Hey guys. I’m Syama Meagher, CEO of Scaling Retail. And today, we’re going to talk about where to find the right manufacturers that are going to support your business and your bottom line. Now, it’s really not as simple as hopping on a flight and heading to India and walking around, trying to find a manufacturer, right? In fact, it can seem like somewhat of a black box, even though it’s one of the first things to think about as you’re building a fashion brand. So today, we’re going to talk a little bit about trade shows. We’re going to talk about looking at list building. And we’re also going to talk about networking and all the different ways in which you can be able to find the right manufacturers for your business.
Now, unlike doing a Google search where you’re going to type in silk manufacturers and get a whole host of different things, going towards networking and starting to talk to other owners of independent fashion brands is an amazing way to find out about new manufacturers that you might not have heard of before. In fact, guys, some of these manufacturers deal so much in scale and in large-scale production that they may not even be ready or quite equipped to handle your small scale business as a fashion startup or as a business that is slightly growing but still requires low minimum quantities.
But when you start to talk to different networks and build those friendship groups with independent fashion brands, what you’ll find is all of a sudden these little doors of different manufacturers start to open up. And because it’s a referral and not just a cold email from, to be honest, a pretty bad looking website, there’s a better chance you’ll get someone who’s going to be more empathic to your needs, someone who’s going to work with your fashion startup and hopefully be around for you to scale and grow up – a key consideration for any founder building a fashion brand.
Now, the next thing that’s so important is looking at these aggregated lists. So companies like Maker’s Row have built a business off of having aggregated lists of manufacturers. Now, Maker’s Row really specializes in USA production and domestic manufacturing for building a fashion brand. However, you’ll find that different companies have aggregated different lists of manufacturers. Now, while it’s great to have kind of this condensed destination of all the places you might want to hit up, please keep in mind that not all of them are necessarily vetted.
Simply having a website or paying a membership fee can gain you access to some of these different companies, and you want to make sure you’re coming at them with the right questions, and you’re making sure that they’re actually going to be able to do what you need for your fashion startup. So, please don’t just rely on these companies to pick any one of them off of their list. Use it as kind of the next best step if you’re having difficulty with networking, or you’re having difficulty finding your searches online. When you’re building a fashion brand, you always want to proceed with manufacturing partners with care. In fact, this applies to growth stage and enterprise businesses too.
Now lastly, one of my favorite places to go to to find manufacturing options and even sourcing for materials is a trade show. There are a few trade shows that really specialize in gathering global manufacturers that even focus on particular kinds of product and certain kinds of techniques. Now, when you think about brands that, you know, have come up with this like Texworld or MAGIC Sourcing- or even Première Vision in Paris, these different trade shows organizations have really done a good job of sourcing and finding the right manufacturers and even sourcing agents to really help you find a very narrowed down and niched group.
Now again, these are pay-for-play environments, so all of the people participating are paying a fee for that trade show booth. Yes, they may be, you know, somewhat well known or have some business, however, they are not 100% vetted. It is really up to you to make sure, again, that these manufacturers are able to do what you need when you need it, and they’re able to provide things right on the timelines. Also make sure they have the right pricing you think is most appropriate for what your needs are.
So, while these places are great, I personally think that going to a trade show can expose you to so many more options as far as manufacturing. Definitely take a look at these aggregated lists and certainly guys, word-of-mouth, I think, personally, is always the best way to go because, you know, it’s a tried-and-true relationship and an integral aspect of building a fashion brand. You already know that that person is vetted. However, if you are going to go on one of these other routes, make sure that you talk to a few references.
Make sure that just because they’re saying, “Yes, we do manufacturing for these bigger labels and bigger brands,” it doesn’t mean that that’s where that brand is getting all of their manufacturing done. In fact, as you might learn as you grow your business, different manufacturers are probably going to make different elements or different pieces of garments for you. So just because someone says, “Yeah, I’m doing big business with X, Y, and Z brand,” it might be that they’re responsible for doing a very small number of SKUs for this larger company.
So be careful. Don’t get persuaded, right? Make sure that you do your due diligence, talk to the right referrals, and even get them to write things down, right? Make sure you get their timelines, their price points, etc. All right guys, now make sure that you read our in-depth blog post on how to maximize your time when you’re sourcing at trade shows. And, we’ve got an amazing download for you, which is a cheat sheet when you go to those trade shows on how to maximize your time and what to look for in manufacturers.
All right guys, I hope you thoroughly enjoyed learning more about the manufacturing process. Please leave a comment below, make sure that you subscribe, and head on over to our website and our Instagram channel @scalingretail. We’ve got lots of advice, tips, and tricks. And when your business (fashion startup, growth stage or enterprise) is ready for some strategic consulting, please make sure to shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Talk to you guys soon. Bye.