· By Patrick Raymond
The Lords of the Machine
Apologies for the delay. I kept hoping to be able to publish an update sooner, but I needed to wait for suppliers and partners to deliver definitive answers (not “maybe’s”) so that I had reliable news to announce. Now, I can tell you there is good news & the bad news.
Bad news: we won’t ship until mid-July.
Good news: production started, and is almost finished, so we are set to ship mid-July.
The delay is only due to one component, albeit an important one: the pleated window. It continues to be a challenge. My original handmade prototype was made with vinyl from a hardware store. I cut and taped it together. For mass production, you might recall from my previous update how I paid for a custom cut/crease/sealing radio-frequency tool -- the Machine! You might also recall that I stated that “the perfect vinyl” had been found. Indeed, I had been shown a suitable sample by a local sourcing agent, and was assured it would be available for mass production. So we ran tests with another type of vinyl to evaluate the cut/crease/seal operation of the Machine. I must express my deepest gratitude to the Lords of the Machine, who have put in countless hours and effort. I’m happy to say that it is performing very well.
But then, to my dismay, “the perfect vinyl” was proving elusive. Although I can’t know for sure, I suspect the sourcing agent might have been hoping that I would accept another type of vinyl … one that he just happened to have on his shop floor. Not only was it of lesser quality, it simply did not perform acceptably for our application. Then when I’d ask for vinyl closer to the “perfect” sample I had been shown, he kept assuring me that his suppliers (whom he refused to disclose) would have it “soon”. They never did. I effectively spent the past 6 weeks in a cat & mouse game, testing different (imperfect) vinyl options and waiting for a definitive answer on whether or not the right vinyl would arrive per my purchase order. Some weeks would go by without an update at all. This baffling “wait for the vinyl” game was very frustrating, and not only do I apologize for the delay, I share your frustration of feeling kept in the dark.
Sensing something was amiss, one Lord of the Machine referred me to his direct source for vinyl two weeks ago. They are an 100% American company based in New Jersey who manufacture tons of sheet polymers and coated fabrics in compliance with the highest quality and environmental standards. They sent a chemical engineer (with his apprentice) who took the time to listen to our requirements. Remember, our opening order is very small, and I was amazed and grateful they even showed up. They informed me that the combination of properties we wanted simply did not exist off-the-shelf or pre-made rolls of vinyl. It would appear that the previous sourcing agent was not accurately representing key aspects of how vinyl is actually mixed and made. Turns out that most industrial vinyl is made on-demand in a full “mill run” of a few thousand yards at a time. It’s not lying around somewhere, gathering dust, waiting to be ordered. So much for the vinyl “broker”.
But now, at long last, with the help of a reliable, direct source, we have the correct formulation for the perfect vinyl. I can’t divulge our trade secrets, but I can tell you that it is a very unique blend according to our very unique requirements. For example, just one aspect (finish) can’t be too polished, otherwise it “sticks” and also worker fingerprints and soap scum will stick to the window. Another aspect (clarity) is very unique in that it is not desirable to have it be 100% see-thru: it needs to be clear enough to let light in, but slightly frosted to maintain a comfortable level of privacy. We discovered 4 other properties that are in fact critical for our window to deliver a better showering experience for you.
The mill run will take 3 weeks, and the cut/crease/seal/fold operation will take at least another week. I approved this delay because I can only release the product in good conscience when it passes all tests and can deliver 100% satisfaction to you.
Everything else is just peachy. All the previously identified production issues have been solved. I purchased all the required materials and struck a manufacturing deal with Carnation Home Fashions, a major shower curtain importer and manufacturer based in Newburgh, NY. Therefore ...
- Warehouse, check!
- Liners, check!
- Curtain collection, check! (If you ordered a semi or full curtain, expect my email this Friday.)
- Curtain cut & sew operators, check!
- Adapter twill strip and hooks, check!
- Header snaps, check!
- Snap-machine, check!
- Wrapping tissue paper, check!
- Boxes, check!
- Assembly workers, check!
- Thank you postcard with illustration, check!
- Shipping labels, check!
We just need to wait for the pleated windows.
Oh, by the way … so far I have spent well over the $14k net proceeds from Kickstarter. This is typical for founders who absorb one-time tooling and equipment costs. But I am now personally financing this first production run. Since I am still accepting pre-orders on my website www.Curvi.co, and since the minimum order quantity for my production exceeds the number of Kickstarter backers, it would really help if you could encourage your friends to make a purchase. We will have extra units for them ready for delivery in mid-July :-)