[day 4] getting your garment made
LESSON 4: why suppliers are ghosting your emails
I’m lucky because I am in a pretty unique position. I am a brand, so I totally get how brands feel sometimes when navigating the supply chain. I am also a partner in a factory. So, I understand where factories are coming from when they tell brands news they don’t want to hear. And, I am also a consultant, so basically a liaison (and often times peacemaker) between brands and factories.
I get all the sides. So, to help you communicate as clearly as possible and find the factory that is right for you. Today I am going to share what you absolutely must have before reaching out to suppliers if you want to be taken seriously.
These 3 things are based on my experience as a factory partner fielding emails from startup brands. I’m about to share with you the info we need to know in order to start working with you.
ONE - A BUDGET
Hopefully, yesterday's lesson will have helped you figure out these two crucial numbers.
The first is how many different styles you want to make. And the second is, how many pieces per style you are going to order.
Now, remember, factories have something called MOQs – which stand for minimum order quantities. Meaning that you have to place a certain size order to work with them. So, if you can only make 3 styles, and want only 20 pieces of each style for a total order of 60 pieces – working with Reformation or Everlanes factories (who have MOQs in the thousands) is not going to be a good fit.
Before you invest time and money into chatting, possibly visiting them, and making samples, you can cross them off your shortlist because you know at this moment, you won't be able to order that much production from them.
TWO - YOUR DESIGNS
The next thing you need is some information about the styles you want to create. Most blogs and “supply chain gurus” will tell you that you need to have a tech pack. But, I am a firm believer you can save that cash (literally thousands of dollars) and use a method that I teach in my free live workshop Sourcing Secrets. (I will be doing another workshop soon so keep an eye on my weekly emails for more info about signing up. In the meantime, while you wait for the workshop, you should at the very least know what types of styles and what types of fabrics you want to use.)
So for your 3 styles 1 might be a shirt, 1 might be a dress, and 1 might be pants. The key here, is to get really clear on your range plan of what you hope to offer your customers in your first season.
Do you want to use cotton or silk? Knits or wovens? Those details are important to us because not all factories will work with all materials.
If you are still designing or still trying to figure out what and how much you want to make – you are not ready to speak with a factory.
AND, 3 - A TIMELINE
To meet your goals, when do you need your samples by, and when do you need your production by? Some factories have 3-month waitlists just to get in... before they even start working on your samples. So, if you have a tight timeline those factories will not be a good fit.
It’s important to be open with a factory about your deadlines from the beginning. I always ask new clients what their timeline looks like.
And, I can not tell you how many people I turn away, because they want to work faster than what I am comfortable with (hey, if I wanted to work in fast fashion I would go back to my old job) these days I am all about going slow. Creating crammed, too soon, deadlines creates stress. And, I like to run my business in the least stressful way possible.
If you don’t have all the things on this list, start working on getting them done today.
Then download today's workbook – this is your cheat sheet for a big picture overview of the research, development, production, and even shipping and logistics phases.
I even included an email template to help you get started reaching out to suppliers.
I’ll see you tomorrow for day 5!