I'm closing my custom books for now! In the beginning of my company I would take on any crazy request from people I’d never met to dear old friends! What did I learn from all of you over time through taking orders like this….A LOT! So first off, I want to say THANK YOU!! Some of you helped me create some of my signature bags and some of you have made suggestions that really have improved my designs in a big way! It was like a big think tank of ideas!
Times have changed for me at Strey, my process is a little different now and Strey is turning into a well oiled machine after making nearly 5,000 bags over more than 10 years! Let me explain my process to you a little…,
How the process of making bags starts!
Typically when I start a new batch of bags I scan my inventory and ask myself some questions: What items am I low on, what bags have been hot sellers, what season is coming up, what items have people been asking for, what would make me super happy:)….along with a bunch more! Then I have to make sure I have all the right components to make a batch of 20 to 40 units (aka bags) and then think about using up scrap leather or maybe mix in some other materials, or one of a kind pieces. It’s expensive to have 100s of dollar of different colored leather in stock so while I’m an artist (whole hides can range from $300-$600) I'm also a business person and have to watch out for over-head expenses.
I’m sure this goes without saying but the reason companies manufacture rather than making one thing at a time is that it’s soooo much more efficient!!! I can’t stress this enough. Not only that but when you make a bunch of one thing you get better and better each time. So sadly to say, when I make one-offs (customs) for people, sometimes they are not as good as if I would have made them in a batch. I might forget a step and have to go back. It may have been 8-10 months since I made that design and I might have forgotten a little nuance to that style. Small batch manufacturing helps me ensure that the products are all made well! ALSO, I have assistants helping me! It’s easier for me to teach them one step and have them do that step many times then one step on one bag, NOT an effective or efficient way to work…not to mention expensive!!!!
Teeny Tiny Staff
There’s a misconception that I make bags all day, I do make a lot of bags but there’s a lot of other stuff I do. I spend a lot of time doing administrative work, managing employees, collaborating with other artists, applying to shows, photo shoots, researching products, website design, ordering supplies, designing, making display equipment, the list goes on and on and on....That’s actually one of the reasons I love my job! It’s very diverse. With a such teeny tiny staff, I'm the one that ends up making the custom bags and it lands on a very long to-do list.
Making custom designs can take days, weeks, months, even years….!!! Believe it or not. Essentially it’s inventing something! It take lots of engineering, prototypes, testing, wasted materials, and many of the prototypes have flaws and mistakes and need testing before I can settle on an end product! I sort of touched on this earlier but that’s why when I make one of something, it’s not as good as if I make 40 of something! How I used to do some customs is that if a client ordered a signature style of bag in a color I was out of stock in, I would add it to the next batch. That worked for a while but now with so many different styles sometimes I don’t get back to making that style for 6 months! I’ll also get multiple custom orders for one of each style, it gets to be quite a juggling act!
So that all being said, it probably makes total sense that if we have 40 Skimmers bags, 40 Tread Wallets and 25 Circuit backpacks in production, throwing in one British Tan Convoy can really throw off the rhythm…and making one green guitar strap and one Spec purse with purple lining and gold hardware and a long list of other customs
Breaking My Heart
I hear people say to their friends all the time, “oh don’t worry, if you don’t like one of the colors here Sarah will make you one you like!”…but sadly, I can’t. It’s just too hard and makes it too complex. No more customs
So as we move forward with making and selling beautiful, locally hand-crafted bags and accessories….”THE TIME TO BUY IT IS WHEN YOU SEE IT!!!” I can not longer guarantee that I’ll be making my signature collection, or signature colors, or that I’ll make a new batch “soon”. If you or your friend sees a bag you like, GET IT! Or call me the next day. But I can NO LONGER remake a bag that you saw 5 months ago. I’m sooooooo sorry!!!! It’s a totally bummer! I really hope you understand! If you see a bag you want to give someone for _____ (fill in the blank holiday) get it right away! No exceptions for 1st grade best friends or great Aunt Sherry or even my very best customers…its just too difficult.
What I CAN Promise!
Since customs can be a time suck, now I’ll have time for NEW exciting designs! I want to use those days to invent some of these awesome ideas I have in my head that haven’t been able to come to fruition! I also want to be more artistic with some of my designs, maybe more hand painted pieces or extra special fun linings or cool pockets! The possibilities are endless!!!
Thanks for listening!! Building a business is super fun! I love the strategy of it and thought it maybe interesting for you to hear all the ins and out of our new policy. I’m sure I could have just said “no more custom! Why? Because I said so!” but I’m pretty sure more of you will think it’s cool than be mad at me!
I can’t wait to share with you all some cool new styles I’ve been working on…stay tuned to my channel!