This week we’re talking about Module 3 in the Parsons” Fundamentals of Design class: Factory Production. In all honesty, not every designer we know uses factories or shops; however, if you plan to get above the million dollar mark, you need to use them. There are physical limits to what one person can create by themselves.
I originally decided to learn factory production to figure out how to create passive additional income. I knew plenty of tailors and costume designers in the business who were masters at their craft but starved for their art. It just didn’t appeal to me. A craftsman relies on his body to create his craft. The human frame is a small thing easily broken by whims of fate and time. Eyesight fails. Hands lose power. Steps falter. Strength is the gift of youth. For most of us, our mind will outlast our body. Traditional retail and manufacturing give a designer the chance to create beyond their physical limits. Factory production results in making beautiful wearable art at a cost everyone can live with. For me, it gives me the chance to pay my mortgage and create things that make people happy. Win-win for everyone.
There are a lot more moving parts when you add extra people, goods, and products.
Because of this, factory production comes with something most designers hate: paperwork. The forms are the time shortcuts necessary to organize a designer’s larger production numbers with increased staff. These are commonly created on Excel for easy reference. The three big ones you hear about are costing, linesheets, and tech packs. Most apparel manufacturing books and trade journals include these as a matter of course, and you can make your own if you prefer. If you’re just starting out and want to save time, you can buy some out-of-the-box solutions on the market. Nash includes these with all our package clients. The forms become the basis of how brand owners manage their factory POs and retailers without losing their minds.
Note, good paperwork is simple and easy for EVERYONE to use and understand quickly. The question is not if you can understand the form, but if the people working for you understand you. If a form is more than one page, many factory owners won’t even bother to read it. If the people in your supply chain cannot get what you are saying (and translate it into reality), you just wasted everyone’s time. Keep in mind that good paperwork benefits everyone.
The next few weeks we’re going to go over some of the hardest things I learned about factory production and scaling. I hope you are enjoying following along as I help my intern learn more about the business. Perhaps it will be helpful to you, too.