One of the great things about running a small shop is the ability to bring products to market really quickly. This weekend I wanted to come up with something new for Fathers Day so I tried laser engraving a tread pattern on one of our bottle openers. It looks fantastic, IMHO. So I snapped a photo, sent it to a virtual assistant to clean up, created a product page on our website, and drafted an email blast to promote it. The product went from "does not exist" to "for sale" in less than 48 hours.
There are some down sides to this approach which I'll cover below, but first I want to address the positives. First of all, it's really fun. Fun is one of our core values and this kind of design taps into the maker/inventor energy that got me started in the first place. I'm not aiming for perfection, I'm creating in a playful way with intent to share. If customers like it, the product could become part of our line for a while. Either way, I'm energized to dive back into the workshop to make more stuff.
Secondly, it's not resource intensive because I work with the materials and tools we have on hand. These constraints are not insignificant, but after 24 years of design work we have a great materials library, and lots of old designs to borrow parts from. In a sense, it's like a design competition with myself: using only what I have on site plus whatever digital resources I can pull in from the internet, come up with something fresh, evocative, useful, fun, etc.
Lastly, it's expedient. I love this word because it's good and bad. If we are never expedient, we miss opportunities. If we are always expedient, we slowly degrade. In the case of product development, we combine slow developing products with quick to market products to find the perfect balance. There's always something in the works, and there's always room for inspiration.
As promised, a few words about the down sides to bring a product to market in under 48 hours. First and most obviously, it isn't tested. Will it sell well? We don't know, but we will soon. That's the wonder of being a maker in this relatively advanced age of online sales. Second, it puts a little strain on our production team since it's essentially a custom rush order. So we try not to do this too often, and definitely not when we are already slammed. Lastly, as with anything done quickly, details might get missed, like setting the product up in Quickbooks (which I just remembered I still need to do).
Thanks for reading.