How To’s For Start-Ups

How To Create a Clothing Line Budget in 5 Steps
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How To Create a Clothing Line Budget in 5 Steps

One of the first questions we ask our new development clients at the beginning stages of creating a clothing line is “what is your budget for the project?” Most new designers and entrepreneurs have no idea. We know that creating a budget can be overwhelming when you’re first starting out, so we decided to outline a few important budget components that we share with all of our clients.

Here are five steps for putting together a budget for your new clothing line.

1. How much can you spend in total?

It might seem elementary, but the first step to devising a budget for your project is to look at your finances and determine how much you can spend in total. Lots of new clients will say they do not have a budget, and that they are willing to spend whatever it takes to get their clothing brand up and running.

But, let’s be honest, most of us do not have an unlimited pile of cash to funnel into a new business. So sit down and take a look at your finances to see just how much money you are willing to invest in your new brand. Once you have your total budget, you can then decide where to allocate your funds and how to utilize your resources best.

2. How much do you want to spend on product development?

Once you have an overall budget, the next step is to split it up into a handful of different buckets, including product development, manufacturing, and marketing. With international production and larger orders, these buckets get more complex, but we will assume you are starting small and your clothing line will be USA-made.

As for what to budget for product development, you can use our in-house Product Development Program as a guide. For fabric sourcing, trim sourcing, pattern making, and cut and sew for your samples, clients typically spend between $1,500 to $2,000 per sample. We recommend that you devote at least $2,000 to each sample to create a quality product that will be successful in the marketplace.

3. Decide on your target price per unit for manufacturing

Once you have allocated funds to product development, calculate how much you can spend on manufacturing by focusing on the cost per unit to produce in bulk. To determine your target price per unit, start by learning the industry standard retail prices for similar products and work backward. Find out who your competitors are and what they are charging for their products. Their prices will allow you to hone in on a target retail price and get closer to how much you could reasonably make off of the sale of each unit to earn a profit. From there, you can determine the target price per unit.

4. Choose your method of distribution

How will you be selling your product? Will you be selling your clothing to stores or will you be selling on your e-commerce site? Many new businesses start out with a Shopify site to keep web development costs down, but some hire a web developer to design an e-commerce site for them. Decide how you want to sell your product and figure out how much you will need to spend to make distribution happen.

5. What is your marketing strategy?

For a startup clothing brand, we recommend allocating a significant amount of time and resources to marketing your product. Clothing moves when there’s buzz. If funds are tight, we recommend utilizing free social media marketing tools such as Hootsuite and Buffer to get started.

If you have extra budget for advertising, Facebook and Instagram ads are a great way to jumpstart your company’s social media audience and promote your brand name. Alternatively, PR is also possible with little to no budget if you are willing to come up with angles yourself and do the legwork of finding and contacting writers; and influencer marketing on Instagram is a marketing channel that many budding designers have used with success.

We hope these steps get you started on your clothing line budget. Is there something you think we should add to the list? What unexpected costs derailed your budget? Leave us a comment below with any questions or comments. We love feedback.

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Your Kickstart to Entrepreneurship!

Amongst the many doctor and actor aspirations, lays an ambition many are not equipped to commence: creating their own business. As many start up’s disappoint before they’re fully able to thrive, a middle ground of uncertainty is present: how does a novice idea meet the demands of initial costs, provide a product worthy of consumer demands yet provide an opportunity to gain loyal customers willing to purchase at my inauguration? Enter Kickstarter, the crowd-funding platform that provides potential entrepreneurs with the opportunity to turn their dreams into reality.

There are many variables contributing to the success or deemed failure of companies; some externally or internally known while others are not. Whether or not the variables identified to the failure are presented, it’s best to reflect upon the factors contributing to success. I had the pleasure to speak with two very successful brands– one that has had recent achievement and the other still in the process of a Kickstarter triumph. Whether you’re planning the next great funded project or simply looking for inspiration from relatable businessmen, Ryan Beltran from Original Grain and Jake Joseph from Jake Joseph Underwear are idyllic.

Before investing in inventory and product development to begin any business venture, research and adequate testing are needed to determine if your product is in demand. With that said, Ryan Beltran believes “Kickstarter is a great avenue for testing products and gauging potential demand” as it develops a platform for advancing decisions to determine to continue or not. It’s also a great platform due to the audience – “an overflow of people who appreciate creativity and I wanted to reach and work with those people” reveals Jake Joseph.

As one of the most funded fashion projects to date, Original Grain fuses local wood inspiration from their Pacific Northwest hometown and modern eminence that results in a captivating timepiece. “Our primary goal when launching Original Grain (OG) was to develop a product unlike any other on the market. We wanted to create a watch that would ‘turn heads’, but was top notch in terms of its quality. That’s to be great at making our watches and provide a good experience for each and every customer we have.” With plans to solidify OG as household name and eventually expanding into a lifestyle brand, “the only way I can get there is

to focus on making a high quality product and continuously innovating our product offering.”

Original Grain

Jake Joseph elevates a traditional, hidden piece and “adds quality and workmanship to an often neglected garment”– underwear and proves that internal details and value of the first layer of adornment is equally vital. Insight to this piece was gained as this was in the process of development just as his project was launching. “We are constantly looking for ways to design products that are not just beautiful, but offer a solution too. Kickstarter is a terrific platform to introduce the The ZenSho Collective – the first underwear to never rise.” Ultimately, passion is vital Joseph believes, “be passionate about the product you want to introduce and illustrate that passion in your product and its benefits.” Genuinely understand your audience while developing an approach to providing them with a highly unique outcome, just as the exclusive underclothing of Jake Joseph has done.

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Passion coupled with an essential connection with your audience and quality product, all combine to make both of these company’s successful Kickstarter projects. “Kickstarter is an amazing community of people that want to help companies get off the ground…you just gotta go and do the dang thing.” Provide an experience for the consumer by revealing your story; when done effectively, the generated buzz will appeal to the need of your consumer now while also illustrating ideas for the future. “People love helping others achieve their goals, especially when they’re genuine” concludes Beltran. Therefore, the highly advantageous and mutually beneficial Kickstarter are highly recommended for the inner entrepreneur in all.

Original Grain: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/originalgrain/original-grain-all-natural-wood-and-stainless-stee

Jake Joseph: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/678444944/jake-joseph-redefining-mens-underwear?ref=discovery

By: Storm Tyler

***Update: Check out one of our brands NAMAKAN FUR: they just ran a successful Kickstarter campaign and we’re now in production – product to be completed January 2017

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IndieViews: Meet Johnny Quintero

Our IndieViews series highlights the talented and committed people who power Indie Source.

In our interview with Indie Source’s trim specialist Johnny Quintero, he shares his wisdom, experience, and excitement for what’s next.

What inspired you to work in fashion?

I would have to say the artistic part of fashion. I’ve always been attracted to fashion growing up. Seeing people express themselves through clothing always puts a smile on my face!

What advice would you give an aspiring fashion designer?

Do your research and think your design through to the end. Think about how your garments will be produced in production and design thoughtfully! I’ve seen so many times, designers “make it happen” or alter trim, sewing or cutting for samples and when the garment goes into production everyone scrambles to figure out how to reproduce the sample. You do not want to sell your garments one way and then in production find out you can’t do the same.

JQ2-for-webWhat has your career path looked like? 

Most of my experience has been in production. I started out as an assistant for development and production, then a production trim buyer, to domestic production manager and import coordinator. What brought me to Indie Source was the opportunity to be part of a development team again. I love working with a team to bring peoples designs to life.

What sets Indie Source apart from other places where you’ve worked?

The wonderful people here! Everyone has an entrepreneur attitude and we all work so well together. It’s a great team to be a part of.

What’s the best aspect of working at Indie Source?

The best aspect of Indie Source is meeting like minded people and always developing new and exciting garments! Every client is different and the work is always changing.

Any amazing Indie Source moments? 

Right now is the most memorable moment! We are growing the company and partnering up with so many great brands. I can’t wait to see what next year has in store for us!

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Ace Your Indie Source Intro Meeting

Ready to work with Indie Source? Your Intro Meeting is the first step. Here’s everything you need to know.

When you’re ready to transform your daydreams and sketches into a clothing line, Indie Source is the resource to make that happen. As a full service clothing manufacturer, Indie Source takes your ideas and makes them into something wearable by combining the right materials, fit, and construction. Our experienced, knowledgeable and passionate team will transform that overwhelming feeling of “where to begin” into the sense of delight that comes from manufacturing your line and bringing it to market.

The Intro Meeting

Your first step in working with Indie Source is the Intro Meeting. This is your chance to introduce your brand to us and share your vision for your business, as well as the specific products we’ll be creating with you. In your Intro Meeting meeting you will:

  • Meet your project manager, who will be your direct point of contact. They’re going to supervise, manage, and ensure the overall success of your project.
  • Meet our fabric specialist and trim specialist, who will be sourcing the perfect fabric and trims for your products.
  • Meet with Indie Source’s pattern maker, who will take fit notes (if you already have a prototype sample) .

The Indie Source team is experienced, knowledgeable and dedicated to making you and your brand a success and helping you along the way.

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To get the most powerful results from your Intro Meeting, you’ll need to be ready to discuss a broad range of topics around your label, as well as go into detail about each one.  Here’s a rundown of all the info you should have at the ready.

About Your Brand

  • Have a strong vision and goals, and know the values of your brand
  • What makes your brand unique or special?
  • Who is your competition?
  • What are your specific goals for your brand?
  • What is important to you in the development of your brand?
  • Are you price or quality focused?
  • Do you have a logo? Tag line? Mission statement?

Have A Brand Business Plan

  • How are you going to sell your product? Will you have a website? A storefront? Sell wholesale to retailers?
  • How are you going to market your brand? To who?
  • What are the price points for your products? How much do you want to pay to produce them versus how much do you want to sell them for?
  • How many units are you going to order? We have a minimum of 3 style and 250 pieces per style.
  • What is your budget for development? For production?

Have A Product Plan

  • Remember – we think of you as the designer! We are here to bring your ideas to life. Think through all the small details. We’re happy to make suggestions and help, but this is YOUR brand!
  • What are your sizes going to be? XS-XL? S-L?
  • What size would you like your samples to be made in? Think about who would come and try them on. If it is you, have the samples made in your size so you can make sure it’s the perfect fit.
  • What are the grading rules for your production? This means how much bigger do you want each size to be from the last? It is usually 2’’, but look at a line in a store or do some research and compare.
  • Will there be artwork on your products? This includes your logo.
  • What will your main label tags look like? Will they be printed or sewn in? They should have your name, logo, tagline, where it is made, and size. What will they look like? You send your tag artwork before your first meeting!
  • Are you going to have a hang tag or any other tagging or labeling on your products? Think about what they’ll look like in the store.
  • What colors do you want for your fabrics? Bring a color sample with you. We will find similar colors in in-stock fabrics. If you absolutely need a specific hue, we will need to dye it! Bring the exact color sample or find it using the PANTONE color finder. Keep in mind that colors might look different on a screen than in reality.

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Have A Timeline

  • When do you need your samples done? The development process usually takes around six weeks. However, the more custom and detailed your products are, the longer it will take (i.e. custom elastic and prints).
  • When do you want full production to be done? Production usually takes about 4-8 weeks depending on the complexity of your designs.
  • Set dates from start to finish! When do you want your clothes ready to be sold?

Have Patience

If we’re starting your line from scratch, it might take a round or two of sample making and fittings to get everything perfect. Indie Source wants to make sure you love your line and fits how you want. Be prepared to make more than one sample.

Now that you know what you’ll need to get started, are you ready to call Indie Source? Let’s manufacture your dream line!

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Money: Fuels Your New Label

How do new designers get funding to produce their first fashion lines?

You’re overflowing with inspiration. Your mind’s eye swims with designs, colors, and fabrics. You have a powerful creative vision and a business plan, too. You’ve got great people on your team. All that’s left is to have your line produced. For a new fashion designer, the biggest obstacle to that happening is usually money.

You read about tech startups getting millions in investor dollars before their product earns a cent. You know new designers who started fashion lines thanks to generous transfusions of cash from their families. Some people work in industries that attract investors. Others were lucky enough to be born into a pot of gold. But what about the rest of us? How does the average aspiring designer get the money needed to produce their first clothing line?

Tech is different. Technical innovations yield new products. Investors are attracted to market research data that supports a healthy return on investments in new technologies. New fashion companies don’t tend to attract investors in the same way because there’s little evidence available for how financially successful a new designer will be. While your designs are new, clothing has been around forever. Only a tiny percentage of apparel offers something disruptive to consumers that wasn’t available before. The success of a fashion line rests with ephemeral, subjective tastes and the vagaries of timing – variables that are nearly impossible to project. And while a designer may have a successful debut collection, that has no bearing on future success. Most investors would prefer to hold a stake in an established $20 million label, as opposed to an unknown quantity such as a new label producing its first line. Additionally, investors want to see revenue and cash projections, which are difficult to produce due to the seasonal, cyclical nature of cash flow in the fashion business.

9836459_mWhether you attract investors or not, strong cash flow is a must for getting your new line off the ground. And key to strong cash flow is forming trusting relationships with your manufacturers. Since an apparel collection is produced months before any revenue will be seen from sales, up-front capital is needed to start the production process. By making timely payments in the early stages of working with a factory, you form a foundation of trust that will pay dividends in the future. For a manufacturer, it’s very risky to extend credit to a brand new company, so paying on time (and communicating promptly in the event of delays) early in your relationship goes a long way toward getting samples made at a discounted rate and negotiating timing of payments in the future.

Some banks and fashion funds will extend loans to designers that have an order from a reputable retailer. Before a new label has established a trusting relationship and credit with production partners, that up-front cash allows a line to get produced and shipped to stores.

Aside from loans, a common way for new designers to build the cash cushion needed to get their lines off the ground is ghost-working for larger brands. Yes, it’s not much of a revelation. But gaining expertise while earning money and saving to fund one’s enterprise is common for a reason: it works. It may take more time to build your savings account than to win the money all at once in the form of a prize or a large bank loan, but the skills, knowledge, and relationships formed while working for a major label will always be with you.

Friends and family are a major funding source for new designers. All the money you need might not come from one person, but in sharing your designs and business plan and with those around you, you open up untold possibilities for support. Each conversation is an opportunity for someone to be inspired and show their support in the form a financial contribution. (Bonus method to increase the odds of someone giving you money: ask. It’s scary, but ask anyway!)

Self-funding may be slower and the money pot smaller than getting outside investments and loans. But what’s sacrificed in terms of speed and amount of capital is made up for with independence and control. Without concerns for return on investment or lenders to repay, you have complete freedom to pursue your creative vision. By owning your label 100 percent, you take on the entirety of the risk, and reap all the rewards.

 

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Blue Jean Baby, LA Label

What difference does Indie Source make for its clients? We asked Blue Jean Baby’s Lola Rogers.

Lola Rogers gives us a real world look into how Indie Source delivers on its commitment to designers developing and producing their lines in Los Angeles. Lola has a commitment to Made In USA and a passion for the success of her eclectic and inspiring brand, Blue Jean Baby. In our interview, she reveals how partnering with Indie Source is making the difference in having it all come together beautifully.

Tell us about your line and what sets it apart.

Blue Jean Baby is the name of our line. My sister, Taylor, and I are from Texas, where the American classic – blue jeans – are a staple from farm girls to fashion girls alike! We love the easy going, care free vibe that a pair of blue jeans give to an outfit, but we have also always been drawn to luxurious fabrics that make up vintage lingerie, like silks and lace. Our line is a combination of these elements. We curate vintage as well as manufacture our own line.

A big part of our vintage line is our denim, predominately Levi’s 501’s, 505’s, and 517’s, but we also pick up Wrangler, Lee’s and any other unique looking denim we find when pulling vintage. The redline and selvedge Levi’s, we sell as is, in order to keep that authenticity, as some are from as early as the 1930’s. The later era denim, we rework with patches, embroidery, rosettes, etc. Our rework process is constantly evolving and it’s a lot of fun!

for-web-vintage1On the other side of things is our capsule collection, a vintage-modern twist on classic pieces like the slip dress, slip camisole, wide leg trousers, blazer with shoulder pads and a contrast hem, ruffle bloomer shorts, and a muscle tee. Our line is predominately silk, with a few cotton and rayons thrown in the mix. It is also all ivory, a simple neutral that we love because it can mix with anything … especially denim!

We love clothes that feel soft and easy, so that’s what we aim to create. Our Spring/Summer 16 line is mostly made from washed silks, linen, and cotton. We will continue to put an emphasis on quality fabric, as we believe that is what will set us apart from competing brands. High-quality fabrics are timeless.

We’re curating vintage, which we sell on Etsy currently, and once our line is being manufactured, we’re going to launch our vintage on our site, as well as our line. We’re hoping to open a storefront in Texas in the next year or so, and in the meantime we’re planning some pop-up shops in malls around Texas and possibly the LA area. We’re hoping to get on the festival scene or even get an airstream truck to sell our line on the road. We’ve done Flea Style in Houston and Dallas with our vintage collection and received a great response.

Who is your target customer?

Our customer is your laid back all-American girl who is inspired by culture, art, and music. She’s always down to try new things and meet new people because through these experiences she learns, finds new passions, and falls in love with what the world has to offer. On the other hand, she feels most at home in a pair of blue jeans and a white t-shirt.

Blue Jean Baby will be a fusion of exactly that. Our vintage Levi’s are a focal point of our brand because they are a base on which any style can be built, like the first coat on a canvas.

for-web-me&tay-copyWho or what inspired you to create your line? 

Growing up with a very fashionable and creative mama – although she would probably tell me not to say that – and we learned a lot from her sense of style! She was always re-decorating our house and we would tag along to vintage shops around Dallas finding amazing pieces of furniture, sometimes she would re-cover chairs, or re-work vintage furniture. As we got older, we developed our own taste in vintage clothing and loved the adventure of finding new shops, scavenging for the best pieces, etc. We knew from a young age that we would love to have our own store.

We are most inspired by the craftsmanship of vintage clothing; the delicacy, quality, and thought put in are impressive. As customers, that matters to us. So, we want to deliver that same standard with our clothes.

What is your fashion background and what type of work were you involved in before developing your line?

I went to college at Arizona State University, and Taylor went to Texas State University. After I graduated, I went on to FIDM because I wanted to learn everything about the fashion industry. My first job out of college was at Topson Downs of California, a large scale manufacturer in Culver City. I was doing accessory design and development as well as sourcing for a 20 person design team, in multiple divisions. Working at Topson really gave me the tools and confidence to begin the basics of design, which starts with conceptualizing the line, and sourcing the right fabrics and trims.

Taylor went on to work in retail at Aritzia in the Chicago area, and I went to work for Versace after I left my job at Topson. Once we’d gained substantial knowledge in multiple aspects of the industry, we felt prepared to take on this adventure of our own line, Blue Jean Baby.

for-web-boutique-neonWhat stage are you at in the development process?

As far as our capsule collection goes, we are in the last stages of the development process, which is so exciting! As far as designing and sampling and getting everything right, the process is not quick, most the time things need a second sampling, as it’s hard to get everything just right. Even the smallest details cannot be overlooked to bring together a precise and inspired collection that flows just right. We should have all our complete and perfected samples done by the end of this week. From there, we’re going to do our photo shoot, look book and then we’re going into production.

With our vintage line, the development process is never really complete, because each piece is one of a kind, it requires constant searching for the right pieces. We have reliable sources for most items at this point, but there are always more places to scour! The embroidery on denim trend is really hot right now, so we’ve had a great response to that, but we try to be innovative and fresh, so we’re never really done finding new ways to rework those pieces.

What challenges did you face before working with Indie Source? How has Indie Source made a difference for your success?

We just started conceptualizing our line and brand as a whole around October 2015. So once we knew we wanted to start with smaller runs, we began looking for a boutique full product manufacturer in the Los Angeles area, as Made in USA is a crucial aspect of our line. We visited with a few, and Indie Source just stood out.

Our first meeting with Emily was great, she was able to answer all the questions we had and calm any fears we expressed to her, all the while being extremely down to earth and easy going! It felt like a great fit.

It has been amazing to work with a team that is
really just there for us, isn’t too pushy, and has been willing to both collaborate and completely sit back and let us do our thing. Having done sourcing for one of my previous jobs, it was really important to me that I was able to collaborate in this aspect- and when I expressed this, they did not hesitate to meet this expectation. I was able to spend a morning sourcing alongside Nara, which allowed me to assure that she understood what exactly I was looking for. Some places won’t give you the time to work with them side by side like that.

So the biggest challenge in designing and developing a great line is always going to be time. Everyone is always going to wish there was more time in the day to get everything necessary done, especially when you’re working with different sources that all must work together to get one style done. Our project manager, Jennifer, has played a huge role in keeping us organized and on track. Having someone like her assures that little parts of the process, like care labels and hangtags, that can easily be overlooked in the craziness of creating and developing a line, are completed and ordered on time.

As far as production, we are just getting started, but I know that having someone work out our costing, is a huge, huge plus for us. Building our brand is the most important thing to us, but making money is obviously what we came here to do. So having someone we trust to crunch those numbers and assure that we are on track is a big factor for us.

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Is there anything you would have done differently?

The only thing we think we can improve on is just timing. When we decided to actually do this thing, we were in between seasons and new to the whole process, so we were designing with a certain season in mind and ended up having to adapt and change certain things to meet deadlines and ensure our product will hit the market at the ideal time to sell. When you are a creative mind, things can kind of take off in the direction of your art, but in the end, this is a money game, and staying on track is essential!

What has been the best surprise along your journey so far?

I think just the genuine response we’ve gotten from friends, family, and our vintage buyers thus far, has been the biggest victory! Having sorority sisters, and old friends reach out telling me they have told boutique owners about us, and not only that, but that they have gotten great responses, has been unbelievable!

 

for-web-neonWhat advice would you give to aspiring designers?

Follow your dreams! The marketplace may seem intimidating these days, everything is oversaturated and there is seemingly endless competition but staying true to YOU is what will set you apart from the crowd. You have an idea that you think is brilliant and you start Googling and you see it’s already been done. Fashion is always going to be a “knock off”. There’s no new silhouette you can come up with; everything’s been done. It’s all about putting your own flair on things. Confidence is key. My sister and I were very nervous at our fist show and the more you’re in the moment and making things happen and hearing people respond to things, it changes everything 100 percent. You have to just start doing it.

Not feeling the pressure to know it all is important. My dad was CEO of a company and he would say, “I don’t look to hire people who I’m smarter than; I want to hire people who are smarter than me”. He wanted to bring people onto his team who could teach him things and provide a new, fresh point of view.” That gave me a lot of insight. In my first meetings I felt nervous and shy about not knowing everything. But I realized the reason for working with other people is to learn and hear their ideas and get inspired from that. Knowing your strengths, and knowing when to sit back and listen to other people is key.

Everyone is afraid, no matter what people say. It’s scary to invest in yourself sometimes, but that’s the best thing you can do. Take the time to learn as much as you can before you go out on that limb, but there is no way you can know everything. Once you take that leap, you learn that you must be willing to adapt and learn as you go. Things will be thrown at you and you will be forced to make big decisions, but you will rise to the occasion, I promise!

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Starting A Successful Made In USA Clothing Brand

Jim Snediker shares his take on how to start a successful clothing brand that’s made in the USA. The secret? Have something new to say, backed up with strong business basics.

A renaissance around Made In USA apparel is inspiring many designers to start businesses centered on domestically-manufactured clothing. But a Made in USA label alone won’t generate enough sales to achieve retail success. Hard work and expertise in branding, design, development, marketing, and manufacturing combined with offering your customer something new and unexpected in an enticing way … all this, plus a little bit of luck, are all keys to starting a successful Made In USA clothing brand.

Jim Snediker, owner of Chicago-based Stock Mfg. Co., distills his hard-won knowledge and experience about what it takes to succeed as a Made In USA brand in a post on the Maker’s Row blog.


“Why should people support domestic manufacturing?” Nearly every interview I take part in features that question, or some semblance of it. My answer to that is, you shouldn’t expect them to. If you aren’t saying something new or doing something unique, you need to re-examine your plan.

Building a Brand from the Ground Up

Starting A Successful Made In USA Clothing Brand - Indie Source

Indie Source – Los Angeles

I figure I should probably back up at this point and give you some background. I make clothing in Chicago. Well, I don’t personally, but the company I own does. My company, Stock Mfg. Co., is a men’s lifestyle brand that designs, develops, and manufactures every item of clothing we sell in America, the vast majority right here in our Chicago factory. Our factory is over 40 years old, and was started by the parents of one of my co-founders. Our founding team’s backgrounds consist of design, sourcing, development, retail buying, sales, marketing, and of course, manufacturing.

I’m not just a fan of the Made in America renaissance going on right now, I’m a very active participant and advocate, and one who has spent a large portion of his life over the last 2.5 years inside an actual factory. I’ve seen firsthand what it takes to start and build a clothing brand from the ground up. I’ve stayed overnight QC’ing shirts for an on-deadline shipment. I’ve dealt with die sets breaking snaps, fabric showing up damaged, buttons getting lost, and operators calling in sick for a week in the middle of a rush order (they’re all rush orders). I know the thrill of having a huge day of sales, and the crushing disappointment of just one customer having a bad experience.

Working out of a factory has also given me an upfront view of how many people get into this industry with absolutely no clue what it’s going to take to build a brand that is even remotely successful. Blaming ignorance isn’t entirely fair…we had absolutely no clue how hard it would be either. However, we started Stock with a clear reason of what differentiated us, why people would be interested in buying our stuff, and how we would go about selling. This is a step that I see a lot of aspiring makers skip.

Of course, things have changed and we’ve evolved over these two years, but the core mission of the brand has remained the same. We offer premium men’s clothing that is entirely made in the USA, and by bypassing traditional middlemen we offer it at a price point that is competitive with brands like J. Crew and Bonobos. We recognized that vertically integrating with a factory was a huge asset to us from both the branding and business sides of things, and we put a strategy in place to build a leading menswear brand on top of the history and heritage of our factory. For us, Made in USA was a differentiator, but not the sole defining characteristic of our brand. We knew there had to be more to our story than “We’re Made in America” if we wanted to build a brand that mattered.

What I’ve seen more of, even more than people wilting under the pressure of actually executing on the day-to-day grind of starting and building a brand, is people that think just because they’ve decided to start a clothing brand and slap a “Made in USA” label on there that they’re going to start selling hand over fist. The fact is, there’s a million “makers” out there doing the same thing as you, and most consumers are more inclined to shop at a fast fashion store, or spend big on a name brand. If your plan is to sell $195 oxford shirts, $150 leather wallets, or $90 polos with a bear embroidered on them because everyone on your lacrosse team called you Grizzly, you better be well connected, well funded, and really damn good. Or really lucky. Don’t underestimate luck.

The fact is, its very, very difficult to start a business, any kind of business, that even sniffs success. It’s a lot harder to start a clothing brand that isn’t really saying or showing anything new. Just doing what other people are already doing and hoping that’s going to be enough rarely ever is.

Starting A Successful Made In USA Clothing Brand - Indie Source

Indie Source – Los Angeles

 

What it Takes to Successfully Compete

That’s not to say in order to be successful you need to have disruptive price points, or a Stanford Business School Grad running the show. Brands like Rag & Bone, Engineered Garments, Todd Snyder and Junya Watanabe have gotten big based off a combination of killer design, hard work and great connections. It’s possible to just start a clothing brand, be really good, work hard and be successful. Just be aware, you need to be REALLY good, work REALLY hard, and that your odds of succeeding are MUCH better if you were previously a designer at a big fashion brand, or have a bunch of friends at GQ. But, even with all those variables in place, the odds of success are extremely tiny, and there are very few people in the world that have a meaningful combination of all those advantages.

Potential designers and makers shouldn’t be discouraged from following their dreams. The point I’m trying to make is that if you want to make a living off your brand, you can’t simply be. Don’t just learn how to sew a wallet, write a business plan too. After browsing Hypebeast, spend some time reading Fast Company. If you want to make things in America, that’s fantastic, but remember; you’ll be selling to, and competing against, other Americans. America is a country born of innovation and capitalism, and at no point in American history has someone truly succeeded by just doing what everyone else was already doing.

Read Jim Snediker’s full post on the Maker’s Row blog.

Jesse Dombrowiak

The Big Diff: Why Indie Source?

How long have you dreamed of, talked about, and researched starting your own fashion line ? Are you full of passion, design concepts, and business ideas but you just can’t find the next step to take or a path that leads you to success?

Indie Source was started for people like you offering a completely new business model; a personalized development, manufacturing, and marketing program that allows you to produce your fashion line, just the way you envision it, right here in Los Angeles.

We Saw What Was Missing

The fashion industry is extremely fragmented, with hundreds of people with very specialized skills working, but not necessarily together. Not as a unit.

We started Indie Source out of seeing a need in our community. Thousands of people wanted to start fashion brands – they could see others doing it and they were excited about what their lives could be if they reached that goal. But they didn’t know how to get there.

With backgrounds in production, we knew which people they needed to work and at what stage in order to make their fashion lines a reality. Our unique ability to meet the needs of today’s emerging fashion designers created a huge opportunity, and Indie Source was born.

This is not a class, webinar, or coaching service. Indie Source is not about downloading ebooks, watching videos, or getting advice. When you work with Indie Source, you get real life, hands on, step by step support at every stage: from product development, to manufacturing, to marketing your fashion collection.

Indie Source provides you with your own personal project manager, as well as the most skilled pattern makers, seamstresses, and fabric experts to ensure you realize your creative vision and get the best possible results. Indie Source is where your dreams leap out of your head, off the page, and transform into a fully produced and developed fashion line that is on the market.

What Indie Source offers is unique. This business model does not exist anywhere else in Los Angeles. We’re here to take you where you want to go.

Are you ready to turn your dreams into results? Contact us now.

This post is the first of a series, Indie Source Delivers, highlighting the groundbreaking services and resources we offer to new fashion designers.

Jesse Dombrowiak

Production minimums….wait…what?

Production minimums are the smallest number of units that a manufacturer can (or is willing) to go into production on. Most manufacturers set their minimums by body style and color way. For example, at Indie Source our production minimums for most custom work is 250 units per style, per color. This means that a crop top in maroon jersey fabric will require 250 units or a mens french terry sweatshirt in blue will require 250 units. These units can then be graded and divided into any number of sizes that the client requires.

Why do we do this?

While there are many things that go into this calculation such as fabric minimums, sewing minimums, etc. the main reason manufacturers need to set a production bar is to protect themselves. There is an inherent setup cost for a manufacturer whether they are running 100 units or 10,000 units. That cost is absorbed (in most cases) by the manufacturer and divided by the total number of units.

Using this same example, lets say the setup cost is $500. This could come from the cost of sourcing fabrics, sourcing trims, gathering artwork, making patterns/samples, and collaboration with the brand to understand exactly what they need.

If we divide $500/100 units, then there is a $5 per unit cost for each item to be made before any profit is calculated (manufacturers actually need to make a profit to stay in business). This does not even take into account the COGS (cost of goods sold) like fabric, trims, and printing materials let alone costs for labor and quality control.

Alternatively if the order is 10,000 units we’ll divide $500/10,000 = $.05 This is much more manageable for a manufacturer to absorb.

The trick here is finding a balance. Everyday there are thousands of new designers eager to go to market. Our goal is to afford them the least amount of risk as possible while still maintaining a business model that keeps our doors open. The more designers and new brands can understand the challenges of manufacturers the easier collaboration between us will become. We love to see new brands thrive and want to support them whether they come to Indie Source or go elsewhere. Good luck!!

Jesse Dombrowiak

Interview with Production Manager of Electric Yoga

You. Are. Electric. This slogan is found on Electric Yoga’s website and definitely describes the feeling woman will feel while wearing one of their pieces. Customers are deemed as “electrifiers” according to owner, designer and master yogi Michelle Bohbot. Bohbot opened Electric Yoga in Beverly Hills, Los Angeles with her daughter, Stephanie Bohbot, with the purpose to combine modern fashion and function to each of their pieces. Each of these characteristics are evident when browsing their online store. Leggings feature bright colors and unique designs with the perfect mix of Nylon and Spandex. Accessories, outerwear, tops and bottoms are also sold in their store It also helps that Michelle Bohbot was previously a fashion designer for 20 years with Bisou Bisou. Indie Source conducted an interview with the daughter Stephanie Bohbot, who is the production manager at Electric Yoga. Read on for Stephanie’s view of how she produces their successful line. www.electricyoga.comIMG_0952

Interview conducted by Laura Stone

Q1: I see you are a production manager for Electric Yoga. Why did you decide to work for Electric Yoga?

A1: I believed in the line and its potential. The colors were different. The patterns were sexy, but most of all the bras were supportive! I knew the line was heading in the right direction.

Q2: What are the day-to-day duties of a production manager? How would you describe the lifestyle?

A2: Constantly meeting with different factories. Attending trade shows and expos to see what are the latest trends.

Q3: What is the most challenging part of what you do, and how have you been prepared or have prepared yourself to tackle it during the day-to-day?

A3: Being organized. I was very disorganized and in order to succeed in production, you must keep every file and document every change. Files within files needed to be made. Once I figured that out, my life as a production manager came together and I was able to work more efficiently!

Q4: What do you wish you had known before getting into fashion production?

A4: How organized you have to be. I wish I was trained on being organized.

Q5: What advice would you give for people trying to start their careers as production managers, or any other part of a fashion production team?

A5: That you must believe in the products and that you have to wear every item to decide what changes should be made and go from there.

Q6: You have your line manufactured in the United States. What are the advantages of this?

A6: The quality is amazing. The feel of the material is luxurious. You don’t see sweat marks. Every item either has a dual function or is super detailed and catered to the woman who is active.

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