Finding a good clothing manufacturer is hard and it may often feel like it would be easier to go out and find the elusive needle! But a lot of new brands and entrepreneurs are not expecting how challenging it can be to just get a reply to your initial email.
There are a few very simple reasons for this; you are not asking them the right questions and you are not giving enough information. I recently had a client who came to me in despair after having contacted over a dozen manufacturers and not getting one reply. I asked her what she put in her opening mail. She replied ‘what do you mean? I said I was looking to start a clothing brand and would they be interested in working with me?’.
Now, manufacturers are busy people often working to deadlines. If they think it is going to take a lot of time and effort in back and forth emails just to know what you require, chances are they will not bother. Your opening mail should:
- Introduce yourself and your brand; who you are and why you are contacting them. Not too much detail, just enough to for them to see you are reliable and serious about working with them.
- Explain BRIEFLY what your product is (e.g, I am looking to produce a range of women’s jumpsuits in Tencel, size range…. and 3 colours per style)
- Ask the right questions
There are 5 important questions to include in your very first mail, others can be added to the follow-up mail once you receive a reply*.
*Obviously, I can’t guarantee you a reply but this is definitely your best chance of getting one.
1, Are you taking on new clients?
By asking this, you are giving the manufacturer an easy way to reply and you will know straight away where you stand without wasting any time.
2, Can they make your product
Find out what kind of product they make. Most manufacturers specialise in certain garments. Also, if you have any specific requirements (digital printing, taped seams, circular knitting…) mention this as these all require special machines the manufacturer may not have.
3, What other services do you provide?
Your manufacturer may offer other services which would streamline your process and make things easier such as fabric and trims sourcing, pattern cutting, grading, prototypes. Just be aware of the costs involved and the amount of control they have over your project. essentially though, having a potentially easier supply chain could be of huge benefit.
4, What are your MOQs?
What is their Minimum Quantity Order (MOQ)? Meaning what is the minimum amount of products this factory will make. Make sure to ask if this is per style/colour/size. This is really important. 100 units per style are not the same as 100 units per style and colour which would be 100 X the number of colours you want to produce in that style.
5, What are your lead times?
Knowing the lead times is critical in planning out your project and getting timelines in order. There is no point pursuing a factory who can’t meet your deadlines and you don’t want any nasty surprises further on down the road..
I hope you found this helpful and gives you a clearer idea of what to ask a manufacturer to enable them to give you a structured reply and see that you mean business.
For more tips on how to develop a clothing line, have a look at my FREE eguide, a step by step handbook on the stages to developing a clothing line.
Let me know how you get on.