A Look @ 2020
More than one surprise!
COVID-19 was nothing anyone could really plan for; and was an unpleasant surprise for us all. A pleasant surprise that came from it was how seamlessly everyone at Arrow Emblems combined our commitment to customers, creativity, collaboration, and product mastery to do more than just keep business running... we were able to introduce new products into the marketplace in 2020 to help our devoted customers stay relevant and on trend. Here's a summary of how the year went for us all, and how you were a big part of it!
Q1/2: The Pandemic Hits, Business Pivots
"Our considerable Chinese operation is always stretched to the max during China's New Year Holiday," says Cory, owner of Arrow Emblems, "In 2020, we got hit just around that time with unexpected and forced factory closures by the Chinese government. We had to make massive overhead cuts. We immediately lowered staff members' working hours by 20% and had to furlough a few both in China and here in Washington state."
Yet with the help of the CARES Act and the Payment Protection Plan, our U.S. staff was soon back to 100%. With the outbreak, our China factories needed to pivot fast. We re-fit portions of our embroidery factory to keep our 220 employees working. After trying to outsource face masks from different overseas suppliers, we quickly realized their quality, pricing, and reliability were poor, plus no supplier was interested in orders less than 5000 pieces.
By surveying our customers, we learned that you wanted smaller, custom orders and quality 2-ply, U.S.-tested masks. So, we decided to create the masks from scratch, ourselves! By building out our own capacity during COVID, we were able to keep our staff working and supply custom-printed masks with the quality, great service, and competitive prices Arrow Emblems customers expect. Check out all our custom mask options here >
SEE OUR ARTISANS AT WORK
Our entire top floor was turned into a very productive factory in less than a month.
(watch the video)
Our patch-making facility's 5th-floor meeting room was transformed into a mask factory where we print, cut, sew, and ship custom masks
To read more about our experience through 2020's COVID-19 crisis, please read Cory's retrospective:
Covid Survival: Seen through the Eyes of Velociterra's Founder.
Q3: Introducing New Products "from the Pros"
What happened next was exciting. Over the course of the next few months, Arrow Emblems researched, developed, and introduced new products, including: durable, weatherproof vinyl stickers, heat-seal backings, and pre-stitched sew-lines for leather patches. We improved our leather embossing colors and also began R&D on custom patches for cozy, warm and trendy beanies.
"With mask sales keeping our customer service reps busy through the summer, our product researchers got busy investigating new products to offer and also improving our current line-up," explains Adam, Operations Manager for Arrow Emblems. "Our discussions in weekly meetings, which are not industry standard, helped our team understand our key product differentiations, the best temp where things start to melt, what kind of adhesive is best, how elements interact with each other, and how exactly something is made."
When asked why Arrow Emblems spends this amount of time toward product mastery, Adam explains, "We are unique and we ask for everyone to have a passion for attention to products and details so that we can always be the pros, never just another ‘textile’ company. When we dig deeper and test our products, we run into issues that lead to improvements of the process and products. For example, with our puff embroidery products, Arrow's experts found that our factory was using white foam and on occasion, it was showing through blue and red brightly colored threads. In response, we were then able to improve the process by sourcing colored foam to match closer to our thread colors."
Q4: Staying on Trend with Custom Patches on Beanies!
Finally, as the weather changed here in the northern hemisphere and fall approached, Arrow Emblems researched what products could benefit our distributor customers and meet their customer demand with products we could manufacture ourselves for quality assurance. Our latest products were introduced in the 4th quarter: Custom embroidered, woven, and leather patches on beanies
, totally on-trend and totally comfortable.
Over a course of three months, our product teams researched, tested, and developed two types of completely hand-crafted soft, warm, stylish beanies and launched this popular new product in time for the cooler weather. Today, we create and attach top-quality custom-made patches to beanies and deliver them to you within weeks! You can choose from SIX available patch types and two popular beanie styles: our simple silhouette cuffless, knitted cap or 3” cuffed, knitted cap—both in your choice of 18 fashionable colors.
"Many of our customers voiced that it was a hassle sourcing hats and beanies from one supplier and patches from another (us) and then needing a third vendor to attach those patches," explains Sandra, Arrow Emblems' Product Manager. "To save our customers steps and streamline their buying, we combined all three processes into one-stop-sourcing. Now, with just one phone call to our great customer service staff, distributors can order custom patches that come already attached to super-comfy and trendy beanies. It saves everyone time, hassle, and money."