:: or not to outsource. that is the answer. (with apologies to shakespeare for bastardizing hamlet.) ::
( this is a quick snapshot taken in my unevenly lit attic stairwell and not edited in photoshop. look at that freaking amazing color. and the saturation! i can't. stop. looking. )
i’m only a small business. a small business run by a small girl living in a small city. but despite this (or actually, probably because of it), i’ve often been told that eventually, i’ll have to outsource all of my production.
when target comes knocking, begging me to stock their aisles with all my up up creative goodness, it’s not like i’m going to be able to make all the millions and millions of items they’re going to want to buy from me.
so the story goes.
of course there’s no reason that when target comes a’knockin’, i can’t just become my own production company. no reason i can’t buy more equipment and hire more people.
and the thing is, i actually really love that idea.
growing up there was a company with world headquarters down the road from where i lived – terry bicycles, which if you ride you’ve surely heard of – and i have always always just loved that their entire terry world existed right there in macedon, ny (even their catalogs used local models, mostly terry corporate employees, actually).
and then they went and got bought. by a company in vermont if i recall. and i was supremely sad, not really for political reasons or anything, but for emotional ones. i liked knowing that i lived near terry, and whenever i saw terry seats on people’s bikes or whenever i saw terry clothing in bike shops around the country, i felt something akin to pride.
so there’s that. i like to think of some girl living down the street growing up so proud to live near up up creative’s world headquarters, the place where it all happens.
plus there’s the fact that i started this whole business because i wanted to make things. with my hands.
so as i’ve been grappling with all kinds of questions about the direction my little company will take, the outsourcing question has been one of the biggest and toughest for me, a leggy question with so many elements to it:
- issues of quality (would outsourced products be of higher or lower quality?)
- issues of time (time saved not printing versus time spent going to the printer’s offices, etc.)
- compatibility of outsourced printing with my current creative process (test prints are crucial to my process, and colors matter – how can i get the same kind of immediate feedback if my home printer isn’t also the end-product printer?)
- issues of cost (outsourcing my printing, to be cost effective, requires large orders, which means more initial cash layout and more inventory sitting here at my house; upgrading my home equipment brings with it increased costs in machines, ink, and paper)
so i bought a fancy new printer. and it rocks. i kind of want to make out with it i love it so much. and it opens up so many new opportunities for me. the print quality is amazing and i can print on so many new formats (poster sized paper, canvas, cotton rag…).
i have this new little fantasy now in which i become a little home print shop for other indie designers who do want to outsource their printing to someone who is 100% committed to minimizing waste, maximizing quality, and using the best eco-friendly materials.
not at the expense of doing my own creative work, of course. but maybe right alongside?