Building up an apparel production factory in the USA has been quite the ride. I have delighted in joyous discoveries while also experiencing the anguish attempting to move rocks along the path.  It has been happiness to reopen jobs in a sector that had been dead a long time in USA. Looking ahead into the next 10 years for the manufacturing industry, there are wins for the taking but also challenges to overcome:

 

Triumph: Discovering gold in the house next door

When creating and then expanding the startup team for Suuchi Inc, I knew finding talent for apparel production was not going to be easy. I could walk into one of the thousand coffee shops in New York, and find a 100 App developers and marketers in each. It didn’t mean they were cheap, but atleast they were available by the dozen. But where was I to look for reliable experience to build up a USA made, production floor to automate custom manufacturing? I learnt quickly that I was looking in the wrong places. The industry stars still existed; you just needed to know where to look. Once I found my sources, discovery was a magical thing. Our COO comes from a world when 95% of production was made in America. When I found her, our head of patterns fought manufacturing recession by working in a completely different industry. Our seamstresses each took to other passions and hobbies, but never forgot their first love for sewing. The brilliant people and years of experience that lay hidden behind the industrial walls of the New York garment district and the jarring roads of Newark, NJ took my breath away. 

 

Challenge: Training is essential to cultivate the next breed of technicians

Training was needed, a ton of it. The investment that is less worrying is the one that is dedicated to fine tuning the ladies’ skills that have returned to their loved trade. The part that really causes concern is that this skilled pattern maker or seamstress is 50+. So, any company that sees a future in American made apparel production needs also to be training the next generation. Luckily, the breed of new college graduates is a firm believer in retaining production in the USA, for emotional as well as practical business reasons. We take pride at Suuchi Inc in training the next generation of custom apparel production technicians. Our team composition is pretty unique: we have a ton of folks in their 50s, 60s and 70s, a ton in their 20s, but not so many in their 30s and 40s. We’re working to change that.

 

Triumph: High efficiency, and USA customer service

Admit it, you like it when you call a customer service line and can actually speak to an employee here, IN THE USA. The bulk of Suuchi Inc revenues are B2B driven, from enabling designers, brands and corporates – and these businesses cherish the opportunity to interact with someone they can meet in person and talk to over the phone. And on our part, we have diligently built an engagement model on the fundamentals of transparent, warm and down to earth communication. Our time zone is the customer’s time zone – makes a difference!

 

Challenge: USA customer service comes at higher salaries

For any designer or business owner looking to build an American made supply chain, this is an inescapable truth. But it is also true that you will profit win from efficiencies that come from nimble USA manufacturing. Ultimately, the business owner has to decide if the efficiencies outweigh the salary weights on the business. With a smart revenue model, they most likely will.

 

Triumph: Emotional highs of making and buying USA made

It all comes down to the heart doesn’t it? Our American team takes pride in making clothes for designers and consumers that passionately support home manufacturing. As the founder, I know that my numbers need to make sense. And somehow, the numbers always make more sense when doing the right thing. It’s a full circle emotionally, because the designer we support, and the customer that buys from her  - they both make a purchase decision not just based on cost, but based on knowing that the journey of their product didn’t start thousands of miles away. It started right here, at home.

Have you built a production team here in the USA? We’d love to exchange stories. Write us at [email protected]