COVID delaying business operations

The Pandemic Chronicle - Part II

Ok so where were we? Oh right, implementing the improvements.
Let me first set the tone right - it's DAMN COMPLICATED!
In order to make new prototypes, new materials need to be ordered (fabrics, buttons, etc.). And in order for me to know how much materials to order, I need to know the costs. To know the costs, my development partner wants the new prototypes made first. And to have the new prototypes made first, I need to order new materials... 🤯🤯🤯
Chicken and egg problem? Prototype and fabric problem!
On top of it, the pandemic makes everything magnitudes more difficult.

Ebb - supplier issue

I wasn't able to reach the Los Angeles based button factory that I'd been working with before the pandemic. 
After calling, emailing and asking around, I found out that they were only operating two half days per week.
I set a reminder to call every time they are working. And for weeks, I still couldn't get through.
I knew that the longer I wait, the more development will need to postpone.
I felt the ticking clock every single day and felt helpless how little was in my control.

Flow - orders

I needed to think of alternatives.
I really didn't want to ditch that supplier, I adored their collection and knew first hand how much small businesses need support now.
But I had to come up with some at least temporary solution to keep my development going.
I realized at my current tiny scale, buying retail is not impossible. 
I looked around and found some really good alternatives on Etsy.
The only remaining one I couldn't find was a particular shank button.
And one day my persistence paid off - I finally got through to my button factory!
They were very constrained with limited capacity, but I was able to put in an order of the shank button! Phew!

Ebb - shipping delay

Time is extremely valuable when you are trying to start a business all by yourself.
Without too much second guessing, I opted for 2-day shipping to send the prototypes back for revision.
You pay a little premium, but you gain time, or so I thought.
The 2-day shipping turned out to be over 10 days now. And as I'm writing, the package is still stuck at a USPS facility somewhere in LA.
Meanwhile, I received an email from the button factory that the buttons are ready... for pick up...
Wait, pick up? Weren't the buttons delivered last time?
Oh right, the button factory is still very under capacity and don't have people to deliver.
I stared at the message in my living room 2200 miles away, wondering what to do.

Ebb - $$$

I've been thrifty everywhere else except for product development.
Because for me, the foundation of a good brand is great products.
I chose one of the most reputable development partners in the industry, who also develops for many luxury designer brands.
The downside? they are naturally not the cheapest option.
And when you make small quantities, the cost is very high (think custom made vs. mass products).
I knew that was the case, but didn't expect how much more expensive it is.
I thought that I was going to make a few duplicates for each style developed, for photoshoot, looking for manufacturer, etc..
But it turned out that it would cost me much more than my retail price to make one prototype! And that's not even including the development cost...
If I were to stick to my plan, I would blow all my budget and over.
What to do? (To be continued)

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