The Bag Saga
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Now back to the bag…
As a primer - I used to call it a tote. It's prudent to rename it so there is a clear understanding of size. The inspiration for this bag came from the old USPS postal bags/newspaper bags. Clay and I enjoyed the size and capacity and figured it could be smaller and more practical for everyday use.
Below is a reference bag and some early sketches of the basic idea.
Eventually, Clay was able to put together a first sample. After some minor tweaks (different pocket layout & adding a separate pocket for a laptop), we decided it was worth producing.
It's easy to tell from the pictures that the sizing was incorrect in the first iteration. The bag seemingly swallows Clay's figure and (if ever fully loaded) would be a burden to carry around. However, a positive in the process, the gusseted (curved) shape of the bottom of the bag proved to be the right move and allowed for plenty of storage (laptop fitting without any issue).
Before re-working the bag's exterior size, we had to figure out what internal pockets to use (outside of the laptop sleeve). In doing some digging around online, I landed on a few pockets.
A dedicated pocket for a cell phone
A key hook
A smaller pocket for pens / smaller miscellaneous items
All three pockets serve the same purpose, removing the need to dig around the bottom of the bag looking for commonly used goods.
After some minor measurement changes, we got the bag down to a more feasible size for everyday use.
It was time to source a factory to re-produce our sample for approval (hopefully production).
Factory #1 (below) - I sent the prototype bag to the factory so they could use it as a reference and deconstruct it if needed. From the start, I emphasized that we needed to maintain the design/functionality aspect. However, I also told them that I was aware there may be methods used in the prototype that are not conducive to production-style manufacturing and that if more minor changes were needed to streamline production, that was OK.
It is relatively easy to see that while the bag may have some of the original design elements, it lacks almost all of the character of the original bag. After this sample, I decided to find a new factory as I did not think it was close enough to try and re-sample and get closer to a good result.
Factory #2 (below) - Again, I sent the prototype bag to the manufacturer and harped on the same sentiment as the first factory. Maintain the design elements / overall feel but change some things if needed keeping full production in mind.
It is, again, relatively easy to tell that we were quite off the mark. I was discouraged. Sample #2 felt far from the original bag.
At this point - we were around $7,000 - $8,000 into sampling, but I knew that I would only go into production or release the bag if it was something we were thrilled with.
I was then determined to find a factory here in NYC (in hindsight, I should have gone this route in the beginning). I dug for a few days - looking through portfolios of different factories to see if any of them would understand what I was looking for. Luckily I received an email from the factory that I had touted to Clay as "the factory that can make this bag properly."
I went in and sat down with the guy who owns the factory - explained everything I had been putting in email form about quality, design, production, etc. I could tell he understood, I could tell he saw the vision and I walked out of the meeting knowing he was going to produce something great.
The top 2 pictures are the final sample from the 3rd (and last factory), and the bottom 2 are the original prototype. Outside of some minor adjustments for a production run, the bag has maintained its original integrity.
I have been thinking of some changes based on feedback from you all.
Thinner Strap - which I think we will do by making the strap taper towards the top
Other than that, this bag will be heading into production. I certainly appreciate it if you have read this far. I'd like to try something - If you want to get a bag and not worry about it selling out, fill out this form (you don't have to pay anything - I will just collect your email & color preference so that I can email when the bags are ready)
If you have any thoughts - feel free to let me know in the comments below