Friends, some of you have wondered what the difference is between limited-edition products and regular products, if everything is handmade anyway. Fair question!
It used to be that we made everything in small batches, and whenever we ran out, we made more of that thing. It sounds idyllic, I know. But it turns out if you do that without any type of overarching plan, AND you can't bear to kick any woodland creatures or outfits out of the Village ever, soon you have a chaotic situation where you're trying to make everything at once, and you don't have the materials you need, and then it's Black Friday!
And on top of that, at the time we actually did make limited edition products! Check out this catalog page from 2012: This is wholesale pricing, but it was still dramatically underpriced. Not even worth photographing for 20 units! I knew nothing, Jon Snow! Seriously, when I reflect on this, I think it's a miracle we are still in business.
Similarly, when we first launched Outfit of the Month in 2014, we would make 30-40 units of a special outfit. So much work for such a tiny batch! We couldn't keep up the pace!
But we've slowly been moving towards a better, more organized, more sustainable version of the same model. We have "core" products that we know we want to keep in stock, including all of the regular animal friends who live in their own neat little houses in the Village, and the outfits Flora Fox tells me are "iconic," like red bonnets and tailcoats.
And once production of staple products is under control, we are able to step up production of limited-edition small batches - things we can occasionally restock, but most of the time we have to make the whole batch in one shot. The animals like that this keeps their wardrobes fresh. The human workers like that there's always something new to make. At least I do.
As for limited-edition animals: if you have ever seen the map of Hazel Village, you know that there's a guest house in the High Meadow. So the animals' esteemed guests, who are other animals, have a place to stay when they visit.
Here are all of our more recent limited-edition animals:
Josie Chipmunk was from 2017. We weren't very good at announcing new products yet, and she actually stuck around for over a year before selling out, and no one even asked about her until she was sold out. Go figure.
Ivy Goat was from 2018.
So far in 2019, we have made Augustus Wild Boar and Peaseblossom Unicorn.
As our relationship with our production partners in Nepal has deepened, it lets us do more limited-edition batches of dolls and animals. Because we know we can send them a new style and they will nail it, and make the cutest possible version of that thing.
How many pieces do we make in these batches? It varies a lot. The fewest we've ever made of a limited animal was 250 pieces. The most was about 1600 pieces total, for a certain wildly popular unicorn who is also a princess. For doll clothes, it's usually between 100 and 400 pieces, usually on the lower end of that. Sometimes it depends on how the material comes, for example how many dresses we can cut out of a roll of fabric. Our knitting partners in Peru like to make doll sweaters in multiples of 60 because that's how many sweaters they can get out of a cone of yarn.
But at the end of the day, we have to guess how popular something will be. Which is really hard, sometimes! Batches of the same sort of thing can sell out in wildly different patterns, depending on the time of year, how excited people are, how cute the exact products turn out, etc. It keeps us guessing, for sure!
So that's the sort of thing we think about, around here. I think it's interesting, but not everyone thinks supply chains are interesting and gets their husband to buy them a subscription to Sourcing Journal for their birthday. Anyway thanks for your support, friends!