Handmade small batch products rock!

A few weeks ago I saw a awesome video about Raleigh Denim. They’re a small company in Raleigh, NC who makes high quality jeans. Even though I haven’t tried on their product, yet, I’m sold. Maybe it was the story telling craft of the short documentary. But it’s also my love of products that are handmade and done in small batches.

Of course there are many other factors that sell you on something. But as a social entrepreneur I’m enthralled with a return to quality. Globalization and greed has destroyed the viable economics of making small batch products. North Carolina is one of the hardest hit States in the US in this regard. Our furniture and fiber arts are now a fraction of the state economy it once was. The effect is a loss of thousands of jobs. A serious problem for many many people.

My mother’s father Lester was a huge influence on me. Not just because of his kindness but because of his craftsmanship. He worked most of his adult life making furniture. While he was a manufacturer he had pride in craft.

Granddad helped me learn to love making things. It didn’t hurt he gave me all kinds of tools and showed me how to use them. I expect its because of him I love things like Raleigh Denim. Its fascinating how people, long after their death, can have profound effects on their children. I wonder what lasting effects I will have on my son?

Raleigh Denim isn’t the only example. Here’s a video about Oxxford Clothes, who claim to be, the last hand crafted suit tailor in the United States.

As I work to create new businesses with awesome products and services I will remember these companies. May all the things I sell be as special.

Evaluating Product Ideas

Evan Williams of Blogger, Odeo, and Twitter fame has a great blog post up called Will it fly? How to Evaluate a New Product Idea. Its actually helping me evaluate my ideas. Especially my business ideas. Check out his Ten Rules for Web Startups too.

Tractability
Question: How difficult will it be to launch a worthwhile version 1.0?

Obviousness
Question: Is it clear why people should use it?

Deepness
Question: How much value can you ultimately deliver?

Wideness
Question: How many people may ultimately use it?

Discoverability
Question: How will people learn about your product?

Monetizability
Question: How hard will it be to extract the money?

Personally Compelling
Question: Do you really want it to exist in the world?

I recommend you take this bit of advice too, “Be Wary Overgeneralized lists of business “rules” are not to be taken too literally. There are exceptions to everything.”