Don’t believe the myth that manufacturing and production is an old man’s game. Here are 12 young leaders, all with different stories, using their career to strengthen American Manufacturing.
Jason Wilkins – 31
“Find a location that compliments what you are trying to do. Focus on Quality and Service. Focus on slow and managed growth… this is not a lottery ticket.”
Based in North Carolina, Innovaknits is a contract manufacturer servicing the fully fashioned knitwear and apparel market. Jason and his team boasts of 30+ years of garment manufacturing experience and are able to bring the intricate patterns and designs of their customers to life.
Jaleh Factor – 33
President, Sourcing Theory
“Value and develop people! A good, talented and engaged team makes all of the difference.”
Jaleh opened her factory, Sourcing Theory, nearly three years ago because she believes in domestic production. She enjoys the process of manufacturing clothes with her talented team in the heart of the fashion district of downtown Los Angeles. The team specializes in the manufacturing of apparel for women, men and children for established and emerging brands.
Justin Walker – 36
Robot Wrangler, Mohop
“There is no better time than now to get into advanced manufacturing. The price of equipment like 3d-Printers, CNC machines, laser cutters are all now within reach. Also the ability to reach customers via social media or various selling platforms makes for a more even playing field for up and coming entrepreneurs.”
Mohop is designed and crafted in Chicago by an artist, an architect, and their robots. Justin Walker and Annie Mohaupt thoughtfully craft products by combining traditional artisanal techniques with emerging technologies. Justin shares “although the future is in advanced manufacturing there will always be a place for the human touch” and Mohop will help you find the nexus of human creativity and automation for your product.
Justin Moore – 34
President, Barrel Maker
“You need to constantly take risks.”
What started off as a joke, quickly turned into a profitable business for Justin. He was making “cheesy baby clothes with my wife” which turned into “printing our own shirts and ultimately doing custom printing.” Now their shop is thriving in Chicago. Barrel Maker Printing is committed to working with customers one-on-one to successfully navigate the ins and outs of screen printing, elevating your design to everything it can be.
Anna McCraney – 38
Owner, Annabelle Blank Canvas
“Keeping things simple, doing your research, editing, and and listening to your customer are the key to success in business!”
Before starting Blank Canvas, Anna graduated from Rhode Island School of Design with a BFA in Apparel Design. She then went on the be the head designer for Dolce Vita, Amanda Uprichard, and her own brand Annabelle. Now she is helping other designs and entrepreneurs with their pattern making, sample sewing, and product development.
Jay Selway – 39
Owner, Jumbie Industries
“Find your niche. Focus on it. Differentiate yourselves and stay true to your brand. Be prepared to work. A lot.”
Jay owns Maryland-based Jumbie Industries, where they use lasers to make custom signs, wood accessories, awards, furniture, and other fun stuff – all for a good cause. They donate 10% of their profits to non-profits and families of children in Maryland that are battling cancer.
Mark Huebner – 34
President, Hookfish Manufacturing
“Hate to be cliche, but never give up. If you believe that you are truly putting out great products for people and you are doing it honestly without cutting corners (pun intended:-) you can and will eventually be successful. There is a huge need coming back to the US for American-made apparel.”
Hookfish is a fully integrated dye sub to cut and sew factory that specializes in stretch knits/activewear team sportswear. This one-stop shop is 100% vertically integrated, from patterning to the finished product they do it all.
Jason Allevato – 36
Owner, JSA Fashions
“Quality of work and customer service are paramount.”
Nya Tanaka – 33
Owner, Victory Stitch Manufacturing
“Mistakes happen. Often, really really often. I’ve learned not to waste time blaming. Identify it, learn how to avoid it again and then take action.”
Nya’s interest in the pattern making grew during high school, but it wasn’t until she attended fashion school did she know that she wanted to be in a factory. She enjoyed visiting garment factories and imagined herself working with new machine everyday. Once her kids were school age and her list of sewing/pattern making clients had grown big enough, she left her job to start Victory Stitch.
Tom Stringham – 38
“Be passionate about your craft.”
Tom leads a unique, full service build shop in New York. ImagineFORM brings your imagination to life through design and fabrication. Some services they provide are plastic fabrication, wood working, and laser cutting.
Ushbir Gadh – 38
Owner/President, Universal Elliott Corp
“Be organized. Know what you want done. Do your homework ahead of time. Allows for a much better development of product and relationship.”
Universal Elliott Corp is a 35 year old family business that specializes in leather accessories. Ushbir starting leading the business after he decided to dropped out of med school to join my father. This NYC company strictly manufactures for private labels and designers with pattern and sample makers on hand.
Dena Molnar – 36
“My advise would be to work in your industry of choice before embarking on your own manufacturing / production business. We both greatly value our industry experiences.”
Dena and her co-founder both went to RISD before starting their careers in the NYC Design Industry. Now they lead WOVNS, an innovative platform and service for custom woven textiles on demand in California. They are combining the rapid prototyping approach prevalent in architecture, with the textile industry to provide users access to Jacquard weaving.
Kim Williams – 33
Owner, Sewing Etc.
“You are always refining your business ideas and goals, and that’s ok.”
Sewing Etc. is offers all inclusive services starting with pattern development and ending with production of your design. Kim leads the core team which is made up of talented master seamstresses and a master patternmaker, each with over 30 years of qualifying experience and formal training.