Production problems happen. It’s just a part of the process. However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t avoid them. Here are some tips!
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There are many daunting problems designers can run into when starting their own line- especially if it’s their first line. The issue of “not knowing what you don’t know” has a way of sneaking up in inconvenient ways and ruining those best-laid plans. When looking at all of the potential hindrances ahead, some designers can lose confidence while ultimately deciding against pursuing their dream, or equally devastating, they don’t plan for issues and end up wasting money, time and resources for a line they can’t launch. Fortunately, with some proactive planning, neither of these outcomes has to happen!
There are many easy ways for designers to be proactive and solve the foreseen and unforeseen issues that will inevitably lie ahead. It’s important to get into the mindset of “this could happen to me”, and plan for the worst when launching a line so that you are sure you are covered in the long run. To start, it is helpful to ask around and see what issues other designers at your experience level are running into. From there, start compiling a list of potential blunders. The most common issues designers run into when launching are: running out of money, not maintaining their timeline, and finding quality errors at the end of or after production. From this list, you can begin a tactical approach to plan ahead and solve these problems before they occur.
Cushion Your Budget
Running out of money can be one of the most detrimental issues a designer can have. If you run out, it will be during production at your manufacturer, which means you will have to pull your line from the factory unfinished. It is important to add cushion to every part of your budget. From the very beginning when you initially are saving money personally or gaining investors, be sure to always end up setting more funds aside than what you think you will need. Even if you have calculated every step of the way- save more! For reference, 20% for each financial category is a good amount of cushion.
Adding cushion is truly helpful in all aspects of production, e.g. when ordering fabrics and trims, order twenty percent more. This way, if buttons break, the thread goes missing, the fabric gets cut incorrectly, or any other little factory mishaps happen, you will have extra on hand with which you can solve the issue. Nothing is worse than running out of these things during production and having to pay for rushed shipping while taking the chance that the vendor is out of stock. Save yourself the money, time and stress by simply ordering extra.
Manage Quality Control
In order to avoid quality issues during production, it is important to both choose the right factory and to maintain a presence in it. When choosing the right factory, ask around! Places like Maker’s Row are designed to help take some of this stress away from you, especially taking advantage of reviews from other designers. For example, say you’re designing evening gowns and you are looking at factory that has amazing reviews but only for producing swimwear. This isn’t the right factory for you. It may be good, but not for what you need. Choosing the right fit for your line is key. Furthermore, in order to ensure high quality, you must maintain quality control. If your factory isn’t local, look to add someone to your team who is local and can check in for you to ensure excellence and timely completion.
Take the free Maker’s Row Quality Control Class here: makersrow.com/academy
Allow For Extra Time
Completing your line on time is the last step in planning ahead, and is one step not to be forgotten. It is imperative to stick to any set timeline you give to potential buyers, sales representatives, or PR firms. Once you set appointments with buyers, tell your sales representative a date to plan to sell your product, or schedule a launch campaign, these dates are set in stone very quickly. Missing an appointment with a buyer often means immediate disinterest from the retailer. Not being able to maintain a launch date loses credibility for both you and your brand. Always add cushion to your timeline! You can again use the standard twenty percent cushion here as well. Never tell anyone outside your production team the exact date your product is slated to be finished, always add a few weeks just to be sure.
Keep in mind that there is no downside to having extra funds, material, or time. Extra funds mean more money to put into a launch, or to save for your next line, additional materials can be saved for your next line, or for replenishment on your best selling styles, and additional time leaves extra room for additional quality control, packaging, or even celebrating! Don’t fear what lies ahead, plan for it. Be proactive and feel confident in your line and its launch and get ready to amaze yourself and all that you can accomplish!