We’re one month into producing 100% of our ethically-made stretch belts in our Edmonton, Canada studio, which is enough to know what we’re crushing - and what could crush us. Want a peek behind the curtains? Come on in! (Careful, there’s thread everywhere.)
Nailing it, aka What's working
Our responsiveness to inventory demand. Being able to pivot on a dime to ramp up production of the week’s hottest-selling elastic belts is changing the way this whole business works. It’s intensely gratifying to make only what we’re selling: no wasted materials, no guesswork on what’s going to be our top seller in three months. Your demand becomes our supply, and it feels like a really honest, human way of doing business.
Being able to meet our main sewists' partial WFH needs. Whether it’s caregiving responsibilities, limited vehicle access, or proximity to one’s own teapot and slippers that make a work-from-home situation attractive… it’s been nice to find a balance with everyone’s individual needs.
Visitors to our Edmonton sewing studio have been loving seeing where their stretch belts are made! If you’re in town and want to see an ethical fashion brand in action, come on over.
Failing it, aka What's tricky
- OMG packaging. We’ve switched to a new, more eco-friendly packaging solution, and we already know that it’s not our “forever” packaging because it takes soOOOoo long, and has too many pieces. We’ve got a backlog of sewn belts that need to be bundled up in their snuggy loops and have their hangtags attached with adorable red safety pins. Do we love our safety pins? Yes. Is it great when our packaging requires full inventory of five separate components? No. Nope. Not at all. Our journey towards perfect packaging continues. *thousand-yard stare*
We’re working on our organizational system for work-in-progress. Belts that have labels sewn, but not buckles yet. Belts that are sewn, but need threads trimmed. Belts that are trimmed, but need a quality control check. Belts that are finished, but not yet packaged (see above). We have dreams of little magnetic signs that we can affix to our white bins to indicate who’s working on what, and what stage they’re at. Or maybe Velcro? Watch this space.
Sewing Unbelts isn’t as easy as it looks. Says our sewist Amy, who's got the patience of a saint, "It looks so easy. It is NOT so easy! It STRETCHES!" When you make a minimalist belt, every detail matters. That seam in the front has to be straight. The elastic has to be free of snags and marks. The buckle has to be right-side up. There’s a real learning curve to our belts.
It’s that last one that’s prompting our current sale. As we scale up our Canadian-made belt production, our sewing “oopsies” scale up, too. Standard fashion industry practice is to landfill any products that don’t pass “quality” control, but as a sustainable brand that measures what we waste, we're choosing another path.
We stand behind the skilled work of our really extraordinary sewists: when we have a functional belt that has one detail that's a little "off," we call it a part of the learning process and file it under "Almost Perfect." If we can find happy homes for our Almost Perfect Unbelts and you can save a few bucks along the way, we’re all winning.