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
In an attempt of understanding better Ilaria’s explanations and the technical challenges our suppliers are facing I decided that it is about time to take my first sewing class ever!
The moment I arrived this big machine seemed way too complicated for me to ever understand. But under patient supervision and endless trials to pass the thread through the needle I was ready to sew! And honestly, it was so easy and enjoyable!!
Our workshop consisted of sewing a pillow and later a small cosmetics bag. Here you can see me extremely proud of my first sewing results. And I started humming to the melodie ”one day, baby, one day, I can sew the entire business bag for ya” 😉
Unfortunately we have read several headlines like this one over the past year. Especially shocking was the case of Nicola Thorp who was told to leave on her first day at City accountancy firm after refusing to wear shoes with a 2-4in heel.
We firmly believe that you can look both elegant and professional wether you decide to wear flat shoes or high heels. And as long as you feel comfortable wearing them. It’s time to bring a fresh air to the corporate offices. 🙂
Link to the full article on the Guardian : http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2016/may/11/receptionist-sent-home-pwc-not-wearing-high-heels-pwc-nicola-thorp
Beaming with happiness and pride we felt like dancing around our apartments and jumping into the air when Annegret called us in November to announce us that we are now part of the Accelerator of the Strascheg Center for Entrepreneurship in Munich.
It all started with a small undefined idea I had during my holidays when I asked my husband if he thinks that I am crazy and he told me to go full in (note to myself: he truly is the most amazing husband J). After spending endless days and nights together with Ilaria defining an elegant fashion line for working women, spending the week before my wedding working on a first prototype and the week after my wedding preparing for the admission presentation with little sleep and endless discussions it felt like our work finally paid off.
After the presentation we were nervous and decided to focus on other topics while waiting for the result. But then Annegret called. And we just couldn’t believe it. Other people, people we don’t even know, actually believe in our idea and us! We reached a HUGE milestone!
Now we are extremely motivated and created an ambitious timeline to bring out the first prototype as soon as possible. Nonetheless it is our biggest drive to bring out a product that both Ilaria and I will carry with pride. We promise that we will settle with nothing less!
Stay tuned and subscribe to follow our adventure J
Sunday 1st of May
(it’s supposed to be the day to celebrate workers… so let’s hope it’ll give us a good luck)
I received a text from Bali, more precisely from a girl that I met several times during 2015 and always during special events. She is naturally gifted by an entrepreneurial spirit, a clever and beautiful German lady, girlfriend and now wife of one of my MBA’s classmates.
She was just figuring out that women travelling or commuting for business have very hard time to get functional and at the same time elegant accessories for their business meetings, such as bags and folders.
She was looking for a new bag and she was struggling in her fashion research.
I received her text “maybe I’m crazy but I would love to discuss with you about a business project”. I was actually in a period of my life where I was working with some startups but nothing that was really appealing to me and knowing her a bit I was excited and curious at the same time and I couldn’t wait to hear more and make our first project alive…
That’s the begin of our small adventure that turned out much bigger already than expected !