Everything I Consider When i'm Developing a New Product

I built this company around my art. I had little business experience and truly little idea where to start. But I had a vision for what my art could be. It's something I hear from so many of you each week. You have a vision, too, but the question is - how to make it happen?

I won't sugar coat it - product development has definitely been one of the most stressful parts of running my business, and it still is. Early on, I thought it was just a matter of finding a manufacturer. But even once I found them, there were still SO many steps and things to consider. Now, nine years into this, I still go through that same list of considerations when deciding whether I'm going to pursue a new product idea. 

So after many requests, I want to share my list of considerations with you. Even if it doesn't directly relate to the products you dream of creating, maybe it will offer some insight into areas you might want to consider. 


Here are the questions i ask myself:

Can I find the right partner to sustainably and ethically manufacture it for me?

How intensive will the file design be?

Can I use my existing patterns? 

If so, do they need to be altered in any way?

If no, what sort of design belongs on a product like this?

What process will print or transfer my design onto the product?

How will patterns and color translate on to this material with this method?

How durable will this print/transfer method be on the product?
Will the design chip or fade with time, washing, or use?

What will be the minimum order quantity (MOQ) for the items?

How many different designs can get in this category?

What is the MOQ per design?

What is the cost per unit?

What is the cost per unit if I order 100 or 1000 more?

Does the cost per unit increase with additional designs?

How many should I order?

Does the product expire (i.e. planners or calendars)?

Is the product seasonal?

Is the product trendy or classic? As in, will it be in my line for a year or indefinitely?

What are the shipping costs? Does it make sense to start with a small order and reorder, but pay shipping twice?

How much cash on hand do I have? How much is due up front vs. due on shipment? How long will production take (as in, how long will my money be tied up in this product before it arrives?

Can I put the item on preorder?

Are there similar or related products that I have sold in the past? If so, how did they sell?

How many do I expect I can sell direct-to-consumer?

How many do I expect I can sell to stockists?

What price point will be required of this product?

How does the price point compare to the cost per unit?

How much will it cost to ship to a retail customer?

How much will the packaging cost?

How much will tariffs cost?

How much will the shipping materials cost?

Does it require special care when shipping?

What demographic does this product appeal to?

Is this product geared toward a niche, or do everyone?

How might a college student use this product?

How might a new parent use this product?

How might an older customer use this product?

Is this product giftable?

Will this product category bring my brand to the attention of new stockists who buy for businesses where my other products may not be a perfect fit?

Does this new product category compliment my existing products or expand my business’s appeal to new customers?

Do I have products currently which complement or would likely be paired with/bought with this product?

Am I planning on adding products which complement or would likely be paired with/bought with this product in the future?

Will this item require packaging?

Can the packaging be created and added to the product by the manufacturer, or will we do it?

What files are required for the packaging?

How will this item look in brick and mortar stores?

What displays will be required for retailers?

What packaging could help merchandise the item?

Will signage be required to help explain the item in store?

How much table or shelf space will this item take up?

Will this item be placed in my storefront? Where and how?

What type of shipping material will this item require? 

Do we have boxes or mailers on hand that will fit it? 

Will it need extra padding? 

Are there breakability or damage-in-shipping concerns?

How big is the product?

How much space will it take up in my warehouse?

Do we have the shelving to accommodate it?

How long to I expect to be storing the product?

Is the product extraordinarily heavy or hard to carry?

How long will production take?

What season will this product be delivered to me? Will the product be in season at that time?

Do I have other product releases already scheduled for that time?

How sustainable is this product’s materials?

How long-lived will this product be for a customer?

How sustainable are the shipping materials required for this product?

How can avoid plastic and minimize packaging?

Is this product going to help in taking my brand where I want it to go?