One of the wonderful things about starting a making business is that people ask you to make things for them. Every time someone asks me to make something, especially folks who ask me to make something they’ve never seen or trust me to dream up a design, I’m honored, deeply flattered, and terrified they’re going to figure out that every once in a while, I have no idea what I’m doing. So far, things have worked out and the special orders are one of my favorite parts of this business.
In August, I made a special order iPhone cover , and a MacbookAir cover. As with all special orders, I took advantage of the project to think about whether I want to make more. They would be a logical extension to the Earth Apple Studio shop and are in demand, especially Apple coming out with a new iPhone every time I turn around.
Debating whether or not I want to make the covers got me thinking. A couple of timely posts also reminded me of the importance of not taking on too much, of pruning as Eve Fairbanks put it. It’s tempting to start making lots of different things just to see what takes off. It’s also important for me to remember that my goal is to design and make beautiful bags. Every product I decide to develop or make along the way takes time away from achieving the bag making goal and those decisions should be made carefully.
To help myself along, I came up with a couple questions to answer before I move forward with developing or making new products. In addition to some basic market research questions about what’s available, pricing, costs, and audience, I found myself returning to two key questions.
I only want to make a product if it improves upon what’s already available. If I can’t do that, then it’s better to leave it to folks who are already making them and making them well. In the case of the Apple product sleeves, it came down to a material choice. In all the sleeves and covers I’ve seen, felt seems to be the best fabric for making durable and beautiful sleeves. Check out Westerman Bags if you’re not sure. She makes gorgeous Apple product sleeves right here in the Netherlands.
The second questions keeps me working to meet my own standards. If I can’t make something that is extra beautiful, extra simple, extra useful, or extra quality, I don’t want to be making it. It’s as simple as that.
So there you have it, some new things I made and how I decided to not make any more. How do you decide which projects you want to work on? Are there more questions I should be asking myself?