This is the second installment of our Customer Spotlight Series with Nina Cheng, founder of Wild and Woolly. The first part of our conversation covered what it took to leave her job in finance and launch a high-end accessories brand with no previous experience in product development or manufacturing, and how outsourcing her 3D printing needs enabled her to launch her business.
To finish up our discussion with Nina, we talked about fulfilling a high volume of orders with 3D printing, how an organic endorsement from the Kardashians catapulted (or should we say, katapulted) her brand to international success, and her sage wisdom for budding entrepreneurs.
What is your timeline like from developing a prototype, to printing it with Voodoo, to getting the final product in stores?
It depends on how many stores want to order each new size, and where the store is in terms of their budget, but we can make them pretty quickly. If it’s not a huge order and we don’t have anything else lined up, we can probably fulfill an order in about two weeks.
As a business owner, what’s your favorite part about outsourcing 3D printing to Voodoo?
I really like that you guys take care of cleaning and basic post processing. If I bought my own printers, the amount of resources and time I would have to put into QC would probably be too much for me to handle.
On top of that, you guys started making quality improvements that never occurred to me, like torching the inside of the case to refine the surface. It’s almost like torching a crème brulee [laughs]. The technical knowledge and familiarity with materials has really helped because I had no prior experience with 3D printing materials or engineering. Having the team at Voodoo serve as my sounding board has been very beneficial for the growth of the company.
“The Dokku is a thing for your iPhone, your Airpods, your watch, some watch bands, and maybe a dongle or two.” – www.electrictrout.co
In this installment of ourCustomer Spotlight Series, we sit down with David Stychno, shopkeep at Leon’s Electric Trout Co. His digital storefront includes one-of-a-kind objects found around the world along with 3D printed pieces that David designs and finishes himself, like the quirky yet practicalDokku.
We chatted with David about the evolution of the Dokku, how 3D printing allows for incremental testing and agile product development, and how he strikes a balance between a monetized hobby and paid occupation. Our conversation follows.
Could you tell us about your background prior to launching Leon’s Electric Trout?
I’m a graphic designer by trade, but I basically come from a long line of salesmen. My father was always talking about the beauty of entrepreneurism and the “free market”, so it’s always been something that interests me.
Eventually I ended up in e-commerce designing for a customer analytics company, Custora, and after a few years I started daydreaming about having a shop of my own. Empathy fuels design, and what better way to learn about e-commerce than to actually do it? It took a few years of mulling over what I might sell, and I finally collected enough things and ideas for things that I decided it was time. It’s been beneficial to have a Shopify platform because it allows us to test new software for my day job too. It’s this really cool overlap of a personal hobby that is also relevant to what I do.
This installment of our Customer Spotlight Series highlights the founder of the popular brand, Wild and Woolly. Nina Cheng didn’t always plan on running a high-end accessories business. The first phone case she made was designed not as a marketable product, but as a personal solution: why wasn’t there a case that not only looked good, but also kept cold hands warm while texting outside during a New York City winter? When she couldn’t find a suitable fur phone case already on the market, she decided to make her own using a combination of 3D printing and hand-worked materials. Nina’s prototype received so many compliments that she realized she had a viable business on her hands. In September of 2016 she left her job in finance to launch her brand, Wild and Woolly.
We sat down with Nina to learn more about her design and manufacturing process, her experience working with us at Voodoo Manufacturing, and what’s in store for Wild and Woolly this season. The first half of our conversation follows.
Were you experienced in 3D modeling or 3D printing at all when you set out to make your first phone case?
I had no experience with 3D printing, I was just aware that it existed. At the time, I was researching various possibilities within tech for another startup, so I understood the value of a lean business with low commitment in terms of inventory, cost, and time. With that in mind, I decided to look into 3D printing as my first option because it was so cost-effective.
I wound up outsourcing the task of 3D modeling, which made things easier. I received the first model within a week, and sent it off to get printed. It was clear that this was the perfect production process for me: I bought fur online, I printed the case out, and I sold that case within a day[laughs].
Last month, two of Voodoo’s four co-founders, Max Friefeld and Oliver Ortlieb, sat down with Craig Cannon and Daniel Gross of Y Combinator to discuss the future of robotics and 3D printing. For the uninitiated, Y Combinator is a startup incubator that helps young companies raise seed funding, flesh out their business plans, and gain invaluable insight and support from an extensive network of YC alumni. Voodoo was fortunate to be selected for YC’s Winter 2017 batch, which we participated in from January to March.
In the YC podcast, Max and Oliver field questions about the intersection of robotics and 3D printing, where they see those industries heading in the future, and whether or not robots really will take over the world. Below is a recap of the conversation.
We’re excited to announce the Voodoo Manufacturing Referral Program, a new way for you to earn free 3D printing by sharing Voodoo with friends, family, and colleagues. Anyone who signs up using your unique referral link will get $25 in free 3D printing, and you’ll automatically receive $25 in credit when they place their first order. Best of all, there’s no limit on how much free 3D printing you can earn through the program. Continue reading →
Today we’re kicking off the Voodoo Summer Sale, a massive savings event for anyone using our Direct Print service during the entire month of August. Exactly how massive are we talking? Well, we’re slashing the price on all Direct Print orders in half – that’s right, 50% off your entire order – for customers who choose our newly introduced 3-Day Production option. This means that if you can wait two extra days to receive your parts, you’ll be getting them for half price during the month of August.
Eager to start taking advantage of this new Summer Sale pricing now? We don’t blame you – go ahead and upload a file to get started. Make sure to select ‘3-Day Production’ to apply the discount to your order.
For those of you still scratching your heads and wondering how this epic sale is even possible, read on to learn more about what led to the first-ever Voodoo Summer Sale. Continue reading →
We’re excited to highlight Rex Specs™ in the first installment of Voodoo’s Customer Spotlight Series. This new series will explore the inspiring stories and product development processes behind some of our most innovative customers.
Launched in December 2014, Rex Specs has been creating the most durable, reliable, and functional protective dog eyewear available. Simply put, it’s eye protection for the active dog.
From basking in the sun to extreme sports in the snow, harmful UV rays and debris take a heavy toll on our eyes. It’s not only human eyes that are affected, though – our canine companions also struggle in harsh outdoor conditions, often with long-lasting effects.
When extended UV exposure started affecting Yaz and Tuckerman’s eyes, limiting the amount of time they could spend outside, their humans Aiden and Jesse Emilo went in search of a solution. The duo tested out multiple brands of dog goggles, but none were able to keep up with their canines’ active lifestyle. Refusing to limit their family’s outdoor activities, the Emilos set off on a product development journey to create the first protective goggles designed specifically for working and active dogs.Continue reading →
Manufacturing is one of the most fundamental, yet inaccessible building blocks of modern society. It is how we produce the overwhelming majority of parts and products we use both intentionally, and inadvertently. “Manufacturing”, unlike “making”, can be described as the process of repeatedly producing a physical object at scale. Over the past couple centuries we’ve transformed our methods of manufacturing from the human-first approach used to make textiles during the Industrial Revolution, to the assembly line structure introduced by Henry Ford, to modern just-in-time production invented by Toyota, to today’s imminent robot revolution. Continue reading →
We’re excited to announce the launch of two new features on our website – the Direct Print Status Tracker and Order History.
The Direct Print Status Tracker gives you real-time visibility into the status of your order. Anywhere on the site, you can see whether your order is being prepared, has started printing, or is en route to be delivered. This is a feature we’re especially excited about because it stands testament to the value of digital manufacturing when it comes to quantifying the manufacturing process.
We’ve also now launched Order History, which allows you to view all your active and past orders with us. Both these new features should make it easer to stay updated with your order info so you’re never left wondering when it’s going to arrive. To access these features you must create and checkout with an account (not as a guest).
These features have been in the works for a while now, and we’re thrilled that they’re finally ready for you to try out. Let us know if you have any feedback or ideas for new features, we’d love to hear them.
It goes without saying that there’s a lot going on within our country right now. Regardless of political belief, most of us can agree that the issues at hand are important and will significantly impact the lives of many.
Although some companies avoid taking stances on hot button social and political issues, many have recently started to speak up about what they believe in and take action. As a team, Voodoo Manufacturing believes that it is our duty as citizens of the United States, and as human beings, to do what we can to make the world a better place for everyone. While it’s possible to disagree about what that means and how to do it, hopefully it’s easy to agree on a few fundamental ideas, with the core being that all people are created equal and should have equal opportunity to live free and happy. Continue reading →