Photo by Pearl

For many of us, creating a product is the ultimate dream. The idea that you designed and produced a physical product that lives out in the world is exciting, to say the least.

But not so fast, Edison – creating a product from start to finish can be rewarding, but also requires more work than meets the eye.

I’m no stranger to entrepreneurship. As a two-time agency owner–first with Deuce Creative in Houston; now with DesignGood Studio and its online community in Austin–I know about the ups, downs and unexpecteds that come with launching and running a business. But developing a product line for my repurposed leather accessories brand, Boots & Arrow, was a different story. It was harder than I imagined and took longer–one year from concept to launch–than I expected. But the rewards were certainly there.

No matter what you’re trying to develop, there are a few must-know lessons to keep in mind when starting any product line. Here are my five best pieces of advice:

01 | Think About Your Passions
Before you decide what line to launch or product to develop, think about your passions. What would be a natural extension of either your existing brand or your interests? Boots & Arrow, everything about product development was natural. Creating a line of pet and people accessories made from the leather of reclaimed cowboy boots makes complete sense for a socially motivated design agency based in Texas and owned by a longtime lover and support of the rescue animal community. Authenticity is of the utmost importance. Keep this in mind as you start to lay the foundations of your brand, and consider how you could grow, expand and scale your product line. You’ll be glad you did later.

02 | Consider Your Resources
Developing any new product will be a question of finance, sure, but don’t let shallow pockets get you down. Get creative with your resources by thinking about who or what may be able to help you. Be sure to keep hidden expenses in mind and prepare yourself financially for them–you need to know upfront what it will cost to design and develop a site, create your product and market your new business–but don’t forget to be creative when it comes to these avenues. For example, if you’re a graphic designer consider trading your design skills with a photographer who can help you with product photography for your site. Look deep into your network, and connect with your community. Both can be extremely beneficial when it comes to developing a product that’s unique without costing you a fortune.

03 | Know What Makes You Different
What sets your brand or product apart? What do you offer that your customers can’t find anywhere else? If you can’t answer those questions now, figure them out before you move any further with your product. If you don’t know what makes your brand and product unique, your audience will notice and move on.

To use Boots & Arrow as an example, we honed in on the fact people love cowboy boots, like the idea of upcycled materials and above all love their pets. When bringing your product to life, make sure you have several facets of your story that people can connect to and remember that not everything works for all audiences.

04 | Have A Marketing + Outreach Plan Ready
Before Boots & Arrow began, we had a list of our dream publications for press coverage ready, we knew what craft and trade shows we wanted to attend and we knew the boutiques we wanted to carry our product. We also knew the causes we wanted to align with, and because there’s a giving element involved in our brand, we knew what organizations we wanted to give to.

Knowing who you want to work with will help you craft your product. We knew we where talking to a design savy, socially conscious community of primarily animal lovers. Since design and rescue animals are near to our hearts, it was imperative that our brand helped injured rescue animals and that we where able to help other dogs and encourage adoption. Before moving further, ask yourself–what’s near to your heart?

05 | Have A Professional Launch
When it came to giving a brand launch a professional feel, had an advantage with Boots & Arrow because of the fact that our sister company is a branding studio. But, you can have a professionally launch just as well by hiring the right people. It’s important that your brand identity, website, messaging and packaging helps strengthen your product.

Having this in place from the start can shave years off your journey, and get you to where you want to be as a brand faster. Having a cohesive and beautiful brand legitimizes your product and hard work. Remember–the image and the story you wrap your product up in is just as important as you product development.

But perhaps the most important part of creating a product line or building a brand is asking for help when you need it. At DesignGood Studio, we specialize in working with product-based brands at all stages of their business–and we’d love to help you create, build and grow the product of your dream. Contact us today to talk details.

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