S TARTING UP
he creation of your first product collection can be very exciting; however, the difficulty in the production is often underestimated. Many cre ative designers struggle with production and the development of the products. Understanding the process and conducting appropriate due diligence will not only save you time, but ultimately contribute positively to the financial success of your collection. The first step in production is researching factories to produce samples and products. Research can be very intimidating and an overwhelming part of the process, however, choosing the right factories will provide a foundation for the success of your collection. The utilization of factories specializing in the production of specific products offers many advantages and is highly recommended. Should, the collection, consist of two or more product types; it may be necessary to contract with several factories to meet quality expectations and delivery constraints. Here is a factory evaluation questionnaire to present to each factory. The following questions will assist you in the selection of factories for your product line(s):
What products can your factory produce? Prior to placing the call to the factory you will have already determined from your research that the factory promotes the production of your products, however, do not assume all categories are produced at the chosen factory. It is common to outsource to other factories products that they do not specialize in. The utilization of outsourcing or subcontracting contributes to increased cost and less quality control. Request a product catalog to view their product lines and a list of customers you may interview on their experience.
How long has your factory been operating? Avoid newly established factories. Experience and success can be key components in the longevity of a company and should be factors in your evaluation.
How long have you been providing products to companies in the United States?
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Often you may work with companies that are located in other countries. It is important to inquire on their prior experience in working with US Customs. Improper and incomplete documentation can delay shipments, which will result in not meeting the deadlines. This can be very detrimental to delivery timelines.
Does your company have a Research and Development department? A Research and Development department provides valuable insight for the development of your design. This department can provide suggestions on designs, development, and the production of your product line. Sourcing materials such as fabrics and trims are a significant role an R&B department can contribute. Available materials can save you the frustration and disappointment of choosing a fabric that is not available. Unavailable fabrics can be custom made to order for an increased minimum and sometimes a tooling charge is required. A tooling charge is known in the industry as a charge to make your fabric pattern or trim and this process can be very expensive.
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