If you make the right moves, you can recover your initial investment in this venture right after delivering your first order.
Capital: About P10,000 or more in capital is needed to start producing your own novelty bags. This amount depends on the quantity of bags to be produced, the material and the detailing required, and the occasion for which the bag is to be used. In the case of Pearli Bersamin, a solo bag designer who specializes in doing beadwork, she wanted to make beautiful, mass-produced pieces, so she had to source fresh water pearls, Swarovski crystals, majorica pearls, glass beads, semi-precious stones, and wires to accent her bags. On the other hand, Bang! ‘Corporation, a five-member group formed to do a business thesis requirement at De La Salle University, invested P10,000 to purchase banig and microfiber to line their “habi bag”—a bag that also doubles as a mat.
Bersamin was able to recover her investment after just one order, while Bang! Corporation broke even after six months of operation.
Materials: Aside from the raw materials for the bags, you will need a cutter or scissor, long-nose and round-nose pliers, needle and thread, and other basic tools for putting the bag together. As you expand or when you change styles, you will need to buy other supplies like ribbons, sequins, and buttons. Bersamin gets most of his materials from a regular supplier, the rest from Divisoria in Manila. The five women who run Bang! Corporation source their material from the uncle of one of the members who works in Divisoria.
Workforce: During their first few months of operation, the members of Bang! Corporation designed and sewed the habi bags themselves. Later, however, they began outsourcing the production to keep up with the growing demand. Bersamin likewise gets extra help to produce her bags when orders pick up substantially.
Process: The bag industry is very competitive so it is important to come up with good bag designs and to have a specific market for the bags. Michelle Alamanzor, one of the partners of Bang! Corporation and an avid surfer, came up with her special bag design because while at the beach, she found it difficult to lug around both a bag and a banig.
The next step is to devise a working design and possibly several prototypes. You will also need to scout around for the best material for the product, both in quality and price. You can either handcraft each piece yourself or, if the process is too complicated, outsource this step to an existing manufacturer. In an industry as fleeting as bags, you need to see to it that every piece is done well and that you are constantly improving your designs. You can read magazines and surf the Web to come up with new bag ideas.
Marketing: When selling items per piece, the tried-and-tested way is to begin with your own established personal network. Bersamin says that her friends do most of the promotion of her products but that she promotes them through her website as well. When it was just starting, Bang! Corporation sold its bags to its members’ families, friends, and professors. They also joined bazaars, shipping the bags to Bacolod, Boracay, Davao, and Tuguegarao and to as far away as Dubai and Guam. “And of course we use our bags ourselves all the time,” says Irish Gao, another partner in Bang! Corporation.
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