A pallet load of bags ready for Cancer Research UK
Everybody is conscious of the impact our consumer lifestyle is having on the environment, and the ‘after life’ of the goods we consume. Everybody talks about ‘eco-fabrics’ and ethical sourcing – but all stages of the product development have consequences, so trying to be responsible in business has a lot of aspects beyond just what fabrics we use and which factories we manufacture in.
After we have designed a bag – the next stage is to create a prototype. This is a very exciting stage – as we and the clients can now test the product and do consumer market research and end-user testing.
We then work through the Product Development process – and this can lead to us ending up with several samples of each style, in different fabrics and colours as we refine the product to be perfect for production.
At each stage we are extremely critical and work to make the product just perfect. It is cheaper to get a prototype sample perfect than to have a warehouse full of thousands of bags that have a critical flaw in the design or manufacture! Trust us! We have learned this the hard way with our own money!
Even at the production stage we need to make pre-production samples – and these have to be 100% perfect before we can proceed with production. So – we work hard to keep the number of samples made to the minimum – but it’s all part of the service we provide that inevitably we end up with samples left over after a project has finished.
So sometimes people ask us “what do we do” with all these samples?
They cost thousands of pounds and dollars to develop and make!
Some of them end up with the clients who commissioned them and some remain in our office, and then end up in our warehouse – so they can build up quite a bit over the years!
So as an example we have just had a huge clear out of all our samples from recent years and were shocked at how many we were storing! The obvious and most profitable thing to do would be to sell the bags off – but instead we decided to give them to charity.
So we have recently donated a huge number of bags to Cancer Research UK.
We didn’t want to just give to large charities though – during the Covid lockdown we heard about how the homeless were taken into hotels in the UK – but now these vulnerable people are back on the streets again and we are told the problem is greater than ever.
The writer remembers seeing people queuing up to get into shelters during freezing winters – and has a particularly vivid memory of seeing a man shivering outside a convenience store. A few minutes later saw him in the store – just circling around the aisles to get warm – before going outside with his backpack to stand and shiver again. This left a deep impression. Many people who live on the streets need a large backpack to carry all their stuff so we thought that the least we could do was give away the giant backpacks ( 55ltrs size and more) we have designed – directly to an organisation who works on the ground with people trying to make their way back to a normal life with a home and a job. We chose an organisation in Bristol called BOSH – and gave them the sorts of backpacks that their clients need.
But still we had some bags left over! So we chose another Charity that is doing fabulous things to help people. They are called “Mercy in Action”. We love their shops, and respect the work they do both in the UK and overseas. They often have quirky and better quality ‘designer’ goods to sell so we thought that some of our more experimental designs would sell in their shops.
So, designing bags leads to many of them being ‘left over’ at the end. We have simply tried to make sure our development bags have gone to good causes rather than to incineration or landfill.
We believe in design and development being done in a price conscious and responsible way. You can call for a free consultation to discuss your plans.