Once we decided to move forward, the next step was to create the “White Sample,” which is an accurately sized physical mock-up of the final product using the same materials that would be used later in the actual run. The only thing missing from it would be the final color and design…hence the name “White Sample.”
The purpose of the White Sample is to make sure that the customer’s physical specifications are accurate before printing. In our case this was an especially important first step because it gave us the exact dimension and materials, according to which we designed all of the artwork.
To make the “White Sample”, the factory obviously needed our “final” specifications. Unfortunately, since this was our first time, we didn’t have all the “final” measurements to give, and we even anticipated that we would need to slightly adjust a few later. Anyway, I told them the size and materials that we wanted for the top box and the cards, but the inside box mostly depended on their methods of sizing relative to the top box. We sent in the measurements and waited to see the sample.
Surprisingly, the first “White Sample” did not come back accurately reflecting our specifications. There was some miscommunication between Beau and the factory, and there were substantial differences. But unfortunately, I had previously agreed to meet Beau and went all the way to his office without knowing it was wrong. Beau felt bad about my extra trip and of course the mistakes, and said he would fix them.
At this meeting, we also had another problem. Beau told me that there had been a mistake in the quote he gave me originally and that it should be higher. “Here we go,” I thought, “They are going to change the price on me.” But to my surprise, Beau professionally admitted that it was his fault. The tragedy of the situation though, as he told me, was that the factory was requiring him to personally pay the difference, which basically was a month of his salary, if I didn’t.
My reaction to this news was mixed. The humanitarian in me believed his story. While uncertain, I saw the policy as quite realistic in the context of China. And if so, it was an example of what I consider unfair policies toward workers, which Tian and I have witnessed personally. We knew Beau had a family and was living away from home doing this job…basically as a white collar migrant worker.
On the other hand, the business person in me said it didn’t matter. I should try to get the lowest price, and given that it was his fault, he ought to face the consequences. The business person in me also said, however, that Beau is a key player in my getting the game finished successfully, and so helping him stay positive about our product would help me. Plus I was already asking for flexibility on their end with the timeline. So in the end, I told Beau that I would pay half of the mistake at the end of the process if everything went well. That helped both of us move forward.
When the next white sample came back, it looked great! We loved it, and it was the first time that we physically could touch and play with our future product. The biggest thing we decided to change was adding a white cardboard divider between the two card sets, which raised the price of the product a bit but made it look a lot more professional. We also refined the box measurements to make it a touch smaller, so it would be just under four inches wide. The factory used the final measurements to create the die cut pattern, which we used while designing. After all was said and done, everything turned out just…white.