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I recently received a DM on Instagram asking for a recommendation to a factory with low minimums and that was cheap. And I felt that this warranted a little more than my individual response to her, as I feel that this is a question that gets asked quite often.
In this episode of the FastTrack Your Fashion Brand Podcast, I’m discussing the dos and don’ts of finding a factory. How do you avoid falling into the trap that so many fashion designers have dove into headfirst? How do you keep it professional and not sound like you’re not sure what to ask? I’ve got you covered, with these seven questions!
Not every factory is created equally. They don’t all specialize in the same thing. It would be like going to a FootLocker expecting to find a prom dress…Doesn’t sound like it is the right fit. So the first question is something you need to be asking yourself! What kind of garment am I looking for?
If you are making dresses, you probably don’t want to find yourself in a t-shirt factory (which has a high production with lower quality fabrics). So narrow it down.
Now that you’ve figured out exactly what it is that you are trying to design, does the factor you are looking into specializing in anything? Do they specialize in cutting, sewing, patterns, samples, productions, send-outs, trims? Are they the full package, or are you going to require multiple vendors?
There is nothing worse than thinking that you are getting a quote and a good deal, but it turns out that they were only quoting you for cutting material, not for the full production.
Although I do not recommend this for people who are just starting out, you have to know what your end game as far as the pricing strategy is concerned:
Companies that specialize and include full package options can give you a certain amount of information about the company. It tells you the level of experience they have, and what they’ll be able to provide you.
When asking about low minimums, we’re actually talking about low production quantities. Some factories will allow for low minimums of 500+ units. This leaves a lot of room for negotiation, to lower the cost of production. If you can find someone who can work with you around lower minimums so that you’re not spread super thin with your inventory.
A lot of factories are going to change minimums depending on colors or style. If everything you design is white, your minimum will probably remain low. Whereas, if you ask for 5 black, 5 blue, 5 pinks, and they have to change thread for each color requested, your minimums will increase to account for this time.
We’re all trying to make money, so of course, the cost is going to be a concern. But this is something that you never want to ask right off the bat. Starting a conversation with “how much is this going to cost” is not going to make you sound professional to the factory. They won’t be able to tell you that until they have an idea of what style you are going for, what kind of fabric you’ll be using, how many colors will be involved, etc.
If you only come in with a drawn design, they’ll most likely create a sample for you before they are able to give you an estimated cost. So my best advice in this instance would be to go to the store, and find something very similar to what you have in mind, and bring that with you when you go to the factory. Then you can ask, how long would it take you to manufacture something like this?
What kind of brands are they representing? This is a presentation of their past work and quality of work. They may not be a part of your company, but they are an extension of it. They will represent the quality of your product, so it is very important to know if they are up to your standards.
We all have deadlines when it comes to launching our collections. Whether we are trying to get our line launched while a trend is still hot, and will bring a lot of loyal clients, or if we have a self-made deadline, it is essential to give your manufacturers time to produce your products. So, give yourself about 2 or 3 weeks of the additional buffer.
S*** happens! Factories can take on new clients, get backed up, and your production gets delayed. We’re fashionprenuers, we have to be prepared for everything!
07:15-08:20 - #1. What am I trying to sew?
08:23-09:50 - #2. Do you specialize?
09:53-12:40 - #3. Do you offer a full-service package?
12:48-14:40 - #4. Low minimums
14:48-17:00 - #5. Cost
17:06-17:50 - #6. Who else are you working with?
17:54-19:45 - #7. Turn around time
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Hello, my FastTrackers and Fashionprenuers!
This episode had a lot of great information about making sure to connect to your community because it is really hard to feel like you are going through this alone. There are moments when I’m talking to my husband and the empty look tells me that he truly has no idea what I am talking about.
But Nicole’s community StartUp FASHION offers a great, safe space to talk to people going through the same things as you! It is one of the ultimate Mastermind Groups that recognizes the struggles are real, but so are the successes. Find a group to help you get out of your lows and celebrate your highs.
If you like the podcast, make sure to rate and leave a review. Definitely give a shout out to my amazing team who puts in a lot of work to help rock and roll these episodes out!
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