Hello everyone!  Get out your pen and paper and get cozy, it is time to really dig in to your product and your brand.  Whether you are gearing up to launch a product, accessory or fashion handbag line or revitalizing an existing brand, know how to start can be a major roadblock.  I am here to help!  The following questions will not only get your creative juices flowing, having thoughtful honest answers to these are absolutely vital to creating a successful product from the start.  Having a well aimed plan will help you avoid pitfalls in the future that could affect the cost and timing of your product it will also help you to make the very best product you can.  Let’s dig in!

1.) Who am I making this product for?

Countless times I consult with a new client or small business owner and hear “our target market is everyone” or some variation of this statement. Unless you are an established mass market brand (such as Walmart) targeting “everyone” is not an effective marketing strategy. As a small business or start-up accessory brand you will find much more success designing for a niche audience.

Define your market down to the absolute specifics. I like to use a muse when designing. Think, if a celebrity or influencer used my product, who would it be? What is on her Instagram? Does she use Instagram? Where does she travel? What is easy about her life, what is hard about her life? Answer as many of these questions as you can.

Once you define your customer and start selling your product you need to keep an eye on retaining this customer.  You must make it easy for your buyer to remember your brand.  A great way to do this is through custom, branded design elements (including hardware!).  To learn more about how to create your own branded elements read our blog posting 7 Ways to Put Your Logo On Your Product (With Pictures!).

2.) What problem does my product solve?

Very few people have made their business on “cool product.” And ultimately, trends pass quickly. To successfully launch an accessory line, or revitalize an existing line you need to offer more than just aesthetically pleasing, or edgy design. You need to solve a problem. After answering question number one you should have a really great Idea on what little problems plague the life of your target market. Make sure your designs solve those problems!

3.) What budget do I have for this product line?

Understanding your budget and what goes into producing a line of accessories will help you to map out your entire production and product development method. For example, perhaps you don’t have a budget for production and need to run a crowd funding campaign. This will greatly impact your product development timeline as well as greatly alter the production facilities willing to work with you!

4.) How will I sell my product?

If you are wholesaling you need to be prepared to sell your product ahead of season, and sit on it until it hits the store shelves. This means if you are selling via e-commerce alongside wholesaling, your e-commerce business could be delayed months! Also, if you are planning on wholesaling you need to set your target retail price points to be in budget with both your target market, and your target retailer. This means you will need to produce on price to maintain a wholesale margin.

5.) When do I need to bring the product to market?

Some product is season-less and other product relies heavily on coming to market at the right time. If you are launching a line of beach bags for summer wholesaling, you need to have your product ready to ship before December.  Many large retailers buy one season ahead so you need to have your product sampled in time to make those sales. To understand more about the product development, prototyping and manufacturing timeline see our handy infographic here.

6.) How will I design my product?

A brand is no better than the experts working to bring it to life. I have many clients who went down the “I will do it all” path and found that while this method seems less expensive, in the long run it will cost you more. Working with a handbag or accessory designer and product sourcing agent can help you to create product that is efficient to produce. A good designer can also advise on printing methods and ways to customize a bag without breaking the bank on mould fees and requiring huge minimum order quantities (MOQ’s). Further the time spent “doing it all” could be better spent focusing on the things you do best. If you are a marketing expert perhaps spending all of your energy promoting your new product is a better use of skills then learning how to design and source a product. To get a custom quote on product design services go here.

7.) Who will produce my product?

This question is a doozie. Where you produce your product is going to greatly alter how you design your product, the timeline and the final result. Producing Domestically can have some great benefits – just being able to say, “Made in the U.S.A.” will go a long way toward promoting some feel good for your brand. That being said, if your product requires a lot of labor it may be appropriate to consider producing overseas. You will have an easier time sourcing your materials and creating items like custom hardware. The number one biggest barrier to small businesses going overseas is the minimum order quantity. Many small businesses and startups are uncomfortable making the move to overseas production by themselves. If that is you consider working with a sourcing agent. Our established off-shore partners offer Niche Design + Import minimum order quantities as low as 200 pieces color per style. For more information on our importing and sourcing services click here.

Once you have answered these questions you will have a roadmap to success creating a handbag or accessory collection or product. If you would like to learn more, but really want to discuss your brand one on one feel free to schedule a free 30 minute consultation.