Are you just starting out with a new brand or been at it a while? Either way, there are things you’ll definitely need to get right when you want to manufacture your new product line.
Keep These 10 Things in Mind When Starting Your Fashion Brand
1. Know Your Product Inside and Out
It’s your product. You’re the ‘storyteller’ for this great new idea and the only one who uniquely knows it and loves it for what it is. That means you need to communicate that to your potential manufacturer.
If you can’t tell them exactly what you want i.e. what it looks like, its dimensions, its purpose, etc, chances of your manufacturer ‘getting it’ are slim to none. We’re talking time delays, expense overruns and in the end a product that isn’t exactly or even close to what you wanted.
Knowing your product and how to communicate what you want, gives a much higher guarantee that you’ll receive an accurate quote, an acceptable timeline and the end product that you set out to make.
2. Make Sure There’s A Market For Your Product
You want to produce your beautiful product idea but there’s no sense in making a product that you’re not sure others will buy. That’s why you have to test your idea, your product, and especially your pricing. Do this by sampling, using surveys and interviewing potential buyers. It will save you a lot of money, time and resources, not to mention headaches.
I recommend this great resource and guide for doing just that: Six-Day Business. Try this concise system and amazingly helpful guide as an excellent resource to quickly move you through the necessary stages.
Once you receive the positive results you’re looking for and/or enough feedback to adjust your product so that it will sell, then you can ‘green light’ it for production.
3. Check and Double-Check Your Lead Times
Allow enough lead time to get your product developed in the best possible way. Developing new products take a huge amount of time – anywhere from 6-12 months. We’ve even seen longer lead times – as much as a year or two. It can depend on the product, it’s intricacies and finding specialty manufacturing.
And if your product seasonal or timely you’ve got to allow even more time.
If you’re a complete newbie, a lot of research can be involved.
Even if this isn’t your first rodeo, don’t fall into the trap thinking that you’ve got this covered. Always leave some wiggle room. Your new product may need a different manufacturer or your regular one is now booked up. The sampling process may take more time or need a longer review process. This new manufacturer could be located in a country that has stricter import/export laws that slow down the transport.
Even if you’re in the country where it’s manufactured, never assume that will automatically speed up the process.
4. Figure Out What Kind of Manufacturer You Need
You can usually tell from a manufacturers website what their product range is and the type of quality they offer. If they mostly manufacture high-end goods they’re probably not going to be interested in printing t-shirts. And if they print only t-shirts you’re not going to want them to be producing for your $500 dresses.
Some factories may not directly do leather work, customizations of bags, dresses, jeans etc. but may be affiliated with other factories that do and can help co-ordinate the piece work for you.
5. Learn How to Get an Accurate Quote
Choose the correct manufacturer for your product, as mentioned in #5. Know your product inside and out, per #1.
Say, you’ve found the right full-service manufacturer. Now you need to get a quote to see if you can manufacturer your product so you can sell it at the price you tested it.
Unfortunately, manufacturers can’t just ‘ballpark’ a figure for you. They need to know the facts. They’re not mind-readers and they’re not all alike. The process differs from manufacturer to manufacturer. Some have an automated online quote form.
Either way, before you begin the quote request process, read their FAQ’s to find out what information your manufacturer needs from you. Having all that information ready before you begin will get you the most accurate quote – in the shortest time possible.
For examples: For a fashion branding quote you’ll most likely need to have ready before requesting:
- Product Description
- Special effects? Printing embroidery?
- Sizes (XS, S, M, L, XL, One-Size)
- How many colours?
- How many of each colour in each size?
- Photos to upload of your product or product idea
- Fabrics, Mixtures,
- Tech Pack – A tech pack is a garment sheet, with all the technical information you need, from measurements to fabrics. Some manufacturer supply this but other charges up to $300 per tech pack. It can get very pricey.
When the quote comes back… Here’s where you’ve got to pay attention. Does it include the cost of a tech pack, producing samples, shipping samples, reviewing samples, making alterations, all stages of product production and shipping? Is there a product guarantee?
You may need to request a new quote if…
Say, you’ve received a quote for one thing – t-shirts in 3 colours & 5 sizes (200 pieces in total). Then, you realize that you need 4 colours of 5 sizes (still 200 pieces in total).
Here’s what may happen. First of all, you’d probably need to request a new quote because the price could be higher. Even though the piece count is the same (200 total), the extra colour can increase the set-up costs.
6. Use Your Manufacturers knowledge as Your Secret Weapon
Whether you’re new to manufacturing or been around forever, never overlook the knowledge of your manufacturer. They can give excellent advice. They know what works best so they’ll know how to get the results you need/want.
They can keep you on track time-wise and cost-wise. They can even make recommendations that will save you money and time.
Baxter House is great for this says…. From (insert company name). “Their customer service made all the difference in my getting exactly the product I wanted and when I needed it. I’ve since re-ordered, and they still gave valuable advice saved me time and money.”
7. Avoid Tricky Manufacturing Pitfalls
You need to get the correct products on time and on budget and that can be a challenge due to these factors:
- Customer Service – Make sure they’re there for you when you need them
- Language Barrier – Can you easily communicate with your manufacturers? Do you have a go-between to help out?
- Import/Export Issues – Does your chosen manufacturer ship easily to where your product needs to go? Can they import the raw materials your product needs?
- Exchange Rate – Is your quote locked in even if there are fluctuations in the market?
- Hidden Manufacturing Costs – Here’s where your thorough quote process comes in. Make sure you know what is and isn’t included in your quote and allow for a contingency plan if you’re faced with higher costs.
- Guarantees/Quality Assurances – Do they guarantee customer satisfaction? What is our manufacturer willing to do if you’re not happy with the end result?
8. Ensure That You (and your Team) Have the Right Skill Set
You love a challenge but that doesn’t mean you can or should do it all. What skills will you be bringing to the table?
Bringing a product to market takes all kinds of skills. Be realistic about what you can handle, where you’ll need help and how much it’s going to cost.
Maybe you’ve got all the right skills or someone on your team does. If not, research where to find the necessary expertise. Sure, you’ll need excellent people skills, project managing skills, and be able to problem-solve on the run but you’ll also require more specialized ones – that you’ll be brainstorming in #10.
9. Make Sure Your Product Range Is Just Right
Keeping it simple is the best way to begin to avoid overload and overwhelm. You can always do product add-ons further down the road but starting out you first want to get this one right. You’ll learn a ton that you can apply on future product launches. Like, whether your chosen manufacturer is a good one for the important stuff – customer service and product quality. It they are, and you’ve built a good relationship with them, going forward will be so much easier when you want to add more products.
10. Be Certain That Your Budget Will Take Your Product to Market
When you build your budget, make sure you allow for all vital expenses from development to production through to marketing and sales. If you haven’t done so already, brainstorm a list of everything you’re going to need at each stage. Factor in things like design, accounting, marketing (i.e., facebook ads, Google ads, etc. and staff (whether full-time, part-time or folks from Fiverr). Even talk to others who’ve brought new products to market and see what they‘ve learned along the way. They may reveal some expenses that you never even thought about. Better it comes out now.
Know your worst-case scenarios and build a contingency plan.
If you’re looking to launch a new brand Baxter House should be your first stop. Not only are they’re great people but they’re creative, dependable, and show a huge attention to detail. Your project will be just as important to them as one 10 times its size because they want to help you grow your business so you come back again and again. Submit your quote today