The American manufacturing sector is one of the biggest contributors to job growth (nearly 700,000 added since 2010), research and develop, and is essential to maintaing a thriving and competitive American economy. While women represent nearly half of the total U.S. labor force, they only constitute for about a quarter of the U.S. manufacturing workforce. There have been encouraging gains in the advancement of women in the manufacturing. Maker’s Row is proud to recognize just a few of the industry experts and skilled women in our community who are leading American manufacturing today.
1. Mindy Martell, Founder of Clothier Design Source
Mindy Martell has been in fashion design, apparel design, and soft good design for over 10 years. In 2003, she founded Clothier Design Source, a developer and manufacturer of garments that service the fashion and clothing industry. Martell takes a unique approach to producing sewn goods: rather than simply taking an order, Clothier Design Source works closely with clients to determine their end goals and creates a custom made plan to achieve results. Today, she helps standardize the product development process and cut down on development time for clients.
2. Satya Twena, Milliner & Founder of NYC Hat Factory
Satya’s first entrepreneurial endeavor started in 2010 when her mother asked for a soft hat to cover her bare head after she has lost her hair due to the effects of cancer treatment. She continued making hats for herself, her mother and their friends out of her apartment using a jiffy steamer and her oven. In a few short years Satya has expanded her company NYC Factory into a lifestyle brand which includes women’s hosiery. In 2013 Satya took her businesses further by saving one of Manhattan’s last remaining hat factories. Her hats have been worn by the likes of Frank Sinatra, Spike Lee, and Madonna. Satya grew up in Southern California and graduated from Wellesley College.
3. Nya Tanaka, Founder of Victory Stitch Manufacturing
Nya Tanaka is the founder and CEO of Victory Stitch, a factory that focuses on the independent fashion designer by providing full service apparel production for small runs and start up fashion lines. With over 20 years of professional experience, Nya has created a hub for emerging designers with an emphasis on small production runs with small minimums. Victory Stitch is proud to be a “Made in The USA” organization and is based in the heart of Oldsmar, Florida.
4. Gina Bihm, Tie Manufacturer & Founder of Genil Accessories
Gina Bihm helps designers from the very beginning stages of launching a product line all the way to production. Since starting her factory, Genil Accessories, nearly 30 years ago in Brooklyn (just below the Manhattan Bridge!) in 1989, she has provided high-quality manufacturing for men’s women’s, and children’s accessories, specializing in men’s bow ties, ties, and pocket squares. She works very close with her designers and believes maintaing a great relationship with her clients is key. Above all, she strives to help grow each brand she takes on by producing a quality product. The many years of production experience has equipped her well to work with both high-end designers as well as start-ups and small businesses. Gina has been recognized for her commitment to helping local brands grow in media outlets like CNBC and more.
5. Jennifer Diana, Founder of JLD Studios
Jennifer Diana has over 13 years of experience in the fashion industry as a apparel and textile designer with a record of creating fashion forward collections for the men’s, women’s, and children’s markets. After spending 5 years building a successful career in New York, she moved to the West Coast where she founded JLD Studios in 2012. Jennifer is a highly skilled textile artist with a strong eye for color, concept, and design. She possesses the ability to create an impactful and cohesive print assortment as it relates to the contemporary casual world. Jennifer is focused on the belief that you cannot produce a quality product without creativity, attention to detail, and technical knowledge. Her studio is experienced in full product life cycle, from research through production, ensuring each product gets the attention it deserves. Jennifer graduated the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale
6. Nicole Melendez, Apparel Producer at Nicole Melendez
Nicole Melendez is a fashion and textile designer, specializing in contemporary womenswear. She is driven and focused, an avid learner with a forward thinking personality that have proven to excel as a team player as well as an individual. She has a polished but creative approach to design. Experienced in collaborating with brands to bring their visions to life by aiding them in technical design and pattern making, concept development, hand and technical sketches as well as creating TechPacks, and sample construction. Her clients range from start up designers to established brands.She has a keen eye for conceptualizing ideas into garment design as well as well rounded in construction techniques in a variation of textiles, specially in silk, leather and hand woven. Nicole was born + raised in Ponce, Puerto Rico and moved to NYC in 2007 to pursue studies in Fashion Design and Merchandising earning two degrees from the Fashion Institute of Technology.
7. Cherie Bixler, Founder of Quality Pattern Making
Cherie Bixler first started off as an assistant designer and turned her 25 years of experience in the fashion industry into her own successful pattern making service. Pattern making offered more stability for Cherie at first, but, over the years, she found the process exciting. Quality Pattern Making focuses on producing patterns from original sketches, photographs, rub-offs or spec sheets, on cutting and sewing garments and consults with new and intermediate-level designers. Cherie’s accomplishments have been highlighted in various publications and she was previously named Industry Innovator by Style Industries.
8. Angela Kim, Founder of The Factory.212
Angela Kim is the founder of The Factory.212, located in New York City’s Garment District. She graduated from Purdue University and from FIT, and has spent 14 years as a designer in New York City. After designing her own successful apparel line, many young designers began to approach Angela for assistance on technical design questions, sample making and small production. She decided to start The Factory.212 to help modernize the communication between designers and factories. Angela spent 12 years designing for other companies before founding her factory. She understands, firsthand, the challenge young designers face when trying to get their samples made. With over 20 years of experience in design, pattern making, sourcing, production, she is passionate about helping emerging designers take off.
9. Christine Sutter, Founder of Left in Stitches
Christine Sutter has been working in the textile and apparel business professionally for over 29 years. As a child, she was even taught how to use patterns and learned to sew all her own clothing. As the founder and CEO of Left in Stitches, Christine overseas all of the projects from their concept to the production process. Left in Stitches provides creative design and development for small businesses and startup brands.
10. Beth Ellis, Founder of CustomLabels4u, Inc
Since 2003, Beth Ellis has been involved in the development and implementation of new ideas in the retail industry through custom clothing and sewing. Beth enjoys working with clothing start-ups, fabric & yarn crafters, and those who share her passion for “personalized” design. She has built a very successful online business by selling quality products and partnering with the best vendors in the business.
Know any amazing women in manufacturing? Leave a comment below so that their achievements can be recognized!