Thursday, September 22, 2016

Day 6: Learning with a Total Flop

Quincey's Project Toteschooling Mission Statement

When we started this project, I warned the girls that despite the fact that I had no doubts about the learning opportunities they'd have, I was concerned about selling the products to keep the project going.

You see, we are a maker family who make lot of great projects like these bags and we also value supporting small, local business. 

I told them that my fb feed is often inundated with sales promos for "At Home Party" products that I have largely stopped responding to because they seem neverending and I'm trying to instill the "less is more" approach with my kids and material possessions. I have a fb friend who only reaches out to me with invitations to the numerous parties that she hosts and we've discussed if we think this is respectful or not.

For that reason, I was not comfortable with pushing the sales side of this project too much and it showed.... Our first online party was a total and complete flop. Not one person joined our fb group or ordered anything.

Well, the sales side of it may have been a flop but the learning side surely wasn't.

So today's Thirty-One ended up happening over breakfast because the discussion naturally got started as to why didn't people buy anything.

We covered how much we did or didn't promote the party and then quickly got to "perceived value." Did people see these products as being worth their pricetags?

So off to the laptop to do some investigating. We picked the $15 zipper pouch as our product to study - few materials, and a product we have made in the past ourselves made it a more simple cost analysis.

Using Amazon and online fabric retailers we discovered that we probably couldn't find the exact fabric (as it's laminated with a rubber like product on the inside of the Thirty-One bag) but found something comparable. Then there was the zipper, thread, binding tape (the seams inside the bag are covered so it's all completely smooth) and the graphic. 

We had chosen the bag stenciled with the bicycle design. That meant we had to look up the cost of bicycle stencils, paint and stencil brushes. 

But wait, fabric is sold by the yard and we only need two pieces that had finished measurements of 9" x 12." Meaningful use of area calculations coming up! We calculated the area of our needs vs. the area of the yard of fabric and determined we could get 9 per yard.

Then we divided our stencil products by 9 because their quantity could be used for the entire 9 bags vs. zippers that required 1 per bag.

Ultimately, the kids calculated that each zipper pouch would cost them $3.54 in materials for a plain pouch or $5.31 per bag for a stenciled pouch. 

So how does that compare with the $15 the company is charging? Are we missing anything?

Instead of telling, I tried to lead the kids to discover we hadn't included the cost of labor - which in this case would be their time. This lead to a discussion of piecework and how our bag making differs from an industrial company's production line and more importantly, what is their time worth. I'm constantly trying to get them to understand allocation of time - that choosing to do one thing means choosing not to do another. 

But there was still another piece. If we were going to get the prices per bag listed above, we had to be willing to put out the money for 9 bags total as the fabric was only offered by the yard. So in fact, we'd have to put out $35 or more to get the 9 bag price.

And finally, we talked about quality. Would our bag be made to the same level of quality as one made on a professional machine, by a person who has made 100's if not 1000's of them before? Would our little sewing machine be the same quality as their industrial machine? Why or why not? 

After all that, the kids think the bag is a great deal for $15. What do you think?

In the end, it was a productive breakfast and they don't know it yet but when we get back to schoolwork I'm going to ask each one to prepare an opinion or why or why not this bag is a value and present it to the group. Of course, we'll video it too so we can play it back and learn about what makes a great presentation.

Wow - all from the discussion of one little zipper pouch and a flopped party. 

I guess our project isn't a fail after all even if our first party was. 

If you are interested in shopping the online Thirty-One catalog & supporting our project, here's a link.

If you'd like to get the great $99 curriculum, I mean consultant kit and start a similar project, here's a link for that.

Tomorrow will most likely be spent finishing up the presentations, filming and having them self-critique their performances. I'll ask if they will let me post one. Oh and we need to go back and finalize their personal vision and mission statements. I'm trying to think of a great art project or design project to record them on - still searching for ideas.

Have a great day!!

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