I don’t know how many times I have wished that I could create a laptop bag from my own specifications — one that would have the layout and organizational panels I needed (or wanted), and that would be made from the materials of my choosing; having a discreet Gear Diary logo on there somewhere would be a bonus. But I’m just one person, and the cost for me having something like that custom-made would be exorbitant … never mind the fact that I wouldn’t even know where to start.
But if a company wanted to offer a bag that was specifically made to carry one of their oddly shaped products, or if they wanted to order a special branded bag to reward their employees or customers, where would they turn? Sure, they could always embroider their company logo on an existing bag, but what if they needed (or wanted) to create something unique or specific?
That’s where Detail Bags comes in. As the corporate and custom services site for Skooba Design, Details Bags is owned by a company that has over 20 years’ experience in “developing, manufacturing and managing complete private-label product collections for other well-known consumer brands”. Detail Bags can provide “turnkey custom design and production services for just about any industry or application, from sales force sample bags to high-spec bags for precision equipment.”
I had a couple of questions about the service, so I asked Michael Hess, the Founder and CEO of Skooba Design for some answers about how the process works.
Judie: Tell me some more about Detail Bags; this is all about companies being able to create and brand their own bags, right?
Michael: We have always offered custom services and have done tons of projects for everything from mom and pop companies to the biggies like Microsoft, Oracle, GE, Ford Racing, and on and on, many of them staying with us for years (several have been ordering from us for almost all of the 13 years since the company started). But it has always been sort of a “lucky” component of our business in that most of it has come to us through word of mouth, people reading about us, or fortunate introductions. But we have never pro-actively gone after it, and that is our #1 goal for this year and beyond. www.detailbags.com (“Detail Bag” is a standard industry term for the bags sales people use for samples, literature, etc.) was built as the first of several steps we’re undertaking to showcase this side of our business. By the way, the URL www.custommadebag.com also directs to the site – between the two names there is significant existing search traffic so we hope that will get us off to a good start.
More to your question, the services we offer run the gamut from simply taking stock Skooba bags and putting logos on them, to developing fully customized solutions for very specialized applications. In addition to designing, prototyping and manufacturing the products, we offer branding, packaging, and other services as well. In just the past year we have done projects for companies in such diverse fields as music (we invented a completely new way to carry orchestral instruments), sporting goods, pharmaceutical sales, digital imaging, medical devices, food service, and much more. We love the variety and unique challenges.
Judie: Give me just the roughest idea of how many items a minimum turnkey order would be, and let me know if this is something where the sky would be the limit or not, as far as materials and design.
Michael: We can put a logo on our off-the-shelf bags in quantities as few as a dozen. For full custom services we can be hired for design work only, or design and manufacturing. Our minimum custom manufacturing run is typically 500 pieces offshore, which is fairly uncommon these days (most factories won’t touch “3-digit” runs anymore). We also have domestic production resources which can produce shorter runs in less time, but of course at a significantly higher cost. There are some companies who want and need that service, but most want offshore pricing so the vast majority of our designs are manufactured on our outstanding production lines in Vietnam and Asia.
Yes, in general the sky is the limit, but of course it all depends on many variables (customer application, budget, production run size, etc.). So far we haven’t found one we couldn’t tackle. In fact, we are working on a huge, challenging project right now in the medical field that is as mission-critical as it gets (as in, it involves life support), and it has to meet a long list of very serious and unforgiving standards. And we are coming up with some really exciting solutions. The client is thrilled, and that just reinforces our belief that this is something we were meant to do.
Judie: As you know, Dan and I are huge fans of Skooba Design products; they are well designed, they hold up through years of use, and they look good! I am sure that the companies who hire Detail Bags appreciate Skooba quality as well, and they are taking that into account in their decision to use your services. But what made you decide to grow your custom business in the first place?
Michael: Our reasons for growing our custom business are many – among them,
- We have gotten such an extraordinary response to our services over the years, and such loyalty among these corporate clients, that it is clearly an opportunity that we need to take more seriously and go after, rather than waiting for it to come to us.
- With more than 20 years in the industry and having started or grown several significant brands and businesses (both our own and as “behind the scenes” developers), we arguably have more experience, expertise, connections and other resources than most, and that can make a huge difference, particularly with very specialized client needs. We are able to get things done that many companies – including much larger ones – often can’t.
- The custom work is an excellent “hedge” against the ups and downs of the retail/consumer business. At retail, we of course compete with countless companies and products, and though we have a wonderful following and lots of awards and accolades, we are still a small company selling higher-end products in a largely mass-market business. We will keep growing and doing well with our brand at retail, but custom services provides a nice, less volatile balance
- From a pure business standpoint, it helps us make the most of our designers’ time and capacity, and hopefully continue to add people as it grows. Having a service side to our business is also a healthy offset to our significant, never-ending investment in maintaining and growing our own branded inventory.
- We genuinely love doing it. Every single project is a new adventure and honestly a blast to undertake.
Judie: Based on the designs I’ve seen, it’s obvious that you all think out of the box and can make just about anything!
Here’s Michael talking about the process …
If your company is looking for a custom bag solution, then you should definitely check out Detail Bags!