On our most recent Maker’s Row Live, the team took a special trip to Sunset Park (Brooklyn) to learn about and tour MCM Enterprise. On entering this production house, we were welcomed by friendly staff and a variety of treats. While standing in the lobby, we could see through glass panels and preview the factory floor. We immediately knew that this is probably one of the largest apparel factories in the city.
MCM Enterprise is a production house that makes everything apparel – men’s wear, women’s wear, children’s wear, swimwear, activewear, you name it. It’s a two-generational business that has lived through over three decades of American manufacturing and come out on top. It’s secret: adapting to the times.
Production is Easy
We were lucky to meet with Chung Yu, the Managing Director, who spoke with us candidly about how his company and experiences in the industry. He is personally interested in working with passionate designers and turning their ideas to artistry, and he has taken initiative to welcome startups and smaller businesses. He enjoys the personal aspect of those relationships and the ability to help the get started on the right foot.
As an SVA graduate and industry expert he shared with us why his perspective is so helpful for those just getting started. “We [MCM] have the benefit, we had our own line before and we sold it so I understand how that works. I understand what the salesmen want, and what the buyer wants. It’s not just the product. Production is easy, it’s just like hiring an attorney or accountant, you have to trust their ability.” Here are some more words of wisdom he shared to start off successfully as a new brand.
When a Developed Brand is More Important Than a Perfect Product
“When new entrepreneurs first start they want to give the best to a customer. This is how you build a brand. Branding is the most difficult thing in the fashion business. But you have to start somewhere. The mass merchant, they care about quality too, but the startup is more conscious of what they want. They want to perfect everything. Sometimes I think it’s a little bit too much.
“They spend too much time on the product, instead of marketing their brand. I work with a lot of different fashion brands, and there is a trend now that I see. Most, when they come in, are very passionate. They want to create their dream, that’s what they focus on. We at MCM are trying to help them make that into a reality, but I also tell them all the time, ‘you can’t just focus on the product.’
“If you’ve decided you want to be in the fashion industry, you really have to focus on building a brand. The brand is not a product, it’s basically the relationship that you build with your customer. The product is just the start, a conversational piece. If you have the greatest product, they buy it once after that they are not going to buy it again because you don’t have a better product. Your brand’s done. It’s about building the experience. That’s what I’m trying to help them understand.
“Building a brand is building a long term relationship where people will enjoy buying your brand and telling their friends. So one of the biggest problems I see with startups is they over focus on a product. They put too much detail, what we call ‘over design.’ Making the product very expensive. Then, who is going to buy it if the price is too high? So we try to help them understand the process, how to make them become competitive.”
MCM Factory Tour
Check out MCM’s facilities.
More on MCM
- Launching an Innovative Product with an American Factory
- Watch: Factory Perspective – Adapting to the Times
- Staff Picks: Factories We’re Loving This September
- Celebrate Women’s History Month! 20 Women in American Manufacturing