Our Sampling Issues Are Solved!
Looking back, I really can't think why we didn't do this YEARS ago. Easy to say after the event of course. We've recently taken delivery of a fantastic machine that allows us to cut our own swatch samples. It is so efficient and so easy - and rather therapeutic - and has the added bonus of reducing our sample costs significantly. So much so that we have just been able to halve the cost to our customers. The more accessible we can make our fabrics the better, so this can only be good news.
You may wonder why we charge for samples at all. I thought it might be interesting to give a bit of background on this.
Behind the scenes in fabric production is a whole support industry geared to making up samples for fabric companies. From the big pattern books that you will have seen in design showrooms, to the small swatches that you will receive when you ask for a sample of a particular fabric. Some larger companies will be printing hundreds of metres of a fabric just for launch sampling. Samples are how you present yourself to the outside world, so the quality is really important and, however hard we tried before we started outsourcing our sampling, we couldn't make our samples look as uniform and smart as we wanted. And we certainly couldn't produce a pattern book, which is a very specialist and large job to undertake. So, inevitably, our costs for sampling went up.
And one of the things that happens to fabric companies that you might not imagine is that people who craft things out of small pieces of fabric, particularly quilters, love a free sample! We would find people ordering 20 or 30 samples at a time and we knew that these never resulted in fabric orders. (I'm told that there are even forums where crafters let each other know which companies offer free sampling!) So we limited the number of samples people could order at any one time - but that just resulted in multiple orders! It was costing us a fortune so that's why we introduced a charge. Happily, it didn't stop people who are really interested in buying our fabrics from ordering samples - but overnight it knocked the quilting orders on the head!
Towards the end of 2017, we were sampling for our new Balazuc collection and something seemed to go utterly wrong with our sampling. Samples were arriving upside down, the wrong way round, the wrong size or wrongly labelled. It got so bad that we were holding our breath every time a batch of samples arrived. It resulted in us sampling our new collection two months late - a nightmare for a small company like Inchyra.
So we started to research what we could do to take back control. It turns out that the best machinery for sampling is Swiss or Italian, much like most of the incredible machinery used throughout fabric production, and the good news was that there was an entry level possibility. The upshot was the delivery last month of a fabulous little machine that allows us to produce our swatches and samples in-house. It has given us complete control and absolute flexibility - and speeded up the process enormously.
The other benefit is that it has significantly reduced the cost of the samples because we've cut out a whole level of production. Happily, we are now able to pass those savings on to our customers so, from today, we have halved the cost of our samples, reducing swatches from £1 to 50p each and larger returnable samples from £20 to £10 (fully refundable on return). And now hopefully you'll also understand why we can't make them free - because we'd be back in the crosshairs of the crafters!