chalkbox newsletter: october 2023

Build or buy?

It’s Halloween! This is one of my favorite holidays because it provides an amazing opportunity for creativity. In our house, we make our costumes by hand, with sewing machines, lots of tape and glue, craft paint, and other assorted props. Other households might take a trip to the Halloween store to find something they like, whether pirate, princess, zombie, or superhero.

So… do you build it or do you buy it? Both come with real tradeoffs. Let’s take a look.

Build it!

When you build it, you benefit from a fully custom, fitted, unique concept and a tightly controlled (and usually higher-quality) construction. The trade-offs are the investment of time and money, and the need for skills, tools, and planning.

*Bonus benefit: this approach, for us, is far more interesting, challenging, meaningful, and fun.

Buy it!

When you buy it, you benefit from an immediate solution with very little investment of time or money. The trade-offs are that you might meet your double at that halloween party, you’re limited to the costumes retailers think they can sell, and quality and durability are outside your control (and usually lower).

These same trade-offs apply to most things in life. Off-the-shelf solutions cost less, and so they deliver less. These trade-offs absolutely apply to brand creation and design, and if you’re reading this you already know that.

This year, my son decided he wanted to be Patsy, squire to King Arthur, from Monty Python and the Holy Grail. There’s no store-bought solution for something that unique. So we pulled out some fabric scraps and rope, picked up some ancient pots and pans, and even split a coconut in half. It will be a hit tonight. (Sorry. He did not give me permission to include his photo in my newsletter—just know that it's amazing.)

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