Some time around March, I signed off on the final prototype design from Justin, with the heavily revised cleaning disk, twist-off bottom and mat, and he began to create “production documents.”
These were documents that included product illustrations, a BOM (bill of materials), engineering drawings and CAD (computer-aided design) files.
I would need these documents to solicit quotes from manufacturers.
While this meant that my engineering work had finally come to a close, and an important phase of this project was complete — Hooray! — it didn’t really mean the work was over.
In fact, I would learn in the weeks ahead that getting quotes from manufacturers in the US is unduly difficult. If you identify them on your own, and I had already been doing some scouting, many of them won’t even want to talk to you unless you have financial backing.
Of course, it’s difficult to get financial backing when you don’t know how much something will cost.
Now, I already had some general idea of what this would cost by doing research on individually similar parts – for the mat, the jar, etc. So I had a general idea of what it could cost, but I had no idea if my estimates were correct.
And honestly, you don’t know how much it will really cost until you have a real quote.
I ended up talking to a very kind engineer (Thanks, Brian V!) or two who pointed me to the right company. (He also told me his wife hates cleaning her makeup brushes). And finally, I found a few that gave me workable bids.
This part of the project ended up taking much more time and persistence than it should have.
I understand that working up bids takes time (which costs money), and I also understand why manufacturers don’t want to talk to every starry-eyed inventor out there, but I began to see why Chinese manufacturers get so much consumer product work. It is so easy to get bids from overseas …
In fact, one of the most difficult parts of this whole project ended up being researching manufacturers and getting quotes. The wide range of quotes I received from US manufacturers was also somewhat shocking. Like quotes that weren’t even in the same ballpark …
In any case, I ultimately got my good quotes and they were pretty close to my original estimates, which I derived mainly by researching similar products from Alibaba.
I also went to visit a few factories during this phase of the project. The kind engineer I mentioned above suggested I do this because it’s important to build relationships with manufacturers in the US and to see what’s really going on in a factory.
Chinese manufacturers, on the other hand, seem to be more transactional. Which can sometimes cause issues when they view you as a simple order that needs to be filled …
I decided that I actually prefer to have a real relationship with my manufacturer, because I’m putting a lot of trust into them when I pay them a large sum of money to deliver precisely what I want.
So, yes, I understand that, on one hand, My Brush Betty is just a simple plastic consumer good. On the other hand, I still want it to be done right.
As a consumer myself, sometimes I’ll order a product off QVC or Amazon or something and it won’t be precisely all it could be, and it will disappoint me. As I evaluate those kinds of products, as most consumers do, it is sometimes clear that the vision and plan was good but the execution was bad.
I didn’t want My Brush Betty to disappoint.
By Sarah A. Webster
My Brush Betty