A New Year has arrived.



Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!!!

Can you believe 2013 is here?

Wow, what a month…actually…what a year!  I’ve been really busy at my usual day job, running the hair department for “The Office” and of course full time job as “Mom”.  We are finishing our final season so the episodes have been packed full of fun surprises for the fans…not leaving a lot of spare time for me to focus on my side business.  That said, I feel I have made some real break throughs in December and heading into January I feel happily optimistic, I’ve even managed some fun outings with my boys as well.  it was a good year all in all.

AT LAST, I finally have my Cape design and my Caddy design sorted out!!! I am so close to actually having a ‘product line’!  Although i do love my little Hot Spot Mats, they were very good to me and really got my name out there in the industry last year.  I am starting to get recognized by my industry peers too.  It’s funny, at union meetings or social get togethers when I introduce myself, many folks stop and ask…”Kim Ferry, as in the ‘HairFerry’? I have your mat…I love it!”

I usually blush automatically, smile, and thank them immediately for having a mat…. secretly down deep I am so thrilled they even know my company name! More people then I knew had bought my mats.  It makes me so happy and really excited to share my new products under development with everyone.  I think these items will be helpful, useful, unique tools and I cannot wait to get them out there.

Cape Design.
I had an idea for a one-of-a kind, social media minded cape.  You know what hair capes look like right?:

Well, I had a local shop, J & M Costumes help me flush out ideas for the final design.  I supplied them with 2 already made capes and I just needed to incorporate my new idea into what was already out there.  Can’t write what that is just yet…as patent is still pending and good ideas can be easily stolen and mass produced.  I will say i really thought it would not be that much work, they are professionals and could probably complete the task in a few days.  I also must say they were very nice and helpful but I did remind them I am on a budget, that I needed to do this as cost effective as possible.  The owner, Leo, assured me he understood.  The supplies needed to incorporate my idea were only $33.00. Only charges left were for time spent on testing materials in the heat of a dryer and sewing together my new design…how much could that be?  As I got my first prototype back, I noticed right away how heavy it felt, too heavy for most clients to wear around their neck.  I tried it out at work on a few friends and sure enough it was not working, but J & M had already began the second one, I had asked for two capes…I figured I would need two, one to keep and one to take as a sample to show prospective manufacturers in downtown LA. I am still really trying to make everything in my line in the US and not ship out to China. I remember leaving J & M and telling Leo I wanted to pay him for the work done so far, he reminded me the materials only costed $33. Don’t worry, I won’t charge you until it is all done. (I should have got an estimate right then and there….) but I simply smiled and ran back to work as I was on my lunch hour and had to rush back for afternoon touch ups.

I knew I would need to make further adjustments when I figured out positives and negatives of these two new capes. The details would surely be clearer after more ‘on set’ and ‘in the trailer’ testing.  Unfortunately, the second cape I had left behind at J & M got lost for a while in their shop.  I swore I had not picked it up as they were sewing it when I picked up the first one…but Leo thoughjt I had picked it up and that is where it got weird.  Remember, every time I tried to pay and get an estimate…Leo was saying “Don’t worry, I know I can trust you, I don’t want to charge you until we are done”.  Well, as he looked up the costs of materials, $33.00 and the first cape time was fast…he said I wasn’t in much to him…he would e-mail me the final bill.  I was only in about $100 in labor.  I figured maybe another $100 or less…I could live with that. NOTE to all: The final bill I received weeks later was $576!  (for two capes…to get altered…NOT made from scratch, not expecting them to provide any material, I brought completed capes)  Another lesson learned…ALWAYS get WRITTEN estimate… period.  I really need to do that. Anyone reading this should too. Let my many mistakes be a lesson to you all. I have been told one thing and then hit with stupidly high cost bills later and they are all given with sincere explanations…ugh. I mean really, 9 hours to adjust 2 capes? At $60. an hour?  I had hired my local seamstress the first two example capes myself. $60.00 total bill. But for final changes and testing…I went to J & M. Thought they would be reasonable because it was such a small job for them.  Anyway…very nice people…but lesson learned, my bank account took a big hit on this one.

I paid the cost, in full, a whopping $576.00 even though they lost my second cape for over a month.  I felt I had to pay it because they have a long standing relationship with The Office wardrobe and prop departments..and I do not want to make waves and they did help me sort out some important structure related details.  I mostly because I made a mistake by not getting exact numbers from Leo. I should have asked what their hourly bill was, or what he thought it would cost with testing, I could have tested myself and only paid for sewing.  Anyway, HUGE lesson learned. They are a big business with large overhead, of course they are going to cost more then I imagined. I was foolish to think otherwise. So…please… learn from my mistakes.

Moving on.

At least I have the final concept.  I know what to alter and I have met a lovely lady, Rachel, who can help me finally complete my capes this month.  Rachel rents an apartment from a dear friend of mine, Cindy.  Cindy and her husband have a full apartment under their gorgeous Spanish style house. Rachel is a beautiful lady full of excitement to design and create.  She had just moved in, and is a seamstress who moved to LA to get into designing.  She is really helping me find the final cape material, and sort out design details of the cape.  I never have the time to go downtown to the fabric district and look at rows of samples, select proper materials, but now she has become my eyes and ears.  She met with me on my lunch hour at work, and then another day, when I had my two sons in tow…at a Starbucks not far from Frends Beauty Supply.  We went over color, style and neckline.  I definitely want Velcro neck, snaps never really fit right, and the velcro will go with another cool element of my cape so…just waiting for her to do one cape in Black and one in Brown.  Why those colors? Well, most hair capes are in grey and black, I want to be different, and those two colors will not really clash with anyones skin or hair color.  I took under consideration that colors like red, green, yellow and blue, like my mat colors…just cannot be used in hair cutting or salon capes.  When coloring hair in a salon or doing makeup in a hollywood trailer…the cape will reflect onto the skin and hair.  A green or yellow cape can make your client or actor look sick. Or if you are coloring a clients hair,  contrasting cape colors can really throw off the end result.  So, sadly, I cannot make 10 capes in all 10 of my Hot Spot mat colors…but it was a nice thought for a minute!  (I figured some where down the line I would be asked that so i wanted to address it here)
Black and Brown…that will be enough for me and my line.  I already have the cape product name but holding on to that info until my Patent is solid and legal. 🙂

Caddy Design.
I have been working on this idea since day one of founding my business.  I had always planned to launch with the caddy first, then the heat mats, then everything else my mind created for my line.  Fate had different plans.  If you have read my other posts, you will know that the caddy just simply fell behind.  With false promises from many different people and companies, it just hasn’t had a chance…until now.

I had time resently to ask Tim, our construction coordinator on The Office, a few questions about my caddy design.  He is really an amazing guy.  So patient and nice. He sketched out a concept from my awful sketch and verbal descriptions… and he added some really clever modifications.  A sample was made and I was able to take it home with me on our last day of work.  I have it sitting on my dresser, in my bedroom. I have been just staring at it…thinking, processing what could make it really more functional or more unique then anything out there. My mind keeps swirling ideas…but nothing lands the first day home.  I look again at the other iron stands out there.  The only stands and or caddy’s I have seen that seem to sell the most look like this:

It is sold at most of our beauty supplies for $26.95.  Lucite, with 3 outlets attached that really do not work.  If you plug one iron into it…it blocks the other two outlets.  Also, it breaks very easily using it every day in the trailer.  It wabbles and the irons are never really stationary.  They move and the plastic can melt or warp the way this is designed.  The irons are really close to each other, not enough room for the heat to escape properly. But, it is the only thing out there that holds more then one iron/blow dryer other then the ‘metal-clamp on” table stands. These table stands have a whole other world of issues though. See images below.

Found these on Ebay for $29.99. They are adjustable to most countertops, but have been known to fall during our trailers travels when we are going on locations.  If the clamp breaks, usually you need a whole new stand.  The biggest challenge is that with all of our irons and tools in it al once, the stand can get very “top heavy” making it easy to pull off accidentally when in use.  Or worse, if an actor gets their foot accidentally looped in a cord, the whole stand can fly off with one step-and yes, the irons are all usually hot, can be dangerous.
And then finally, there are the solo “Flat Iron” stands available.  I looked them up on Amazon and this one did not even have a description of what they are made of, but they are anywhere from $10-30 depending on the brand and where you buy it.   They look like this:

 

This little item sells on ebay for $7.75. It does not mention in the description what it is made of or exactly how much heat it can take. What I aim to design is a truly functional, multitasking caddy that can appeal to everyone and be used on counters and walls. It will be much clearer how much heat it can handle and the design will tie in my Hot Spot mats as well! It is coming…and this is when the final concept hit me.

At exactly 8:45pm on December 22nd….I had it.  I had gone to my bedroom to change into pajamas and get my sons ready for bed, we were all tired from the busy day and holiday parties. I sat on my bed and started staring at my prototype.  I had put a dryer and one iron in the caddy to try and stir ideas and it had worked.  I reached forward to my desk that sits close by my bedroom door and grabbed a red sharpie then began to draw directly on the clear lucite caddy.  I made lines on the caddy and traced where I thought lucite should be cut and altered.  I created new perimeters and shape ideas. When I had finished, my oldest son walked in and watched me grinning from ear to ear while jumping up and down looking at the changes I had made.  He smiled and looked at me like I was crazy…I smiled goofily back and told him I had finally fixed everything I had been trying to figure out for almost a year!  He very sweetly hugged me and tolerated my explaining to him what I wanted to change.  My wonderful 8 year old, Everett, was there to share the moment of success with me, even though he was just on his way to tell me my youngest had fallen asleep on the couch, and that I had to carry him to bed. I had no problem with that.  I felt like Wonder Woman.  I had fixed the design that had eluded me for far too long.

I just needed a solid, inspirational prototype to stare at, and mold with my eyes.  I almost cannot wait to talk to Tim about it, but we are on vacation and I do not want to bother anyone from work.  Jeez!  I really want to incorporate my modifications…I wonder if I can contact him?  No.  Must be patient. I will have to wait to go back to work on set and talk to Tim when I get back.  I am SO not good at waiting when it comes to this business.  The only comfort I have is that Art Dept usually goes back a week before crew so odds are that he will be there nest week and I can sneak in and have a chat.

How grateful I am to know so many talented, kind people.  I know I will sort this out in the next few weeks.  Then I can show the design to Matz Rubber Company.  They can possibly do a mold…that would take it in the true direction I want to go.  I have enjoyed doing business with them and Cara is amazing over there.  In fact, I have to pick up my last order of Hot Spots in Obsidian. While there, I had hoped to bring a current caddy, but maybe I can bring the one I have and show that until the final one is done.

Well, I will end this post here.  I still have one more round of Prototypes for cape and caddy but closer then I have ever been to manufacturing them at last.  I also have had some marketing people contact me about moving my business forward and offering to give advice.  I am always open to ideas and help so I will meet with them and keep you posted on what direction that goes.  I know I need to continue to work on the patents, and make sure all of my ideas are protected. I have a lawyer, Gordon, that I trust.  he has my company trademarked. He knows entertainment law and comes with high integrity.  I am even open to the idea of selling the concept for the capes…and getting royalties. That will be decided after I chat with a new contact I just got.  A lawyer friend of a friend who just sold some concepts after patenting her idea…and the end result was very profitable.  I am open to anything.  I want to ask questions, make phone calls and really move forward this year.  I never pass on anyone offering their knowledge of small business experience.  You never know where it could lead.  I will continue to plow ahead in the New Year and I hope my readers continue to stick with me.

To those who have come and read these words, and bought my mats or even just met me on a set, a photo shoot, or in my home town and gave me positive support…I want to say thanks.  I am hanging in there.  I am feeling a wonderful momentum and I know this hard work, numerous mistakes and lessons, and simple drive to succeed will pay off.

I hope your holidays were wonderful and wishing you all the best in the coming year. Good luck to all on their own adventure.

HairFerry flying out.

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