styles would even fit well together. After “running the numbers” I decided to scrap the illustration (for now) and put my money toward really good photography. The advice I’ve gotten from a lot of designers is to not skimp out with photography because product photos can work across multiple mediums (web, print, emails, etc). A really good product shot could land some favorable free publicity. The other thing I’m supposed to invest in is a PR person– I need to get crackin’ on finding someone, pronto.
I received an email confirmation that the patterns were delivered to the manufacturer. I also got a notification that the hardware has been shipped out. Woohoo! I’m feeling pretty good about this momentum and I can’t wait to get these bags made.
Tomorrow marks the 1-year anniversary of me leaving Microsoft. I can’t believe it’s already been a year! After hearing an earful from my former colleagues, it looks like I made the right decision to leave. Those poor guys. Plus there is now a cougar lurking around campus waiting to eat someone, and that someone will definitely not be me.
Have a great weekend!
September 17, 2009
Back to top
This morning I tried to start the workday by taking a walk in the morning, but then I found a homeless man passed out right in front of my apartment building main entrance, and decided to head back inside instead of step over him. So much for exercise.
I forgot to mail the bag labels to my manufacturer yesterday (oops)– I think I was just too excited from mailing the patterns and ordering all of the hardware. Someone warned me that bag designers always forget about the labels because it’s not one of the primary components of the bags, and I almost did. Thank goodness I suddenly remembered this afternoon– I could have ended up with unbranded bags!
I’ve been chatting with my graphic designer, and we’re ready to roll up our sleeves and make some real progress on the website. I’m meeting with him tomorrow to break down the budget and brainstorm ideas for the home page. If you have any product websites that you really like, feel free to send me the link.
Short post today. Hoping to enjoy the last bit of summer-ish weather. Adios!
September 16, 2009
Back to top
The Apparel and Footwear Materials Show I attended in Portland yesterday was pretty interesting, and a tad bit weird. Let’s just say I saw more than a handful of booths dedicated to arch supports. There were some textile companies exhibiting there, but not many that used any recycled or eco-friendly fibers. I did make a few good contacts, including meeting with someone at Repreve, a company that makes recycled polyester yarn, and he provided me with sales rep names from textile mills that use Repreve fibers. It would be great to have more mills to work with!
Over 60% of the leather and textile vendors at the trade show were from Asia, namely China and Korea. Those Asians do some crazy sh%t with leather: they do wax embossing, printing, and pigmenting in all colors and patterns. Unfortunately, embossed cheetah printed leather doesn’t really go with my design aesthetic. As I spoke to some of these leather import companies, I was really enticed by the low prices they quoted me. But when I thought through the math I realized that even though their leather is half as expensive as the US-tanned leather, the veg-tanned leather I am sourcing is of significantly higher quality. And of course I don’t have to deal with the importing hassle!
But enough about yesterday. I made so much progress TODAY! I finally ordered all of the hardware for my bags (over 900 pieces!), and luckily everything was in stock. And if this alone wasn’t exciting enough, I received the patterns for the laptop briefcase and totebag today too, and I sent those to the manufacturer this afternoon! I’m sort of in shock that the last stages of pre-production are wrapping up. I’m a little freaked out.
Time to bust out a bottle of wine. Cheers!
September 14, 2009
Back to top
I stopped by the contract sewing place to check on my laptop sleeve sample, and the owner let me know that she had outsourced the project to another guy, and he would be finished with the sample tomorrow. Seriously? Is she allowed to do this without my consent? Well, it’s pretty evident that she did, and there’s nothing I can do about it right now. I didn’t think this sewing contractor was so busy that she’d need to outsource the work, because everytime I stop by their facility there are little old Vietnamese ladies eating snacks and watching soap operas. I’m still not sure why she gave the project to someone outside of her company as there seem to be quite a few idle hands in her shop. Oh well. Unfortunately I won’t be able to pick up the sample tomorrow because I am heading to Portland tomorrow to attend a tradeshow, so I guess I’ll have to get it on Wednesday.
I’ve also spent time today researching photographers and PR people. I decided early on that I’d set aside a decent budget for product photography and PR, as these seem to be “must haves” for new fashion accessory companies trying to establish their brand. This is the one part of the job that is closest to the line of work I used to be in (marketing communications), yet oddly enough it seems the most foreign to me now. I guess I’ve been heads-down in materials procurement for way too long.
I’ll be heading to Portland tomorrow, so I probably won’t be blogging tomorrow. I’ll be back on line on Wednesday, hopefully with a laptop sleeve sample in-hand. Adios!
Next Page »