One of the most common questions we are asked is if we can make footwear prototypes.
The answer is, no, this is not the focus of our business - we concentrate solely on design, not sampling. This is because we do not have a workshop. The designs that we create for our customers are made in the sample rooms of the footwear factories that will also be making the production.
First of all, what is the function of a prototype? Is it to sell from? Is it to gain investment?Is it to test out a patented invention?
I personally think that shows such as Dragons Den are a bit misleading - the entrepreneurs we have worked with at www.shoedesign.co.uk have not needed a prototype to gain investment. It's not really necessary. All I can think is that they need to see a prototype on Dragons Den because it would make rubbish television viewing if they didn't have something for us to look at! The most important thing to investors is a sound business plan. They will be more interested in your order forecast that whether that heel is a nice shape! The prototype comes after the investors. The usual course of action is business plan->investment->prototype.
If you want to patent an invention of course you will need a prototype, but this would normally come after you gain investment, not before. You will need to consider the capabilities of the person who will be making this - do they have relevant experience to do a good job? Do they have access to the relevant machinery to make your prototype?
If you want a prototype to sell from, beware - if you are selling to retailers, then it's really important that the shoe sample looks exactly like the production. So it really needs to be made in the sample room of the factory that will be making the production, otherwise it is impossible to get the same look. So you really need to find a suitable factory for your footwear range and this is why we always stress to business start up's that they need to start looking for a suitable resource sooner rather than later. And just the same as investors, they will also be interested in your business plan. If they can't see evidence of any orders, then it's pretty hard to convince them to take you on.
Although we do not offer a factory introduction service , we can help you with advice on how to go about this.
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