A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor
Monitoring the Macro Outlook
I am sure that many of you have heard about the current state of the stock market / global economy. I think it's prudent (mainly operating a consumer brand) to maintain a pulse on what is developing in US markets and on a global scale.
As it currently stands... stock prices are lower, bond prices are lower, energy prices are higher, volatility has risen, and the US Dollar Index has strengthened. This puts the FOMC (Federal Open Market Committee) in an increasingly peculiar spot. In March, most recently, they decided to hold off on their aggressive rate hike target due to the current state of geopolitics. The Fed now finds itself in a situation where it needs to establish itself as an entity that can gain control over inflation. With the geopolitical conditions not drastically improving since their last meeting in March (in which they held off their aggressive rate hike) and inflation worsening, the Fed seems to be forced into taking control of inflation.
In short, it will be quite challenging for the Fed to find any basis to ease their rate hike agenda in the hopes of curbing inflation. This will likely lead to a further contraction in the stock market as the Fed attempts to fight looming double-digit inflation.
So how is this helpful information for a consumer brand?
PPI (producer price index) inflation and CPI (consumer price index) inflation. For 8 of the 12 months in 2021, the manufacturing PPI was around 30%, meaning that manufacturers of products were paying 30% more on their input costs. This 30% increase is generally a leading indicator for things like CPI. If we have a 30% increase in the input costs to produce goods, naturally, some of (if not all) of that cost is passed onto the customer for businesses to maintain margins (CPI came in around 8.5% aggregate for last quarter). Note: supply chain bottlenecks and demand shocks concerning COVID-19 have significantly contributed to the CPI inflation number.
A decrease in the purchasing power of their dollar due to inflationary pressure coupled with the increasingly uncertain economic markets can lead to a drastic reduction in consumer spending outside of necessities.
I have no critical lesson to end this thought with. However, I believe that continuing to run a lean operation is a smart way forward to keep the business nimble.
Work-board week of April 9th, 2022
This week made noticeable progress on new colors of 1/4 zips. The first round of sampling was complete (the fit and sizing will be the same as the navy blue that was just released a month ago); however, the front logo will change, and the back design will be the same as the "Run-Club Hoodie."
The issue with the first sample iteration is as follows:
The design on the back of the 1/4 is awkwardly sized. My initial thought is that the design is printed too small. You'll notice the area in which we can print is limited due to the differences in fabrics between the back and front bodies. We will scale the size of the design (down) and see how sample 2 looks when it is finished. There is also a chance that the placement is just too high. I have let the factory know that we should re-print 2 different versions of sample 2. One with the same size design moved around 1 inch lower and one with the change noted above.
Injection molding for the MNY Apple Figurine
The bulk of the initial work has been completed for the desktop figurine (below). Going into the project, I had little working knowledge surrounding the molding process required to create such a piece. In talking with industrial designers, the flag in the initial mockup will be costly since it will need to be injection molded. Upon learning this, I figured we could remove the flag and add a "produce sticker" like something you would see on an apple in the supermarket. Although I am not sure that this is the final iteration, it looks like the best way forward.
Optimization of our Warehouse Layout
One of the things I like most about entrepreneurship is that you are left (for the most part) to your own devices to figure out how things "should be." I will leave an anecdote here that there are times when you need to call an expert and or seek outside counsel, but for the most part, you are on your own to solve your issues. This leads me down the rabbit hole of warehouse layout design theory. The biggest problem with our warehouse is the bottleneck around receiving and shipping. Pictured below, you will see some optimal layout structures commonly accepted in warehousing. Our issue is that our warehouse is oddly shaped and only contains 1 door used for both receiving and shipping (creating a bottleneck). I have a mockup of our space in SketchUp as I figure out the best way to store products and make them accessible for packing + shipping.
The second sample of running shorts arrived this week. We opted for a "no liner" and a "brief liner." I know that a large cohort of people get running shorts with the "underwear" type liner built into them and then cut out that liner since they don't like it. I am okay with moving forward without the liner; however, my only concern is the thinness of the performance material. The options will be (no liner) and (compression short) liner. I have left a link here to try and poll what people prefer the most. If you'd like to leave an answer, that would be awesome. ( https://aorb3a6mmtu.typeform.com/to/wbCVk7Iz )
"Year 1" Coffee Table Book
I began working on this book a few months ago (mainly just compiling thoughts/pictures). Essentially I want it to be a stream of consciousness from day 1 to day 365 in our first year in business. It will be a notebook/diary type of book with pictures of the process, notes about what I was thinking during the process, etc. I am now studying paper types/weights and the different printing methods that give the reader a different tactile experience.
The first ring sample has been molded and finished in Italy. It is currently en route to me, and I should have it within the next 7 days. I am curious how it will turn out. The silver will be coated in rhodium, making it highly durable (since anything worn on your hands takes a reasonably good beating). Generally, rhodium plating (as a protective layer) is standard on all rings for this reason. I have yet to see what the final product looks like, but I hope there is not much change to the final finish luster.
Tote Bag (First Factory Sample)
The tote bag received its first factory sample rework. I had discussed why a bit of a rework was needed in last week's writeup, but the construction of the prototype sample made full-scale production complex, and efficiency would be hard. Seen below is the first factory sample. You'll certainly notice some changes (and this is not the final that we will approve). Changes that need to be made:
Shorten and rivet the shoulder strap connection to the main bag area. The leftover (overhang) is ugly and feels out of place.
The thick strip under the zipper needs to be thinned down because, as it stands, it feels out of place
Clay gave the original bag an “edge binding” where the top gusset and body of the bag attach, which was removed in this sample and gives the bag too much of a (polished) look.
Another solid week of training in the books. This week consisted of 49 miles of running:
Rest (Lift - Push)
9 Miles Aerobic (Lift - Pull)
5 Miles Aerobic (Lift - Legs)
11 Miles Endurance (Lift - Push)
4 Miles Recovery (Lift - Pull)
7 Miles Threshold (No Lift)
13 Miles Endurance (No Lift)