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  • Writer's picturelevi

Creating a Fitness Brand 4 - Manufacturers

For the short time I've been in the game, I've already started receiving messages about finding manufacturers. Trust me, I know at first this seems quite overwhelming. Below are my experiences and thoughts about finding, choosing and trusting manufacturers.

 

Welcome to another blog about my experience creating this brand. Before you continue, I'd just like to thank everyone who've shown their interest and support for the brand. We're now five months old and that time has flown by. If your an email subscriber but haven't read the email yet. There's a 25% off discount code exclusively for you waiting, go and use your code. Let's get into it.

 

The initial fogginess.

When I started up, I had little knowledge on how to find manufacturers. As I said in the Creating A Fitness Brand 1 - Inception blog post, I wanted NG to be a full British brand. So my eyes were zoned in on British manufacturers for a long time.


I'd realistically say I contacted every manufacturers I found on the first couple of pages of Google. All with the same reoccurring blockade of issues. I couldn't meet MOQ's (minimum order quantities), no email or follow up replies, overcharging cut and sew only services etc etc.


Weirdly enough, importing from hundreds of miles away, taxed to death by Brexit and duties. Costs a third the price of a manufacturer only offering cut and sew a few miles away charge (this means you have to source the materials yourself and send it all to the manufacturer to piece it together).


So how do we find them?


From the UK, It's as simple as researching them on google or blog posts. From what I could tell, there's no market place where manufacturers congregate. But there is a website that promotes British manufacturing via blogs. I did contact them for a little help, But I was ignored unless I paid for the information (Which is free on YouTube by the way).


Be warned, There are middlemen sites out there that promote British manufacturing but they actually import then charge you a premium for it. I got in contact with one, I did some digging and found out they import.


By this point, I gave up on British manufacturers anyway and started looking abroad. The main reason that concreted my decision to go to broad was a middleman site that told me they import from turkey even though their website stated British manufacturers. So I just went on google to find them myself.


Manufacturers abroad.


While I was nose deep in the google search world, trying to figure out how to find reputable manufacturers, I came across sites like Alibaba and AliExpress. These sites are heavily bias towards Chinese manufacturers, and only offer guarantees when using Chinese companies. Thing Is, I didn't want to create business links with China.

The main reason for this, Is because of the fine line china is walking with the USA & NATO. If I had created links with them and then an embargo on exports happened. That's my tried and tested supply chain gone as I live in a NATO country.


So, I went for Turkey. Going abroad has its own issues thou, the main one being able to trust a business in a country you know little about. How tough is the local government on businesses there, what are the police like, scams etc etc.


You can find Turkish manufacturers on Alibaba if you look deep enough, But as I said, this website is heavily Chinese bias. When you do find Turkish or European manufacturers on this site, Alibaba do not offer guarantees for using them. So the chances are being ripped of or scammed are a lot higher.


How to trust them?


This Is hard to answer, your first purchase with any manufacturer will come with heavy risk unless they have social proofing. But you can improve your chances with a little research.


I initially found a few on Alibaba, but they had no reviews or social proofing. So I started searching these businesses on google. I checked their social media, google account, Turkish corporation pages, TrustPilot, the owner, His/her social media etc etc. If I found any a red flags, I wouldn't bother with them.


I then messaged them, spoke to them for a bit and after a few sampling back and fourths, I ordered my first batch. I'm not going to lie, the whole time I was waiting for them to never arrive. But they did, and Although there was a few defective garments, I continue to use this manufacturer as of today.


That being said, I do believe as a business, you should diversify your supply chain. So, I've been in contact with other manufacturers in Turkey and I receive samples from them too. This also gives you a good idea of the quality of work provided by multiple companies in the area.


I also believe it's very beneficial to be honest with them about your business plan and to create a positive relationship with them. If you think about It, your business is a back end extension of their business. If they craft well made garments, and you sell their craftmanship to your market. Your business ties with them will strengthen and grow over time.


You should ensure your manufacturer can see this. That you're not a one of purchase, you're here to create a growing partnership with them. Every business values repeat custom, unless you work in the funeral services of course, that'd be weird.


Realistic expectations


Finally, on my last point In this blog, I just want to share some realistic expectations from what I expected to what I've experienced.


  • When you batch order hundreds of garments. You will get defects, I suspect this is slip ups in the manufacturers QC, If they QC. I generally experience 1-2%, so 1-2 garment out of 100.

  • Don't be in too much of a rush to sample everything. Every first sample I've received came to me wrong or with issues that need rectified. The whole point of sampling is to ensure your not wasting each others time and resources on garments that were not made to your expectations.

  • Ask and encourage your manufacturer to ask as many questions as possible to ensure your both on the same page. Particularly if there's a language barrier.

  • Be patient. Give your manufacturer time to produce your garments. Typically the turnaround is 4-8 weeks. If your buying stocked blanks, then I'd imagine its about a week to ship.

 

Have you read our previous blogs?


I occasionally release blogs about my personal experience creating this brand. I keep them pretty honest as I know many people out there also want to start their own brand. So, I hope my experiences are worth something to those people.




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