the wool, the yarn, and the felt - and manufacturing

Washing and carding alpaca and mohair.

Yesterday I washed raw wool for the first time. I thought it would be a piece of cake thanks to youtube.  And of course, nothing is every as easy as it looks. I didn't want to use the washing machine like some sites recommended because we don't own the one in our apartment-  I didn't want to be in the position of "whoops sorry broke the washing machine while washing wool" (It's an old washer - with a new one I wouldn't have been as worried).

So - I used the bathtub.  The two fleeces I bought, one mohair (white) and one alpaca (black/grey) were dirtier than I thought possible so it took several rinsings to reach a water color that wasn't dark brown. It's now drying in a sheet hammock outside and on our living room floor.  Classy.  Some of it felted because I didn't know what I was doing, but most of it is salvageable and I've begun carding some of it.  After all that work it's nice to see the fluffy end product.

Apparently I was talking in the middle of the night recently and sat up and said "the wool, the yarn, and the felt".  Clearly I have a one track mind, even while sleeping.

Wallet sample from the factory take 2, much better this time around.
And now today I'm spending the day figuring out what I'm doing with my business.  I'm at a bit of a breaking point and don't  know what to do.  It's even getting to the point where, yes, after four and half years, I'm writing a detailed business plan.  Above is the second sample made of the Milo Wallet.  It's a little different and better than the one I make: it has turned edges and a magnetic closure and I'm happy with it.

It seems like I'm not going to be able to put all my line into production at once like I anticipated and I'm sad about that. Having things made in an American factory is expensive.  I am constantly questioning whether it's worth it, and whether my customers are going to be willing to pay that additional cost.  The sampling and dies will cost around $4000. If I order 25 wallets, each wallet will be $66 which includes materials.  So, a preliminary run costs $1,650. I currently sell this wallet for $160 on my shop. Let's say I just do a 2X mark up - making $132 wholesale and then, let's say my shop (or a retailer) does a 2X mark up - that makes it $264.  Which is a lot more than $160 and probably more than most would pay for a wallet. So you can see the pickle that I'm in.

A different factory I spoke with said if I want to keep similar prices to what I already have it's a better option for me to have things made in China.  That's so discouraging.