Hi there, thanks for stopping by! We want to delve into how we designed our Etchr Art Satchel to solve some of the major pain points faced by urban sketch artists!
Before delving into the functionality, be sure to Join thousands of other artists on our Early Bird List to be among the first to know when our new bag launches on Kickstarter so you can stay in the know and get your hands on some awesome early bird giveaways.
As a professional Concept Artist, I loved taking a break and getting out and about with my drawing but often found the logistical process a pain. Fumbling around in my re-purposed bag for my art gear, setting up my work station and the arm fatigue and lack of mobility were all pain points that I sought to address with the Etchr Art Satchel.
We think we've come up with the answer! Read on and checkout some shots of Jaida with our latest prototype below : )
To reduce arm fatigue and provide a stable drawing platform on the go, we created "supported mode". Our bag can work as a mobile drawing platform in both portrait and landscape format, either standing or sitting, without the aid of a tripod.
Tired of lugging around an easel? For added stability and an instant workstation our bag easily carries and attaches to a quick release camera tripod to function as a work platform for both physical and digital mediums - think drawing and painting. Also works perfectly for life-drawing sessions.
When you're back at your desk, if you feel like referencing some images or a little more privacy while you work then you may find our "Laptop" mode useful. It sets up in seconds and breaks down just as fast so you're not wasting valuable art study time!
SPECIALIST CARRY CAPABILITY
Used to carrying two bags around when you've got your art gear? The Etchr Art Satchel has specialist art tool carry capabilities but also expands to offer plenty of room for more general items like books, laptops and digital tablets.
The storage and carry capability means that now you can carry your everyday gear alongside your art supplies and tools in the one bag - think everyday carry / overnight bag doubling as a specialized artist toolbox : )
We went for a stylish yet adaptable look which we think makes our bag the perfect companion for work, travel and play.
We'll be releasing the new Etchr Art Satchel in the coming months through our second Kickstarter campaign. Join our community of artists on theEarly Bird Listto be first to know when itlaunches so you can have first dibs on our awesome early bird giveaways!
You can also connect with us through our social media accounts and learn more about our mission, our journey and how our bag works for other types of artists on our Blog.
Hi there, thanks for stopping by! This post is for those that have come across Etchr and our Etchr Art Satchel for the first time : )
Our mission is simple: enable you, the creatives, to make more art. We are super excited to introduce to you the culmination of our efforts - the new Etchr Art Satchel.
Join thousands of other artists on our Early Bird List to be first to know when our new bag launches so you can get your hands on some awesome early bird giveaways!
Checkout our sneak peek video below.
We are all about supporting you, the creatives who make beautiful art that inspires the world we live in. We create stylish and highly functional products specially designed to break down the everyday challenges faced by artists.
Put simply, we do Carry for Creatives.
We want to keep this brief and focused on our latest product, the Etchr Art Satchel but feel free to check out Our Story and our Blog if you'd like to learn more.
For those that like to get out and about for a little plein air work, we created the easel mode. Our bag easily attaches to a quick release camera tripod and functions as a work platform for both physical and digital mediums - think drawing and painting. Also works perfectly for life-drawing sessions.
Our bag can work as a mobile drawing platform in both portrait and landscape format, either standing or sitting, without the aid of a tripod. Urban sketchers find this useful for working on the go while concept and comic artists will find this setup useful for added support when working on the couch or simply when a table isn't handy.
If you feel like referencing some images or a little more privacy while you work then you may find our "Laptop" mode useful. It sets up in seconds and breaks down just as fast so you're not wasting time.
'LLAMA' / 'BEAST' MODE
To help you get out and about we developed Llama mode which allows you to carry a bunch of stuff under the rugged front flap. For even greater usability on longer adventures the Etchr Art Satchel can be easily converted into a backpack (using the same shoulder strap) helping you to carry plenty of equipment to get creative off the beaten track.
The bag is specially designed to carry lots of art tools and equipment with far reaching customization potential to cater to the needs of a wide variety of creatives.
We also designed the bag to carry laptops and digital tablets with quick access pockets and other functionality that makes it the perfect companion for work, travel and play.
The storage and carry capabilities mean you now can carry your everyday necessities alongside your art supplies and tools in the one bag - think everyday carry / overnight bag doubling as a specialized artist toolbox : )
Our new bag will be released in the coming months through our second Kickstarter campaign. Join our community of artists on theEarly Bird Listto be first to know when the Etchr Art Satchellaunches so you can have first dibs on our early bird giveaways!
You can also connect with us through our social media accounts and feel free to ask any questions below - we love nothing more than talking about the art world, our mission and our products.
Hey all, Daz here, I hope you're well. Time for another update on the road to Kickstarter!
While my last post zeroed in on fixing the shortcomings of the original Nomad Art Satchel, I wanted this post to focus on how we've significantly broadened the feature set of the new bag.
Some housekeeping, I wanted to add a disclaimer that these features are demonstrated with two different prototypes with slightly different details (the leather accented one being the latest). So keep in mind that while these features are indicative of the functionality we are striving for in the final product, the final look and materials are still in flux and will be nailed down at a later stage when I visit the manufacturer in a month or so.
Oh and before you dive into the meat of the post, check out a quick video we shot recently of our prototype traipsing around the city with my Co-Founder Simon and our friend Bat-Chen who we literally met while shooting hah.
Anyway, on with the show...(grab a coffee, this is a long one)
If the video tickles your fancy and you haven't yet done so, then please join our mailing list for ongoing updates and other goodies in the lead up to our new Kickstarter campaign!
One of the most obvious changes from our preceding prototype is the face of the Etchr Art Satchel - we had feedback from a number of people that they wished the bag was a little more stylish so that it wasn't just its functionality that differentiated it from other art bags.
We've added a full grain leather strip with laser etching (yeah I know, Etchr is etched...) to the leading edge of the front flap.
This decision is partly styling choice and partly a way to further protect a high wear point of the bag.
For those not too familiar with leather bags, in time after extended use, a patina (or soft sheen) develops on the surface of the leather, imparting a personality to the product that is unique to each user, kinda like a fingerprint :)
Another significant change to the face of the product from the earlier prototype is that there are now two tension hooks / g-hook buckles in order to balance the tension load. This results in a more even surface tension distribution and gets rid of the previously unsightly diagonal tension wrinkles seen below on the earlier prototype:
Also note the two different styles of tension hook / g-hook buckles in the new proto - we're testing a few different styles out to determine which allows for the smoothest operation.
The leather strip, interior material interfacing and the blind side tension strips are made of Toughtek to help keep the front flap relatively wrinkle free while adding significant utility value which I'll delve into later.
I didn't mention in my previous post that we're changing the external shell material from ballistic nylon to Kodra. Kodra is a weatherproof material that is scientifically graded as 'sexy'. Well, not really, I don't think there is a scientific designation for 'sexy', but it looks damn nice.
The grey is stylish yet neutral enough such that it fits into a wide variety of settings from office to urban day-to-day. Importantly the bag is rugged enough to withstand a serious hike through the forest for some plein air work.
Oh yeah, it's also easier to photograph than black ballistic nylon...so there's that too.
SIDE RIM ATTACHMENT
New to the Etchr Art Satchel is the inclusion of external webbing material around the rim wall of the central compartment stitched with military MOLLE (or Modular Lightweight Load-carrying Equipment) designation which is in standard use in various military branches around the world.
This addition basically allow a large number of after-market additions to be attached onto the Etchr Art Satchel and the MOLLE webbing can also be used as anchor points for any straps. The most obvious use is that you can now easily attach a tripod in various configurations to avoid having to carry it separately as was the case with the original Nomad.
You can also use a couple of carabiner clips to attach things like...
CONCEALED MOLLE WEBBING
MOLLE webbing is awesome for extending the usefulness of any carry product, but as it originated from the military and is still largely associated with it, it naturally imbues a certain militaristic vibe to any product that has it on display as below.
For this product at least, I wanted to steer clear of the military look, but I could see all the benefits of the MOLLE system, so I decided to install some underneath the front flap to retain a refined look. This helps to increase the functionality of the product significantly but maintains the bags ability to work in a more "professional" setting.
Even a fairly small bank of MOLLE allows you to do things like...
'Llama' Mode is one of the most significant improvements to come out of this latest round of prototyping.
Essentially, the front panel works in tandem with the MOLLE rim, the g-hook straps and the front flap conduit for significant carry capability.
Firstly, the straps attached to the g-hooks that hold the flap closed are super long and they've been designed that way to latch large items into the void space that is typically ignored by other satchel or messenger bags. I saw this as a wasted opportunity to provide greater user flexibility.
As you can see, it can accommodate pretty large objects, which is great, but I wanted to take it a step further, so I included a conduit piece of Toughtek on the blind side of the front flap - check it out.
This seemingly innocuous addition allows some pretty spectacular maneuvering and essentially allows the user to secure large unwieldy objects that cannot fit inside the bag itself, into the void space. It is large enough to thread the g-hook strap through...
Then, the g-hook can secure into any of the slots along the MOLLE rim, which essentially creates a customizable cage for various objects.
Here's a practical example where I used the Llama carry mode recently. I needed to lug my new gimbal for a product shoot and I didn't want to carry both my satchel and my gimbal case, so I lashed this baby on...
Even when carried in portrait / upright mode, the gimbal case remains securely attached.
Now for something slightly more challenging and a bit more art-centric, I wanted to demonstrate the Llama mode being used to carry my pochade box and a heavy tripod. This is a relatively heavy kit weighing in at 6.2kg or ~14lb.
As you can imagine, carrying this in sling mode would get pretty tiring over a fairly short distance, so when you combine it with the backpack mode (more on that later), you're able to distribute the weight a lot more evenly and also free your hands to help navigate challenging terrain. We see this as a vast improvement on the original Nomad Art Satchel.
As the front flap is such an integral part of the 'Llama' pack-carry mode, we've added some reinforcement to the blind side of the front flap. Subtly strengthening it with Toughtek material to increase friction yet reduce wear on the lining material.
While the front flap allows greater access to the internal contents of the front pocket for better 'RPG inventory management', it's a little cumbersome when you want to access something quickly (like a drink bottle, tablet or small laptop), so we included a quick access conduit.
We've prototyped with paracord / heat shrink zip pullers which actually feel much nicer to use than a naked steel pull. The paracord also acts as a buffer between the steel pullers and helps to reduce the noise signature of the bag (i.e. it's less jingly than the original Nomad).
A (possibly) optional addition to the Etchr Art Satchel is a removable organizer for your bits and pieces. While the design isn't final, it can attach to the front pocket or to the main central compartment depending on a person's requirements.
We've replaced the former D-rings with tough Duraflex D-rings and clasps to minimize the noise signature and further help reduce overall weight.
BACKPACK MODE / VERTICAL CARRY
Certainly one of the most exciting new features (for me at least), is the inclusion the new backpack mode.
The Nomad's original sling strap is fine for relatively light weight carry but it starts to become uncomfortable when you add significant weight to the satchel and it also inherently suffers from lack of stability.
By adding the backpack mode, it allows a greater amount of weight to be carried over a long period by spreading the weight distribution and also adding to the level of stability due to two harness points rather than one.
In order to facilitate the new backpack mode, I needed to completely re-think the original carry strap.
While it might seem like a fairly simple solution, this was actually a surprisingly complex problem to solve and took months of research / designing to arrive at the new design - I wasn't particularly impressed with other solutions in the carry market.
The complexity came from having to meet a number of important criteria - ease of operation, significant weight bearing ability, comfort in both modes (sling / backpack).
As I did not want the user to have to purchase a separate item seeing as this is integral to the use of the product, I needed the strap to effortlessly move from single sling strap to two backpack straps.
We managed to track down a swivel buckle that allowed the new system to work in theory, we tried it out in prototype and wham, it's comfortable and secure :)
We've added two types of foam - a denser/harder core foam, and a softer outer foam to be much more comfortable than the rudimentary strap pad of the original Nomad Art Satchel.
Most satchel type bags that deploy a front flap typically have fairly significant gaps/holes to either side of the front flap, as seen below.
Generally, messengers bags have greater material overlap in order to cover this side exposure in landscape orientation, but because our design requirements dictated that the user had to be able to carry the bag in either landscape (sling) or portrait (backpack) orientation, a simple overlap of material would still leave the internal contents exposed to moisture seepage when turned sideways - which would render the use of water resistant materials kinda useless.
So in order to solve the seepage issue in backpack mode, we overextended the front pocket material so that when the front flap is closed the material bunches up, significantly decreasing the likelihood of moisture getting into the front pocket when the bag is in backpack mode.
Supported mode in both landscape and portrait orientation both make a return in the Etchr Art Satchel.
One of the key differences is the system used to keep both halves open to increase stability. As you can see, the velcro flaps are replaced by an adjustable mini quick release clip, which is vital as the front pocket contents will now be variable. An adjustable quick release buckle means that you can tension the strap to remove excess void space unlike the original Nomad.
The original velcro flap system was a sticking point for a lot of people including myself, it just wasn't particularly elegant and was prone to wear over time, so the new adjustable quick release clip is a huge improvement.
The internal bandolier has been improved for ease of use as well as updated to MOLLE designation for further internal customizability.
REAR PADDING / LUGGAGE SLIP
Rear padding has been added to the Etchr Art Satchel, this is to provide a more comfortable buffer between your back and the tripod plate / quick release plate as well as a more stable platform when using the bag on a table top.
The padding has also been designed to allow the satchel to slip onto the pulling arm of luggage.
Using the interior side loops and mini g-hook straps, you can support the opposing panel of the central compartment to engage the laptop mode, which is great for referencing images or providing a bit more privacy as you study some new art knowledge :D
Pretty much the reversal of the privacy mode but attached to a quick release camera tripod.
Again, using the interior strap loops you can adjust the mini-hook straps to support the opposite flap as a tray for materials, tools, watercolor containers, or hack something up to meet your own personal needs. It can work for both physical and digital mediums...
So that brings this giant post to a close, but before I go, can I point out two things again:
If you're not already following us, I'd love to invite you to join our mailing list to be kept up to date. In case you didn't know, we're going to be running a new Kickstarter campaign to help us fund the new Etchr Art Satchel, and those on our mailing list will be first to know.
**DISCLAIMER: The face of the product is not final, we're quite literally going through another prototyping round as we type this***
One of our major tasks as a reinvigorated company, is to evolve our flagship product, the Etchr Art Satchel - btw it is no longer known as the Nomad Art Satchel due to trademarking reasons which you can read about on our other blog post.
WHY WE STOPPED SELLING
Demand is still strong even though we stopped selling the original inception last year.
In short, I felt a moral obligation to hold off production on a new batch until I had evolved the design to solve the shortcomings of the original Nomad Art Satchel. And frankly, until now I didn't have the capacity to undertake such an involved process without more time up my sleeve and money in the bank.
When I launched the original Nomad Art Satchel, it was as good as I could make the product with the resources I had, but there were definitely things I wished I could have improved if I had more time / money. Now I have the ability to take it closer to the level of functionality I wished the original had due to an upgrade in working capital as well as a better and faster prototyping process.
Over the last couple of years, we've gotten some pretty consistent and helpful feedback on a handful of important things that we needed to improve and we're going about this right now.
We've undertaken two prototype iterations, and we've been performing field tests in order to finalize and dial in the detailing for our 3rd and final prototype before moving the workload over to the manufacturer to do samples and cost up production runs for KICKSTARTER PART DEUX!
We've added a TON of new functionality to support a wider group of artists, but we'll talk about that another day - discussing the improvements to existing issues is hefty enough as it is as a blog post.
THE FIXES ARE IN
Before we delve into the improvements, I wanted to mention that while we improved on the weak points, we kept a very keen eye on preserving the functionality of the original Nomad Art Satchel.
Quite often, when companies improve their initial offerings, their new solutions sometimes trample on the good points of the last iteration, and we were very keen to avoid that mistake.
We're happy to report that we've preserved much of what people loved about the first, and just amped up everything else while also adding a ton of new functionality that does not negatively affect the original functionality in any way.
With that said, let's look at what has improved.
1. MORE INTERNAL SPACE
By FAR, the single biggest issue for most people was that the main internal compartment was too slim and thus wasn't able to hold enough materials and tools. Even a fairly slim sketchbook and a few pencils on the other side meant that closing the Nomad was a very tight affair.
Our prototype increases the central compartment internal depth significantly, while not adding significant external size - you can see below, that the thickness of the prototype is not much more than the original Nomad Art Satchel.
We have reworked the internal system from the ground up to save space and weight - so no more strap boards! We found that with our new internal design we added more than an inch of depth, which is an optimal size for most people.
The added room allows people to carry much thicker regular sketchbooks as well as thicker art tools such as primacolor markers without causing any squishy-ness. We actually pushed the depth much more in our first prototype, but we found that depth excessive and compromised on both the rigidness and function of the product, as well as having a negative visual impact.
Anyway, because we saved so much room, we can rather hilariously, actually fit an entire original Nomad Art Satchel within the central compartment, which would have been preposterous to even suggest trying with the original.
And apart from the extra depth, we added a little bit of size to it too - here is the prototype with my Cintiq Companion inside - it actually makes a rather sexy little laptop bag ;)
2. REDESIGNED INTERNAL SYSTEM
Apart from more depth and size, I decided to completely redesign the system used to hold your tools and pad. Although most people were pretty happy with the original, I found a few things about the original strap boards less than ideal:
Takes up excessive limited space
A huge number of failure points
Didn't hold pads / books / tools very securely
Excessively expensive to replace
Straps took up a lot of drawing real estate
The new system replaces the backing with a velcro friendly felt material that feels nicer and simplifies the visual look. The functionality of the strap boards is now replaced with a combination of repositionable corner tabs and a center-line tab.
Looks a bit different right? Let me assure you, they are much much much more secure, much less prone to failure, easier and cheaper to replace, they save a ton of weight, they take up 80% less real estate on your pad, and they have a huge amount of flexibility in how you deploy them to allow for a wider variety of tools / devices to be held securely in place.
As you can see, the tabs allow for out-of-the-box secure tablet attachment too, which is a pretty cool feature. Furthermore, the corner tabs allow you to BYO tablet cover without requiring you to remove it in order to securely attach it to the interior of the Etchr Art Satchel.
3. CARRY HANDLE
A seemingly small item, but one that was widely requested in a follow up product - the ability to grab the satchel by a carry handle is something that was greatly desired by many people, so we not only gave you one, but two. The Etchr Art Satchel can be carried by handle in both portrait and landscape mode.
4. MORE FRONT POCKET STORAGE
Because of their overlapping padded layout and shallow profile (to allow the Nomad panels to overlap when open), the dual front pockets weren't able to hold a significant amount of carry, meaning they were largely not-very-useful.
Between the lack of space in the main compartment and the lack of space in the front pocket, we found a lot of folks who actually liked the functionality of the Nomad Art Satchel were having to carry extra bags to transport their tools. Obviously this is far from ideal and the call for more front pocket storage was strong.
You asked, and we delivered - while the original Nomad Art Satchel could barely accommodate much more than a Naked iPad, the new Etchr prototype can...well...see for yourself....it is able to cram two of my biggest, heaviest art tomes into the front pocket...imagine all the art books you can buy and carry home!
Feed your art book addiction!
On the flipside of the Etchr Art Satchel's ability to expand quite dramatically, let's see that sexy pic where it's able to collapse to almost the thickness of the original Nomad Art Satchel again. Look at that! I like the idea that the user isn't forced to lug around an oversized empty art bag if you're not hauling a lot of stuff on a particular day.
One of the biggest changes to the Etchr Art Satchel from the original Nomad, is that the default orientation of the bag has turned into landscape.
This wasn't a light decision. We consulted with a very wide range of artists on its field use and their creative preferences and found around 80% of them were more inclined to sketch in landscape mode.
As you'd imagine, this has a significant impact on a lot of things which forced some significant redesigns, but I think the benefits will become very apparent in our subsequent post documenting the new functionality.
But if you're one of the people who prefers portrait, never fear, you can still sling it in portrait view with no issue - what this default orientation allowed us was slightly clearer guidelines when design trade-offs needed to be calculated.
A few artists gave feedback that the weight of the original Nomad was actually quite prohibitive for its small profile, and we agreed. Part of the reasoning behind removing the strap boards and replacing it with a better system for the Etchr Art Satchel was to reduce the weight - if you think about all rubber and material used to create them, it's a lot.
Another area where we were able to save significant weight was in replacing the acrylic board of the original art satchel with a stiff corrugated backing. This backing is braced by the tripod attachment plate in the rear compartment, allowing equivalent strength of the acrylic plate with much less weight.
These two changes mean that while the actual overall size of the bag is slightly larger, the weight has actually dropped by two thirds - so the Etchr Art Satchel weighs a third of the Nomad Art Satchel despite being larger and more awesome! Great news for people who are on the smaller side.
Here's the reading on a luggage scale:
Nomad Art Satchel: 1.5kg / 3.3lbs
Etchr Art Satchel: 0.5kg / 1.1lb
So that's where I'm going to end for now so you can get back to your busy lives, but, before I go, I'll arrow two things:
If you're not already on our email list, I'd love to invite you to put your name down for our new newsletter. Similar to the blog, we're going to re-invigorate our email newsletter and share some pretty awesome stuff there first, including various art-centric resources, art tips and tutorials and new products for artists. In case you didn't know, we're also going to be running a new Kickstarter to help us fund the new Etchr Art Satchel, and we'll let people know first via our mailing list.
If I've missed something, feel free to ask questions below or give your thoughts on other things we might be able to improve and, of course, feel free to share our progress with other like-minded creatives!
I look forward to showing you some of the new stuff <3
Hello once again wonderful artists, Darren here, it's time for another blog update!
How's things on your end? Keeping busy I hope? Feel free to let me know in the comments - I love to read what projects other creatives are getting into - perhaps we can even shed some light on them in future posts. There's nothing I love seeing more than artists striving to make it, and I'd like to support those who are giving it their all <3
Over here on my end, things are very very busy, but I'll try to keep this particular post relatively short (yeah that's not going to happen...), centering on the establishment of our new company and our new little team behind it.
If you're here wanting to read about our juicy progress on the evolution of the Nomad, then please go to thespecific blog post where there's a lot of prototyping / designer-y stuff.
In this particular post however, I wanted to get into the often invisible business side of creativity from my view point - I think it deserves a bit of a spotlight and carries on from my last blog post in Feb.
NOMAD BECOMES ETCHR
TL/DR Version: We didn't want future trademarking issues, so we decided to change our name to something else.
Quickly, before our new team, I wanted to touch on our brand transition.
In between all the big things happening, I think one of the most significant administrative tasks we've had to deal with recently was the overhaul of the Nomad entity.
If you've known us from the Nomad days, I guess coming to our site and seeing new Etchr branding could be a bit jarring and I wanted to let you know the reasoning behind the change.
Y'know, I'm a big Sons of Anarchy fan - in fact, my son Jax is actually named after the main character Jax Teller - and during the period in which I was developing the Nomad 1 prototype, I think we were also watching the 5th or 6th season of the show.
I was struggling to come up with a name for the art satchel, but when the 'Nomad' charter of the Sons of Anarchy biker gang was mentioned - it just felt right and I started using it. People liked the name, it encapsulated the 'wandering' aspect of art-making as well as the free spirit of the artist, so it kinda just stuck.
Unfortunately, I adopted the name without much business / legal thought - in all honesty I never really expected our little satchel for artists to come this far, so the idea that I could run into branding hurdles wasn't exactly the biggest priority in my mind. I reasoned that if things went well, we could navigate the formalities when we got there - and that day has come.
In the strive to establish a long lasting legacy and on the advice of legal counsel, we've bitten the bullet and decided to revamp our name, along with a large chunk of the branding as we define the path forward for our brand.
Connected to this change, we also recently shifted the operations from my own sole proprietorship, into a newly minted company structure that my new founders and I have set up. Henceforth, the brand formerly known as Nomad, will now transition to the company, Etchr Lab.
Understandably, as with any brand name change, this will probably piss some people off...heck, even I have a bit of an emotional time with this as that name has so much history and meaning for me, but what must be done must be done and you shouldn't stare at a frog for too long if you must kiss it.
That being said, frankly...I love the shiny little new company we have hatched.
While it's a little sad to say goodbye to our old brand, it's also an undeniably exciting time - to me, it feels like my quirky little business experiment has pulled on the big boy pants, and is about to level up, all the potential in the world, a primed canvas from which we will paint our future :)
INVESTMENT & TEAM
TL/DR Version: I got investment. There are now multiple people working together to grow Etchr into something special. I've stopped doing client work to focus exclusively on building Etchr. 'We' now refers to more than just me and my mangy cat. *toot toot party time*
If you hit rewind to our February post, we ended with me putting feelers out into the wild with the intent to both solicit business growth advice as well as eventually land some investment capital.
Thankfully I had just enough sense to realize that without some help I wouldn't be able to gather the resources required to consistently and quickly develop high quality products for artists.
I won't go over every minute detail in this blog post but in sharing both my vision for Etchr and the ethos behind the brand with Simon and his colleague Yan (my now-business partners) I had the support I needed.
Simon is largely the finance guy who loves scrutinizing numbers and ROI, but also isn't afraid to roll up his sleeves and get his hands dirty with marketing and anything else that supports my own efforts. Despite his impressive pedigree working in mergers and acquisitions for large multinational firms like Lazard, Simon is a down to Earth guy who I've gotten to know, like and respect in a fairly short amount of time.
Yan, my other business partner resides in my old stomping ground of Perth and was drawn into the development of the company through Simon. His methodical and analytical nature led him to working for a number of years for The Boston Consulting Group before he decided to strike out in business with Simon. He helps to guide the overarching plans for the development of our company and brings a mature business perspective from years of helping some of the largest companies in the world.
Largely because of this investment and skill infusion into our brand, I have wound down my freelancing art services after 12 years as a professional artist, and I now focus all my efforts on developing our new company exclusively.
We also have some fantastic legal and accounting advice on board who have structured a brand new company, built from the foundations of Nomad.
In terms of the beast of product development, I've worked pretty hard to improve the prototyping process and a huge part of that has been getting on board our proto engineer extraordinaire, Andy Storms, a very skilled and experienced soft-goods industrial designer from Seattle who runs Technical Softgoods.
Andy's skill has allowed me to aggressively pursue a much more complex product in significantly less time and I think people are really going to be pretty stoked about our collaborations together.
On a personal level, I find it really exciting because when I say "we" now, it means more than just my cat and I.
If you've gotten all the way down here, I must say thank you. I feel like I post a lot of this for my own benefit, to get it out of my head and get on with other things, so I really do appreciate when people read this stuff.
Here's to you <3
If you'd like to look at what we've been up to regarding new work, check out the successor to the Nomad Art Satchel and where it is going :)
I hope you've been keeping well. Nomad Darren here, it's certainly been a long time since you've heard from me...almost a year after my last blog post. I am sincerely sorry about the radio silence, I truly am, but truthfully, I desperately needed a bit of distance as I was feeling on the verge of burn out.
To paraphrase Bilbo - I felt thin, sort of stretched, like butter scraped over too much bread.
Before some product updates, I feel that I needed to go into some of the circumstances surrounding my hiatus, it's a fairly long read and it has actually been split into two updates to make it a bit more manageable.
TL/DR Version: I was super busy and super stressed. Baby coming. Needed money. Did more client work to buy diapers. Nomad was pushed down the priority list. Felt sad because I'm addicted to bags and love my little bag company. Decided to come back to Nomad in a big way. *Cue Rocky music*
When my pre-order customer packages had finally shipped last year, it was after a particularly stressful period, which included an unfortunate system error that had created slightly incorrect mailing addresses for a number of customer orders, and due to the automated nature of the logistics system we use, we were only alerted to the error after all our customer packages had shipped.
We worked around the clock to ensure that we did as much as possible to minimize the damage, and thankfully we avoided any significant problems. At the time, it had the potential to be a very financially costly exercise, but we thankfully avoided that and almost all packages were delivered to the correct customers. The handful that did not make it into the hands of their owners were quickly shipped replacements.
BTW, before I go further, I'd love to hear how your Nomad Art Satchels are going and if you've had any issues or feedback - I'll get into it more later, but our team has grown, which has allowed me greater bandwidth to focus on customer service.
Anyway, one of the things with running a product development business alongside building its e-commerce distribution platform, is that there is always work to do, and if you're moderately successful, it quickly becomes more than any single person can handle. And the more it grows, the more work that isn't being done also grows. If you're not getting more hands on deck to help out, you become snowed under and overwhelmed, and you can no longer focus on growth, only playing catch up and firefighting.
This is precisely where I was finding myself, but I stubbornly resisted growing my operations...here's why...
SCARIEST THING EVER
When I was young, my parents started a jewelry business with pretty significant investment around the time I was in middle school, I think I was around 13 or 14. It was actually really cool, seeing my parents grow something from nothing through sheer hard work.
They rented a warehouse, drew up plans and decked it into a little factory with vats of expensive chemical drums, a small hand assembly line, spray booths, jigging stations, show room, reception area and a small kitchen.
There's so many things I remember about that place, the smells that hung in the air, the consistent late nights, the crowding around the kitchen table for dinner, cooked on a portable camp stove - it virtually became our home. Our real home, we reserved only for sleep at night and preparing to leave in the morning.
We spent countless hours in the office, taking after-school naps in my sleeping bag under my dad's mahogany work desk. I played computer games on the work computer and learned how to roller-blade around the factory to kill time after my homework was done. I went through my borrowed library books so quickly that to stave off boredom, I started reading all my sister's Sweet Valley High books too...they were actually kinda cool tbh.
Then the local newspaper came around and wrote an article on my parents' business - my mom had her face along side the article. It felt like things were becoming good. Someone even tried to break into our factory to steal our merchandise. I remember the anger at that, that someone was trying to take away from us the hard work we'd put into it, there was a sense that this was our patch of turf, this was our go at the pursuit of happiness.
The type of jewelry business my parents had set up was pretty unique - they used complex chemical processes in order to turn Australian flora & fauna into high quality gold plated jewelry and gifts. I still haven't seen any similar jewelry business which achieved the level of quality that they did.
Then, at a certain point, I don't remember exactly when, things started to go off track.
I'll spare you the details, but after a long downhill glide due to a series of unfortunate events, the business shuttered. It really hurt, and I wasn't even the one who did all the work, so I can only imagine what my parents had gone through. Leading up to the company going into bankruptcy, my parents and their employees worked around the clock for months to try to turn things around without success.
One of the things I remember now is that my sister and I attended martial arts classes a few evenings a week, and even through this increasingly trying time, my dad still found the time to take us in the evenings which provided some sense of normality to things. Now as a parents, I can really appreciate the enormity of such a seemingly small gesture.
But because of the ensuing fallout; the intertwined lives of all the people who had worked so hard at a singular goal, mercilessly scattered to the winds in an instant; the liquidators picking over the bones of my parents' hopes and dreams; my mother being stressed beyond belief...carved a very deep groove, warning me for over 20 years that owning and growing a business is perhaps the single most terrifying thing in existence.
I've had to fight against this programming for a very long time, and it feels like I'm winning most days, but it's still something that gnaws at me and sometimes causes me to be overly cautious, I actually get a physical symptom of this fear - it feels like a tight thorny ball right under my rib cage...which is why growing my business, and putting more people to work on it, has been a difficult thing for me to overcome. For me, growing Nomad is an almost spiritual endeavor - the pursuit of overcoming my greatest and most deeply rooted fear, by peeling them slowly away layer by layer.
CHILD UNIT 2.0
In the midst of all this work load and ongoing client work, my wife and I sanely (YEAH RIGHT...) decided we'd try for our second child early in 2016. It was something both of us had wanted to do and we were also aware that we were approaching the age when things of that nature would start to get a bit more complicated. Damn you biological clock.
Well anyway, we thought maybe it might take some time to actually fall pregnant the second time around, but apparently we're both pretty damned fertile and were able to conceived after a week. We were both overjoyed and severely terrified for the second time. The double whammy was that my wife most likely would not be going back to work for a while, meaning I'd be the sole bread winner for a period of time.
Our beautiful daughter Ava Scarlett Yeow was born into the world on the 22nd of September 2016. It was an amazing, emotional VBAC birth and I was so proud of my wife. It was easily one of the most powerful experiences I've been a part of in my life.
Here's a pic of my kids I took the other day. They love each other a huge amount, which is just awesome, and they're both super strong personalities.
A DIVERGING ROAD
Building a product company isn't cheap, having kids isn't cheap, and with the prospect of being the sole income earner in my little family, it wasn't long before I was bumping the inherently risky business development of Nomad down the priority list in preference of client work which paid well right now, rather than a year or more down the track (potentially).
Call it short-sighted, but this strategy actually made short-term sense. It let us save up for the inevitable expenses that would soon to come - but longer term, and creatively it made less sense.
If I am being completely honest, while I greatly enjoy doing client artwork and design (and I suspect always will), my true passion at this point in my life is working on carry items and physical goods. Sounds weird to actually say, but it absolutely is my burning passion. I actually go up to random strangers in the street and ask if I can look/touch/smell their bag. Yeah of course I know how weird that is.
After pre-sales shipping occurred, a part of me knew that I couldn't continue to serve two masters - freelancer clients and Nomad. They both demand significant focus and it was unsustainable to continue to do both.
In the end my growing frustration at being unable to truly work on growing my baby (Nomad) was beginning to negatively affect my mood and predisposition. I felt that without dedicated focus on Nomad, it would forever exist as a profitable little business experiment, and it would eventually be something I regretted not focusing on in later life. You only get one go at it right? So I decided to shift things around, and position myself to be able to work on Nomad 100% of the time.
I began putting out feelers into my contacts, actively searching for other people who could help Nomad as advisers, but my aim was to eventually secure investment as well...TO BE CONTINUED...
I'm going to end there for now so you can get back to your busy lives, but, before I go, can I arrow two things:
If you're not already on our email list, I'd love to invite you to put your name down for our new newsletter. Similar to the blog, we're going to re-invigorate our email newsletter and share some pretty awesome stuff there first, including various art-centric resources, tips, tutorials and new artist products.
Nomad Darren here again with the fourth update - shipping is completed!
Here's where we are at in our timeline:
Yes! We have indeed shipped all Nomad packages - I apologize for not updating earlier, as we encountered a shipping error that had affected some people (which I will go into later) and so my priority was making sure we dealt with that error and letting the people who were involved with this problem know what was going on.
So we've officially completed pre-order fulfillment and I have to say that it has been a 1000x smoother than the Kickstarter process was and I'm pretty happy about that.
Of course this isn't entirely the end - there will be ongoing support provided as needed on an individual basis.
Thank you to all the people who have been emailing me with such nice words on their new Nomad - it really makes my day :)
As the Nomad has a few features which might not be obvious to everyone, I created a temporary video showing how to use various aspects of the Nomad. I created it originally for the Kickstarter backers, but the design has remained the same, so this should help you guys and girls as well: https://vimeo.com/128029846
POSTAGE ERROR THAT AFFECTED A SMALL % OF ORDERS
For the people who were not looped into the error conversation (meaning you were not affected), I'll disclose what happened in order to maintain transparency for all.
Basically, a system error between our online store (shopify) and our fulfillment center software (whiplash) meant that a small percentage of pre-orders had a line of 'bogus' information added to their correct mailing addresses.
Because our system is highly automated and very efficient, we only realised there was an error once fulfillment had occurred and the postage confirmation emails were sent out to people.
We did our absolute best in trying catch any packages that had not physically left the warehouse (as there is sometimes a delay between registering a package for delivery and the postal service actually picking up the package) but alas, we were only able to correct a small number of packages.
We fixed the error code and then scanned through the postal address data in order to assess the severity of the issue and we found it was almost universally a non-issue- for instance a few customers had bogus company names, dashes or alternative names added to their correct addresses which ultimately hasn't stopped the Nomad packages reaching their intended customer.
There were a minute number where there were unit numbers added to the address, which could of course cause confusion, but in the cases where postal services are not able to make a delivery, they will of course contact either the intended recipient, or return the package to our warehouse, where we would resend the package after re-confirmation of the correct postal address on an individual basis.
As of today, we haven't had any returns and a lot of customers whose orders were affected by the error have emailed to let me know their packages have arrived safely - this of course caused a huge sigh of relief on our end.
TRACKING AND PACKAGES STUCK IN FONATA, USA
Another two related issue some people are emailing me about are related to their packages stuck in Fontana, USA and not being able to track their packages.
In both these cases, the reason is that most customers have opted for standard postage - which includes no/limited tracking.
When a package is processed at the Whiplash fulfillment facility, their system automatically sends a customer their 'tracking' number link - however, their system doesn't take into account that some people opt for standard shipping, which generally has no tracking - the postal service obviously then will return a null value, resulting an a message similar to "The tracking number does not exist!"
This tends to affect contiguous US customers - as yet, there is no way to turn off this "tracking" notification.
For packages that need to be shipped outside the US, what you get is something even more confusing - you get tracking till Fontana, and then tracking basically stops and the system is no longer updated. I am entirely unsure as to why they even provide this limited tracking as it creates confusion, but that's how it works and I can't change that unfortunately.
Even when customers receive their package, the 'tracking' will still report that the item is in Fontana.
I know it causes a bit of stress, but in all cases, your package is not stuck in Fontana, but on it's way to you - which depending on postal workload, can take 2-4 weeks to deliver.
Hopefully this will alleviate some of the stress if you're in either of these two camps.
We’ve come to the end of the fourth and final major update!
I hope this pre-order process has been an overall good experience for you.
Again, I'd like to thank all of you for supporting the Nomad pre-order, it's given us the ability to explore new ideas for artist products. I hope many of you will like our future products :)
As usual, if you have any further queries, comments, feedback or just want to share your excitement, feel free to post in the comments section below and I’ll be happy to respond. Conversely if you want to email me directly, please don’t hesitate to do so.
I hope you get many years of use out of your Nomad, keep drawing and drawing and drawing!
Nomad Darren here again with the third and second to last pre-order update before we start shipping!
We'll of course post another update when shipping officially begins.
Here's where we are at in our timeline:
Thanks again to all of you for your patience, I know many of you are anxious to get your hands on your Nomad Art Satchels and we're anxious to start sending them ASAP.
The great news is that our shipment of Nomad Art Satchels have arrived in the US and are being processed through customs right now and being prepared for ground logistics to our warehouse in San Francisco where we will carry out order fulfillment for US, Canadian and International orders.
We estimate the goods will be in the warehouse system in 5-6 days, once they are, we will upload a collated file containing the postage details of all of our wonderful pre-order folks.
After that, it only takes a few days for our fulfillment partners to ship all boxes - they're incredibly efficient and great at what they do.
FINAL ADDRESS CHANGES!
As you'd imagine, we'd like to have your postage addresses finalized in the next 3 days, so please e-mail me ASAP if you need to make any changes since you placed your order - if not you're good to go.
We’ve come to the end of the third update! I hope this has been some good news :)
As usual, if you have any further queries, comments or just want to share your excitement, feel free to post in the comments section below and I’ll be happy to respond. Conversely if you want to email me directly, please don’t hesitate to do so.
Again, Cat-overlord Jasper and I truly appreciate your ongoing support <3
Nomad Darren here, I hope you all had a fantastic end of year holiday! I'm here with the second pre-order update to let you know how things are travelling.
We've been working hard over the holidays to ensure that we meet our Q1 2016 deadline and we're tracking nicely - the progress bar below shows where we're at:
Manufacturing went off without a hitch - no component shortages to deal with and was completed in a timely manner. It was much smoother than the first time after our Kickstarter, where we had to deal with significant delays due to component shortages we couldn't control.
After manufacturing was completed, we entered a quality control period of a couple of weeks for our quality control engineer to find any defects and have them remedied. After some back and forth we were pleased to see the high quality levels maintained from our previous manufacturing run which had lower than 5% faults, which is exceptionally good in mass-manufacturing.
We're now currently in the logistics stage, our export consultants are finalizing our paperwork in order to sea-freight our Nomads to US with a projected arrival date of 20th February.
After it arrives in the US, assuming we don't have any delays from customs, we should have our goods at our San Fran dispatch facility within a week and shipping out to you guys after that as per our Q1 schedule.
We’ve come to the end of the second update! I hope this has shed some light on where we are and answered questions you may have had.
If you have any further queries, comments or just want to share your excitement, feel free to post in the comments section below and I’ll be happy to respond. Conversely if you want to email me directly, please don’t hesitate to do so.
Again, we (ie. my Cat-overlord Jasper and I) truly appreciate your support <3
Hiya folks, Nomad Darren here with the first pre-order update to let you know how things are travelling.
Firstly, I just wanted to thank everyone who pre-ordered, you're helping Nomad to grow from a teeny-tiny company, into a slightly less teeny-tiny company! The Nomad pre-orders did exceptionally well...so well in fact, that our sales volume attracted the scrutiny of Paypal's fraud team who froze our account while trying to figure out if we were Nigerian Prince scammers.
Thankfully, everything checked out and they re-instated our account with no further issues, although we've now migrated payment processing to Stripe to avoid this issue in future.
Christmas / Holidays Gift Postcard
Firstly, Christmas / end of year holidays are almost here! If you are one of the generous people who ordered a Nomad for a loved one and would like them to know their belated Christmas present is on it's way, please access the JPG or PDF below to print out or send: POSTCARD (PDF)POSTCARD (JPG)
Manufacturing in Progress
We thought the easiest way to visually represent where we are with production was to use a progress-bar. Take a look at the pic below, our current progression is represented by the white line:
After our official pre-order period, we signed the manufacturing purchase order a couple of weeks back and the components that make up the Nomad have been ordered and are arriving in factory as we speak.
Some components take a little longer than others (for instance the YKK zips due to their extreme popularity with clothing/accessories manufacturers) and assembly begins once everything is on location.
The tripod attachment plates which are manufactured by a separate company has already completed production and are en route to our bag manufacturer ready for insertion into the completed Nomads - the pics below are from the production.
At this point, our estimated manufacturing completion date is 15 January - but we will revise this and let you know if there is any change.
What happens after Production?
After manufacturing is completed, we enter into an intensive quality control period checking for faults which should last about a week.
When quality control is completed, we start the logistics phase where we ready the goods for shipping to our destination port, taxes are paid, customs is paid and associated paper work is squared away.
The goods are then sent via sea freight to a US port, cleared from the port and then moved via land transportation to our fulfillment warehouse in San Francisco.
At this point in time, we'll also be sending out an email asking for finalization of your mailing addresses which may have changed since you first placed your order, we'll take any non-responses as confirmation that your mailing address has not changed.
Once the goods have been entered into the warehouse system, we begin processing orders - meaning your Nomads have their paperwork taken care of, your addresses printed & attached to each parcel and are then booked in with the postal service to send out. We estimate postage will happen in March 2016 - we will keep you up-to-date as we progress.
We've come to the end of the first update! I hope this has shed some light on where we are currently and answered questions you may have had. If you have any further queries, comments or just want to share your excitement, feel free to post in the comments section below and I'll be happy to respond.
Conversely if you want to email me directly, please don't hesitate to do so. We (ie. my Cat-overlord Jasper and I) truly appreciate your support and we hope to continue bringing cool new artist-centric products for years to come.