Let's just dive in here, shall we?
What the hell happened?
Well, a lot. As we are all aware by now, the coronavirus is spreading rapidly throughout the world and is now hitting close to home here in Portland, Oregon. As parents we are focused on protecting our little ones, our elders and our immunocompromised loved ones. I think I’ve used five bottles of sanitizer spraying my son’s hands just in the last three days. Overkill much? Maybe.
As business owners Chandler and I have another outlook on this virus and how it directly affects our supply chain. Did you ever think the coronavirus would impact a bra? When we started AVYN last year we had a dewy, super optimistic, yet entirely naive idea of what it takes to launch an apparel business. We thought, let’s just make some cute bras and sell them online! It’ll be easy and we’ll be able to quit our day jobs and just vacation with our kids all the time!
Honestly, so far it has been pretty easy, all things considered. We got off to a really great start in early 2019 and despite how much we push ourselves and think we ‘should be’ further along or that we ‘should be’ selling more, we frequently have to stop and remind ourselves that we really are doing a good job considering we know nothing about running a business. Just like motherhood, right? Sometimes you just gotta jump in and swim.
Over the summer we committed to giving this business our heart and soul. Chandler and I enrolled in a sales bootcamp last fall and we hired a design team to take our bras to the next level. Plus, these gals know bras like nobody’s business. We’ve been trialling and sampling improved fit designs with our current manufacturer while also broaching a new partnership with a different manufacturer, both of which are located in China. At the end of last year we signed off on the new fit improvements and placed our bulk order, eagerly waiting for production to begin once the Chinese New Year ended. Our timing was impeccable and the bras were slated to arrive just before our first trade show this spring.
Then the coronavirus hit. We warily watched from afar as it spread in China and shortly thereafter we were notified our manufacturer wouldn’t be starting back up after their holiday. All workers were mandated to remain in their cities until further notice and not travel back to work. This effectively brought all production and the momentum we were gaining to a standstill. Initially we stressed the F out. What were we going to do? What were our options? Did we even have any options?
Are you going to continue manufacturing in China?
We contemplated moving our manufacturing elsewhere. We revisited some of the factories here in the States that we’ve talked with before. We consulted with our design team for alternative sources, but while Sri Lanka or Vietnam are certainly becoming more proficient with manufacturing, no one produces the quality of bras that China does. China is simply the best when it comes to tech apparel and lingerie.
After several weeks of dissecting every possible angle, we have ultimately decided to follow the biggest piece of advice about motherhood (and life in general) and apply it to our current issue. We’re going to be patient and ride it out. My grandpa always told me that things have a way of working themselves out and he was never wrong about that.
So despite the fact our inventory is dwindling and we’ve got trade shows to attend with little to no product in hand, we’re going to trust our instincts and continue moving forward with the relationships we’ve forged over the last three years. Our current manufacturer was willing to take us on even though our initial orders would be small. We’ve worked past our language barrier over thousands of emails using photos, sketches and super simple communication. They’ve taken our concept idea and made countless prototypes until they were just right, all at a price we can afford so our bras can in turn be affordable for our customers. They’ve corrected their mistakes and continued to work with us even though we’re probably a huge pain in their ass. So we’re not going to bail on them now when they’re struggling. We’re going to maintain our relationship with them even when times are hard just like we would with any good friendship.
So...when will they be here?
Our manufacturer returned to work this week healthy and relieved to be back, and our order is underway again. Yipee!!! We’re hoping to receive the next round of samples within the next two weeks and we’re really hopeful these will get the final stamp of approval. From there, production time is 6-8 weeks so while we can’t promise anything... it’s looking like June will be our lucky month!
As soon as we have officially signed off and production is underway, we will begin taking preorders!
Why can’t I preorder one now?
We touched on this earlier, but with the help of our agency partnership we’re making modifications to enhance the fit and support of our current bras. We’re always taking in feedback and as we keep growing, we’re incorporating your comments into our designs. If you have anything you’d like to share, please shoot us an email or leave a review!
But without our final samples in our hands, we’re not able to show you the changes we had in the works because we don’t have anything to photograph! And it probably looks a little shady if we’re selling bras that we haven’t even seen.
The other main reason we currently aren’t able to take preorders is because we’re still contemplating our new color palette! Do we keep our current colors? Do we switch it up? Painting my house doesn’t intimidate me at all. Paint is temporary, you can always change it if you don’t like it, right? Selecting this next round of colors is SO MUCH more intimidating. It’s bringing out our most non-committal selves but we can say with certainty the colors are going to be gorgeous! They’ll be fun and lively because if there’s one thing we can promise, it’s that we have strong anti-frump attitudes and there’s nothing like a bland bra that makes us ask “WHYYYY?”
So thank you for sticking with us when we’re down. Thank you for emailing us and asking when we’ll have more sizes back in stock. While it kills us to reply with a vague ‘we don’t know when we’ll have more Mediums’, it also warms our hearts hearing from you and knowing you are visiting our website and wanting more bras. We are just as excited as you are for the next round of bras to launch. They’re gonna be worth the wait!
Lauren and Chandler