5 reasons you can’t find a sewing contractor
Between the phone, email and the forum, I’ve had six requests for finding a clothing manufacturer sewing contractor before 2:00 PM. I guess interest is a good sign. A bad sign was that no one was prepared to enter into this kind of relationship (we can tell in thirty seconds or less). Accordingly, I’ll reiterate specific advice on the most critical strategy you can use to find a clothing manufacturer sewing contractor. Sprinkled through out this entry are links to critical entries you must also read!
Cold calling or emailing me or somebody like me to get the name of manufacturer contractor is never going to work so you may as well give it up. The best way to find a clothing manufacturer sewing contractor is by doing things the right way. It is that simple. It is only when you take short cuts that you run into trouble. Bar none, the best way to find a clothing manufacturer sewing contractor is through a pattern maker. You have to have patterns before you get to a manufacturer contractor so I don’t understand why people are always trying to put the cart before the horse. It won’t work.
Part of the value of a pattern maker is their relationships. In the trade, there is the expectation that pattern makers will refer you to the party downstream from them. If they don’t, it can mean a few things but none of them are good (further down). Pattern makers are expected to make referrals because we are in the best position to know who is any good. If there’s a problem with our pattern, they are returned for correction. Too many problems with our patterns and a manufacturer contractor won’t take our work. Likewise, if something isn’t sewn well and there are too many problems with a given party, we have to find someone else. The point that cannot be minimally stated is that a pattern maker vouches for you with another party with whom you have no standing.
Calling or emailing should be the last resort; if you’re doing that, you haven’t done the first step of hiring a pattern maker. If you don’t know you have to do that, you’re not ready for the relationship and need to do some reading. If you do know but haven’t done it, it casts doubt on your judgement so again, there’s no reason I or someone like me would give you a referral. The reason you need a referral to find a good manufacturer contractor (also) is because if I send someone who is not ready to my manufacturer contractor colleague, he or she is going to start questioning my judgement. If I do that too many times, they won’t do any more work for my customers. Meaning, if I lose those relationships, why would anyone hire me? So as nice and flattering as you are about my site, I need my manufacturer sewing contractor colleague more than I need you because you’re not a customer [if you were a customer, we wouldn't be having this conversation. Reading my website doesn't make you a customer; the value has only gone one way]. In short, anyone who gets phone calls asking for names is immediately on guard. You’re calling us for a reason and it’s usually not good.
The reasons a pattern maker can’t or won’t make a referral boil down to relationship or work problems. Being able to refer you is such a critical issue in the trade that you should discuss this before you hire anyone. Here are the main reasons a pattern maker may not be able to make referrals:
1. New pattern makers but they’re the least worrisome. They haven’t worked with any manufacturer contractors to have developed any relationships. This is okay as long as they tell you. On the forum we love helping new pattern makers to develop their careers.
2. The most worrisome is the “designer” expert with a lovely samples and raving accolades on their web site. Never hire a designer, that’s not their strong suit. If you don’t know something this basic, buy a good book. I recommend mine (obviously). They have no relationships because no manufacturers contractors will sew their patterns because they don’t really work in the industry, their patterns are terrible or usually both.
3. Every city has local “experts”, they often work at a fabric store or alterations shop. They’re often very good sewers but their pattern work can be dicey. They can’t make referrals because they don’t know any manufacturer contractors. These people can help you rough out a prototype but factor the costs of needing to have the patterns remade into your budget.
4. It is possible you have a great pattern maker but they don’t have relationships with manufacturer contractors who do the kind of work you need. The tacit expectation that pattern makers are supposed to make referrals is why a pattern maker will avoid certain kinds of pattern work if they can’t refer you when their part of the work is done. For example, the main reason I don’t do knit patterns is that I haven’t worked with any knit cut and sews.
5. The last problem is usually you. When you call a pattern maker to see if they can refer you after they do their portion of the work, they will often hedge (if they’re any good) or be ambiguous. They will hedge because they don’t have the low down until they’ve worked with you. Do you pay on time? Are you informed? Are you a pain in the patootie? Are your expectations rational? They will only refer you after they’ve worked with you.
It bears mentioning that good pattern makers rarely if ever get a kick back or percentage of your job from the manufacturer contractor. We need to stay on their good side because we need this relationship. Not just for today or tomorrow but for years.
Relationships: We need our relationships with colleagues more than we need any given person who calls or writes us. Our value comes from providing quality referrals to our customers and colleagues over the long haul. You also need to develop relationships with colleagues.
Education: Hire a pattern maker first, then worry about a manufacturer contractor. [By the way, that "clothing manufacturer" is always struck out is a big hint and it matters a lot. This study finds that textile and apparel firms that misrepresent their identity, suffer financially. Companies that do represent themselves correctly hire more employees, have higher sales, more production space and a higher credit score.] Otherwise you’re in for a lot of grief and will get nothing but the run around. I strongly urge you to join the forum; there is nothing that comes close to it on the internet and we do lots of referrals and troubleshooting there.