So here goes…2 weeks ago, I was approached by adidas Originals, asking if I could produce my men’s toiletry bag as their VIP Swag Bag for their NBA All-Star Weekend opening event on February 14th in Houston for the NBA Players and celebs. <<falls over>> The kicker? 350 of them in 10 days. Oh, and custom fabric. And labels. And trim. No. big. deal.
So what did I do? Well, what do you think I did? I said YES! (okay more like a, “I can’t feel my legs, holy *%#, YES!!!”)
Now how to pull it off? Well, if you know me, I’m extremely resourceful, work pretty well under pressure and project management is sort of my specialty. (I mean, not to toot my own horn but I tend to make things happen – so toot! toot! haha!). So how did I make this happen? Well…if you’re interested…See Steps 1 through 8…if not, I won’t be offended. Just scroll past for the eye candy and wrap up.
Step 1 – Fabric Sourcing. Ohhh the fun part. This involved kosher 24/6 hot food vending machines (scary) in Bed-Stuy (those vending machines were far scarier FYI)…
…Trips to New Jersey warehouses in the Mood Mobile (sadly, sans Tim Gunn)…
…and wayyyy too much time to find the perfect color of black leather (that I never ended up using, mind you).
While sourcing, I had to make sure anything we considered they had at least 45 yards of, while keeping in mind color restrictions, certain patterns, fabric types and weights along with the theme of the bag being “urban survival kit”. This is due in part that adidas designed the jerseys for the players with a camouflage background and are also releasing a new line of camouflage shoes over the All-Star weekend…
Then to overnight swatch pairings to the client for final selection…only to find out the initial fabric choices are now out-of-stock due to impending fashion week madness, barely skim by with enough yardage of the second choice aaaand…
Step 2 – Trim Sourcing. Think buckles, D-rings, zippers, etc… that’s trim. 350 antique brass D-rings? Cake. However, do you know how difficult it is to find 350, 11″ black #5 YKK brass jean zippers in 3 days? Well, I found out. Fortunately, between my supplier here in New York and a few recommendation’s recommendation’s connections in Chicago, I didn’t have to fly to the YKK factory in Japan to beat down the door …aaaand…
Step 3 – Create matching labels for both adidas Originals and Fritz & Fräulein. Lesson learned: fabric stamps of my label do not work on cotton twill tape. What does work on short order? Having the incredibly talented Jeraul at Liberation Prints in Chicago pull an all-nighter to silk screen 800 of the tiniest things she’s ever printed in her life and overnight them to me in New York.
*BTW, I should have bought stock in FedEx before this all began. And…
Step 4 – To simultaneously find, on the brink of fashion week, a New York manufacturer (do you really think i could cut and sew these all myself? sadly, no. not in 1 week) who wasn’t booked and could make the bags that I could A – trust, B – could replicate my quality and design to a tee, oh, and C – could produce and ship in 1 week. Done and done. Well…not really that simple, but let’s just say I had to deal with a few frogs, a few <<laughs loud in the phone>> <<click>>, before I found my bag guru.
Step 5 – Breathe.
Step 6 – Almost have a heart attack when said bag guru doesn’t return calls for 24 hours – 48 hours before my ship deadline. Returns call. Everything on schedule. Aaaand breathe.
Step 7 – Bags completed at 7pm on ship deadline date. Count, pack and QC 350 bags on short-order, putting the last shipping label on as FedEx shows up at 8pm to overnight to Houston. Breathe.
Step 8 – Bags arrive at 8am in Houston. Client happy. Stacy couldn’t be more pleased. Aaaand breathe.
Okay, enough PM 101, let’s see the bags, right? Right. I get it. Rock and roll.
A shot of the first sample bag made, which I made a few tweaks to, but you get the idea:
And the bag open with digital camouflage lining (please excuse the pinned-in labels, this was the production sample):
Finally, here’s just a portion of the 350 in all their glory:
And yes, there were EXACTLY 350, so no extras sadly (and only about 6 inches of fabric to spare – no joke). However, in our rush to count and pack them in time, I only took this quick shot of the pile of bags and didn’t get any additional shots of an individual bag and lining. Just imagine the second photo, but with the labels sewn in and you’ve got it. =)
So there you have it. The cats are officially all out of the bag. I have to particularly thank adidas Originals, Danica, my PM on the client side and their designer, who found me in the first place, as well as my amazing colleagues in the industry, Laerte, Juan, Jeraul, Ush, Jeremy and Steve, who all had a hand in making this happen. My gratitude cannot be expressed enough as, between this project and Hilfiger, my business has grown exponentially over the past month and really, I couldn’t be happier or more humbled.
So, with that, I’m going to take a little much needed vacation. Ironically, Texas and California are on the radar for said trip in the beginning of March. However, don’t think I won’t be be taking meetings. I think you know me better than that. =)