We were ecstatic to find out that, with the help of Maker’s Row, Black & Denim was able to find a manufacturer for their new clothing line and launch their Kickstarter campaign. We wanted to get the details of course! Here is our interview with one of the founders, Roberto Torres:
1.) What is your mission?
Our mission is to bring apparel and textile manufacturing back to Tampa, Florida. Tampa was once the cigar capital of the world. In the 1960’s, when the embargo to Cuba hit, a lot of those factories left town. Those buildings were retrofitted to become apparel and textile manufacturing facilities. When globalization hit, they left town again.
2.) Who is behind Black & Denim, how did you all meet?
Black & Denim was created by Roberto Torres, Luis Montanez and Christopher Findeisen. Roberto & Luis attended Florida State University together. They hired Chris as a freelance fashion designer, but it was obvious that the chemistry was good enough for us to form a partnership together.
3.) How were your searching for Manufacturers before you discovered Maker’s Row?
We were searching by word of mouth, which sometimes can be a painful process. There was not a clear cut list with leads where we could very easily pick which vendors we wanted to go with. Yellow pages and the internet can only go so far. There are so many spotty or faulty listings that is discouraging. Tampa does not have a garment district, so that made it 3 times harder for us to find reliable vendors & manufacturers.
4.) How long did it take after using Maker’s Row to find a factory?
After using Maker’s Row, we found 2 leads the same day. We interviewed them and started doing sampling. It was refreshing to know that both sources were able to understand and pre-screen each other. The thorough process to clear vendors and brands in Maker’s Row is top notch!
5.) Why did you choose to produce in the USA?
When we first calculated how much it would take for us to produce our garments, people said that we needed to go overseas. The minimums were ridiculous. I happen to be from Panama. When I was growing up, the notion that we could purchase American goods was that they were built to last. They were a bit more expensive but it was American. “Made in USA” meant something back then. It seems that people forgot what that means. We are the inventors of the practical and functional design. We want to make sure that stays that way.
6.) Do you think the ‘Made in America’ label will attract more customers?
Absolutely. We were able to attend the “Workshop @ Macy’s” last May. The reason why is because the company understands that the “Made in America’ trend is huge now.
7.) Can you tell us about your Kickstarter campaign?
Our Kickstarter campaign is designed to help us defray the cost of getting our women’s collection started. We are trying to make sure that we prove that there is a need for our product. That people do care about “Made in USA”. We want to dispel the notion that we are apathetic about Made in America. People from Germany, Australia and Asia love American made products. We want to give it to them.
Black and Denim website: www.blackanddenim.com
Kickstarter campaign: http://kck.st/Yobbi2
See more Maker’s Row success stories here: makersrow.com/stories