Benefits of Sourcing & Manufacturing Your Collection Locally in America | Maker’s Row Blog. The article appeared in the Magazine Apparel and The Maker’s Row Blog on March 20th, 2015. Thanks to The Alliance for American Manufacturing for highlighting this article about the advantages of doing your manufacturing locally. I have also included a second article regarding the same subject.
Benefits of Sourcing & Manufacturing Your Collection Locally in America
We did a lot of searching (sometimes right here on Maker’s Row) and cold-calling/emailing. Ultimately, the decision to source and to manufacture domestically both suited our needs and fit our mission for two overarching reasons.
1. Manageable minimum orders
Ever cold-called an overseas factory and learned that the minimum order is five thousand garments? High minimum orders means high start up costs. These high start up costs can prevent you from even entering the market, so bypassing this hurdle entirely is definitely a plus.
High minimums can also lead to surplus inventory, which can squeeze your cash flow. The ability to manufacture in small batches allows us to control our inventory, and thus our cash flow, more smoothly. Managing our inventory also means that we are not producing more than we sell, so we get to skip figuring out how to offload excess inventory at the end of a season. In short, we make what we need.
2. Face-to-face relationships
It’s awesome that we have been able to establish face-to-face relationships with Kingsland Printing and Quick Turn Clothing — relationships that would not have been possible if we were to manufacture overseas. These relationships are essential for maintaining accountability within our supply chain. A lot of the breakdown in ethically and sustainably manufacturing garments comes from complicated, hard-to-supervise supply chains. Actively considering people and the environment is integral to what we do, so we love that our manufacturing partners are just a subway ride away and we get see their operations firsthand.
Also, being close to our manufacturers allows us to truly understand our production process from beginning to end, to ask a lot of questions (our manufacturers are consistently responsive), and to make changes to our order in (almost) real-time.
Finally, manufacturing domestically means that shipping distances are shorter, so less fuel and less environmental impact. Manufacturing domestically was a decision of both necessity and deep-seated desire to make the best choices around how we treat people and the environment.
The perfect complement to this piece is also from the Maker’s Row blog which is called:
5 Advantages to Keeping Production Local
Working with a domestic manufacturer makes the communication process easy. Real time phone and in-person conversations result in a better understanding of the specifics of your product. Language barriers, time zone differences and long overseas flights are eliminated.
Order quantity minimums with U.S. manufacturers start at 100 units or less. The small minimum quantity exposes you to less risk and allows for incremental growth. As an apparel business grows, re-orders can increase from 200 then 500 then up to 1000 or 2000 units. This allows you to scale your business at your own pace and removes the risk of holding a lot of inventory.
Quick Turn-Around Times
With local production, communication is fast, along with shipping and lead times. Each manufacturer is unique, but in general, domestic development and manufacturing timelines are about half to one third that of overseas. Excessive rounds of sampling are eliminated due to clear communication; you don’t have to wait for overseas shipments or hold-ups in customs.
Small scale production in the U.S. eliminates the waste of unneeded products otherwise made just to meet overseas minimums. Simplifying and controlling the development and manufacturing process will reduce thousands of waste garments by ensuring each item is wearable, fits properly and remains sellable. There are warehouses upon warehouses full of obsolete inventory and rejected goods. Manufacturing in the U.S. offers a sustainable approach.
During the manufacturing process, many quality issues may arise. Fabric flaws, finishing techniques or packaging among other things may cause hiccups. With the personal connection a domestic manufacturer provides, you will be informed of issues as they occur and solutions can be determined swiftly. This keeps production moving at a swift pace and ensures that the product meets all of your quality standards.