Getting out of the Dungeon: Part Two

This post is part two in a dual post about our move and the events that led up to it. If you haven’t read part one, I suggest checking it out as it will give this post more meaning. Here is a link to part one.

In order to appreciate the new space that we work in you need to know about the old space. The space that we used to produce sandals in was a cold, dark, unfinished basement that was being used for storage. It didn’t seem to matter what the temperature was outside, it was always cold in that basement. There was one small window which gave us some natural light but mostly made the dogs in the neighboring lot bark at us all day. I built a small work bench that we used for pretty much everything. There was an old washer that was doubling as a table as well! We had some shelving but very little space to store any of the inventory. We were always feeling cramped and the worst thing was that all the sewing production had to be in a separate place. That really didn’t help the efficiency of production!

The old workshop

No joke... this is where we used to work!!! This doesn't show the whole space but you get the idea.

Several Months ago I had met with a friend who happens to own a storage business. I found out that they rent shops so I went to look at them. I wasn’t really serious about renting a place but I liked the workshops. They were a little bit larger than I would need but I thought that I would probably rent from him when I thought we could afford it. After I looked at the units he told me that they had some smaller ones around the corner that cost less, but there were none available.

Since then, I hadn’t really thought much about those units until, in a moment of frustration, the thought suddenly came to me. I instantly called my friend and asked if any of the smaller shops were available or if they anticipated any openings for the future. He told me that one had just barely opened up. He said I called at the perfect time because there was a waiting list of people that wanted to get into them. When the unit opened up they called everyone on the waiting list and none of them answered the phone. Then I called!

I went down there immediately and looked at it. Of course there are nicer places but it was MUCH better than the current situation. The rent was very reasonable and we had a little bit of extra cushion from the business competitions. They told me that they would hold it for a few days while I thought about it. We talked it over and weighed the pros and cons. The pros outweighed the cons. I continued to let the idea “marinate” in my brain over the next few days and I felt good about the decision. I’m a gut instinct kind of guy. If something doesn’t feel right then I trust in that inner feeling. Also if something does feel right, then I go for it. It has proven to be true time and again in my life. In all honesty there is no way that I could build a business without some kind of wisdom beyond my own. Call it what you like, but I believe that God has given us little nudges of help along the way.

Although we could have paid the rent and deposit for the shop without the prize money from the competition we were surprised by the deposits that we had to pay the utility companies. Since it is a commercial address and since Unshoes is technically considered a manufacturing business (even though most of the work is done by hand) the utilities charge pretty large sums of money for a deposit in case we can’t pay the bills. We used the money we won mostly for that. The good thing is that they put the money in an account that earns interest and then we get it back (with the interest) after a year.

Vent system for the new workshop

I was putting the finishing touches on a new vent system that I built out of cardboard and dryer vent! The cardboard may look primitive but there is actually a high tech filter inside that box that catches the harmful fumes. We have straps organized on a pegboard next to the work bench and we have inventory storage in the middle with the sewing area on the other side of the room (not shown here).

The new space 1

As we were still settling in, we continued to work on sandals and we found that despite having less time, we actually produced more sandals than usual! This could not have come at a better time since we are getting more and more orders every day and the need for faster work has increased. The extra room allows us to better organize our tools and materials so that the production is much more efficient. We will continue to add equipment and organize our materials better. All aspects of production are in the same room, so sandals can immediately be put into the next phase of production without waiting around. It is warmer, and we have more light so we all work better (and happier). We will need to hire some extra help soon as demand increases, and the new space will allow for more people to comfortably work on them. Needless to say, we have no regrets!

About unshoes

Creator and designer of Unshoes minimal footwear.
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