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Saturday, December 29, 2007

Women's Apparel Sales Down

I heard this news on NPR radio (KUT 90.5 in Austin) on December 26. It was a takeoff on The New York Times story on the women's apparel sales slump it called an, "ominous holiday sign". Lets assume women's apparel sales are down at your business: What do you make of it? Do you see it as the glass being half full, or half empty? That is, do you see it as opportunity or gloom.

Four points stand out on which I would like to comment.

1 What do analysts see as the reason for this situation? Some, "Analysts blamed a rough economy".

2 Others see this situation as one which could, ". . .could result in steeper-than-expected discounts".

3 Yet another reason for cited for the problem was "lackluster merchandise in the mall", and “There is a lot of sameness” in stores, Mr. Morris said.

4 Finally, analysts expressed surprise at the enduring strength of online spending.

First, the ecomony is a big blanket. It's too easy for analysts in a holiday rush to blurp that one out for inquiring reporters wanting to get the scoop on holiday spending pulse. It says alot and it says nothing for myself, a non-economist.

Second, this speaks to that secret the cat let out of the bag long ago: Apparel merchandise price markups are steep. Yes, that's an understatement, but it also serves to the point that it's an equally steep descent when those prices come down as "discounts" for customers.

Third, "lackluster" and "sameness" in off-the-rack, readywear apparel are synonyms of one another. Rich or poor, people are increasingly aware they need not settle for the same-mold-same-old (truthfully, this is the first time I ever write that phrase and if it's not the one you know I think mine speaks accurately to the issue lol). Robyn Waters, in "The Hummer and the Mini" has written long and well on this trend of consumers rebelling against the "one size fits none" (not her phrase) of manufactured goods.

Lastly, there should be no surprise about the enduring strength of online spending. As I have posted before, women's apparel sales surpassed the behemouth juggernaut of computer manufacturing sales in 2007 for the first since the advent of Internet sales and data compliation.

I am not persuaded women (and moms, as the story relates) let up on their personal shopping needs and wants for the holiday season. The story focuses on sales data mined by a credit card company. Quite likely, those were mega-chain store retailers, not the mom and pop, independent apparel boutique retailers behind those sales figures.

As I have stated before there are over 40 million (per the Home Sewing Association) people in America who sew in their homes. Although the HSA cannot say what percentage do so for leisure or profit when you take into account the number of people who have worked in apparel manufacturing I believe they are behind this sales slump. How, you ask? I'm all alone on this one, but I believe just as we are seeing in Austin so too in other parts of the country consumers, women, particularly, are discovering the wonderful world of apparel fashion and style at local independent retailers. These retailers, particularly if they have are having their apparel made by local individual, independent contractor/designers do not show up on the sales radar for mainstream data businesses such as credit card companies. It's not an ominous sign. The glass is not half empty. It's a great sign of opportunity being taken advantage of by independents. What do you think?

Friday, December 28, 2007

Benazir Bhutto

The assassination on Thursday of former Pakistan Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto in Rawalpindi produced a sick feeling in my stomach.

It was lunchtime in my seventh grade class in 1963 when our classmate Linda came rushing in with tear-soaked face calling aloud President John F. Kennedy had been assassinated.

I do not profess intimate knowledge of Pakistan, its people, culture and issues other than the smattering of news from the media. Still, I was not alone in my hopes for what this remarkable woman held for the future of Pakistan.

Were she my enemy I would not rejoice, for, says, the Lord, "Do not rejoice in the fall of your enemy". Were she my friend, I would grieve her death.

Benazir Bhutto was among those who live their lives in total commitment in the service of a cause for the benefit of others.

I am saddened by the loss of my friend.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

You Who Are Spiritual

Whether in sports, business or home, the pursuit or development of one's spirituality can be second to nothing. At the same time the pursuit of spirituality cannot be an excuse for everything else in our lives running into ruin.

Spirituality is not the domain of "holy men" or recluses. It is neither vague, mystical nor unattainable. It is what enables one to navigate self as well as offer and give guidance to others in life neither one of which a "holy man" or recluse can do in their isolation and detachness from life.

It is not something to claim or boast of self. Its best claim is when it is heard as the testimony given by others of a spiritual person.

Jesus demonstrated the marks, that is, the characteristics of a spiritual.

The link opens to a little bit more as to what constitutes a spiritual.

As always, your comments are welcome either on Associated Content or this blog.

Thursday, December 20, 2007


This is a comment I posted on regarding technicians, engineers, hobbyists and resellers.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you and yours!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

The Hollywood writers' right

The ongoing Hollywood writers' strike has put the limelight on the ability of unions to negotiate on behalf of their membership. The latest development in the strike involves the writers' union, the Writers Guild of America, proposal to negotiate directly with studios and bypassing the studios' respresentative; the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers.

The union's strategy would have been anathema twenty-five years ago. Perhaps, after too many loses to count, labor unions have become more resourceful when engaged in negotiations with employers. Too many jobs have vanquished because the strike mindset was one of crash and burn rather than reach an agreement. Those union officials remained union officials in the strikes' aftermath. Those employees became unemployed. If the company didn't go under completely it joined the ranks of offshore, outsourced jobs. Individual and corporate profits will not be lost in the strike. You cannot loose what you do not have so while they may not make any money they can and will survive the writers' strike quite well. They can jump ship at any moment, leave and re-emerge with a new company of their own hiring eager, unemployed writers.

The strike, the first in less than twenty years, has also revealed the extent to which writing, a craft associated with free expression and independence, has allowed itself to be bound to unions, contracts, negotiations and strikes so completely. This holds equally true of writers in other, non-entertainment areas including the press; another American freedom imperiled. Writers' purport to look ahead to secure DVD future residual compensation for themselves. They could review a four point comparison between unions and networks, as well. It's the writers' right. . .if the union permits it.

membership fees

Both require membership fees in order to join the organization. It is safe to say network fees are considerably less. Yes, union membership provides benefits, but many of those benefits are available from non-union employers, as well.

members' compensation

Unions negotiate with employers to establish employee compensation. Network members negotiate their own compensation agreements with their service recipients. Network members determine the growth and expansion of their own residual income generating network.


Unions stand between the restrictive, contractual (job) relationships of employer/employee. Network member relationships (business) are between themselves as independent service providers and their clients; service recipients. Network members are free to conduct business with or without network members.

other interested parties

Unions negotiate to secure member benefits from employers for their employees. Networks are entreprenuerial. Members are in business for themselves, but not by themselves.

Hollywood writers have done no different than countless other workers in America. They have settled for the illusive "security" of the job. However, writers, too, can take their Knowledge, Skills and Experience they have acquired in their field and create their own Independent Enterprise Network. Who might their clients be you ask? The independent film industry for starters. How long would it take before mainstream studios turned to the writing talent of independent films? The Internet, with its various appendages such as YouTube, could accomplish more for the partnership of independent film/writers than any union contract.

Merry Christmas HO! HO! HO! to one and all!

Friday, December 07, 2007

Independent Enterprise Networks

I am amazed by the spirit of enterprise with which some people launch into their passion. People without abilities many of us possess have done far more. Some either were born without eyesight or lost it, but that did not deter them from realizing their dream. Others without the ability to read launched businesses which provided a livelihood for others. Still, others without all their limbs have been unimpeded in their determined spirit to realize their dream.
Truly, it's not what you possess, but how you use it to accomplish your desired goals.
It's not quite an accomplishment when I come to the realization of a mere matter of word choice. I refer to my use of "independent contractor" when speaking and writng on networks and the decision to replace it. The more accurate word choice is "Independent Enterprise Networks" (IE-Networks) as these networkers include contractors and retailers.
Independent Enterprise Networks can extend into a large and assorted variety of fields and industries. Although the initial focus of IE-Networks in these blogs has been at-home apparel and computer enterprises the business model will extend into:
Floor maintenance
Satellite dish installation
Automotive repair
Air conditioning installation/repair
People, whether in Texas or the US who make their livelhood ("have a job") as employees or possess the Knowledge, Skills and Experience may continue to do so. However, they can choose to build their own at-home enterprise AND network. A stand-alone enterprise is "owning a job". Independent Enterprise Networks are systems which grow and generate income for the networker whether or not he/she comes into the shop, today.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Dell launches channel program

I wish Dell success with their channel program. However, it does bring to mind the short-lived white-box sales program a few years ago.

Like the white-box program, the channel program is top-hand heavy. Dell, or other computer vendors, could play the channel with both hands on the table with contractors and resellers with products and services. This would be in keeping with Dell's DNA as a direct model vendor, . . .with a slight helical twist. How?

Dell leverages its knowledge, experience and position with suppliers to become a supplier directly to an independent contractor and reseller network. This is a level playing field seeded and strengthened by relationships. Relationships, precisely what was missing years ago and what is essential in reaching the low-income, white-box consumer market in America.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

VAR virtual manufacturing network


Does outsourcing create opportunities for Value-Added Resellers (VARs), retailers and independent contractors (ICs)? What outsourcing leaves behind is a vacant facility, unemployed workers, VARs, and. . .customers. Essential components and players toward startup of a manufacturing facility. Conventional wisdom dictates workers re-deploy to other employers or enter new industries. Resellers and retailers may opt to continue with the overseas manufacturer or work with domestic suppliers to fill their system and component requirements.

A wealth of resources

However, unconventional wisdom sees a wealth of resources outsourced companies leave behind. These resources consist of the Knowledge, Skills and Experience (KSE) workers acquire and accumulate over their years of employment. These resources are overlooked by those who once depended on that company, namely, workers and retailers. Something else that is much overlooked: The difference between a name-brand computer or server at any major electronics retailer and one at an independent VAR? Other than price and location: None. What if VARs and resellers leveraged their experience with suppliers where they themselves took on the role of supplier for these ICs? What if these ICs could extend a VARs sales, service and support market reach through a VAR manufacturing network?

VAR virtual manufacturing

That is, the individual who supports the assembly process of a system on the production floor as an employee builds the same, at home, as an IC with a wealth of KSE, an entreprenuer, for VARs and retailers. These individuals may include non and certified computer technicians, software and electrical engineers, hobbyists and others. It's their choice to make whether to focus on service (build) or support (installation) or both. Effectively, VARs become suppliers to their own manufacturing force, independent contractors, not employees. These ICs represent a VAR virtual manufacturing facility.


An area of opportunity between ICs and VARs that is quite common with other areas involving ICs is compensation. It stems from a mutual tendency to mis-apply employer/employee compensation structures. Assuming, for the moment, a fair compensation of ICs by VARs. It's been said individuals with vast KSE resources would not be content or satisfied with nothing less than a hefty fee for their services. Right. So, don't go there. There are, on the other hand, more than a few people who would not pass on the opportunity to create a constant source of income as ICs, at their own pace, in their own home.


A vital difference between actual versus virtual manufacturing is the virtual can be expanded endlessly through networks. Networks may start locally, but they can expand regionally, state and nationwide. They generate income for network members, both, Independent Contractors and VARs. The opportunity exists for VARs and mom & pop businesses to network the wealth of KSE resources in the tech community left behind by the corporate practice of outsourcing.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Making a cool dress hot

I like dresses।

Whoa, there! Rein it in, ladies and gentlemen। That is, I like the sight of a dress. . . with a woman in it.

The overall comment I hear out there is that women like them, too. Typically, those comments revolve in differing order around style, color, size, fabric, fit and price. The presence of all these in a dress, so as to ensure customer satisfaction, is nigh to implossible. Retailers buy from suppliers who buy from manufacturers. It's about quantity and expediency with price being the modifier. On one hand, large quantity purchases versus small quantity purchases on the other, but price is the determining factor and how well its affect is managed around the sale margin of profit. Quality issues are turned over to the expertise of alterations boutique owners.

So, how does an independent apparel retailer take a cool dress and make it hot?

A customer shops your boutique for a dress while her friend tags along। It's a great day! Your customer finds the only (or last?) "cool" dress on the rack that's "just right", she says, for her. Her friend lavishes her with joyful compliments.
Now, she decides she would really love a dress just like that, but she has just seen the only (the last?) one taken by her friend.
"If I could only change the color from green to red that would be great" she cries aloud.
"I can do that" you tell her.
You note her measurements, color, fabric and quote her a price।

No need to bore your customer with what she does not know। Namely, you have the capability for such delivery because of your local, direct model network of dressmakers। There's no inventory to stockpile. There's no supplier stockpiling large amounts of your cash in his bank account, also.

"You may pick up your hot dress in three days" you say to your excited customer.
You either post the order on the web for your local network to access or a network contractor picks up the order at your boutique later that day।

Happy Holidays!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Brainstorming facility in Texas

I was brainstorming with a friend about the "facility in Texas" post. I respect her vast range of experience in apparel. She shared her thoughts about some common expectations, costs and a vision. She did not wish to trouble herself with this blog business so she gave me a go-ahead to share her thoughts. Her thoughts inspired the following questions.

What if "manufacturers", or "contractors", that is, the individual(s) who bring workers together, revised the way in which they obtain their compensation?

Manufacturers commonly rely on big ticket orders from retailers for mass production of apparel items. When the volume, or specialization, is beyond their capability
they turn to contractors, those once-upon-time countless, tiny "workshops" whose lifeline attached directly to the manufacturer. Both, take their lion's share of
of money received for goods made then dole out meager wages to those who did most of the work.

Yes, that is the traditional and conventional way of business and one I reject. If manufacturers' and contractors' compensation expectations included their workers
first, the workers themselves would be their best agents to attract an expanding workforce. Hence, manufacturers and contractors could service so many more

Alas, the above is not a good fit in the present conventional apparel manufacturing model in Texas or anywhere.

What if retailers looked more closely at their advertising dollar to sales ratio?

Retailers spend huge bucks on advertising. Even independent retailers' smaller advertising costs weigh heavily on their accounts ledger. The Internet is here. Where are you? If, as my friend says, and I have written the same, buyers are shopping for "Made in USA" or "Made in Texas" they can find it readily without you spending precious dollars on advertising.

Akeen to the Internet is word-of-mouth. That, folks, is the original social internet even before MySpace. IF, you could sell less, but without the cost of advertising, know you have an expanding awareness of your business driven for you by your customers and end up with higher margins for yourself, which would you prefer?

Alas, the above is not a good fit in the conventional apparel retailing model in Texas or anywhere.

What if an interested party were to buy up old factories and refurbish them with modern technology and well-paid workers?

I do not know this is being done. I do know the jury verdict is pending on those old factories which went into full refurbishing mode even while laying-off excess workers.
Those were workers not necessary in the operation of the new, modernized, technologically, reborn factory. I have not checked how many of those continue, still. I do know a look at Texas state job market projections as near as 2008 and 20 years down the road show no signs of apparel life in the future. No, do not be alarmed. This is opportunity!

Even if the wonders of a modernized factory were to result in considerable worker wage increases one should bear in mind the number of those fortunate workers
would be a far cry from those employed in that same factory, formerly. Clearly, I am neither an economist nor a venture capitalist, but I see a very steep climb
for the investor's dollar before he could expect a return and a good one at that in this kind of deal.

Alas, the above is not a good fit in the conventional manufacturing model in Texas or anywhere.

I do not take credit for the phrase, but I think the consumer turned-up-nose attitude, "One size fits none" to ready-to-wear is manufacturing' s karma come back on them.
The Independent Contractor Network model is driven by the expectations members place on themselves. The costs of apparel production and retail are intimately
connected between member contractors and retailers. The vision is one of esteem and value, not just of business, but of the business of people. The benefits follow.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Apparel: Uncompromising quality?

Quality is job one.

Ford is not the only one with that goal. Local independent apparel retailer owners want to hold a tight-rein on uncompromising quality. But, how accurate is the reality, really?

Retailers rely on manufacturers and suppliers for merchandise to stock their boutique inventory. Typically, this results in retailers stockpiling more inventory than they care. The hope is for a complete sale of all inventory in right size, fit, color, fabric and style to satisfied customers.

So, if quality is defined as the complete presence of size, fit, color, fabric and style are these elements within the control of the local retailer?

I do not wish to disparage manufacturers, but can local retailers fare better in their control of quality with local production?

I have often posed the question:

What's the difference between an upscale dress on the rack at Neiman-
Marcus or Nordstroms and the local independent apparel retailer?
Except for the location and price, none. The same individual who
assembled the Neiman-Marcus dress on the manufacturing floor assembles
the same dress as an at-home independent contractor/entrepreneur for the
local retailer.

Who makes up such a local production core? You can count displaced, experienced apparel production workers among the over 40 million the Home Sewing Association
who sew in their homes. The HSA cannot say whether it is for profit or leisure.

How many of those 40 million people do you think live in your city?
How many do you suppose would enter into a profitable at-home enterprise that allows them to utilize their resources and be creative?
Do you suppose there may just be the number of quality contractors you need for your local dress production?
Do you operate with a 7 to 14 day customer fulfillment window because that's what it takes for your supplier to fill and ship your order?
How much smaller a window would your local contractor enable for your business delivery to your customers?
TSR, Inc. is committed to the development of Independent Contractor Networks together with Independent Apparel Retailers. IC-Networks are local, regional,
state and nationwide. They are more than a social club. They consist of a membership with a wide variety of resources, that is, Knowledge, Skills and Experience
in apparel. They generate income for all members.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

A tale of two retailers

Here's a short tale, in two scenarios, of two local apparel retailers. Which one describes your story?

Scenario One

You close shop for the day.

1 You travel to Dallas.
2 You spend the day shopping supplier for the right item and price for your boutique.
3 Among your purchases: one dress at $50 to resell at $120, a 140% markup to yield a $90 profit.
4 Once back at your boutique you drive sales to recover your investment with a a profit.

If number 3 above before you count on that $90 profit take into account a day's closed shop, expenses (fuel and food, plus the $50 out-of-pocket) and number of days the dress is on the rack before it sells.

Scenario Two

You determine to have your dresses made locally:

1 You create your own dress pattern, or
2 You retain a contract service provider (independent contractor) to create your pattern you, or

3 You deliver the dress (whether from a thrift shop, mom's attic or discount store) to a skilled pattern-maker or seamstress who disassembles the dress and creates a pattern with whatever modifications you wish to include.

4 You make a choice of two or three different fabrics.

Leverage your tax-free, resell and discount purchase power on fabric buys. Different fabric choices allow for price choice. Additionally, because the finer the fabric the more challenging to work with you turn certain fabric jobs over to those individuals you know can handle it. You, and your other asemblers, can do quite well with the other fabric choices, still.

5 You retain a contract service provider (or do it yourself) to cut dresses segments for at-home assemblers.
6 At-home contractors assemble your dresses as you receive orders.

If you choose 2 or 3 above you compensate the individual upfront or agree to share sales profit percentage.
If you choose number 5 and compensate the assembler between $30 and $50. You may ask, "What have I saved by not shopping a supplier?"

The difference is you are not stockpliling inventory and you have a quick return on your investment because you have a customer need to fulfill.

You are able to offer the same supplier's dress for considerably less with a considerable profit margin in your accounts ledger, still.

You may also say, "A highly skilled, experienced dressmaker is not going to make a dress for that kind of money." You're right. So, don't go there. There are other highly skilled, experienced individuals who will assemble, in the comfort of their home, at their pace for that kind of money, not minimum wage or cash employees.

If number 6 consider your own local, regional, state and nationwide network of independent contractors. They are not your employees. It is more than a social "dressmakers club", but a source of income for the individual contractors as well as yourself, a pool in ever increasing numbers of others with the Knowledge, Skills and Experience anyone in the network may need to meet their contract expectations, and, yes, the priceless opportunity of an enviroment to interact with your peers.

We know where America's manufacturers have gone and they continue to turn to in the face of labor costs and operating expenses. Where do you go? Who do you turn to that will ensure not only that you survive, but thrive because you acted wisely together with others?

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Army Store Closing


The Round Rock Army Store (@ 2001 N Mays St & Texas Ave) is closing.

Come checkout the wide variety of military apparel and related items.

Discounts at register.

Carmen, store owner, wants to explore new avenues and areas in apparel.
Carmen wishes to thank all her faithful customers and clients.
Those of you who know well Carmen's exceptional experience in alterations, pattern-making
and more will be happy to know she will continue to meet your needs.

1100 Peachtree Cove Circle
Round Rock, TX 78681
(512) 246-7033 store
(512) 748-9560 cell
Carmen will retain the store number after closing the Army Store.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Devuskha apparel - - dresses

DEVUSHKA is the brainchild of Jenny Howe and her business partner in Austin, Texas.

It is their apparel line. It's dresses.

It's about a need and an opportunity.

Got KSE?

Give Jenny a call and ask her about "cut and sew".


All arrangements and agreements regarding service and compensation are between you and Jenny and partner.


Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Whitebox, whitebook markets

I ran in to a hamburger place today mainly to get out of the torrential downpour. I couldn't resist. I wolfed my hamburger down and went over to snoop at what I can only assume was an independent contractor. While his client ate her meal he swapped out her notebook motherboard right there at the neighborhood eatery in no more than ten minutes. It was his ninth one of the day. The day before he did 15, he said. Despite a bit of a nonchalantness and busyness he seemed a bit leery about what I "thought" about the white-box market. "I know" I asserted putting out just a few facts including the message below.

Who says there's no room or money in the white-box market for private enterprise? Only the naysayers (oh, I'm sure there's more) who read my message I posted on Dellideastorm a while back.

Dell expects the same low cost components which enhanced the company's 2nd quarter profits will hurt its profitability with slow costs declines in the second half of the year. It's not like Dell to sit still and be overrun or to let opportunity pass. The recent opportune acquisition of Silverback puts Dell in the role of virtual IT department for small business. So, why wait, given low-cost component prices? The opportune moment for Dell to take on the role of white-box component supplier for private enterprises is ripe for the taking.

Mere months after Dell abandoned its 2 year foray into the white-box its own team recommended the following in pages 47:

Since white boxes increasingly use the same components as brand computers, their functionality differs little from those sold by the Tier 1 and 2 vendors (Graham-Hackett, 2005). The recent trend towards consolidation and the decreases in component prices has led to the intense competitive pricing now facing the industry. Given the long-term downtrend in PC pricing, vendors will need to continue to cut costs from their operations. The growing ‘white box’ market will require the Tier 1 and Tier 2 vendors to maintain competitive prices. Companies with more favorable cost structures increase their chance of profitability.

And page 50

Race and age is also a factor in computer usage, according to the U.S. Census Bureaureport. Blacks and Hispanics have the lowest rates of computers at home of any U.S. racial group—providing a market opportunity for computer hardware companies which target these groups. Further, people 65 and older had the lowest rates of computer (28%) and internet (25%) use of all age groups. As the baby boomers age, this demographic is likely to increase its use of both technologies, partially due to exposure at younger ages. However, the current 65 and older population is also a market opportunity for computer hardware companies.

(Note: Dell, like HP and Acer [who just acquired Gateway] is Tier 1.)

Check out what Equus is doing with whitebooks thanks to Intel's push for standardization. I have urged Dell do much the same as Equus _ for resellers_ by stepping into the role of components supplier to white-box builders.;jsessionid=MXTCSQHG3HH1KQSNDLPCKH0CJUNN2JVN

Bottom line is you don't have to wait for Dell, HP or any of the major manufacturer. Contrary to common perception it's the hundreds or thousands of mom&pop, resellers and solution providers who have the lion's share of the white-box market, not the mega manufacturers. Next best thing to you going it alone as a white-box custom builder, whether desktops, notebooks, (or servers) is going in with and building your own Independent Contractor Network.



Monday, September 17, 2007

A real poetic piece of work

Cotton is to textile what textile is to fabric what fabric is to apparel.

Letters are to words what words are to poetry what poetry is to God.

Little things make big things. Big things make little things.

What you do is not important, but it is important that you do it.

It is written, "You are the workmanship of God created for good works". That big word, "workmanship" is a translation of a small greek word which is variously translated in english as "poem", "poet", "poetry", "poetic". ("works" is "energy")

It's fair to say poetry, whether or not we are versed in it or is not for us, is a putting together of many letters to create a few words which can say so much. No less, the spinner who spins cotton to make yarn to create a piece of cloth.

Certainly, no less did God spin in his hands to create a piece of work, a "poem" when he created man. No wonder, then, that we discover such great joy with the work, the creation, the poem, the tapestry woven by our hands. It's not that it's big or small that makes it important. What is important is that you do it, because thereby you reflect the image and glory of our maker.

Truly, we are a real poetic piece of work.

Be of good cheer.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

IC-Networks presentation poll at Orkut site

Dear Friends,
I would like to extend an invitation to visit my Orkut site. Follow the link below, scroll down and take the IC-Network presentation poll.

Thank you

Sunday, August 26, 2007

China Quality Problems and their Lesson for Alterations Boutiques

I want to state outfront I am not a party to bashing China for its export quality problems of late. However, these issues provide some lessons for US independent apparel designers and retailers.

Despite China's great need for development and implementation of quality standards and regulations quality is not something to be injected at the end of a process.

In recent years major apparel retailers have done away with backroom alterations departments choosing instead to "outsource" these duties to independent alterations boutiques. It is these boutiques who took on the task (and economic opportunity) of injecting quality into a product which, had it been tested before it left the factory, would have failed the quality test. The market will sustain neither designers nor retailers who compromise quality for productivity and sales.

I contend quality problems are related to lack of, or, inferior training.

You can not shortcut the training process with assumptions a trainee knows what is expected in your operation.
Training in method is best followed up with the voice of experience to provide valuable advice and tips on improving flow.
A well-learned process results in quality with productivity yield increases as familiarity becomes second nature for process operators.
Further, I find too many independent retailers assume they cannot compete against low-price imports. The assumption is that since these sell as big as they do through Walmart and the like consumers neither care nor pay for quality. Wrong. Consumers buy what mega corporations decide will turn the biggest profit FOR THE CORPORATION, not the consumer. Corporations then proceed to squeeze out their competition by flooding the market with their low-price imports. If corporations were to decide they would sell high-price quality-only items and proceeded to market their quality-only message to the consumer they would soon squeeze out their low-quality competitors. The reality of corporate decisions is that when it comes to sales a wider, diverse target market is preferred to a small, exclusive one. Hence, for mega corporations, low-price holds the greater promise for bigger profits.

Finally, too many independent retailers want to play like the major retailers. They shop their goods at merchandisers (whose goods are low-price imports they rachet-up for resellers, typically) buying bulk quantities their boutiques cannot handle tying up precious large sums of capital.

Quality control is not a subsitute for inability or unwillingness to teach quality to those who would enable you to grow your business.

The solution to quality and supply issues in apparel is not China size. It's small, local independent contractor, or designer, networks which supply quality apparel for local independent apparel retailers.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Making enough money

A friend enquired after church wanting to know about my apparel business. After hearing my tale and with a bit of bewilderment in her face she confided. Seems she is quite talented in terms of making apparel as well as purses (or handbag, forgive me ladies, but I won't profess to know the difference).
She does not do it out of need, but simply because she can and is able to immerse herself in the creative garden of her imagination.
It's the reality that intimidates her.
"I'm not sure that I could make enough money to make a living at it" she says.
Therein lies a vastness of doubt and aloneness, not that my friend is a person of doubt or aloneness, but that there are so many people with similar talent as her, and,_ doubt.
True. It's the exceptional person who can go at it alone, with doubts and all, and come out doing quite well for themselves financially.
Herein is the good sense of Independent Contractor Networks. Although I have been told lately "designer" is actually the more accurate word than "contractor" either way I am talking about:
An individual who makes apparel in
their home either by themselves or
with someone else for a retailer.
When one or both of them are in the Network they are in business for themselves, but not by themselves. How can you put a price tag on being in an environment and part of a Network where you interact, share coffee or a meal and exchange ideas and business projects with designers and retailers?
PLEASE! Do not misunderstand the IC-Network model. It's not just a social club of apparel makers. IC-Networks extend to many other areas including computer builders, satellite dish installers and more. This is a Network that generates income for you in addition to what you yourself make personally with your own hands.
What you need to decide for yourself is how important it is to you and your family that you find and take advantage of the means that will make enough for you to make a living. . .and then some.
Thought of the day shared with a friend: Man shall not live on bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

IC-Networks: Your private enterprise

Dell's recent wise decision to revisit the retail experience in partnership with Walmart may revive an old flame for the company.

Dell has yet to announce a return to its white-box sales experience. Where might Dell find a suitable partner for such a return?

The answer is much more widespread and abundant than all Walmart stores and employees combined. The suitable partner for Dell's return

to the white-box sales experience is through the smaller, unentangling partnership of Independent Contractor Networks.

A colossus like Walmart is impressive, but a nationwide IC-Network of technicians, engineers and computer savy individuals is

far more diverse and widespread.

While it may be true many people who dream of their own business never do it the low investment costs of a white-box

enterprise that puts computers in the hands of the US low income population segment is a huge gain for Dell, America and private enterprise.

This is at-home/small white-box business support and a revenue maker for Dell.

Dell, more than any other computer manufacturer is best equipped, qualified and stands to gain more (and quicker) than its

competitors; not in the conventional retail sales model, but through IC-Networks.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

All Dressed up, but can't compute?

I often ask myself if readers might feel all dressed through what they read in my blogs, but can't compute what this is about. I accept that burden as my responsibility to communicate repeatedly and with constant improvement this message. So, here goes.

WorkingMannequin is my original blog. IMWORKquinES is my secondary blog. WorkingMannequin and IMWORKquinES blogs are the voice (you may call them
alter-egos) of Torres Strategic Resources, Inc. The mission of TSR is to build and develop IC-Networks.

If major corporations through their chainstores and franchises can conduct business locally, regionally, state and nationwide and earn money, why don't you?

The reason you do not is because:

1 You're working a job, and

2 You're going at it alone

You've got:

1 A job that may makes you a lot of money, but it's not how much you make, but how much you keep. How are you leveraging tax law to your advantage?

2 However much money you make it's what YOU make. . .alone. How are you replicating yourself to increase your income?

Thus far, our focus has been on apparel and white-box computers more recently. Our belief is people in these and many other fields have acquired and accumulated the Knowledge, Skills and Experience (KSE) to enable them to create an enterprise of their own.

Some of these fields include: Computer Networking, Satellite dish installation, cable installation, AC installation/repair

Others: Healthy Home meals, housekeeping, landscaping, home improvement

Others: Home Auto oil change/minor tuneups

Yes, some of these fields may require state certification compliance, but would you let that prevent you from doing what you know to do for yourself?

Networks are nothing new. The TSR Independent Contractor Networks model is true to the definition of the independent. ICs are nobody's employee TSR included. They do not receive salaries or quotas from TSR. They are in compliance with the federal government and IRS guidelines and regulations as to what constitutes independent contractors.

I see a lot of small computer shops and apparel manufacturers with 4 to 10 employees. I commend them. However, they exist because of the KSE of those employees who've probably never taken stock of their KSE or thought about how they could build their own enterprise.

TSR provides the IC-Network model that can enable them, and you, to build that enterprise whether in apparel, computers or housekeeping.

It's not just about getting all dressed up. Start computing your assessment of your own KSE.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Textile, fabric and (independent) retail

I add the necessary qualifier of "independent" with retail so as to distinguish it from the mega corporation chainstores.
Over the past ten to fifteen years these three, but textile and fabric in particular, have seen huge, in some cases, catastrophic economic forces weigh into them. The result, even if we do not understand them, have been textile mills closing down, fabric stores unable to move domestic fabrics against foreign-made fabric.
All this has happened with little or no support from Washington despite high level, well organized efforts by these industries. Go to the link below for an example of this high level, urgent pleas from the US textile industry. and
Read with special attention the paragraphs at the bottom of pages 3 and 4:

"Others produce almost entirely in the United States. . ." pg 3

"The textile and apparel industry has gone through very difficult changes. . ." pg 4

All this begs the question: What is the independent retailer doing in the apparel sector? I quizzed a retailer, after doing my research, about the existence of an independent apparel retailers' organization or association. She replied, no, but she said, it sounds like a great idea.

Any such organization among independent apparel retailers would come as a by-product of apparel networks. The fact is that along the way to these retailers restructuring their supply and procurement ways textile and fabric stand to be among the beneficiares.

So, what prevents this from happening? I could be wrong, but my guess is these retailers have never figured prominently with textile or fabric producers and wholesalers. Yet, retailers continue to conduct business as usual. I do not wish to suggest they cease to do business, but I would urge retailers explore other options:

Networking with independent contractors as their local supplier for all their apparel needs.

One would be hardpressed to name a business idea that did not receive more than a few turned up noses, but think of those individuals as latecomers. While you get underway turning around your business they will come around, too.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Tax benefits of fighting in a combat zone

I'm disappointed in myself not to have done this post sooner for all those families who have loved one's fighting in Afhganistan or Iraq war.

This is taken totally from Sandy's website. He's the consumate tax guy.


More than pittance for the poor

I thank God for this blog. I thank God for those of you curious, if not for yourselves, for others about, "What's this guy saying?" and "Could I possibly be an independent contractor?" It is yet another tool I resort to in a constant, ongoing effort to inform people on:
  • Independent Contracting
  • Independent Apparel Retailing
  • Assessing one's Knowledge, Skills and Experience in their respective industries
  • The creation and development of networks for peer association and revenue generation
  • Texas' vast need and opportunity for displaced apparel workers a good number of whom are low income

No, not everyone, nor the majority necessarily, involved in apparel are in financial and economic duress. However, the reality is that a significant portion of those involved in the apparel-industry-turned-displaced-worker are defined by government statistics as being certainly among the lowest of income earners.

Those government reports get full press coverage as if by so doing there is a great aid being given to the poor. Similiarly, when a politician presents to the public his/hers newest, latest and best program for the poor press coverage abounds.

Reports such as these are after the fact, and, they are just the facts. Programs such as these are presented to the public before any proof of success.

The press and all media should rightfully inform the public of (local, state or federal) reports and programs. Whether they be government, _ especially, private enterprise, when these are about the direct involvement of individuals engaging in a productive endeavor which results in their financial and economic independence. It is truly an empowerment; more than a mere pittance for the poor.

Independence Day draws near!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

El Botin de las Maquiladoras

Donde pues el rico botin de las maquiladores fronterizas cuando cerraron sus puertas? Quienes sus herederos?

No busquemos mas. El botin es mas seguro que en una caja fuerte. El botin, es decir, el Conocimiento, Habilidad y Experiencia (CHE) esta en manos de quienes han tallado las vestiduras de muchos?

Si. Asi es.

Puesto que dicho botin justamente esta en manos de estos maestros que han hecho con ese botin?

Hay quienes salieron de las maquiladoras y de imediato volvieron a tomar su nuevo puesto como empleados por otro lado. De pronto olvidaron aquella debil "seguridad" de su empleo que les habia sido arrebatado.

Otros abrieron, como contratistas independientes o mercaderes (o detallistas) , las puertas de sus tallares invertiendo su botin, su CHE, en el diseno, creacion y alteracion de ropa. Ellos son aquellos quienes determinaron jamas creerce de la "seguridad" de un trabajo. Esto es admirable.

Lamentablemente, su traslado fue de donde "tenien un trabajo" a donde "poseen un trabajo". Que es la diferencia? Mas bien es la igualdad entre los dos que tanto uno como el otro el dia que uno no se presente o no trabaje no espere recibir pago.

La solucion: Crear un sistema que produzca ganancias ya sea este presente o ausente en su taller. Esto es lo que venimos promoviendo: Una red en donde se asocian contratistas y detallistas para aumentar sus esfuerzos y multiplicar sus ganancias. De esta manera logran minar su herencia que paso a sus manos: El botin de las maquiladoras.

Mantengase informado atraves de estos escritos y asista a los seminarios introductivos anunciados aqui mismo.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

The Cost of Services

Talking about someone else's pay is not in my comfort zone. However, when I see independent contractors (IC) and independent retailers (IR) hurting and hear the subject of their cost-of-service I think both need to review their prices. Otherwise, both will continue to cut themselves out of much bigger markets. There are no state or government agencies or laws which can force a change. It must come from the individuals involved. Although my references are to apparel the principal of these observations with recommendations on cost of services have broader application across other areas where Service Providers and Service Recipients conduct business.

The Independent Contractor Service Provider Model

Independent contractors, as Service Providers, tend to structure their service rate on an hourly pay schedule. Often, this rate is based on the top hourly pay he/she received after many years in the industry. A little extra something is added to round it off at about $20. As an example, a 2.5 hour apparel job is priced for the IR at $50. It is a lack of understanding of the resale business on the part of the IC to think the IR can move merchandise on the IR's floor priced far beyond a competitive price and earn a profit. The IR would need to resale the item at a minimum of $51 to regain their $50 plus $1 profit. This is not realistic. ICs overlook the IR's overhead costs (rent, electricity) as part of the reason for the IR's markup. Yes, IC's pay rent too, but more on that later.

Typically, IC fabric purchase prices, for example, are neither bulk nor wholesale. The IC service rate problem is that it comes from an employee experience versus the at-home entreprenuerial environment. They are not the same, for example, the apparel employee who earns $10/hr versus the entrepreneur who charges $10 for a single apparel item. The employee is obligated and commited to an 8 to 5 workday with all the behaviorial expectations including a set break time, lunch, productivity and more. The at-home entrepreneur has nobody to tell him/her how many times he/she steps away from that apparel project to run to the refrigerator, play with their child, visit a friend, talk on the phone, watch TV or run to McDonalds'. The IC knows when the IR expects delivery.

If the IC can do it in 2 hours, but chooses to stretch it out to 8 hours that is the IC's business and nobody else's, this is, to borrow from the popular Mastercard commercial, "priceless".

The Independent Retailer Service Recipient Model

Despite the fact of the independent retailers small size they are treated by merchandisers like major buyers in their apparel purchase. This treatment creates a financial burden large amounts of cash are tied up in inventory. Also, a physical burden is created because of the space these bulk purchases take up in their small boutiques. I believe this treatment and financial burden affects the IR treatment and compensation of ICs for their services. The IR's payment as Service Recipient is based on, or biased, by the bulk low prices they pay merchandisers. That is, the low bulk price they pay the merchandiser is reflected in what they pay for the IC's cost of service.

The IR service rate problem is that IRs often come from the employer experience and tend to regard the IC as an employee. The reality is ICs are on par with IRs from an entreprenuerial perspective, that is, ICs are business people just like IRs. The types of places of business
location, one earns their livelihood in a boutique, another earns their's in their home makes no difference on business status. Terms of compensation for cost of service should be discussed and agreed upon by two people, not one. The relationship between IC and IR is strengthened by mutual respect. Quality of timely delivery of goods and just compensation for services rendered is the best evidence of that mutual respect, because as noted earlier, ICs pay rent, too.

A Competitive Scenario Model

It does not matter how big the competition there is always a way to compete profitably. Is it possible for ICs and IRs to compete against the giant retailers' $10 price tag for a single apparel item? Yes, IF they work together.

That low $10 price cannot hide the retailer's enormous overhead costs including, business insurance, employee benefits, electricity, water, rent and more. Still, that's the magic number ICs and IRs must and can beat because they do not have all these costs. Once the IC gets past the initial setup time involving patterns its up to him/her how fast and many times they replicate a single apparel item to beat the retailers $10 price.
However, if the IC decides to sell to the IR at the $10 price, how can the IC expect the IR to stay competitive and profitable?

Independent Retailers, for your part, if you receive the IC's apparel goods at half the $10 price tag do you resale to match the competition or markup in excess of the $10.

If you markup in excess of the $10 price would you do so as well in how you compensate your IC, that is, your Service Provider?

The biggest retailers and suppliers know they have got to work together on price and delivery if they are to survive, thrive, stay competitive
and be profitable.

This is just as true of the smallest Independent Contractor and Independent Retailer when they network together are to survive, thrive, stay competitive and be profitable.

Do you network?

Monday, May 28, 2007

I'll ally if you ally

Did you hear the one about the giant retailer whose apparel sales were hurting? Or, did you hear the one about the manufacturer whose computer sales were hurting?

They decided to ally.

Sometimes that's what it takes to get us to realize we can't do it alone. Walmart's apparel struggles together with Dell's sluggish computer sales prompted Dell's historic decision. Dell's direct model is all about the absent middleman, but the company is not above working with the largest retailer in the world as middleman.

Dell is counting on the huge network of 3,500 Walmart stores to offset Dell's compromise on profit margin per unit sold.

Once again, corporate giants provide the independent a valuable lesson in the power of networking.

No. One need not wait til it hurts before deciding to do what will result a greater benefit to one's business, health, community and family.

Saturday, May 26, 2007


Check out my new blog in the Austin-American Statesman.

The invitation is open to read and/or post in english or spanish.

Hope to hear from you. WM

Friday, May 25, 2007


Actualmente, hay en el area de Round Rock/Austin
la oportunidad para personas quienes tengan
el conocimiento, habilidad y experiencia
en el diseno, creacion y alteracion de ropa,
por ejemplo:
Vestidos de boda
Ropa casual para todas las edades
Vestidos y
Grande y extras
Si usted posee estas habilidades y se interesa favor de enviar un email:
WorkingMannequin creates the dynamic of apparel networks locally, regionally, state and nationwide.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Customer Satisfaction

The National Retail Federation reports online apparel sales outsold computers in 2006 for the first time since NRF has been tracking that data.The drawback: High number of returned merchandise. This likely would include wrong size, color, fit or other.Why do online and walk-in apparel sales continue to increase regardless of price and inspite of consumer cynicism for rack apparel: "One size fits none."Despite the bland, cookie-cutter rack import offerings I believe this sales "success story" is feeding on customer dissatisfaction and disillusionment.How, you ask?If your apparel purchase made you feel and look good wouldn't you be incline to wear it longer? (Let the "fashion conscious" keep quiet. We're talking reality here.) I believe these frequent, repeat buyers are filling retailer coffers as a result of their last dissatisfaction and disillusionment purchase. They come back, not necessarily to the same retailer, hoping to find: "My fabric. My size. My fit. My style. My price". Their search will continue.What they seek is not extreme, not fantastic. It is what an apparel network direct model of independent contractors and independent retailers can deliver.It's called Customer Satisfaction.

Friday, May 18, 2007



You are invited to come learn
about an opportunity in the Round Rock/Austin area
involving your
Knowledge, Skills and Experience
in the
Design, Creation & Alteration
of apparel

WHERE: Caffé Panini (Conference room)
(Next door to Faith Gift store, formerly Good Books)
1105 S. Mays Ste. 300
Round Rock, TX 78664

COST: Free

WHEN: 9:00AM
Tuesday May 22 & Thursday May 24, 2007

We encourage your support of Caffé Panini for the use of their facility.
Please, call or email number of people attending with you. If you are unable to secure childcare I would be glad to meet with you at another time. Thank you.

Si usted se interesa por obtener mayor informacion favor de enviar un email a mi cargo.

Muchas gracias

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Design, creation and alteration of clothing

Presently, there is an opportunity in the Round Rock/Austin area. If you have the
Knowledge, Skills and Experience in clothing
design, creation and alteration of the following:
Wedding dresses
Quincenera dresses
XL and Plus sizes
US mail: TSR, Inc. 1701 S. Mays Street, Suite J119, Round Rock, TX 78664

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Take Time to make Money. . .

If you had the time to make money how much time would you dedicate?

If you had the money (after personal spending) how would you invest your money to multiply it?

Some of you may be near, or are, already maxed out in the time you dedicate to making your money. . .and struggle to with your net profit, still.

Some of you can say, "the money's very good". . . at what cost of your time?

It's the way to do it, right?

The bold, new concept of direct model Apparel Networks says, NO!

I'll tell you of two with (relatively) little time and money. Yet, as big as they are they
acknowledge the are open to discussing an alliance (network) to enable them to stand against
the competition.

The two? Ford and General Motors.

Ford was number 2 in the world until 5 months ago.
GM was number 1 until 2 weeks ago.
Toyota is now number one, now.

Ford and GM may or may not create an alliance, but they are open to investigate (time) an
idea to increase sales (money). That's more than the countless, and growing, number of
regional retailers such as Caldor, Hills, Ames who were driven to bankruptcy or out of business
by operating costs and the competition.

Independent Apparel Retailers are not exempt from costs and competition.

  • Take time.
  • Learn how Apparel Networks can increase your profits.
  • Do it in an easier, efficient and effective manner.


Blessings to you.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Apparel Networks Meeting


Come learn about creativity and profitability in
local, regional, state and national
apparel networks.

WHERE: Caffé Panini (Conference room)
(Next door to Good Books)
1105 S. Mays Ste. 300
Round Rock, TX 78664

COST: Free

WHEN: 6:30PM to 7:30PM
Friday, April 20, 2007

Lets support Caffé Panini with our business for the use of their facility.
Please, call or email number of people attending with you. If you are unable to secure childcare I would be glad to meet with you at another time. Thank you.

Si usted se interesa por obtener mayor informacion favor de llamar o enviar un email a
mi cargo. No se alarme por el mensaje en ingles y dejeme su recado. Gracias.

Gilbert Torres

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Overheard around town

Just a few things I have overheard and discussed with several whose passion is in apparel.

1 The merchandiser requires I buy bulk quantities in order to obtain a low price.

Apparel (women's, particularly) has an extremely short lifespan. So, why stockpile merchandise you can only hope to sell, and, make a profit?

2 What am I suppossed to do with my unsold merchandise?

The apparel network direct model eliminates the middleman leftovers from your boutique.

3 People are cheap. They want extravangance in custom apparel at regular prices.

People don't know how regular price imports have hurt their own apparel jobs. Contractors and retailers attempt to fight off imports relying on the same business model which was overrun by the competition. Nonetheless, the apparel network direct model enables a much more competitive price as opposed to the traditional ceiling-high price associated with custom apparel.

4 Why should I have to pay nine hundred dollars for a custom-made dress?

I agree and I would ask contractors and retailers: Would you be willing to pay those prices for your own custom apparel? Why ask others to pay prices you would not like to pay yourself?

5 If I had a few thousand dollars I could do it.

The truth is the investment in apparel networks is nowhere near thousands of dollars, plus, it allows you to duplicate your efforts while increasing your revenue. Furthermore, unlike the traditional model where retailers tie up hundreds of dollars when buying from merchandisers local apparel networks enable them to get a quick turnaround on their merchandising capital with custom-made apparel, that is, reduced inventory.

6 I shop expensive dresses for my clients, but I make a small profit.

Why shop around when you can have your own local network create your apparel. Since they do most of the work they are compensated accordingly.

7 My sales and profits are good, but my rent eats it up.

Instead of feeding the rent monster and the merchandiser machine why not consider reducing your inventory and leveraging the resources of an apparel network.

8 My time is worth twenty dollars per hour and that's what I charge.

No one can dictate to an independent what they are to charge for their services, that is except, the consumer. Hourly rates are what employers pay employees. Contractors are nobody's employee. Consumers do not pay for what they do not wear. They do not wear your service. They wear your product, the apparel made with their pleasure in mind.

9 I am afraid someone will steal my business.

This is small thinking. You are a steward of the business you operate. Helping others become successful is not your loss.

10 I just don't have time.

Maybe because independents represent a breakaway from the environment of employer and fellow employees they believe they should conduct business: Alone. It is no wonder too many run themselves ragged. Apparel networks are about you being in business for yourself, but not by yourself.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

The Cost of Tradition

ATTENTION: If you were looking for the Prom Dress survey: High School Prom Dress Survey

(Surely, Round Rock/Austin apparel networks could help parents and high school students in the form of a cost trimming on a prom dress, right?) WM

This article is taken from The Monitor. Click the post title to go to their site. WM

* * *

The Cost of Tradition -- Expense, trappings of prom increasing May 18,2006 Paige Lauren Deiner Monitor Staff Writer
Cost of prom dress and shoes: $360
Cost of tuxedo and shoes: $125
Cost of limo per couple: $115
Cost of dinner for two: $50
The perfect prom night: priceless
Valley area prom goers are dishing out large sums of money to ensure that their prom is an event to remember. But spending upwards of a $1,000 on prom is becoming the norm throughout the United States. The average prom couple spent $1,170 in 2005 said Richard Calo, who studies prom trends and operates a site called In 1965 the same couple would have spent $120.
Easton Schrock, McAllen Memorial High School junior class president, says that for some people, prom is a good reason to max out credit cards, but others feel that prom is a little over rated.
“Mostly it is for seniors. It’s their last big high school event,” she said. “Senior prom is supposed to be a huge deal. I think it’s a little over-hyped. It’s just a dance to me. I really like decorating it and it’s a lot of fun to be with your friends. But people make it seem like it’s so huge and it’s really not.”
Schrock said that the McAllen Memorial High School Prom Committee plans to spend between $2,500 and $3,000 on decorating and renting the space for prom, which has a Las Vegas theme.
“Most people are spending around $400 (on prom),” said Schrock. But she said she didn’t know anyone who had their dress yet. And many people are trying to figure out who is going with whom, she said
Calo attributes the rising cost of prom to the extra elements added to prom, such as after-prom parties, hotel rooms, etc. Also, over the years, prom has become a much more extravagant event with limousines, very expensive dresses, and accessories. Now, tanning and waxing have entered the picture.
“On the whole, prom has become more expensive because teens are including more than just the prom dance in what they consider prom expenses,” said Calo. “While the prom dance is still thought of as the core of the prom experience, after-prom events and weekends are now factored in as an essential part of prom.”
George Lopez, a senior at McAllen Rowe High School, said that he is going to spend between $400 and $500 on prom, plus whatever he spends on dinner for prom night. He said that he thinks guys spend a lot more money on prom than girls do, but he said in the end it’s worth it.
“In a way, it’s tradition,” he said. “But it’s also celebrating the fact that you’re getting out of high school. It’s the big night before you graduate.”
But not every couple can or wants to spend $1,000 on prom. Jacob Duran, a student at McAllen Memorial High School, said “prom is a once in a lifetime thing and you don’t want to skip it.” But he said prom is “pretty expensive.” He said he knows people who are spending $300 to $400 on dresses alone, but he said that is not what he and his girlfriend are planning on doing. Duran said he plans on borrowing a suit or tux for the prom and his girlfriend is looking for an inexpensive but pretty dress.
“We’re not going all out (for prom),” he said. He said he plans on spending between a $100 and a $125 on prom. Included in that cost, he plans on getting a corsage for his girlfriend and photos.
Some couples though do go all out. Blanca Salazar, the owner of Norhil Bridal, said that many girls begin looking for their prom dresses in January. She said it is very important to them that they don’t appear at the prom wearing the same dress as someone else.
Schrock said she plans on spending about $250 on her dress, but she wants to make sure she is the only one wearing it on prom night.
“It’s important to me, because I’m planning to go into the fashion field. My style is a little different from other people. I wouldn’t have a fun time if my dress was the same as someone else’s. I like to be my own person and since fashion is something I like a lot I feel like my dress should express who I am,” she said.———Paige Lauren Deiner covers features and entertainment for The Monitor. You can reach her at (956) 683-4425.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

My Size

Have you seen the commercial where the viewer is asked to guess the number the man is thinking about: It is his credit score.

Yet, despite their wide use we resent being treated as a number. It is impersonal. It is de-humanizing.

Everyday, somewhere apparel customers shop through store racks in search of that one apparel item they hope will reflect their

personal likes in fabric, design, color, price, and that most important, personal number: Size, nobody's business, right?

Have you heard the consumer cynicism of manufactured apparel captured in the phrase: "One size fits none"?

Size is not just a number. It is a number reflecting an individual's personal information.

Computer buyers can have their custom-made computer manufacturered right in Round Rock.

Apparel customers deserve no less than "My Size" custom-made apparel at competitive prices.

"My Size" is a promise made possible through contractor - retailer apparel networks, only.

Nobody need ever again guess your number size. Nobody ever again needs to know it.

So, what does your apparel network look like?

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Two greatly talented women

We spend years making a living using our talents as employees. We have made many an employer wealthy with their use of our wealth. That's not a complain. That's a commitment of mutual advantage called the employer/employee relationship, but I want to tell you about two great talents.

I posed the question to my friend, "What is the difference between an upscale, high-price dress at Neiman Marcus and a similar dress at an independent retail
store"? "None" I replied before she could answer. That is the Neiman Marcus dress is manufactured by an individual on the production floor. The other is manufactured by the same individual in their home as an independent contractor for his/her client, the independent retailer.

I posed this same question with my reply to my friend. She had heard me go on so many times about my business dream for creating apparel networks.

Today, she surprised me. "I used to make dresses for Neiman Marcus" she said.
"Really?" I said.
"Yeah, it was just a few of us in a small shop" she explained.
My friend had just described what I had reasoned, but never really knew for a fact. The truth is, I explained to her, there are hundreds, perhaps thousands,
of small shops like that one in Taylor Texas. The government categorizes them as "independent contractors" and they are vital to apparel manufacturers who outsource work to them.
I was visiting with a couple. They had left a familiar setting, lifestyle and country along with their professional careers to come to America. The living room where
we sat was filled with portraits of couples. Most of them wore the most extraordinary wedding dresses found in the best of wedding dress boutiques.
It was her husband who gave me a tour of their portrait gallery explaining, while his wife sat without comment, the wedding dresses were the creation of her hands.

She had been an executive administrative assistant for many years in her country. In America she was helping provide for their family through her custodial
job. Yet, the enormous talent and ability to design and create wedding dresses seemed as easy as boiling water. It was something she had done over the
years, not so much as a hobby and certainly not as a job, but as a favor for friends and relatives.


I will not speak of friends and family who would take such advantage. I will speak of her talent. There are many like her.

Is there not an independent apparel boutique specializing in wedding dresses who could not or would not contract such talent? How about my friend with the ability
to make dresses no differently than she made for Neiman Marcus?

Apparel networks between contractors and retailers are the creation of one vast, enormous talent pool. It is a direct model which allows retailers to market their own
label or simply Made in USA.

Don't let another year go by without the income potential of your resources; your Knowledge, Skills and Experience in apparel.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

The Changing Face of Texas Labor

Although this report dates from 2003 it is still true. I have pulled some key points in the article. wm

3 Take special note of the "Industries losing the most jobs": Apparel manufacturing.
Take special note of the "Texas Industries Adding the Most jobs": Specialty Trade Contractors.

5 More jobs in small firms, greater use of leased and independent contract labor means fewer and shorter career ladders

Changing nature of work: New paradigm for career ladders

3 Increased role for contingent workers, outsourcing, independent contractors with few promotional ladders.

* * *

What does this mean for those who have lost their employment in apparel?

It means you ought not expect the job market in apparel manufacturing to open back up, again.

It means that apparel, as a part of the US retail sector, is adding jobs. However, the report also points out those being hired are educated and have college degrees.

What it means is there is plenty of opportunity for those who love to work apparel.

Both, government and industry regard apparel manufacturing as non-to-low-skilled and there's no room or need for them in the new and improved automated apparel manufacturing floor.

Working Mannequin sees these former apparel employees as having Knowledge, Skills and Experience (KSE). Working Mannequin believes it is this KSE which qualifies them to fill the
need among the "smaller firms" for "leased and independent contract" as mentioned above in number 5.

The Working Mannequin direct model of apparel networks is putting a face of private ownership in Texas and the nation. The direct model makes you the "smaller firm" and "independent contract" accountable to no one, but yourself.
How does this change affect you?

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

High School Prom Dress Survey

This survey was submitted to Round Rock high school campuses.

You are invited to share what is important to you. This survey is anonymous. Please, participate even if you have never purchased a Prom Dress. The information will be used by Round Rock Independent Contractors and Independent Apparel Retailers.

Rate the following from 1 (being the most important) to 10 (being the least important).

Copy blue text below. Clickcomments to open comments box. Scroll down and paste blue text into "Leave your comment" box. Type in your number choices. Type in Word Verification. Choose an Identity. You can type in additional comments at bottom of your survey. Publish your comment.

___ cost ___ design

___ fabric ___ style

___ service ___ color

___ availability of choices ___ retailer

___ brand ___ retailer location

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Texas Textiles - Office of the Governor

I have highlighted in red the text at the bottom. There's an opportunity for textile to support apparel networks. wm

Textiles Industry Overview

The textiles industry (NAICS 313, 314) includes establishments – or mills - that transform basic fiber into a
product, such as yarn or fabric, which is further manufactured into usable items, such as apparel, rugs,
curtains, rope, bags, or linens, for individual or industrial consumption. Processes include fiber preparation
and spinning, fabric knitting or weaving, textile finishing, and cutting and sewing.

Texas Industry Facts

Firms 544
Establishments 565
Employment 11,352
Average Weekly Wage $617, $502 *
Value Added Per Employee $43,590
Value of Shipments $1.2 billion
Total Capital Investments $24.3 million
Sources: Texas Workforce Commission - 2005Q4
Employment & Wages, Annual Survey of Manufactures, 2004
* NAICS 313, 314

How Texas Ranks

All Employees 9
Production Workers 9
Value Added 12
Value of Shipments 10
Total Capital Investments 11
Source: Annual Survey of Manufactures, 2004
* NAICS 314 – 313 data are incomplete

Texas Exports

• In 2005, Texas textiles and fabric products
exports were valued at $1.3 billion and textile mill
products exports were valued at $290.2 million.
• In 2005, textiles and fabric exports was Texas 14th
largest category and textile mill exports was Texas
22nd largest category.
Source: WISERTrade, 2005 (NAICS 313, 314)

Top Export Markets

Textiles and Fabric Products
Mexico $1,189,435,624
Guatemala $24,577,174
El Salvador $17,326,351
Nicaragua $14,902,051
Textile Mill Products
Mexico $218,063,406
Canada $17,413,327
Kuwait $10,670,182
Japan $6,040,855
Source: WISERTrade, 2005 (NAICS 313, 314)

Major Industry Employers in Texas

Company Location Product Description
Sahara Sportswear El Paso Clothing, bags, rainwear & windwear embroidery
VF Jeanswear El Paso Blue jeans
American Cotton Growers Littlefield Denim fabrics
Homemaker Industries Brownsville Braided rugs
Mid-West Textile Co. El Paso Industrial wiping cloths
Source: Texas Manufacturers Register 2006

Recent Industry Trends
• 2005Q4 Texas textiles industry employment remained the same while wages, firms, and establishments
decreased slightly since 2004Q4.
• From 2003 to 2004, Texas textiles industry’s Value Added per Employee decreased 32%, Value of
Shipments decreased 20%, and Total Capital Investments increased 32%.
Sources: Texas Workforce Commission - 2005Q4 & 2004Q4 Employment & Wages, Annual Survey of Manufactures, 2003 & 2004

Office of the Governor - Economic Development & Tourism September 2006

Texas Apparel - Office of the Governor

I have highlighted in red the text at the bottom. Those who lost their employ in the apparel industry have their Knowledge, Skills, and Experience to create apparel, still. wm

Apparel Industry Overview

The apparel industry (NAICS 315) includes establishments that cut and sew and manufacture fabrics and
garments, including: ready-to-wear and custom apparel; textile and knitting mills; contractors, jobbers, and
tailors; millinery; footwear; luggage and handbags; and personal leather goods such as watchbands.

Texas Industry Facts

Firms 446
Establishments 459
Employment 8,948
Average Weekly Wage $514
Value Added Per Employee $68,704
Value of Shipments $1.6 billion
Total Capital Investments $15 million
Sources: Texas Workforce Commission - 2005Q4 Employment &
Wages, Annual Survey of Manufactures, 2004

How Texas Ranks

All Employees 6
Production Workers 6
Value Added 5
Value of Shipments 4
Total Capital Investments 4
Source: Annual Survey of Manufactures, 2004

Texas Exports

• In 2005, Texas apparel and accessories exports
were valued at $482.7 million – up from $427
• In 2005, apparel and accessories was Texas 20th
largest exporting category.
Source: WISERTrade, 2005 (NAICS 315)

Top Export Markets

Mexico $353,289,146
Canada $44,365,305
Honduras $35,564,074
Belize $9,082,642
Australia $4,833,043
Source: WISERTrade, 2005 (NAICS 315)

Major Industry Employers in Texas

Company Location Product Description
Haggar Clothing Dallas Men's, women's & children's apparel
Walls Industries Cleburne Workwear, hunting, & outdoor apparel
VF Jeanswear El Paso Jeans
Orc Industries Brownsville Military outerwear
MFI International El Paso Contract sewing, assembly & packaging
Source: Texas Manufacturers Register 2006

Recent Industry Trends

• 2005Q4 Texas apparel industry average weekly wages, firms and establishments have decreased slightly, and employment has decreased about 8% since 2004Q4.
• From 2003 to 2004, Texas apparel industry’s Value Added per Employee increased 6%, Value of Shipments decreased almost 6%, and Total Capital Investments increased 50%.
Sources: Texas Workforce Commission - 2005Q4 & 2004Q4 Employment & Wages, Annual Survey of Manufactures, 2003 & 2004

Office of the Governor - Economic Development & Tourism September 2006

Tuesday, January 02, 2007


If you are involved in apparel retail, design, production, distribution or related fields you are invited to attend a presentation on local independent contractors and independent apparel retailer networks


Church building (Portable C)
1200 N. Georgetown Street
Round Rock, TX 78664


Friday, January 19, 7:00PM

Cost: Free


If you are driving south on I-35 take Hwy 79 exit, turn left (east) toward Hutto and Taylor. Go to third traffic light, Georgetown Street/Hwy 79 intersection w/Walgreens drugstore. Turn left: 1200 N. Georgetown Street is just behind corner business plaza

If you are driving north on I-35 take Hwy 79 exit, turn right (east) toward Hutto and Taylor. Go to third traffic light, Georgetown Street/Hwy 79 intersection w/Walgreens drugstore. Turn left: 1200 N. Georgetown Street is just behind corner business plaza

Monday, January 01, 2007

Interview: Round Rock Army Store

Carmen Montoya is one of thousands of individuals with a wealth of Knowledge, Skills and Experience in apparel making. She is owner and manager of:

Round Rock Army Store
Carmen Montoya, owner
2001 N. Mays Street
Round Rock, TX 78664
(512) 246-7033

WM Do you see yourself as a designer?

CM I've heard that term used so many different ways. I see myself primarily as one who works to create a dress or other apparel creation with the client's wishes in mind.

WM As a father of three daughters I remember hearing of their search with their friends for prom dresses. Are prom dresses a custom apparel need ICs can meet for high school girls?

CM Yes, I truly believe we can help the public, especially the young generation, on this issue.

WM What is the big need you see in apparel?

CM My sister in Laredo and I were talking just today. She's been in apparel many years too and we were talking about how there's so much apparel on the store racks out there that simply just does not fit. Recently, I was asked by a vendor to partner in a plus size apparel creation enterprise because this vendor has learned there are people whose apparel needs and wants are not going to be found in the apparel department of most stores.

WM Why do you think that is the case?

CM Quantity is more important than quality on the production floor. People are not taught the value of quality. Quantity means nothing if you have to do rework to improve your quality.

WM I've always thought you learn your process well, first, and the quantity, with quality, will follow. A manufacturer may sell quite a large amount before people catch on to their poor quality. An independent doesn't have that luxury. It's got to be quality from the beginning.

WM How many years have you been in apparel?

CM I've been in apparel over twenty years including manufacturing and custom apparel.
Some of the custom apparel I have made in the past have been costumes for kids and some adults. I went from the Power Rangers to Cinderella, Sylvester, Tweety Bird and others.
I have made some outfits for granddaughters, my husband, myself, and various customers.

WM Clearly, you have alot of experience in different aspects of apparel.

WM Have you ever worked with a group of independents?

CM I have never worked with a network or a group of independents. However, I like the idea of working with other individuals and the ideas they bring to an apparel creation. I want to see the group come together to express one idea of which we have all been a part.