A revealing episode...
How do you make a new product without using an extra inch of material? We reveal all this week...
We're making a brilliant Tuscan leather wash bag, which we'll be launching on Kickstarter. But today we can announce that we're making something else as well: a fantastic leather razor head guard. As you'd expect it's going to be made to the same high standards as the rest of our products, but what's even more exciting is that it's not going to use any additional leather at all.
We explain more in our podcast, and reveal another announcement about how the bag Kickstarter is coming along...
What we said (more or less)
Matt: Welcome to Coming Clean. I’m Matt.
Tony: And I’m Tony. We’re the founders of Thomas Clipper, a British startup bringing exceptional craftsmanship to men’s mornings. This podcast follows the development of our latest product: a fantastic Tuscan leather wash bag.
Matt: We’re launching the bag on Kickstarter: if enough people pledge to buy it, we’ll have the minimum orders we need to make something really rather exciting.
Tony: Or it might be a different story entirely: if we don’t hit our funding goal or one of any number of things mean we can’t launch at all, it could be a cautionary tale about how not to launch a product or run a crowdfunding campaign. We simply don’t know yet.
Matt: We’re inviting you in on the journey. From before we’ve even seen our first prototype to when the product, hopefully, reaches its goal on Kickstarter and ships out to customers across the world.
Tony: Last week Matt had a chat with Tom, the founder of the Jaunty Flaneur. If you’re keen on learning about proper leather care, this might be worth having a listen to. You can find a record of all our past episodes by searching Thomas Clipper on iTunes or visiting thomasclipper.com/podcast
Matt: This week we’ve got some good news: we’ve seen the first patterns for our new leather product.
Tony: Before we go into detail on that though, we should start from the beginning. If you’ve been following along you might remember that we spoke about pattern cutting in a previous episode with Max, our Tuscan leather developer.
Pattern cutting is really important because more efficient your patterns are, the less waste you have.
It might help to think of it like this - imagine you’re cutting a large star into a piece of A4 paper.
There are lots of small bits of paper left over. If instead of cutting that big star you cut lots of small triangles you’d be able to use the whole sheet and then stick the triangles together to make two, maybe three stars for the same amount of paper.
That’s an extreme example of course. Patterns usually aren’t that inefficient. Holly MacQuillan has a great project on zero waste design, and reports on her blog that in normal design around 15% of material is wasted.
But whatever the figure, the bottom line is that lots of people are throwing away perfectly good leather that isn’t quite the right size for their products. We want to minimise that.
Matt: Zero-waste pattern cutting is the ideal of course, and there are some designers and who are making some amazing strides in achieving it.
But for us that’s going to be near impossible for two reasons. Firstly, leather isn’t a uniform material. Every skin is subtly different in shape and size: you can’t just buy a perfect square meter of leather. So it’s impossible to make a simple pattern that makes use of every inch of every hide.
Secondly, we’re not interested in compromising on design just to shave off a bit of waste. That’s because we believe it’s vital to create a product that people love, so that they look after it and keep it for a long time. We think it’s much better to create something that somebody loves, than to save leather but compromise on the quality or the design.
This isn’t just a matter of pride or perfectionism. It’s actually a considered decision that we think is more sustainable. We want to make things you’ll be more likely to keep decades, rather than using it for a fraction of the time because they've got no soul or personality.
Tony: So short of compromising on design, how do we reduce waste? We’re always going to have bits of leather that have gone all the way from field, to tannery to workshop and then end up being no use for our bag because they’re outside the main pattern. We decided to turn that spare leather into something brilliant.
Matt: Today we can reveal what that ‘something brilliant’ is: we’re going to be making a Tuscan Leather double edge razor head guard. It will slide neatly over your razor head, protecting it from bumps during your travels. It will also protect your hand from grabbing at an exposed razor blade when you’re taking it out of your wash bag.
And most importantly we think, it will look absolutely brilliant. It’s made from exactly the same premium full grain vegetable tanned leather that our bag is made from. It’s tanned by the same team, cut to shape in the same workshop and will be ready at the same time as the bag.
Tony: Pairing our Tuscan leather with our all metal razors looks fantastic: we’re really proud of what we’ve done from a design standpoint. But the fact that it will help make your razor last longer, and will be saving leather from the workshop floor, makes it an even more satisfying product for us.
Matt: So that’s our first announcement for the week. You’ll be able to get your hands on our wash bag and our razor head guard when the Kickstarter launches. And of course that date is getting closer and closer.
Tony: That’s right. So our second announcement is that we’ve just locked in a date for filming at the tannery and the workshop and booked our flights back to Florence for last bit of work on product development and the filming of the Kickstarter video.
We’re using a brilliant Italian team from Florence called Malandrino Film. It’s a skeleton crew of just two chaps, and of course the two of us. I think we’ll probably be helping with carrying lights, putting up tripods and rails and that sort of thing.
Matt: Mostly we’ll try be trying to stay out of the way! But it’s going to be great fun, and really useful to have an Italian team behind us. It also means we’ll finally have some photographs of the products to show off very soon, as we’re taking some pictures at the same time.
Tony: More on that in the coming weeks. Subscribe on iTunes or sign up to our newsletter at thomasclipper.com/podcast to be one of the first to find out when our new episodes come out.
Matt: Next week we’ll be talking about the history of crowdfunding, from Mozart to the Statue of Liberty to the Pebble smart-watch… and us of course...
Tony: But until then, I’ve been Tony.
Matt: And I’ve been Matt. Thanks for listening to Coming Clean, we’ll be back next week.