February 24, 2010
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Yesterday’s photoshoot went really well. Unfortunately we didn’t finish all of the shots, so we’ll need to finish on Friday morning. I spent all morning yesterday helping the photographer stuff the bags with tissue paper, and it was funny to see him re-do a few of my bags because my stuffing abilities were not up to snuff. I thought the shots turned out really well. I can’t wait to see the photos next week.
My manufacturer let me know yesterday that my production run *should* be finished up the week of 3/7. I have no idea if he’ll meet this date given his flakiness. I have 2 other manufacturers that are interested in working on my bags, so I am hoping that I can find someone who is more reliable. I’ll keep you posted on this situation.
I received a call from “Jones Marketing” in Seattle who let me know that the missing re-routed UPS package had been sent to this business by mistake. He opened the package and was confused by all of the fabric swatches, and asked me if I was an interior designer. After he called me he asked UPS to pick up the package, and he was nice enough to write my Kirkland address on the label to minimize confusion. Unfortunately UPS didn’t have any notes about the rerouting the package to Kirkland, and apparently didn’t care that he had written the correct address on the label. They called me and let me know I could go to the UPS downtown Seattle location to pick up the package. #*(%^&@#!!! This is soooo frustrating!
But here’s some good news: I received some lining fabric samples, and also got some color options for the fabric I want to use for round 2 of production. So far everything looks good for the next production round, so I am optimistic. Let’s just hope I can get round 1 out the door so I can get going on round 2!
Thanks for reading, folks!
February 22, 2010
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I’m happy to say that things are chugging along nicely. I have my bags ready to be photographed, and I’ve spend most of today trying to get the logistics worked out so tomorrow runs smoothly. I’ll be arriving tomorrow morning at 10:30am, carrying 8+ bags, while pregnant. If you want to see a freakshow, drive by 9th and Pike in Capitol Hill around that time. I’ll be the frazzled bag lady with the big stomach.
Today was kind of fun: I got to pick which product shot angles I wanted, and also work with my web designer to pick out other complementary artwork for the website. I can’t wait till tomorrow!
After last week’s emotional rollercoaster, I decided to look into finding back up manufacturers. So far I have 2 strong leads– one in Indiana, the other in Texas. They both specialize in leather bag manufacturing, so that’s good. They both seem pretty enthusiastic about taking on some contract work. Meanwhile I have a call tomorrow morning with my manufacturer to see when I can get the rest of the bags delivered. I’m hoping he doesn’t freak out on me again.
I had a few other workstreams going on, including the review of fabric patterns for production round #2. I’ve been trying to get these color options since August. To help you better understand what I am dealing with on a daily basis, here’s an excerpt from an email I received when I asked the sales rep where the packages were. He forwarded me a conversation between the production manager and himself:
I sent the blanket on 9 February, I had Idy track it, and although I did write her new shipping address on the ship form, it was shipped to S. WELLER STREET. UPS caught that this was an older address and forwarded it to another address they had for Jones Market, somewhere in Seattle. Idy called UPS, and they are going to try to retrieve the package today (it was delivered yesterday) and then forwarded to the correct Kirkland, WA address.
The E2 version of the blanket that I sent on 16 February was intercepted en route to Washington and will be delivered Tuesday to Suzanne’s Kirkland address. I had Idy update ALL address information in both the UPS and FedEx system so this does not happen again.
And there you have it, ladies and gentlemen. One package was delivered to a random business, the other one is rerouted. Aren’t my vendors crazy?!
February 18, 2010
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Well, the headline actually sounds a little more promising than the reality of the situation. The bag manufacturer has shipped me only a small fraction of the bags– I had a drop-dead deadline for the photoshoot and I needed all of the colorways of the totebags and briefcases sent to me by end of week. Although I know this manufacturer came highly recommended by someone at Orvis, I can’t help to think this guy is running a small-time Ponzi scheme. Seriously, unless this guy is cutting and sewing each one by himself AND he happens to be blind and have a broken arm, these bags should have all been delivered months ago. I am hoping I can secure a backup manufacturer in case I have to cut this guy loose.
But I do have some good news: the photoshoot is still on track and we’ll be doing our first product photos next Tuesday in Capitol Hill. The guy was my first pick, and we booked him ages ago. Luckily he had a cancellation and wasn’t booked next week. The website is also making good progress so I think we can get everything web-related locked and loaded by the end of next week. I am hoping the final bag shipment can be sent by then.
Here are some other workstreams I am working on:
- Still trying to get the purse organizer parts ordered. The sales rep can’t find the exact size of parts I need so he is “calling around”– I really hope we can get this squared away by end of week. The parts should only cost $0.35 per foot, so it’s crazy that I am waiting this long for such an inexpensive part
- In daily contact with the sales rep for the recycled nylon, trying to get samples of the material that my manufacturer had requested. The new fabric he requested costs nearly 40% more than the original fabric, and the sales rep is telling me that since sample fabric isn’t available, I’d have to order 500 or more yards without even testing out the fabric first because they weave to order. That seems crazy to me. Just to have other options I have contacted another company in Taiwan that makes fabric from recycled bottles. I’m waiting to see if any of their materials could be suitable for bag lining
- The new fabric colors that I’ve requested from a mill in Pennsylvania since last August still hasn’t been sent to me. And now the sales rep is MIA.
- One of my laptop sleeve patterns and prototypes is finally finished, so I can get started on producing those soon, but this may have to wait till after launch
So far this week has had some pretty wild ups and downs, but surprisingly the angst and pain are not nearly as bad as my worst days at Microsoft. I am still glad I chose this new career path and can’t wait till I can start selling some bags!
Thanks for accompanying me on my crazy journey. It really means a lot to me that people are reading my blog. I can’t wait till the product line finally launches!
February 12, 2010
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My manufacturer sent an email early this morning that read: “Please call me at your earliest convenience.” I have decided that he doesn’t put things in writing anymore because he doesn’t want any incriminating evidence proving how he keeps overpromising and underdelivering over and over again. I called him back and he let me know that the bags would NOT be delivered as planned by end of day today, but they would go out Monday morning, and he would pay the difference in shipping costs so the bags still get to me by Friday. So at least he finally pays a penalty for dragging this production out yet again. This time he admitted that the additional delay was his fault: apparently some of the people cutting the tote bag pieces had sewn some of the pockets on backwards. Great. But he says he corrected the problem early on in the process and there are no other problems with production. It looks like the bags might actually get here soon, and I’ll be able to do the photoshoot as planned this time. Hooray!
I also received confirmation that the sample materials I sent the samplemaker can work for the purse organizer. This is good news because I will be able to place an order for these pieces on Tuesday, and if the materials are in-stock I can start the purse organizer production in the next 2 weeks.
I’ve also been chasing samples and color swatches for the exterior fabric of my next round of production. I also spoke with the bag manufacturer about changing the lining material to something that is easier for him to sew, and I’ve got a call into the sales rep who is checking on the costs and minimum quantities of the new fabric.
I’m pretty surprised things are smoothing out a bit and I feel in control of the process again. I feel great that everything is coming together and I’ll be able to launch this product line before I give birth! For a while I was pretty sure the baby would come first.
OK, it’s time to wind down now. Too bad I can’t have a glass of wine to celebrate a good week. I guess chocolate milk will suffice. Have a great weekend.
February 11, 2010
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So as of today (knock on wood– or in my case, knock on Ikea particle board desk)– things seem to be going smoothly. The bag production should be wrapped up tomorrow and sent via ground delivery. My sample maker for the purse organizer received the plastic sample parts and should let me know soon if I can order any of these materials and get the purse organizers produced this month. I’ll be reviewing the beta website on Monday, and hopefully all of the kinks will be fixed. For the first time ever, things are actually coming together nicely.
Now I need to get my head wrapped around launch. I have my photoshoot the week of 2/22, and once that is done the website should be able to go live soon thereafter. I’ve worked on Microsoft advertising campaigns where it took nearly 18 months to develop and launch ads and websites, and now I’ll be launching a new product in a totally different industry for the same duration of time. Crazy!
I’ll let you know tomorrow if the bags actually ship. I am hoping the manufacturer doesn’t let me down…again. I have my fingers and toes crossed!
February 4, 2010
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I’ve had a series of check-ins today, and it looks like things are still on-track for production.
1) My bags are being put into production this week, and should still be delivered on the 19th
2) My website is revised and I’ll have an in-person meeting with the developers to review it again next week
3) The sample plastic parts I need for the purse organizer are en-route to me from the east coast and I should be able to know soon if these materials can work for my purse organizer walls
Tomorrow I’ll be calling a bunch of courier services to see who can deliver five 75-lb. fabric rolls to Tukwila for the lowest price. I’d like to get those purse organizers manufactured as soon as the plastic parts are ready. It looks like a courier might be about the same cost as sending them FedEx Ground. These rolls are definitely too heavy for me to load into a car, not to mention that I drive a teeny tiny Mini. I don’t think these will fit in my husband’s Accord, either, and I’m not one to experiment with having oversized things dangling from the trunk or the hood of a car. If you know of a good courier service in the Seattle/Kirkland/Bellevue area, let me know!
Thanks for dropping by!
February 2, 2010
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Sure, at first getting a PO box might not seem like a big deal, but it turned out to be more of an ordeal than I thought it would be. First of all they need 2 forms of ID, one of which is a picture ID, the other is proof of residency. Well, I only just moved 3 weeks ago, and all of the utility bills were put in my husband’s name, which is a different last name from mine. We haven’t even received a utility bill yet. I thought the most straightforward thing to do to prove my residency would be to get a new license, so I decided to go to the DMV today.
I checked the wait times at the DMV closest to me, and throughout the day the wait times were over 1 hour and 30 minutes. I thought I would just go and tough it out by waiting in line. Getting through the DMV parking lot was like a real-life Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride– there were cars driving in the wrong lanes, cars blocking the entryway to the building, and there were compact cars that took up 2 spaces. It was awful. I checked around to make sure they weren’t all Asian drivers– praying that my Asian bretheren weren’t fueling the stereotype that Asians were terrible drivers. I was relieved to see that most of these driving violations were being committed my white folks. Whew.
The info booth person at the DMV told me that my wait for getting a new license would be 2 hours and 45 minutes, and I needed my old drivers license, another government issued photo ID like my passport, and one other document like a utility bill in my name that proved that I lived at my new place. Ugh. They needed the same info the post office needed to issue a PO Box! I decided to leave, and as I tried to pull out of my parking space, a testy, impatient driver who wanted to take my spot gave me only about 1 millimeter of room to back out. When I finally inched around his car, I saw in my rearview mirror that he was Asian. Damnit!
I re-read the PO box application again and saw that a current lease could serve as secondary proof that I lived at my address, so I thought I’d try to apply again with just my passport and my lease. When the post office worker reviewed my application, the first thing he asked for was my license. I explained to him that the address on the license was old and I was trying to get a new one, and he said he’d accept this ID and then asked for my passport. It turns out I didn’t need any proof of residency for my current place. What the #^#&*$?
Oh well, who cares. I am now the proud owner of PO Box 417 in Kirkland. My PO box has been acquired, and this will serve as my contact address on my website. Yahoo!!!
February 1, 2010
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With the help of my husband, I upgraded to Windows 7 yesterday. It’s nice to have a computer that doesn’t take 6 minutes to boot up. I’m still getting used to the new features, but so far so good.
This morning I spent time reloading software to my PC (Microsoft Office, Quickbooks, Google Talk, etc) and changing my settings. I was nervous that I had lost some data along the way, and was especially freaked out that I couldn’t find my old Quickbooks files. Luckily everything was backed up and it was all there, and all in-tact. God forbid that I have to re-enter all of those line %^$&! items again!
The rest of this week will be dedicated to chasing the plastics vendor, getting an updated laptop sleeve prototype, getting a PO box for my business, and of course checking in on my bag production and web development.
OK, time to play with my newly upgraded computer. Adios!