On this episode of Art of the Kickstart, we interviewed Guy and Laura Newton, creators of the LAC Convertible Handbag. Listen in to learn more about what the prototyping process looks like, challenges to expect when finding and vetting manufacturers, how to prepare for a crowdfunding campaign, and much more.

Topics Discussed and Key Crowdfunding Takeaways

  • What the prototyping process may look like
  • Challenges that come with designing a product and finding manufacturers
  • What to consider when partnering with a crowdfunding agency
  • How much time to allow yourself to prepare for a crowdfunding campaign
  • Why Indiegogo may be the right platform for your project

Links

Sponsors

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backerkitArt of the Kickstart is honored to be sponsored by BackerKit. BackerKit makes software that crowdfunding project creators use to survey backers, organize data, raise additional funds with add-ons and manage orders for fulfillment, saving creators hundreds of hours. To learn more and get started, click here.

Transcript

View this episode's transcript

Roy Morejon:
Welcome to Art of the Kickstart, your source for crowdfunding campaign success. I’m your host, Roy Morejon, president of Enventys Partners, the top, full-service turnkey product development and crowdfunding marketing agency in the world. We have helped startups raise over a hundred million dollars for our clients since 2010.

Roy Morejon:
Each week, I’ll interview a crowdfunding success story, an inspirational entrepreneur, or a business expert, in order to help you take your startup to the next level with crowdfunding. Art of the Kickstart is honored to be sponsored by BackerKit, and the Gadget Flow.

Roy Morejon:
BackerKit makes software that crowdfunding project creators use to survey backers, organize data, and manage orders for fulfillment by automating your operations, and helping you print and ship faster.

Roy Morejon:
The Gadget Flow is a product discovery platform that helps you discover, save, and buy awesome products. It is the ultimate buyer’s guide for luxury gadgets, and creative gifts.

Roy Morejon:
Now, let’s get on with the show.

Roy Morejon:
Welcome to another edition of Art of the Kickstart. Today, I am joined with Guy and Laura Newton. Thank you guys so much for being here today.

Guy Newton:
Thanks very much. It’s good to be here.

Laura Newton:
Yes, thanks for having us, Roy.

Roy Morejon:
So you guys have created the LAC convertible handbag. So this is a really beautiful, natural leather, cross-body bag that has, you know, interchangeable bases, straps, and flaps, and customize your look instantly.

Roy Morejon:
So let’s start with the inspiration to create this convertible handbag. Where did it all begin?

Laura Newton:
I’ll talk to this one. I think the inspiration really came from when we moved to southeast Asia for our work. We did a lot of travel around, and I found that I could never find a bag that really suited what I needed, especially when traveling.

Laura Newton:
I really wanted a bag that could take me from day to night. So this is how I came up with the idea. I wanted something that was flexible in nature, and convertible. The whole concept came about with one bag, but obviously, you can have it in many different colors, straps, so yeah, that was really the inspiration behind it.

Laura Newton:
And also, just a bag not only for travel, but everyday needs, as well as night.

Roy Morejon:
So when you were creating these bags, what did that process look like from the beginning? How did you guys go about what features to include, what materials to put into it? Talk a little bit about that.

Guy Newton:
It was a series of, I guess, prototypes that we went through. Laura being the design and creative inspiration behind this ideas, and me bringing perhaps some of my operational skills, and really trying to prototype different designs, understand what was working in the market, and then really test them.

Guy Newton:
The people that were able to watch our crowdfunding video, will be able to hear a bit about our story of how we had created a series of prototypes. We had pretty much an [inaudible 00:03:03] in some ways, and we started taking that to the market here in Singapore, which is where we are right now, and essentially launching this at specific markets around town. Getting a lot of feedback and using that feedback to try and evolve the design. So where we are today is essentially our version 2 handbag, with a lot of design changes. Far higher quality production materials, production processes, and leather itself as well. It’s something that’s been about I think a 18 month year to 2 year journey.

Roy Morejon:
Wow, so what would have been some of the biggest challenges that you guys have encountered when designing and manufacturing the product?

Laura Newton:
I think we learned a lot from designing, I don’t have a design background at all, I’m originally an accountant by day. But I’m really passionate about fashion, design and handbags. So that was a really big learning curve. We still laugh to this day because when we got our very first prototype, what I sent to, obviously the manufacturers, what I envisioned it come out as, completely was, it was horrible, we laugh about it. It’s in a bottom drawer, under our bed. I will never look at it, but we have to keep it.

Guy Newton:
It was rubbish.

Laura Newton:
It was so bad. So we still laugh about that. But that has been a really big learning process, and teaching ourselves how to use design programs, and that really was one big learning curve. And then another one was around the manufacturers, really, we were going back and forth a lot to Vietnam, where our manufacturers are based, and really finding the right manufacturer for us. So really going and visiting where the product’s made, and building that relationship. So I’d say they were the 2 biggest challenges we faced.

Roy Morejon:
So speaking on that education standpoint, what tips would you have for someone else looking to develop their innovative fashion product like yours?

Guy Newton:
Well perhaps if it’s like ours, in a perfect world we’d speak Vietnamese, but we don’t. I’ve probably contributed to a lot of the problems. I think for people trying to do things like us, it helped that we had full time jobs, we had, and we still have full time jobs outside of this amazing little project. So that gave us a lot of patience and time, perhaps, to try and get it right and to perfect it, and to evolve and adapt our go to market strategies as we went along, but I think certainly one of things we want to do again, if we could go back, but also we’d suggest to other people, is have confidence and move as fast as you can. We obviously had a few things going on, not just with work, but I think if we could do it again, given that we know what the product is today, we would want to move faster, and we’d certainly say that to other people as well.

Roy Morejon:
Well and speaking of moving fast, you’ve been working with our team here at Enventys Partners for a while now. What were some of your bigger considerations when choosing a crowdfunding marketing agency to help launch your product into the market?

Guy Newton:
I think it was me that did most of the, perhaps, research last year on this as well. One of the big things I was interested in is the success profile, of the different agencies. I kind of had a bit of a short list, and I was shopping around. But with Enventys I was really impressed with the history that you guys had. You go back quite a few years. You’ve helped some really successful campaigns get off the ground, and then during that kind of due diligence I guess, I was starting to understand more and more about the different categories, I guess, of crowdfunding that you guys would fit into, and fashion was something that you’ve all worked on quite well. So that was really one of the attractive points for us, to kind of get us in the door, and get us starting to talk to your team, and then it kind of just evolved from there. As we speak today we haven’t yet launched, but so far the work that we’ve been doing with the team has been really really good, and the results are showing up.

Roy Morejon:
Let’s talk about the crowdfunding campaign, and prep work for it, specifically on the marketing side. How long, outside of you know, the year or two in terms of developing the product, have you spent preparing for the crowdfunding campaign, and talk a little bit about the prep work that you’ve been doing leading up to the upcoming Indiegogo launch.

Guy Newton:
I think the prep work for the crowdfunding campaign has been probably 6 months. Actually probably even more, since we actually decided this is what we wanted to do, and this was probably right for our product. So about 6 months, but working with the team specifically I think it’s been maybe 3 or 4 months. Now that has ranged between, working with the team, and sorry, at [inaudible 00:07:40] there are multiple different teams that really help us with their different skills and experience, whether it’s marketing, whether it’s payout, whether it’s kind of the, some of the account management, and more creative side of things. So that really spanned the different pieces of work that we’ve done. We’ve crafted and perhaps really drilled down on what our strategy should be and our branding strategy should be. We changed a few things based on our perhaps DIY work over the past, and really crafted a far more articulate approach to marketing and going to market without [inaudible 00:08:15] than we certainly had in the past which was great. One thing we are really excited about is some of the PR work that we’ll be able to do as well. That’s something that neither of us have any idea about, so I’m really thrilled that we’ve got an awesome PR strategy in place as well.

Guy Newton:
Other things that we worked on, not to list off too many, it included, considering what element of our visuals, so photography and videos that we shoot to consider changing, or amending, which was really useful, and also our advertising. Which is something that much of our crowdfunding success will probably rely on, and really being able to craft an appropriate target market for that.

Roy Morejon:
So in terms of asset creation and product photography, let’s talk a little bit about the campaign video, because I didn’t have the chance to see it yet, let’s talk a little bit about for that first time for you, what was that process like, and how did you go about deciding what to include in your video?

Laura Newton:
It was actually a really exciting process, I mean, it was very daunting, to begin with. I mean, being in front of the camera, and prepping for that, but we had a great team here in Singapore help us, and we had long conversations with them about what we really envisioned for the video and how we could do it within our obviously the allocated budget we had.

Laura Newton:
What we wanted to do was really show the females out there what you can do with this bag. Obviously being in Singapore ourselves we found some great locations to shoot that bag, and just really showing that any outfit, any time of the day, how you can wear this bag. So it was a great day, I absolutely loved it, it was lots of fun.

Roy Morejon:
That’s awesome. So you guys are launching the campaign on Indiegogo. Tell our audience a little bit more about why you chose that over Kickstarter.

Guy Newton:
It was a hard decision in some ways because there are so many similarities, especially for us, who haven’t, I mean, we’ve not necessarily been too engaged as consumers of another platform or indeed launched any campaigns before ourselves. So we’re kind of starting on a blank canvas in some ways, but one thing I do quite like about Indiegogo that we both agreed on is being able to, at the end of it, shift from that kind of regular crowdfunding campaign, into the other stages which can allow us to continue to benefit from the Indiegogo platform, from the Indiegogo model in general, and roll more into perhaps the future style of ecommerce in some ways, beyond our crowdfunding campaign. Assuming that we succeed. So that was perhaps one of them, and it appears to be far more of a smooth transition, I think that was probably the main thing as well. We had also seen some other fantastic fashion campaigns on Indiegogo. I mean being fairly inexperienced in this crowdfunding area we just relied on, I think, a few different tips and pieces of research that we heard about, but yeah, Indiegogo is where we landed.

Roy Morejon:
So you guys are launching the campaign in just over a week I think from once this will air. Give our listeners a little bit of a pitch, you know, so that they can become aware, and go out and be one of the first people to get their hands on the LAC convertible handbag.

Laura Newton:
Yes, I say all to the women out there, think about all the handbags you have in your cupboard, and how many. Why not just simplify that with one perfect little compact handbag? I think we have it in across 9 different colors so you can change the top flap of the bag for 9 different colors, and many different straps. So just think of something that you can create yourself, it’s something unique and it’s yours, and put your name and your mark on it. That’s what I’d say to all the women out there.

Guy Newton:
It’s one handbag, endless looks.

Roy Morejon:
Well this gets us into our launch round, where I’m going to rapid fire a handful of questions at you. Laura you drew the short straw, are you good to go?

Laura Newton:
Yes I am.

Roy Morejon:
Alright so, what inspired you to be an entrepreneur?

Laura Newton:
I think it was just really, I couldn’t find a bag that I liked, so I was trying to solve a problem as a woman myself, so that’s what really inspired this. I guess also living in Asia, there’s a lot on our doorstep there, so that was a big inspiration as well.

Roy Morejon:
So if you could meet any entrepreneur throughout history, who would it be?

Laura Newton:
Mine would be Jodie Fox, she’s co-founder of Shoes of Prey. I watch a lot of her youtube channels, and just her energy and what she brings, and advice. She’s very open and honest. Very interesting journey they went through as well.

Roy Morejon:
Interesting, so what would be your first question for her?

Laura Newton:
I would say, what would she do differently? Given, unfortunately, Shoes of Prey just went into liquidation. So to understand from her, if she could go back in time, what would she change? Would be my question for her.

Roy Morejon:
So, who did you look up to growing up as a kid?

Laura Newton:
I’d say my mum and dad, they’re a huge inspiration to me.

Roy Morejon:
What book would you recommend to our listeners?

Laura Newton:
Ooh book. Oh good one. Trying to think. I usually read accounting books, I won’t recommend that one, but The Lean Startup would be one.

Roy Morejon:
Yeah, great book by Eric. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

Laura Newton:
I hope that I’m full time on this, this project. LAC, and I mean the great thing about our handbag, the convertible nature, there’s so many ideas I have, and just to devote my time full time to it, and really see it grow.

Roy Morejon:
Last question Laura, what does the future of crowdfunding look like?

Laura Newton:
Ooh, that’s a good question. It will be an interesting one, I think, given the way the technologies moving, I think that we’ll see a big change there. A lot of things coming to the market. So I don’t know, maybe something in technology will change that as well.

Roy Morejon:
Awesome. Well that’s the end, Laura and Guy Newton with the LAC handbag, thank you so much for being on the show. Audience, thanks for listening, make sure to visit artofthekickstart.com for the notes, the transcripts, links to the campaign once it finally launches, and of course thank you to our crowdfunding podcast sponsors The Gadget Flow and Backerkit. Laura and Guy, thank you so much for being on the show today.

Guy Newton:
Thanks for having us Roy.

Laura Newton:
Yes, thank you for having us.

Roy Morejon:
Thanks for tuning in to another episode of Art of the Kickstart, the show about building a business, world, and life with crowdfunding. If you’ve enjoyed today’s episode, awesome. Make sure to visit artfothekickstart.com and tell us all about it. There you’ll find additional information about past episodes, our Kickstarter guide to crushing it, and of course, if you love this episode a lot, leave us a review at artofthekickstart.com/iTunes. It helps more inventors, entrepreneurs, and startups find this show, and helps us get better guests, to help you build a better business. If you need more hands-on, crowdfunding strategy advice, please feel free to request a quote on inventistpartners.com. Thanks again for tuning in, and we’ll see you again next week.