When I think of those big department stores, or well-known fast fashion brick and mortars, I think: cheap. Cheap prices, cheap service and cheap quality. When I buy a piece for my wardrobe, I want it to be timely. I don’t want this garment to fall apart after 4-6 washes. I want the fabric to be comfortable and the stitching well-crafted. And I understand the importance of a garment is the quality, not the price.

A company is more appreciated when thinking their product through beginning to end, including everyone who is involved in the process. I see more and more consumers jumping to this expectancy when getting ready to make a purchase, being particularly keen to that “Made in USA” label.

Here are a few pro’s and con’s to domestic manufacturing:

Pro’s:
- Turnaround; you will see that turnaround is much quicker working with a domestic manufacturer than overseas
- Shipping is easier
- Accessibility; face-to-face meetings are made easier
- Standards for labor and manufacturing are much higher
- No language barrier
- Domestic {and certain global markets such as China} appeal to the “Made in USA” label

Con’s:
- Much higher manufacturing costs

** A key thing to remember as a designer is to not settle on price alone when searching for and pursuing American made products. Finding a manufacturer that pays attention to detail, anticipates a long-term relationship with your company, and is well-versed in what they do is better than finding cheap labor. This way, they can assist you throughout the production process so you get the most for your dollar.

With that said, below are my top 5 picks for 100% American manufacturers. I have spoken with at least one person from each company by phone or email and wanted to share what they’re all about:
 

1. Opportunity Threads Morgantown, NC

Opportunity Threads work with designers who are just starting out to well-established companies. They offer product sampling, initial trial runs, and long term production needs.

The vision: Work to develop a full-scale worker-owned, eco-textile cut and sewing plant.
(I thought this was an awesome and unique way of operation!)

Opportunity Threads uses organic cotton, up-cycling materials and focuses on sustainable production. What do they do with the scraps? Opportunity Threads strive to be a zero-waste facility. Fabric scraps are sold back to a SC-based company that uses them for fiber fill.

Services:

  • Prototyping + Sampling: provides consultation on startup production, references to sourcing and supply chain connections, references for testing, prototyping and sample making

  • Small scale production: 1,000-3,000 units

  • Mid-large scale production: 3,000-25,000 units

  • Handwork services are provided upon request


Minimums:

  • Minimums are dependent on price point. Generally, minimums are 500-1000 units per style. Price point is determined by a time study that is done in the sampling process.


Turnaround:

  • Turnaround time is about 2-3 weeks. Turnaround on production is generally 4-6 weeks.


2. Melindesign Somers, NY

Melindesign is a jewelry outsourcing company that is 100% American. The assembly studio is in the Hudson Valley region, and the skilled team of “Jewelry Assembly Chicks,” of all levels of expertise, craft your design from one to a thousand pieces.

I had the pleasure of speaking with CEO, Melinda O’Keefe, on the phone to get a better idea of the business and productions, and she could not be more polite! It was extremely easy to get ahold of her and she answered every question I had plus more, which leads me to believe she would be an excellent partner when working on productions.

Services:

  • Jewelry assembly of all designed components of earrings, necklaces, bracelets and anklets with production runs and sampling

  • Wire wrapping with micro tools and free form wire wrapping

  • Packaging included for shipment: bagging, boxing, labeling


Minimums:

  • There aren’t minimums, however, costs are charged per piece. A sample will be made for you to determine an accurate price per piece.


Turnaround:

  • Turnaround depends on complexity and quantity of the order. Large retail orders (1,000 pieces or more) will take 8 to 12 weeks.


3. Bamboosa Andrews, SC

Bamboosa’s husband and wife founders have decades of experience in the textile manufacturing, private label apparel, graphic design and embellishment industry. I emailed Mindy Johnson Saintsing, co-founder of Bamboosa, and she speedily replied back to my questions regarding the company and production.

Here are the questions answered to clarify what Bamboosa is about, straight from the heart of Bamboosa!

What is the turnaround for your company with orders?

  • We normally turn orders around within a week - with the exception of products that may need to get sewn, which would extend the turn-around until the following week.


Is there a minimum?

  • Yes, our minimum on wholesale orders is $200.


Is your manufacturing business 100% American or do you also use subcontractors from another country?

  • We committed from day one (11 years ago) to be 100% American. We are and always will be. All of our fabrics are manufactured and dyed in SC and all of our sewn products are sewn right here in our Bamboosa facility. We offer several products - the socks and cable knit blankets that are made in other US factories which have those particular machines.


Do you allow samples and production runs when working with a designer?

  • Yes, we often do samples and production runs for private label clients … as long as the requests are for items that we can make. We are somewhat limited to certain fabrics and by our sewing capabilities. We have done a variety of private label programs over the years for everything from tee shirts, to baby products, to sport towels.


And what are your specializations (any or all you would like featured on our site)?

  • Our specializations are :

    • 1) Organic cotton and organic bamboo fabrics - which we manufacture ourselves

    • 2) Baby products - essentials for babies that are soft, comfortable and simple

    • 3) Digital Garment Printing - the most eco-friendly printing available


4. Baikal New York, NY

Baikal Inc. is a handbag manufacturer specializing in simple-to-complicated handbags, belts, small leather goods, clutches, innovative products, repairs, straps, fabric bags, exotic bags and more. I spoke with a woman on the phone at their office to clarify minimums and turnaround times, to which she obliged and gave me as much information as she was allowed.

Services?

  • Sample making, Custom hardware, Generic hardware, Custom lining and dust bag, Consulting for new designers, Material sourcing or where to find material sourcing, Zipper sourcing


Minimums?

  • There is no minimum sample order. Production minimums: 8pc/color/style for leather bags and 24pc/color/style for fabric bags. Accessories, combination bags, exotic bags are case by case.


Turnaround?

  • Turnaround is 4-6 weeks to set up and 6-12 weeks for production, depending on the design.


5. Bennett Dye Company Philadelphia, PA

Bennett Dye Co. is a bleach and dye house since the early 1900’s. They specialize in all types of garment washes and finishes with pigment dyeing.

Services:

  • Garment dyeing, Pigment, Pigment dyeing, Direct, Reactive, Disperse, Acid, Tie dye, Blotching, Blotching/overdye, Splashing, Splashing/overdye, Garment renewals, Garment washing, Garment softening, Silicone softening, Depilling, Bleaching, Color stripping, Enzyme washing, Stone washing, Acid washing, Wrinkling, Slitting, Fraying, Anti-microbial, Water repellant, Stain resistant


Turnaround:

  • Samples, once received, take 2-5 working days to complete. Dye orders, once received, usually take 5-10 working days.

 

By Cassandra Kicak

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