Saturday, August 22, 2009

The Testing Process

Unfortunately, releasing a new product is not quite so simple as coming up with a great idea, whipping a few up and listing them, then sitting back and watching the sales roll in! I thought i’d give you all a peek at what all Pepper branded products go through before they’re deemed suitable for sale.

The Idea-something pops into my head that’s worth thinking about. This is not always a good idea of course-the AIO prefolds idea got  nixed pretty quickly (no elastic + newborn poo = disaster!) I normally think about things quite a bit before I get out the scissors, to try to come up with possible problems and solutions, the best fabric combinations and possible variations.

Drafting-A paper pattern is drafted up based on the idea. I have enough of these laying around now after three years that I usually have a pretty good idea on what dimensions each part of the pattern should have. But in the beginning this took forever!

Prototype-I make the shell from the draft pattern in a cheap fabric to get the measurements, which are compared to the goal measurements, which are based on the sizing I want (eg a large, or a OSFM). This is tweaked according to the result until I get exactly what I need. This also allows me to work out the best way to assemble the pieces and the lengths of elastic needed.

The Real Deal-It’s finally time to get a real one happening! I make one complete nappy, with all boosters and fastenings, in the intended fabrics. Measurements are taken again to ensure it is still sized correctly.

Testing by Me-Now it goes in my nappy stash. During this time it is used regularly and positives and negatives noted. One of the best indicators is when I grab it-if i’m impatiently waiting for it to dry it’s a winner, but if it languishes in the shelf and is only used in a dire emergency then it’s back to the drawing board! My husband is valuable input during this stage-he’s a big fan of ease and is quite happy to tell me when he thinks something is rubbish (ouch!)

External Testing-If after a few months it is still getting consistent use and is holding its appearance and quality, it’s time for external testing. A number are sent out to parents to use and review for me, by answering questions and providing photos. When I choose testers I try to cover as wide a range of the following as possible.

-child’s weight/age/shape-to ensure the nappy fits all the intended size range, for all builds.
-wetting habits-heavy wetters tend to be more troublesome to nappy, so provide useful feedback.
-breastfed/formula fed-anyone who has done both knows that what goes in greatly affects what comes out!
-location-Using cloth in Hobart is vastly different to using it in Cairns.

I mostly use experienced cloth users who have a wide range of nappies to compare to, however I usually also include a newbie, as I tend to do a lot of my marketing and selling to disposable users.

After all that it’s time to review the results-if they’re all good then it’s time to sell!

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