In the Studio: Behind the Scenes of a Product Launch
Yesterday was exciting for us! We launched our new peel and stick wall murals, a product that's been a long-time dream. It's so satisfying to see a creation finally make its way into the world. Especially this year, as we've all had unprecedented challenges to work through and overcome. Read on for more about our process and future product launches.
The COVID-19 virus has drastically impacted all things manufacturing, and we've had to pivot a bit on our timetable of products we'll be launching this year. We were originally planning to release our line of table linens first, but because of all the logistical delays, I decided instead to start with wall murals, followed by three collections of tea towels and throw pillows later this year, with our line of table linens launching next year.
When I decided to develop my own line of products last year I felt very strongly that it needed to be manufactured in the USA. It would have been easy and certainly cheaper to produce products overseas, but the quality just isn't there and the manufacturing methods are often concerning at best. I don't feel good about putting my name on that. In the current environment I'm even more convinced that producing our products domestically needs to be a priority.
Every good that's made here supports our local small businesses and national economy and the truth is, we have a much better handle on manufacturing processes and quality control. We're very selective with the manufacturers we partner with. We order round after round of product samples and test the products in real life before releasing them into the world. I'll be honest...it's not always an easy process.
One thing I did not anticipate was how long it takes to bring a product from the baby stages of development all the way through to production. Once I have an idea for a design, I usually start out in my sketchbook or on my iPad, and then move into a watercolor painting (for me, this is absolutely my favorite part of the process!) Then, I edit the art either in Photoshop or Illustrator to prepare it for placement on products.
For the Patisserie paintings I did it old school. I came across my original pencil sketches where I fleshed out different layouts and ideas. Ever since I studied design in Paris, I've been so taken with its charm and beauty. I wanted to paint the bakeries, or patisseries in French, and try to capture their character. I refined the sketches on canvas and went over them in pen followed by watercolor. When I paint, I use cold-press canvas because I love how the texture shows through. I kept these paintings a bit messy so they're not too perfect, and I always like seeing a bit of the pencil lines and the sketchy character come through.
Once the art is finished we use digital mockups to lay out the design for the product itself and make any adjustments (there are always adjustments!) Next, all the details such as image size and resolution, to what inks should be used: pigment or dye, to which printing process: screen or digital, to which manufacturing facility we'll go with...all have to be worked out, tested, changed, then tested again until it's right. Product samples are ordered and then...more testing! There is actually quite a bit of trial and error involved with product design. Finally, once the products are perfect (or as close to perfect as humanly possible) we move into the marketing phase where the products are photographed, blog and social posts are written, emails are sent and the launch begins! I'm still learning new things every day and honestly, it's never a flawless process. Most people never get to see this part, but I think the backstory is the most interesting thing about a new product. The process tells you about the product.
My biggest disappointment this past year was a line of tableware that the factory just couldn't perfect. Try as they might, they couldn't consistently center the design, which is kind of important on plates!! Granted it was only a couple millimeters off, but...enough to drive me crazy. So even though we've decided to pass on partnering with a few companies because the quality wasn't quite good enough or the logistics just didn't make sense, I know that someday these product dreams will absolutely become a reality just like our wall murals are now! We're pretty picky, but this is how I can promise you that anything we sell is a product that I feel good about having in my own home as well as yours.
Now more than ever we're spending a lot of time in our homes so it's important what we're surrounded by quality home goods. You can read more here about what makes our products different. And as always, let me know if there is something you've been looking for and just can't seem to find anywhere else. You never know, it may just be our next product :) I value your feedback and I'm so grateful for the kind words we've received. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for not only encouraging me as an artist, but also for appreciating that bringing beauty into everyday life is always a worthy endeavor.