I’ve been working hard behind the scenes since my Shelfie Shoppe Kickstarter Campaign, and it is high time for an update! The campaign launched May 8, 2018 and ended June 7, 2018. And man was it a nail-biter. We were on the edge of our seats, but it was a success! Picture confetti and squeals of joy! And then 13 days later, my husband, our 2 kids, our 3 pets, 7 other family members (and their 3 pets) and I, moved from Reno, Nevada to rural Montana. Bonkers!
(To learn all about the process from idea to Kickstarter Campaign, check out these articles:
The Kickstarter Campaign:
Goal = $16,000 (total cost of first production run)
Funds raised through product pre-orders = $17,920!!! (119% of our goal!)
147 backers placed pre-orders
I have been updating our backers through Kickstarter at each turn and bump in the road, but it occurred to me that my blog readers are in the dark. This blog, after all, started as a record of my crazy journey into the clothing industry. So, I need to fill you in.
A Kickstarter Campaign is a gigantic undertaking and a journey unto itself. You may wonder why I launched the month before a life altering, mass exodus from Nevada to Montana. The issue was fabric. When sourcing fabric for my pieces, I looked only for fabric with at least a year’s availability so that the fabrics I showed in my samples and photo shoot would actually still be available once manufacturing could occur. During the sourcing phase, I had no idea we were going to move to Montana. In fact, my photo shoot samples arrived during the Montana vacation that changed the trajectory of 11 lives. If I waited until after the move, I risked having to choose all new fabrics and make all new samples which would have cost large quantities of money and time. Not an option considering how much had already gone into the project. So, when it rains, it pours! Not the first time, won’t be the last.
If you didn’t catch a glimpse of the campaign, check it out here.
And here is the two minute video that says it all!
The campaign itself was a 90-day full-time job. The preparation leading up to it was eclipsed only by the constant hustle required to keep it going. And it was a squeaker! Getting publicity was next to impossible, but I spent my days pursuing new leads for publicity and potential customers through news media, blogs, contests, influencers, Facebook advertisements, and Facebook live videos (these were SO SCARY to make!!!). We had hundreds of contest entrants and some modest media coverage. Check out this article on Reno Moms Blog and this one on Watercress Words.
I also had an unrelated article published in the AARP print magazine (can you BELIEVE that!?!?) that I hoped would bring some traffic, but the timing was wrong and it came out days after the Kickstarter ended. Oh well. During the early days of the 30 day campaign, I received some valuable feedback that some potential customers loved the garments but would only want them in plain, neutral, solid fabrics instead of the fun, whimsical print combos that some of you (and I!!) love. I also learned from our factory, that there wasn’t a limit as to how many different colorways I could produce. The limiting factor was the fabric minimum (most require a minimum order of 50-100 yards!). I quickly sourced a few more fabrics and created some solids to add to the color offerings. I had two trunk shows with the photo shoot samples, one in Cambria, California and one in Reno. The ladies who attended had an amazing and exciting response to the clothes, and I think they pushed the campaign to success! They were able to hear me explain, in person, the idea of Shelfies and to see the cute styles, feel the luxurious fabrics, and try on a few samples! I’m really excited for future trunk shows and markets where ladies will be able to see and try on the full style, size, and colorway array! They also provided valuable feedback which led to some final pattern tweaks that sealed the deal on total cozy comfort!
The day before the campaign ended, it officially funded. I was standing amidst tall stacks of moving boxes, alternating between feverish packing and screen refreshing when the campaign slid over the finish line. My sister and I screamed and hugged! It was so exciting! We’d been saying that whatever the result, we’d know it was meant to be, but honestly, I would have been heart broken had it fallen just short.
1. During the campaign, the factory called to inform me they’d lost some employees and could no longer manufacture for me. Instant PANIC!!! That news made my heart drop through the floor. After I composed myself, I got busy researching alternatives, and have contracted with an equally wonderful factory. Crisis averted. Surely that was my one major crisis. I thought it’d be smooth sailing from there. Turns out, not exactly.
2. Once the campaign funded, I proceeded to place my orders for fabric, bra pads, elastic, labels, etc. so that the factory could get to work. I was informed that our aqua and ivory striped fabric was no longer in stock. Imagine my dismay when I heard the words, “We’ll place the order for the yarn right away.” YARN!?!? And this is on a fabric that I was told would surely always be in stock. Gulp! Not only was it unavailable, but in order to have the fabric milled (a six week process), I’d have to buy a minimum of 4 times the amount I needed. That’s a big hit to the budget! And, we were living in our little camper while awaiting the completion of our Montana home, with no Wifi. Picture me in the front yard, holding my phone up for a cell signal so that I could run my laptop off of the weak phone hotspot each time a complex email communique was needed. It was nuts! But finally, the fabric materialized, milled just for us!
3. Once the factory received all of the ingredients, they made first-run mock-ups to ensure I was happy with their product. The factory samples are gorgeous and exceed my expectations on every level. But during the process of making them, the factory noticed that one pattern piece was not fitting into the garments properly. Another delay. The pause button was pushed again as we set off to solve the mystery of the mis-sized pattern piece. After much remote back and forth between the pattern maker and factory (two completely separate entities each individually contracted with me), my amazing pattern maker took a trip to the factory to solve the mystery. Luckily, she was able to see what was happening and advise the factory as to how to assemble all of the pieces. Phew!
4. While the pattern maker was at the factory, she noticed one batch of bra pads was different than the rest. Really?! We are currently awaiting a new batch. When received, the factory will make one last sample to check sizing. Once I approve it, we will be off to the races!
Kickstarter campaigns include a product delivery estimate, and the month of August 2018 was mine. I knew I was an optimist, but in retrospect, that was concrete proof. We have had delay after delay, but make no mistake! Things are moving forward, and Shelfies are on the brink of being manufactured! The first production run is always the bumpiest. “Kickstarter wisdom” warned me to at least double my estimate for the delivery date, and I wish I’d done that. I regret giving such inaccurate delivery information, but I have learned so so much with each bump in the road.
Manufacturing will take 4-6 weeks to complete. The Shelfies will then be shipped to me by way of freight which takes another 1-2 weeks. I (and my family of helpers) will inspect, package, and fulfill all of the pre-orders as fast as humanly possible. A pre-order delivery date sometime in June (a dreadful 10 months late) is on the horizon. These cozy clothes will be well worth the wait!
Once all of the Kickstarter pre-orders are fulfilled, I’ll get busy selling the remainder of my inventory in my online shop in hopes of funding a fall/winter line that will knock your cozy socks off! The timeline of that run will be much tighter since we’ll be using the same base patterns and sizes with minor changes to sleeve length, hem length, and fabric type that will transform these breezy summer styles into warm winter Shelfies lickety-split! I am planning for a long-sleeved tunic, full length leggings, a long-sleeved sweatshirt dress similar to our Just Above the Knee Short-Sleeved summer dress, a long-sleeved Kangaroo Pocket Top and full length lounge pants. I can hardly wait!!! I have found a couple of shows and fairs in my new area of the country where I will be able to sell inventory and further spread the word about Shelfies.
I am also excited to report that after over a year of back and forth with the US Patent and Trademark Office, Shelfie Shoppe has been awarded an official trademark! This means that our name and logo are OURS!!!
It has been said that the most common cause of failure for entrepreneurs is simply giving up. After this roller coaster, I can see how that happens. Discouragement can feel like eminent defeat, but they are not one and the same. I have allowed myself to get down-hearted at times, but difficulty is not a worthy adversary to my determination and perseverance. I am excited about Shelfie Shoppe, but like infatuation, excitement is fleeting. Strength of will and commitment will get me to the finish line and excitement will be there to meet me.