We were approached by a customer who had an idea to create stylish fashionable and practical organised work bags for Doctors and healthcare professionals.
We worked with the customer on a step by step basis to turn their market vision into a commercial range of bags.
Read on for a case study ….
The following is a story about one customer and a “case study” of how we managed a project all the way from ‘first contact’ to Market evaluation, Concept Designs, Design in detail, Specifications (Tech-Packs), Development and Prototyping to Production, Packaging design to Quality Control and Delivery of final goods.
First Contact & Evaluation…
Every year we are privileged to be contacted by people who have clever business ideas. We were approached by a lady Doctor who had been really frustrated that she could not find a fashionable, luxury and elegant bag suitable for her medical work as a GP – so she had done a lot of market research and concluded that she had identified a interesting market opportunity for people like her – hard working, well paid and fashion conscious lady Doctors who wanted the best.
She decided she wanted to launch her own brand of fashionable ladies doctors bags to fill that market need. She wanted to start with the UK market, and through her new business support girls education and ethical and sustainable initiatives.
We did our own market research to check the market and saw she was entirely correct – there were no fashionable bags for Doctors, and we could see there could be a worldwide market for this!
The customer initially only wanted advice about how to turn the designs she had already had done by another designer – into a sample and advice on production. So we studied the designs she had and listened to what her ambitions were for her fledgling brand Iyasu bags…..
When we saw her putative drawings – we quickly concluded that the designs were basic and practical on the inside – but neither elegant or fashionable on the outside. They just looked like men’s bags resized for women.
We quickly reached the conclusion that her designs did not really match her ambition to create a fashionable brand of ladies doctors bags, ….and took the risk to tell her honestly what we thought. Some customers welcome honest feedback and others don’t – so we were taking a risk of losing her business – but being honest was more important.
This customer showed vision and determination to insist on creating the best products she could for her potentially demanding marketplace.
Well clearly the advice we gave resonated with her feelings about her design drawings and so we worked with the customer to establish a ‘In depth’ product and market researched based brief …and in turn made our proposal – which was to design several “looks” of pairs of co-ordinated fashionable elegant handbags and backpacks that could carry everything a woman doctor could want. We set out to create “Designer Level” products and we agreed with her that every element of the bags should be ethically and responsibly manufactured.
User needs study….
We asked the customer to give us one of everything a doctor would carry – we then photographed these and produced scale models to work out how to pack and carry everything in an organised way.
We were then able to do the actual Concept designs. The customer only wanted one pair of bags – but we presented 4 different looks of pairs of bags and she bought seven out of eight designs that we presented! Wow! This project was growing!
Designs in detail…..
The next month was spent on ‘designing the bags in detail’ and presenting the final details to the customer at every stage.
The customer was really keen to use vegan materials, recycled materials and responsible factories of the best quality. So we travelled to the top European fabric show to research the most suitable and low impact fabric options.
It is a challenge to find fabrics that are genuinely recycled of the right weight and texture – and available in modest quantities and we also had to dye the woven fabrics to colour to match the Faux leather – so it was a complicated process.
The customer had the ambition that the bags should be “designer level” so we developed concepts for high quality metal branding details in brushed metals. We were given the customer’s logo but suggested that a symbol was added – so she then developed a lovely Iris motif that we worked into the logo design. This Iris logo inspired us and we found ways to use it on everything from the metal feet, zip puller, embroideries and punched leather details. So we designed all the metal parts on the bags – Zip pullers, studs, handle fastenings, straps, brand luggage tags, metal feet, and of course the metal Iyasu Badge following the brand guidelines from the client.
The bags were starting to look really elegant and ‘polished’!
BRANDING PARTS IMAGES
Development and Prototyping ….
So with the designs and the branding elements ready we were able to produce the first samples! We worked with our chosen factory for 10 weeks to get the samples made. This involved working with the suppliers every day on their time line.
During this phase we are checking details like getting the shoulder straps to fit properly and get the shape of the bags right. This is a very intense phase – we call this the ‘Development phase’.
The first Samples arrive
Before the samples are sent to us we get photo’s of every sample from every angle to check they are as perfect as possible, and only then do we authorise them to be sent to us.
The day they arrived was so exciting for both the customer and ourselves. We also had estimated prices at this stage.
With the samples ready she was then able to go out and do her first consumer tests – and compile feedback that we could then use to refine the bags.
Market testing and Development phase…..
While the customer was out meeting with lots of fellow Doctors and medical influencers we were doing a technical review of every detail of the bags.
During this review we looked to see how we could make the bags even more plush and valuable – and came up with the idea to quilt the bags with the IRIS logo, and we revised the lining fabrics to be even better quality alongside ensuring all the fabrics complied with the brand ethical policy. We came up with the idea to quilt the back of the backpacks with the same stitch pattern that we had used in the padded laptop pockets, so more and more the collection was looking very “valuable”. This is what we call “development” – this is refining the bag design and building in fine details to make the bag excellent. So as you can see the refinement process after consumer feedback can still be a creative part of the product development process.
Pre Production samples…..
So now with samples that were 80% correct the customer asked us to finalise all the details and to move ahead to the pre-production stages. First we had to get pre-production samples made and check everything is perfect – and get the final purchase prices, based upon revised fabrics.
With all this in place we arranged manufacture – and were able to deliver to the customer perfect pre-production stage samples – which she double checked and then was able to do more promotional photography.
All the way through the process the customer was building stories and awareness of the ethical mission of her brand to support women’s education and low impact production.
The process of doing the photography was helping the customer build interest with customers and influencers, while we had been doing the technical and refinement work. It was so exciting – we could feel the support and momentum building for our customer’s vision for her marketplace.
Placing an order..
We now had ( nearly) perfect samples – and the small amendments we wanted to make could be done at the production stage.
So the big day of placing an order had arrived. The customer asked us to draft the technical details of the order – and these details had to link directly to the quality control procedures and the packing and shipping arrangements. These were submitted to the client to check and approve.
We arranged for the customer to be able to pay the factory direct ( we do not make any money out of the production) and with the deposit paid to the factory we now had firm delivery dates agreed and it was all “go!”.
After the order was placed there were a few late changes that needed to be made as the customer wanted to change the colours on one bag. These late changes were complicated to manage as the order had already been placed and paid but we worked closely with customer and factory and were able to managed the issues so these changes could be implemented.
As described above, to arrange the production we had written the order details for the customer – this required that the order specified every single detail of what we expected, the quality standards, the delivery and production checks we wanted at each stage. The relationship we had established with the factory was key to this and every day we were in touch with the factory to check progress. So we arranged that the factory send us video’s and photo’s of the bags all through production – from fabric cutting to sewing to packing. We kept the customer updated through the process and even got video’s she could use for her promotion.
To get the bags here in good order it was important that the bags could be safely shipped without damage. In addition we wanted the bag to arrive in the warehouse ready to be sent straight out to the customer – and look really plush when they arrives. So we discussed a packaging policy with the client and designed swing tags, Iris printed tissue paper and special brand sticky labels to secure the wrapped bags. We even researched and developed concepts for how the bags would be packed in branded cartons and sent to customers when they placed orders.
The customer had already received all the Pre-Production samples and done the photography – so as soon as the production dates had been re-confirmed the customer was able to start Pre-Selling the bags. See our blog about this.
Production was during a period when Covid was still a big problem – so although we normally personally visit a factory to check production – it was not possible to visit on this occasion, so we managed the entire process by using a top quality international Quality Control company.
This required that we would have to write them a full and detailed visual quality check document for each and every bag so they knew exactly what we expected them to do. The customer paid for the QC services but we managed the payments and execution of the tasks. This is what is called a DUPRO check.
At the end of production it was important to make sure the correct quantity of goods was shipped – and that the goods were of good quality and the correct quantity – so we arranged photo and video evidence before shipping so we could be confident that all was in order. This is called a FRI check.
Shipping & delivery….
The customer asked us to arrange and manage the shipping and delivery so we organised the shipping, insurance and documentation, and then handed over the final shipping details for them to manage.
This involved everything from specifying the correct duty codes for Customs entry into the UK, choosing the container sizes to match the packed cartons and the carton markings ready for shipment etc.
We also helped the customer by calculating the amount of storage space and services she would need at the destination warehouse in the UK so she could book the correct amount of storage space and arrange man power to unload and document the new inventory.
The goods were then shipped to the UK and delivered to the customer!
Although our part in designing, developing and delivering all the bags for IYASU bags is now complete, we are still involved with the client by providing commercial advice as Iyasu negotiates sales deals with re-sellers and starts doing promotional B2C shows.
The customer has been doing an excellent job of getting press coverage, getting a following through multiple digital platforms, and building a circle of supportive influencers. The future is bright!
How were we paid?
The customer paid us pre- agreed fixed fees for the Concept, Design and Specification stages – and as the project became more ‘organic’ in the development and production stages we were paid on a time basis. Every month we submitted a detailed invoice so they could see what we had done.
What in summary did we do?
We have acted as a Market Consultant, Designer, Product Developer, Manufacturing and Quality Control Manager and Shipping Manager.
Thank you so much for guiding me along every step of my journey from the inception of my idea, through concept designs, designs in detail, fabric choices, branded metal details, production management, quality control and shipping. You’ve been a fountain of knowledge and a fantastic mentor. I absolutely couldn’t have done it without you. The collection of bags you have designed are not only beautiful but are perfectly suited to the function they were created to fulfil. Not only that, but they are made with eco-friendly, recycled materials that make my brand even more desirable. I’m so happy to have just launched my brand, IYASU Medical Bags. My first customers are delighted with look and quality of their bags, and I am receiving glowing reviews. I know this is going to be a huge success. THANK YOU for everything!
Dr Catherine Fernando
MB ChB, MRCP, MRCGP, DCH, DFSRH,
PGD Practical Dermatology, Cardiff University
CEO of IYASU – https://iyasubags.com
Medical Bags Designed by Doctors for Doctors
+44 (0)7817 555845
10 Alderston Gardens, Haddington, EH41 3RY, Scotland
It’s been our honour to be trusted to not only design but manage the entire product development process for this customer. At all times we have given the customer straight-forward honest advice, information about the cost implications about each choice and joined her in her journey to create an exciting new brand for a niche market.
This collection of bags are our clients vision – it has simply been our job to bring her vision to life.
Some customers prefer to take over at the production stage – but this project was a good example of us working closely with a new ‘start up brand’ to take them from a business idea all the way to commercial products for sale.