Once more, with feeling.
If you’re looking for a clothing manufacturer, you’ve hit pay dirt. Thousands of clothing manufacturers visit this site every day! But now I have to ask why you want to find a clothing manufacturer. Are you a buyer looking for new suppliers? Are you selling fabric? Are you a sales rep looking for new clients? Or are you a consumer looking to buy clothes? Those are all legitimate reasons to look for a clothing manufacturer. The singular reason you don’t need to find a clothing manufacturer is if you’re looking for someone to sew products for you.
Amongst new entrants, manufacturer is used to mean sewing contractor but that is exactly like saying cyst instead of tumor. If your doctor calls the lab for your biopsy results and the technician says it’s a cyst when it’s a tumor, you could die. If you are looking for someone to sew your products, by definition you are a manufacturer who is looking for a sewing contractor.
Manufacturer is a legal designation that encompasses duties, responsibilities and culpability. The responsibility of the potential of recalls, injuries, law suits, fines etc rests with the party whose name is listed on the label. For example, Toyota -not their brake contractor- is in a lot of hot water legally and in the court of public opinion.
A sewing contractor provides sewing services under contract. A contractor’s liability is limited; noncompliance amounts to a contract dispute between you and them. Toyota’s brake contractor is in trouble with Toyota, not the government.
So, even though a sewing contractor manufactures product for you, contractor and manufacturer are not synonyms. It doesn’t matter how much you dislike the label, the law holds you -the manufacturer- responsible. Failing to use these two terms properly causes distance and a whole host of other problems. Minimally, it’s annoying and annoyed people aren’t known to be helpful. It can also be interpreted as an indirect insult but that’s further down.
Building credibility by using terminology appropriately identifies you as belonging to the in-group. If you don’t, people in a position to help you will think you’re a layman or not far enough along as to make any difference. If you think the meanings of words are interchangeable, how will you understand what people are saying? We certainly don’t understand; if you are a manufacturer, why would you look high and low for a manufacturer? So you can spy on them? These days most of us know what you mean but we’ll also know you’re green and may decline to take you on if we don’t have the time to explain basic terms. Books are useful for the ABCs.
I have come to realize that the word manufacturer holds a negative connotation for some people but that’s an emotional response that has no place in business (even though tumor sounds really nasty, you wouldn’t say cyst instead). This problem with your perceptions could be causing other problems you don’t need, perhaps unknowingly. This from an email I got:
[ ] although I’ve read this on the forum, it didn’t click until you said it the other day. I am the manufacturer – something about that clicked and already I feel like I am making more progress. When I was thinking that they were the manufacturer somehow that made me less in control. I hope this doesn’t sound too crazy but, somehow now that I realize I am the manufacturer, it is changing the way I am approaching everything. I’m glad I realized this before I actually launch -and now I wonder how many other things I don’t yet know
Own what you are. You’ll be the better for it. Be responsible and proud enough of it that you don’t need to couch it in half-truths. If you’re ashamed of being a manufacturer to the extent you have to conceal it, there must be other things going on you don’t want people to know.
If you don’t use the word manufacturer to describe yourself because the word has an ugly connotation for you, what can that say about how you think about service providers? If you’re ashamed of the word when it’s used to describe you, it logically follows that one could imply insult if it’s being using it to describe us. There’s no need to be ashamed of us, most of us think manufacturing is something to be proud of. In fact, some of us find the opposite implication to be offensive. Sure, there’s some rotten manufacturers out there and even rotten contractors but would you hesitate to describe yourself as a mom or dad just because the majority of child abusers are moms and dads? In business you’re allotted one small carry-on. Leave the rest of your baggage at home.
Summary: Using language inappropriately in a given context dramatically diminishes your credibility. Standing in front of a mirror, repeat “I am a manufacturer, I am a manufacturer”. If you find the prospect exciting, something to be proud of and you want to learn more, you’re a credit to the industry. We’ll hold the door open for you.
Speaking of credibility, this study finds that textile and apparel firms that misrepresent their identity, suffer financially. Companies that do represent themselves correctly hire more employees, have higher sales, more production space and a higher credit score.
Note: I promise this is the last time I’m going to make these points, I’m sure it’s boring to the regulars. From here on out tho, I have a post I can link to.