· By Patrick Raymond
May the Space Be with You ... Very Soon.
I'm so sorry, everyone. I've obviously missed the April ship-date. But rest assured, this is my top personal and professional priority. Things are going very well... albeit late.
As many of you know, a crowdfunding project does not have specific deadlines -- only estimates -- because the item has never been made before. So first, I've had to seek US suppliers who can make this "custom" item for us. That's been harder than expected because our opening order is so small (560 units), so it's like asking a caterer to do a 5-person wedding! Then once I find suitable suppliers, it is generally impossible for them to predict accurately when all the different components will be ready. And I would rather not heap undue pressure on them.
But I’m happy to say that we've made a lot of progress, and you'll likely get your Curvi in late May / early June. I can’t say exactly what day. I hope this is acceptable to you. Please know that I am doing my utmost to deliver. Below is a recap of all the milestones we hit and challenges we are having … starting chronologically …
On March 14, I received $14k net proceeds from Kickstarter. I got right to work on finalizing the design, sourcing and production details.
Electronic Die Corporation in Canarsie, Brooklyn, has completed the two RF dies (one for cutting & creasing panels, the other for sealing then panels) and National Steel Rule & Die in the Bronx has finished the “clicker” die for hoop cuts. Final cost: $5,300. This went very quickly, barely 2 weeks.
ET Manufacturing in Garfield, NJ, will source vinyl and oversee Adam’s Productions (in the same building) to run the “oversized” dies. We will perform actual cut/crease/seal tests on Thursday, May 3. If successful, the first 600 units will then only take 10 business days to make :-)
Meanwhile, the prefect vinyl has been found: ideal clarity, thickness, non-stick texture and “hand” (not too soft, no too rigid). It also has many health & eco-friendly advantages. This search took much longer than anticipated. I did not have access to catalogs with industrial samples. There are thousands of them, and they are only given to large manufacturers. John at ET Manufacturing (pictured) was instrumental in moving this process forward. Thanks, John!
Snaps in Header:
The liner (and optional curtain) must attach to the window. So I developed a simple attachment method: instead of standard 12-grommet holes, we’d have 7 snap-pairs. This was prototyped and successfully tested. I thought this would be a simple operation, yet I’m still seeking a supplier who can do this affordably! This is a baffling production bottleneck that I must solve soon. There are two options:
- Make custom “snap-tape”: a 72” strip of fabric with snaps machine-set at the correct locations. The strip would then be sewn into each curtain/liner header. RECMAR Products in Houston, TX, makes industrial-grade tape and is sending me a sample this week. If suitable, then I’d go with this option.
- Alternatively, snaps could be directly attached to the curtain/liner header itself (no tape). However, since cut & sew shops (see below) do not have machinery to do custom snap placement, it would require a worker to manually attach snaps painstakingly one-by-one, at a cost of $10+ per curtain/liner … hey, just for snaps?! Clearly not viable. I am seeking a shop with the machinery to automate this process. If no luck, then I’ll go with option a.
They must be a light, water-repellent, machine-washable textile (not yucky plastic). Seemingly a simple request, they still must be “custom-made”. This has also taken longer than expected to source. Why? Because our spec is 100% unique: we require a custom size (70”W x 60”L with ½” hem on all 4 sides). Here also, I found two possible options:
- A source in China is the supplier to the largest American brands and retailers. They can supply us with 750 units in plain white. But they would arrive in 25 days, without snaps in the header. I have evaluated the samples and they are excellent. But the lead-time is an agony!
- A US manufacturer and mass importer based in Newburgh, NY, already has packaged 70” x 70” liners on hand. I could cut & sew them to size. I’m evaluating samples on May 3rd. The unit price will be higher, and labor costs associated with unpackaging & cutting will be considerable, but they’d be immediately available.
Outer Decorative Curtains
Purchased by 120 crowdfunding customers (60 semi and 60 full-length) they must also be 100% custom-made. I will begin by offering a limited choice of simple colors/patterns. For those of you who picked this option, watch for a separate email from me in mid-May.
Custom Cut & Sew
This service will be required for both curtains and liners (to attach the snaps in the header). Unfortunately, few shops will consider our job (some won't even return my calls) because our opening order is so small. On April 27, I was allowed to visit Dynotex in Brooklyn, NY. I am hoping they will agree to provide a reasonable quote to do this job. They also offer assembly, packing and shipping service, which would be a good way to consolidate the work. If they are too pricey, the search must continue … :-(
Success. Sample arrived in good condition from Modern Arts in Albany, NY. Artwork will include logo outside, brand message and illustration on the inside, plus a thank you card. Total unit cost expected to be affordable.
Assembly & Shipping
Likely to be at the Cut & Sew facility (TBD). We’d consolidate the windows, curtains/liners and boxes at one location, where they’d then get assembled, folded, packed, labeled and shipped. All your customer order information is safely stored, and I have a label-printing solution and shipping/tracking will be via USPS.