Creating my own prototype actually happened by necessity and was not something that I had originally planned. I wanted to find a manufacturer that could help to create a prototype and then get it manufactured. Seems straightforward, right? However this was far from how things worked out. I realized that there are many variables when it comes to creating a product that can be difficult to portray. See the post on "Working with a Local Manufacturer" for more on that. My husband, Mario, had suggested I put my sewing skills to work and create a prototype myself. Begrudgingly I agreed. I felt that it would take much more time and wasn't confident I had the skill or knowledge to design the bag I had in mind. My only experience with sewing was as a 10 year old taken to a sewing class by my Mom who decided it was a great idea for me to learn. Little did I know that I would actually put those skills to work!
What evolved was a slew of ideas that took the bag from an idea to a solid product. Having to create the design and product from scratch was a new concept for me. However, it forced me to think of the bag in a new way. I had to account for things like: usability, dimensions, features, fabrics etc. I started out by looking at what it was that I really liked about actual handbags. It was their shape, simplicity, spaciousness and multiple compartments that really captured my attention. The issue was how to translate those design features into a bag that would need to be durable and made of a washable canvas material, without losing that element of style. When working with canvas, it tends to lend itself to a tote bag look. Think canvas tote bag with room to carry your beach towels. While those are great, that's not the look I wanted this bag to take.
Creating something means having to see it from different perspectives, considering all sorts of variations and from different points of reference. I paid close attention to design details and shapes and came up with what I think makes canvas take on a new role, a fashion forward lunch bag! Once I had the design in mind I went on to incorporating the features that were most important to me. This process involved much tossing ideas back and forth between Mario and I. Everything from what shape the bag should take to what mathematical formula was needed to create it (yes, maybe I got a little too technical here). Mario has been such a great team player throughout this whole process, as in listening to my incessant "Why doesn't this look right?" and "Is this tall enough?" or "Are you sure this wouldn't be necessary?" Thank you to all the supportive husbands out there :-) He's actually come up with key ideas and fixes that we've implemented into the design!
With each prototype we've made, we've passed it around to friends and family to use and to get their feedback. That's proven to be so important! Each person has had different suggestions and noticed different things which allowed us to go back to the drawing board and make improvements. After what only felt like an eternity, we believe we've come up with something that works!
The process has challenged us in many different ways, we've had to make sacrifices, learn to effectively work together and get those creative vibes flowing! All things that will, no doubt, be the cornerstone to building a successful undertaking.
...And yes that is in fact me in the picture above :D