We hope you're well and getting by okay, wherever you are in the world.
2020 has been a pretty damn insane year for all of us. We've been a part of a time in history that has not only really challenged us as humans but can hopefully be the catalyst to bring more togetherness and another level of equality to many who have waited so long to be heard.
Purely from a personal point of view, losing my job after 5 years due to COVID-19 has certainly been tough but trying to build a new startup and a product that never existed before has been even tougher. The fact that we can't travel to our factories to make the necessary changes has made issues that would usually be easily fixed, a hell of a lot more difficult. A couple of weeks back we received our first 10 manufactured wallets in the mail which was super exciting, but as expected there were several issues because the tolerances are so tiny and we need to assure all 33 components within the mechanics of the wallet work seamlessly together.
Below is a very "fly on the wall" candid zoom meeting of Dad, myself and Liam (who has recently joined the team) receiving the first manufactured wallets made by our factory partner. Warning it's a 4 minute video and it's a bit like some Big Brother style reality TV show lol
The degree of tolerance that we’re working with is sometimes in the 0.05mm range which is pretty much the thickness of a strand of hair, it seems crazy but these minuscule improvements can essentially make all the difference in this world first creation.
Just a few of these recent changes include:
- [Problem] When inserting different types of cards, they did not slide in the card holder as easily as we had hoped.
- [Solution] A tiny radius change on the card holder retainer clip is being made to our tooling moulds.
- [Problem] The die-cast metal coating was not strong enough to withstand regular usage after some constant scratch testing.
- [Solution] We found a new e-coating supplier and changed from just a metal painted coating to a 2 level process, which now “paints and e-coats” the die-cast metal casing.
- [Problem] Unfortunately our spring supplier delivered a spring density that was incorrect and too thin. This caused the tension of the card holder flicking out to be weak
- [Solution] A new jig for the spring design has been made and this problem has been solved
Check out the difference in springs in the video below:
I won’t go into all the other details, but as a summary there were issues with the coating on the card holders as well, the screw length was the tiniest bit too long (0.2mm) so it didn’t lock the unit closed completely, the pin for the spring needed to be a different metal and the inner of the button was a whisker too tight and caused one button to jam when pressed down as hard as we could. These are all being fixed at the moment and should be completed by our factory partner in the next week. They will then be sent to us for final manufacturing approval the following week.
NATURAL GRAIN ITALIAN LEATHER
Last time I updated you we made the decision to part ways with our leather supplier as what they delivered was not acceptable in our eyes. It's been a much harder, longer and more expensive process to improve this but we continue to ensure we deliver on a great quality product. We have sourced leather directly from Italy in a beautiful natural grain and will be hand wrapping the wallets ourselves in our Australian workshop. However, by taking it to this next level we have been faced with many other challenges.
Natural Grain Leather arrived direct from Italy 🇮🇹
- [Problem] The new leather is of high quality, but also has more flexibility and stretch. This means the back pocket was susceptible to stretching when loaded with card and cash.
- [Solution] Dad has been testing gluing a thin recyclable polypropylene film to the back of the leather to give it more stiffness and reduce the natural stretch.
- [Problem] The new quality leather is thicker than our previous supplier, so the edges weren’t flush with the 0.8mm border of the wallet and would potentially peel away after years of rubbing (say when you are putting it in your pocket).
- [Solution] Press the edges of the leather down when the die cutting looks like a potential solution, but we are currently working through this with our cutting supplier.
Local legend Tony has been helping us put together a press knife that cuts the leather to size
Similar to manufacturing, there are several issues we are pushing through with the leather, sourcing it all ourselves and arranging suppliers locally from cutting to glueing to pocket making to embossing has certainly tested us. Several suppliers have said this and that ain’t possible but we keep finding ways through to achieve our goals. If there’s anything I’ve noticed throughout this process when something hasn’t been done before so many people will tell you “that’s not how you do it” for example “a leather wallet needs to be stitched together, you can’t have quality leather on a die cast metal wallet”. It’s so important to listen to the advice from professionals in their field but also be willing to challenge the status quo and that’s what’s got us here.
With the challenges that COVID-19 has brought us by slowing down our manufacturing, quality testing and ability to travel it’s added challenges on top of challenges. And the fact that we have gone deep to committing to beautiful leather certainly hasn’t made things easy for us. But we are more proud than ever of what we’ve created. The packaging also looks and feels pretty damn awesome. Taking all this into account we look to receive the wallets in Melbourne, Australia at the end of July and will be hand wrapping them with leather and sending them straight out to all of you who have been here since the beginning. We really wish you could have received these in your mailbox in July as previously planned but it may just be that tiny bit longer (like the thickness of a hair kind of longer)
Thanks again from dad and I with all our hearts and if you ever decide to re-invent the wheel (or in this case the wallet) make sure you’re ready for one hell of a non stop rollercoaster. But be sure to know, if you are crazy enough to take on the challenge, we’ll be there to support you along the way, just like how you have supported us.
Many many thanks again
Benny + Pete