Some or many of you may have noticed that over the last month we stopped all production and sales of apparel. We have a banner on our web store that reads "Due to our factory experiencing a high capacity, new product orders will not be available until June. We are sorry for the inconvenience, but this is the reality of made to order slow fashion." In the following paragraphs, I'm going to explain the finer details of what had led us to this situation and where we will be heading going forward.
In late April our factory manager, Jo, notified me that they were experiencing a higher than expected volume of production which meant they were not able to fulfil orders within the four weeks "ethical on demand" turn around time. The reason was/is, our factory is growing, with new customers and brands that are using them to manufacture their products, meaning that it is getting harder for them to promise a four week turn around time for Vegan Athletic orders.
Our orders are accumulated over a week and then sent into production. We have a lot of styles, shapes and colour options that our factory is happy to produce for us, but as the factory is receiving more orders from other customers, it is making it harder to fit the Vegan Athletic apparel orders in between. Well, it's not harder to fit them in, it just means that if a large order from another brand goes in before we get ours in, then we have to wait longer as the factory operates on a lineup system. It is very inefficient to place the Vegan Athletic orders between the production of other products, which means changing fabric rolls, changing printing machines, sewing machine threads, cutting templates, zippers etc. So this is why Jo gave me the heads up that the production times for the month of May and June were going to be a lot longer, but more importantly is that production times going forward are going to be uncertain given the factory's expansion.
I didn't/don't want customers to have to wait more than five weeks to receive their orders and so with that I decided to stop all new orders and start thinking about how to work with these new changes.
Over the last month, I've been working out a number of options, and it's why things have been a little quiet in our social media. I've had many conversations with our factory to try and work out what is the best outcome given where we are both going to be heading in the future. I've also been crunching the numbers to look at what is going to be the most financially stable option for Vegan Athletic and maintaining that whatever the future looks like, sustainability and quality will continue to be the top priorities.
There has also been another factor to consider since we ceased all sales and production. That is, that Vegan Athletic is in need of greater financial foundations. Not many people know that I started Vegan Athletic with zero capital. The brand has built itself through pre-orders and then that turned into the Ethical On Demand model, which up until May of this year was working really well. It allowed the brand to grow and reach the community around the world and the sales have always continued to grow in a positive trend. But this halt in the model has forced me to realise that Vegan Athletic as a brand is in need of someone or some group who can help take it to the next level. I am at the core a creative designer who has done the best I could to run this brand and business how I wanted it to, but now I'm at the point where the brand is asking that it wants to operate at a level that is far beyond my business, financial and entrepreneurial capabilities.
I've made the decision just this week that I'm inviting anyone or any group who believe that they have the ability to take Vegan Athletic into its next chapter to get in contact with me. Vegan Athletic has a customer base that is growing every day. So many athletes around the world are going vegan and Vegan Athletic needs to keep up with providing these good people with good apparel. It has been hard to come to this understanding, but to be honest, I'm so happy to be in this position now. VA is becoming bigger than I can handle and that says a lot about where the world is heading.
So please, share this news with anyone you know that could help take this brand where it wants to go. You can contact me via the email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Just before I wrap this up, some other news just to get everyone up to date.
— We've got more in the pipelines for Vegan Athletic Food and have enjoyed moving into the space of nutrition for athletic and optimal performance. If you haven't already got a copy I highly recommend it given how much positive feedback we have received since launching it in March and for all of our German speaking friends, we are about to launch Vegan Athletic Food in German so keep an eye out on that one.
— Also, for all those who keep asking for the podcast to come back. I'll do my best to make more time for that too. There are so many topics I'd love to cover, and podcasting is such a great medium to use for expressing them.
So until we are back up and running (and we sure will), keep moving, keep a positive perspective on the future and keep being great examples of what the vegan lifestyle is all about.