Who sells the most at market -and why pt.2

Continuing from yesterday, I believe the second psychological factor that prevents people from opening their own sewing factory is based on an inappropriate emotional response mostly because manufacturing has an image problem. It makes me very very sad. Most people think factories are terrible places, that you only work in one if you have no other options, presumably because factory workers aren’t very bright. I’ll spare you the revisionist semi-rant but I have spent the best years of my life in factories. On one hand we decry the erosion of our economy due to the loss of US manufacturing jobs but on the other, we don’t encourage our young people to pursue careers in it because we think they’re smarter than that and of course, we find it repugnant. This has got to change.

We have a schizophrenic attitude about manufacturing in the US. If we’re not thinking it’s horrible, on the other hand, when we find domestic producers, we celebrate them as some kind of hero, that they are unusual and made of more special stuff than we are. I’m telling you I know they are not. They are no different from you, their sources of information are no different from yours. The only difference I can see is that they don’t think manufacturing is beneath them; manufacturing excites them; they work hard at it. F-I visitors often send me inspiring articles about such and such company producing domestically but I often can’t write about them because I can’t separate what I know directly versus what’s been published in a newspaper or appears in a video -and then it annoys me that some of the facts in the story are wrong and I can’t correct it without betraying confidences.

Grace sent me a link to an interview called The Meaning of Intelligence featuring educator Mike Rose, author of  Lives on the Boundary. Mike could tell you this story both ways. Due to an error in processing his high school test results, he was shunted into remedial classes deemed more appropriate to his IQ. He has a lot to say about the presumed intelligence of workers. He’s probably the nation’s best known advocate for respecting and encouraging education among tradesmen and factory workers. Mike also says that tradesmen and workers harbor deprecatory impressions of the presumed intelligence of college graduates that are likewise dysfunctional with the end result of disrespect between the two camps. I don’t know where the truth of it lies. I only know that mutual disrespect gets us nowhere and if you propose to assume the role of leadership in starting a manufacturing enterprise, it becomes your responsibility to breach and repair the impasse. But you can’t get there by denying your role in the affair because you find manufacturing repugnant to the extent that you deny you’re a manufacturer even though the law says you are. Denial is nothing if not repudiation and distancing.

Recalling the difference between a wannabe and a newbie, wannabes are surprised that contractors don’t want to do business with them? Seriously? Plenty of people find me even via this site and they still treat me like dirt when they call to inquire about services. I do not hate myself so much that I would work for anyone who disrespects me so heartily to the extent they don’t feel compelled to conceal their disdain. They likewise presume we are so marginal that we have no other choice than to take their work according to the -often vicarious and ill formed- mandates they’ve established. That my friends is the truth of it. The only difference between someone like that versus an individual who denies they’re a manufacturer is but a matter of degree.

My circuitous conclusion is that you will find it far more difficult to gain the upper hand in the new economy to deliver immediates unless you respect the work sufficiently to roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty. I think most of you are afraid too but it doesn’t have to be that way. You will be surprised to learn how exciting, fun, challenging, rewarding and profitable it will be -and I would be delighted to take you there. You’re missing out on a lot, aren’t you curious as to what that is? 

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16 Comments on "Who sells the most at market -and why pt.2"


Lisa Bloodgood
4 years 10 months ago

I’ll get there, just don’t have the money yet. I don’t want to end up making anything overseas.

Kathleen
4 years 10 months ago

Kay Lancaster sent me a link to a story (with video) about Danner boot company in Portland OR. They’ve recently doubled their production space (nice factory!) and apparently will be hiring at least 25 more operators and leather cutters.

Lesley
4 years 10 months ago

I am glad I hang around with the people I do. None of us are afraid of any type of work. My sewing contractors take pride in their work as do I. We all trade off and do what we have to do. I am a college graduate who was lucky to start off in the service industry with a company (Marriott) that works the snob out of you. I have cleaned many a public bathroom as a manager in my time, helped change adult diapers with care managers in an assisted living facility, so manufacturing work is no biggie. I realized early on that getting a little “dirt” on your hands will make you better able to understand, manage and build teamwork with everyone “on the line.” No one who takes their business seriously can find any aspect of the work demeaning. You have to be willing to have at least some understanding of every aspect. Now back to ironing….so un-American! ha ha

Kathleen
4 years 10 months ago

Shocking. A new study says 67% of textile/apparel firms misrepresent themselves. Enterprises that correctly label themselves are more successful, hire more employees, have higher sales, more production square footage etc (emphasis is mine).

“It’s not necessarily that these businesses are purposefully misrepresenting themselves,” Ha-Brookshire said. “Often, these businesses simply use different terminology than the U.S. Census Bureau has designated, or they are genuinely confused about how to classify themselves.”

Ha-Brookshire’s study also revealed an important economic byproduct of this identity distortion. Her studied concluded that the companies whose identities are congruent with the U.S. Census Bureau are more financially successful than those companies whose identities are incongruent. Ha-Brookshire found that, on average, companies with congruent identities hired more employees, had higher sales, more square footage of production space, and a higher credit score.

“If a textile or apparel manufacturer reports itself to the U.S. Census Bureau as a wholesaler, or a wholesaler reports itself as an apparel manufacturer, all the economic data the government has compiled are wrong,” Ha-Brookshire said. “Also, it makes it much harder for these small businesses to get bank loans specifically designed for certain small businesses if they don’t have a good grasp on their own identities.”

Kathleen
4 years 10 months ago

Hi Vee, I wrote a book on how to set up your manufacturing enterprise (listed off to the right). You can read selected chapters free. I know you’ve been hanging out here for awhile, perhaps it’s time to make it official by joining us. We have a private forum where we discuss all of these things in more detail. You can join it free your first year with proof of purchase of a new copy. More info is here.