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Clothing Manufacturer

Let’s say you’ve found the clothing manufacturer you want to work with to produce your products…

You think it’s going to be a great fit.

You have a good feeling about their communication style.

And all of the personal references were stellar.

Now what?

What questions do you need to ask before signing a contract? What’s the next step to get pricing? How do you get on their production calendar?

These are all questions I’m going to help you navigate in this week’s Live Show.

clothing manufacturer

There are certain things you must know how to do when you find your production partner. Make sure to join me this week, so you don’t miss any of those important steps.

As always, there are two ways to tune in on Thursday at noon ET / 9am PT:

  1. Join our Facebook group here.
  2. Stream on YouTube here.

See you on Thursday!

 


Did you miss last week’s episode of Factory45 Live about how to be an ideal client to clothing manufacturers? You can watch the replay by clicking below!

clothing manufacturer

You know the expression, “The customer is always right.”

Well, I’ve worked in two industries where I don’t believe that phrase applies.

The first one is bartending.

(Spend 15 minutes pouring drinks at 1 am and you'll know what I mean…)

The second one is clothing manufacturing.

Why?

Because when it comes to new designers, factory managers tell me how exhausting and slow it is.

“We have to do so much educating,” they say. “It really slows down the process when a startup comes in and they haven’t done their research.”

A lot of times, it’s not even worth it to the manufacturer. And that’s why so often you don’t hear back or can’t get in touch with them.

The harsh reality is: new designers get a bad reputation.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

And in this week’s Live Show, I’m going to tell you exactly what you need to know to make every clothing manufacturer want to work with you.

Because ultimately, the goal for you is to be an ideal client.

clothing manufacturer

These are some of the same tips that I teach my entrepreneurs in the Factory45 program, one of them who posted this in our private Facebook group last week:

“During a call with a design house yesterday they thanked me for being so prepared. They said most entrepreneurs don't understand the process, how things work, timing, etc. I explained that I was in the Factory45 program and that I owe it to the program and my mentors…”

As always, there are two ways to tune in on Thursday at noon ET / 9am PT:

  1. Join our Facebook group here.
  2. Stream on YouTube here.

See you on Thursday!

 


Did you miss last week’s episode of Factory45 Live about negotiating fabric minimums? You can watch the replay by clicking below!

 

Alumni Mentors

Have I ever told you the story of my major career turning point?

I was starting my sustainable fashion brand back in 2010 and my then co-founder and I were making very little progress.

We were building an audience, blogging and growing our email list but we could not, for the life of us, find a manufacturer willing to work with a startup.

It took us a year and a half to find the right factory partner and do you know how it finally happened?

We connected with a more established apparel startup that was willing to take us under their wing.

They introduced us to our fabric supplier, our factory partner and they showed us the ropes inside the manufacturing industry.

That was the turning point. Mentorship.

There is not a single thing (that I can think of) when starting a fashion brand that is more valuable than the guidance of someone who has done it before.

And that’s why I introduced Alumni Mentorship to the Factory45 program last year.

The majority of the feedback I received was, “Being matched up with a Mentor was worth the price of Factory45 alone.”

So, we’re bringing the Alumni Mentors back again this year — in even bigger and better ways. 

And today, I’m introducing the 10 Mentors for 2021 below and over on Instagram here. They are:

  • Crystal Cave, founder of Poppy Row and our new Director of Mentorship
  • Mary Bemis, founder of Reprise Activewear
  • Deanna Cook, founder of LIYA
  • Kaya Dorey, founder of NOVEL SUPPLY CO.
  • Joelle Fontaine, founder of Kreyol
  • Hannah McDermott, founder of Santos Swim
  • Nicki Patel, founder of milo + nicki
  • Laila Potvin, founder of harly jae
  • Stanley Rameau, founder of Paul Rameau
  • Kendall Wilson, founder of Vesta

If you’re starting your sustainable fashion brand this year and want to connect with someone who is currently doing what you want to be doing, then reach out to anyone above via Instagram or Facebook DM. They’d love to chat with you and start answering your questions now : ) 

Next week I’ll fill you in on what else we have going on, but click the image below for a sneak peek!

Talk soon,

 

 

 


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New Fashion Brands

Do you know the number one reason that new fashion brands lose money or go out of business in their first year? 

Manufacturing mistakes. 

From over-ordering inventory to garment construction errors, starting production is the most vulnerable time for new fashion brands.

The brand blames the factory…

The factory blames the brand… 

And when all is said and done, only a fraction of the production order is good enough to sell. 

And both parties lose money.

In the case of the new brand, it’s enough of a loss to put them out of business — before they’ve even started. 

The thing is, it doesn’t have to be this way.

And in this episode, I’m going to tell you why it doesn’t have to end up this way for your brand…

New Fashion Brands

I hope this is helpful to you!

 

 

 


First, thank you so much for your support in spreading the word about The Clean Living Podcast last week!

I know most of you follow me because you’re looking for help in launching your sustainable fashion brand, so I really appreciate your patience as we paused “fashion related” content this past month.

But let’s get back to it, shall we?

I have three new YouTube videos for you below about product testing, legal protection and “Made in the USA” — pick your own adventure : )

 

Apparel Manufacturing[NEW] You spend years dreaming up the perfect apparel product. You spend months meticulously creating it. You tweak and stitch and hem and haw over it until… It’s perfect. But have you tested it to make sure it’s also perfect for your customer? In this episode, I’m sharing the two most important phases of product development.


Apparel Manufacturing

How do you move forward through the production process without your unique product being knocked off? There are the legal routes to help protect yourself, and then there are common sense precautions you can choose to implement. In this video, I’m sharing them with you.


Apparel ManufacturingHow do you create a sustainable fashion brand that's made in the USA? While navigating the world of sewn manufacturing may be new and probably a little intimidating, there are ways to set yourself up so that you don’t come off as a “newbie.” I’m sharing five tips for creating a “made in the USA” apparel company. 


THIS WEEK ON THE PODCAST

Listen on Apple Podcasts here | Listen on Spotify here

CLEANING SUPPLIES Have you ever thought about the ingredients in your household cleaning products? Listen to this episode to detox your cleaning supplies.

LIPSTICK When I found out one of my favorite cosmetic products contains a neurotoxin, I was so tempted to turn a blind eye. Instead, I switched to these clean beauty brands… 

TOOTHPASTE Did you know there are ingredients in some of our most popular toothpastes that are actually banned in Europe? Here's what I did to change my family's oral care.


Have a great week and don’t forget to VOTE on Tuesday!

 

 

 


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legally protect

Have you ever wondered if you need a patent for your product idea? 

Or if you should file for a copyright instead? 

What are the legal ways to protect your fashion brand?

And what are some of the ways to protect your brand without hiring a lawyer?

In this video, I’m going to tell you.

Click the image below to watch this week’s video, “How to Legally Protect Your Fashion Brand.”

 

legally protect

 

Enjoy!

 

 

 


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How do you feel when you read the words: 

Product Development

Excitement? Anxiety? Confusion? Fear?

When I talk to designers about patternmaking and samplemaking, many people say they feel paralyzed.

The upfront costs for creating your first pattern and sample can look so intimidating that it becomes the most frequent point of giving up.

Especially if you don’t have the accountability of a program, peers or mentorship behind you.

So, when we reached this point in the Factory45 accelerator program this year, I brought in Lenese Calleea to talk to everyone about product development.

LC Apparel Consulting

Lenese is the owner of LC Apparel Consulting in New York City and her business is focused on educating new designers, specifically around product development.

Typically, these live classes are exclusive to the Factory45 program but I wanted to share one piece of Lenese’s wisdom because it’s such a common question that comes up.

And it’s the importance of reference samples.

Reference samples are example garments that you bring to your pattern/samplemaker to accompany your spec sheet or sketches.

Providing examples of seams or stitches or binding or pockets or sleeves or collars or whatever you have a vision for will help immensely in the communication with your product development team.

So often I find designers are afraid of “copying” existing garments when, if done correctly, this step is critical to your patterns and samples being developed the way you envisioned.

Should you bring in a pair of Lululemon leggings and tell your samplemaker to make an identical replica?

No.

But there are ways to combine elements of different garments so that you’re not starting product development from scratch.

Factory45 alumni mentor Hannah McDermott put together this screenshot of reference samples she used to develop her swimwear line.

Product Development

This is just one tidbit of advice that Lenese shared that I felt was imperative to shout from the rooftops for anyone about to go into product development.

It will save you so much time, money and frustration if you’re able to gather these reference samples in the beginning.

And your pattern and samplemaker will definitely thank you : )

 

 

 

P.S. If you’re interested in working with Lenese and her team, you can learn more about her services here. She also hosts a podcast called BlackNFashion that you can listen to here.


manufacturing kit

the mask project featured image

The past five days have been a whirlwind — to put it lightly.

It started on Friday when I received three emails from people interested in sewing masks for medical workers.

As the day went on, I kept hearing from our factory partners that they wanted to help, but they didn’t know where to send the masks.

So much of my experience through Factory45 is based on connecting entrepreneurs with manufacturers. 

It got me thinking about how I could translate that into connecting hospitals with manufacturers.

And that’s how The Mask Project was born.

The Mask Project

In record time, we launched a website on Saturday night (thanks to Emily Belyea Creative) and with the help of a 70-person email chain of sustainable fashion influencers, we started spreading the word about the project on Sunday.

Kathryn and her team at Good Clothing Company got to work designing a more efficient pattern for the mask.

JOANN Fabrics stepped in to donate thousands of yards of fabric and as of Tuesday afternoon, we have 54 factories willing to sew medical masks. 

We’ve also received requests for over 100,000 masks from hospitals all over the country.

I’ve estimated that with our factory network, we could manufacture over 500,000 masks per week — two million masks per month — for medical professionals across the U.S.

But here’s the thing: right now, these factories are donating their time and labor.

While they’re pivoting their business models to help with the mass shortage of medical supplies, they also need to keep themselves in business.

This is different from the home sewers and hobbyists making 100 masks a week and donating them. It’s still amazing, but it’s different.

The real impact in this mask shortage can be made by our network of U.S. factories that want to keep their sewers employed.

Over the past 24 hours, I’ve learned more about hospital supply chain, government funding and the intricacies of budget restrictions than I ever thought I would.

It’s clear that the city government and hospital funds are maxed out. The money that they do have should be spent on N95 respirators and ventilators directly in contact with COVID-19.

The masks that we’re making are meant to be used in sterile environments and operation room settings to free up the “real masks” for treating contagious disease.

And while I’m working on strategic partnerships with influencers who can amplify the message for funding, it’s ultimately going to come down to individual donations.

So, in what I thought would be a very different blog than what I’m posting today, I’m asking you to consider supporting these factories that want to help and that also want to stay in business.

You’ll see a “Donate” button on The Mask Project website here.

In the meantime, I’ll be working on alternative ways to get mass amounts of funding for our manufacturing partners, while continuing to research hospital supply chains (if this is your area of expertise, please email me!)

Thank you to so many of you who have already spread the word and supported the project on Instagram this week.

Our community is the best.

Gratefully,

 


 
 


 

Do you know the number one reason that new fashion brands lose money or go out of business in their first year?

Manufacturing mistakes.

From over-ordering inventory to garment construction errors, starting production is the most vulnerable time for new fashion brands.

I’ve heard the stories.

The brand blames the factory… the factory blames the brand… and when all is said and done, only a fraction of the production order is good enough to sell.

And both parties lose money.

In the case of the new brand, it’s enough of a loss to put them out of business — before they’ve even started.

The thing is, it doesn’t have to be this way.

Because the primary reason for manufacturing mistakes is a lack of communication.

The tech pack isn’t specific… the sew-by sample isn’t perfect… the brand and project manager haven’t had enough conversations about the end goal of the product.

The good news is: Communication is something that can be improved upon.

And while yes, the factory manager could probably be quicker about responding to your emails or returning your phone calls, effective communication is the responsibility of you — the founder and designer of your brand.

Can you control the skill set of the sewers? No.

Can you control the attention of the quality control manager? No.

But you can control the clarity of your expectations and needs up until production begins.

And that’s everything.

Between the free resources in books, blogs and YouTube, there’s really no excuse anymore to go into apparel manufacturing knowing nothing at all.

So, I’ve put together a little quiz for you, so you can better understand where your knowledge lies… 

Which of these questions can you answer?

  1. What is a “time study” sample?
  2. Name the three things you need to be able to start product development.
  3. What’s the most important question to ask a pattern/samplemaker before you hire them?
  4. What’s the number one way to save money in production?
  5. Should your production partner sign an NDA?

If you were able to confidently answer four out of these five questions, then you’re in good shape!

But if you know that you’re new to the manufacturing industry and you have plans to start an apparel or accessories brand, then it’s imperative that you arm yourself with the knowledge and know-how to get through production without losing money.

And that’s why I created The Manufacturing Kit for you.

It includes eight resources that will answer the questions above, as well as teach you other valuable information like:

  • The 14 things you need before starting product development. 
  • How to translate your sketch to a spec sheet template so you don't have to pay to have one made.
  • 9 questions to ask a pattern/samplemaker before you hire them.
  • 9 questions to ask a manufacturer before signing a contract.
  • And more…

You can check out The Manufacturing Kit in more detail here.

And if you have any questions about it, just reply to this email — I’ll personally get back to you.

As they say, “knowledge is power” and my goal with The Manufacturing Kit is for you to be able to confidently and calmly go into production without wasting time and losing money.

To your success,

 


 
 
 


If you’re like most of the entrepreneurs I work with, then you know this:

  • You want to start a fashion brand that’s socially-conscious
  • You want to do something to combat the “fast fashion problem” 
  • You don’t want to be just another fashion brand

In your heart, you are committed to building a sustainably-made and ethically-manufactured brand, but where do you even start?

While I run an entire six-month accelerator program to help with exactly that, I want to get you started with the first four things to consider right now.

In today’s episode of Factory45 TV, I’m sharing where to begin when you’re building a sustainable fashion brand from scratch.

These four things are not generic answers like, start a business plan or research your competition or trademark your business name.

Click the button above and in four minutes you’ll have four steps to building your sustainable fashion brand right now.

Enjoy!

 


 
 
 


manufacturing kit