Why we chose local European production for our laptop bags and the benefits of it
When deciding on where to produce our work 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.