Where did the name Building Block come from?
The name Building Block embodies our goal of reimagining everyday accessories through the playful use of elemental materials and forms. In the context of today's limitless consumer landscape, we like to think of the brand as a paired-down index of items from which to build upon, a narrative in basics, and an exercise in timeless design.
Who works at Building Block?
We are a team of five in California and a team of one in Taipei, Taiwan. Kate is our master e-commerce, press, and studio manager; Dana is our wholesale accounts and newsletter whiz; Camille is the brain behind our marketing; and Jamie is our superstar developer in Taipei who manages supply chain and production. The company was founded by sisters, Kimberly and Nancy, who design every product and wear all other various hats required to manage a small business. We're a small, proud team of women of color that are always open to collaboration within and beyond our community.
I love the ____ bag you used to make! Why don’t you make it anymore?
We love all of our designs from past to present and if it were up to us we'd keep them all! Unfortunately we are not able to keep every one of our products actively available due to one of these reasons: limited material, no longer cost efficient, it was a one time exclusive, just not relevant anymore. Sometimes if an archived style is requested enough times, we do consider bringing it back, so let us know what you’ve been missing!
Why don’t you make more colors?
Black and Natural Vegetable Tanned are our best selling and perennial colors. Occasionally we will launch a new color, but have scaled back on offering too many at once, as this leads to a lot of supply chain waste and ultimately perpetuates a system of fast fashion. We strive to produce pieces that can be interpreted as perennial, meaning you don’t have to think twice about whether or not this color is “in season”. For us, Black and Natural Veg Tan fit any occasion, year round.
Do you have any vegan products?
Yes! This year we introduced two entirely leather-free styles called the Garment Bag and Scrunch Bag. Both styles utilize our Crinkle Textile, which is a nylon woven sourced from an eco-conscious, family-owned textile mill in Italy.
Where are your bags made?
Our products are all handmade in a workshop in Taipei, Taiwan that is run by two generations of brothers. The family-owned business is made up of 7 craftsmen and women who have collectively been working with leather handbags for over 30 years. Working with a small operation has allowed us to develop smaller, more thoughtful collections while being able to control the quality of our products. Our founders visit Taiwan often, where their own extended family is also from, and where they actively travel to develop new designs every year.
What sets the price of your products?
To be completely transparent, price isn’t the first thing we think about when we set out to design a new product. Our priority is always to make something that fills a functional need, that has smart construction, and elicits a sense of surprise.
One design detail you will notice with our higher priced products is that they are constructed from large, uninterrupted pieces of leather. Those large pieces of leather are what give our products that clean "minimalist" look. Using a larger piece of leather means that each hide must be of a higher quality and inspected for overt surface imperfections before we use it, which takes time and expense. While a solution for most designers would be to use lower grade leather and cut patterns into smaller pieces for cost efficiency, we think this often takes away from the beauty of leather's natural surface, which we always try to quietly celebrate.
We’re also committed to working with the same family-owned workshop that has been with us since day one. Paying fair wages to this type of boutique operation comes with a higher price for production that ultimately affects our retail pricing. It's important to us that we don’t use mass production techniques like automated assembly lines and are proud to say that everything really is made by hand with care.
Lastly, besides material and labor costs, there are various other factors that go into determining each product's price that include transport, paying our staff fair wages including healthcare, studio rent, and a reasonable profit margin to keep us going year after year.
Why aren’t you available in more stores anymore? What does it mean when a product is exclusive to BB?
A handful of our styles will always be available at our wholesale partners globally. It’s important for us that our products are available to our customers around the world. But recently we decided to make certain products only available on our web shop in order to make the retail prices more accessible, which leads us to the next question...
Why did you change the prices on certain Core styles recently?
When we decide to make a style exclusive to our web store, our margins are more affordable for us, so we are able to pass better prices down to you! We have been slowly but surely transitioning our business model towards a direct-to-consumer model that relies less on promotions and more on healthier base prices from the get go.
Do your Core styles ever go on sale?
Our Core Collection items rarely go on sale. We like to think of these as perennial classics that stand the test of time. However, from time to time we may send out a flash sale on Core styles. The best way to stay in the loop is to sign up for our newsletter!
When is your next Sample Sale?
Our Sample Sale happens annually either online or in-person. Again, the best way to stay in the loop is to sign up for our newsletter :)
Have more questions we didn't cover?
Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org