Many of you designers out there are probably going into Fall14 production & SS15 samples as we speak and trying to finalize your sewing contractor—choosing one and making it work with them.
As a start-up fashion brand with limited resources, you might be hesitant that the sewing contractor will not have your business as priority; In other words, “doing you a favor” by accepting your job. Considering your budget is probably limited and your quantities are barely make their minimums, you start to wonder: What incentives can I offer them to consider my line a valid brand and want to work with me?
My business philosophy has always been that a business interaction must make sense for both sides in order to last. It must be a win-win situation! Unfortunately, many fashion designers get too involved with their own views and business needs/deadline/pressure and end up waiting until the last minute to place orders, and then ask the contractor to rush without having all the materials and info ready, (not to mention asking for lower production price), etc. At the end of the day, this makes it not profitable and very difficult for the contractors to work with young designers.
Here are 3 valuable things that you, as a new brand with limited resources, can offer your sewing contractor to make this a win-win relationship:
- Time – While your financial resources might be limited, time is most likely something that you can offer in return. If you can plan your production ahead of time and scheduling it to fit into their less busy times, that will give them flexibility and more time to work on your products. I promise you that the contractor will not only take your project on, but they will love to do it! They will be happy that now they have work to keep them busy in slower times and can possibly accommodate more of your specific needs and your budget.
- Make it clear and easy – This greatly benefits both parties. As soon as a sewing contractor starts to feel that your project become TOO MUCH work for them, e.g. your orders and materials are not organized and come in bits and pieces, you change details half way through etc., it kills the flow of their work and starts to impact other projects they are currently working on. When this happens, your product will go to the end of the line. Production is all about the flow. The ultimate product/brand for a contractor is one that they can put into work and runs smoothly without interruptions. Every time they have to stop, hold, or fix something along the line of the project costs them time and time is money. So if your quantities are small, your budget is low, and on top of this your project takes too much time, it’s not worth it for them.
- Referrals – Every business loves referrals; who can say no to free marketing? Especially in an industry where most contractors get their business from brands that have had good experience with them already. So maybe you can’t afford to give them the capacity of work that they prefer but maybe your designer friends can. People in the industry are always talking and looking for contractors, If the contractor ends up getting more business from your referrals your business might after all be a priority for them!
I know, and have heard from many designers that they think contractors only wants big business and this is why they don’t care for their business. While this is true for some factories, there are plenty of contractors out there that will look at the whole package and are looking for new business, it just need to make sense for them. Keep these 3 simple tips in mind for you to offer in return to contractors until your business grows and you will be surprised how far this can get you.
Good luck with your next production!