We’re back with another week of The Roundup, our weekly series that highlights and showcases some incredible animations, mockups, illustrations that we come across during the week. This time, we’re bringing an incredible roundup of some lovely Dashboards & Analytics:
We hope you enjoy The Roundup this week and as always, if you have any feedback or suggestions, we’re always eager to hear them.
Note: This post includes animated GIFs, so it’ll take a while to load completely.
One year! Holy macaroni, the last twelve months since launching Picture This Clothing have flown by faster than any time-chunks I can recall in my entire lifetime. This post is a pretty expansive recap of our first year learnings, challenges and triumphs.
BACKGROUND STORY (short recap) We launched Picture this Clothing launched on August 17, 2016 as a self-funded proof-of-concept. No Kickstarter. No investor capital. No debt.
I’d sewn together a dress for my daughter based on a drawing she’d done. The positive response triggered my partner/co-founder Ken to say, “You’ve got something here!” We knew that making custom dresses like that first one I made for Zia would not be a business we wanted to get into, but over a couple months of pondering Ken came back with the idea to wear the actual drawing, rather than try to recreate it. And a coloring book style sheet to make it really easy for kids to understand what they were designing, and exactly how it would look. THAT was when we knew we had created an idea-baby. We needed help, so we called two guys we’d worked with in the past and had developed really great relationships with. Across 10-ish months of website building, product prototyping, moral support and each keeping on with our respective day jobs, Igi and Stephan helped us bring our idea-baby into the world.
Once we felt like we had a sharable proof-of-concept, we shared it with the world through a single tweet from my personal Twitter account, and by the end of the day, we had a writeup in TechCrunch. Thus began an exhilarating viral adventure.
GOING VIRAL Going viral is a crazy, elevating rush. In our first eight months of business, the only money we spent on marketing was that time I accidentally triggered a Facebook ad while trying to figure out the ad interface and spent about $20 before I realized what I’d done. Other people were talking and writing about us. Other people created videos that were getting millions of views. We were even invited to appear on news interviews and the Harry Connick Jr. show. Hehe.
All this was great, but we knew the viral state was likely to come down at some point, and we wanted to be as prepared as we could. Our hope was that the viral surge would give us enough momentum to work through challenges, and fuel growth. We’ve definitely seen a shift in the buzz and order volume since the viral months, but we’re still seeing solid profit which is super exciting for a “startup” in its first year.
Spreading ourselves thin On launch day, our team was: Ken handling product, Ignazio was handling all things website and design, and I was handling customer service, communication and packing/shipping. A small team at our local print partner’s shop was ready to print/cut/sew orders on demand.
All of us had “day jobs”.
Ken is half of the two-man team for the successful app ‘Narwhal’ for Reddit on iOS, Igi was running his own very busy design shop, Meno Design, and I was the COO for native app dev company, MartianCraft. Our print partner was already an established local print shop with plenty of existing clientele. Our biggest hurdles came with the following:
Order Volume When we launched, we thought it’d be amazing if we could get ten orders a month. When we hit almost $10k in sales in a single day only ten days after launch we knew we were going to need a bigger boat. All in all, a *great* problem to have, but it really forced us to refine our processes very quickly. For every step forward, it seemed we’d take two steps back. Sometimes it still feels that way, but when we take a minute to look back at how far we’ve come from those first weeks and months, this little team has made some major progress. Ken is a mastermind for problem solving and process efficiency and quickly figured out a lot of automation and better ways to work from end-to-end in our entire process. Along the way we pulled in Rick to help make our technology much, much better. Ken, Rick and Igi have been incredible. We had a lot of freelance help along the way, and we also found the amazing Liuba several months in, who makes Ken’s life 1000 times less stressful with her keen attention to detail in the product processing department. I’m grateful to be a part of this impressive team of pros.
Customer Service Early on, we were getting about 200–300 email inquiries a day. Most of the questions/answers were available on our FAQs, but folks were finding it easier to email us. This was my realm and while I had created an awesome bank of responses I could copy/paste for most inquiries and we learned quickly to make our FAQs more visible on our home page, still the email volume was impressive. And there were more than questions. There were media inquires and orders to help our customers with. Because we were immediately profitable as a business, we were building capital that could be used for stuff like getting help. I definitely needed help, but I’m very, very picky about voice, tone and care in customer service, so this was something I was nervous about letting go of.
I’d worked with the ever-impressive, New Hampshire-based Amy Mash on a few freelance writing and social media projects before. Was I in luck when I reached out to her to see if she could spare 10–20 hours a week to help me out and she WAS! People this talented are usually backlogged for months, but our timing aligned perfectly. 20 weekly hours quickly grew to 40 and before we knew it, Amy was taking over customer service for me full time, and I was able to shift my focus to this crazy venture’s many other needs.
Sometimes things go wrong.We’ve messed up plenty. We’ve had a few orders slip through the cracks, packages go missing in transit, we’ve sent the wrong order to someone a time or two, we got the colors wrong, we had an off day in sewing… I’m not condoning mistakes or excusing them. Mistakes happen to all companies. I believe the important part of making mistakes is how you grow forward from them. How you handle each instance, learn and hopefully don’t repeat the mistake. Folks have reached out, some in rage, some in understanding, and I’m very proud to say that customers who reach out are met with genuine care, and our very best effort to make the situation right. Amy is at the helm of this care, and we could not do it without her.
Hate It seemed like, with all the attention we were getting, a good handful of people assumed we’d been around for years, or were small and scammy, or that we were some massive corporation with evil intentions. If we don’t count our print partner we started as 4 and are now 8 people. Ken, Ignazio, Rick, Amy, Liuba, Kimberlee, Stephan and me.
We were accused of being sexist. We launched with a single, focused product and it was dresses. Partially because the concept was born from the original dress I made for my daughter. We looked at waiting until we had T-shirts ready to launch, but believe it or not, T-shirts were infinitely more complex and expensive to create up to our standard and it would have slowed us down. Because we wanted to see if there was even an audience that would respond to our idea before getting into pricier product development, we decided to focus on the single product that held the spirit of the original idea. Inside our first year, we expanded to youth and grownup sizes in both T-shirts and Dresses. Woo!
We were accused of being racist for not having a diverse range of kids on the site at launch. I took the photos with my iPhone and worked with the kids I had immediate access to, my daughter Zia and her best friend Gigi (who, for the record, is Serbian). It was a fast-paced proof-of-concept, working low-cost with what we had at the time, not a well-plotted scheme. Since our launch, thousands of our customers have been awesome enough to share photos of their happy designers which represent children of all ethnicities from around the entire world. We share them as we receive them in the order they’re received. And we *LOVE* every single one of them.
We were accused of overcharging for something that could “easily be done with fabric markers”. If fabric markers are the limit of imagination to compare us to, I suppose you may have a point. Our customers have proven that their imaginations have a much bigger canvas. We know the price point won’t meet everyone’s budget. While we are making a profit, we’re not making a killing off every product. Every piece is printed, cut and sewn on demand right here in Las Vegas, NV (my home town) by working age adults who earn a living wage. That’s an important value for us, and we want to believe that it’s possible to build a company this way, with people we genuinely LOVE working with, who share our passion and values, and know how much we appreciate and value them.
Copycats This hasn’t been so much a challenge as as surprise. It’s super weird to see my own child and our idea replicated identically on copycat websites in Russia. And Turkey. And right here in the US. We’ve seen a lot of copycats and not a week goes by that we don’t get an inquiry about franchising or taking our idea overseas. They say imitation is flattery, but it doesn’t feel very flattering. On the other hand, I guess that means we really do have a pretty neat idea. We are protected to the maximum capacity that we can be. Patents pending, trademarks, copyrights, etc. all registered. Pursuing each one is exhausting and time consuming, so we prioritize logically and have an amazing legal team leading the charge.
I know there will always be haters. There will always be trolls and idea-stealers. I don’t mind that these things happened because having an opportunity to respond with honesty is a great opportunity no matter how it arises. We are a team of people who love working with each other, we love and believe in the product we make — it brings us more happiness than we can describe when we see/hear from our customers how the experience of our product made their child feel.
Packing/Shipping It took us a minute to get orders rolling off the presses, but once they started coming the stream was constant. I’d pick up boxes of 200 products at a time from our printer, take them home, photograph each one for documentation purposes, inspect for quality, print labels, pack and ship. Like the customer service side of things, this important task quickly became a lot of one person to do. My step-mom Mary and sister Kimberlee made time to help me out of the sheer goodness of their hearts a few times. After a while, asking for free help felt like taking advantage of kindness, so we were able to budget paying Kimberlee to help me when she had a little time outside being a full time mother of two, and full time manager at Sephora. Without her I would have been buried.
I think it’s important to note that we pack each of these with a lot of care. We photograph every single product so we have a visual record of the finished product. We hang each item on on a bright, colorful hangers because work this amazing deserves respect while it awaits inspection and packaging. We compare each finished item to its original artwork before printing a shipping label. If it looks off, we send it back to Ken and Liuba to re-process or determine what happened, and what could be improved before reprinting.
We inspect each product for random printer tracks, ink splatters or sewing mishaps. We verify the size and that the artist’s name in the hem matches the one on the original artwork. When it’s ready for packing, we don’t just toss it in a box and send it off. We fold it, sprinkle a tiny pinch of confetti over it (because FUN!), we include a special little token of appreciation and a thank you card, we wrap in tissue paper, seal with a branded sticker (label with a handwritten name if there’s more than one in a package so customers know who gets what), then we seal and ship it. I believe the customer experience spans every touchpoint with us, including opening the package. After having Kimberlee help me as much as possible outside her regular job, we were lucky enough to make her a full time offer to take over the ShipShop in mid-January. The ShipShop has been one of the hardest things for me to let go of. There’s something about seeing and touching these unique creations that makes me fall in love with each and every one. It’s a crazy feeling to be surrounded with so many expressions of happiness and color! Kimberlee invests the same care into the inspection and packaging of these as I do myself, and that means the world to me. Your stuff is in the best hands!
Oh! We also subleased a 12’ x 24’ space from our print partner back in January so we could move the ShipShop out of our living room. SUCH a relief!
Having a Full Time Job I mentioned somewhere along the way that when we launched this idea, I had a full time gig. I LOVED my work with MartianCraft. I’d started as an advisor with them in 2015, while running SWINGSET, INC, my own coaching/advising company. After about 8 months in an advisor role, they offered me the full time position as their COO, allowing me to continue working from my home office and expand on the work I was doing with them. I worked with incredible smart people and helped grow the inner-workings of the company. Seriously — LOVED IT. And when I accepted the role I could see myself there for… well, I couldn’t see an end. It was awesome. The proof-of-concept for Picture This Clothing was already in progress before I started with MartianCraft. It was basically in a state of “when the website is done, we’re ready.” Since Igi was building that as he could make time for it around his client work, we didn’t know if it’d really ever see the light of day. At some point in July 2016 Igi announced, “Hey! It’s done!” We tested it, tweaked it, then decided it was good enough to share. With the volume of sales from August 17 through mid-October, I could see that I was not going to be able to manage full time roles at both PTC and MartianCraft. I’m an independent mother of two young daughters, and this was looking at giving up a paying job I loved, for a gamble on an idea I loved in hopes it would pay off. I thank Kyle and the whole MartianCraft team for being so kind and understanding when I let them know I needed to go see where this thing would lead. I left my full time job in November to focus full time on Picture This Clothing. While I know I made the right choice for me and they’re fine without me, I still miss MartianCraft a lot.
My entire life I’ve heard people say “Time flies!”, it’s a total cliche yet the twelve months between August 17 2016–2017 have gone by more swiftly than anything I’ve ever experienced.
Eight months had passed before Ken and I looked at each other realizing we hadn’t taken a single day off since we launched the company. So we figured that out, and first took a night out, then a couple days. Then a couple more. We still have work to do every day, but with the help of our awesome team and the growth and getting better organized and more efficient, we are managing our time in a more livable way again. Pshew!
Oh, and yes, we’ve been able to pay ourselves modestly. We make sure we’re putting a good percentage of income back into the company first, paying our team on time, with several nice benefits. And we’ve started putting a bit into paid advertising, recently, too. We’ve been very lucky (and smart?) in how we set things up from the start. No debt, and no investors. We funded everything ourselves out of pocket at a very responsibly low cost, most of our expense in building our proof-of-concept was time.
LOOKING AHEAD Our focus this first year has been about mindfully building a team we love, so that we can continue the improvement of service to our incredible, creative customers.
We’ve improved a lot of processes and are knee-deep in the improvement of many more in effort to keep up with our bigger vision. We’re working on better internal technology, we’re working on new relationships, and new products we’re going to be *very* excited to share with the world.
We’re looking at growing into a new space where we can make better video content and bring our awesome local team together in a better way, and a whole lot more yet to be announced.
We have a whole lot of gratitude to be doing what we’re doing. We’ve helped more than 15,000 incredible designers wear their imagination in our first year. We think this is just the beginning for us, and for the concept of custom, on-demand clothing.
With Care & Imagination
Jaimee Newberry Co-Founder, Picture This Clothing
❤ ❤ ❤ If you liked this post, give us some love with that little clappy icon thing! ❤ ❤ ❤ Likes on Facebook are super nice, too. And if you’re ready to rock your imagination out-loud, start here: picturethisclothing.com ❤ ❤ ❤
I used to have DreamHost as a webhost. We parted ways, but I always admired and appreciated that they reliably stood up for their customers — including me — in the face of bogus legal threats seeking to suppress speech.
This week they're standing up admirably for internet users once again, this time in the face of an overbroad and deeply concerning search warrant issued in connection with Inauguration Day protests. Their blog post about it is here.
Washington D.C. prosecutors have charged and prosecuted inauguration protesters for crimes including riot and destruction of property. And without a doubt there were some crimes committed by some protesters, including assault and destruction of property. But the prosecutors' investigation has taken an alarming turn. They've been focusing on a web site called disruptj20.org, which they allege was used to coordinate illegal behavior. Here's how the site described its goal:
We’re planning a series of massive direct actions that will shut down the Inauguration ceremonies and any related celebrations–the Inaugural parade, the Inaugural balls, you name it. We’re also planning to paralyze the city itself, using blockades and marches to stop traffic and even public transit. And hey, because we like fun, we’re even going to throw some parties.
The site also contains a large about of information about protest and discussions of anti-Trump advocacy.
The Department of Justice initially used subpoenas to DreamHost to seek subscriber information about who ran the site. That's fairly straightforward. But then they doubled down. They obtained a search warrant for an extremely broad array of data related to the site, including all stored records of access to the site or communications with the site. As written, it seems to demand data including the IP addresses of everyone who ever accessed the site and the content of every site visitor's question or comment submitted through the site's comment form, as well as all emails sent to or through the web site. The Department of Justice has filed a motion in the DC court where charges are pending to compel DreamHost to respond, and DreamHost has filed an opposition articulating its objections to the warrant.
DreamHost's brief illuminates the key issues: the search warrant is dangerously overbroad, and implicates protected speech. The Department of Justice isn't just seeking communications by the defendants in its case. It's seeking the records of every single contact with the site — the IP address and other details of every American opposed enough to Trump to visit the site and explore political activism. It seeks the communications with and through the site of everyone who visited and commented, whether or not that communication is part of a crime or just political expression about the President of the United States. The government has made no effort whatsoever to limit the warrant to actual evidence of any particular crime. If you visited the site, if you left a message, they want to know who and where you are — whether or not you did anything but watch TV on inauguration day. This is chilling, particularly when it comes from an administration that has expressed so much overt hostility to protesters, so relentlessly conflated all protesters with those who break the law, and so deliberately framed America as being at war with the administration's domestic enemies.
There's a hearing on the Department of Justice's motion on Friday. I'll keep an eye on the case. You should too, and please spread the word that this is what the government is trying to do.
Fast Company published a report this week exploring why third-party accessories that make use of Apple's Smart Connector remain few and far between, almost two years after the connector first debuted on the iPad Pro. The magnetic Smart Connector allows the iPad Pro to communicate with and power compatible accessories, like the company's own Smart Keyboard, without the hassle of wires.
"With an iPad Pro keyboard on the market already, we are evaluating the market's appetite for another iPad Pro keyboard and identifying if there are any gaps that we can fill," a spokeswoman for Incipio told Fast Company. "So we are developing with having a point of difference in mind rather than developing to be quick to market."
Other issues are said to relate to procuring Smart Connector components, with manufacturers reporting longer lead times compared to other accessories, making them time- and cost-prohibitive. "For a business like us, we've got a very rapid product development cycle," said one vendor source, who asked to remain anonymous. "When you've got a long lead time component that's close to six months, that's just not tenable."
Logitech Create Smart Keyboard
Meanwhile, some accessory makers simply preferred Bluetooth as a better fit, especially for iPad keyboards, with more room for maneuver in terms of accessory design. For instance, the Smart Connector only works with keyboards in landscape mode, whereas some users prefer to type in portrait orientation. The issue of Bluetooth battery life has also been minimized, with smaller batteries now lasting for months rather than weeks.
There are only four Smart Connector accessories currently on the market – three offered by Logitech, one by Apple. Fast Company was told by Apple that multiple companies are now developing Smart Connector accessories, but going on this report, iPad Pro owners looking to further exploit the potential of Apple's proprietary connector could be in for some wait yet.
Microsoft demonstrated today that the company is keeping its flagship product in touch with the advances in computer hardware. The company announced new version of Windows 10 Pro, named Windows 10 Pro for Workstations. This OS is slated to arrive with the Fall edition of Windows Creators Update. With AMD and Intel releasing 32- and 28-core processors, reporting as much as 128 cores/threads in a 2P (dual socket) configuration, the question how will Microsoft follow the breakneck pace of CPU and GPU wars.
New Windows 10 Pro represents a highly tuned version of operating system, focusing on reducing system latency and increasing responsiveness as much as possible. First and foremost, Windows 10 Pro will support not just two socket (2P), but also four socket (4P) systems. GPU support now grows to what AMD and NVIDIA physically support (CUDA 9.0 enables 64 GPUs in a single OS image, thus if you have a motherboard with 20 PCIe slots, you do not need to run server version of Windows – Windows 10 Pro will take care of it.
New features from Windows 10 Pro for Workstations.
Here are highlights of “Windows 10 Pro for Workstations Creators Update November 2017”:
ReFS (Resilient file system): Codenamed Protogon, ReFS provides cloud-grade resiliency for data on fault-tolerant storage spaces and manages very large volumes with ease. ReFS is designed to be resilient to data corruption, optimized for handling large data volumes, auto-correcting and more. It protects your data with integrity streams on your mirrored storage spaces. Using its integrity streams, ReFS detects when data becomes corrupt on one of the mirrored drives and uses a healthy copy of your data on the other drive to correct and protect your precious data.
Persistent memory: Windows 10 Pro for Workstations provides the most demanding apps and data with the performance they require with non-volatile memory modules (NVDIMM-N) hardware. NVDIMM-N enables you to read and write your files with the fastest speed possible, the speed of the computer’s main memory. Because NVDIMM-N is non-volatile memory, your files will still be there, even when you switch your workstation off.
Faster file sharing: Windows 10 Pro for Workstations includes a feature called SMB Direct, which supports the use of network adapters that have Remote Direct Memory Access (RDMA) capability. Network adapters that have RDMA can function at full speed with very low latency, while using very little CPU.
Increased throughput: Leverages the full throughput of high speed networks where the network adapters coordinate the transfer of large amounts of data at line speed.
Low latency: Provides extremely fast responses to network requests, and, as a result, makes remote file storage feel as if it is directly attached storage.
Low CPU utilization: Uses fewer CPU cycles when transferring data over the network, which leaves more power available to other applications running on the system.
Expanded hardware support in Windows 10 Pro for Workstations. Users will now be able to run Windows 10 Pro for Workstations on devices with high performance configurations including server grade Intel Xeon or AMD Opteron processors, with up to 4 CPUs (today limited to 2 CPUs) and add massive memory up to 6TB (today limited to 2TB).
Performance is a very important requirement in this new world of fast paced innovation and we will continue to invest on Windows 10 Pro for Workstations to enable Windows power users to maximize every aspect of their high-performance device. Windows 10 Pro for Workstations utilizes significant investments, that Windows has made in recent releases, for scaling up across a high number of logical processors and large amounts of memory. Our architectural changes in the Windows kernel take full advantage of high-end processors families, such as Intel Xeon or AMD Opteron, that package a high number of cores in single or multi-processor configurations.
We’re not certain if Microsoft is aware of AMD EPYC processors, but the new operating system boasts some very impressive capabilities.