Idea to Production: Handbags at Lauren Cecchi

Lauren Cecchi is designer and founder of Lauren Cecchi New York, a handbag and accessory line to remind women that everyday deserves some luxury. 

Production Timeline for Made in USA Goods

I’ve seen the timeline for producing a particular product vary immensely.  The process can be as short as 2 days, or as long as 20 years. It is very funny to say that, but it is true! Sometimes I can sketch a custom bag for a client, send it to my manufacturer and they can have it made for the client before her weekend trip to Aspen. On the other hand, I have been working on a bag since the start of my design days that I still haven’t figured out yet!

For me there are several steps from vision to production that I take for creating all my handbags. However, small accessories, exotic skin bags, custom bags, and our fur accessories are on a different timeline.

1. Design

Approximately 1 hour to whatever your time schedule is
The design process starts when there is a need for a handbag creation. Should it be a wallet, tassel keychain, or handbag, I like to hand-sketch all my designs first. Other designers may use programs such as CAD software, but I prefer to hand sketch everything. I start with a rough sketch of what I want the product to be, this is a hot mess of a drawing but as I sketch I add and take away what I like and don’t like.

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After the initial sketch, I will try to draw it the final way I have decided.  It’s not just the front of the bag I have to sketch and draw the back, bottom, straps, interior pockets, credit card slots, every chain, and every logo hook we use. Dimensions in the final sketch include height, width, length, thickness in stitching, spacing of stitching, and even the drop of a handle.

2. Sample & Pattern Making

Approximately 4 to 6 weeks

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Once I have a design, I bring it to my factory where I have a meeting with my manufacturer to discuss the design of the bag. This is an important step in the process because your manufacturer may have important insight into design construction that may affect the overall outcome of the bag. This may change the design and cost of the pattern and sample.

After the meeting where everything from stitching to pockets is decided, I bring my chosen leather for the sample.  We work together to order chains, zippers, and hardware from businesses here in the U.S.

3. Test Mode

Approximately 1 week to a month

Once the sample is done I personally test it out. I swing that baby (handbag) around. I walk through crowded subway platforms.  Once, I even dropped a bag accidently from the 25th floor of my apartment building.  Luckily no one was hurt, not even the bag! Talk about a sturdy bag! By wearing the bag, I know what design flaws I may have created.  I may discover the straps are too long or the interior pocket needs additional space.

Screen Shot 2016-02-12 at 1.32.20 PMCorrections from any errors found in the first sample are implemented in the second sample.  I test the second sample and, most of the time, go to the next step of the process. However, sometimes this step takes several attempts.  Alternatively, some samples I create do not even make it past the sample phase, like our Wanderlust Hobo.

4. Cutting dies and T.O.P.

Approximately 1-2 weeks

Cutting dies are then made for each individual pattern piece for the bag. Each piece is cut out of wood in the shape of the pattern piece with sharp metal ringed edge. These cutting dies are then laid on top of the leather in the production stage to cut the leather.  Utilizing cutting dies removes the need for hand-cutting. However, it is still necessary to have a person skilled at hand-cutting patterns and skins for making exotic handbags.

A TOP (top of production) is created first from the cutting dies to make sure they were made correctly and each piece of the bag fits together nicely. For one bag there can be as many as 70 different cutting dies because each piece includes filler, liner, every pocket and where you see every seam is a different cutting die.

5. Ordering of materials

Approximately 1-6 weeks

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This can really be done at any time in the process but once you are ready to go into production you should have all materials needed for completion. For handbags all the filling of the bag (the internal structure of the handbags), leather, hardware, and zippers are gathered. The luxury of making in the USA is you can order low production runs, sometimes as few as 10 items, all the way up to several hundred if your manufacturer can handle the bandwidth.

6. Move to Production

Approximately 2 days to 6 weeks

Ready. Set. Go! Since I create all my handbags directly in the heart of New York City I have the luxury of having things made way quicker than people who produce overseas.  Sometimes my factory can turn something around a bag in two days for very important people (Thank you for coming through for The Good Wife!) but roughly all production runs take about 6 weeks.

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7. Ship out!

Once my production run is finished all bags are stuffed, wrapped properly and sent to my warehouse. There we attach hangtags and place leather care cards inside the interior pocket. All handbags are placed into dust bags, boxed and organized by SKU in our warehouse. Then we wait for the handbag lovers to shop on our site!

This is my production timeline but everyone brand has a different timeline. I know what I want, when I want it so I buy my leather and hardware when I start the sample phase or even before so everything arrives on schedule for production. The beauty of this process is I can take an idea from a drawing to an actual handbag in as little as 2 weeks and then in our customers hands in a short 6 weeks later. So something can come to life in as little as two months.  This would not be the same case if we manufactured overseas.

I hope this helps you better understand the process from sketch to shopable! Follow along with us @laurencecchi and to see more about our brand!

Go From Idea to Product in a Year with Maker’s Row

Want to Know More About Production?

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