The Trials and Tribulations of the Ambition Anorak
A development timeline
Turns out the Ambition Anorak is aptly named, after spending a year developing it with three different factories. But in order for you to fully understand just how excited we are about it (and just how special it truly is) we have to take it back to 1996.
6 year old me (Mallory) was obsessed with this style of jacket. Me, my brother and our mom and dad had matching L.L. Bean anoraks (my grandma had a matching one too) that were made out of a perfectly swooshy, perfectly matte, perfectly water resistant fabric in great colors). It was my favorite thing for nordic skiing around the woods next to my house because I could cinch out the cold with the drawcord AND pack an enormous amount of snacks in the pouch.
So, nearly 30 years later, it was time to recreate it for a woman in her 30s. With a fabric you all know and love from our collection + fun details like prints and colorful cords. Seemed easy enough right?
March, 2022 – Idea time. I chat with the factory we were using about having them help with the development and we’re good to go.
April, 2022 – I visit said factory in Los Angeles, and we go over the design in person. I create a set of sketches and measurements for them to follow.
June, 2022 – That factory sews the first sample, but the pockets are wrong and the sleeves are too short. I reiterate what I want instead.
Later in June, 2022 – a second sample arrives. But somehow this sample has zero pockets…
September 2022 – the communication with the development team at the factory has gotten super confusing and their measurements don’t make sense, but another sample is on the way.
October, 2022 – Third sample arrives – now there are 3 pockets! And the sleeves are too short again! Oh no, we’re reverting.
November, 2022 – things implode at this factory and we have to make an emergency exit with our production. I ask for the Anorak pattern (which we’ve paid for) and they send me a weird file format that I can’t open.
December, 2022 – the fabric for the Anorak has arrived from Taiwan but we have nowhere to make it. We start to get set up at a new factory but they can’t open the pattern file from factory #1. They use our measurement specs + a sewn sample to create their own sample.
January, 2023 – the sample from factory 2 looks great, but they say the best way for them to move forward is to use their sample to make a paper pattern to then digitize which will take time and be an additional cost. We’ve paid for 4 samples + a pattern already (about $2200)
Later in January, 2023 – we find out that we have the wrong zippers. So we have to order all new ones and can’t return the old ones.
February, 2023 – Sarah joins our team so finally we have someone in-house who can work on patterns and sew samples. But we don’t have pattern software yet because it’s really expensive and we’re pricing it out. BUT Sarah makes some great updates to this fit and keeps it moving.
Also February 2023 – we can’t get comfy with contracts with factory #2 and we’re losing valuable time – production on these Anoraks is supposed to be done 2/15 and we still DON’T HAVE A FACTORY! They’ve remade a workable pattern for us (or so we thought) so we pay them for that and move on to a new option that we think will be faster.
Mid February, 2023 – we move everything over to factory #3 (we have some history with them so we trust them). They open pattern #2 from factory #2 and it’s a mess – it’s missing lots of information. We determine the fastest and most accurate way to get the anorak we want is to have a 3rd pattern made by factory #3 since they’ll be making it. We also pay for this third pattern and fifth sample. Now that Sarah is on our team, she takes the lead in buttoning up details for the fit with the factory and the Anorak is in good hands.
Late February, 2023 – factory #3 made a great sample and pattern that totally matches the vision and we start in on production but we’re pretty late.
March, 2023 – Our cordlock supplier delivers the wrong cordlocks to the factory. They accidentally ship replacements to factory #2….so it takes over a week for the right cordlocks to arrive.
Early March, 2023 – The cord supplier ships the wrong cord to the factory -it’s too big to fit into the cord locks. A giant mishipping headache ensues but 10 days later we have the right cord!
March 24, 2023 – only 2 weeks behind schedule, we launch the Anoraks while the factory is still packaging them. We’re so proud of them and incredibly stoked to share them with you – you all love and appreciate them and add them to your cart!
Last week – A truck of incredibly effort-ful anoraks arrived at our warehouse and Olivia packed them up and sent them to you!
This development saga is pretty atypical of our normal development, but it’s a great example of how much effort, time and cost it takes to bring new things to market! All these patterns, samples and replacement of materials resulted in HUGE development costs given the volume we decided to make. To be totally transparent, our profit margin on this product is awful – like we-shouldn’t-have-made-it-because-we’re-not-making-money awful. But sometimes you have to put profit aside in favor of creativity, trying something new and creating work you’re proud of. We can honestly say, WE TOTALLY NAILED IT. The Ambition Anorak is everything we had hoped, has all the details we imagined and fully embodies the vision. We hope you love it as much as we do!