The last two months have been rather hectic on our side and an emotional rollercoaster! After being incubated by the Strascheg Centre for Entrepreneurship in Munich and nominated for great teamwork by the leading German magazine for working women ‘Emotion’ life seemed bright on our side! But then things took a sharp turn…
The Strascheg Centre for Entrepreneurship had pushed us to show fast results. Feeling the time pressure we decided to hand over our business bag drawings to a professional leather craftsman to produce a first prototype. Unfortunately he produced something completely different from what we asked for!! The pictures below show the drawings versus the real prototype. The dimensions were wrong, the functionalities were wrong, nothing was quite like we had ordered it!
Ilaria had worked with professional manufacturers before and we had been warned by the startup Mime et Moi that a collaboration with a leather manufacturer would be difficult. While we were prepared to face challenges we did not expect that a handed-in design could be so drastically disfigured to a point that we could not recognise this bag as ours anymore. When we first saw it we did not know if we should start crying or laughing. We decided for the latter.
This was a big learning for us and we promised ourselves that we would not make this mistake again. From now on we produce all the prototypes ourselves, we look for the supplier with whom we’d klick, and only hand over a tested product for mass production to a craftsperson. This means we are back to the very beginning: drawing, measuring, cutting, sewing (yes we bought a sewing machine! :-)). Or in the words of Samuel Beckett: “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail better.”
So here are some lessons learned we would like to share with you:
- Try to generate your prototype yourself: This will help you realise what is doable and what isn’t. We wanted some design features that turned out impossible to produce (and this slipped through 3 engineers)
- If you work with a supplier make sure you are on the spot with him during this process: Every time the supplier had an issue we tried to answer the questions by Skype or phone. What made things even worst, the supplier was inpatient and incorporative making the communication almost impossible
- Draft a contract that states precise deliverables: Before you go for the design, as the supplier how he will be producing the bag. Follow each step and note it precisely down into a contract. Make sure that you get what you want and pay the supplier only if he really delivers what she/he has signed up for.
On the evening Ilaria arrived to Munich with the bag, we looked through each detail in it and decided to move on, stay positive and work on our next prototype. That night we popped a bottle of champagne and drank to our first real challenge in our journey. It was a beautiful evening and we were glad to have learned to enjoy our fails. After all, it’s not only the good moments, but also the tough ones that make a great team.
We promise to keep you updated the moment we have a new business bag prototype! In the meantime: we are looking for a creative/ fashion designer to give us feedback and work with us on the bag design. If you know someone please let us know!!
Kisses, Nina & Ila