It’s been a busy couple of weeks around here and we’re so excited to share some updates with you. First - the launch of our Vintage Summer line. I know it’s a little passé / rude / lame to compliment yourself, but I just love this line so much! It really feels just like summer to me—it’s so fun to see an idea all the way through and have it be better than you imagined.
So that’s the fun stuff. We’ve also been really busy with some pretty lame, slog-along, plug-and-chug, put-on-a-podcast-(or ten)-and-crank-it-out type of work that I am very happy to be putting behind us! But all this work has allowed us to reduce prices on most of our items and overall run a much more efficient shop. So it's very safe to say the effort has been well worth it.
It’s a big change for us (and you, did you see totes are $19 now?!), so I wanted to take a minute and walk through everything we’ve done to make this happen.
Revisiting Our Suppliers:
When we launched HLO, we chose to keep things simple and work with one vendor for sanity’s sake, more than anything. There are so many moving parts and with just the two of us, one less decision can make a huge difference in our ability to work effectively. Now that we have a little more time, we took a step back and started our supplier search over to make sure we were using the highest quality items at the best price we can find. We have a fair amount of inventory to get through before we make the switch, so you won't see a change for awhile. I genuinely don’t think you’ll be able to tell even when we do make the change, but if you can, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the extra softness in our onesies and a little extra room in our totes!
Back-End System Sophistication
It’s difficult for talk about this stuff internally because Maggie can’t stop herself from laughing every time I say “back-end”. Which when you’re styling to build an E-commerce system is a lot. So there’s that.
This was also a tough one because it was technically a more complicated puzzle than we first thought. When we launched our online store, we didn’t have any type of inventory tracking. I would just watch the bins of product and when it got low, I’d reorder. A simple, quick solution that worked in the early months, but is sure to cause significant anxiety as we grow. The real kink in this problem was that we needed to figure out a way to count different products that are tied to the same inventory.
We asked and the internet answered, and we found a really amazing app that allows us to count the inventory of several products back to one item, i.e. a blank onesie, t-shirt or tote. Then we spent a lot of hours in the past few weeks giving all our product proper SKUs and building an inventory system. Now we actually know how much of every item we have on hand, and we’re able to more closely track the costs incorporated with each individual item. The future is now!
More Accurate Production Cost + Time Estimates
As we’ve worked within our production system, we have found ways that we can be more efficient and cut costs. We’ve also learned that some of our products are more complicated to produce than we initially thought. For example, our vintage grey track t-shirts. The throwback fade and super soft touch are because of the blend of fabric (polyester, cotton, rayon). This is what makes this shirt so special to us—we just love the look and feel. But it also adds a few levels of complication to production because our ink is meant to be printed on cotton, which is a more absorbent fabric than polyester and rayon, and we discovered after launching the shirts that the colors were fading very quickly. So we did some research and found a pre-treatment method that counteracts this and we’re back up and running! The pre-treatment solution is expensive and of course takes time to apply, plus the grey shirts are more expensive than 100% cotton to start. So all of this adds up to a slightly more expensive, but still totally amazing, t-shirt.
Moving beyond the Homeland
This last item has been the toughest decision for us by far, and we have spent a lot of time soul searching. We have decided to not limit our product offering to items that have been produced in the US. I am happy to say that most of our items (100% of the clothes, actually) will continue to be sourced from companies that produce in America. They were the highest quality, softest garments we could find. USA! USA! But as we’ve grown, we’ve found limiting our product line in this way to be an unreasonably restricting. As we look to add products, we’ve become aware of the amazingly small amount of options that are available in the US. For example, we’d love to add swaddle blankets in the near future, but have been having an impossible time finding a style that we liked that was produced in America. Same story with hats and shoes. The pool of options is so small or nonexistent, that it makes this type of growth impossible for us. So while we're still mostly America, we’ve removed this as part of our corporate construct.
So now we are an even more tightly run, quality-sourced little company in a better position to grow. It just leaves us with one burning question: What are you going to do with all your extra dough?!