Learning To Trust Your Factory’s Advice

As a designer, I understand that starting a new project can be scary especially if it’s your first time working with a factory.  As a bit of a control freak myself I know that it can be difficult to trust others with your work. But after I opened up SOSA Knitwear I got a chance to see things from the factory’s point of view. Here are some ideas to help you develop a trusting relationship with your factory.

Start Small

If you’ve never worked with a factory before and you want to test them out I recommend that you start small. Don’t send them your entire collection to produce. Start with one to three items tops. If everything comes back on the up and up then you can feel comfortable moving forward. Pay close attention to how they handle this order. Were there any stitches that they had trouble with? Are there any parts that they seemed to struggle with? If so learn from this. That doesn’t mean they shouldn’t get more work from you. It just means that you should think about sending those trouble areas to a different factory.

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Ask Your Factory For Advice, And Trust Them When They Say No

Many times I get designers in my studio that will tell me “I’m trying to create this feeling”. Or “I want it to have this kind of look”.  But they don’t quite know enough about knitwear to translate those ideas into an actual knitted pattern.  Most of the time people will ask me for my advice and I’m able to give them advice on how to get the look they are going for. When I was first starting out I was much more timid with clients. I had a client who wanted to replicate a hat. The original hat used yarn that was very stretchy and the yarn they gave me to make the sample was not. I mentioned that they should add ribbing to the edge of the hat and they said no. So when I was done with the hat it didn’t fit the same way as the original even though they looked exactly the same.  You have to make sure that you are hearing what your factory is saying. Nowadays I just come right out and tell people when something is a bad idea. Trust me, you might be disappointed now, but you will be grateful later.

I understand how hard this can be, because I’ve been on both sides. Before starting SOSA Knitwear I was working for another company that decided to begin a swimwear line. We knew nothing about producing swimwear! I can’t tell you the number of times we would bring our samples to a factory, they would warn us that something wasn’t going to work or should be done a different way and we wouldn’t listen to them. We would almost always end up regretting not taking their advice. For the most part, the people who work in factories have been doing this for a long time and have seen it all. So when they say something won’t work, it probably won’t work. Asking for advice and taking that advice will end up saving you big bucks in the long run.


Read and Reread Their Terms

Some factories will have you agree to terms before they start your order. This is a great way to not only protect the factory from being stuck with a big order of unpaid for goods, but it can also be used to protect you. Make sure you get a written agreement about price, delivery date, and everything you are expecting to receive. Ask them what happens to the goods if the order gets cancelled? How much will you be expected to pay if you have to back out of the order? Having everything written out can go a long way to building trust between you and your factory.


Do Your Research and Pick The Right Factory For You

All of this doesn’t mean that you should blindly trust someone you’ve never worked with before. Ask around before settling on a factory. There is nothing wrong with asking a factory about the other brands they work with. Then look into those brands. Are their price points close to where you want to be? Are they making similar products? If a factory says they can make a swimsuit for you, but they haven’t worked with any other swimwear brands you should keep looking.  A factory may be amazing at what they do, but that doesn’t mean they are the right fit for you. If a factory is on the up and up they should have no problem giving you all the information you would need to make the right choice for you.

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