You’ll spend countless hours working alongside your manufacturer. But like any relationships, you’ll have your ups and down.I had a disastrous experience with a local manufacturer after deciding to stop the constant commute between New York, where my first factory partner was based, and Philadelphia. Here’s what I learned…
1. Compare apples to apples: If you have unique pleats and folds in your designs, like I did with my Japanese-inspired ones, check to see whether or not the manufacturer has similar types of samples or designs they’ve worked on. I failed to do this and learned the hard way.
2. Always do a reference check: I didn’t get references from other brands my local Factory partner worked with which was a mistake! Ask for references from other brands the factory has worked with, this shows the manufacturer has a reliable track record.
3. Communicate expected quality standards: When I produce muslin samples, prototypes, I always make certain they are good quality so I didn’t anticipate that my manufacturer would use my expensive fabric for the muslin samples and prototypes. The quality was very poor and they used low-quality thread which showed in the poor execution.
This lack of research was costly to my new business! Not only financially but it consumed an enormous amount of time I didn’t have. Ultimately, I canceled the contract and salvaged what I could on my home machines (not ideal!)
But mistakes are lessons in disguise. I wrote off these errors as a valuable learning. For me, the best option given my situation was to hire seamstresses on a part-time basis and produce in-house. I purchased some industrial machines from a cut and sew factory going out of business to become vertically integrated, producing my samples and small runs in-house.