Our Design Process, Start to Finish - Part 2 of 2
Our products are designed to be solutions.
Our headbands are a solution to the synthetic, non-breathing, headache-inducing headbands that so dominate the market.
Our organic cotton hair ties are a solution to cheap, disposable (read: landfill) hair ties that pull your hair.
Our 100% Fairtrade and plastic-free scrunchies are classics, made better, with just the right amount of scrunch: gentle on hair, comfortable and functional, these washable beauties will make you feel good in every way.
In Part 2 of our Behind-the-Scenes series we take you through our design and manufacturing process from start to finish - using our best selling ENSO Batik Headbands as an example.
Be sure to also read Part 1: How We Started KOOSHOO to get the full story.
Describe Your Design and Manufacturing Process
The idea for the Organic Twist Headband was conceived on the mat - the yoga mat, that is. As yoga teachers we demand a lot of our headbands. They must be ridiculously comfortable (yes - we're suckers for comfort!), sweat-wicking, breathable and fashionable.
The problem we encountered was that no headband we tried - and we tried many - met all of those characteristics.
That's why we decided to make our own.
Using our rudimentary sewing skills we made a prototype of our perfect headband and started testing it in every situation we could imagine - from the yoga mat to the beach to mountain peaks to nights on the town.
We then gave prototypes to friends that we knew would push the product to its limits. We used their feedback to further tweak the design and materials, eventually arriving at the "Twist" style that is today our best seller. The process was similar for our other original headbands too - the versatile, bandana-style HU Headband and the Beckham-like AUREA Headband (2022 update: we no longer manufactur the HU or AUREA headbands, but we're very focused on making the Twist as good as it can be!).
(Headband styles pictured from left to right: ENSO Batik, ENSO Classic, HU, AUREA Classic, AUREA Ombre)
A perfect prototype in hand, the next stop is a visit to our highly skilled pattern maker where we transition the physical sample into a digital pattern.
Up to this point, everything is done in Vancouver, Canada, where our home office was located up until a few months ago (we've since moved to Victoria, BC). This is the point in the process where we transition to Los Angeles for production and distribution (read about why we manufacture in Los Angeles in Part 1 of this story).
First up is a visit to our mother-and-son operated cut and sew facility. Together, we create another physical sample of the product to ensure that the digital pattern translates back to fabric. This new sample is double checked for faults and then, again, rigorously tested.
Next up are dye samples at our solar powered dye house.
Color is something we take very seriously at KOOSHOO with Rachel spending hours upon hours of seasonal colour research. It's important to us that our headbands - as timeless as they are - also compliment the season's hottest colour trends.
One thing we learnt early is that colour, especially when being hand applied like with our best-selling Organic Twist headbands, is almost always different on fabric than on paper. What may seem like a home run on paper can appear on fabric in truly horrible ways!
Because of this, many rounds of dye sampling occur before OK'ing a colour and even then, we'll always run a final dye sample before full production just to confirm.
Pattern approved. Sample approved. Dye approved. We're now ready for full scale production.
For our headbands production looks like this:
1. Our super-soft organic cotton and spandex blend is knit to our specification in our fabric mill just south of downtown Los Angeles.
2. We personally transfer the fabric from mill to our solar powered dye house. There, the fabric is dyed by an artists hand to match the standards agreed upon in the sampling process.
Our Organic Twist Headbands are hand dyed using a traditional Indonesian Batik technique. Batik'ing is the application of hot wax on fabric (think: Jackson Pollock) followed by dye. Once the dye has set the hot wax is washed away (the wax is saved for the next batch), leaving the intricate, every-piece-is-unique finish that is so loved in the Organic Twist Headbands.
3. Once the dyed fabric is approved the fabric is transferred three miles to our Cut & Sew facility. There our team uses the patterns we previously created to cut the dyed fabric, then sew the finished headbands.
The headbands are finished by attaching our 100% recycled (printed with soy based ink in Vancouver) hangtags, then packaged in their 100% recycled shipping bags.
We personally work with the team to oversee each part of the production process to ensure quality and the attention to detail that our products are known for.
4. The last stage of the process is shipping to you. We use a world-class shipping partner that is able to guarantee next business day shipping on any order. One of our favourite emails to receive is the happy customer who received their headband within 48 hours of an order being placed.
Like a good vineyard, we make our headbands is small batches. This allows us to be super responsive with our colours, minimizing waste in the process. It also means that when you like a colour, it's best to act quick as it may not be around for too long.
One final caveat: we do our very best to be as sustainable, ethical and conscious as possible in our production but it bears stating that there is always room for improvement. We're mindful of this truth and are always striving to improve our processes.
Hope you've enjoyed our two part insider series on how KOOSHOO products are made. If you have any questions or comments please let us know in the comments below.