Early 2011 me and my friend Jakob Pethick where volunteering at a school teaching IT and English. Meanwhile we met a group of swedes at our guest house near Pondicherry. They had started a fashion accessory business and where traveling around while waiting for a batch of leather goods to be finished. We where curious about out-sourcing and design processes and asked them to show us the leather workshop. Afterwards we went home and made our own design, sleeves for 13.3" and 15" Macbook and Macbook pro laptops and together with Mr. Ganesan and Bellaura Craft we made a few prototypes and arrived at a final design for the first Jakob.Johan product.
Half a year later 40 leather sleeves have arrived here in Copenhagen and we have managed to make them clear customs - something that took significantly longer than the freight across the continents. We also set up a website, printed business cards and of course tested out the sleeves on countless trips to local cafe's with WiFi and finally, we are ready to sell them off.
Designing and producing the bags with Mr. Ganesan and his people at the Bellaura Craft workshop have been a tremendously positive experience. Working conditions where good, people where happy, their work of high quality and Mr. Ganesan was rightfully so a proud man. The experience opened my eyes to the accessibility of out-sourcing of production and collaboration across continents. It was extremely straight forward to get started prototyping and there where no major initial expenses apart from our flight tickets. In fact the cost of the sleeves is completely linear except for one brass stamp at a price of a 1000 Indian Rupees (~ 20 USD).
Dealing with the Danish bureaucracy has been a far greater challenge in our process than dealing with Mr. Ganesan in India. We spend over a month trying to get our stuff through the Danish customs, spending hours on telephone lines and afterwards countless hours trying to figure out how to properly deal with import tax and accounting, the latter something we might not have figured out how to do completely right yet. It's a shame that we make international collaboration so complicated for ourselves in what I think is a misguided and paranoid attempt at protecting our own market, jobs and wealth.
So far the launch has been a success, we posted jakob.johan.cc on our Facebook, Twitter and Google plus accounts and in the first few days we had over 400 unique visitors from more than 20 countries and nearly a 100 shares on Facebook before we where even crawled by Google.
Now go get some leather for your laptop!