Wow. Wow. WHOA. WOWOWOW. Our Warm Weather Collection launch was our largest, most successful launch in ES history. I am flabbergasted, excited, humbled, honored, thankful, shocked. I’m still a little surprised that clothes I design are somehow responsible for all this. But the fantastic success of this launch has also provided some challenges.
I’m sure you are all well aware that our lead time is currently 8-10 weeks, and has been so since launch day for our WWC. You may be wondering why, frustrated that you can’t order an item and receive it quickly, or just curious about the change. We are dedicated to educating our customers and keeping you all informed as much as possible, so I’d like to take a moment to share what’s going on here at ES.
Before we launched our Warm Weather Collection, we made projections. Taking all the information we had available from past launches, considering the popularity of items we knew would be in the collection, and the excitement around peeks we had shared, we estimated high. We figured out what hitting those revenue projections would mean in terms of the amount of fabric we’d need on hand and the time it would take to produce those units. Then we doubled that estimation. That is what we prepared for, and we thought we were well prepared. We ordered fabric and got ready to fill orders.
Then we launched, and we sold triple what we projected. In the days following the launch, sales have remained double what they were pre-WWC, despite the significantly increased lead times. That is insane. It’s incredible and amazing. However, with our current staff and facility, we can only produce a certain number of garments per day. Given our production capacity, it is going to take us 8-10 weeks to produce launch day orders alone. It’s not possible to simply make these orders faster.
From the outside, it may seem like a simple solution: hire more people, order more fabric. On the inside, it’s not so simple. I care deeply about our team and this company’s future. Rapid hiring isn’t part of my plan. We need team members that are passionate about our mission and willing to be here long-term, healthy members of this organization. Finding, interviewing, and training those folks takes time. Doing it slowly is important so we don’t throw off the balance and culture we’ve worked so hard to create. We also simply don’t have room, and after launching we have decided to renovate our facility to make space for added sewers. Changing our processes to handle permanently increased order volume isn’t something I want to rush. I want to take time to do things the right way - to reevaluate the way we plan, order materials, cut, and sew so that we can be successful for many years to come. Right after we launched we placed large reorders of all the fabrics that sold well. It’s all on the way but the mills have experienced delays, and our vendors are doing everything they can do deliver quickly.
I am blown away by the response to our Warm Weather Collection. I want nothing more than to make you all proud. I want to deliver our products to you quickly, I don’t want anyone to have to wait an unreasonable amount of time for our clothing. I want each piece to arrive to you perfectly crafted, impeccably finished. I don’t want your box to be packed in a hurry. I don’t want you to have to wait for days for an email back from our support team. I insist on preserving the high standards we established when I started ES, and that requires time.
Having a lead time of 8-10 weeks (and possibly longer) terrifies me. It goes against all common business advice. Every day I worry that we are losing customers, that orders will grind to a halt, that we won’t be able to recover from this. But I am making the best decisions I can make each day for the health of our company and in the best interest of our customers. We aren’t going to rush production or add staff in a hurry. We aren’t going to take on an investor and lose sight of our vision. We also aren’t going to sell out products on the site or stop taking orders; we want to honor those that are willing to wait and honor the process, no matter how long the lead time.
So, without further ado, here’s what we are doing to return to our standard lead time as quickly as possible, and to avoid being in this position again in the future:
If we are going to grow responsibly, if we are going to be in this for the long haul, we have to improve our operations from the ground up. That’s what we’re doing, and that’s why I’ve been relatively silent here for the past several weeks. Growth can be one of the scariest things for a business. It’s an interesting paradox, that after our most successful launch in history we are facing some of our biggest challenges. But I’m coming to learn that this is often what success looks like. It’s messy and complicated and hard, but exhilarating. Rest-assured we are doing everything we can to take care of our customers and our team. I do not make any decisions lightly, and nothing we do here is done without acknowledgement of the cost.
As ever, thank you for your continued support and fantastic loyalty. We don’t ever want to dampen your excitement or enthusiasm for what we do - instead we want to work our asses off to meet you where you’re at. We want to meet the demand and meet it with excellence, and that is exactly what we’re going to do. Onward, friends, and upward!
Questions? Something you'd like to know more about? Hit me up in the comments, let's discuss!