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2 Years Since Our First Launch

It has been exactly two years today since Bow & Sprig's first launch, so I thought it would be a good time for a trip down memory lane.
 
This sketch is probably a good place to start, and wow, I have not see this in so long. My initial reaction is my drawing skills really need some help. But also, this gives so much perspective on how easy it is to get consumed by the small picture of everyday struggles, and how important it is to focus on the big picture of progress.
 

I drew this sketch when I was four months pregnant, had a 1 year old, and recently moved yet again with my family. Late one night, I was mindlessly scrolling, trying to find a solution to organize my jewelry and was very frustrated with the lack of options. All I could find were bulky jewelry boxes that would hide everything, or I would have to buy three different stands to store all types of jewelry; necklace stand, bracelet bar, etc. Then this design popped into my head. The next morning, I drew it out, and I told my husband, “I think I can sell this.”

I was already working in employee benefits consulting, so I wanted to be sure this venture had the potential to be viable. I took my sketch to retailers who I thought would have similar target audiences and asked what they thought. Everyone was so encouraging and confirmed my thoughts, that this stand fills a huge gap in the jewelry storage market. I was blown away by the positive feedback, especially when I went into Draper James. There, I met two amazing women who were so generous with their time and encouragement. They told me to come back when I had the prototype because they loved the idea. 

The responses I got made me feel emboldened enough to enroll in the entrepreneur certificate program at Southern Methodist University. I learned a lot, and used those tools to make a business plan, find prototyping, and seek out manufacturers. Every step of this process was messy. I literally was Googling my way through each day. The most defeating part was I could not find a manufacturer who would take on my design. Because the design was mixed-media (metal, wood, and upholstery), I was getting rejected at every turn. Normally, manufacturing will only do that many different materials for larger items like furniture with a higher ROI.

I was talking to anyone who would listen about my frustrations about finding production. Finally, I got found someone through my softball league who was a partner at a company that did both logistics and manufacturing. They had never done a project like mine, but were the first ones to be willing to take on the task, so we took the leap of faith together.

After 8 months of prototyping and getting the final model right, the first thing I did was get in my car and drive back to Draper James to show the women the final product. They, again, were so kind and happy for me. Then, they said something that made my head spin. They wanted to host Bow & Sprig’s launch party. It felt too good to be true. I was beside myself. Once the bulk order came in, the launch party happened and it was one of the proudest days of my life.

 

If this all sounds too easy, it’s because it was. Everything was moving in the right direction. I was even invited to do a pop-up tour of all the Draper James’ locations. I should have been on cloud 9, but, unfortunately, I couldn’t enjoy any of it. As all these amazing events happened, I began to realize only 20% of my stands were useable. I had to go into the warehouse three times a week just to inspect each stand myself to be sure only stands that were up to my standards went out.

Amazingly, in all the chaos, I made it through the holidays and did well with sales. I was starting to feel more confident moving forward with my small company, but little did I know the challenges around the corner in 2020. Hello, COVID-19. The warehouse suddenly was closed to outside visitors, so I could no longer check the stands that were being sent out. Also, I was confronted with finding new production. It was hard enough to find production the first time, but now I was a small company with a small order looking for top quality production in a world where manufacturers couldn’t even get through their incumbent clients’ orders. I made the hard decision to close Bow & Sprig after only five months. I needed time to come up with a new plan and  time to find the perfect production partner. Not to mention, I also had a three and one year old at home all day, every day since schools were closed.

It took months, but I finally found a family-owned company who took on my design as a “passion project”, knowing they probably would not make any money the first few orders with Bow & Sprig. They loved the design, saw the potential, and I think they liked the idea of a new challenge.

The experience was night and day from my first manufacturer. They listened to my concerns, worked with me to get everything perfect, offered suggestions to elevate the design. It was truly the most fun I had had since coming up with the stand design. The change of nature in process made me feel confident enough to expand my products to tissue box covers and catchall trays. The process took almost a year from soup to nuts with this manufacturer because of COVID delays, but it was all worth it. Bow & Sprig relaunched this past April and the products could not be more beautiful. Since April, we have been featured in Life & Style Magazine's 2021 gift guide, The Scout Guide Dallas, and Voyage Dallas. 

I am so proud of what Bow & Sprig has powered through and where we are now. This has been an extremely challenging, frustrating, and wonderful journey. I never thought I would own my own company, let alone do manufacturing, but it has been such a blessing of an experience. Probably the lesson I am most grateful for is, most people want you to succeed and are more than happy to help you get to where you need to go. You just need to be brave enough to ask.

If you can take anything from our story, it is that this company has been built with love, tears, and pride. If you would like to support Bow & Sprig, please tell your friends and family about our company. Due to our quality standards, our production costs restrict us to only being able to sell direct to consumer, so word of mouth is key to our success.

If you have made it this far in this post, thank you. We hope you find a little inspiration and a lot of heart from our story. Thank you so very much for your support.

 

XX,

Dana Browne