My sewing contractor that made my samples will only take orders of a minimum of 50 pieces/style at a time. That may not seem like a lot but I am just selling retail online until I can get wholesale orders. What do I do?
Sewing Contractor Minimum Blues
This is quite the dilemma of the new designer. First, I commend you for selling retail and wholesale. It is a great way to balance income and cash flow in your start up years. Just be sure your pricing won't compete with your wholesale clients once you get them.
Taking the plunge to produce your first collection is both exciting and terrifying. Seeing your product come to fruition professionally is fulfilling but also costly. When you are producing based on wholesale orders at least you know money will be coming in soon. But if you produce for retail is hard to determine what will actually sell. That said you have a few options.
The first 2 should be your last resort:
1. Find another contractor that will take smaller orders.
2. Sew your retail orders on your own if you are capable.
These 2 are better options so I have gone into detail:
3. Negotiate with your current contractor to take smaller runs. For those of you that sew you know that if you make 1 dress it may take you 30 minutes but if you make 3 of the same dress it takes 1hr. This is because you can sew more pieces of the same type, using the same thread color, on the same machine, before moving to the next piece/thread color/machine. Assembly work is faster and this is what allows your contractor to make money. When you need a small run it takes longer to produce. So offer to pay a higher per piece price for runs under the 50 piece minimum.
4. Invest in the minimum. If your contractor won't budge on run size than it may behoove you to invest in the full run. Finding a quality contractor that you like is hard so if you think you have a gem you need to keep them. This does take a little planning and I recommend the following so that you aren't stuck with lots of inventory at the end of the season.
a. Sizes: If you sell retail already then take a look at how the ordering trends when
it comes to sizing. Do you have customers that order a lot of 6's? Then make
more 6's and 8's. You don't have to order equal numbers of each size.
b. Get Online! It's time to grow your social media base and create an online
presence to create more of a following. (I will have a series on this soon!)
c. Get Marketing! Create a demand for your product! Take preorders, use great
photos to get people excited about your upcoming line!
I hope this helps and I welcome follow up questions and comments on this post.
Katie, The Fashion Business Mentor