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Three things we learned while working on a product for Starbucks

Last year, we announced here that we had been working on a custom product for Starbucks stores! For a little company like ours, this was a dream come true. We're a company of five, not counting my kids who come in on snow days and work for candy. Many of you have asked us what are some lessons we learned along the way, so I thought I'd share some of those here!

1. Have a follow-up plan. We met buyers at a trade show (NYNow) in February, and followed up with them by sending handwritten thank you notes, product samples and ideas that we felt their customers would enjoy. We remained in contact with them for nearly a YEAR before we were finally invited out to Seattle to meet with them in person the following October. When you invest in attending a trade show, often the pay-off is something that unfolds over the course of an entire year to follow. Having a follow-up plan and being (politely) persistent will help cultivate the relationships that form at these shows in the months and years to come.

2. Partner with great people. We vetted several vendors before selecting a manufacturing partner that we knew we could count on to deliver on time and within the project budget. From the beginning, we knew that this size of a project would require additional resources. Like us, Starbucks has stringent ethical sourcing guidelines to be followed. We knew that the partner we chose would need to meet the highest standards as far as workplace safety, values, sustainability and more. We selected a local vendor so we could review colors and oversee every step of the process so that we could truly be proud of the final product.

3. Be flexible. Working with large brands or corporations, you will have many eyes on your work. Our product was just one of many that would be launching in a merchandised assortment that fall / holiday season. In other words, we only saw one part of the “elephant”. Each round of design revisions was run by their creative team, who had the benefit of looking at the project globally and in the context of other merchandise within in the assortment. We worked to hone in on a color palette that complimented the seasonal color story they were working on in stores, and we listened to their feedback while striving to remain true to our own brand. And when it all came together, it was thrilling to see the big picture merchandised in stores!