I received an email from the manufacturer today! They are ready to make my prototype!
I cannot WAIT to see my vision become a reality.
“Next week” turned into another week of no news, with my attempts at checking in going unanswered.
My project is moving slower than a turtle. The only progress I have made is on the woven logo labels, which I just received. They are wonderful. Now I have all of the parts to my creation assembled except for the actual product!
Relief washed over me as I read the email in front of me. Also a feeling of gratitude that I had handled the manufacturer’s bad news with grace and had not let it make me cranky.
The email that had sent me on the search for a new manufacturer had been meant for someone else. Somehow I had gotten the email explaining that the company that I intended to use was an apparel manufacturer and that they did not work on my type of project, but they could refer me to someone who could potentially do it. It also contained some useful information on just how they figured out their price quotes for the work, so it gave me an inside view into what I could expect. My contact at the manufacturer apologized for the confusion and assured me that they would work on my project next week.
My mood improved dramatically. I’m so glad I didn’t send a snarky email!
I received distressing news from the manufacturer today. They cannot do my project.
I am crushed.
I have now wasted a month going back and forth with this manufacturer, all for nothing.
Back to the drawing board I go…
After a suitable amount of time had passed, I checked in with the manufacturer and he confirmed that he had received my pattern. He also made the comment “A little trickier than we thought” and said that he should have a quote for me next week. I wasn’t sure what this meant, but I knew it didn’t sound so good.
After over a week of waiting, I decided to send him an email thanking him for the care label referral in the hopes that it might prod him to update me on any progress or give me a quote for how much this project was going to cost. Another day passed with no word.
Finally, I received an email. But, it wasn’t what I wanted to hear….
With a detailed pattern created (complete with measurements) and a check written to the manufacturer, I sent them both off in the mail. I was beginning to realize that this process was going to take much longer than I had anticipated. Of course, I had no way to know how long this process could really take.
Once again I had to wait.
I found a company online that makes woven logo labels and went to work on that. It was a pretty easy process – you simply upload your image and the company creates your labels. So far, this was the most expensive part of my product. But I think it is worth it to have my very own logo label. I completed my order and sat back and waited….
Finally, I received an email from my new manufacturer! He ran through some details that I would need to know and said that he would need a final hard pattern from me before we could begin making my sample. I responded with many questions, of which he was very kind to answer. There was a bit of a language barrier, but we were making progress!
One of the things he helped with was referring me to the person they use to make labels. In addition to my care label, I had designed a logo for my product and I wanted to create a woven label to be sewn onto my product. After a bit of back-and-forth, I was able to get in contact with the label maker. But I was disappointed to learn that they do not do woven logo labels, only care labels. I proceeded with an order of care labels at a very good price. I was getting closer!
With a big snowstorm delaying the delivery of my handmade prototype to the manufacturer, I continually checked my email for word from them. Days went by. Nothing.
I decided to check in with the manufacturer, and sent him a brief email. In the meantime, I contacted the Small Business Administration’s Consumer Product Safety Commission. Since I was manufacturing a children’s product, there are certain safety standards that must be met and potential testing that my product must go through. I needed to know exactly what information was necessary to include on my care and tracking tag – so the customer will not only know how to care for my product but also how to track down possible recall information.
I have to say, the SBA was extremely helpful! I was blown away. Not only did they answer my questions in a timely manner, but they went above and beyond by filling out some information that I would need for my Children’s Product Certificate and told me all of the information I would need on my care and tracking labels. From that point I was able to create a label that would be sewn into the stitching of my product.
Once the manufacturer had received my prototype they contacted me to let me know that the fabric that I intended to use was not a “pre-activated” fabric. That meant that the product would need to be washed several times prior to use to ensure ultimate absorbency. As a busy mom, I know that I wouldn’t want to spend my time washing an item several times before I could use it. I would wash it once prior to use, but not several times. Thankfully the company suggested a new fabric to use, and I chose one that I thought would be plush and soft on a baby’s skin, while also being super absorbent. The representative at the fabric company sent an email introduction to his sewing contractor. He explained that he would be sending my handmade prototype along with my chosen fabric to the company that would (with some luck) manufacture my product.
It was only during a phone call to one of my mentors that I realized I could contact the company that manufactures the fabric I intended to use for my product to see if they could help me manufacture my prototype. A quick search of their website revealed what I needed – information on how to contact them about developing a new product. Having very low expectations and not really expecting to hear back, I sent a request for a quote. To my surprise they responded to me almost immediately! I was thrilled.
They asked me to send them my handmade prototype and said that they would work with me from there. I was a little nervous about sending off my very first prototype – my BABY – but I decided to go ahead with it. Non-disclosure forms signed and filed, handmade prototype packaged and ready to go, I shipped my baby off into the unknown…
Want to see how it turned out?