Soft Shell Production Begins

I thought I’d write this little note to give you a little behind the scenes about what goes into production of a product like the Soft Shell. As i explained in my “ Ever wonder why everything isn’t always in stock? ” post, a wallet seems pretty simple, but a lot of things need to happen in a certain order to have it all come together in the end. Even more goes into the Soft Shell… plus the coordination of running a Kickstarter project at the same time. Here are the few of the things I do to make things go smoothly...

In terms of creating a product, there is a phase between product design and production that needs to happen. To call it planning or logistics probably doesn’t do it justice so let’s call it something like production design. This is the step which I think a lot of Kickstarter projects get hung up on… possibly because it’s a step they didn’t even know they were missing. Essentially everything about making the product needs to be identified, sourced, priced, and ideally tested by producing a small batch using the same methods and people who will be making them. In other words, you start with a prototype of your design, then prototype your production process , and compare the output with the one you made.

A good example of this is the process used to cut the Soft Shell material. I cut each of my prototypes by hand with an X-acto. In production, they would need to be die cut. Instead of waiting for the Kickstarter to fund the expensive die, I went ahead and paid for it to reduce risk. In fact, the die I first got would not cut the nearly indestructible soft shell material well. There was a time during which I thought it may not be possible to produce the Soft Shell at all! After experimentation with different ties and incorporating tips and tricks from the material manufacturer, we dialed everything in and they now can be cut very smoothly.

Once production design is worked out, then actual production is more of a matter of timing, logistics, and taking care of anything unexpected that comes up. BUT, if you make changes to the design after you have designed the production… you probably will need to redesign part of the production too. I can provide some more behind the scenes about the process another time, but that’s what happened as a result of switching to the flat logo for the Soft Shell.

In the case of the Soft Shell Kickstarter project , in order to keep the same production end dates despite a large number of backers, I needed to kick-off the production sooner. The limiting factor was the material so I ordered that first. Then I ordered the various other components that go into it (including a lot of custom injection-molded rubber labels! Haha.) Since package printing is done locally, that could wait until last and I just finished that up a couple of days ago.

So as this campaign comes to an end, hopefully we’re set to smoothly transition into production and get wallets sent out to everyone on time...


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