Skip to main content

Diversifying Your Product Line

Lesson 20 of 32



Diversifying Your Product Line

Lesson 20 of 32



Lesson Info


All righty so we are going to start off today with manufacturing big big subject matter one of the most frequently asked questions I get is how do I find a manufacturer? How do I find raw materials? So we're going to tackle this the beginning of this session so this is a kind of a level set for session to what are we starting with? We covered on a chris chris mentioned quite a few things that we covered yesterday, but really it's going to go through the list, the target market we looked at products idea collection plan pricing concepts and time plan all extremely necessary very, very integral parts off putting together a product line and they all really kind of move together when it comes to finding a manufacturer well actually working with the manufacturer, so we mentioned tools the beginning of session want the whole part of the workshop in sessions one and second to is really giving you the tools that you need to succeed and working with manufacturers and raw material suppliers you'...

re going to need all those tools you getting that confidence, the credibility in the tool? So this is what we're gonna work on in the second session, the big or small where you're working ah, in a spare room or whether you're looking to outsource, you're going to need a manufacturer or a supplier that sometime now there's lots of different terms for manufacturers some people call them suppliers some people calling vendors some people call them manufacturers for the for the purpose of of this segment we're going to call him a manufacturer and I'm going to break down what I mean exactly by a manufacturer because it comes in or they come in all different shapes and sizes so let's start this lesson off with defining your manufacturer it's a very, very important element what is the manufacturer and who were yours? So for me, when I when I think about manufacturing physically think about someone sitting in another building who is going to sew my scarves for may I think of every single element which goes into the product s o I think about raw materials I think about finished product I think about printing and dying or any kind of embellishments that you you have on your product. I also think about packaging and labels because all of these different elements needed manufacturer build a creator of some description, so I look at it as a kind of a global umbrella term of manufacturing and in the next session off next segment rather when we talk about raw materials I'm going to break every every single element down of a product it ties back to the manufacturers so when I think about I think about makers, builders, creators, producers because that this is we are re passionate about what we're doing we were making our product there also a maker and a crafter they're also making their product it maybe the wire that we use for necklaces it may be the zippers that we use for purses all these things have to be made, they have to be created and they also have to be designed, so if you think about it less as a kind of a seminar situation, it is all I have to get some more differs from the manufacturing it's always a pain because they never deliver on time, but they're also crafters and makers on dh they also have deadlines and timelines that they have to adhere to. So part of the way that I work in the way that I think about it is putting yourself in the shoes off the manufacturer and understanding the process that they have to go through on the deadline that they have to mean and once you appreciate that, it means the relationship that you have between yourself and the manufacturer is going to be a lot smoother and it's going to be a lot more respectful we touch on that in the communications section but looping back to this these are the kind of the four areas that I really focus on when I think about manufacturing, nothing I firmly believe is that the majority of manufacturers and miracle workers um it's kind of a quiet grand statement, but they if you really engage with the manufacturer and you share that your vision of what you want out of your product um and you you you give communication in a respectful and timely manner and you're you understand their process then they majority times will bend over backwards to make things happen for you. Absolutely and I've been in so many instances where for france and no one's reason were kind of up against time on something and the manufacturer because I keep them in the loop of what's going on they literally kind of ship things in their own car to me to get them to me because because they so desperately want me toe be able to succeed with a product launch and this is this is only comes down to the fact that you respond well with them you communicate well with them on do you give them the information that they need in a timely manner? So miracle workers that's what I call manufacturers all kinds it would be great to get some some some great stories on on kind of miracle workers from manufacturers manufacturers and perform miracles it's there's a definitely afraid that I'll come back to me later, okay? So here's my first tip of the day understanding your product and defining defining your specifics will enable a manufacturer to succeed so just because you tell the manufacturers I need some fabric I need it tomorrow doesn't mean that they're a mind reader and they understand exactly what you want be extremely clear be very specific about what your needs are define the exact requirements and then your manufacturer's succeed they'll have everything they need to be able to ship the product to you to deliver it in the right way at the right price at the right time so you really have to take ownership of the product and the requirements that you need and the reasons why you need it give a full context when you communicate this is something that is so important and I it's like a broken record half that I'm constantly talking about it but it just is it's so important in the production process so I have two steps in these next couple of slides the first one is what you need to make proud but ok so I'm going to take it the scarves ahs an instance and then I'm going to call in one of the one of the studio team here t get their feedback as well so when I'm thinking about why you to make my scarves it's not just like well I need a sewing machine and I need some fabric it's a simple is that well yes and no so I need materials of course and is something to physically make my scarf with I'm going to be potentially printing or dying the fabric as well, so I would need to have some kind of die. I need to have a dye facility, either my washing machine at home or an industrial situation. If I was printing, I'd need to get a screen printing facility, either set something up on the kitchen table, potentially or outsources somewhere, um, and the construction I need to be able to physically, so it so I need a sewing space when it comes to labels, packaging and marketing materials, these air also products that I need to take into consideration, so the labels do I have a woven label dough, I hand make my label what's going to carry my brand name? This has to be created and designed the packaging. Yeah, I'm going to use tissue paper on my going toe. You know, you just a branded sticker to kind of steal a tissue paper, fancy envelopes, packaging, marketing materials. I'm not going to do old school marketing and do flyers, and we're going to do social media all all these different elements go into one silk scarf, thirty seven inches by thirty seven inches, it's in the next in the next segment, we really we break it down further on really delve into the small details, but from going discipline initially saying, well, you know, I might make silk scarves and you know that that I hand stitched the edges. You've immediately got seven other elements which have to be taken into the mix, all of which produced somewhere created somewhere by another maker, who's, passionate about their product. Ok, so it's really interesting. Teo, I kind of geek out about at times, actually kind of looking. I look at products and is thinking how many elements, you know, go into making that product, but not just the product that you're physically buying or wearing, but goes into the supply chain of how it will kind of clicks together so it's under the understanding it and being able to kind of define it, um, and defining those elements put you forward into a position where you can find the right manufacturer and the right supplier. Okay, so we had stepped one, which was looking at the elements of the product. Now we're going to define every element further, we're going to break it down, and the reason why I do this is there's so many different manufacturers and supplies out there and it's very dependent on what type of product you want, what type you want to you, actually. You want to be selling so for styling for instance, is your product going to be a luxury product super high luxury level? Is it going to be artisanal? Do you want it to have that kind of craft handmade hand printed that kind of aesthetic because you'll be looking at two different manufacturers in that case if potentially the price? What kind of price level are you looking to pitch out? You know you remember my brand positioning chart in session one we had something which was kind of an entry price of fifty dollars and we had something which was a top price of four hundred fifty I've pitched myself in the middle so I roughly know what kind of price point, what kind of materials I need to be looking for but it's again it's thinking about that where do I wanna whether I want to be is going to define the raw materials that I use and the manufacturer that I end up going to the quantity quantity of goods that I want? Is it going to be custom? I'm going to make everything myself or am I going toe mass produce it or do I need to think about, you know, scaling up right now or should I do I need to consider that or should I just kind of focus really on custom and small order right now? Chances are I know that some of you in the audience here at the stage where you're kind of on that tipping point of your making everything yourself but you're going to the kind of scaling stage of it that's something that it's just that you're probably going toe out, grow some of your manufacturers and suppliers and expand and there's something else. So it's it's understanding that since signing the need of um I at this point right now the support level this is this is crucial because there's a lot of supplies out there who who do a lot of research and development for you and some who just literally produce a product for you and depending on what you want out of this relationship it's it's finding the right partner partnership is you know, if if principles and cohesiveness with the words off session one than partnership is the word of session too, because getting getting that support do you want someone to help you source fabrics for you are you are you going to be making hang tags for your product and you've no idea about the quality of paper or the car that you're going to be using? Do you need sourcing assistance from them or are you just going to literally supply them with the package? This is mrs really important stuff that you need to consider when you're picking your supplier and being very open and transparent about it telling them so, I know you do hang tags and labels. Are you able to give me some advice about paper or give me some different techniques I can use? And also, well, no, actually, we just provide the paper. That's it this is not ok. That's great, you know, do you know of anyone who gives research and development information? Well, actually, yes, I do. And it's, this person is great. So you've actually found your your route to your preferred supplier, but just expecting everyone to kind of give all the information on every time is unrealistic. So, really, if you spend the time defining every element of your product, understanding where you need to sit in the market, what kind of assistance you're going to get, then you're going to end up with right partner and the right products on the right materials. Chris, do we have anything coming back right now from the chat room about manufacturers? Yeah, we have a number of people who are sharing their stories, let's see, we've got one here from becca kitterman, who says I have used a great textile supplier in my home state of michigan for the kitchen linens that I print on their family business, and they work very hard to make a great product. And then let's see paintings by kate gilmore says, I get my cradled wood boards from an american supplier in another state, they're a bit pricier than imports, but they're worth it for the quality would be nice to find a local small business, but so far none are available, so this is the best option. So, yes, a couple of stories there, but people seem to be pretty happy so far with their manufacturers that they have perfect quick question actually, do you have one like key supplier whose you've just kind of bonded with it's going to no exception? Oh, no, no, no, I'm not saying it's about it's, just that I use very specific fabrics that I have not I haven't made the step to buy it wholesale, so I really just goto fabric stores and buy my fabric, right? So you're looking for like the next step, ok, so was he really defined? Ah, your search and defined your product it's good to start writing a list and then making a search. We're going to talk about where I would start sourcing. I'm going to give you all my insider tips building partnerships, key key key word for session too, if I will be a broken record if I say this one more time, so oh, here are some of my goatees links for all these are believer in the bonus material, so when I'm sourcing and I regardless of where I, uh where I'm working, what project I'm doing, I have a list of goatees that I always start and I can spend days sourcing on b e mailing on dh, just getting on the internet and googling it's literally that I don't have any kind of magic formula to say, oh, well, for paper products, you go too, you know, john's papers in hills, berg, it's, it's, it's, literally a trial and error and it's so dependent on the product and the priceline and everything we've just discussed as to where I go, I find makers rome, they really they're real kind of pioneers for domestic suppliers, manufacturers here in the u s they do a great job, they've been going for about two years or so great database of information, global sources is something more kind of global, so if you're looking for offshore as well, um, dj expo, they have, um I want to say kind of many trade shows all over the u s they have one in san francisco believe they have one in new york, they have one in miami, and these guys specialize in small quantities. Specifically for fabric but also for manufacturers who work on small orders as well. So predominantly women's were but they also do a lot of decorative fabrics, a lot of trimmings as well. Ah, magic online eso magic is magic it's in vegas would you believe, which is kind of typical when it first time I heard about magic in vegas on this expecting like a bunny rabbit out of a hat, but I was disappointed it was fabric instead, but I'm sure you form. He gets and bunnies somewhere in vegas, but magic online is a huge sourcing show is a massive sourcing show I mean it takes over, you know, half of caesar's palace or something and you can find everything that and it's split into different areas so you have men's wear women's wear sourcing, you have accessories, you have manufacturers, you have suppliers it's ah it's a huge show you have to be very focused with your search but it's a great resource and they have a very useful web site tio navigate around as well. Premier vision is a fabric and trim and manufacturing show which started out in paris, but it also has in new york branch off it and in the new york gordon is getting bigger now premier vision has a fantastic interactive web site that you can go to and everyone exhibits on within this trade show it has a has a link and has all the information about what they specialize in so I do a lot of sourcing online when I'm looking for for fabrics or trims are also manufacturers another one which I didn't put on the list actually I missed off is text world t x world and text world is it's similar to premier vision it's based they have them all over there in europe and also the u s has a huge one in new york twice a year and they have a lot of suppliers a lot of sourcing and again it's trims its details it's fabrics um so it's really it's for kind of the soft goods side ofthe sourcing if I look at local sources these are the two west coast and one east coast source as have made and people where sf are great sources of information of local manufacturers a raw materials small companies see fda council fashion designers america off america they have a huge resource mostly new york based but a lot on the east coast generally of manufacturers who worked with a small quantities fabric suppliers people who work in the industry who were there to support in the different elements of the business so these are my kind of local sources as well the the other thing I do is I just I use the the google machine really and just type in manufacturers for silk scarves or inks for silk scarves and I find it just it za cliche you get a huge amount of information a huge amount of information you can take it in suckow a day ease of your life while you actually find it you're nodding into sending enthusiastically. Catherine, what was your you? It is yes, I will definitely get lost trying to find suppliers for things especially acrylic. Right. So where do you find that right now is that you have a local source. I have a local source, but I've seen people with colors or, like sparkly acrylic and stuff like I did not see that at my local suppliers. Where did they get that right? So a little bit more saucier. I wonder what? Yeah, that's definitely worth that's got me thinking about how I could help that phone. Great. So I mean the tip second tip of the day understanding and defining I would say equal success is understanding exactly what you need it's defining it and again physically writing out not just kind of thinking in your head and thinking you got all the elements writing things down, brainstorming using this workbook, writing it all down will enable you to to think of all the extra elements may have slipped your mind once you've defined that it's easier to then start sourcing so, first question of the day, start a list of your product needs. Visit some of the web to web sites to understand the options. You'll be great. We've heard that we've got some first on experience of kind of sourcing challenges here would be great to hear from the chat room of any additional kind of great sourcing opportunities that making kind of share with us. Pitino how what's your kind of sourcing structure. Do you have that? Several sources feel few materials. Would you have one main one? No, I kind of all over the place. I worked in vintage for a long time, so I have some my antique dealer friends that I visit periodically, but other than that, um, just wherever I can write. And wherever my mentors in my studio tell me to go. Okay. And have you have you found that as you're working, you kind of kept the same sex playa. So you kind of build this relationship? I tried to change tryout as many things as possible, honestly, right? To get a really good handle on just the pricing and, yeah, availability. A lot of times, suppliers will take different times to get things to write on dh then I also noticed that there there's one supplier that I found out. Actually has a program where they if you donate all of your like scrap metals precious metals that goes towards like young jewelers like young aspiring jewelers. How is clear and made me one is a stick with them? Yeah, just based on the fact that they have a charity linked to yeah, and just kind of like a final question, is it because of the complexity of your material means that people can potentially deliver kind of they have different time scales for delivery? Or is it just e? I think a cz faras getting things casted in manufactured really depends on how how big of a team that company has, right? Because they know the moment the one that is my favorite she's local but she's a one woman show she might have people helping her sometimes, which is also very popular, right? So a lot of jewelers user okay, you know, so yeah, so that's going to slide thing sounds a little bit, yeah, I mean there's, a place in new york and there's also placed in portland, but they're like bigger production, right? And I don't quite trust them as much. Yeah, I mean it's definitely it's a leap of faith in some cases, you know, he's kind of until you're sure is stick with what you know, I think, yeah

Class Description

Once you’ve established your business with a single, successful product, imagining what else to sell can be daunting. You don’t want to end up with a disjointed collection of products, but you do want it to be fresh and exciting for existing customers. In Diversifying Your Product Line, you’ll learn the art and science of expanding your offerings and growing your business.

Susie Breuer is the author of Blue is the New Black: The 10 Step Guide to Developing and Producing a Fashion Collection and in this class she’ll help you generate ideas and make smart decisions about expanding your apparel and/or accessories business. You’ll learn how to:

  • Research the market to understand both price and your customers.
  • Build a concept and action plan for starting out
  • Manage multiple product lines
  • Source raw materials and manufacturers

You’ll learn how to accurately assess a product's viability before you waste time and money developing it. Susie will also teach you how to develop a consistent, logical pricing strategy you can use again and again.

Susie makes the complex process of developing a financially solvent product and production plan easy. You’ll get expert-level insights into all aspects of developing a new product and walk away confident that you know everything you need to know to expand your business.



Thank you for an excellent class on a key pivot point no matter what industry you are in. One stellar quality of this course is how collaborative, friend focused peer culture and (rather than hostile competition or dysfunction competition environment and psychological atmosphere). The structure suggestions enable creativity and acknowledges different mindsets required in different phases. Susie honors the joy that comes from making and creating. She celebrates the interdependence between all stakeholders and the fun and flow as well as learnings and choices from being a 'business'. She is pragmatic but high on the inclusiveness of fun and satisfaction. She is interested and interesting: safe, enjoys being a customer as much as teacher and expressions of creative generation for herself. You can be caught up in the delight of her view of the world if you have become jaded or burnout. This brings perspective and empowerment to your desire and goals.


Susie has this most amazing experience in business - she is fashion royalty - but has an amazing ability to put all her knowledge across in a way that you can learn so easily. I was so pleased that she could show you how to learn from her experience and it would make sense for your business. Pretty much whatever you are doing. I came away from these sessions with so many ideas. But of course ideas are cheap. She has made me understand how once you have an idea, how to make it real. So many great learnings about avoiding pitfalls, practical check lists and honest to goodness 'know how'. I am already putting her advice into practice and can see I am going to transform my business just because of these classes. I am going to come back to those videos again and again. Thank you so much for making this great resource available.


I LOVED THIS COURSE. After being a small business owner for 10 years it is easy to focus on what's right on your desk at that very moment instead of evaluating the bigger picture, to forget how to look at what is working as well as what isn't and how to improve upon your process. Courses like this make me want to jump up out of my seat and get back to work. Susie kept me engaged and focused. It can be a long day but time seemed to fly by. I am really glad I got the opportunity to take the course, not only would I take it again but would highly recommend future Creative Live courses and Susie's latest book. Thank you again for the opportunity and now I gotta get back to work!