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Thread: The Business of Custom Bags

  1. #1
    Senior Member Nikonzen's Avatar
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    Default The Business of Custom Bags

    A few of you may know that I come from an upholstery background. Specifically automotive upholstery. Well here lately barnacles have been growing on this submerged log in my head. Ideas. So I am thinking about buying up some supplies and designing some custom camera bags and straps and lens cases and the such and starting a web based business marketing my hand/machine made stuff. These ideas are in the formative stages and I am going to ask you all what you think about the idea. What are some of your thoughts about bags, straps, and glass cases? I am seeking some input on this to help me along.

    I can also get Naugahyde materials, cloth materials, lizard skin, snakeskin, ostrich skin, all of that stuff. Embroidered. Or just plain Jane dropped shipped on purchase.

    I am thinking high end but affordable...like Luigi Artist Artisan type stuff...you know like come home from work every night and spend a few hours making this stuff...building up my inventories...having a website...marketing plans.

    How to do? What do you think??? Doesn't everyone want a shoulder strap bag that hangs perfectly on their hip?
    Last edited by Nikonzen; 13th May 2015 at 12:03 PM.
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  2. #2

    Default Re: The Business of Custom Bags

    It really depends on what your bag will do for us as photographer...

    Nice looking bag? sure, but those already have many bags, I find it hard to buy another one.

    Practical bag? Yes, but then again, practical to one but not to another...

    Bag with exotic leather? definitely a big NO NO for me. I don't want to stand out from the crowd.


    I am sure you know, if you can design something that people would use both from functionality and quality and price correctly, I am sure you will do well.


    Regards,

    Hart

  3. #3

    Default Re: The Business of Custom Bags

    I'll say clearly identity or define your target market for what you are doing.

    To me for what you mentioned it has more of a lifestyle feel to it and I believe most photographers that make a living through this would prefer practicality. By the way I'm more of a hobbies but love the side of marketing.

    And also now its base on our own visual interpretation, with some pictures it will give a better idea and also possibility to change the initial thinking.

    If you need some thoughts I will be happy to give you my honest opinion.

    All the best man!!

  4. #4
    Senior Member Nikonzen's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Business of Custom Bags

    Thank you bros Hart and Ed...

    For example look at this fine bag offered by Panasonic to help disaster relief...something along those lines maybe? Stylish, contrasting stitches maybe, fine materials, unique patterning, etc??? How about some heavy denier rip stop camouflage material with web belt for straps? A bag hand made for photographers by a photographer. If it were to take off maybe I hire some sewers? Smaller scale...like Ralph Lauren in the early days or something???

    Edward you have the floor let me hear your thoughts please. Let us see where this thread goes. I am pretty serious about attempting this.
    Last edited by Nikonzen; 14th May 2015 at 01:07 PM.
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  5. #5

    Default Re: The Business of Custom Bags

    Exotic leather?

    Sorry, its a personal thing that I form a bad (and probably unfair) opinion on any man wearing exotic leather. I am tolerable it is a lady but even then...

    Anyway good luck.

  6. #6
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    I think since its not on a mass produced level, custom designs will be better. Perhaps template designs with customer selected color/material/finishing etc etc.

    Check these out.

    https://www.motorola.com/us/motomaker?pid=FLEXR2

    http://www.singlebikes.com/build-your-own

    As for business model, I think JCH's 3 major steps are very neat.
    1) Get in contact + discussion('find me a camera' form and email contact)
    2) Customer to pay for goods before you start material sourcing/crafting(to prevent getting "burned")
    3) Goods delivery

  7. #7

    Default Re: The Business of Custom Bags

    Hey Nikonzen,

    You have any images, I've tried to google the Panasonic bag which you mentioned but no luck. Feel free to email me @ edwardkcy@yahoo.com if you don't want to post it up here.

    Generally, you will need to do your research well and determine if you have a big enough market to sustain your business. I have been in the retail trade the past 8 years many people just move in without doing their due diligence and had paid a dearly price.

  8. #8

    Default Re: The Business of Custom Bags

    Well, the idea sounds ok, and the branding sounds rather desirable. I think the only main thing is how you market.. Products which can be good needs to be marketed and sold well before it can succeed, but judging from the idea and branding, yes I think it would work. Perhaps you should concentrate more on the marketing part..
    http://www.shimmeryphotography.com/ - Shimmery Wedding Photography And Videography In Singapore

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    Senior Member Nikonzen's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Business of Custom Bags

    I am getting further along on this and I would like to offer Hypalon lined bag for camera and three or four lenses. Going after a water proof angle to differentiate my bag from others.

    I like bandolier carry bags and I am after military grade bags.
    Last edited by Nikonzen; 20th July 2015 at 08:21 AM.
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    Default Re: The Business of Custom Bags

    follow your dreams..

  11. #11

    Default Re: The Business of Custom Bags

    Quote Originally Posted by Nikonzen View Post
    I am getting further along on this and I would like to offer Hypalon lined bag for camera and three or four lenses. Going after a water proof angle to differentiate my bag from others.

    I like bandolier carry bags and I am after military grade bags.
    Hi, do you have any photos of the bags? or any design / sketches ?
    what abt the price range? Thks.

  12. #12
    Senior Member Nikonzen's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Business of Custom Bags

    This is my current bag going on about 4 years now. It is a modified fanny pack originally intended for duck calls used for duck hunting. I converted it to bandolier carry. Some of it's drawbacks-just a tiny bit small. No padding. Not water proof or water resistant. Not very comfortable this is why I've added the shoulder pad.

    What I want to do with this first design is maybe go with a 2 inch tube strap padded where the strap meets the shoulder. Strap also relocated to shoulder carry versus fanny pack. Hypalon lined and seam sealed inner and possibly outer. Possible waxed canvas or treated ripstop shell. The idea is I have been carrying this bag for years...I know what it needs to make it perfect.

    If I can get some of these built I would like to send out some for evaluation and critique.

    As far as price point I haven't really studied the inputs in terms of money and time yet but I'm guessing around 200-300 bucks

    Some questions for you bros...what do you think of the waterproofing? Do you like thick or thin padded or unpadded straps? Inner compartments? Rearrangeable compartments?



    Last edited by Nikonzen; 23rd July 2015 at 03:12 AM.
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  13. #13
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    Probably you should start one of these if you need start up funds!
    https://www.kickstarter.com/projects...ra/description

  14. #14

  15. #15

    Default Re: The Business of Custom Bags

    Quote Originally Posted by Nikonzen View Post
    This is my current bag going on about 4 years now. It is a modified fanny pack originally intended for duck calls used for duck hunting. I converted it to bandolier carry. Some of it's drawbacks-just a tiny bit small. No padding. Not water proof or water resistant. Not very comfortable this is why I've added the shoulder pad.

    What I want to do with this first design is maybe go with a 2 inch tube strap padded where the strap meets the shoulder. Strap also relocated to shoulder carry versus fanny pack. Hypalon lined and seam sealed inner and possibly outer. Possible waxed canvas or treated ripstop shell. The idea is I have been carrying this bag for years...I know what it needs to make it perfect.

    If I can get some of these built I would like to send out some for evaluation and critique.

    As far as price point I haven't really studied the inputs in terms of money and time yet but I'm guessing around 200-300 bucks

    Some questions for you bros...what do you think of the waterproofing? Do you like thick or thin padded or unpadded straps? Inner compartments? Rearrangeable compartments?
    Thks for info.
    Just to give some feedback, padded material for the bag will be great for maximum protection. And also the inner compartment (I will not put all the lenses together in a big bag bcos they will just knock and rub each other).
    For sure, rearrangeable compartments are very welcome bcos lenses and bodies do not come in same sizes
    Water proofing is also standard (almost a requirement) now if u r targeting serious PGs with expensive lenses and bodies.

    Cheers and good luck.

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    Default

    Peak Design just launched a bag for camera. I have a lot of ideas but in Singapore, hardly can find people to support. All too scare to try, ended up my ideas just vanished into thin air.
    Only Sony device mostly, haha!

  17. #17
    Senior Member Nikonzen's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Business of Custom Bags

    Thank you gentlemen for your time and responses...they are helping me. Keep your thoughts coming please.

    I have seen the kickstarter Peak Designs messenger bag...wow. This helps with the price point a bit. That seems like a nice bag. I intend to keep it as simple as possible and that bag is somewhat over the top to me. Features are nice but geez that bag has more options than a brand new Cadillac. In my eyes this bag fails the KISS test. It also looks a bit bulky and it only comes in two colors... It reminds me of my auntie's purse God bless her...LOL

    So to continue on with the formulation, engineering, and brainstorming session...I read an interesting article today about bags mainly concerning ergonomics. A few points from the article - medical folks recommend camera bags loaded should not exceed 10% of body weight. I added up my typical kit (Nikon dslr, extra battery, and usually four old school manual focus lenses and it weighs in at almost 5 lbs. I tend to stay away from the holy grail fast heavy hitter af lenses so this first bag design will likely be more suited to the mirrorless crowd. Docs also say do not carry a heavy bag more than 20 minutes without a break. They also like symmetrical designs for even weight distribution (aka back packs) but I dont think that is going to be a problem with this design.

    At any rate I think this phase of the project is nearing the end...next up the actual materials and design.
    Last edited by Nikonzen; 4th August 2015 at 06:39 AM.
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  18. #18
    Senior Member Nikonzen's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Business of Custom Bags

    BBTM

    Yes good sir it is this way even here in the land of opportunity and piratical politicians. Despite what Wozniak thinks...Haha

    I am working with very limited start up capital and really don't want any investor inputs at this stage in the game. I figure if I can cover the production of the first 100 bags and can come up with a successful marketing plan then maybe I could crowd fund or get some silent partners on board. I've never done anything like this before hence I come to you bros for advice...old saying goes if you study alone you study with a dummy.
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    Key features of a bag, esp travelling alone in other countries and if you can make the following, might be a solid bag.

    1) bag lock or zip will trigger alarms if not lock. My passport got stolen because I forget to zip back.

    2) bag will trigger alarm if more than a Metre from you. Still got time to catch hold of thief.

    3) if really got stolen or lost, able to track it down via mobile apps.

    4) solid base, just in case bag drops, protection is there.

    5) if you can, there might be a chance, a bag can be sling or backpack. Think of those foldable bed design. Might be more organised.

    Can't think much now, maybe next time.
    Only Sony device mostly, haha!

  20. #20
    Senior Member Nikonzen's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Business of Custom Bags

    BBTM...these are some wonderful ideas. Thank you bro.

    Security against theft is something I would like for my bag to have and I have been reading up on this a little. I have decided to go with flexible wires in the strap to protect from the slash and grab. Another thing I am wanting to study up on is something that would shield the contents of the bag from RFID readers..so far I have no idea what sort of material that I might be able to be incorporate into the bag that can accomplish this. Anyone know anything about this stuff?

    I don't like the idea of zipper locks but I think the way I am designing the opening of this bag this will not be that big an issue but maybe it will. I am going to look into this further. Perhaps an aftermarket zipper lock/alarm could be an option. Need to explore those options further.

    More and more ideas are coming together.
    Last edited by Nikonzen; 8th September 2015 at 01:36 PM.
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