Sep-Oct-Nov 2021 progress update. Made in Barcelona

November 02, 2021

News

Delivery Update

First things first: we are very sorry to announce another delay for the batch we are currently manufacturing. We expected to ship it towards the end of this year, but the new estimation is for January-February of 2022. We are very sorry for the inconvenience this is causing you.

We underestimated the complexities of sourcing components in China and shipping them to Europe. Previously, we were manufacturing in the same place where we were receiving components, at our facility in China. This provided a lot of dynamism as we were able to assemble pieces as they were coming in. Now, it works differently and we need to gather as many components as possible to ship them all together to our new manufacturing location. This process of collecting them all and getting them ready is what we underestimated. The delayed delivery of a few components plus our slow process at receiving and inspecting all of them has halted the shipment of the entire group of components to our new manufacturing location.

To prevent this from rippling to later batches, we will start sourcing earlier for the next batch as it is a process that requires more time and planning than we initially thought. You can check the updated timeline here (machine backers only forum).

Now it is all inspected nearly ready to go. The last step is to wrap the pallets, so nothing gets lost during transportation. We are currently arranging the details with the shipping agent, and these pallets below will be picked up next week to arrive in Europe in December.

Our next step and the primary focus for November is on the operations at the destination of these pallets: our new manufacturing partner.

Where we come from. Where we are going 🌍🌱

The fashion industry is a mess. It is exploiting some of its workers while leaving a heartbreaking quantity of waste behind. Kniterate came into existence to propose an alternative to this sick industry. A slower and more creative way to produce and consume the clothes we wear. 

We were on track with this promise, but there was always something that wasn’t right. Based on operational and financial reasons, the machines were produced very far from where they were used. This practice inevitably creates many externalities to the environment, a reality that has never sat well with us. Since day 1 of Kniterate, it is something we have wanted to change, but the inertia of the day-to-day life of the business made it quite tricky. However, we were committed to it and kept our eyes open, looking for the right moment to do it. It was early 2020, and the COVID crisis put the world upside down, the opportunity was there, and we didn’t hesitate to take it.

Today, we are thrilled to say we are lining up better what we are preaching and what we are doing. All the Kniterate machines from now on will be made in Barcelona by our new manufacturing partner: RIUS.

Kniterate started in a design university in Barcelona and then moved to a local artisan studio in the same city for a couple of years. It was called OpenKnit, and it was more of an open community project to democratize knitwear production. The project had a large following but was evolving slowly. It was hard to push it further that way, a complex machine requiring diverse skills to play in sync. So we started thinking about the idea of seeking outside investment to provide the project with the necessary resources to move it from the lab to the real world. We were very fortunate to find investors believing in our vision; it was at that point when Kniterate was born.

We moved to China and started our new adventure. We built countless prototypes, and after a lot of trial and error, we had a fully working machine that blew our minds. We made it. 

It was time to start manufacturing them. Little did we know about that, but we jumped into it as fearful entrepreneurs. The numerous entries of this blog serve as a journal of our journey. Long story short: Our product was complicated, and our orders were tiny to be able to convince any contract manufacturer in China to do them for us, so we started making the machines ourselves, of course. We had the fortune to make great friends in an industrial knitting machine manufacturer in China, that rented us space and provided us with assembly workers and the logistical support we required. We managed to set up our assembly lines, find suppliers, and manufacture a few machines. It was an enormous achievement for us, possible thanks to the work of very talented people but especially your incredible patience and support for the project. 

We are very proud of the machines we assembled with our own hands. They work beautifully, and we get goosebumps every time a customer shares a project made with them. But, the harsh realization was that that wasn’t a scalable reality. We were not pros at manufacturing, and the design of our machine wasn’t ready for primetime, so we had to be radical and change course asap. That realization, paired with what was happening in the world, was a golden ticket to something we dreamed of from the beginning, to bring manufacturing back home in every way, not only for clothing but for those machines that make our clothing. 

We’ve taken a firm step towards what we believe is best for everyone. It is not a surprise that a more sustainable approach in most cases means more expensive. And this is why we recently increased the price of our machine, to have a sustainable business that can last for many years to come. We maybe sell fewer machines, but we will work happier knowing we are a better company today than yesterday.

Kniterate will make more sustainable machines, but we won’t be perfect. As the first lines of this update describe, our dependency on China is still significant, we will work on reducing it, but it will take time. It is incredibly hard to make things 100% right, but we are trying every day to do better. What we are really announcing today is a giant step for Kniterate towards being more responsible with the Sustainable Development Goals.

We are not creating a better company alone; we are also creating a better product. We are honored to be able to hand over the production of the Kniterate machines to RIUS. They are a family business with more than 75 years of experience manufacturing textile machinery. We loved making the machines but being aware of our strengths and weaknesses is necessary for any startup to thrive. So, let’s not re-invent the wheel and let the pros do their job!

This hasn’t been a rushed move. It has been a calculated one as we’ve been in conversations with RIUS about this for over two years. If you’ve followed the blog, you’ll know that we’ve been working closely with them for more than a year, initially to improve the design of the machine to make it more manufacturable and now to prepare it all for manufacturing the machines. 

RIUS has an extensive catalog of products and has been shipping textile machines for decades worldwide. They are renowned for their high-quality standards. Such that their entire factory runs on solar energy 🌞

With two solar roofs, RIUS is able to generate a surplus of energy that sells back to the grid.

We are very excited to say that some of the Kniterate machines’ components and the complete assembly and testing of the machines will be done with green energy. 

RIUS will be making the machines with their skilled staff, but we will continue being deeply involved. We will be supervising from close all the steps of the process to make sure the machines come out precisely the way they have to. 

Unlike the nightmare it has been to manufacture in China over the last two years without being able to put a foot at our facility there, due to COVID restrictions, the picture now will be different. The Kniterate team is distributed, and the part in charge of manufacturing is based in Barcelona, less than one hour away from the factory. This means no planes, no visas, no traveling and accommodation expenses, etc. Local manufacturing at its best.   

Thanks again to all of you for believing in the project and backing it with incredible patience. We can’t wait to see what you will make with Kniterate.

Software

We wanted to share a software release in September that would replace the current GUI. We decided to postpone it as it wasn’t ready. We are getting closer and will launch the new release in a few weeks’ time.

We are very excited as we just hired an experienced software developer in the field of digital knitting, which will give a boost to our software team to develop new features better and faster. We will let you know more in a future update. Stay tuned!

Thank you for reading!

The Kniterate team ❤️

 

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