It's an understatement to say I'm ready for spring. But, until it comes, I'm trying to figure out what to do with this turquoise gingham (right). I had gotten a book in the fall at Kinokuniya about smocking techniques and I would love to try it with this fabric. I'm worried it won't be practical if I did it by hand. Ideally I'd like to do it with some contrasting embroidery floss which would only show in the inside of the garment but would appear as little flicks of color in between the small folds of the fabric. I know some sewing machines can do smocking, but I don't think buying new machine to try one of my whims out is a good plan right now.

Business wise, January was a wonderful month.  I'm making a much bigger push in 2014 to take on new wholesale accounts in preparation for a new business model.  Perhaps you may have been picking up bits and pieces over the past year, but I've been trying hard to re-evaluate how I run rennes.  I've talked about the ups and downs of learning the ropes of manufacturing, but I think I'm finally in a really good place about it.  There are always small little things that can go wrong, but as long as the most important things go right, that's all that matters.  I had thought that my first run of duffle bags would be ready by the end of this month, and that was essentially on target, until last week when the leather shipment finally came in and almost all the brown leather was defective.   Major bummer, of course, but the factory I'm working with was really attentive about this and helped me work through the issue with the tannery right away and now I'm hoping they will be ready by early spring. mini duffle

 My current business plan is forty pages long, and it's not even done yet, I still need to add three sections and fifteen or so appendices!  I don't think I've ever written something so long, it seems like a never ending saga, but my target is to finish it by the end of February.  I think I can do it, or I hope so!  In writing the plan one of the most interesting things has been analyzing my market niche and comparing with other companies.  One of the things I've been thinking a lot about is compromising part of your company ethic (mainly quality/fiber choices/country of origin) in order to grow financially.  I see different labels doing this I don't understand the long term benefit for the short term financial gain.   I've also had to think about that in terms of price changes - was it more important to me to make a higher quality bag or to keep prices the same?  At the end of the day I know I want to make a higher quality bag and that's the most important thing to me.



Speaking of quality, let's talk about zippers.  Over the next 2-3 months I'm going to be switching over from using YKK zippers to Riri.  I'm really excited about this.  For those who might not be as much of a zipper dork as me, Riri is kind of like driving the sports car of zippers.   They cost 3 times as much as a YKK zipper but it's worth it, they run so much smoother, no pun intended.  Apparently you can also get gold or titanium plated zipper teeth.  Wow, maybe someday.  I can dream, right?

Either way, changes on the horizon!  Good changes, it's going to be a great year!