Fashion Business / Holiday / Interns / Made in the USA

A Holiday Collection – An Intern’s Experience

Ahh yes, the 2019 Holiday Collection. What could be more fun than designing a handbag for the holidays? Exotic glittery leathers and shiny chains… Coming up with a great handbag for all to enjoy… sounds easy right?

Here I am working on my own design practice – fixing up a hem on a historical garment for school.

Being a fashion design student, I design and create things every day. However, I had never designed and created something that had so many limitations. I didn’t realize just how many factors have to be included in the design process when running a business. For example, budget, sourcing, turnaround times, production schedules, stock, consumer preferences, etc. Being used to designing with complete freedom, working on the Holiday 2019 collection was eye opening.

The Start

I got to experience every step of the design process. It all started with hours of researching leather options, then coordinating zipper colors and hardware finishes. Between sample requests to inventory inquiries, there were countless back and forth emails with all of our raw material suppliers.

Once we made a plan, it was time to create cost sheets to make sure we could price them out to sell AND every time there was a set-back or a new plan, another cost-sheet was created and boy did we end up having several of them.

Next we created the “tech packs,” which are essentially each product’s blueprint so no problems occur during the making of the bags. Finally it was time to start placing all of our raw material orders so we could make the bags in time for website photos and the One of a Kind Show in December. It was September, so we thought we were right on time, little did we know all the setbacks that would occur…

A social post I did during the process.

Ordering the Raw Materials

The Hair on Hide leather was about finding the best price, so that was easy. The exotic leathers were a totally different story! Ends up they are custom order only, because they are created using a surface treatment onto base suede with a lead time of 3-4 weeks, not our typical one week turnaround. We ordered crossing our fingers it would work out.

Then on one of our favorites, the base suede was “out of stock.” They suggested a cream nubuck but it might be a little different. We said okay and anxiously waited.

Meanwhile, we had been on the hunt for the right chain for a strap detail on the exotic leather bags for what felt like weeks. You would think it would be easy, but it wasn’t as simple as a google search. We got excited about one, but after receiving the samples realized that the price and finish weren’t exactly what we wanted. So back to the drawing board. We decided to go with a slightly different rope chain and thought we were good to go.

Finally all of our raw materials had arrived! Yippee! Right? Or… Not. We arrived to our production studio to open our long awaited materials to make sure everything was good… To our surprise, our chain was much smaller and was in the wrong color finish, one of our suede leathers was in the wrong color and we didn’t have enough of the black suede…. 

The Black & White and Cheetah hides arrived.

So the tannery had to overnight the correct color to the studio and as for the chain, it was time to go on the hunt once more! Thank goodness the chain is one of the last steps in the process. 

After another few hours of searching, we finally found a great chain company based in the USA who had a large variety of styles and weights. Where was this website a few weeks ago??? This time we chatted on the phone several times so there wouldn’t be any mistakes. But since there are so many finishes for hardware, we were a little nervous and they weren’t sure they could get us the chain in time. Ugh! But there was no other option, so…we ordered anyway!

As I’m writing this, our chain is being shipped to our studio while we are in the middle of cutting and sewing our bags. After jumping through SO many hoops, we are making it work! Which, isn’t that what design is all about? Adapting to challenges and creative problem solving!

We hope you’ll love our Holiday 2019 collection as much as we do! (And, that you’ll have a little extra appreciation after hearing our struggles, too. 😉 ) We are so excited to share these bags with you!

A look inside our production process. Here you see pages from our tech packs, the dye used to cut the leather for each bag, and cut pieces of leather ready to be sewn.

Want to be the first to know when our Holiday bags launch on our website? Subscribe to our newsletter here. In the meantime, shop our previous collections for other great bags- perfect gifts for loved ones!

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