Why we chose local European production and the benefits of it
When deciding on where to produce our business bags, it wasn't obvious from the beginning to produce them locally. I personally thought that it would be very expensive, and not something my customers would ever pay for a work bag with no brand. When I looked at other small DTC brands with production in Europe, they always priced their bags around 500-800 EUR. I thought to myself - I want our bags to be affordable! Even if business women can afford designer bags, they might have other priorities.
I started to contact factories in Asia in late 2019, got some quotes - and then the pandemic emerged in China - which meant radio silence from the factories for a few weeks. Inpatient as I am, I started to look for other solutions. Why not Europe? What could it actually cost? I was curious. Next, I contacted a few production sites in Eastern Europe - among them the factory we work with now, which is located in Estonia. I got a quote from them and was surprised that the price difference wasn't as high as I had imagined. This made me so happy since my dream was to have local European production, but I thought it would be too expensive to start with as a small business.
Today, we've collaborated with our factory for more than one year, here's what I've learned about the benefits of European production:
- Small volumes are not a problem: As a small brand, it might be difficult to place large orders initially - it's also a great risk - what if your customers don't like your products? Then you're stuck with a large inventory
- Shorter and more sustainable transportation: From Estonia, it takes approximately 24 hours to deliver to Sweden - from truck to boat to truck. It is possible to transport from Asia at a similar speed, but only with an airplane, which we know harms the planet more
- High design capabilities and craftsmanship: I was surprised that it took very few iterations from the first sketch to the perfect business bag. Fun fact, I drew the bag in PowerPoint using icons and reference images - and they managed to turn it in to a real bag - so cool
- Sustainable working conditions: Our factory's employees work 40 hours/week, have 5 weeks of yearly vacation and gets paid in line with EU regulations. We believe it's difficult to say that we have a sustainable work bag if the ones making it are not part of a sustainable work environment.
I'm telling you this because I want to be transparent with you. It wasn't obvious to start in Europe, but I'm so happy that I explored the option even if I had my doubts in the beginning. I'm happy that we can create a beautiful work bag large enough to fit a laptop, with the highest quality, European materials - and all at an affordable price.