We’ve been busy, and a bit out of touch with the blog. Thankfully it has been all in the name of good things and lots of work! We’ll be more on top of this moving forward.
Yesterday, as you may already know, we had our debut on the Shopping Channel! It was a very exciting day, full of new friends, new activities and selling Soak!
We are very pleased to share with you the link to the great gift set we made, exclusively for them (you have to click to see it), as well as some awesome photos of the television that Chris took in the green room (the nice place where guests wait when they aren’t on air) and Jacqueline’s Dad took from home (the nice place where parents watch proudly as their children sell stuff on TV). We love the grainy look of the shots, combined with the TV buying information. All scents are available online, so get them now! Thanks for watching. We’ll let you know our next air date as soon as we have it.
Oh, and did we mention, you can even watch the video of our on-air episode too! (you have to click on the video link above the image on the Shopping Channel page selling Soak…)
Check it out! Thanks again for choosing Soak. We wouldn’t be where we are today, without you.
Jacqueline has been brewing up at storm of new products for fall. She’s not always the best at keeping a secret, but sometimes, you have to do, what you have to do. She’s about to spill the beans!
New product development is my favorite job at Soak. Not only is it what I was trained to do (with my industrial design background), but it’s also really quite fun. So, when the stars aligned last year and I was introduced to a great idea, I got straight to work. It has been hard to keep this project under wraps, but it has been worth it. In true Soak style, we’ve been able to design and deliver a unique product with great friends.
Following the creation of successful gift packs such as our travel packs and Heel/ Solemate boxes, we wanted to create a permanent collection of gift items, from Soak. That’s how the Soakbox was born. It’s a unique concept, filled with new products, unique items (like, say, custom hand-dyed yarn) and retail-worthy packaging. Watch in the coming days for more details on the new product.
It’s only March and we’ve had an eventful first few months of 2011. Here’s a brief update on what we’ve been working on.
January was full of travels. We attended TNNA and Vogue Knitting Live where we were greeted with friendly eager customers who couldn’t get enough of our newest product, Heel. This was the first Vogue Knitting Live show and we loved meeting our New Yorker Soak users. We also met some friendly people who travelled from Canada and even California to participate in the fun.
February was full of cake and icing. With both Jacqueline and Chris celebrating birthdays last month, as well as brightly coloured Valentine’s day cupcakes, our sweet teeth have thoroughly been satisfied. I also learned how much butter and sugar actually goes into a bowl of delicious butter cream icing. This is one fact that I probably could have gone my whole life without knowing, and have been happier. Even knowing what was in the icing, it didn’t stop me from licking the bowl.
For month’s now, we’ve been diligently working on making our website more user-friendly and appealing. There has been vast improvement so far compared to our old site and we’re still working hard on continuing to improve it. Here’s a sneak peek as the new layout and design that we’ve been working on.
Visit soakwash.com and give us your thoughts on our progress thus far. I’ve looked at this page everyday for the past 3 months and I’m sure a fresh pair of eyes can offer some much needed feedback.
We’ve decided to take part in the 365 photo a day project. It’s been a team effort with each one of us submitting photos and it’s been interesting to see what each of us sees in our daily lives outside of the Soak office. With warmer weather just around the corner, I’m excited to see more nature and outdoor photographs. If you search 365 in Flickr, you’ll see many photos taken by people around the world who are participating.
We were tweeted by one of our friendly customers who had just finished knitting her very first hat and had no idea how to block it. We thought that answering her question would be a great way to start off what we hope to be a series of helpful videos about caring for the items you cherish most.
If you have any questions, requests or suggestions for videos, we’d love to hear them! Send your thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Everyone thinks that if you just make a better mouse trap, you’ll be rich. Each business discipline has its own priorities in terms of mouse trap function and profit. As designers, we want to understand it all.
Sales thinks… that without them, there is no business- your mouse trap is nothing, if I don’t sell it.
Marketing thinks… if nobody knows there’s a new mouse trap, who cares?
Finance/business thinks… if it’s just about the bottom line, the trap isn’t important.
Designer thinks… if I design a better mouse trap, it will sell.
Design must be all encompassing. One must understand all aspects and priorities in order to create useful products.
In the second part of the design strategy course, we dive into marketing. We talk about marketing as part of the strategic mix, not to become professional marketers, but to be able to understand what marketing is all about when in a business or client meeting.
We skim the surface of famed marketing terms such as the 4 P’s, (Product, Price, Place, Promotion), we look at types of products (core, functional, augmented, potential) and try to define the ‘true’ solution a consumer is seeking when they look at goods or services. We stop for a while on pricing products, understanding how value compares with price (why starbucks can charge 4x more for coffee than say, Tim Horton’s or the local gas station) and why people pay more for certain things. We close off understanding how to define consumer needs and target markets. When we move towards the world of understanding brands, we look at product lifecycles, adoption curves and a few other marketing fundamentals.
It’s important to note that this marketing research is done in the context of the business strategy (which we learned how to analyze in the first part of the course). If we don’t have context, all the marketing research in the world won’t help our products succeed. That’s just my opinion, based on lots and lots of experience.
You might have the same glazed over look my students did this week in class as you read over these topics. I’m okay with that. It’s not that our designer/ students need to master brand strategy. If they did, they’d go get degrees in Marketing. They need to be familiar with the concepts and terms, so they can work well alongside marketers and agencies collaborating on client projects.
Should you feel the need to understand these points further, I would direct you towards our course text book, my favorite marketing book for non-marketing majors, ‘Marketing a roadmap to Success’ by Ajay K. Sirsi. Professor Sirsi was one of my MBA Profs at Schulich School of Business and he wrote this book to help simplify marketing terminology for us mere mortals, who don’t have the time for four inch thick text books. Happy reading.
The Design Strategy course at George Brown is neatly divided into three sections. First, we look at the context of business, then we get into the details of marketing and finally we end with integrating the design process into the business process.
This week we’re going to talk about the context of business. We all interact with a variety of businesses on a daily basis. Whether you pick up your morning coffee at a Starbucks, local independent coffee shop or by fresh beans at the grocery store to brew at home, by 9am, you have interacted with a wide variety of businesses. Someone made the coffee maker, someone pays rent and hires people at the coffee shop and someone hooked up the electrical outlets in your home. Each of those functions comes from a different business and each business has a history, vision, strategy, core competencies and operational plans. Each business is also affected by what is happening in its specific industry, the economy and the external environment.
We start with giving the students an understanding of how businesses operate and why they operate the way they do. We look at the driving forces of the organization. Then, we look at the businesses strategy, core competencies and operational functions. From there, we analyze the internal strengths and weaknesses, relative to the above mentioned strategic plan. Finally, we explore the external forces affecting business- the economy (how many of you buy less coffee on the go since the recession?), the environment and other social and regulatory factors affect and influence the business.
Essentially, we can all go on designing stuff, based on client briefs, because our bosses told us to, or because we just feel like creating new products. If we take the time to understand the business environment of our client, our industry or our own company, we bring an entirely new perspective to the design process. We not only design, but design in relation to the functioning business which gives us greater capacity, knowledge and insight that ever before. If we work from the corporate vision, focusing down through the organization and then widening back to the industry and external environment we can get an all encompassing view of what is really going on in business, allowing us to produce and manage stronger designs.
We often get questions related to the effects of using Soak on less common textiles. These requests usually come in the form of ‘well, I’ll try, I’ve got nothing to lose and if it doesn’t work, it was ruined/ old/ garbage anyhow…’. Sometimes it’s ‘can I soak the veil from my grandmother’s wedding gown? It’s old and yellow, and if it doesn’t’ work, it’s garbage anyhow’. Fortunately, these letters are often followed by raving success stories of lovely weddings including gramma’s veil, or otherwise destitute fabrics getting a second life.
This week, I had my very own ‘I might as well try Soak, or I throw it out anyhow’ moment with our spare room carpet. The artistically inclined teenager moved out and left a myriad of purple spotted stains on my favourite throw rug. I knew I was taking a risk leaving the rug in the room, but I neither had anywhere else to put it, nor wanted to move it from its destined home. Plus, she liked the rug, and it’s just a rug.
Luckily I had taken a bottle of Unleash from the ‘friends and family‘ shelf just the other day. So, I got down on my hands and knees, well, sort of, as I am still with a broken ankle and cast, so it was more of a sideways sit and started to scrub. I put some Soak on a scotch brite pad, and off I went. To my shock and pleasure, the agitation caused by the scrubbing was just enough to gently open the fibers, squeeze in some Soak and release the ‘purple spots’, whatever they were, from the rug. I used a damp cloth to blot the spot, gave it a quick rub to restore the threads and was off to the next spot.
I didn’t rinse it out or work it for very long- just long enough to saturate the fibers in question and loosen the stain right on out. Who knew? Wool is wool after all, and Soak worked just as well on my carpet, as it does on my favourite sweaters.
Send us your Soak ‘who knew it would work’ stories. We’ve got a favourite from a friend’s mom who Soaked her living room curtains new again. Sadly she forgot to take the before and after photos, so don’t forget those when you send in your submissions! We look forwarding to sharing your stories too.