Meeting in-person with a factory before starting the production process is a great way to work out if they’re a good fit with your brand.
But there’s also work to be done before you meet the factory. As a designer or entrepreneur, your search for a factory – and the relationship that ensues – will be smoother and, ultimately, more successful if you know what you’re looking for ahead of time. But how do you narrow down what you need from a manufacturer? We’ve put together a Maker’s Row Factory Checklist (for you to download and print!) to navigate these unchartered waters.
Evaluate Your Expectations
Identify your priorities when it comes to selecting a manufacturer. Does their business model affect your product? Will their heritage strengthen your brand? Where are they based – is it convenient, as you’re building your supply chain? Some factors to consider are:
- • Turnaround speed from order to completion
- • Quality of final goods
- • Business model
- • Heritage and history
- • Reputation
- • Location
- • Flexibility
- • Versatility
Work Out Your Direction
It’s essential that you put your best face forward and show that you’re serious about your business. And while you don’t necessarily need to show a business plan with exact figures and projections to prove yourself, no factory would be averse to looking over a few numbers and graphs! However, the real priority is demonstrating your brand and business goals, which you can do simply by creating a basic document that includes the following goals:
- • The date you need a saleable product
- • When you aim to reach a certain percentage of your target market
- • The region/s you’ll be targeting as you launch
These points – even if you’re planning on being a small or boutique brand long-term – will help you and the manufacturer ascertain if you’re on the same page, and if working together would be mutually beneficial.
Set A Timeline
Make sure you keep your manufacturer in the loop around your deadlines. From their perspective, having a clear idea of your timeline is crucial to understanding your production needs. Put this in writing, and include dates such as when you need material samples by, when prototypes require completion, market test runs, and even future seasons.
This post was inspired by an earlier Maker’s Row article by Stephen Meyer of Pergamena.