November 22, 2021

More Updates & What's Next

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More Updates & What's Next

There's lots of news and updates to share! We realize all of this might leave you with questions, so feel free to ask 'em in the comments (you'll be notified via email when we respond.)

What's going on in the TOM BIHN world right now

Our next debut and restock is scheduled for Monday, November 29th, at 7:00am Pacific Time. You can view everything that we plan to restock here: 11/29 Debut & Restock 

Why a debut and restock on 11/29? We'll be closed over the four-day Thanksgiving weekend, because of that, we like to release new designs for the holidays on the Monday after. For us, that’s a day to shop with businesses we appreciate and buy gifts for our family, friends, and yes, ourselves. (See our 201620172018 gift guides.) 

Our factory has been busier than ever at the same time we've been navigating a few supply chain challenges. In our last Updates & What's next post, we shared the following paragraph, which still feels true a couple of months later:

Our dedication to spontaneity and nimbleness as a small and creative business, combined with continued worldwide supply chain issues and port delays, has meant that it's been a little more difficult to keep everyone as updated as we'd like. 

Interestingly, one of the aspects of the supply chain issues that has impacted production planning, restocks, and releases has been suppliers informing us of a materials shortage or delay that resolves itself earlier than expected, resulting in the delivery of a material that suddenly gives us the opportunity to begin or finish a production run of a design. That, plus the fact that our newly hired production crew are fully trained and rocking it, means that there could be an additional restock or two before year's end.

On occasion, a supplier informs us of a substantial delay in receiving one of our standard materials. Sometimes the supplier is able to offer us an ever-so-slightly different version of that material (or we have an ever-so-slightly version on hand here at the factory), of the same / similar quality and durability as the standard material. In order to keep our bags stocked as best we can, we might opt to use the alternate material.

One recent example of that has been the mesh used behind the front organizational pockets of the Synapse and Synik: the supplier from whom we order that mesh informed us of a delay. Thankfully, they also informed us that they had an alternate mesh that was the same when it came to quality, durability, and function as the mesh we typically use, so we ordered it. The new mesh worked out (and sewed!) well and we liked it quite a lot, but when our original mesh was restocked, we returned to using that simply because it's what we previously used.

Going forward, we are anticipating that there could be more delays, reversals, and change in the world of suppliers for the next while. Having our own factory here in Seattle certainly helps us remain nimble: a key material won't arrive in time? We'll make a different bag instead. Or perhaps we'll even use that as an opportunity to release a new or vintage design. We embrace spontaneity and we've learned how to roll with it; part of rolling with it means recognizing when it presents logistical challenges or more change than is easy to absorb. We think the first response to those challenges is to make sure we're communicating and sharing as much information as we reasonably can... and that's what this post is all about!

Finally, we'd like to thank all of you for your understanding, patience, and (many) good questions. The past two years have been something of a whirlwind for our small business, and as we've navigate various new challenges, your support has meant more than you'll ever know. And the questions you ask here on the blog and on social media keep us thinking and help encourage us to share more answers and information proactively.

Cerylon has arrived

Person wearing a bright yellow down jacket holding three Grab Bags in Cerylon fabric: clockwise, it's Sangria red, Mountain grey, and Cobalt blue.

Clockwise: Grab Bags in Cerylon fabric - colors Sangria red, Mountain Grey, and Cobalt Blue.

Cerylon is our new 210 denier, 100% high tenacity nylon fabric – a next of kin to Halcyon. (Ceyx was Alcyone’s husband, for the record.) Per our request, the mill made Cerylon with twisted yarns just like our heavier weight fabrics — twisted yarns increase the density of a fabric and help to hide cosmetic abrasion.

Cerylon has a formidable tear strength (though it’s not quite as high as Halcyon) that is more than adequate for its intended use as a fabric for lightweight accessories or as a lining material. It has a “double wall” ripstop pattern, which we’ve added mostly as an aesthetic nod to its near-kin Halcyon.

After Cerylon prevailed through our typical and rigorous fabric tests, it debuted in the color Cobalt Blue in the Packing Cube Shoulder Bag and most folks seemed to love it — based on that feedback, we went ahead and ordered more Cobalt and two additional colors ~ Sangria red and Mountain grey.

Despite supplier and transit/port delays, our Cerylon arrived ahead of schedule. 

The very first bag to debut in Cerylon was the Grab Bag — next up will be Original Small Shop Bags, Original Large Shop Bags, Zip-Top Small Shop Bags, and Zip-Top Large Shop Bags. (All stocking on 11/29!)

We've already begun production runs of of other various bags in Cerylon — Travel Trays, 3D Cubes as well as Syniks and Synapses lined with Cerylon — since our factory is quite busy these days, it remains to be seen which of those bags bags will be stocked before the end of the year. We'll keep you posted as things progress.

Our New U.S.A. Organic Cotton

Organic cotton grown, woven, dyed and finished in the U.S.A. Colors left to right: Santa Cruz electric purple/blue, Natural, and Talus dark grey/pastel black.

Our new organic cotton that's grown, woven, dyed and finished in the United States. Colors left to right: Santa Cruz (electric, and perhaps eclectic, purple/blue), Natural (as nature made it), and Talus (dark grey or pastel black).

In recent years, we've offered cotton options here and there, with our Firewood Carrier (which, as part of our holiday tradition, will once again be available for order on 11/29) and our Small Original Shop Bag and Large Original Shop Bag in Olive Cotton Twill notable amongst them.

Since everyone seems to appreciate the cotton options thus far, we've added another: The Organic Cotton Truck will debut on 11/29 in our new Organic Cotton Canvas that's grown in Texas, woven in small mills in North and South Carolina, and finished in North Carolina. (Read more about our cotton fabrics over at the Materials Glossary.)

Simply put, we are enamored with our Organic Cotton Canvas: the Texas Organic Cotton Cooperative, through whom we sourced the material, has high standards for environmental impact as well as quality, and it shows in this material.

Its hand is the perfect balance between structured and soft; the Organic Cotton Truck stands up on its own so it's still easy to load, yet has a just-right amount of softness and slouch that makes it comfortable in-hand and against the body. 

Three colors will be offered: 

Santa Cruz is a purple with shadows of electric blue. It's a color inspired by the TOM BIHN logo t-shirts and sweatshirts of the 80's and early 90's, back when the TOM BIHN company was a one-man shop in Santa Cruz, California. 

Talus could be described as a pastel black or a dark grey. It reminds us of a perfectly weathered and worn t-shirt. 

Natural is truly au naturel: an undyed, warm off-white with flecks of darker and lighter yarns throughout. This color truly lets the character of the cotton shine through. If you choose to go au naturel, realize that you will be embracing the character that could come over time with life, stains, age, and wear. We've been using a sample Truck in Natural for the past eight months at farmer's markets around town: the bottom shows some darker coloration from being set on the asphalt or dirt ground, though the rest of the bag still looks new except for an incident with a beet. We personally embrace this: it shows the bag is used, loved, and is all the better for it. 

Update on Maker's Bag, Daylight Backpacks

As part of our last update post (Updates & What's Next) we shared that there would be minor design updates to both The Maker's Bag and Daylight Backpacks, and that both bags would be expected to ship this year. Due to delays and general busyness, those two updated designs will be offered in 2022. They're still in the works, just happening a little later than we'd originally planned.

Shipping Box news

Our shipping box supplier is migrating to using a cardboard that uses less fiber but still passes all of the durability/crush tests required by shipping companies and the Postal Service. And of course it’s still Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) certified.

Some folks may not notice the difference between boxes, but some will. We did: the boxes aren't quite as heavy and beefy as they used to be. Still sturdy enough to get the job done, but a little lighter-weight feeling.

All of this is a good thing for our continued progress on environmental responsibility: less fiber used means more boxes can made from the same amount of raw materials. And, over time, the decrease in the weight of the box will further reduce the carbon footprint of shipping your bag to you. Win-win.

Oh Snap(s)

Our supplier recently informed us that there is a six-month delay on the snaps we use for the handles of duffels like the Yeoman. 

We remain hopeful that this is another instance of a supplier wanting to give us a farther-out timeline out of an abundance of caution and respect for our need to plan accordingly, and that we'll be able to get our hands on snaps sooner than that. 

We learned of the delay just after we began our first batch of the new Tray Bien organizational / storage box. We've decided to reserve our remaining stock of snaps until we receive an updated timeline from our supplier: that means that we may not be able to restock the Tray Bien for quite some time (we'll see!)

7 comments

Galen - November 28, 2021

Hi, in a previous blog post comment (in Sept), it sounded like you might be planning to offer a small Synik in Camo. I wanted to check back and see if this was likely to happen before the end of the year, (or if at all). Thanks!

Laura T. - November 24, 2021

Are there any plans to make Side Effects in a red fabric?
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TOM BIHN replied:
There aren’t any in the works as of now, but they could be included in production runs slated for early 2022. I’ll put in the request for you :)

Jonathan Y - November 24, 2021

You mention the Yeoman when you were talking about the snaps. Are the Yeoman in the plans for a restock next year? Barring any additional supply issues.
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TOM BIHN replied:
We do plan to offer Yeomans next year, barring any additional supply issues — getting a lot of requests for them!

Larry Clark - November 23, 2021

Is the updated Night Flight expected to see daylight next year?
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TOM BIHN replied:
It’s difficult to say at this point — design is a very creative (as well as technical process) and though the Night Flight update is on our list and some progress has been made, it’s not anywhere close to ready yet. We know it’s a design update/reissue that folks are excited about, it’s just that sometimes good design takes time :) Hope that helps/makes sense, and feel free to ask any other questions that come up.

Dave Robeson - November 23, 2021

Great news about the laundry packing cubes, thanks! Now I’m trying to come up with a justification for why I need an Old-School Carry-All…

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