5 Things to Know Before Starting the Manufacturing Process

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What are some of the most important things a designer needs to have prepared before meeting with an apparel manufacturer? This is one of the most commonly asked questions we hear, and it’s about time we tackled it! Think of contacting a manufacturer as a sales pitch. You want to convince the manufacturer that you are serious about your brand, you have potential to grow, and that you would be a good fit for the services they offer. Here are 5 tips to help prepare for the manufacturing process:

1) Have a clear vision

Have a clear vision of your product. A manufacturer is going to want to work with a client whose product has high growth potential, so be prepared to answer a lot of questions about your product. This can include everything from retail/wholesale pricing, projected sales, target market, etc. You want to be able to answer as many questions about your product as you can, and having a clear description ready is key. Projects Software is a great tool to walk you through the steps and details of producing a product.

2) Set up a timeline

It is important to create a timeline before talking to a manufacturer. If you have a precise calendar, it will help with negotiating turnaround times and planning the production process. When developing your timeline, make sure you take into consideration all of the steps needed to produce your item, as well as allowing time for error. “Allow enough time for development and pre-production. Be prepared with how many styles, and at what stage you are at.  ALWAYS make sure the factory does a pre-production sample before you make the marker,” says Ali from Lipstick Prophets.

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Related Reading: 4 Tips for Determining If A Brand is Ready for Manufacturing | How I Got My Prototype Ready for Production | 6 Stages to Making Your Sample Production Ready

3) Understand the services you need

Do your research! Don’t waste your time or the manufacturers time by sending inquiries that they can’t help you with. Identify what stage in the making process you need support with, and find the manufacturers that can assist you from there.  Sara from Spooltown says, “Every designer is at a different stage in the process. If you’re meeting with a full-service factory, what you need to know is which services you need help with, and which you’ll take care of.”

manufacturing sewing machine in factory

4) Layout the construction methods

Ideally, you should have a tech pack ready to show to manufacturers (you can learn more about tech packs here). If you don’t have a tech pack, you need to know all the components needed to create your product. This includes, but is not limited to, the materials, finishes, hardware, labels, trim, buttons, etc. that it will take to produce your product. “Even if you are not a “trained” designer, research the products you wish to manufacturer as much as possible. Anytime I want to make something that I don’t know too much about, I find something similar and look at it from every angle and analyze different methods of construction, finishes, etc. This way, by the time I go to my manufacturer with the idea, I have a clear understanding of how the item should be constructed,” says Jennifer from All Hands.

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5) Create a budget

This may seem obvious, but make sure that your chosen manufacturer falls within your price point. Do your research and some comparative shopping to find the right manufacturer to partner with. Create a line item pricing guide for your product to help you consider all of the associated costs. And while it isn’t a surprise that manufacturing in America can cost more than producing overseas, there are numerous benefits that can counteract the savings such as time, logistics, shipping, etc. Having a realistic budget for your line will help you plan out the manufacturing process and in the end, save you money.

 Been through the process before? Share in the comments below what you have learned!


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