Currently things are still slow. There are still a lot of uncertainty.
The difference is, I'm getting more comfortable with going with the flow.
I realized that a large part of the struggle is thinking someone who had more experience would do better than me facing the same challenges.
Sitting and breathing with my insecurity on top of the uncertainty has been extremely uncomfortable, but it eventually gave me the clarity that I needed.
Going with the Slow
I had set a target launch for Fall 2020. After losing the entire three months to pandemic lockdown, and dealing with the reduced capacity and shipping delays afterwards, there was a lot of anxiety about if and how I would be able to meet my "deadline". I was afraid of disappointing people if I chose to postpone, and that it would be a sign that I wasn't pushing myself hard enough.
But even when I was still trying to push the process into a higher gear, I felt something was off. I knew deep down not only was a lot of the things out of my control, but also I wasn't enjoying the process when I was struggling to rush things along. And I thought, if I don't enjoy making it, how would my customers enjoy the fruit of the process?
So I decided to postpone the launch to Spring 2021. And it was the best decision.
After slowing down, I felt a weight lift off me. It turns out my supporters are just as supportive as ever (perhaps the person that was disappointed was me). Yes I still have to deal with shipping delays, another shipment being lost, and other small disruptions. But now I'm able to focus on solving problems, which I actually enjoy, rather than stressing out about it.
Work is super fun again. I've been able to reflect deeper on Sonderlier's purpose and values. I feel more clarity and focus. And I now truly appreciate the longer runway before taking off.
Adjusting Expectations and Strategy
I mentioned in my last update that the cost for making a sample far exceeded what I had in mind. Gradually I had to reestablish my expectations and accept the reality of the high cost of product development.
Having learned the recent news articles exposing that many garment workers in LA have been exploited with extremely low wage (you can support the workers here), I actually appreciate the higher cost knowing that the workers sewing my products are fairly paid. More than that, without another disruption to the workflow by changing work partners, I can ensure better quality.
So between going to a different sample maker who's cheaper, and staying with my current sample maker, I decided to stay with my current sample maker. I did have to adjust my plan by making only a couple of samples for each style, so I don't blow over my budget.
Since this plan was set, things have been progressing steadily. Now as I'm writing, my final samples are scheduled to complete in early October.
A lot still has to be done and a lot to look forward to.
Getting the final samples, doing my first-ever photo shoot, plan the Kickstarter campaign for Sonderlier's launch, looking for manufacturers, and a few other really cool things I want to try out (stay tuned!).
While I still don't have prior experience with a lot of these things, I no longer worry.
If building Sonderlier in the pandemic has taught me anything, it's that not only it's OK to not know everything now, but also I will never know everything. What I do know is I will figure out each challenge coming my way, and enjoy the process (at least for the most part ;) ) doing just that.
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