Behind the Scenes: See Mommy Work!
I feel very lucky to have wonderful customers and my business has grown exponentially through lots of hard work. I get questions and comments regarding my business a lot so here’s a look at my work and my thoughts about it all.
Q: How do you find the time to do it all?
A: I work around my kids’ schedules. That means nothing happens until after 9am when they are at school. Between 9-3 pm, I manage to clean the house, grocery shop, run errands, go to school for activities and conferences, take them to doctors’ appointments and fulfill my orders. Then the 3 pm -8 pm is filled with school pickups, homework, making dinner, pleading with them to eat their fruit and veggies, showers, and bedtime. I work again from 8pm until needed — and for the last week, it meant staying up til 2 am! I. love. my. work!
Q: How did you start your business?
A: I had a near-impossible time sourcing high quality metal purse frames for my clutches. They were shipped from overseas which took 2-3 weeks, and would come scratched, or they would open/close properly … a complete hassle! It was not a reliable way to do business as a serious and professional handbag maker. So I did 8+ months of research and contacted lots and lots of manufacturers. After many samples and false starts, my husband and I took the plunge and made an investment in becoming a wholesaler. I have my own manufacturer that I work with though I am looking to add another manufacturer to spread out the production as my business has grown. It’s a BIG investment. There’s a high barrier to entry. One just doesn’t start producing these things. You have to have engineering done, CAD drawings, specs done, samples done, source your raw materials, forecast inventory so you can have a productions schedule … it’s a lot of work. I am a WHOLESALER. I am not a retailer who buys from other wholesalers, mark up the price to make money and sell it at retail. You are buying my frames, made from my designs, using my own molds, with my own specifications on size, width, closures, raw materials, etc… And I don’t sell to resellers either. I sell directly to the end-user, the ladies (and some gents) who make their own clutches whether they are a professional (500+), a hobbyist (1-20) or anyone in between growing their business.
Q: How do you have such high quality metal purse frames?
A: I hand inspect everything myself, each single frame, before I fulfill a customer’s order. So, at nights when I’m watching LOST or The Office, I’ve got a box of frames to go through. Did you know that there are always defects in a batch of goods? U.S. manufacturers typically make 10% more of the order to accommodate the expected defects. So yes, even with laser-eyes to assist in quality control, nothing beats my pair of hands to open and close the closures to get the *click* that I’m looking for. Since I have a 100% refund guarantee, I do NOT want any returns due to defects. That costs me money. That costs my customers valuable time! So I have ZERO defects. ZERO. It’s more expensive to get a new customer than it is to keep one. So I do all that I can to get and keep all my customers, and the main way is to ensure that I have the best quality product.
Q: Will you carry more sizes/styles/finishes?
A: To start carrying a new size, style, or finish is an expensive up-front cost and time-consuming. It’s easy if I know the market is in need of it and there’s enough demand. But first I have to do a market analysis. Is there a need? What is the potential demand in terms of quantity? How much would customers pay for it? How much will it cost per unit for me to produce it? Since I have an established relationship with my manufacturer, I have reduced the time it takes to get the product to market but the process is still the same … CAD drawings, samples, raw materials resourcing (prices of metals fluctuate in the marketplace), quality control… I do have an advantage that I can start with a relatively smaller batch than most so if I have a couple of customers who want and will take 300-500 of a size, I can go ahead and make that new size knowing that the surplus will probably be sold to the general hobbyists market.
Q: What does your studio look like?
A: I have 2 offices. One is for the creative aspect and one is for production. I’m not going to show you the production room, since it is just filled with metal purse frames, tissue paper, tape, lots of boxes in many sizes, postage scale, etc…. The creative office is a mess right now, but I’ll show you a clean corner. I’m in the midst of re-organizing it but I’ve come to realize that I need the creative separate from the production. So in my creative office, I have lots of fabric, and inspirational things. I also have my beautiful fine jewelry business in there and a photography station to take jewelry photos. It’s all about creating in that office. Here’s a pic.
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