I started Northern Playground, and today I run the company alongside the fantastic people pictured above. This is the second letter that gives an open peak "behind the scenes" of Northern Playground. Read the first letter and more about why we believe in openness here.
1. Take a deep breath
So far, 2018 has been really good. Things have settled down. From a time where every day has gone to putting out small fires and focusing on getting the wheels to go round, we now have the time and energy to think forward. It's really about us finally being able to delivre good products, enough products and at the right time.
Obviously, it's also about us selling well.
Personally, I can finally take a deep breath again. It is hard to describe how hard life can be as a small business owner. After many years with scrunched up shoulders, it's fantastic to get that energy back. I am crazy excited for what comes next, and especially for some of our projects that we will be launching in the near future.
2. Project Tøyen
I want to let the cat out of the bag right away: We are very stoked and excited for what we call "project Tøyen". It's an established "reality" that commercial clothing manufacturing in Norway is impossible. For a long time we've wanted to challenge this reality, and now we're diving into it with a goal of making this a win-win-win situation. Project Tøyen is a collaboration with Somalian women who have a dream of working, but who can't find work. Luckily they've grown up with sewing machines, and we've found eachother. In the production we use excess wool from other productions. In other words: We get local, sustainable, high quality products that are all "limited edition" - and the women get to work. Sometime this fall we will launch the project, and it will be possible to buy the first products. For now beanies and necks in 100% merino wool. Sit tight, more info will be coming this fall.
This summer's awesome news: Northern Playground can now be found in 10 stores in Japan! (That's why certain colors in men's size small are sold out).
4. New products
We don't give up. If your're curious - we have some new products: Bra in organic wool and silk, wool neck with a breathing hole, women's boxer in organic wool and silk, new colors on Ziplongs and the Zipbra, new colors in the organic collection, Ziplongs for kids and the "microfiber washing bag" Guppyfriend.
5. Who is Northern Playground?
Are we the zipper company? Are we the innovation company? Are we the environment company? What would we say if we were to describe ourselves with a couple of sentences?
Strong and distinct storytelling is important for both us and for knowing how to communicate with the world around us. This summer we challenged ourselves on our storytelling ailities and sat down with the company Maskinen to find some answers. The essence of what we came up with: Northern Playground started because we had the guts to change conventional clothing. We still use that mindset in everything we do. We are the company that has the guts to challenge established truths and who dares to go our own ways.
6. Prices 1
In the first behind the scenes letter I wrote a little bit about the challenges of high production costs. It costs to go with european, evironmental friendly manufacturers. In addition, the prices of wool around the world have raised a lot. As a result of this we have had to raise the prices on some of our products. It's very exciting to see how customers react to that.
7. Prices 2
Another step we've taken to be able to go on with the same production quality that we have is selling certain products exclusively via our website. Read more here.
8. Prices 3
Even if we are creative and develop new business models, high production costs will be a challenge to be able to run the company economically sustainable. One alternative we are pondering is moving parts of our production to China. Some Chinese manufacturers are world class on environment, and our maket is global anyway. In addition, we can think about the opportunity of phasing in more natural matrials in some of our products.
I need your help: Do you have any thoughts on this? How important do you think it is to produce in Europe? (It's very interesting to hear your opinion even if you don't have knowledge on the topic).
9. Challenges ahead
Besides the mentioned topics, the most important things moving forward are:
• Making sure that the production and deliveries have good quality and correct timing
• Keep building a fantastic team
• Future growth for economical sustainability
• Having fun and delivering the world's best clothes!
Yep. Enough for now. If you appreciate the openness and think that this is the future way of running companies, I'd love for you to help me out in one or more ways:
1. Let me know
2. Let more people have the opportunity to see behind the scenes – get your friends to subscribe to our newsletter. They can do that here.
3. If you don't already – follow us on social media. Facebook. Instagram.
Opening up can be scary – a little motivation goes a long way!
Jo Egil Tobiassen
Founder and CEO