Learning Curve: Loose Pins and Doodie Happens

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.

I wonder whether other businesses get as in-depth about their boo-boos as this blog does. We’ve graphically shown all sorts of design nightmares in the past (such as here, here and herehere, and many more; see archives), and now we learn just how much attention we must pay to quality control.

The above is a photo sent in by one of our beloved customers. I almost fainted when I saw that. Lucky for us we’ve got some of the best customers ever and she was out-of-this-world patient and understanding. Alas, that doesn’t change the fact that something went wrong during production for the above to happen. Here is a close-up:

The bottom rung of the square purse ring came loose and fell off. That rung, I’ve learned from my factory, is called a pin. This sort of thing shouldn’t happen, which is why I’m a little ticked off.

Short term and specific to this case, we’re getting a replacement pin for the customer. Long term, we need some warranties from the factory. And we need to implement some sort of feasible system for testing the quality of each bag before we ship to customers. And then we’ve got to figure out what our own company’s warranties will be.

To test the durability of our bags, we’ve been filling them up with law school casebooks (very heavy stuff) and suspending them by both handles, by one handle, and then by the detachable shoulder strap to see if they’ll hold. We leave it like that for a week and then scrutinize for any wear and tear. At some point we will also quality test by using the bags as piñatas, but not right now because doing so would break my heart. These bags are my babies! I can’t imagine taking a bat to beat the daylights out of my babies!

Taryn Zhang will be a company grounded in uncompromising standards and good faith business practices because if that’s not how I can run a company, then I don’t want to run a company at all. With that said, how do I balance my personal paradigms with economically sound and prudent business practices, especially when prudence has never been one of my character fortes? These are the questions I’ve been pondering lately. How can I do what I love, what I am passionate about, and still yield profit?

Feeling overwhelmed. =/

About tarynzhang

Visit us at www.tarynzhang.com.
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  • http://everydayoutfits.blogspot.com/ Joey

    Thanks for dropping by my blog :)

    Wow, I just read a couple of your posts and I applaud you for starting this business and wish you all the best! I like how your customer service is great, as you care for customers and look for not just short term, but long term solutions to potential problems. I’m no expert, but as a consumer, I’d say this will definitely build loyalty.
    I think it’s good that you’re starting off on solid ground by focusing on quality and good faith business practices. I am sure as you go along, you’ll gradually learn to strike a good balance between that and maintaining good levels of profit.
    Good luck!

  • http://www.asiancajuns.com Asiancajuns (Cath)

    Wow – I totally admire how you handled this. Have you ever read any of Seth Godin’s work? Google him and check out his blog. He has great business/marketing/customer care advice.

  • Emma Yamada

    It is good that you are so thorough. They will be quality pieces.

  • tz

    Thank you, Emma! I hope so too. If anything, these pieces are full of heart. :-D

  • tz

    I hadn’t, but now I have, and am streaming his videos via YouTube! Thank you so much for the reference!

  • tz

    Thanks, Joey!

  • http://thereafterish.wordpress.com/ Mae Lu

    You’ve never been one for prudence? Wow. You seem to anal not to be. But I guess maybe that’s because you’re so anal and motivated being cautious is stupid.

    I’m by nature, overly cautious.

    I wish I could help you with your obstacles here. How do you create quality along with actually selling something?

    Most designers take years and years, don’t they?

    You’ll get there. Seth Godin is definitely a god.

  • tz

    Watching Godin videos now, like the one on TED Talks. Love it!

    Lol what I meant by lacking prudence is sometimes I shoot first then ask questions later. I’d make a horrible, horrible cop.

  • http://www.asiancajuns.com Asiancajuns (Cath)

    I’m so glad you like Seth Godin’s work! I find his daily emails inspiring.

  • mrschong

    I wonder about the same thing.. How do I do what I am passionate about and make a profit? Good question. I think it’s everyone’s dream to find their passion and once they find it, they won’t let it go. It’s hard to anyway if you keep hearing that same nagging voice. I have no money to do what I’d like to do but let’s just say the dream won’t die and.. even if I don’t make money when I start, just know that the money will eventually come in. It’s all a growing process.. a journey. And sometimes the most valuable part about the journey is the journey itself even before we arrive at our goal points. Darn, I really should apply this advice into my own life more often! Dream chasers … have sooo much determination! Add Oil!! You can do it!