The apparel industry has a major challenge in addressing responsible manufacturing practices and supply chain transparency. Consequences of the convoluted manufacturing process have resulted in incidents like the devastating eight-storey building collapse at Rana Plaza. Large corporations such H&M lack understanding about their supply chain. Every small effort can make a huge difference and as such, we’ve re-envisioned the way designers should create relationships and interact with manufacturers; pretend you’re dating them.
Transparency and creating a partnership with a factory that you’re going into business with is comparable to dating someone for the first time. The beginning stages of any relationship are unexplored and can be overwhelming, yet exciting. You’re investing time to build a relationship with someone, trusting that they are doing the same. Being open and honest with each other is critical in order to have transparent communication. Most importantly, you need to be sure that you both have similar values. All of the aforementioned first-time relationship characteristics are synonymous for creating a relationship with a factory.
Here are our trade secrets to create a successful and long-lasting relationship with your manufacturer:
1. The Vetting Process: You vet the person to make sure that they are credible. You do the same thing when you are looking to partner with a factory; do your homework and make sure they have similar values to yours.
2. Stay in Constant Contact: You need to call and text this person to get to know them; you’re engaging in conversation. The same thing applies to factories, you need to be in constant communication that is transparent whether that be via Skype, email or phone call. You need to get to know them and they need to get to know you.
3. Meet Face To Face: You need to take this person out to dinner. This could be the same as visiting the factory and solidifying a digital relationship. If you cannot meet right away, skype is always a good start. You both want to meet face to face to truly connect.
4. Give Them Attention: You need to give your love interest attention and care. The same goes for the first time you start working with a factory. Consider the factories feelings as this is a partnership and you want to motivate them. Ultimately you want to figure out what makes them tick so that can improve and grow your business together.
At the end of the day, supply chain transparency and “dating your factory” is more than just knowing where your product is from and the factory that it was made in. At the end of the day, successful work with manufacturers offshore is all about building relationships and understanding one another. It’s critical to take the time to get to know the managers of the factories that you’re working with and get a sense of their working style so you can be sure to create a positive work relationship. By being both organized, planning well in advance, and establishing long term relationships you’re sure to grow your business
At Source My Garment, we ensure fair trade practices and ensure both our clients and the factory have an effective go-between to help facilitate the manufacturing process. It’s truly a labour of love!
Now it’s YOUR turn. Did I miss anything? Do you have a question about manufacturing offshore that we didn’t cover? Just leave a comment below and let us know!