Wildling has had an exciting year. We have grown, experienced a great deal and tried out new things: materials, designs, management methods and meeting rhythms. What started out as a small start-up has grown into a real company and the pack in the fox’s den now totals more than 120 people.
How many Wildlings are enough?
When we, Anna and Ran, wanted to sell 1,500 pairs of Wildlings at the crowdfunding in 2015, we thought ‘I hope we manage to shift them all!’ But the first push went so incredibly fast that we then started thinking about what we should be doing next.
Having little capital behind us, we had to factor in a number of things when planning volumes for the next season: How much money do we have, how much can we get from the bank, how much fabric and material can we budget for and finance and what do we do if we double the number of pieces, but only sell as many pairs of shoes as we do now in crowdfunding? What if a competitor shows up on the market selling a similar model but for half the price? What do we do if a supplier can’t deliver and we can’t get a replacement fast enough, or the factory in Portugal says they can’t produce more Wildlings – they have other customers and they don’t work exclusively for us?
These questions are always in the back of our minds and we have adapted the quantities of our Wildlings from season to season.(Read more in the Slow Fashion article.)
We have always held our breath before every launch and kept our fingers crossed, hoping that we were somehow on the right track. We’ve been lucky most of the time, and at the end of the season, we’ve not had any shoes left, intentionally, because that was our goal in terms of resource planning.
‘You’re doing this on purpose to create consumer desire!’
We often hear that we do it on purpose, having a limited number of shoes. To generate interest or desirability. To be honest, this ‘argument’ leaves us somewhat perplexed. Perhaps this principle works for high-priced consumer goods such as watches or cars. Of course, we also have our own ‘Limited Editions’. For Wildling, this usually has to do with the limited availability of fabrics and materials, but not with a carefully thought-out marketing strategy. Artificially scaling back our shoes would be nonsensical from an economic point of view; this would ultimately mean less sales.
But on the other hand, we can’t afford to manufacture too many shoes that no one wants to have anymore. After all, we have already paid for them in advance, paid our suppliers, the manufacturers in Portugal, we have running costs for personnel and warehousing – in other words: every Wildling that is left unused in the warehouse costs us cold, hard cash. We do not want to mass produce as long as there is a danger that this mass volume will be stuck on the shelves afterwards – we want to work in a way that conserves resources and treat what our suppliers produce with respect.
Not enough of some, too many of others
So, while we regularly hear that we should be making more shoes, we have now discovered that we still have too many shoes. Not all models and not all sizes, but still sizeable quantities.
So, and now, not enough of some, too many of others. The reasons for this can literally be a seasonal thing and as fickle as the weather. Although the sandal was so much better received than we had hoped, plus the summer lived up to its name this year, our Weasel and its water-repellent membrane just dangled by its shoelaces in the warehouse. Had it been raining most of the summer, the Weasel would probably have been the first to have sold out. Sometimes, individual sizes are left over – apparently, people with large feet are not too keen on wearing dusky pink or print. So while the models we have in red – Tanuki Asahi and Rose Red – were still doing pretty well, the Keshi (poppy red) did not prosper satisfactorily.
At the end of the day, we are still a young company, even though to some of you who have been with us since the crowdfunding it doesn’t seem like it anymore. We work with empirical values and the limited data from previous years. Then we shake a pinch of optimism over it and, double the total amount, for example. The first collections were ultimately (almost) always too small – but what we couldn’t know was that now individual models or sizes are becoming something of an occasional concern.
Let’s assume that our product team has come up with a new model like the Flora.
A Flora with such a unique print is truly something special. On the other hand, most people tend to wear plain shoes.
The rest is a little bit of a gamble. Maybe everyone likes the print, but not the zip. Maybe it’s the other way around. But maybe most people think ‘Wow, I have to have that shoe’. And they’ve all sold out two hours after launch. If we want to get more, it can take weeks. We need the fabric and it has to be printed, but then our production plant in Portugal has no capacity at the moment, because they are already producing a completely different model that has already been planned, so it would take weeks to get new Flora stock – and then we’re already in winter.
Another example – when we launched the Cubs, the Wildling team bet how quickly the first shipment would be sold out. A lot of people reckoned on 48 hours, almost everyone thought they would be sold out within a week. We all lost the bet because the smallest size stayed in the Badger’s sett for quite a long time – it seems that not many toddlers walk around wearing a size 18 (US Baby 2) shoe.
To cut a long story short: It would take a crystal ball to predict the exact amount of Wildlings we will be selling in a season.
That’s why we’re now having a sale
The Wildlings we’ve not sold this summer are then stored in the warehouse in Osberghausen and only have the rows of shelves around them to look at. The fall/winter collection is coming soon and our warehouse needs space, and the Wildlings need fresh air. Next summer we’ll have new models in different colours, perhaps made from different materials. That is why we’re giving our remaining Wildlings a little push towards the door, in the hope that those people who may have toyed with the idea of a pair and are still a little hesitant might be persuaded. Or to make people happy whose family budget wouldn’t otherwise stretch to a pair of Wildlings for their kids. And for all those who look forward to having another pair of Wildlings.
Run wild! Anna, Ran & Team Wildling