Month #8
(January 2017)

1) Validate

(video coming soon)

2) Describe

What We Did:

A. Independent Manufacturing of Galaxies Spring Collection

January marked the first month when the founder was not on-site monitoring progress. Two months worth of products were submitted in an order with sketches with payment at the end of December, and the workshop operated independently. Work went smoothly with about half of the spring Galaxies collection manufactured. However, the power went out frequently because the local community was updating its electric grid from traditional meters to pre-paid systems. Once this finished, the normal power resumed. 

B. Finalized RISE Assessment Process and Began Catching-Up on Reports

After months of discussing and brainstorming a framework for social impact assessment, we decided on a five-step process for our monthly video updates through RISE reports. We then began going back through our records and project notes to catch-up on reports for the first seven months of the project. 

C. Revised and Simplified Website

Our original website was built on the Squarespace ecommerce platform. However, this platform did not load easily on the cellular internet in Ghana and also did not have a setting to offer free shipping or for our distributor to have a staff account. We converted to Shopify in December and revised our website again this month with a new layout and template that aims to place focus on the three categories of products - clothes, accessories, and bags - and these RISE reports. 

D. Found Artisan to Make Sustainable Bamboo Clips for Backpacks

After producing a small backpack in our fall collection, we decided to make another one. However, most backpacks have adjustable straps, and the clips used to make adjustable straps are typically made of plastic. Not only are these not environmentally sustainable, they are also not very sturdy and break easily. Bamboo is grown in central Ghana and is a reasonably common resource for crafts and building materials, so we decided to search for a crafts-person, who would be willing to carve a three-pronged clip to use for adjustable straps out of bamboo. After searching the local community and visiting many shops around Accra, Matilda managed to locate a crafts-person, who would custom-make the piece for us at the Art Market in Accra for 5 GHS per piece. He produced ten sample bamboo clips for us to try, and Matilda ordered twenty more. 

E. Prototyped Knitted Mittens and Hats

Our knitting instructor, Sarah, finished her program training the team in the workshop by examining their completed prototype hats and mittens. After review, we decided that the hat would benefit from having a headband at the bottom so that it would fit snugly and cover the ears. We also determined that a slightly larger loom was needed for the mittens to offer a larger size option in addition to the small size. We also made plans to prototype the addition of a cloth insulating layer inside the glove.  

F. Ruby Started Regular Tutoring in Work + Learn Program

Starting in August, when Ruby, our first Work + Learn program member began, we have seriously struggled with finding a reliable instructor tutor her for one to two hours every other day. Over the months, we had three different instructors, all of whom were reliable for the first two weeks but then stopped coming. Finally, this January, Matilda secured the teacher she had originally hoped to have, who lives in the immediate neighborhood. Since this instructor began, he has come three times per week, instructing Ruby for an hour and a half on a white board about basic letters, shapes, and counting. Ruby has a very positive attitude about the classes and looks forward to them. She spends hours every day writing in her notebook. If her teacher ever is running later, she even retrieves him at his house and scolds him!

What We Said:

A. Boston Photo-Shoot & Posting Photos on Social Media

The founder visited friends of the Matilda Flow Co. project in Boston, USA, who agreed to model some of the clothes they've purchased and some of the new products.
These photos were released on social media, starting in early February and have received over double the number of likes as other posts - suggesting that customers, who we are referring to as "tie-dye activists" respond positively to seeing the clothes in familiar locations and weather and on a more diverse group of models.  

B. Founder Wore the Products and Shared the Story in Minnesota & Boston

When the founder was at home in Minnesota and visiting Boston, wearing the clothes around town seemed like an effective method of marketing. At least three or four people everyday would ask about the clothes or compliment them. A small informational recycled card should be developed and printed to hand-out to people who want to learn more about the clothes and accessories.  

What We Thought About:

A. Brainstorm of Future MFC Products for People & Pets

Additional product ideas were discussed including a fanny pack, a yoga bag, and a dog mat made from scraps of the sweatshirts and jackets cut apart for reclaiming zippers.

B. Contact & Documentation Processes When Founder Is Off-Site

The founder communicated with Matilda in the workshop by phone once per week. However, her camera on her phone is very poor, preventing her from sending pictures of products or to skype from the workshop. A better camera is needed along with a reliable phone and laptop for sending message and skyping with the founder when off-site. Daily voice memo updates should also be recorded and sent to the founder after the workshop closes each day, summarizing the activities that transpired, any questions or problems that occurred, and any positive stories from the day.

C. Next Location for Marketing Efforts Over Next Six Months

Word of mouth will be critical for the expansion of MFC sales and marketing efforts. Though responses were favorable for the clothes in Minnesota, the climate is very cold and fashion is more conservative - so they did not gain their maximum appreciation. A new location should be selected to base marketing efforts that has a progressive atmosphere and an appreciation for inclusion and sustainability. Since our distributor is based in Portland, Oregon, we are interested in concentrating marketing efforts in the Pacific Northwest.

3) Quantify

Expenses This Month: $1398.38

Workers: $882.75

Date: Cost (GHC): Cost (USD):  Details:
1/9/17 60 15.00 2 Transport To / From Workshop for Agnes & Kwame, Tag-Makers
1/31/17 200 50.00 Guest Embroiderer (2 Cedis per Embroidered Item, 100 Items)
1/30/17 600 125.00 Bashiru, Tailor
1/26/17 176 44.00 Agnes & Kwame, Tag-Makers (136 Tags, 1 Cedi per Tag, 2 Hats)
1/30/17 700 175.00 Grace, Seamstress
1/26/17 450 112.50 Cecilia, Cloth-Maker
1/31/17 650 162.50 Ruby, Workshop Assistant (Wage: 450; Tuition: 200)
2/1/17 95 23.75 Agnes & Kwame, Tag-Makers (136 Tags, 1 Cedi per Tag, 1 Hat, 1 Mitten)
2/7/17 700 175.00 Matilda Lartey, Galaxies, First Order

Materials: $435.13

Date: Cost (GHC): Cost (USD):  Details:
1/2/17 170 42.50 Larger Table for Tie-Dye Fabric Printing
1/9/17 1.50 0.375 Crayons for Paper-Making
1/10/17 42 10.50 Embroidery Thread, Needle, Toilet Paper
1/17/17 392 98.00 Tie-Dye Colours (Red: 65, Blue: 40, Yellow: 40,Black: 30, Golden Yellow: 70, Green: 70, Costic Acid: 24, Hydrosulfate: 48, Salt: 5)
1/11/17 332 83.00 83 Used White Cotton T-Shirt (4 Cedis Each)
1/11/17 360 90.00 72 Used Sweatshirt with Zip (5 Cedis Each)
1/20/17 90 22.50 Refill Water Tank
1/23/17 52 13.00 Hand-Carved Bamboo Clips from Art Market: 40, Pencils: 12 
1/22/17 176 44.00 44 Used White Cotton T-Shirt (4 Cedis Each)
1/30/17 240 60.00 60 Used White Cotton T-Shirt (4 Cedis Each)
1/30/17 55 13.75 11 Used Sweatshirt with Zip (5 Cedis Each)

Construction & Expansion: $62.50

Date: Cost (GHC): Cost (USD):  Details:
1/18/17 80 20.00 Annual P.O. Box Registration
1/18/17 60 15.00 Income Tax Payment
1/27/17 50 12.50 Electricity Pre-Paid Credit
1/31/17 60 15.00 Electricity Pre-Paid Credit

Sales This Month: $0

    Summation of Activities This Month:

    • 7 workers employed
    • 187 used cotton t-shirts tie-dyed
    • 83 used sweatshirts used for reclaimed zippers and padding

    Progress Since Launch: -$18,612.19

    Matilda Flow Co. has been in operation for eight months. This month represented the first month that the Matilda Flow Enterprise workshop operated without external supervision and support. Communication occurred weekly by phone for any issues.

    4) Interview

    No formal interviews were conducted this month.

    5) Analyze

    Financial Sustainability:

    The project has incurred a loss of over $18,000 in operational and construction expenses since onset. Though several thousands dollars of inventory has been stored in Portland, more exhaustive marketing efforts are needed to get the products moving - concentrating on customers who appreciate our values.

    Environmental Sustainability:

    The water-tank had to be refilled again. The water management report described in last month's update has not yet been conducted and should be written in February.

    Health-Related Sustainability:

    No illnesses were reported in the workshop. Two of the workers are traveling significant distances to the workshop, causing them to have to wake up early in the morning and experience the rough Tro-Tro ride to the workshop. Conversations should be held next month to discuss their progress on their previously-stated desire to find a rental apartment closer to the workshop. 

    Social Impact:

    Seven workers are employed through the workshop's activities. The knitting program for expanded at-home employment opportunities for persons with physical disabilities is in a pilot test stage. The two workers did not make as many knitted products as expected, resulting in a low earnings for the month. Discussions need to occur soon to revise the payment structure and identify their barriers to productivity. Workshop has achieved full logistic sustainability locally. The Work + Learn program's educational components have started reliably with Ruby receiving regular tutoring, advancing her verbal and written skills.