More manufacturing challenges
As things have been going really well with the business - we have been so fortunate to receive some fabulous PR and reviews, sales have picked up, and the majority of our new Fall styles have arrived. Unfortunately, yet again, we are facing problems with our manufacturing. The positive is that our quality has improved with the ongoing meetings, a visit to the factory, and the fact that our sewers now know our annual styles inside and out. The negative is that they did not make our new Fall styles exactly to specs, so my designs have been slightly altered, and they are now more than a month late delivering our final Fall style. The design alterations are probably not things that anyone else would notice, but as a designer, it is super frustrating! If only I could be at the factory on a consistent basis to correct these problems as they were being made, it would be so much better, but as a business owner, that just isn't possible. That is why our factory is supposed to hire someone to do just that...they are called quality control!! Unfortunately, our factory doesn't seem to get that concept and it makes me completely insane!
I know that there are millions of apparel companies out there so much bigger than ours, so it can be done, correctly, I am just still trying to figure out how. Don't get me wrong, we have had vast improvements over the past year. When I become a little overwhelmed now, I remind myself of the massive challenges we faced with manufacturing in the beginning. I am not a quitter, and I nearly gave up at that point! These issues are all minor in comparison, but the problem is that we are so much bigger and busier at this point in the business, that I do not have the time or the patience to deal with more manufacturing issues, especially when our factory has had SO many opportunities to get it right.
In this business, manufacturing, like it or not, is just a hugely important aspect of the whole picture. I have spoken with other designers in a similar situation and the big delima is this...do you go out and find a new manufacturer and start over with the risks of facing similar or even worse problems, or do you continue to work through the issues and improve the situation with your current manufacturer? Up to this point we have made the decision to build our relationship with our current manufacturer and this has resulted in improvement, but as we continue to grow, the time will come when we must decide if our manufacturer is willing and able to maintain the quality necessary to grow with us.