Getting back to normal
Spring Summer 2021 Collection
This week we have announced that we are finally returning from a 10 day turnaround to a 5 day turnaround on all orders...which is HUGE for us for a few reasons!
The 10 day turnaround on all orders has been far from ideal, but it is what we had to do in order to do over the past year, to keep our wonderful team who make your orders, safe during the pandemic.
Looking back, even the last six months have been incredibly rocky for our little business. So what better way to celebrate the return of a five day turn around, but to look at what we were battling with and what we've had to do to get our turn around time back to five days.
Hit rewind to January 2021 and as the government announced we were heading into another lockdown that would be much longer than the one we had in November, we knew we wouldn’t be able to look at operating as we had hoped for a while.
Firstly, conversations were had with the team. We knew we could only bring people in on a reduced schedule, but it was also important to ensure that they only came to work if they felt safe in doing so. The backlog of any orders placed over Christmas were our starting point, but we also knew that fulfilment of the orders had doubled and so a 10 day turnaround was unavoidable.
To begin with the cutting of your orders was done out of hours by Heidi and only one seamstress was in the studio each day to make them. Orders were only dispatched once per week to avoid going out where possible.
In February we had more systems in place and brought in a maximum of two people per day, although hours were still reduced and therefore the turnaround time remained as 10 days.
As we saw light at the end of the tunnel in March and site visits of what is now our new studio took place, we realised we would be able to launch our new Spring Summer collection in April and so we worked with the team to get everyone trained to cut and make the new collection.
In terms of steps we have been working to get our ducks in a row. We needed each of the following steps to be sorted in order to make this weeks announcement:
Studio Move: The move to the new studio was one of the biggest factors in being able to reduce our turnaround time. This has allowed us to bring the whole team back safely which means we have doubled our make capacity on a daily basis.
Cutting table in the new studio
Production Process: We have created quite a complex order process sheet (with ALL the formulas!) which allows us to download the orders on a day to day basis and organise how the team cut and sew. By making to order, we need to make the production team's lives as easy as possible - i.e ensuring they are sewing garments in the same colour / style / size at the same time (with over 200 product options on the site, it is definitely easier said than done!).
Daily cut list and garment stickers
- Efficient Set Up: We have two cutters, three seamstresses, two cutting tables and five sewing machines. Each team member is on a different fixed term contract (the hours / days that they work are based on the needs of each employee) and therefore have different days and hours that they work. Due to COVID-19, the team have only just started working together again, therefore they have been spending the last few weeks working out their processes and systems. We are so small, that no one person does a single job. The cutters collectively create the prep for the garments as well as cutting the orders, whilst the seamstresses work across all the machines. In order to reduce the order turn around time, we needed each member of the team to find their rhythm as well as collectively work out the best way to work.
New Studio Set Up
4. Ensure turn around time doesn’t reduce the quality: The business model we have adopted is not about cutting corners, it is about trying to turn a typical industry model on its head. We have spent time with the seamstresses, to ensure that the garments can be made within the timeframe but without compromise on the quality. Aesthetic Laundry garments are designed to be transitional and therefore need to last wash after wash.
Logo Tee in Red
5. Post Collection: A small change but a much needed one! Pre pandemic we used to take the post to the post office ourselves. We now work with the lovely guys at our local post office who kindly do the collections and process all your orders for us.
Confetti Dress in Black being packaged in our compostable mailing bag
And so finally why was a five day turn around so important to us?
In a world where fast fashion can dispatch within 24 hours we are of course by no means competition in this sense (not that we want to be), however we hope that by adopting this business model we are showing that it is possible to have beautifully created garments, made and dispatched to you within a reasonable time frame. So for anyone teetering on the edge, wanting to take the plunge to try shopping smaller and independently you might just be in the right place! We are trying to bridge the gap between fast and ethical fashion. You can still have beautifully made garments, safe in the knowledge that everyone is being paid fairly whilst also receiving them within a reasonable time frame.
Thank you for reading,