While a tote bag might seem like a simple accessory - something essential yet taken for granted, the story of our new totes definitely means our latest staple accessory will be another milestone in the WAWWA Journey and an example of the growth of our micro factory.
Back in July 2020, we were pleasantly surprised to see one of our larger stockists put in a big order of our new tote bags.
While we were shocked in some respects, you'd be right to think that we had a plan for these tote bags and how they'd make it to our stockists and our own shop. But if 2020 taught us anything - it's that plans can turn to S*** very quickly...
So, the idea was that we would get these totes made in India with our Ethical and Sustainable supplier. They would be sewn, printed and shipped to us for inspection and then directly on to the stockist. Piece of cake.
However, thanks to trusty Covid the factory was witnessing major delays and all of a sudden our surefire plan was up in flames and in December we had to abort it and come up with something completely new. (Insert gif of someone pulling their hair out)
Running parallel to all of this was the growing experiment of our new in-house factory, which had moved passed face masks and onto bucket hats too, sprinkling some other bits here and there.
And so with this growing confidence, we took the leap of faith to try and make the bags in-house. The largest production run we've done yet in our micro factory, a shipping container 40 feet long.
100+ bags made in house - no problem. 250+ bags made in house - Sure. But remember when I said this order was huge? We had to now figure out how to make 1000+ bags! With no patterns, no fabric, no screens. Nothing.
So the work began there.... and so did the problems....
We of course needed to use Organic Cotton for our bags but due to what seemed like a international shortage (due to Brexit, the Suez Canal blockage, Covid, poor googling abilities or our own ignorance*), we couldn't find any for love nor money. That was until we found a place in Bradford with the goods. OK problem 1 solved ✅
Then having found our fabric (Organic certified might we add), it was time to get it cut and sewn and here came problem number 2*.
Having got the first load of cut fabric delivered to us, we realised that we were missing a LOT of Fabric, and by a lot we're mean a L.O.T. - once again the order from our stockist was in jeopardy.***
That was until Charlie in our Factory stepped forward with some quick maths and saved the day and spared a few more grey hairs from sprouting prematurely in those who have the unfortunate job of managing finance.
OK to recap, we've had to cancel our original outsourced order, decided to make it all in house, found the fabric - dyed it in Chorley, made the pattern, got the fabric cut, made some slight adjustments and finally began the (reasonably) mammoth task of sewing the bags.
3 weeks later, a new machine installed and conquered, countless coffee trips and more podcasts than anyone should listen to we did it - the bags were done.
Thanks to Charlie, Eva and Leo in our In-House factory the bags were now sewn and ready for printing! And Charly, Eva and Leo were tired and ready for a Pint and a holiday or a relaxing evening watching Bald and Bankrupt on YouTube.
From here it was smooth sailing, we worked with our good mate Mike up in the Mill on getting the bags printed, who did a sterling job.
It all seemed to be coming together and on the hottest day of the year so far the whole team came together to iron and package the final bags ready for shipment.
While this story may not have the trials and tribulation of a modern day Hollywood blockbuster or a high-brow Scandi thriller, it was the first BIG order (did we mention this already) we have fulfilled in our micro-factory and an example of how this new approach to locally producing more of our garments means we're still striving and finding new ways to be sustainable, in every sense of the word.
If you've made it this far, thanks for reading and we hope you've gained an insight in to what it's like in a small brand trying to do our bit in our corner of the world.
*the timeline on some of these may be a bit off - maybe don't look to deeply in to this
** I guess the delays for the factory in India could be considered the first problem and this one now being problem number 3 but we're here now so....
*** Regardless of the issues with the cutting - we want to give a big shout out to our cutters in Bolton