We sincerely hope that you all are staying safe and are keeping your hopes high for the next chapter when we get out of this weirdness. Today’s update is a summary of major changes—for the better—in our process of bringing Be. Brush to market. Many of you have been asking for updates, and the details below should answer a lot of your questions.
If you want to skip the details, here is the summary: We made the decision to pull the manufacturing from our US partner because, after sampling and part inspection, they were never going to be able to deliver the product that we all expect. We’re now in the pre-production sampling phase with several contract manufacturers in China that are verifiably capable of building Be Brush to the required specifications. We’ve also added an in-house product development resource and a group of outside advisors that are guiding this process in a defined and actionable way in order to avoid making the mistakes we made when we chose the original US partner. So, despite the fact that this may sound like a setback to some of you reading this update, it’s actually a major step forward for the Be. Brush project because the original plan would have resulted in failure. Now, we’re set up for success.
Ok, now for those who want the deets, read on...
The initial goal for our manufacturing supply chain was to try and make the Be. Brush as domestically (in the US) as possible. We thought it was going along smoothly until we started receiving parts that were out of spec cosmetically and functionally, and our partner didn’t have the capabilities to verify and correct the issues to the degree necessary.
This led us down the path of taking out-of-spec parts to third-party metrology labs for measurement and adding complexity, cost, and potential for failure to each step of the process. We kept with it in the hope that as soon as we had good parts, they could refine their system and process to eventual perfection. Unfortunately, after the third non-conforming set of part samples and many conversations with the factory team, we had no choice but to pull the project. Long story short, we chose an unqualified vendor and have learned from the experience.
To find a qualified manufacturing partner that can deliver the quality everyone expects for a complicated assembly at a cost the market will bear, we had to look outside the US. We looked at contract manufacturers in both Mexico and China, and we’re moving forward in the pre-production sampling phase with three potential partners that have a presence in the US but manufacture in China. This process allows us to verify their capabilities, their understanding of the Be. Brush engineering requirements, and the final details of the brush itself before we ramp up for mass production. When this process is complete, we will move forward with one of these three vendors into production and fulfillment of your pre-ordered Be. Brushes.
In addition to engineering expertise, we’re working to learn their quality control processes and ability to carry them out successfully. To do that, we’re building out QC plans and product reliability testing procedures to compare capabilities before finalizing vendor selection.
We will have a set of pre-production samples from one of these trusted manufacturers by the end of August, and we’ll share those with you in the next update. These samples will tell us whether Be. Brush is ready to ramp up production immediately or whether we need to make any final tweaks before production. We’re on the right track now and have the advisor team in place to make sure the process is done correctly.
Goodwell has three overarching goals: beauty, innovation, and sustainability. And we’ve had a lot of conversations over the past year about how to measure sustainability for the Be. Brush. Making the product in the US—what once looked like the sustainable option—has turned out to be less than ideal when we really consider the details of the supply chain.
Local is more sustainable than global. And the reality of making this assembly in the US actually meant that we needed to produce many of the metal components in China and ship them individually by ocean freight to the US for final assembly. When we recently considered Mexico as a manufacturing location, the manufacturers we spoke to suggested the same path: shipping components from China to Mexico for final assembly—and a large quantity of ocean freight shipments just doesn’t fit with a smaller global footprint.
So, the move to a single manufacturing hub for everything—spring motor, precision gears, metal rods and pins, injection molded plastics, packaging, and final assembly—makes all the sense in the world. It may seem counterintuitive that making a product in China can have less impact than making it in the US, but each product supply chain is unique.
Longer term, we do plan to work with more US suppliers (we already work with some) to build new products, and we believe this will be possible when Goodwell Co. hits scale. At the size we are now, and with the funding situation being what it is, we need to go where the supply chain is located for the type of product we’re making. For Be. Brush, today, it’s in China, and we’ve found the partners who will work with us to make it happen.
Part of sustainability is ensuring that our suppliers have fair labor practices no matter where in the world they’re located. Even though we can’t travel to China right now, we’re working with all suppliers to understand their operations, including hiring practices, wages, living conditions, and adherence to local labor and environmental laws.
If the pre-production samples are in line with the engineering specifications, we expect to ship the first beta units by the end of December, 2020, with the majority of the pre-orders to follow in Q1 2021. If there are engineering issues to be addressed before mass production, the timeline will change accordingly, and we’ll let you know when we know the impact of potential changes.
Ok, the next update will be when those samples arrive - until then, stay safe!