Archive for the 'Maker’s Row – The Yellow Pages of US manufacturing' Category

15
Oct
15

A New Dimension: Designing For Different Body Shapes | Maker’s Row Blog

Maker’s Row is a company that helps designers and entrepreneurs connect with manufacturers located in the United States. They have some very interesting articles in their blog, including this one.

Source: A New Dimension: Designing For Different Body Shapes | Maker’s Row Blog

A New Dimension: Designing For Different Body Shapes

As fashion designers and students continue sketching their illustrations of idealized female models with statuesque, slender, and glamorized proportions, they continue to ignore the reality of women whose body sizes have changed significantly from over half a century ago. On top of that, fashion schools lean on teaching how to illustrate one body type.

This is the start of a detailed, three-week series around several common body types: the Rectangle, the Pear, the Inverted Triangle, the Hourglass and the Apple. Today, we’ll start with a summary.

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Universal Appeal

While body shapes vary significantly, there is one principle that benefits all: a defined waist. Fit-and-flare dresses look good on everyone, because they define the smallest part of the waist and graze over stomachs, hips, and thighs in a flattering way. Take this basic style and change the neckline, shoulder sleeves, length, and amount of flounce on the skirt in ways that balance your clients’ body shapes and you will have a sure win.

Define Your Goals and Your Client’s Goals

Who is your client? What problems are you trying to help your clients to solve? Why? While the hourglass body type is considered ideal, your client might disagree and desire a different silhouette. Get technical. Know your client’s measurements and her proportions. Does something need to be visually lengthened, shortened, shown off, or concealed?

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Get To Know Your Average Customer

  • • What are the three figure assets that our average customer wants to show off?
  • • What are three most common figure challenges that our average customer wants to minimize or conceal?
  • • What is the most common desired silhouette of our average customer?

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Method and Approach

Research and understand your client. Why do some things work and not others? Why does this appeal to my client, but not that? This ties in with identifying your client and getting to know her on personal level. Know their story.

Ask your clients whom they identify with in terms of style. By trying to understand who your client aspires to be, you can immediately get a clear understanding what she values aesthetically. This will help you easily identify patterns and styles that appeal to her and work for particular body shapes.

Design and sketch with the client’s body shape in mind. In order to pull your designs in the right direction you must ensure your illustrations or croquis represent the particular body shape of your niche. It’s your visual aid in regards to proportion, shape, and line. There are several sources to get you started including free resources, purchasable illustrator files, a body positive book of figure templates, and even advanced body measurement technology to get you started and stir your imagination.

Improve the fit by refining the measurements continuously. Measure everyone, compare sizes to measurements, try samples on your friends, members of your team, and of course, your client. Identify why something works for some and not others.

Stick with what works, and reinvent within the boundaries. Once you know what works, use it, but take the opportunity to experiment as well. For example, a wide, shallow neckline widens the shoulder, so you can use this if you want to create new designs that have the illusion of widening the narrow shoulder.

Designing for different body shapes requires more time, research, and deep interaction with customers. Instead of seasonal fashion trends, the key is to think about wearability for your customers. Shape classifications make women aware of their shapes, but they don’t necessarily help one recognize her beauty. “Problem areas” that need to be “minimized” lend to the idea of natural features being flaws. Instead, focus on the individual beauty that comes in the form of movement, balance, and personality in each woman to spark your ideas. For more inspiration, see how our use of strategically placed design elements at Jia Collection flatter different body shapes on our blog.

03
Aug
15

Stitching Together A Business: From Upcycling To Fair Wages | Maker’s Row Blog

Stitching Together A Business: From Upcycling To Fair Wages | Maker’s Row Blog.

This is an interesting article from Maker’s Row. The highlighted company, Project Repat takes used T-shirts and makes them into blankets. It was hard to convince venture capitalists to finance the project especially with the product being made in the USA. But they did.

Stitching Together A Business: From Upcycling To Fair Wages

Transitioning to a product-based business

Before starting Project Repat in 2012, Ross Lohr and I both spent a lot of time attempting to convince people why our previous non-profits and startups were good for society. It was always important for us to do something that added value, but our patience was running thin convincing wealthy people why our non-profit was so much more worthy of their money, than the other million. We couldn’t have named it back then, but the goal we were working towards was creating a product – and therefore a product-based business – that added value, with the socially-oriented element automatically integrated in the purchase of the product. We found our niche when we realized that many Americans have too many t-shirts they no longer wear but can’t bear to get rid of. Before we started, there were no options to send your t-shirts away and have them repurposed for an affordable price. In our case, that repurposed product is a lightweight blanket. As we’ve learned over the years, it’s a product that customers want and requires little explanation.

Blanket made from T-shirts at Project Repat

Blanket made from T-shirts at Project Repat

Enforcing fair wages and eco-conscious practices

Once we found that product with market fit, it was still important for us to integrate the ‘social good’ into the business. Instead of donating something for every purchase, while paying pennies for production in the far east, we realized we could make a bigger impact by creating a supply chain with a mission: creating fair wage work in the US.

Every part of our product is 100% recycled. The fleece is made by Polartec, which makes high quality recycled fleece from yarn made from recycled plastic bottles. Each yard of fleece uses 23 recycled plastic bottles.  We also use Eco-Enclose, to make our biodegradable mailers, and a majority of our packages are sent by the Post Office, which provides good union jobs.

Why did we choose worker-run spaces?

Since we make a one-of-a-kind product that can not be replaced when shirts are lost, we need production partners who feel empowered to do outstanding work, and are treated fairly in the workplace. Importantly, just because something says Made in the USA, it doesn’t automatically mean it’s the greatest work environment. Because of this, we didn’t want to create an apparel-related business that poorly treats its makers, so we’ve spent a lot of time getting to know our partners at Precision Sportswear and Opportunity Threads. Precision Sportswear has been around for over twenty years, and is based in what was once a thriving textile hub at the turn of the 20th Century, and still made lots of apparel before NAFTA helped offshore many of their jobs. In North Carolina, a place where many of those textile jobs went after they left Massachusetts, Opportunity Threads is a worker-owned cut and sew shop, where members own a percentage of the business. Ross and I have worked hard to grow the business, but we’re only good as the product we ship out.

13
Apr
15

Benefits of Sourcing and Manufacturing Your Collection Locally in America | Maker’s Row Blog

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Editor’s Note

The perfect complement to this piece is also from the Maker’s Row blog which is called:

5 Advantages to Keeping Production Local

Communication

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.

Low Minimums

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.

Waste Reduction

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.

Quality Control

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.

04
Apr
15

From Cotton to Customer: How Your T-Shirt is Made

From Cotton to Customer: How Your T-Shirt is Made | Maker’s Row Blog.

From Cotton to Customer: How Your T-Shirt is Made

 Field To Gin

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The cotton balls are put into a gin where the usable cotton is mechanically separated from the seeds and chaff. Modern cotton gins use multiple powered cleaning cylinders and saws which leads to higher productivity and less labor intensive work than previous methods required.

Spinner to Loom

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Bales of cotton fibers are spun at a facility where they are carded, combed and blended. Before the carding stage, which involves separating the fibers into loose strands, the cotton is taken off a picking machine. The spun cotton is then knit on a loom (the weaving process) into a rough greyish fabric.

Wet Processing

The fabric is treated with heat and chemicals where is takes on its final touch and appearance. Examples of this include bleaching, printing, and dyeing. At this stage, the fabric goes through inspection for grey textile. This process is typically divided into three separate stages of preparation, coloration, and finishing. Fabric are “finished” to the desired softness and coloring.

Cut and Sew

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Often times the finished fabric travels great distances to its next stop, the sewing facility. 15% of the fabric will end up on the cutting room floor as sewers create the blank garments.

Transforming Into a Perfect Print

american manufacturing factory production cotton process t-shirt american made cotton gin farm screen printing makers row

The customer contacts a screen-printing facility to finalize design specifics. At this stage, Pantone colors, sizing, placement, and ink type are all confirmed. Each color in the artwork is separated and printed onto clear film.  This is called a film positive.

Screen Printing

american manufacturing factory production cotton process t-shirt american made cotton gin farm screen printing makers row

The films are used to expose the image onto mesh screens that have a photo sensitive emulsion. Each screen is exposed on a vacuum sealed UV Light table. The screens are rinsed with water and the images are checked for accuracy. The screens are registered into place on an automatic screen press that can print up 900 t-shirts an hour! Each screen has a unique color loaded into it with either plastisol or waterbased ink.

american manufacturing factory production cotton process t-shirt american made cotton gin farm screen printing makers row

At Your Door

american manufacturing factory production cotton process t-shirt american made cotton gin farm screen printing makers row

In the last stage, the printed t-shirts are folded, sorted and placed into inventory. When an order is placed online the t-shirt is pulled from inventory, packed and shipped to its new home.

This article was lifted from the blog of Maker’s Row which has many fine articles about U.S. made products. Maker’s Row helps many entrepreneurs find U.S. factories that can make their products.

05
Mar
15

A Brand’s Journey to Finding a Local Manufacturer | Maker’s Row Blog

A Brand’s Journey to Finding a Local Manufacturer | Maker’s Row Blog.

For those of you interested in starting up a new apparel business that is to be “Made in America”, sometimes it is difficult to locate the resources you need to get started. Why re-invent the wheel? Maker’s Row has been in business for a few years, and it specializes in helping new businesses find the right partner. Below is their message. Thanks to The Alliance for American Manufacturing for highlighting this story.

A Brand’s Journey to Finding a Local Manufacturer

 There are a lot of “hardest parts” about getting an apparel business off the ground. A lot. Arguably, the single most challenging component faced in the initial stages of our journey to launch the next great American brand, was finding vendors that wanted to take a chance on a new apparel startup. Finding a great and reliable cut and sew provider here in the United States was the biggest pain point. Fabrics, tags, buttons, etc. were no small feat either, but it was the cut and sew component that consumed the most time, brought the most heart palpitations, and cost the most money. It seemed like not one single vendor was willing to take a chance on a new business with a new concept–not to mention one that used difficult fabrics.

Before resources like Maker’s Row existed, finding domestic manufacturers was in and of itself a significant challenge. Few had websites, and if they did, Google wasn’t readily pulling them up. From there, phone numbers didn’t work, and those that did often went straight to voicemail or resulted in a badly broken English conversation that yielded no results. We learned over time that most of the production houses that are still in business in the States have a relatively viable (and very specific) stream of business in terms of one or two garment types.

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They had just enough equipment and labor to manage that small niche, and they were not looking for a new client. We also faced the additional challenge of convincing vendors that manufactured dress shirts to work with our stretch performance fabric. This was frustrating on a number of levels. We were fully committed and believed in making our products here at home, but were stalled in finding one of the most critical components of our supply chain.

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Sure, we were hardly the most attractive client. We didn’t have much working capital, our order runs were small, we needed to be nimble, and to be frank we had no idea what we were doing. We had a mission and a purpose. That only took us so far.

What we have learned is that your vendors, and your relationship with your vendors, can make or break your business. At first it seemed like the only thing that mattered was selling our line. Sell. Sell. Sell! Now that our business is growing, production remains our biggest headache. In order to make enough product to meet the demands of both our retail stockists and our loyal e-commerce customers, we need to be able to deliver.16

I could go into a lengthy story about how many times we’ve been burned by various vendors, but I’m pretty sure that most new designers have had similar experiences. While a few of our vendors are relatively straightforward to work with–submit PO, receive product in standard turn time–some remained a constant, significant challenge. With that said, we’re happy to have found a cut and sew supplier who’ve become more than suppliers, they have become like family to us and critical to the growing success of our business.

The following three rules are the highlights of what we’ve learned in working with a plethora of both wonderful and difficult partners.

Trust Your Gut

The moment you start to feel like you can’t trust the person you are working with, reevaluate the partnership. Keep in mind that this person has, in many respects, your business in their hands. I know that sounds melodramatic, but truly, if you can’t deliver your product in its highest quality, your brand will suffer immensely and potentially irreversibly. Often times we asked vendors for referrals from other clients they had worked with in the past. If there is any hesitation here, run.12

I would also suggest making a trip to meet your vendor in person. Shake their hand and get a good read on who you are dealing with. Although most people are trustworthy and do their best, it never hurts to double check. Meeting face to face does not guarantee success in your relationship, but it has been vital to ours time and time again.

Keep Your Cool but Speak Up

I will be the first person to admit that when dealing with a production crisis, I’ve become the worst version of myself; however, we’ve learned that you have to stay calm. Many standard reactions, in fact most, will not fix the situation. Often times, “what’s done is done.” Here’s where you have to get creative.

On more than one occasion, issues with a company have escalated to a point where we were forced to speak directly with the CEO. This is no small feat considering that we were still an extremely small fish. There’s one phrase that seems to do the trick in communicating with another company’s leadership. Next time your having issues with a vendor, try saying this: “As a business owner myself, I felt I needed to let you know how difficult this has been for us before it starts impacting other segments of your business.” Where there’s smoke there’s fire, and while the person steering the ship should know where all the issues are, they often don’t. Be vocal when necessary, but don’t ever let yourself be less than professional.

Keep the Great Vendors Close

One of our vendors, as mentioned, have become like family to us. We speak to them almost every day. We’ve spoken to them on most holidays. We’ve spoken to them at ten o’clock at night. We have grown our business because of their faith in us, their delivery, and the mutual respect and admiration we’ve built together. I know we would have found a way, because we’ve never settled for nothing less, but in many respects, we are where we are today because of our vendors. They’ve worked with us, showed us the ropes, and have become a huge partner for us and more. We have and will do everything we can to send as much business their way. We’re committed to ensuring that handling our business goes smoothly for them.17

Production in an inventory based business will always present a unique set of challenges. When starting out, it can be nearly an insurmountable one. We have certainly learned a thing or two on the climb. In our commitment to American manufacturing, we remain proud and grateful for all of our great production partners here at home. Keep these lessons in mind as you grow your own business and run into these problems. To the new brands that are just starting out, you are not alone.

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30
Apr
13

Maker’s Row – Factory Sourcing Made Easy

Maker’s Row – Factory Sourcing Made Easy. Have you ever wanted a single source to find U.S. made stuff? Me, too. Well, Matthew Burnett has published Maker’s Row, which is sort of a internet Yellow Pages to help you find a Manufacturing company, Made in the U.S.A. It goes from clothing, accessories, etc. Several times I have been asked to recommend a clothing manufacturer for some people who wanted to start making clothing, and I really didn’t have too many great answers. But this website, will give you names of companies, where they are located and how to contact with the manufacturer. This might also be a great site for people thing of starting up a new project, like for Kickstarter.

Other articles and video: See Cnet.

Makers Row

Makers Row




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