From Ideal to Real - Part 11: Finding a Factory
Happy New Year, everyone! My dream for 2018 is to successfully LAUNCH Litty Bird!!
Here is the latest...
I knew finding a Factory would not be easy, but I'm still surprised at just how hard it has been.
I joined Maker's Row a few months ago in anticipation of being patent pending, so I could share my prototypes with factories (which I had to wait on until the patent was filed). Maker's Row also offers some great tutorials and e-courses to learn the business of manufacturing so a newbie like myself isn't starting totally from scratch.
The first issue I've run into: Total lack of communication and follow through. I have calls scheduled with these factories and they blow me off. We reschedule, they blow me off again. I finally get them on the phone and they are so obviously rushed that they don't have time to answer my questions and then send me a follow-up email that says "we know you will love being our client!" Will I? Because your first impression is a big red flag.
My day job is in Client Services, and while I'm sure my team and I have made some mistakes with follow-up and communication, this complete lack of communication abilities is pervasive from what I've seen (FIVE factories have blown off calls this week!). I'm sure it's because I'm "small fry" to these places right now, but the simple answer is: Don't set up the call in the first place. Don't waste both of our time. It's really not that hard.
Then the factories I DO get good communication with tell me that they are not equipped to produce my bags since there are bells and whistles that are different from a standard tote bag (yeah there are!) and that I probably won't be able to produce these in the USA for any reasonable price.
So far, quotes for producing the tote are ~$50 per bag, not including materials, warehousing, shipping, my hard work, my development costs, etc. That's a tough pill to swallow, especially when creating these overseas could be as little as $15 INCLUDING materials!
I would love to have these be American made, especially because I am so passionate about local small business. And I would love to be able to be close to the production so I can see it all the way through. I have heard horror stories about manufacturing overseas with everything from lost samples to poor quality to shipping costs out the wazoo to the factories taking the design and making it first for themselves to sell on Amazon for half the price before they even get your bags into your hands. (The latter being my biggest fear... even though I'm patent pending, apparently many countries are not so good with adherence and if they do steal it, I would need to press charges in that country... a not so easy and very expensive task... which they know).
So I'm going to try to turn over every stone to find a local factory, but it's all going to come down to one key question that I would love for you to weigh in on...
How much would you pay for a Litty Bird tote? For the laptop sleeve? For the wide wing strap?
I would greatly appreciate your input!