For American Factory week, we had Nancy Forman from The Accessory Think Tank write about her collaborative experience with NYC factories!
In writing about American Factory Week, I am inspired to include an excerpt from a poem by Louis Rams entitled New York City — My Home Town.
“Every dream that you perceive — in NEW YORK CITY can be achieved.
There are centers of every kind- where dreams become alive
The diamond center, the garment center, the art center too
And that’s just to name a few.
The United Nations was built on these grounds
Where every language can be found.
NEW YORK CITY where I was born and raised
I give you thanks and I give you praise.”
I am so thankful that I have had the opportunity to work with such incredible manufacturers in New York City who I consider family. The long-standing personal and professional relationships have developed over many years. Each has afforded me the opportunity to work side by side, to help create unique, special, beautiful handmade products in Manhattan with my clients. I want to recognize and say thank you for the honor and privilege of working with 3 incredible American factories located in the heart of New York City’s Garment District.
Terry is in my opinion, is a legend in the Garment Center.
Terry has been manufacturing belts for 40 years. Terry has told me that 40 years ago there were over 300 belt manufacturers. Terry’s biggest unit order over the past 40 years was 200,000 suspenders. His biggest unit belt order was 10,000 belts which he produced in 30 days. He has 15 employees. Rubin has worked with Terry for 35 years, Dolly 32 years, Gloria and Carlos for 30 years. I asked Terry how he has such a loyal team he replied: “I treat everyone nicely and they like me”. Terry loves this industry due to the ability to be creative. I asked Terry what advise he has for new businesses and brands: “Be flexible, be open to change, listen and never stop learning”.
Christine McPartland is a talented, passionate sculptor, artist, humanitarian, and a creative manufacturer. I have worked with Christine on numerous jewelry projects for over 10 years. This is a woman who never says NO. How many times have I asked for a piece of jewelry for a client…for a “day of”, opportunity and Christine delivers. As an example, Teen Vogue requested jewelry for a shoot with Taylor Swift. Christine without a hesitation said “Absolutely”. Not only did she deliver the samples in one day, the jewelry ended up on the cover of Teen Vogue on Taylor Swift and throughout the magazine.
Christine has been in business for 36 years. Her biggest order was over 5000 units. Christine’s advice is to “understand the process”. I asked Christine what she loves about our industry, “I love making people’s dreams come true and solving the puzzle”. Christine’s success is reflective of the willingness to try the impossible even if it takes a little longer.
My Handbag Buddhas. The door is always open for face to face communication. The ongoing opportunity to work with master craftspeople. Kind to their coworkers, patient with their customers. Jaime and Maria Porras of Andina Studio are the accomplished manufacturers. They are my work family and my colleagues. Thinking about the honor and privilege to work with another New York City manufacturer reinforces how important working relationships are in our industry. The opportunity to see these experts at work is like watching painters create a Picasso. Jamie and Maria can develop through a scribble, and unintelligible sketch (I can’t draw). Every bag, whether a sample or production is almost always perfect. Andina has supported my clients and me through their willingness to go the extra mile. Anything I need, Jaime says “Of course, anything for a friend”.
Jaime started his career with Carlos Falchi. His beautiful wife Maria began her career with Kate Spade. The door to Andina Studio is always open for me and my clients. The ongoing opportunity to work with Andina Studio has benefited me and so many of my handbag clients. They are manufacturing experts who are also kind and patient. Their goal is to always create beautiful leather goods. They have worked in the heart of the Garment Center for 18 years.
Every handbag Maria says “is an opportunity to help the client create something they imagine.” I could not imagine my business without Jamie and Maria. If we are told a sample will be ready “next week on a specific day at 3 pm” as he points to the calendar, it will be. We then meet, he makes any changes, provides specific direction and points again and says: “your production will be ready at 7 pm on Friday”. His willingness to work late and do whatever is necessary to help a client’s business is amazing.
Celebrating American Factory Week with Maker’s Row reminds me of how important partnerships, face to face communication, and long-term relationships can enhance one’s business acumen. Additionally, sometimes it’s nice to be able to drop by at a moment’s notice to see a smiling face and proactively execute on a new business idea.