New Product Lines & Corporate Refactoring
BRACE Design is a small business. And like the majority of small businesses in the United States, BRACE Design is a one man band. Well... mostly.
The way things have been run here are more or less like this:
► I design something cool
► That design is subcontracted to an outside manufacturer (or multiple, depending on product complexity) and some parts are also made in house.
► Finishing, final assembly, boxing, and shipping are all done in house.
► In tandem to this, marketing and customer care is done partially by me, partially by a subcontractor.
This process works out pretty good, but there are a few snags, all of which involve myself.
First off all the assembly, boxing, and shipping, takes a lot of time and energy. I would love to hire on extra help for this portion, but frankly I cannot afford to do so. Even though order volume is not particularly high enough for this to be a big bottleneck at this point, my optimism feels like this will be a larger issue in the future.
Secondly, the manufacturing of parts in house takes a lot of time and energy. Again, extra help would be nice, but it is not financially feasible.
Thirdly, these issues are compounded by the fact that I cannot solely work on BRACE Design. I still retain a full time day job to make things work. As much as I would love to focus all my time and energy on BRACE, it just isn't sustainable yet.
So, in an effort to:
► Reduce my time involvement in direct manufacturing
► Reduce my time involvement in order fulfillment
► Increase sustainability & profitability
...I will focus effort on pushing more off on my production partners, and integrating new partners who can handle more of (if not all of) the business process mentioned above. I will also be looking to integrate certain suppliers who are already designing and making things, and can tailor them per my specifications, instead of doing full custom in house designs.
So what does this mean for the future? Well, in the short term, not a whole lot of visible changes will happen. In the long term it means:
► A larger and more diverse product line for BRACE Design (but still carefully vetted and tested)
► Longer processing times on certain orders
► Less in house control and design input on certain products and overall UX
► A new integrated storefront on our website
Additionally, I will be exploring what I'm calling "Subsidiary Stores" which will be small and mostly autonomous web stores. They will explore more unique avenues and ideas (focusing much more on a small niche), but will receive the full support and quality that BRACE Design offers. They will mostly be set up so that they need minimum oversight and maintenance, but will still help towards the goal of sustainability. One of these such stores is going through a secret trial period right now and, if successful, will be revealed on a larger scale.
Finally, this is also an attempt at being more transparent with BRACE Design as well. I feel like in this day and age, it is important to know about the companies you deal with, and that it is interesting to know about the people behind them in a real sense, not just the corporate biography on the about page. I'm going to try and get better at that, even though it is somewhat of a scary prospect.
So that's the plan going forward. I hope that this will be a good direction for BRACE Design, and for me personally, so that we may both grow for the better.
Thanks for reading. Stay safe, have fun, design well.