Founder and CEO of June & January, Amy Richardson, began sewing baby clothes as a side project in 2010. After experiencing rapid growth during her first several years in business, Amy initially partnered with Blacksmith in 2015 to handle her move to large-scale production overseas. Now, nine years later, Blacksmith is helping Amy again, but in a different way – with on-demand manufacturing right here in the US.
Amy has utilized Blacksmith’s on-demand factory in two significant ways:
- To quickly and easily determine consumer demand for new styles
- To quickly replenish inventory on core styles that are running low
Even though Amy still does the majority of her apparel manufacturing overseas, the Blacksmith on-demand factory has provided her with maximum supply chain flexibility – reducing risk and increasing revenue.
Manufacturing overseas takes a long time. Design, fabric sourcing, sampling from different factories, bulk production and finally overseas shipping, can take six to nine months at best. Just to get a product sample made by overseas factories and shipped to the U.S. can take over a month.
Historically, this has made it risky for any apparel company to experiment with new styles. Furthermore, popular styles that sell out simply cannot be replenished quickly.
Case 1: Testing a New Style
Amy had an idea for new styles that she would love to test over the July 4th holiday. It was already the middle of June, but Amy knew that traditional overseas manufacturing takes months. However, she learned about Blacksmith’s on-demand apparel factory based in Utah and decided to give it a try.
She sent the Blacksmith factory digital designs of the new styles she wanted to test. Raspberry Creek Fabrics, also located in Utah, digitally printed her new fabric design. The fabric arrived at the Blacksmith manufacturing facility and a marketing-ready sample was sewn and delivered in a total of 4 days. This essentially gave Amy access to an in-house sample room, normally only accessible to big brands.
She did a photoshoot and promoted her new styles over the July 4th holiday, just as she had hoped to. She collected pre-orders so when the promotion was over, not only did she know the exact number of units to manufacture, but also had the entire production paid for up-front. She then placed an order for the rest of her fabric to be printed, which only took a matter of days. Her small-batch order of less than 1,500 units took just 2 weeks for the Blacksmith factory to complete.
Traditional overseas manufacturing would have needed notice for this type of order months in advance. Additionally, most overseas factories do not accept such small orders. While her production with Blacksmith’s US factory was more expensive than it would have been overseas, it was cost-effective for several reasons. She received her product in record time, did not have to commit to a large order for a product of unknown demand, and avoided overseas shipping costs and tariffs fees.
Case 2: Replenishing Supply of Core Styles
June & January is a popular brand that sells thousands of units each month. Amy relies on her overseas factories to fulfill large orders. Though she plans out months in advance, sometimes certain core styles sell better than anticipated. Traditionally, if one of her styles sold out, she would need to wait for her next overseas shipment of product to arrive before it was back in stock. However, by storing some fabric for her most popular styles at the Blacksmith on-demand factory, she can quickly replenish inventory on core styles that are about to sell out.
When inventory running low on a particular core style, all Amy needs to do is notify the Blacksmith factory, and her supply is topped-off in about 10 days or less. Typical orders are for three styles, with about 250 units for each style (750 units total).
Being able to quickly refill inventory in this manner ensures that Amy does not miss out on any potential revenue from an item being sold out while she waits for her larger shipment to arrive.
When Amy wanted to test a new style for June & January, the Blacksmith on-demand factory gave her the luxury of having an in-house sample room, which let her rapidly test demand for new styles. Blacksmith was also able to manufacture her apparel at a high standard of quality right here in Utah, while keeping costs in-check. Amy was not only able to design, sample and market a new product in a matter of days, she has also been able to maintain inventory of core styles at record speed.
Amy’s new hybrid and flexible overseas-US manufacturing model has ensured that she does not miss out on potential revenue and can test new styles with no up-front financial risk – positioning June & January for exponential brand growth.
To learn more about Blacksmith’s domestic manufacturing solutions please visit us HERE and fill out the form at the bottom of the page to start a new domestic project.
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