Magic and a lot of delight and celebration from our artists, that’s for sure – but there is a lot involved in the process behind the scenes, which we thought we’d walk you through. It should hopefully prove helpful for planning and understanding lead-times and aligning them with your own needs, deadlines, shipments and functions. It certainly makes me appreciate our products more and more the deeper I understand the process.
With our exceptionally talented team, one of our specialties is bespoke products, branded corporate gifts and custom art-pieces. These items have to be designed, costed and sampled from scratch. This process involves a small and very specialized team of artists, so can take up to 10 working days until the first sample is ready for approval. We are able to design according to a budget, and the more detailed instructions we get from clients, the better and faster this process can happen. More about that here…
With over 16 years in the game, we have developed a lifetime of products, and have extensive catalogues, which we add to as we develop new ranges. Ordering off catalogue is pretty straight-forward with no extra time needed for sampling and design, if products are ordered exactly ‘as-is’.
Choosing and ordering
This is when the ‘adminy’ stuff gets real… Once an initial order or ‘wishlist’ is received, we will gather all necessary contact and business information from our client so that we can load them on our system and send them a formal quote for final approval and sign-off. At this stage, lead-times will be discussed, and a 50% deposit will be collected. This deposit is important, as we need to ensure we purchase enough raw materials to make the products, and to pay the artists for their work at each completion point in the order process.
Lead-times – ‘Back up a bit”, you say, “Lead-times…?’ Yep, good things take time, especially when they are made by hand. On average, we need 3 weeks to produce an average sized order. At peak times, or for quantities over 1000 units, we may need 4-6 weeks. Why so long? We need time to make sure quality is top-notch and to correct anything that proves to be problematic in the process. Also, as orders come in, they are put in a queuing system on a ‘first come first served’ basis, so sometimes the actual wait in the queue will be longer than the actual production time needed, but we do advise on our lead-times in order to manage the expectations of our clients. We have been known to pull off very short-notice work, but this comes at a premium cost and we try to make sure that this does not affect the delivery dates of other orders that have been waiting in the queue. This being said, we have extra capacity when needed (and with pre-warning), as our network of artists is broader than the walls of our studio. We are able to employ many talented extra hands on a casual basis when the orders are flooding in.
Job-cards distributed – So back to the process. When the order is confirmed, and deposit received, ‘job-cards’ are issued to the artists. This details the product they are required to make, along with the quantities. These job-cards are distributed as evenly as possible, to ensure the earnings from an order is spread fairly among the artists.
Samples – Once the artist has received the job-card from the team-leader, or studio manager, and they are ready to start, they request a sample of the product they will be making. We keep samples of all our products, as this forms an important reference both for the artists, and for the quality controllers, who check that the quality of the order is consistent with the sample. This way, there are no variations in size, technique or colour-mixes.
Teamwork – Generally, the artists work in teams to complete the order, as there are different components that go into creating a finished product, from creating the wire framework, to the beading, to adding any final details etc. This also ensures speed, efficiency and uniformity in the process, and spreads the earnings on a job fairly.
QC – So now the items are being completed and handed in. Where do they get ‘handed in’, and what happens next? The artists hand the finished items to a team of Quality Controllers (previous artists who were promoted and have eagle eyes). They first count that the correct quantity has been submitted, and then they check the products against the sample to ensure that the design has been followed correctly. They also check that all components have been done neatly and sturdily, and that any extra instructions from the customer (like colour choices) have been followed.
Packing – Once the items have cracked the nod with our QC ninjas, they are then packed for dispatch. This process can include adding any Point of Sale packaging on request (swing-tags, etc), wrapping or bagging the items, and placing them in cartons. The packers measure and weigh the cartons so that the sales-team can get shipping quotes for orders being delivered outside of Cape Town.
Your order is on it’s way to you – Yay! Once you have chosen your shipping option, and paid the balance due on your order total, your items will either be made available for collection, or shipped. Please remember to factor in shipping time to your own timelines and deadlines when planning an order, especially for an event. For deliveries within South Africa, allow 48 hours for the most economical option. Overnight delivery is also available, but couriers charge extra for this. For orders going abroad, allow 3-10 working days across all air freight options.
That was quite a long read, I know – but it’s really fascinating to follow the process. Studio tours are always available if you’d like to see the process in action, and we’d be so happy to welcome you into our vibrant and creative space!