Thank you Maker Faire!

retool booth at Maker Faire 2013

Here’s a photo of our booth on Saturday.

Maker Faire 2013 recap

Well, Maker Faire Bay Area 2013 is over and we have just about recovered from the long days and hot sun. We had a great time. A few folks stopped by to show us the wallets they bought from us last year (we’re almost getting used to people taking out their .retool. wallets and waving them at us in public places).

One of the fun things about doing a big show is interacting with people and helping them find the wallet style best suited for their needs.  We love helping folks replace blown out wallets – we take our mission as a wallet rescue squad rather seriously.

This year we saw binder clips, rubber bands, and a hair elastic used as ‘money containment systems’. Our favorite by far, though, was this one made out of an old PBR carton:

Homemade wallet from PBR carton - front

Here’s the front…

Image of homemade PBR wallet

…and here’s the back of the wallet.

It’s a basic sleeve style credit card holder covered in a layer of protective packing tape.

The only problem is that it was almost impossible for its owner to get the cards out. We were lucky enough to witness the process, which involved a considerable amount of shaking, tapping, and pounding.

And now the guy who made the PBR wallet is sporting one of our new Micro Mini Credit Card wallets with a flap that wraps around the cards. To get the cards out, you just pull on the flap – no shaking or pounding required.

The only thing that would make Maker Faire more fun is if we could actually get a chance to explore during the weekend.  Fortunately for us many of the cool vehicles were slowly roaming around the grounds and eventually made their way around to us. Here are a few photos of what we (mostly) missed.

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Getting ready for a show

It’s (almost) show time!

Vending at a large event can be a lot of fun. Plus, it’s a great opportunity to watch people interact with what you make and to collect valuable feedback from customers.

Not surprisingly, getting ready for a big show takes a lot of work.  Making sure you have (more than) enough inventory is just a small part of it.  You also need to figure out how to attractively display your wares, get everything to and from the event, and bring along everything else you’ll need (receipt book, price cards, tape, pens, sunscreen, chairs, and snacks to name just a few).

We’ve been doing shows for a few years now and we get a little better each time.  Here’s a look at some of the preparations for our next show. We’ll be part of the Bazaar Bizarre Craft Marketplace at  Maker Faire Bay Area 2013 on May 18 & 19.

We made new money aprons with a zipper pocket for large bills, 2 main cash pockets, and a pen slot.

We’re bringing a full complement of keychains, including ones made of rubber and car upholstery vinyl.

New product display boxes – the outside is seatbelt webbing (of course!) and the inside is billboard tarp.

Webbing samples for our Design A Wallet experiment

Webbing samples for our Design A Wallet experiment.

Made new hangtags for our seatbelt messenger bags

New hangtags for our seatbelt messenger bags.

Small batch of nylon wallets made just for the show

Small batch of nylon wallets made just for the show

A new sign.  Still needs to be ironed!

A new sign. Still needs to be ironed!

Billfold wallets - standard, ID, chain, and zipper pocket.

Billfold wallets – standard, ID, chain, and zipper pocket.

New display stand for wallet chains and keychains.

Updated price cards

Updated price cards.

Small chair for the booth (it's not quite as small as it looks in the photo)...

Small chair for the booth (it’s not quite as small as it looks in the photo)…

Custom Orders: An Experiment

Design A Wallet

At Maker Faire, we'll give customers the opportunity to design their own wallet.

At Maker Faire, we’ll give customers the opportunity to design their own wallet.

Whenever we do a show there are at least a few people who ask us for something we don’t currently make. From time to time these interactions lead to a custom order.

At their best, custom orders are pretty cool. They can provide an opportunity to experiment with new design elements, materials, or ‘interesting’ color combinations. We’ve been lucky to have some pretty awesome customers who are great to work with.  We’ll highlight some of our favorite custom orders in a future blog post.

Custom orders can also be challenging. They are almost always more time-consuming than a standard order. There may be some product testing involved with a new design or you may need to source and acquire new materials. You also need to confirm with the customer that you’ve correctly interpreted their request.  This can involve several rounds of communication.

On rare occasions, you may even need to politely turn down a custom request.  We’ve learned that if the project isn’t a good fit – for whatever reason – it’s in everyone’s best interest to bow out gracefully.

So, with a slight bit of trepidation, we are planning an experiment for our booth with Bazaar Bizarre at Maker Faire on May 18-19: We’ll be offering folks the opportunity to design their own wallet based on our standard seatbelt wallet.

Interior of our standard billfold wallet

Interior of our standard billfold wallet

Customers will choose the webbing and interior pocket colors. They will also have the option to add a coin pocket, ID window, and/or chain attachment.  We’ll be setting aside a special section of the booth with webbing and pocket samples for people to experiment with.

Here is a small selection of available webbing options.

Here is a small selection of available webbing options.

Here are some of the color options for the wallet interior.

Here are some of the color options for the wallet interior.

We’re hoping that limiting the ‘Design A Wallet’ options will simplify the customization process. We’re really curious about whether offering a custom version of our wallet will make people more (or less) likely to ask for other types of customization.  We are still planning to take custom requests for other products.  And if the display causes unnecessary confusion, we’re completely prepared to dismantle it on the spot.  Gracefully, of course.

Countdown to Maker Faire Bay Area 2013

Maker Faire Bay Area 2013

May 18 &19
San Mateo County Events Center, CA

Maker Faire Bay Area is less than 4 weeks away!

For the second year in a row, .retool. will have a booth at the event with Bazaar Bizarre San Francisco.

We had a great time last year. Two of our favorite things were the giant Daleks and the awesome cupcakes from Cynically Delicious.

Maker Faire - where giant daleks mingle peacefully with humans.

Maker Faire – where giant Daleks mingle peacefully with humans.

We have spent the last month or so fine-tuning some new designs and we’re  making some changes to our displays, so we’re going to be extra busy for a while.

We’re planning to highlight Maker Faire-related topics on the blog for the next few weeks. We’ll share sneak peeks of our newest designs and display ideas and also feature some other folks who will be selling handmade goods along with us as part of the Bazaar Bizarre SF contingent.

This week we’ll take a look at some of our latest designs that will be premiering at Maker Faire.

Gadget Cases

We have 4 (!) new gadget cases.

Our C series comes in a variety of sizes to fit devices ranging from an iPad mini (or similarly sized item) to a 13″ MacBook. They are made of seatbelt webbing and are lined with eco-fi felt.

C-4 gadget case.

The C-4 is perfect for carrying around your iPad mini or similarly sized device.

The C-5 is sized for an iPad. Pull on the flap to lift your device out of the case.

The C-5 is sized for an iPad. Pull on the flap to lift your device out of the case.

The C-6 fits a 13" MacBook.

The C-6 fits a 13″ MacBook.

Our front zip pouches feature fun prints paired with durable Cordura® nylon.

Our front zip pouches feature fun prints paired with durable Cordura® nylon.

Tiny Wallets

We have two new minimalist Credit Card Wallets that we wrote more about here.

The Micro Mini with Flap is basically a scaled down version of our C-series device case.

The Micro Mini with Flap is basically a scaled down version of our C-series device case.

The Double Sided Micro Mini has a card slot on the front and back.

Long Wallets

Rounding out the new products, we have two larger wallets that evolved from our passport wallets.

Our long wallet features a slot for bills or a checkbook on one side and card slots on the other.

Our long wallet features a slot for bills or a checkbook on one side and card slots on the other.

Our checkbook wallet is a simplified version of the long wallet, designed to hold a standard checkbook and transaction register.

Our checkbook wallet is a simplified version of the long wallet, designed to hold a standard checkbook and transaction register.

Are you as excited about Maker Faire as we are? Get your tickets here.