Thursday, October 13, 2011

Gearing Up!

Well, we are under two weeks away from launching our online store (at - opening day is set for October 25th, 2011! This is an unbelievably exciting time, although also an extremely busy period as well! This isn't helped by the fact that I have a major teaching commitment this fall and by the weekend just before the launch I will have some 50 exams to mark as well as getting the store up and running!

We will have two garment lines on sale at the store within about a month of the opening. We are focussing on the g-zip line to begin with. We have to learn how to track the inventory, ship the products, manage the returns and so forth, and I want us to focus on one product line to begin with before introducing the second line. Fortunately, I have my assistant to help me get this organized, otherwise I would be going absolutely nuts right now! The patterns took an age and an age to finalize - each time a change (or a set of changes) was made, we needed to make a new set of garments to check the pattern, and this is complicated by the fact that there are five sizes to check as well. So the "update pattern-print&deliver pattern-make up a new set of samples-validate the samples&determine new changes" cycle typically takes about two weeks each time, which quickly spreads out into months of work!

However, we overcame all our technical problems and are very, very happy with the final product. For a long time I was worried about being copied, but although a "cheap copy" may be possible, the engineering that went into the final product was formidable. Even knowing how it can be done (now we've solved the challenges) doesn't mean it's going to be easy to "knock off", so I'm somewhat less worried than I used to be.

Today our packaging paper and labels arrived - again, really cool stuff! I'm thrilled by the quality of what our business partners have created for us.

Our second garment line is called "g-cielo" - it is our hat line, but the hat is being transformed in a number of new and surprising ways, so the result will be "garments for the upper body", hence the use of the Italian word for "sky"! Originally we saw this as a simple accessory, but with the extensions we have begun to make, it has become a garment line in its own right, hence the change in marketing strategy.

The initial offering is all ready to go, but as indicated above, we are waiting until the g-zip delivery system is fully set up and tested before launching the g-cielo line (we are still waiting for the new set of labels to come - every distinct garment line has its own label, and the fabric composition of the g-cielo line is different from what we had for the g-zip line, so the fibre composition label required by law has to be updated as well.

One of the challenges has been setting up manufacturing alternatives so that we can handle demand, whether this turns out to be low, modest or high. We are expecting a low to modest number of orders based on our knowledge of who is interested, but surprises in this regard are always a possibility. So we have set up a manufacturing arrangement that would allow us to accommodate a much larger order than we are expecting, just in case!

There's still a lot of work to be done before the 25th. The photoshoot for the catalog is on the weekend, the website is being delivered Sunday, and the catalog photos have to be integrated with the website over the course of next week. We have also prepared a press release that must be sent out to hundreds of addresses, and the manufacturing has to move forward. All of these tasks are demanding and challenging, so it's going to be a busy time. And I also have to prepare next week's exam for my students!