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7 Reasons why you should set up your own factory

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Do you have your own brand but are struggling to find a manufacturer? It may be time to consider the benefits of setting up your own factory.

Setting up your own factory is a great idea if you are struggling to find a manufacturer

When I first left college there was a recession on. This made it pretty tricky to get employment amongst all the other design students looking for a job. One of my friends was doing a stall on Camden Market in London selling secondhand clothes and was looking for someone to share her stall. I just had to make something to sell on it.

So I came up with the idea of making garments from vintage blankets and curtains on my domestic sewing machine. Every item was unique because it had to be cut from a different type of material, and each piece had to be laundered before it could be sold. They sold really well, and I had some great press coverage from journalists that picked up on them from the market. I couldn’t make them fast enough. I needed a manufacturer…or so I thought.

The problem is, it’s a big jump up from making something in small quantities yourself, to working with a factory. We tried several local manufacturers, but they started talking about production schedules, lead-times and MOQs, they might as well have been speaking another language. And when they quoted us prices, they were higher than we were even retailing the products for.

Kate Hills in 1992 in her own clothing factory in Shoreditch

So we bought an industrial sewing machine for a few hundred pounds and took on our first employee – a garment machinist. Pretty soon we had an overlocker, a proper industrial steam iron and a cutting knife…a couple more machinists…and we had our own little factory.

Now when people contact me looking for a UK manufacturer and they have a product that they have been making themselves, I ask why the hell they’re not opening their own factory? Especially if the product is quite simple and they have the space to create their own little workshop.

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There are many benefits to manufacturing for yourself, and these are just some of them:

1. Control of your own production

You will be able to manufacture your product, exactly as you want it, to your quality standards and to a schedule that suits you.

2. Shorter lead-times

There will be no going back and forth between you and a manufacturer, no waiting to fit in to their production schedule, and you can prioritise the work as you see fit.

3. Ability to make bespoke products 

There’s been a huge increase in the demand for customised products, managing your own production process gives you an opportunity to offer this to your customers.

4. You know how long something takes to make

If you’re manufacturing the product yourself you will understand the process completely, including the time required, and therefore how and when you can fulfil your orders.

5. You’re not paying someone else’s overheads

You can be fully in control of your own (and only your own) costs.

6. You only need to make what you sell

Having your own factory allows you to make to order, allowing you to avoid the risk of holding dead stock, as well as saving costs on storage.

7. You can test things out quickly

Had a brilliant idea for a new product or improvement? If you’re manufacturing yourself you can sample, develop and get it on sale ahead of the competition.

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Comments

  1. A on July 21, 2018 at 10:30 am

    Very true! Thank you for this article. We did exactly the same 2 years ago. Our first collection was made by a U.K. manufacturer with ridiculous prices and didn’t deliver in time.
    As a bespoke tailor I thought it made sense to set up my own factory, have more control over what I make and when, gather and train my team to my standards. Now we manufacture for films, Chanel and other emerging brands.
    Defiantly the right step!

  2. Debbie Humphreys on July 26, 2018 at 10:59 am

    A very thought provoking post this one!
    I am at the stage where I am considering a manufacturer, having managed so far with outworkers – but I actually am now beginning to think that taking on a few more sewers and a part time cutter might be the better course of action.
    It isn’t just the MOQ’s and lead times it is the cost of getting the fabric to the factory, having to copy all the patterns, protecting against copiers….the list goes on.
    So, having read this I think I might abandon the thought of getting a factory and hire a couple more ladies who sew.
    Debbie

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With over 1 million visitors per year, becoming a Make it British member is a powerful way to promote your British brand and products.

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The Make it British UK Manufacturer & Supplier Guide contains the contact details of hundreds of hand-picked UK manufacturers and suppliers.

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