Ever wonder where the fur used in movie costumes come from? Well, we have the answer for you. Kim Clark is one of the owners of National Fiber Technology, which is a company that produces long hair fur for the entertainment industry. She noted in an interview I did with her at an event in Boston that “we’re really the last mill in the world that makes long pile fur.”
The breadth of their work includes fur for films like Star Wars, Underworld, Wallace and Gromit, and Where the Wild Things Are. The list goes on and on as Kim explained, “our clientele varies widely from major movies to Theme Parks to Broadway to museums to taxidermy to cos-play so most of our projects are fun and unique.” The best part? They are all produced right here in the United States in Massachusetts.
How the Company Got Started
National Fiber Technology or NFT is actually a company that has existed since the 40’s. However, it was a wig-making factory then. When the wig-making business went overseas the original owners continued to supply fabric to their existing Hollywood clientele since wigs were produced with fabric during that time. Kim said, “And it evolved. In the 70’s they hooked up with Jim Henson. In the 80’s they hooked up with Rick Baker.”
Kim and her partner Fred Fehrmann actually worked for Walt Disney Imagineering in Los Angeles and used materials from NFT. “John Moot, who owned NFT at the time, just turned 80 and was ready to retire. Because of our close working relationship we thought it would be a good fit. That resulted in us buying NFT on October 30th, 2001. So, Halloween has a special meaning for us as we celebrate our 15 year anniversary.”
While she had a connection in the entertainment industry, she wasn’t the typical person to run a textile manufacturer. “My husband and I had no textile experience when we bought this company. Our background was just making things for the entertainment industry. My background is costume design, my husband’s background is set-building. Together, we collaboratively said ‘let’s jump’ and that’s what we did.”
Why “Made in USA”
Kim was very passionate about making in the United States. “Made in America means to me: quality, passion, pride, ownership. It’s ownership and community because if we don’t have community strength — we need the community and we need each other to be successful and without each other, we’re just lost in the wind.”
When asked about the entertainment industry in particular, she cited the close relationship that manufacturers have with their clients, “whether you are just starting or have been around some time, the relationship that you develop with local factories or suppliers can really help you. Sometimes that can help you get through a tight deadline.”
Since NFT isn’t the typical factory, I asked Kim how she was able to run such a unique company to such success, “My biggest advice is you have to be passionate about it. Even if it’s something you’ve never done before, if you don’t have the passion for it you’re not going to be as successful. Now you probably could still be successful, but you have to live, eat, and breathe it in the beginning. You have to have that passion — that’s my biggest thing.”
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