A few days before you can finally ORDER the first release of Nerdies (aaaaa exciting!), we want to share some behind-the scenes-pictures and a few interesting insights into the production process. Why? Because making “softwear” was an amazing learning experience for us. And a lesson in persistence. Turns out, unlike designing the webz and deploying code to production, there is some bad-ass real-life shit involved in the underwear-making algorithm!
Let’s start by saying that we work in tech. Digitally for 95% of time. We haven’t been making physical products for living (well, at least so far!). And this little “underwear project” was a really good joke… that suddenly everyone got obsessed with to the extent that we just had to give it a try!
We had some assumptions from the very beginning. We knew that Nerdies will have to be of great quality. We weren’t sure 1) what it meant at the time or 2) how we’re going to make it but we knew WE ARE GOING TO MAKE IT. Below is a picture of what we EXPECTED the process to look like:
Well, yes. A few months ago, at the beginning of the journey, we thought that we’ll somehow magically source the materials, get our designs on them and then make boxers from there using adequate professional services companies and suppliers… Yeeeaaah, right.
Turns out that we had to personally oversee every singe detail in the production cycle! You’re probably asking yourself—but ladies, how many details do you need to control while making boxers?! Believe us—more than you’d think! The analytical minds among you will be interested to learn that we’re currently working with 10 (yes, ten!) different providers to make your day of more fun and colorful with Unerdwear! Just look at the list:
1 Cotton supplier
2. Textile printing house
3. Sewing pattern (this) design studio
4. Sewing shop
5. Waist band producer
6. Button manufacturer (THEY ARE GOLD!)
7. The place where we weave tags (not sure what it’s called)
8. Gold envelope producer
9. Silkscreen print shop
10. Digital print shop
Note that this list does not include our accountants, lawyers, advisors, shipping companies etc. We luckily designed and coded everything on the website ourselves and/or with a help from our friends so we also didn’t need “companies” to do that…. Back to the process - this is what it felt like most of the time:
Why? There’s no way to search those companies online, you actually have to CALL them or, better yet, meet them in person. In Łódź, which is around 300 kilometers away from Kraków (where we live). We’ve spent a good few days on the road in the past months (thanks McDonald’s!). There’s one truth we learned along the way about the textile industry (at least in Poland!): You have to know people who know people who know people. This way you can sometimes reach people who can help you with what you want to get done. It’s not at all like in the world of open source software and Creative Commons-licensed content. Everyone is pretty secretive so it takes a lot of patience to be able to trick the gatekeepers and get what you want ;).
Here’s the place where we were searching for the right type of cotton (see how many types they have? And we did not find it there!):
Here is one of the tools we used in our thorough QA process:
This is Kasia searching through the libraries… of gold buttons:
Another fun fact is that it took us over 20 samples to get to the right quality (and feeling) of Unerdwear “Made in Krakow” front tags. How crazy is that?! Finally, when the almost everything else was finished, we turned back to all the designs we’ve been playing with. Just look at all those folders:
The final selection included 12 patterns which we then “beta-tested” among our newsletter subscribers and Facebook fans. Based on feedback, we picked the 5 winners that are going to make it to the Limited Release 1.2. that is officially launching in a few days.
Next, we needed to print those patterns. You might be interested to know (we surely were!) that the printing process consists of 12 different treatments, including bleaching, shrinking, strengthening, bio-polishing. And, oh yeah, the actual printing. Even some silicon is used along the way (oh, hai Silicon Valley!). When you professionally order textiles, they are actually being tested and you get a folder of how the fabric itself and the print react to different substances and temperature. Which is really cool.
When the textiles were ready, we could move onto sewing. First, we needed to prepare prototypes with someone who actually done it before. Together we figured all the sewing details and prepared a 26-pages-long spec on how everything should look like.
Here are some of the models in the making:
One fun fact to add here is that the sewing shop that we picked (we have made prototypes tried with 5 different ones) is a one specializing in heavy-duty work uniforms. They should do perfectly fine with our “coding uniforms” ;).
What are we trying to show you? That it was a lot of work. And it took a while. We sometimes told ourselves that the reason nobody else is doing it is strictly this - it’s way more difficult that you’d expect. It takes time. It gets frustrating.You can’t just pull an all nighter to ship something. You’re dependent on multiple providers. In fact, we’re sure that many people would have given up on the way… but we were crazy enough not to! We’re in this for real. We just really love the tech community, great design and absurd sense of humor. And making things that make people smile!