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Diversifying Your Product Line

Lesson 21 of 32

Raw Materials


Diversifying Your Product Line

Lesson 21 of 32

Raw Materials


Lesson Info

Raw Materials

Let's move on understand the product production process okay, every day we make stuff okay? Whether it's a milkshake or a cup of coffee we start with the ingredients and the tools we worked through a series of steps until we have a finished item. Okay that's the same if we're doing it it's the same as if a huge manufacturer in asia is doing is exactly the same process. Is this a process? It's a section a process? You have the same tools and here we have a kind of a comparison. Okay, if you're working at home essentially designing a product, buying the raw materials you making a prototype sample sometimes and we're going to talk a little bit about that make adjustments to it if you if needed, make another sample produced to sell at a very high level. This is what we're talking about when we make a product that the manufacturer we're talking about. If we're scaling up and we're within the u s we're handing over because we're too busy they receive an order they receive or a new order for ...

the fabric or they can order the materials to make a prototype, send it for review, make another one and they proceed with the order exactly the same process give or take you moving away from your own hands and you're giving it over to someone else with with instructions to do one of these things that ah really focus on we talked a little bit about it in session one was testing with a protest time it's now I know it's not I come my background and my where I come from, we always used to work with prototypes because you're working potentially with a new pattern with a new idea with a new visual it's really risky to go into production unless you've seen you've taken that idea from your head physically made it in appropriate materials and you're taking into production it's it's a big leap of faith what was the phrase I was using yesterday? Um from head to hand aziz a red bridge yeah, so from from head toe hand is such a great name with scorpio and everything is right I totally have to get going to remember this I'm gonna google in later so from head toe hands is going straight to production is extremely risky you have to be really confident about your process. Making a prototype is ah it's a safer way to do it it can cost money it will obviously cost money, but the money that you will save by making a prototype and physically seeing what it looks like is a lot better than making whole production run and deciding you don't like it it's a simple is that so when you weighing up the pros and cons when I'm kind of going into my scarf business, I've never dyed silk before I've never if I set up a screen print I've never screen printed still before it is going to be a huge challenge for may for sure one hundred percent I'm going to make a protest time I'm even gonna prototype how I handle the edges and how I stitch it to see actually, if it looks good enough to sell, they went straight into a process without on my customers robberies were receiving something kind of mediocre I would be gutted I just wouldn't want to sell it. So for me a prototype is is such an important feature. S o I have a couple of a few rhetorical questions here I don't make prototypes on their waste of time and money. So there's a kind of an interesting question for the chat room who makes proto types everyone does excellent number yeah, I mean, I do small run yes, yeah, you know, if I have an idea and just not sure yeah, so essentially the same idea that, you know, you can kind of adjust the colors or, you know, the rain, the the final centering thinks that's the greatest thing about being able to be my own quote unquote manufacturer, you know is that I can I have an idea that I'm unsure of and kind of just throw it out there I don't really do super super super small runs yeah and just see how it takes off yeah and then go from there I'm thrilled to the everyone beyond beyond belief I'm thrilled that everyone kind of makes prototypes because it's just it's such a useful exercise it sounds really obviously a lot of people who go straight into kind of like small production runs and just sell it and then they're not happy with it but it's too late because they've already committed to the project um another question if I have to how many prototypes should I make so again it's about how good is the prototype does it need adjusting? Is it okay? We talked about this in session one about using prototypes for pr marketing as well it's a good way of doing it so maybe may one prototype in just available materials just to see physically how it works um and then if you are able to make it make another prototype which is then used for pr and marketing purposes but also used to kind of validate your production later on a using as like a sometimes called a ceiling sample or you know finished sample um so so how many prototypes the how long is a piece of string? It depends on on where you're going with it you know how accurate you needed to be before you go into production should they be in the correct color and material um I would say if you want to use it for pr and marketing absolutely as close as you can I can't and maybe you could do something with photo shop or something to kind of slightly enhance or kind of tweak the color that's also a possibility but it's ah getting a correct color material I um it's not always possible I have on earth time a very funny story and I'm just looking at the time so I worked and it's really funny I'm building this up now he's going for a really flat I know I feel the pressure on them so I worked for this I'm going to say the brand I work for clothing companies about fifteen years so go it's a men's wear designer wanted to make um a suit like like a pair of like a gene style like five pocket style pair of trousers and a shirt in just like a sweat material like a sweatshirt material and so we did the technical pack has sent all the information off way had it made we've got the prototypes back and here's an is a great example of not specifying exact color need because it came back in a bright yellow police guy looked like a banana and he just he had a hissy fit and he walked off he was done and I was kind of left going try not to last worry. We'll solve this it's fine if it's really good you know I don't like booze anyway, so I thought it was funny I think it's fallen flat so we're going to move on if you imagine kind of like a six foot guy wearing a yellow sweat shirt. It's banana is the first thing that comes to mind. All right, use your prototypes for marketing purposes as long as it's not in yellow or caring if that would be my tip on that one, um, center the tip the more you know about your process, the more efficient you're gonna be. Okay, the more efficient you are, the better your cost and the more scaleable your product. So we're going back, tio knowing understanding your process, being very exact with what you need. Um, focusing on the proto types really, really being efficient with your whole process that's going to help select the manufacturer is going to help you select your raw materials. It's going to help me feel confident about the product that you're actually producing owning your process. Okay, so owning owning the process is is so important you guys all use you're making yourself so you know exactly how things are being made it would be good there's a few of you kind of looking to go to that next stage of outsourcing and that's, a big old leap of faith because you're having to put your ideas into someone else's hands and making sure that they understand every single element we're going to touch on that in a segment a little bit later on about how into compared to put down at a document all your information and pass it on anything from the chat room on manufacturing or prototype. Yeah, we have a lot of people who prototype sassy seamstresses. They always make a prototype because they often have ideas, but I have to figure out how to make them work, and prototyping really helps. Kathy holden says that she makes stencil prototypes on my silhouette cameo before placing an order for laser stencils and paintings by jay gilmore says, I enjoy making a prototype for painting styles. It can always be sold later, so I don't see it as a waste that's, something that they end up selling, and we also did have red scorpio saying that they were doing some prototypes as well and just wanted to give you a heads up, she said. The red scorpio dot com ok, nice, I'm sure if I want to read school, people may come up with kind of a whole bunch of things now bundle um, so it is kind of going about owning, owning your process, how for the for the crew in the audience who were kind of at that stage where they're looking to kind of hand things over to another supplier. How how you feeling about you feeling confident, ashleigh, about any ideas about how that's going to manifest? I've been thinking a lot about it, actually, and I think that for me, the process of the actual production of the bag seems so intricate to me, and I know it's like these little quirky things that I d'oh and I'm just imagining how to, you know, pass that information along, right? You know, it's, I'm willing to release control of it, you know, I just in a little bit skeptical writes that somebody's going tio or I would hope that somebody would yeah, learn those little tricks that I do to you to make them to make the final product. Heywood, I want do you have, uh, you started kind of sourcing for manufacturers or looking for manufacturers are yet and how did you, um they warm your raw material supplier right now? How did you find them? I just go around to shops, right find what I need like I'm very much at the beginning of of because right now my raw material costs are, I think, way too high, we're and that's, probably because I'm just but somebody on the chat room mentioned that I find it actually cheaper to buy locally a lot of my stuff so that I don't have to pay for shipping, right, you know? And so I'll go on, like, clear out the fabric store of their seven zippers right once a week, you know, like stamen and I'll go in and if somebody has taken those seven person like, wait outside and it's kind of like a bag full of so again, I think I could this is why I wantto learn right a more efficient way, yeah, for myself for the production process, right? Okay, catherine, you you're making everything yourself right now, are you at the stage where you're looking to kind of scale up a little bit? Yes, I need to scale up and there are some things I could definitely delegate to someone like a taskrabbit maybe that wouldn't affect the creativity I'm not wearing drop airing today, but if I worried have the same acrylic peace and have a hole in the top instead of having flat thing instead of having post glued on it and I just need someone to attach the air wire with a couple of jump rings, right? But so far I have worked with a couple of people and they either put the silver jump wires in the silver jump brings on them george with the gold accents and that doesn't work or they don't close the jump rings and everything falls apart right? Yes so it's making sure that they understand the kind of the real specifics and the intricacies of the whole the whole process on but you know, we were talking a little bit earlier about your definite you're definitely that stage and you're looking for you know, possibly more help in scaling up yeah, I think I am in an interesting position because of most of us who are let her rest printers start off as printers themselves you know, I always say that I'm a designer first in a printer second right that's so giving away the printing part on is obviously a lot easier than giving away the design because it design really is who I am and what the brand is but I have the equipment like I have the vintage printing presses I have the warehouse right so now it's finding someone to come in and print for me there in the warehouse, right? Which then means training than because it's very rare to find somebody who knows how to run a vintage printing press. Yeah, so that does definitely a challenge, isn't it? Yeah, you already kind of get because that's a craft processes yeah really kind of a set of tools in a craft that you need to kind of literally hand over an almost hand on hold for seven degree of time and I also wonder the cost analysis to is is it cheaper too? You know, is it more cost effective margin wise to have someone come in and do the printing and then take on the responsibility of having an employee and all that goes along with that yeah or is it more cost efficient to outsource right? But then you're not there for press checks and you don't mean it all these definite stray off yeah it's definitely a tradeoff yeah, that are really tough tio you have your brain around? Yeah it's ah, yeah that's a huge content of a huge conversation and just like understanding your priorities and what you want for your brand and where you're what is the story of the brand where you want to base that is it purely locally made locally sourced are you able toe toe offshore it's um it's never a simple yes and no right unfortunately on that darn it yeah, sorry, I know it's like I don't think I'm in session one I did I promise that I be able to help you sleep better I'm pretty sure yeah, I think I did didn't I haven't written down somewhere here so I think it was the first thing and now it now you need like a yes, no answer for production process we'll work on in session to work on that promise, so second question what's the current making process? Does it work for you and other things you would change? Okay, so anything from the chat room? First of all, because we opened up the hotlines didn't weigh on the whole kind of like us versus and offshore. Anything on that line? Yeah, well, we have some people who are sharing more of their process paintings by k gilmore says I'm making a list of less skilled but necessary task right now, I can't pay someone else to do them, but maybe someday, but for now, I do them when I'm tired and I save intricate task for when I'm most alert they're trying to come up with some more efficient ways to get things going and outsourcing some of the admin stuff, but not outsourcing the actual creativity and that the making in the hands on. Yeah, that's great, we definitely talk about that in session one is room breaking down what's valuable what's what's the essential for you to focus on versus what can be outsourced the monday, which doesn't need your full attention or can't take your full attention that's great, yeah, anything else on on ah offshoring or domestic or and I think that debate has cooled off a little bit I think everybody has a solution that works for them but no way we heard from people who said yes it was cheaper to get it locally we get from people who said it was cheaper to get it overseas and it depends on your product. It depends on how your businesses is put together so I guess really no one answer that it's just an ongoing debate constantly. And how about the ladies in the studio what's your things that you would like to change in your production process what's kind of not currently working actually, you like nodding your head and looking very serious there I would like it to take me less time to make one bag and I said I can't get it down like a man it managed to cut off like five minutes, right? I used to so quite a bit and I noticed that when I worked on like things in bulk do you do that that's what I did tell her that e do like stage one seven bag yeah, stage two um but it's really just it takes a lot of times take some how you can you can you divulge this information how how long's it take you to make one back it takes me between fifty and fifty five minutes okay to make one bag ok and that's not even that's actually once the fabric is cut right so the cutting and that process takes longer so it will be probably over an hour per bag okay and is that does that differ? If it's a small bag of this is a large backhoe they're about the same right? Because the process is almost exactly the same it's yeah it's slightly more fabric right? Cutting to cut out the fabric that's an option? Yeah, having the fabric pre cut yeah, yeah, but again it's like and I actually really enjoy the process and I think the final product shows sort of the uniqueness right of it. Yeah, so it's kind of ah it's like oh, you don't want to like make them too fast and then have them be yeah, not as good as I want them to be yeah that's again it's tough cool yeah anything from the chat room about current process is not working things they want to change well, we have another example from case the letter who says initially I was going to sew everything that I was creating so much as I love sewing I eventually decided that was not a good option it just takes too much time and so that's another example there that yes, people want to be in control of this they want to be doing the hands on the creative but right times. Other things get in the way, and you can't do it all. Yeah, yeah. Interesting. Catherine. Anything to share on on the process that you work with right now? There's a lot. I know I'm doing right with the processes, but one thing that keeps kicking me and so I don't have the studio where I know. Okay, this is where I put the special glue for making the christmas ornaments and it's out of season. I forget where I put it last year. It was very moving my stuff between this storage and that's original techshop on my friend's house in my apartment. Yeah. So that's yeah. That's something you definitely would like to change to kind of bring everyone together to make it more manageable, right? It's ah, yeah, for sure. It's a challenge here, another one from paintings by katie gilmore talking about how to use some technology to help out with this sort of thing. So she says some parts of the admin where can be automated with programs if you lack a budget for paying someone, whether it's hourly or whatever the agreement is, she says my book, my bookkeeping program, has saved many hours with automated entries, so sometimes if you can't afford to hire that person, maybe you can figure out ah software based solution that could make things easier for you without spending a ton of money. That's a great idea that there are a lot of great tools around which if you kind of work out the cost you used, it takes I mean there's very few people in the creative industry who enjoyed doing bookmaking on dh kind of keeping the books and the accounts is extremely necessary part of the business but your time is best spent on the creative side so that's a definite the great tip that's a great tip we are human it's early for our skype with shannon we have ah skype yes coming up so we have a few minutes before that happened, so I mean right now I'd love to get some some other examples from you guys. Have you found any software that's helped make you more efficient with some of these processes that you just don't have time to do or you can't afford to outsource anybody have any tips that have worked for them? Sure, we can name names on fresh books like the greatest thing that anyone's ever introduced me to and I absolutely love it like an invoice from it I can use the platform that platform that's probably the wrong word the processing system I used to my website tio process payments of people purchasing directly through that website that seem a company can work with my fresh books so it's only one thing. They also use people as well so you can invoice out of it. I can estimate out of it. And then I can link into my bank account so that all of my expenses come through and then categorize. So the end sucks crying. I literally press report for profit and loss or expenses. Well, and I'm done, zo, because that's, really not looking life in general, seriously is amazing. And it's it's, a friend of mine, like, was, like, you know, do fresh books. Of course, I was, like one of time for fresh book on. Then I did it, and it was like the most amazing thing any tracks inventory. Tio, if you set it up certain ways like you could do reverse inventory, it's it's a way to see what your by sellers are, um, so that's been a huge, huge thing for me. Because when you're talking about your current process and what's working and things that you would like to change for me of the letter, press printer, all of my, um, expenses are in the setup, right? So whether I print a thousand or print one, I have the same sort of process, so for me, struggling with what is the right number of prints to make? Like the sweet spot is a constant like I'm constantly trying to find that one right and figure out, oh, this one's going to be a good seller. Social print. More. Yeah, because it's a waste of time to reprint absolutely no eso fresh books helps with that, too. Okay, can can track that cool that's. Great.

Class Description

Once you’ve established your business with a single, successful product, imagining what else to sell can be daunting. You don’t want to end up with a disjointed collection of products, but you do want it to be fresh and exciting for existing customers. In Diversifying Your Product Line, you’ll learn the art and science of expanding your offerings and growing your business.

Susie Breuer is the author of Blue is the New Black: The 10 Step Guide to Developing and Producing a Fashion Collection and in this class she’ll help you generate ideas and make smart decisions about expanding your apparel and/or accessories business. You’ll learn how to:

  • Research the market to understand both price and your customers.
  • Build a concept and action plan for starting out
  • Manage multiple product lines
  • Source raw materials and manufacturers

You’ll learn how to accurately assess a product's viability before you waste time and money developing it. Susie will also teach you how to develop a consistent, logical pricing strategy you can use again and again.

Susie makes the complex process of developing a financially solvent product and production plan easy. You’ll get expert-level insights into all aspects of developing a new product and walk away confident that you know everything you need to know to expand your business.



Thank you for an excellent class on a key pivot point no matter what industry you are in. One stellar quality of this course is how collaborative, friend focused peer culture and (rather than hostile competition or dysfunction competition environment and psychological atmosphere). The structure suggestions enable creativity and acknowledges different mindsets required in different phases. Susie honors the joy that comes from making and creating. She celebrates the interdependence between all stakeholders and the fun and flow as well as learnings and choices from being a 'business'. She is pragmatic but high on the inclusiveness of fun and satisfaction. She is interested and interesting: safe, enjoys being a customer as much as teacher and expressions of creative generation for herself. You can be caught up in the delight of her view of the world if you have become jaded or burnout. This brings perspective and empowerment to your desire and goals.


Susie has this most amazing experience in business - she is fashion royalty - but has an amazing ability to put all her knowledge across in a way that you can learn so easily. I was so pleased that she could show you how to learn from her experience and it would make sense for your business. Pretty much whatever you are doing. I came away from these sessions with so many ideas. But of course ideas are cheap. She has made me understand how once you have an idea, how to make it real. So many great learnings about avoiding pitfalls, practical check lists and honest to goodness 'know how'. I am already putting her advice into practice and can see I am going to transform my business just because of these classes. I am going to come back to those videos again and again. Thank you so much for making this great resource available.


I LOVED THIS COURSE. After being a small business owner for 10 years it is easy to focus on what's right on your desk at that very moment instead of evaluating the bigger picture, to forget how to look at what is working as well as what isn't and how to improve upon your process. Courses like this make me want to jump up out of my seat and get back to work. Susie kept me engaged and focused. It can be a long day but time seemed to fly by. I am really glad I got the opportunity to take the course, not only would I take it again but would highly recommend future Creative Live courses and Susie's latest book. Thank you again for the opportunity and now I gotta get back to work!