From an Idea to a Product
I get asked a lot how I design a product, so I thought I'd give you a little behind the scenes into our new holster, Jefferson, to show how it is done...
For Jefferson, I was originally trying to make a sexy, yet dainty holster, with pockets big enough for little more than a phone. I have a dress I love from AD 2013, with a leather piece around the back of the neck, that I wanted to extend down the length of the spine. I’ve also been obsessed with suspenders for a while now, and wanted to keep that look in the front, with the pockets hanging at the sides. So, I started with different variations of the “I” shape in the back and played around with tons of possible pockets. Sometimes, when I’m lucky, I know exactly what I want to make, and the process goes quick. And then there are other times, like this one, where I need to make physical samples to understand what I am trying to create. I sent the initial designs to Indonesia and received samples a month or two later with an inventory shipment. Days later, those samples were lying around my table in disassembled pieces. I tried to salvage my tiny pocket dream, but realized the pockets were too small for the heavy framework of that “I” shaped holster in two layers of leather. At this point I’m working with pieces of physical samples and drawing on pictures of them, to get to my ultimate next draft.
I dissected what I loved and what I hated, and worked from there. I was trying to find the perfect pocket shape, and kept thinking about those old school kidney shaped water containers, little research later and I found… the bota bag. I adjusted the shape to contour better to the body, and sewed a fabric sample to get the feel of it. To do it justice, that escalated the pocket size from tiny to massive, and gave the overall piece the feel of a vest. Next comes drawing it out in tech pack form, and handing it off to the technical designer, Liz at Niche Designs, so she can make a formal version of that, which will be clear and concise for the factory. The digital tech pack contains all measurements, specifies interior pockets, and calls out what kind of hardware should be used and it’s sizes.
The new sample arrived with a shipment of Wild June inventory, and looked amazing! I normally test all new products out by wearing them everyday for a month before I do a production of them. It didn’t really feel like something I’d wear myself everyday though, because of the sheer size. So, I handed it off to a friend to put some wear into it for a month. This was his smiling face halfway through the testing period. We saw each other at a festival, and he happily reported he could fit two beers on each side. Hah! These are things I never would have known without an outsider’s opinion. He also told me the metal zippers were hurting his hands at the moment, and that he was getting lost in the sheer size of the biggest pocket, so an interior pocket was added there. These are easy changes to communicate to a factory. Overall, it received the seal of approval at this point though.
Inventory is expensive! So, I normally get a test sample of pieces at this point, in a variety of colors, to see what a mass market thinks of the design, how quickly they sell, and to make sure people are comfortable with the price I’m selling them at. There’s nothing sadder then getting this far in the process and realizing no one wants to spend that much, or that no one but your friend likes it. It’s also helpful for me to see WHO buys the new product. For this style, it was predominantly more masculine customers that were interested. This helps in figuring out what colors to produce a piece in, in the future. The first batch of these flew off their hangers outside of Burning Man, with the exception of the gold one. For a more feminine product though, gold can be pretty popular.
So I moved up to Humboldt County (Northern California) and so far my hunt for local photographers has only produced wedding photographers at wedding prices! Yikes! If you know a photographer in Humboldt that you think I might like working with, let me know! firstname.lastname@example.org