My sister bought me Apple's new AirPods for Christmas, and after finally having them delivered in mid-February, I haven't been able to put them down. From my commute to GoPro's office in San Mateo to the hours spent designing drones each day, this product hasn't left my sight. With that much time spent around this product and staring at the plain white charging case on my desk every day, I searched online to see if I could get something to add a little bit of style to the sleek design. Ideally what I wanted was a black decal similar to the ones you see people making for MacBooks - something simple and minimalist, that would compliment Apple's design language. To my surprise, I couldn't find anything like that (except for a sticker to make your case look like a dental floss container). So that's when I decided to step in and try to set a challenge for myself: My goal was to create a decal style accessory for AirPods using $500 and make a sale in 4 weeks (meaning by April 3).
The first few days I started brainstorming how exactly I would go about doing this. I have some previous experience creating websites and marketplaces on Squarespace, so I knew that that would be my go to in order to sell the product. But what I really needed to figure out, and quickly, was how I would make the product. Specifically,
- How do I manufacture the designs?
- What were the designs going to be?
At the core of this challenge was the cash and time limit. So at each step I had to be extremely conscious about the budget and timeline.
How Do I Manufacture the Designs?
The specific type of decal I wanted was a die-cut decal, meaning that the decal is cut from a solid color of vinyl so that only the design itself would be transferred to the case. That way it would look clean and the negative space of the decal would just show the high-gloss finish of the AirPods case. The 3 options I mapped out were to work with a consumer electronics die-cutting manufacturer (good for high volume, but not for initial product or $500 limits), purchase my own vinyl cutting machine (not the hobby I'm looking to pick up just yet), or use an existing sticker manufacturer. After combing through manufacturers and getting quotes, this brought me to a sticker manufacturer in Michigan that had a specific type of vinyl that was strong enough to stay on, but could also be easily removed without leaving a residue. Also (very important) no minimum order quantity. So we're looking good so far.
What Were the Designs Going to Be?
My original idea for getting designs was to slap together some concepts I wanted using Google images, and then pay a designer on Fiverr to create something that had a similar feel. If you haven't heard of Fiverr, it's essentially an entrepreneur marketplace where you can pay to have someone aid in a quick task that you don't have the time or skill set to do (I highly recommend it). While hacking together concepts, I ran across some stock images and it got me to poking around at the legality of using stock images in merchandise. I could license these designs for an extra fee and bypass the time of having to work through iterations with a Fiverr designer. With such a massive selection of vector images, I could easily try out and modify the designs in Adobe Illustrator so that they could be manufactured. Designs to manufacture, check!
Throughout the process I kept track of each purchase, making sure I wouldn't run over the $500 limit. The biggest purchases were the manufacturing of the decals themselves and the licenses to the stock images - accounting for nearly $400 of the $500. This doesn't leave too much room for the rest of the start-up needs. By using low-cost design services like Fiverr I was able to get a solid logo made. For packaging, I was able to get custom printed insert cards to display the name and some basic instructions so I could pack the decals in a standard envelope for 'Thank You' cards and pay only $0.49 for shipping. All of the costs are outlined below.
By March 24, just under 3 weeks since starting this challenge, I had 40 of each of the 3 designs manufactured and in hand. With my shipping supplies and product together, I spent the weekend putting the final touches on the website and launched on Sunday, March 26. In less than 24 hours, I had my first sale! Goal: Achieved!
Even though the goal was to get a sale in 4 weeks, this is only the first step for Air Vinyl Design. I will be continuing to push this idea forward and would love to get feedback from anyone out there has it! Check out the site www.airvinyldesign.com and follow the Instagram @airvinyldesign - If you have any feedback, comment on this post or reach out to me at email@example.com.
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Thanks for reading and I hope this encourages people to get out and create whatever it is you're passionate about!