Moving Forward in Mexico

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Dear Primal Professional,

In my last update, I talked about my trip to Mexico, and everything we were able to get done in less than a week.

In this newsletter, I'll go into:
#1 Shoe Samples
#2 Moving Lasts to Mexico
#3 Remaking Outsole Molds & Outsoles in Mexico
#4 Moving Forward

#1 Shoe Samples 

I was expecting to have finalized samples by now, and photos of them to share with you. The shoemaker made a mistake with the transfer label information, so they had to order a new one. It's a bummer, but not a bottleneck, because other tooling and materials are still being made.

Can't wait to see these samples finished. I'm very stoked about the oxblood leather we found.

#2 Moving Lasts to Mexico

That blue plastic "foot" on the right is a "last". Basically, a shoe's upper and bottom are wrapped around the last, and the last gives the shoe its shape. The 4 barrels are filled with my lasts.

These 4 barrels of lasts were a surprising source of stress. When our first shoemaker finished our final production run with them last year, they packed these up, and asked me where to ship them. If things were to work out with our second shoemaker, we would have shipped them to Brasil. But just to be safe, I asked the first shoemaker to hold onto them for a bit, until I know for sure. As months passed and barely any progress was being made with the second shoemaker, the first told me they really had to get rid of them, because their warehouse is getting crowded. Eventually, they gave me an ultimatum: tell them where to ship the barrels, or they were going to dump the barrels. The best idea I could come up with was to ship it to my office. Since I'm in a shared office, and I've taken up quite a bit of common area already, I stored these in the yard with a weatherproof tarp over.

Now, moving these down to Mexico. After much more paperwork, fees, and coordination than I expected, these are now in Mexico. It took a month from when I contacted the freight forwarder and customs broker until these finally reached their destination. Whew, I'm glad I didn't send these to Brasil, that would have been more than double the trouble.

 

#3 Remaking Outsole Molds & Outsoles in Mexico

My sourcing agent, and the shoemakers he connected me with, they all recommended I make our outsoles in Mexico. At first, I was pretty neutral about the idea. Our Missouri-based outsole maker did a good enough job, so why fix what ain't broke? 

My sourcing agent said it would increase quality, reduce costs, and reduce delivery time. I saw the potential for increased quality when the outsole and shoe makers were discussing ways to improve the bond. We could reduce costs, while maintaining material quality, because of how close the outsole and the shoe factories are to each other, and this of course reduces delivery time.

I paid for the outsole molds in Missouri so I own them, but they aren't compatible with the outsole machines in Mexico. We can't just plug-and-play. And we can't just make a new mold by copying an outsole either. Polyurethane outsoles cool and shrink after they come out of the mold, and ours shrink about 1.5%. There is a great deal of accuracy and precision involved.

Since lasts and outsoles go hand-in-hand (foot-in-foot?), now that the lasts are in Mexico we can move forward with remaking outsole molds.

 

#4 Moving Forward

After writing this update, I feel like everything is "in-progress." It's slightly unnerving, as I'd prefer it to be "completed." But then again, isn't life and nature in a perpetual state of "in-progress"? Is "completion" perhaps an arbitrary human invention? Anyway, before I get too philosophical, what I'm trying to say is I can't wait to write the next newsletter and share more progress!

Thank you.

Best Regards,

Mountain Evan Chang
Founder

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Mountain Chang
Mountain Chang

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