The Show Off thread was getting some good back and forth about trying to create a business in the gear industry. There were some good things exchanged so as to not clutter up the intent of that thread; we now have this thread.

ETA: I couldnt figure out how to move a single post to a new thread so I cut and pasted.

Will

Original Post
Posted by 11B30B4


Thanks guys for all the positive feedback. To answer some questions, I am sorry but I cannot fill any orders at this time. Between deployments and build times it’s all I can do to keep up with my ODAs request. As for the wedge, that idea came from Special Forces Advanced Urban Combat course. We were using foam from ammo cases wrapped in duct tape to create a wedge then we taped the mag pouches to the foam. I started thinking well why not make it a platform with palls and there you go.
You know the worst part in all the stuff I have built is almost all of it was designed for Soldiers by Soldiers and I could not get any big companies to buy off on any type of arrangement. I figured maybe I could get a job as part of a design or R and D team… Nope. Then I thought, I could sell some of the ideas… Nope. Then I thought I could at least get a consulting job for one of the big gear companies… Nope. Heck at this point I have even started developing programmable IR/visible mini beacons and now it looks like if I want to make any money in this stuff, I will have to go at it alone. Oh well, I mostly build this stuff because I enjoy the development process. Figuring out how to do something and make it work well, that is what makes it all worth it. Oh and the coolness factor of custom gear helps as well.
Again thanks for the feedback and keep building….

Molon Labe

Will

Posted by Eggroll

To all who think they want to get into this.... Getting into the gear market is a veritable "trail of tears", for anyone considering getting into it, its NOT for everyone.

Good ideas 11B, I've been building wedges for about 3 years now and they do indeed work. re: RD work... take a number there are so many more ahead of you at all the companies out there, that unless you have the next noo-fangled gidgy-gadget, you're not going to get in.

Good luck to you

EGG

Will

Posted by me


quote:
Originally posted by eggroll:
To all who think they want to get into this.... Getting into the gear market is a veritable "trail of tears", for anyone considering getting into it, its NOT for everyone.

Good ideas 11B, I've been building wedges for about 3 years now and they do indeed work. re: RD work... take a number there are so many more ahead of you at all the companies out there, that unless you have the next noo-fangled gidgy-gadget, you're not going to get in.

Good luck to you


Read Eggroll's above post and take heed fellas.

There are a few things one should know before one pays the money to start up their own business with aspirations of being the next Eagle.

1.) You had better be prepared to commit yourself 150% if you plan to do it full time. If you plan on building a gear business while maintaining a day job, prepare to work every night and both days on the weekend. You HAVE to commit to it in order to even be moderately successful over the first few years.

2.) You had better know a thing or two about business!

3.) Maintain thick skin! You WILL have the door slammed in your face a few times if you plan on marketing a design to a larger company, I can speak firsthand. Understand that there are hundreds of small-time gear makers that think they have the next greatest thing, all the while, 40 other builders have thought of the same idea. My advice: dont throw all your shit in one sock. If you do get a meeting with a company, dont rely on your one great idea. Bring a ruck full of perfectly crafted originals with you in case they think your great idea is shit. And always do a production cost work-up on everything you bring.

4.) Patience wins the day, but dont go broke trying to get "in". If your great idea is passed on over and over, move on. Dont abandon the idea, just sell it yourself; but move to the next idea you might be able to bring to the table.

Keeping with the patience theme, dont think that because you started sewing a month ago and you "aint bad" that you should start a business; or that you can be an independent consultant. Practice and be patient! I cannot speak for Egg but I was building my own kit and teammates kit for 6 years before I decided that I was ready to take the next step; I still learn something new every single time I sit down in front of my machines.

Take your time; put in the hours, days, months, and years of learning the craft; decide whether or not you love it enough to commit to it. If, after all that, you decide that "yes this is for me", pull the trigger.

Will

Will

Posted by 11B30B4


Thanks Eggroll and Romie for you comments. In a way both of you were the inspiration for me to even get into this stuff at all. In fact if anyone does an ancient history check, one of the first builds I ever did was a version of eggrolls monkey stomper and once I noticed some pics of one of Romie’s vests, I decided to develop my skills so that I could build a vest.

For anyone interested….
I started building this stuff back in 2003-2004 with a normal household sewing machine. I started small with mag pouches and other gear pouches. I went through the learning process of what materials to use and what not to use, where to get the stuff, and what it cost in materials and time. I was lucky to get the industrial machine that I have.

If you look at some of my early stuff, the stitching is horrible and I was trying to save money every step of the way. Mostly because I was not sure if I could get the hang of it and not make crap that looked like crap. After working on reverse engineering stuff I bought, I began to build from what I learned and eventually began to develop my own designs. Now I lay awake many a night trying to work out how I am going to build something. The only way I can explain how some of the solutions come to me is an epiphany. Most of the solutions are so simple and often I am amazed that I did not see them earlier. I will provide an example of this in a later post.

In any case, thanks guys for the inspiration and comments. Remember, always add ¼“ to the measured material… That was one lesson I only figured out after wasting a tone of supplies.

Molon Labe

Will

Posted by me


quote:
with a normal household sewing machine.


Thats how I started. Before those days, I was spending a ton of money on the next greatest thing from SOE, BattleLab, Tac Tailor, and Eagle. I got to the point that I didnt have any money left and a pile of gear in the garage. I decided that gear fetish had to be re-directed. I took the stuff I had and started taking notes on its assembly and materials used; then I sold it. Once complete, I had recouped a bunch of my initial investment and began to search out small amounts of material. I snatched an old sewing machine from my mom and went to work.

I started with magazine pouches because I thought they were the easiest thing to practice doing. Some of these freaking pouches were amazingly bad but they worked. One thing I will tell you is that once I started sewing, I had the bug and couldnt stop. I would get off a 12 hour duty and then spend 6-8 hour in my garage just trying to create. After a few years and boxes and bins full of "trial and error/success" pieces, I was getting requests from guys I worked with for onzies and twozies. One thing I would do back then, and I still do it now, is build something for one of the guys and payment was simply "use the hell out of it and give me feedback". This is about the time when my co-worker and friend Dan (who is a lurking member here on LF) decided he wanted to come to my garage and help me. He helped me design and lay out things because on more complex designs, sometimes two heads are better than one.

Fast forward to January 2007 while deployed to Iraq. Dan and I just got off of what ended up being about a 15 hour duty (For about 3 months or so I had been spending what little time I had in the MWR tent researching what I had to do to actually start a business and make money building gear), Dan and I sat down and talked about doing this thing for real. We weighed the pro's and con's but ultimately decided to commit to it and here we are two years later.

Maybe we should move these testimonials to a new stickied thread.

11B, shoot me a PM. We should talk about some things.

Will

Will

Ok, as promised. In this post I will cover some of those things that you learn after many trials and errors, but first I would like to talk about the process of design and figuring out how to do what you have no idea how to do.

I appreciate that everyone has their own MDMP (Massive Design Making Process) and each of us internalize information differently. In my case I am very visual and I am able to see three dimensions from a simple picture. In regards to building gear, experience fills in many of the gaps of “how did they do that”. I tend to simplify many of my designs and know my limitations, so I work around them rather than waste time on fighting them. One example of this is the use of 1” nylon tape on exposed edges. Here is what I am talking about.


Rather than use the tape, I prefer to add 1” of material to the edges and fold it over. An added benefit to this method is that it is more durable than the tape. The disadvantages are that sometimes you can not help but to use the tape, also the folded over method uses more material and requires you to account for the fold over material from the beginning. Here is an example of the folded method.


I am not saying my way is the best way, it’s what works for me. Having said that, here is some pics of the photographic research I conducted on the internet. I hung all this stuff in my work shop and spent many a hour looking at them.





My biggest and most ambitious project to date was developing a version of Crye’s Armor Chassis.
From the beginning I had to consider that there are several basic issues that will drive the design.
1. The armor I have is Interceptor Body Armor and SAPI plates; this is radically different in size and shape from Crye’s armor. A later decision was to use normal “police” soft armor in conjunction with the interceptor SAPI plates. This would give me more flexibility and I can cut the police armor to the size and shape I need to replicate the look and fit of Crye’s armor.
2. Crye cuts its SAPI plate pockets to fit the shape of the SAPI plates. The first version used snaps to close the plate pocket and version 2 used zippers. I have had some experience with both and decided to go with the zippers. Making the plate pockets to fit the SAPI plates will be better looking with the zippers and more functional.
3. Crye has two versions of their armor; each is very different in how it closes. Although I am not a fan of the closing in the front cummerbund design, after making several versions of vest, I have discovered that that it is the best fitting and relives the weight on the shoulders. Anyone who has worn an Interceptor should be able to understand that it is damn near impossible to get the vest to fit tight in the mid section and almost all the weight is transferred to the shoulders. The vest normally rides loosely and moves when you run in it.
4. The inside of the Crye armor is lined with a Velcro compliant material that allows the user to place pads and accessories to enhance the fit and improve breathability. I was unable to get my hands on this elusive stuff, so I went back to using normal Velcro. Rather than lining the entire inside with the Velcro I chose to work in specific areas and use mesh for most of the inside.
5. The pads inside the vest would need to be very malleable but still maintain some resistance. I found a yoga pad at Wal-Mart that worked just fine.
6. The Crye vest is releasable, I want to maintain the same look and simplicity of the releasable system, but it was unlike any releasable system I had built in the past.

These were just some of the design issues I had been confronted with. I am happy with the final design but always see areas to improve upon. And this is my Achilles heal, a vest that I build is not truly the best I can do. This is because when I am building I realize that I could have done it differently and it would have been better, but you cannot know this until you build it. Further, as time goes by and you wear it you come up with new ideas. Often I have redesigned a vest that I thought was a final product, sometimes the improvements work and sometimes they don’t. Well I hope this helps some of you in the development process, you can see the final product in the show off thread.

Next I want to talk about some of the tricks I have learned. In this photo you can see that I used a zig zig stitch for the palls. I did this because it was one of my first build and I was using a household sewing machine that was capable of doing different stitches. However, once I got my industrial machine I learned that it was straight stitch only. When you begin to sew a line you must lock the stitch to keep it from coming undone. To lock a stitch you reverse the stitch over itself for about 3-5 stitches. So I learned if I stitched and reverse stitched and then stitched again over a 1” piece of palls, it would lock and hold very well. This explanation sounds like a lot of work but its not.
In this photo I used a zig zag stitch


And here is the locked stitch


I think the latter looks cleaner and holds just as well

Another trick was to get a hot knife. I did not have the 100.00 for one when I started so I was literally gutting webbing then melting it with a lighter. That got old real quick. Spend the 100.00 and get the hot knife.

Lastly, when I build a vest I normally build it in 4 parts: the front inside, the front outside, the back inside, and the back outside. I invert the front inside and outside and double stitch the parameter, then trim any excess material. Turn it outside in and it’s done, but I noticed it did not have that finished look that I was striving for, so I began to run a stitch around the outside and that sealed the deal.
In this photo I only stitched the inside


Here I stitched the outside as well


Well i hope this sheds some light on some of the things that most likely are giving some of you grief.
Good Luck

Here lies my Country Born July 4th, 1776 Died November 6, 2012 Killed by lesser men

Awesome post. I started making my own gear about 2-3 years ago. I should add that I'm not military, but I am an avid shooter and hiker, so I have a different view of gear from most tactical gear makers.

I've been 'full time' for the past three months and I'm at that difficult stage you mentioned above - I still cut webbing with a rotary cutter and seal it with a lighter - yup, its getting old. Right now I make very little in the way of money, but I'm making a reputation, and I'm developing products although most of mine are not tactical.

I'm spotting little niches that I can carve out for myself, like MOLLE compatible 10/22 magazine pouches - not a volume product, but definitely a product with enough demand to keep me happy.

Threads like this keep me going. If others have done it, I can do it - I won't get rich, but if I can pay the bills and remain content, I guess I'm happy.
Custom shooting accessories - GunSaddles.com
quote:
Originally posted by politenessman:
Awesome post. I started making my own gear about 2-3 years ago. I should add that I'm not military, but I am an avid shooter and hiker, so I have a different view of gear from most tactical gear makers.

I've been 'full time' for the past three months and I'm at that difficult stage you mentioned above - I still cut webbing with a rotary cutter and seal it with a lighter - yup, its getting old. Right now I make very little in the way of money, but I'm making a reputation, and I'm developing products although most of mine are not tactical.

I'm spotting little niches that I can carve out for myself, like MOLLE compatible 10/22 magazine pouches - not a volume product, but definitely a product with enough demand to keep me happy.

Threads like this keep me going. If others have done it, I can do it - I won't get rich, but if I can pay the bills and remain content, I guess I'm happy.


I would say that nearly all of the information that you need to make it to the next step is in this room. It takes a lot of heard work and hours slaving over the machine to pay the bills. Keep plugging away, improve techniques, and most important, take criticism from the fellas here...because it WILL be beneficial. If your gonna do it, commit all the way.

Will

If someone has saved the pix, please send them to me so that I can host them for this thread.

Training and Trigger Time are more important than chasing after the 'Holy Grail' of hardware. "Its not about shooting, its about fighting with a gun." -Pat Rogers

This is a great thread. This industry does have its ups and downs. TAS started up in 02 then around 05 - 06 partnered up with an armor company and now TAS focusing on Tactical Gear again. It has been a long and painful road but well worth it.

Romie is 100% on target. You have to listen to ALL feed back. As a former operator I always tried to build kit that met form fit and function but no matter what I thought might be the best thing going, I HAD to listen to my customers. They are the ones setting the trends and giving true un-tampered feed back.

You do have to commit all the way and beleive me, if you stick a piece of kit out there the boys will let you know real quick GOOD or BAD what they think of it. The key is not to take it personnal and try to learn from it and improve your product.

It's been a while since I posted and thought this was a great thread to get my feet wet again. I will be glad to answer any questions.

Ryan
quote:
Originally posted by eggroll:
hey TAS

there arent many that remember you

and also there are some looking for you


Eggroll,

Its been a while man. How are things going? Well I'm here and TAS is going to hit it hard. We will stick to our core bussiness of making top quality 100% American made kit. I see a lot of new faces and a few of us old guys. Drop me a line and keep in touch.
Ryan Flowers Tactical Assault Systems "Manufacturing the world's finest assault systems for the world's finest shooters"
Hi Ryan,

Dont know you, and can only read your profile to get background. Dont know anything about your work in the gear industry, but everyone is listening (so to speak) if you want to drop any knowledge on the topic. This room is unique in that while others talk about the next greatest gear...we all strive to build it.

Welcome back.

Will

Folks

Ryan used to be part of Tactical Assault Systems which became Patriot Performance Materials

Got their start doing Chest Rigs and Rucksacks

Ryan - can you check with user FATTY

All - whatever build advice TAS lets out, do follow it.

******** EGG Sends *********

Well based on the request I am reposting this with the pics link fixed. Sorry about not doing this earlier. Its has been a...well its bee an year. Anyway, I do not have a premium membership so I can not make changes to a post after its posted os I just copied the whole thing.

Ok, as promised. In this post I will cover some of those things that you learn after many trials and errors, but first I would like to talk about the process of design and figuring out how to do what you have no idea how to do.

I appreciate that everyone has their own MDMP (Massive Design Making Process) and each of us internalize information differently. In my case I am very visual and I am able to see three dimensions from a simple picture. In regards to building gear, experience fills in many of the gaps of “how did they do that”. I tend to simplify many of my designs and know my limitations, so I work around them rather than waste time on fighting them. One example of this is the use of 1” nylon tape on exposed edges. Here is what I am talking about.



Rather than use the tape, I prefer to add 1” of material to the edges and fold it over. An added benefit to this method is that it is more durable than the tape. The disadvantages are that sometimes you can not help but to use the tape, also the folded over method uses more material and requires you to account for the fold over material from the beginning. Here is an example of the folded method.



I am not saying my way is the best way, it’s what works for me. Having said that, here is some pics of the photographic research I conducted on the internet. I hung all this stuff in my work shop and spent many a hour looking at them.






My biggest and most ambitious project to date was developing a version of Crye’s Armor Chassis.
From the beginning I had to consider that there are several basic issues that will drive the design.
1. The armor I have is Interceptor Body Armor and SAPI plates; this is radically different in size and shape from Crye’s armor. A later decision was to use normal “police” soft armor in conjunction with the interceptor SAPI plates. This would give me more flexibility and I can cut the police armor to the size and shape I need to replicate the look and fit of Crye’s armor.
2. Crye cuts its SAPI plate pockets to fit the shape of the SAPI plates. The first version used snaps to close the plate pocket and version 2 used zippers. I have had some experience with both and decided to go with the zippers. Making the plate pockets to fit the SAPI plates will be better looking with the zippers and more functional.
3. Crye has two versions of their armor; each is very different in how it closes. Although I am not a fan of the closing in the front cummerbund design, after making several versions of vest, I have discovered that that it is the best fitting and relives the weight on the shoulders. Anyone who has worn an Interceptor should be able to understand that it is damn near impossible to get the vest to fit tight in the mid section and almost all the weight is transferred to the shoulders. The vest normally rides loosely and moves when you run in it.
4. The inside of the Crye armor is lined with a Velcro compliant material that allows the user to place pads and accessories to enhance the fit and improve breathability. I was unable to get my hands on this elusive stuff, so I went back to using normal Velcro. Rather than lining the entire inside with the Velcro I chose to work in specific areas and use mesh for most of the inside.
5. The pads inside the vest would need to be very malleable but still maintain some resistance. I found a yoga pad at Wal-Mart that worked just fine.
6. The Crye vest is releasable, I want to maintain the same look and simplicity of the releasable system, but it was unlike any releasable system I had built in the past.

These were just some of the design issues I had been confronted with. I am happy with the final design but always see areas to improve upon. And this is my Achilles heal, a vest that I build is not truly the best I can do. This is because when I am building I realize that I could have done it differently and it would have been better, but you cannot know this until you build it. Further, as time goes by and you wear it you come up with new ideas. Often I have redesigned a vest that I thought was a final product, sometimes the improvements work and sometimes they don’t. Well I hope this helps some of you in the development process.
These are the pics of my vest












Next I want to talk about some of the tricks I have learned. In this photo you can see that I used a zig zig stitch for the palls. I did this because it was one of my first build and I was using a household sewing machine that was capable of doing different stitches. However, once I got my industrial machine I learned that it was straight stitch only. When you begin to sew a line you must lock the stitch to keep it from coming undone. To lock a stitch you reverse the stitch over itself for about 3-5 stitches. So I learned if I stitched and reverse stitched and then stitched again over a 1” piece of palls, it would lock and hold very well. This explanation sounds like a lot of work but its not.
In this photo I used a zig zag stitch



And here is the way I do it now, I think it looks cleaner and holds just as well



And here is the locked stitch



Another trick was to get a hot knife. I did not have the 100.00 for one when I started so I was literally cutting webbing then melting it with a lighter. That got old real quick. Spend the 100.00 and get the hot knife.

Lastly, when I build a vest I normally build it in 4 parts: the front inside, the front outside, the back inside, and the back outside. I invert the front inside and outside and double stitch the parameter, then trim any excess material. Turn it outside in and it’s done, but I noticed it did not have that finished look that I was striving for, so I began to run a stitch around the outside and that sealed the deal.
In this photo I only stitched the inside



Here I stitched the outside as well



Well i hope this sheds some light on some of the things that most likely are giving some of you grief.
Good Luck

Molon Labe

Here lies my Country Born July 4th, 1776 Died November 6, 2012 Killed by lesser men

11B good... just remember though... that still is very visually/functionally similar to the Cage... enought so that the uninformed masses may think it so. dont offer it for sale here on LF.


All the want to be's here take heed of the tips that 11B just offered, they are good and will fix a lot of problems you may face

******** EGG Sends *********

Roger Eggroll, already had several request and informed them that not only would I not want to spend another 4 months building another one, but the price I would charge would have been up in the Crye price range so it would behove anyone who wants a similar platform to look for the cage or armor chassis from crye. I built it because it was a challenge, not for profit.

Here lies my Country Born July 4th, 1776 Died November 6, 2012 Killed by lesser men

I've got a knife business being built at the moment, if anyone has time check it out in my signature. Anyway, I want to start get some gear going, thinking about knife cases but was thinking of packs, or something a bit more simple. Does anyone have suggestions, or raw materials that are a must>?

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