It is customary to use a “sample maker” for the product development process and then take the final/approved product to a manufacturer for production but one of the manufacturers we met said they could do the samples for us. This was appealing not only because it would cut out a step but also because our design was a bit more technically complex and we all agreed that this would give the manufacturer the opportunity to work out any kinks before we went into production.
Many well known swimwear lines are manufactured at this facility in downtown Los Angeles.
We went through four different rounds of samples – a substantial investment of time and money considering that each round involves a “pattern maker” to create and/or modify the pattern, a “cutter” to cut the fabric, and the manufacturer to sew the garment. We loved the concept of an adjustable and convertible top that could be worn with tons of different back configurations but despite all of our best efforts we ultimately were just not satisfied with the outcome. The main issues were 1) the two straps in the front were too bulky, sports bra like and not sexy at all and 2) it was quite difficult to adjust the back without the help of a second person and since most people don’t have an personal assistant helping them get dressed, this was a big problem. On several occasions I found myself opting to not wear our own top because I didn’t have time to futz around with the straps. Major red flag!
An early sample of our original four strap convertible design.
As shown here the straps secure through hidden loops on the inside of the chest band and then re-attach to themselves to allow for adjustability and multiple different strap configurations.
Both Sibylle and I are extremely particular. We are actually more likely to be dissatisfied with our creation than we are to praise it. However our “litmus test” has always been that the bikini we create has to be our favorite bikini for volleyball and neither this top or bottom met that standard.
Where do we go from here – start over, jump ship? It is very difficult to let go of the concept of creating something innovative that could differentiate your product from everything else on the market but we both agreed that this pattern was just not working and it was time to pause and re-evaluate. A lot of our time and money has been invested in this project and both Sibylle and I are already extremely busy with the demands of family life with young children. Although we are both passionate about beach volleyball and the concept of this project/entrepreneurship in general, neither of us have money to burn. So we both have some thinking to do.