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QUESTION: hey!please i run a sewing buisiness with no sewing factory of my own.I outsource most of my sewing to local sewing contractors..the first probem i have is getting my clients to believe i can handle thier tailoring jobs when they can't see a sewing factory that belongs to me,and my sacond problem is that my clients are becoming surphisticated by the day..Just recently,i had a job to sew university graduation gowns for a unversity and allso to sew drummr band uniforms for a band group.i cant use local tailors coz they dont have necessary machines to turn out the job the way my clients want them..please how do i contact surphistcated sewing contractor factories and how do i choose fabric for this job?tanx in anticipation to your quick respons..Collins

ANSWER: Hello.
I strongly suggest you use spell check & I sincerely hope that your business speech surpasses your business writing!( if English is your second language this is even more important)

With regard to your first problem: You are an agent for sewing contractor.  You don't actually run a sewing business as that is the contractors job. To be able to sell your services, you must have a) consistent quality and a proven track record b) a group of contractors making different products and price levels. For example,  you mentioned tailoring.  That requires a specific skill set and needle and equipment to produce. You would not have a house that makes Denims or swimsuit or tee shirts for that matter, doing tailoring. You must be able to show your portfolio of work by example,client lists, letters of  reference and perhaps samples. For your own protection you should also be doing vendor compliance and compatibility reports to know exactly what labels your various contractors are producing and at what price level for quality compatibility to potential customers. You also will need to have up to date reports on their machinery and capacities. With all of these things in place, you will gain credibility as a reliable agent.

To your second problem: There are several ways to source new vendors. One is to attend trade shows like the Bobbin show(Atlanta) and /or fabric  shows as many contractors, mills and vertical operations represent themselves there in person and you can meet and ask questions and network. I see you are in Indiana, your closest shows would probably be in Chicago.  I happen to know that there are also small factories and pattern companies in Chicago.  You can also network through social media such as Linked in to find contacts.  I also can recommend the webpage Fashiondex.com.  Not only do they sell books with complete listing of Asian as well as North American vendors, but their webpage also has listings by category.

Your third problem: fabrics.   Again, attend trade shows.  You will find that once you identify the correct contractor the product you want to produce, most likely they can also help you with fabric sourcing or offer you vertical manufacturing. Remember, fabric is your biggest cost, with labor second.

In closing, it sounds like you are spreading yourself a little thin. Perhaps it would behoove you to focus on one type of product and become and expert at putting that together before you attempt to jump at anything that comes your way. Band Uniforms are expensive and complicated to produce unless you identify factories that are already making that for someone else.  Robes on the other hand could be made by factories that have needle for lounge wear. Two very different markets. China is not the only place to go. I have manufactured all over South America , Mexico and the Carribean, India, Taiwan, Singapore, Hong Kong and Bangcock.  Keep your quantity and product type in mind when you are sourcing as well as  delivery timing.

Good luck in your endeavors and I hope this information has been helpful.

Jill

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Dear Jill,
thank you for your respons,it was very informative and
helpfull.
Please i want to know what it takes to become a sewing
cintractor,interms of what schools to get trainin
g and the
kind of trainings i can go for.I also need to know what amrketing
strategy i may need as a sewung contractor.Thank you in
anticipation to your quick response.
Collins Eseme

Answer
Hello Again,
I do not know the resources for training in your area or country. So I can be no help there.  There are some ONLINE degrees and classes offered on the internet but I cant vouch for their use or quality.  Marketing is not my area of expertise. If there is a small business association you may find some answers there or you can go to the SBA webpage based from the US.

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Jill Odermann-Mullins

Expertise

expert at technical design, writing of specifications, fitting, working knowledge of grading. Expert at production construction and pattern making. Expert at entire process from inception to top. have worked with designers and merchants and also worked the other end in agent office.

Experience

15 years technical professional working in Asia and recently Caribbean and Latin America. Experienced in Denim, knits, super stretch knits, mens casual, polos and khaki, womens separates, special sizes and toddler through teen boys and girls. I teach pattern making and draping. Recently started up my own company for technical design solutions with a team that can offer full package consulting as well.

Education/Credentials
A.A.S Illinois institute of Art Currently teach at Miami school of art and design in the fashion department, history of fashion, textiles, knit design, pattern making and construction one through four

Awards and Honors
1998 The May Company Best Support Person

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