Episode 51: Make sure you include this step when you are deciding on a factory.
Sustainable sourcing, factories, samples, development.
Welcome to the Fashion Unearthed podcast. If you need help navigating the fashion industry sustainably, you have come to the right place. I'm your host Belinda Humphrey and my hope is to simplify the fashion industry so that businesses can make the best decisions for people, planet and product.
Hello, and welcome to episode 51 of the fashion on Earth Podcast. I'm recording this episode at a different time today. So apologies if you hear a lot of birds in the background. They're very excited today. But in this episode, I wanted to talk about something that might be more relevant if you are a smaller brand or someone in the early stages of getting your brand established. But before I get into that, a quick little reminder about my monthly newsletter, which I send out, obviously monthly. And I often include interesting articles and inspiring things that are happening within fashion, and sustainability. And you can sign up to that on my website, belindahumphrey.com.
So what is this step that you need to include when you're deciding on a factory? essentially, it's the step that comes after you may have made contact with the factory, you may have kind of discussed all these processes and asked a few kind of qualifying questions about minimum order quantities or MOQs other brands they work for, things like that. The next step after that, which you need to include is giving them something that you've produced before, ideally, to then sample. If you're really new and you haven't produced any collections yet, and you're really in the beginning stages of sourcing factories, I would recommend giving them maybe one or two pieces, not your whole collection at this stage. And this is why ideally sourcing shouldn't be rushed, you really need to go through the proper steps get a feel for how they're working. Because it's a long term commitment for both of you.
If you are in a position where you, for whatever reason, need to put a substantial amount of your stock orders with one new supplier, I will always be thinking about what my backup plan is, if this doesn't turn out the way that I need it to. Also for this step, you need to make it clear to the factory that this is a process that you're doing to check things like workmanship, and just get a feel for how the factory is working. And that may mean that there is no bulk order in this instance. And if you don't end up ordering a bulk order, you may offer to pay for the making of that sample. But in some instances, if they, if everything goes well, and you end up placing a lot more styles with them to get sampled and then go on to having production, then they may sort of be okay to just absorb that. But either way, have that conversation upfront what is going to happen if you do or don't go ahead with placing more orders with them.
So the main reason that you want to include this step is to check workmanship. Sample rooms are often different from the production area and if a factory is trying to win your business, they should be submitting samples that are amazing, like you should open up that package and be like, Wow, this is incredible. If you get your samples back, and you're like, Oh, I'm not sure what happened here, then you're trying to figure out where things went wrong. I would see that as a red flag, basically and I wouldn't be proceeding with the factory. Because if they can't get it right, with one person focused on making one sample beautifully. They're not going to get it right when they have to make 50 100, 1000 pieces to a particular standard.
And if the samples come in, and you're not wowed by them, it would just be an upfront conversation with the factory talking about how the standards probably not at where it needs to be, you know, thanks for your time. And you know, like I said, you may pay them for the samples and then just leave it at that. As disappointing and I guess frustrating, It may be for a factory not to live up to expectations, It is much better to cut your losses at that point rather than thinking, oh, they might get better, maybe there was a misunderstanding. Because in my experience, like I said, if it's not amazing with that first sample, it doesn't get better, it will often get worse.
I hope you found that little tip helpful. If you struggling with something else I do one to one coaching sessions where you can book in with me for an hour and literally ask me anything that you're struggling with. Over the 20 years I've seen a lot and worked with a lot of different brands as well as having my own label. So if you're at the point where you really need an expert to come in and help you, you can book in for one of those calls on my website, just head to belindahumphrey.com and the shop section, you'll find it in there. As always, you'll find the links in any show notes in the podcast section on my website. Thanks so much for listening. See you next time.
Disclaimer: Whilst every effort is made to ensure that information is accurate at the time of recording, much like the fashion industry itself, this information may change.