It’s been a little over a year since the idea for Origin Thread made its way into the world.
Since then we've created and sold the first clothing that uses NFTs as a permanent and transparent record of sourcing information and built the begins of the first truly on-chain brand.
It took some time to get things just right, but we're pleased with the end result. The feedback we’re getting is that our customers love their shirts. Mission #1 accomplished.
For the last year creating the first shirts and selling them across the world seemed like the mountaintop. From the summit it’s clear that this is the first leg of a much longer journey to far higher peaks.
Here’s the next steps of our route forward.
Claiming NFTS on Delivery
Our first NFT + clothing release worked like this. Customers bought an NFT. The NFT was then used to unlock and claim the delivery of a shirt. Whilst this system might have been novel and interesting for blockchain natives, it did come with some drawbacks.
Customers who aren’t experienced blockchain users will have been put off by a complex claim process. “Checkout friction” is one of the biggest reason for losing sales in traditional e-commerce businesses.
Our existing method of purchase and claim contains a lot of friction so there's a lot of room for improvement.
For our next release, we plan to do things differently. Customers will go through a checkout just as they would when buying any other item of clothing online. The only difference will be the option of payment in crypto.
When the shirt arrives with the customer, they’ll have the choice to claim and receive the token or to return the shirt if needed.
From our perspective this offers a much better experience all around, particularly for new crypto users. Building out this function is a good first step towards solving the problem of how to sell NFT connected goods in physical retail stores. Much more on that in months to come.
Our second shirt will use the new NFT claim method. As with the first it will be made from organic cotton hand printed in India and cut and sewn in London.
This time the shirt will be dyed using traditional indigo for a deep and rich blue. The fabric printing is already underway and the collection’s accompanying film is being shot later this month.
Overall we’re extremely happy with the quality and fit of our first shirt. This means much of the manufacturing process stays the same.
There are still improvements and changes to be made. Depending on pre-orders we're looking to bring in a xxl size. The positioning of the NFC (near-field communication) chip will also change.
For our first shirt the NFC tag was located on the inside of the placket at the bottom of the shirt. Whilst this seemed like a cool idea, based on feedback from our early customers there’s a couple of problems.
First, if you like to tuck your shirt in. the chip isn’t accessible. Second, scanning a chip near your groin with your phone isn’t fun for everyone. (Who knew?)
We’re currently trialling some different placements. Placing the chip in the inside of the sleeve cuff seems like a good choice but wouldn’t be possible for short sleeve shirts or t-shirts. Once we've settled on how the next iteration looks, we'll let you know.
As well as changing the placement, we’re developing something new for how the information on the NFC tag will interact with the NFT. This will be another first so we’re keeping things under wraps for the time being. A prototype will be released soon and we don’t think it will let you down.
CATALYST FUND 10 PROPOSAL
Funding is a necessity for any business looking to grow. Building new things can get expensive.
Project Catalyst offers an amazing opportunity for businesses building on the Cardano blockchain to access funding. This is particularly valuable for early stage ventures such as ours.Our fund 9 proposal
set out our plans to develop and launch a fully on-chain supply chain solution on the Cardano blockchain. Unfortunately we fell just short of the votes that would have been needed for us to get funded. Whilst this setback was disappointing, we made a lot of great connections and learnt a lot in going through the process.
We received some useful feedback from the quality advisors and will take that onboard with our other learnings whilst reworking the proposal for fund 10. In addition to our supply chain proposal, we’re looking at the best ways to shape a proposal to continue with our NFT claim development.
Onboard new suppliers and extend range
The world is full of amazing textiles. They are quite literally the fabric of civilisation. Part of our mission is to use NFTs to share the stories of these textiles and the people, places and processes that go into making them.
Travelling to location and working with suppliers is definitely the most fun and rewarding part of this business. It’s also the most challenging and tiring. It really is a case of leaping into the unknown, building relationships across physical and cultural distance and a healthy sprinkling of luck is needed.
Over the next 12 months we plan to develop relationships with ikat weavers in South India, Batik printers in Indonesia and silk weavers in Thailand.
Each of these trips will be shared in an Origins NFT release. Stay tuned.
Expand marketing focus
Up to this point, our marketing efforts have been focused on finding and speaking to our “minimum viable audience”. This is the smallest group of people who would be interested in our offering. In our case this is a customer who;
- Is a current Cardano user
- Spends time on crypto twitter
- Is interested in fashion
- Cares about sustainability
This audience is a great place for us to begin. They’re the people who will be most interested in what we’re doing, the easiest to access and the most forgiving of any initial problems in user experience.
That said, the world is a lot wider than Cardano crypto twitter.
Moving forwards we’ll be expanding our communication to other social networks and laying the groundwork needed to onboard lovers of sustainable fashion who aren’t current crypto users. This will take the form of content about how and why we’re using NFTs and how we think they can impact the fashion industry.
Once this groundwork is laid so that new crypto users can understand both what we’re doing and how NFTs work, we’ll be looking for chances to work with media in the sustainable fashion world.