Each new year I like to do a quick recap of the past year and introduce some of our plans for the upcoming year.
In some ways, 2015 seems like it was only a few months long and in others it seems like it was the longest year ever! We started off strong by releasing the Uinta model and we had a good spring season as we whittled down on our arch nemesis, the long turnaround time! We were finally getting to a place where we could produce the sandals more quickly. However, it still wasn’t where it needed to be. We were working hard at figuring out some solutions when two adventures slowed things down. Actually, they came crashing to a halt. In a couple of days, our production manager unexpectedly quit and my wife went into labor early*. This was a serious speed bump but after hiring a new manager, we got right back to it. Since then we have worked hard to increase our ability to make sandals more quickly while also increasing the quality. By the end of the summer we had our production turnaround time down to a few days.
Toward the end of the year we released the Keota sandal which was an unexpected model but we anticipate that it will become one of our top models. We also pulled our children’s sandals so that we could re-design them, standardize sizes, and make the process more efficient.
The first major item on the agenda for 2016 is to reintroduce children’s sandals. We are actually very close to this but we need to get through the slower part of winter before we can fully launch. We are discussing opening this up for pre-orders. The kids line is going to start out with the Keota design. This design is better suited to smaller sizes and is easier to get on and off than our other designs. Eventually, we will add a model that doesn’t have a strap between the toes. More on that below!
Actually, we have already begun working on a new design for kids that does not have a toe strap (or toe post) and it looks like it will be a very promising model. In fact, we will probably make into an adult version as well. I can’t give too many details at this point, but it is like nothing else you’ve seen in a minimal (huarache) sandal. We’ll keep you updated as things progress.
Another thing that we have been doing during the slower season is dabbling a little bit in making closed toe shoes. We are considering the possibility of adding a simple closed toe, minimal shoe for those who can’t quite wear sandals year round. This is very preliminary and we are just experimenting but it looks like a very good possibility. If we do continue to add models, we will likely have to move to a new location as we are already finding ourselves strapped for space.
Lastly, we will continue to improve our systems. Although we have made large strides in our production methods, we still have work to do. We have been studying Toyota and their Lean Manufacturing principles. This year we will ruthlessly work to identify waste and inefficiency, then we will eliminate them. This will have less to do with design changes, and more to do with internal processes of the company. We are committed to keeping production local. Competing with Asian made shoes can be very difficult and there have been times that we have wondered if it is possible. As I see it, the only way we can continue producing our sandals locally is to make the process extremely efficient and eliminate waste.
Thank you all for helping us have a great 2015 and I look forward to serving you in the upcoming year!
*Although she was born a few weeks early and very small, the birth went well and our sweet little Eliza was healthy and happy. She was born on my birthday and was absolutely the best birthday present I could ever receive. Interestingly, she also resembles me more than the other kids :)