noun – the making of goods or wares by manual labor or by machinery, especially on a large scale
It’s crazy if you think about it… back, back in the days… the people said manu (hand) factus (I do, I make). While nowadays, manufacture is often seen as production on a large scale, in factories and by machines. In previous posts, I did already mention some points about the charm of the original leathercraft, the difference between fast fashion and handmade products so that won’t be the message today… let’s actually talk about ‘manufacture’.
A one (wo)man job
If you have your own little company or if leathercraft is just a hobby for you… you are actually the manufacturer. You are the designer, so you make the drawings, the mock-up, and the final design decisions. Next, you find the perfect hide for your perfect project. And… you actually do all the steps from tracing, cutting, prepping, sewing and you put the finishing touch on every product. You are the only person, in the complete supply chain. Although, you can decide to give piece by piece someone else a little bit more responsibility in your little supply chain. For example, you can order your hides online or from a catalog. By then, you let someone else in charge for the searching, judging and picking the hides and they arrive at your doorstep with just a push on the button. This might sound easy but it has some risks. First, you have to find a supplier. Next, you expect the same quality over and over again, if you order a certain product. Except leather hides are a product from nature so don’t expect exactly the same hides each time. Depending on the price you pay for your products, could it happen that there are some bug bites, scars etcetera on these hides. When I want to make a bag out of one piece, I search as long as I need, for a hide which has a flawless piece from which I can cut my bag. That is why I am a little hesitant to order hides online…
A multi-(wo)men job
When you have a bigger company and you can actually hire people or pay people to do the manufacturing for you, you can divide the tasks. You can keep designing bags, you’ve collected samples of the materials you would like to use but the rest could be sent to the manufacturer. He or she will be responsible for the actual manu factus, by machine or by hand. Although when you have to make products on a large scale, it might be wise to divide it even more. During the ‘Festival des Métiers’ by Hermès, you could see that one person is responsible for cutting the leather pieces for their gloves, and the next person for the assemblage. You create a supply chain within a supply chain. This all depends, on the expertise of each employee, the number of tasks and the number of products to make.
The larger your company will get, the more people you will need, the more responsibility will lie with others. You will have to learn to trust others, to do a little less control-freakish but also to speak up if you don’t like what you get. Make sure you work together to create a beautiful product that you are all proud to sell.
Make sure you’re instructions are clear. They might be clear for you… but that does not automatically imply it is clear for everyone. When you have to make a product designed by someone else, make sure you are both talking about the same product, the same details, and the same finishes.
Out of stock… have a backup plan. What if the type of leather is no longer available? What is the request is too high? Make sure you can guarantee the customer their products within a reasonable time frame, for them but also for you to make.
Well, for now, I will keep to my little one-woman job but who knows about the future. How many people do you have working for you and how do you manage all of them?