How We Made 150 Wallets in 6 Days; or .retool. at the ESPYs

We recently received an email from someone responsible for co-ordinating the luxury gift bags for attendees of ESPN’s upcoming ESPY awards.

We were excited.

They asked if we could supply 150 items with a minimum retail value of $150 in about a week.  We explained that we are a two-man shop, make everything ourselves, and carry a relatively low level of inventory.  On top of that, most of our items come in at around the $40 mark. It wouldn’t make financial sense for us to offer a gift card for the remaining $100+ balance (did I mention the gift cards had to be valid for at least one year?).

We were less excited.

Then they said that they sometimes include items that don’t meet the minimum retail value, but that if accepted, we would not be eligible for any of the associated press (online features, celebrity posing, etc.). That was fine with us.

We were excited again.

We thought it would be a great opportunity for a production stress test.  We decided to offer our Double-Sided Micro Mini Credit Card Holder along with a small gift card valid only for attendees for a total retail value of $35.

Our challenge was set – make 150 wallets in under a week.

We mapped out our strategy.  We figured out which things needed to happen in what order, established a timeline, and figured out who would do what.  We ordered a few extra supplies, tried to figure out how best to avoid repetitive stress injuries, and had a tasty snack.

Here’s a look at the whole process. Click on photos for a larger view.

The first task was to cut a bunch of webbing. Each wallet is made of up of four strips of webbing – 2 1″ strips and 2 2″ strips.  cut webbing
Next comes joining the 2″ strips to the 1″ strips.  joined webbing pile
Each wallet gets 2 of the new 3″ strips – 1 short divider piece and longer strip that wraps around the bottom of the divider forming a pocket on either side. joined and cut webbing
Then the pieces are sewn together and many threads must be trimmed.  untrimmed wallets
The finished wallets look like this.  finished stacks
Last step – stuff each wallet with a gift card and box them all up for mailing.  boxed wallets

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