We built a factory: Part 2

Go to Part 1: The decision to change direction

Throughout 2011, the brand was gaining momentum.  Sales were increasing.  New customers were finding us.  Existing customers were excited about us.  And we were coming off a strong Holiday season.

But the increased sales exposed potential problems in our manufacturing supply chain.  We didn’t control manufacturing.  Other factories were making our clothing.  Relationships with these factories were good.  But we weren’t consistently getting what we wanted, when we needed it.

I began to see how these problems, on a small scale at that time, could easily become huge problems as the brand grew.

For us to build a sustainable brand, we had to permanently fix manufacturing.  We had to control manufacturing.  And building our own factory was the answer.

We stepped back to move forward

We were designers and branders.  We weren’t manufacturers.

I understood manufacturing through my years of experience with the third-party factories.  And when I was deciding to build a factory I researched the challenges.  I talked to experts.  I was cautious with each decision and every purchase.

But I still underestimated the difficulty and complexity of manufacturing.  The preparation of the physical space, the acquisition of equipment, the training, the learning, the costs; we were starting from scratch.

And in an effort to fix one problem, I created another.  I didn’t fully understand how the demands of manufacturing would completely consume our entire team.

The branding efforts that drove our momentum in 2011 were being shelved.  Manufacturing was all that our small team could handle at that time.

No new photo shoots.  No new product releases.  No new blog posts.

Momentum began to slow throughout 2012 and into 2013.  To our customers and people new to the brand, we looked stagnant.

There was so much life happening behind the scenes, but they could not see it.

We stayed focused.  We knew the factory would make the brand better.

Continue to Part 3: Does a product have a soul?

Go to Part 1: The decision to change direction