It's been a pretty wild ride for the last few months. I feel like it's been a minute since I had time to reflect on what we're up to and share some of the behind the scenes action with you.
Now that that's out of the way, some stuff that's new in no particular order:
We've begun fulfilling our Kickstarters bags. They look so so good, but also damn just about everything that could go wrong has gone wrong. A Kickstarter specific update will go out as well. But we are basically waiting for our factory to finish the Shakudo and Trace blue bags. We sent them in January, but they started them in late June. Needless to say, that is not something we're happy about. What are they thinking! We are receiving bags every week and quality checking them to be sent out to our lovely backers. We also messed up the zipper pulls. They've been here since about October, but we forgot to send them out to all the backers. Now we have to figure out what to do with them. The most ethical thing would be to send them after in individual envelopes. We're talking a couple thousand here. It's another expense that will set us back yet further with the Kickstarter. It's a stupid mistake and one we should just own upto. However, maybe our backers don't really care about the zipper pulls. Could we send them on a per request basis? Free of course, but if the backer doesn't notice or bother letting us know they'd like one, maybe that's a fine middle ground? It can be tough to run a business — there are no guides for this sort of nonsense. The short version is: these bags look great, most will be on time, but some may be in the 1st week of August.
We will actually get to sell them again when the Kickstarter is fulfilled. I'm hoping this is a product that we can offer on the regular. It's a damn cool bag, and one that I think has a lot of potential, but first thing's first: let's make good on our promises to people.
Texas Renaissance Festival
We found out in early June that we've been accepted into the Texas Renaissance Festival. This is a whole new area for us! We've always had fun making more costumey and dramatic pieces of clothing and TRF will give us some room to play in that direction! We are able to use more limited fabric, since we don't have to list them online. There will be a lot of unique items at that booth! Daivd designed and adjusted over 20 patterns to get ready for that event. We made some capes, some new vests both in mens and womens and a bunch of products that we don't normally offer in earth tones. Whatever is left at the end of the season will get shown and offered online, but we hope there won't be too much left!
It's a new challenge to make a whole season's worth of product in just over 3 months. That's no small feat. Emily and David both did a mammoth amount of work in a very small timeframe to get those products into cutting and sewing. We are cranking!
Brian and Qi will be headed to Texas for the season. I'm eternally grateful that they're taking on this new adventure with good humor and working on their pirate puns. It's amazing to have people who you can trust! This is not a small thing. It doesn't happen overnight or easily in my experience. And basically I know they'll represent us well.
We also have a sweet booth location. The TRF manager first gave us a tent towards the back, which is hard for security, cleanliness, and accessibility. Luckily we know a few folks at the faire and one of them was willing to rent us space 271, right by the front entrance. This is a pretty cool way to start at TRF!
We've been focused on expanding our marketing department. Something that became clear when Emma left in early March was that we couldn't hire generalists any more, and at this time in our growth, we have started looking for people who specialize in some skill set and do it excellently. Jeremiah, Leslie, and Qi joined the marketing department and we're looking for one more person who can help rep the brand on social media. It can be scary to hire, because, like inventory, we have to invest ahead of growth. But in order to be a real team, we need to have enough resources on the team to let people focus and get excellent in their area of speciality.
So we're boldly forging ahead. Fingers crossed we find the right person!
I love the interview process; there is something great about hearing all sorts of people's perspectives and lives. This is a part of my job that I love. If I'm doing it right, I will find someone who is ideally suited both for the Volante culture and team as well as the role they're applying for. For instance, if I have a super social person who loves to chat, I know they shouldn't be given work that means they have to be completely isolated and focus on just one thing all day, like say video editing. It's all a matter of fit. If I do a good job, the person is happy and the company does well. This is not so easy to do, but when it works it's magical.
We reached an end of our contract with Sony; their IPs are awesome, but each one is owned and run by their studios and it's tough to build a relationship through a corporate 3rd party. Ultimately, a great company and amazing designs but not a good fit for out size and desire to work closely with an artist.
We have added a license with Bioware to make Mass Effect items (coming in the fall) and Dragon Age items, (coming next year). We're really looking forward to working on this since there's a pretty small team who are excited to work with us!
We're in the process of overhauling our site. It hasn't been done in a few years and some of the basic functionality of the website theme we were on is quite janky. This is an ongoing project, but hopefully we'll make the site faster, prettier and easier to use. We are also looking to add 3D models on product pages so that folks can see a product in their size and in 3D, but that will take some more time. Thanks for your patience with us while we tinker.
That's the big stuff! I'm hoping to have enough space to update y'all a little more regularly as the season progresses.
Thanks for being part of our community, for reading, and for being along for the ride. You are our reason for being. Thank you.