A person or company that makes goods for sale Part of my Vision has always been to control my own destiny. When I 1st entered the clothing industry, I thought it was all fair in love in war. It wasn’t. The Garment industry, once you get past the mom and pop level was a beast all in itself. It’s a super money grab game. A game of leverage, 90 Day billing cycle juggling, and a major power struggle for name recognition. Close to, and probably just as tricky as the music industry of that era.
Cash customers were virtually nonexistent, so instead of nurturing the cash customer and realizing the convenience of getting paid, factory owners looked at it as a come up. There was no consideration for what it took you to get to the point of manufacturing an order for Kohl’s or Dillard’s. No consideration for the lack of leniency for excuses, or late deliveries, or how much a cancelled order would cost you, if your factory or your quality control department failed you.
My motivation for purchasing my 1st factory was partly due to following suit on some successful business models like Zara, Guess and BeBe, companies that produced their own products and delivered them directly to their own branded stores as well as department stores. The other part was based on the shenanigans I had to deal with when having my whole life, stress level and success rate in the garment industry, depend on a factory owner.
Industry experiences caused my partner and I to seek relief in ownership. We found a small factory on 21st and Main in downtown Los Angeles, that had been producing our knits and doing high quality stone placement and embroidery. We decided to approach the owner with a partnership offer. We needed more control and to also decrease our production cost.
It was well worth it to buy in, to head off future losses. 1 missed order with Kohl’s would negate the cost of the partnership.
After a couple successful years, our personal brands were booming & we were outgrowing our factory. We decided to enter the big leagues. It was time to upgrade our square footage and employ more workers. The quality of our work was attracting more and more brands. We were doing Silver Dagger, Bebe, Hard 8, Laguna beach, Homies, Urban Legend, Rich Taste of course, Sheiki, and 100s of other brands that need our expertise. Our new facility was 13,000 sq ft. Boss square footage for a small fry in the business. We employed over 120 workers and our machines were cranking.
We had investors, bigger factory owners, dreamers and everyone you could think of trying to get their thing going with us. We succeeded in our vision and was on our way to being baby giants in the fashion industry and then BOOM!
One of those unexpected blind-sided acts of GOD happened. The Financial Crash of 2008. This is a perfect example of operating within the maze. Motivated by our progress, we were putting in 16 and 18 hour days. We hadn’t watched the news in weeks. We had no idea that the bottom had dropped out of the US economy until our phones stopped ringing and BeBe began cancelling orders and saying they were closing 30% of their stores, checks stopped coming in the mail and so on and so on. No one was getting paid.
Not the stores, Not the designers and surely not the factories. Our reaction time was like a boxer facing Mike Tyson in his prime. It was too late. We were knocked out. Too many employees left on the payroll, and with limited reserves and plenty of outstanding receivables, we couldn’t sustain. Game Over.
I will continue that story and more about that era in another book but you get the gist. Several lessons written in this book could have saved my manufacturing vision. They do say that hind sight is 20/20. I can see it all so clearly now.
A person who plans the form, look, or workings of something before its being made or built, typically by drawing it in detail. My journey as fashion designer started with helping put the pieces together for a boutique ladies brand that served a niche market of young ladies as the body shape of women was evolving into the small waste, big booty trend and right before waste trainers were ever so popular. I helped my partner for 9 months in development of her fit.
She was the fit model, and the perfect fit for this body type, in denim, was the mission. Once we nailed the fit on the head, we were set to compete against Frankie B which at that time was the option for girls that wanted a dope fit and wanted to be sexy. The problem was that if your booty had too much bubble, you were definitely going to show excessive butt crack. Not sexy, but rampant until we created Sheiki Jeans. Market share was beginning to shift in our favor as we got to 140 stores worldwide. My shift moved to the marketing side. I had the bug though now and was searching for my own niche in fashion. Shortly thereafter, Rich Taste Collection was born.
A collaboration with my partners from Los Angeles that was created to serve the connoisseur from every walk of life. It was one of the 1st urban lifestyle brands. Definitely, one of the 1st premium urban lifestyle brands. My finished product sold for upwards of 300 to 800 dollars per t-shirt. We sold garments to everyone from the King of Morocco at the time, to Floyd Mayweather. Our Swarovski encrusted, hand embroidered pieces and leather goods were getting raving reviews. I chose to go with the “as ready” delivery method after dealing with the production nightmare of my previous brands and the production cost of each garment. This created the exclusivity we needed to grace the racks of 50 high end boutiques worldwide. Stay tuned for a brand revival.