Samples Round 2: More Photos & Thoughts

Please note that the following handbags represent first prototypes and serious blunders. This blog documents our trials and errors and tracks our progress from inexperienced start-up to launching the Taryn Zhang brand. Please bear that in mind as you look through these photos and illustrations.

Now we edit. The whole batch of Round 2 samples production are in. They’re scattered all over my living room right now, along with dust bag samples (the drawstring bags that the purses come in with each order). But first a quick overview of the small leather goods. Leather here meaning vegan leather, which I will have you know feels just like real leather. You’d be hard-pressed to make the distinction.

Please note these are un-artistic, un-professional shots I personally took with a low-quality digicam. There’s no way you can compare these images with photographs taken by a professional during a shoot, which Taryn Zhang will do once we’ve settled on the Alpha Collection. These photographs on my blog are not to show off the handbags; they’re to show you my process and the experience I am going through as I try to produce my first line. The Taryn Zhang Lookbook, which is forthcoming, will be where we officially show off the handbags! =)

Alrightey. Now that we’ve got the disclaimers out of the way…

The above is the sample for a wristlet cosmetic bag. There is an unintended “sporty” feel to this bag. I’m really not a “sporty” kind of gal, so I’d like to modify this design a bit, but I do love the quality of craftsmanship, the gorgeous fabric, and the detailing of this wristlet.

That’s the clutch that goes with the Ambitionist. There’s also a back zip pocket. I’m really liking this. I’d totally use it as a day clutch or checkbook wallet.

Yuck! What is that!? Bleh bleh bleh bleh…!! Thought I’d post it for a fair and balanced representation of this little purse venture of mine. You win some and you lose some. And that is a big fat lose. Okay. Now let’s move on.

Here’s yet another wristlet clutch. Oopsie, the metal logo plate is upside down! Obviously we’re going to have to fix that before we enter production phase.

Oscar de la Renta once said you can give the same sketch of a dress to ten different sample makers and you’ll get ten completely different dresses back. I’m paraphrasing. That was the essence of the quote, executed awkwardly. Anyway, he’s right. I gave the same sketches and briefs to two different sample makers, known affectionately on this blog as Samples Round 1 and Samples Round 2, and got two different bags back.

On the left is the nightmarish Catalyst that came back early this year when I first started this endeavor. Realizing really quick that I needed to switch to a higher-end manufacturer, I went with my current group in Hong Kong, and the end result is the bag on the right, produced from the same exact sketch and briefs, mind you. They don’t look like the same bag! And yet they are. It’s the same exact design made by two different people.

Definitely going to produce a black one of the Catalyst. I’d totally carry this bag in black.

Same comparison: The “before” picture is the Workaholic bag produced by the former manufacturer and the “after” picture is the same Workaholic bag produced by the present manufacturer. Note that there is a weight inside the “before” bag. It cannot stand on its own, while the “after” bag is structured and stiff.

The Tycooness bag (below) has so much potential, but the color–! What possessed me to select this color?

It feels great slung over the shoulder. It’s huge. Very roomy, and yet surprisingly compact, and not clunky at all. It’s very easy to carry. It could easily become a staple go-to tote for all the casual days. This thing will even fit a pair of high heels!

The side wall pockets each come with a small zipper bag, great for securely storing miscellaneous knick-knacks. They slip perfectly into the open pocket, and then the open pocket snaps shut by a magnetic button. This is the bag for the pack rat. For sure. It’s just kind of ugly. I’ll work on that. =/ I’ll find some way to pretty it up during the editing process.

The Executive, a satchel brief that comes with a detachable adjustable shoulder strap, also needs work. As you can see, the flap is too short, and throws the proportions of the bag off kilter. What’s more, the positioning of the metal TZ logo plate is a bit funky. The two handles are also a tad short. I wanted a longer handle drop. These are all minor edits, though. Overall, I like how the Executive came out. I would prefer this bag in a neutral taupe, though. Perhaps I’ll offer it in this red, black, and taupe.

If I may be candid, I’m going through a bit of a something right now. I’m questioning the designs, critiquing them to the point of loathing them and wanting to give up altogether. Sure, Samples Round 2 is an improvement over Samples Round 1 by leaps and bounds, but it’s not where I want it yet. I feel like that level is just beyond my reach.

When that box arrived, I stared at it in trepidation. I had to send the resident kitty to scout first.

Four of the Round 2 bags, left to right (above): Catalyst; Workaholic; Ambitionist; and Executive.

The purpose of this post is to round off the earlier Samples Round 2 reports (here and here). Now, the last bag that hasn’t been posted here before, the Ambitionist.

Alrightey, it’s a little off. See the matching clutch? Compare the photograph of the sample with the sketch. Ah well. I think the unintended flip of the clutch design actually looks good. I’ll probably keep it that way. As I already mentioned earlier in this post, I really love this clutch.

Top right corner pic of the back view of the Ambitionist is held up by Hubby. He also really likes the Ambitionist. In all black, it would be the perfect interview bag. You cannot go wrong bringing the Ambitionist in all black to any interview, no matter how conservative the corporate culture. Plus, there’s a real “designer” feel to this bag. Hm, what does that mean? A real “designer” feel? In any case, if such a phrase could be universally defined, the Ambitionist would have it.

I’m having mixed feelings about the Unnamed weekender, and the struggle isn’t all attributed to the fact that the bag is still unnamed.

No, the weekender bag is not small. My kitty is just big. Real big.

After I reviewed all the Round 2 bags, I felt like crawling into the fetal position and moping. I’m not there yet. I expected better. How do I make it better? There’s something still a little off about it all, but what?

Every one of us has in their lives that section of the peanut gallery filled with people who would reap great satisfaction to see us fail, and I certainly have that peanut gallery. I don’t want to give those people the satisfaction of seeing me fail. But how do I not fail? How do I make this better?

Well, folks, I’m going to get into that fetal position I was talking about and mope in bed until I either come up with an answer to that question, how do I make this better, or fall asleep, whichever comes first. Don’t mind me. I’m just having a moment of insecurity. Like you, I’ll be fine in the morning.

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