The things I have learned in making the Elizabeth Sutton Leather Collection are infinite.
What have I learned?
1. That there are so many things involved in creating, storing, and distributing a product such as a ladies leather shoulder bag- it is unbelievable. Things I could have never imagined prior to beginning the process. Applying for a UPC code, handling tariffs and customs, negotiating and securing distribution facilities, creating inventory lists for the web (which is its own animal), deciding on packaging, quantities, and the list goes on.
2. That a LOT of decisions are involved in designing leather products. Beyond the leathers and colors, you need to think about extremely detail oriented design aspects and make quality decisions when selecting paint colors, thread colors, lining, plating, zippers and pulls, packaging, cushioning, all sorts of things. In addition to aesthetics, quality is something I pay very close attention to, which is why the smallest details are important to me.3. Pad your expected timelines by 30% and pad your costs by 20%, solid. I ran into so many issues and delays, all norms in the world of production, due to external vendors, complex molds, unexpected fires, etc, etc. One of the most important things for a healthy working relationship – open communication to manage expectations. The atelier in Mexico City, which produces the Elizabeth Sutton Leather Collection has never, in their 47 years of existence, seen a production so complex and unique, and yet they are still telling me I’m their favorite client, even though production ran 3 weeks longer than expected.
4. That setbacks occur in business ALL THE TIME and you just need to roll with the punches. There is literally no point in getting too upset and crying over it, because it won’t change a thing. Figure out the next best solution, and figure it out FAST.
5. Preparing for a launch is SO complicated, especially in regards to web – creating product descriptions, managing inventory stocks especially considering how complex my collection is with all the colorations, writing and optimizing my blog posts, deciding which images to use, editing lighting, uploading and reviewing all information, creating marketing materials for Instagram, Insta-story, newsletters, Google ads, catalogues, line-sheets, and look-books. Deciding all my new policies, like free shipping, return policies, information for UPS, etc. So much. Too much. Head spinning.
6. Teamwork makes the dream work. The Elizabeth Sutton Leather Collection literally took a village. At least 100 people were involved in getting the collection off the ground and the job is not over.7. Most importantly, I learned that my brand stands for quality and design integrity. That every decision I made was to uphold the integrity and the visual of my product, the ladies leather shoulder bag, in order to achieve design and quality perfection, something most brands these days don’t do. From the color and thickness of the thread, to the color of the edge paint, to giving my fans a glimpse into my atelier. My goal was to create the most beautiful possible product, even if it would cost me more, and I am certain the world will see that my brand represents nothing but quality and design integrity.
Now, why should you buy my genuine leather handbags?
Since we live in a world of facades and in a world where we are taught to perceive certain things and certain brands as superior to others, I pose you this question: When you are buying a multi thousand dollar ladies leather shoulder bag, if you honestly think about it, what are you buying? You’re likely not buying the quality (I’m telling you, I know this now – watch this market study conducted with Payless), you may possibly be buying the design (though you can always get it knocked off cheaper from brands like Zara, yet your brain will always convince you designer is better), but most people are buying brand prestige.
So what creates brand prestige?
Advertising. Celebrities. Being an old school fashion house. Getting in with the ‘cool’ crowd. Well, I’m creating my own cool crowd. I’m relatively a newbie but my dreams will take me far.
My brand is about building something different – encouraging people to feel comfortable and proud to be different. My brand is about creating beautiful things stemming from fear, necessity, trial and error, loss, and hard work, and about wanting a good future for me and my kids. The Elizabeth Sutton Leather Collection is about doing my very best and acknowledging it’s a good thing to ask for help and encouraging others to do the same. My brand is about showing people that even though the road less traveled is often scarier, it is that much more fulfilling. My brand is about teamwork and giving others opportunity while simultaneously creating opportunities for yourself. My brand is about building a team which functions like a family with true support, loyalty, and love. My brand is about delivering a product of super quality to consumers that is made with love, design integrity, hyper-attention to detail and only the best materials.
My desire with my brand, my 3rd baby, the Elizabeth Sutton Leather Collection, is to create something different, and not just a unique ladies leather shoulder bag, but a bespoke experience from beginning to end. From my packaging, to my product, to my voice, to my customer service, and through who I am as an individual.I pray that my bags are not only so fly that they sell themselves, but that people will truly want to support my brand and my team who have all worked so hard on this launch, because trust me, it took a VILLAGE. Literally. Between internal ESC team and external people including the workers at the leather atelier, legal, digital, photo/video/models/hair/make-up, my collection easily involved over 100 people.
I hope that when people carry my designs, they feel like not only are they carrying with them something beautiful, but that they are carrying with them something that is strong, powerful, and inspirational.
Holy ****!!! I can’t wait to spot my first bag on the street! Bucket list goals going to keep getting checked off. And pretty please, tag me in pictures when you wear the Elizabeth Sutton Leather Collection. Happy shopping!!!