Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Look around at all the things you own or use in your everyday life and which you take for granted. I do not mean the practical, valuable use of those things. Rather, I am thinking of the struggle those people went through in pursuit of their dream and did not give up. As a result you and I now enjoy the fruits of their labors.
I think of Thomas Watson, IBM founder, how his own family snickered at his mention his clock and tabulation machine manufacturer would some day be the biggest in the world.
I think of Michael Dell, alone in a tiny kiosk at a trade show he managed to squeeze in because of a vendor's cancelation at the last hour. Those same engineers from across the way would eventually get past their snickering to seek employment with the young men just two or three years later.
I think of Thomas Edison who went through over more than a thousand light bulbs before he finally got the lasting results. Do you suppose all who knew him rallied their support behind him over such a insane idea as creating a light fixture. And even if he were to make a light bulb how was that going to earn him money? By selling it? Who would want to pay for such a useless thing?
Walt Disney endured the ridicule of his wife who mocked "whose going to want come and pay to see dwarfs at a park".
One thing to note is these individuals, whether young or old, had their families in mind primarily and secondarily those who would benefit and be blessing through their work. I do not believe any of these individuals set out to amass a fortune. It was merely a by-product of their dream come true.
Dream on, everybody.
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Saturday, June 20, 2009
I'm sure there are actually people who stuff their money in mattresses and pillows rather than trust the banks. The sad thing about that is that while they may not lose their money their money can lose its value.
There are a few things which 1) can not be taken from the individual, 2) do not lose their value regardless of the economy, and 3) may even increase in value. Most recently, I have described this personal wealth as your intellectual property. I know that's a term usually found in the technology world. However, the Knowledge, Skills and Experience (KSE) you have acquired and amassed over the years are your personal wealth, your intellectual property and is one of those few things mentioned above.
KSE is what employees acquire and develop and which enables them to do a job for their employer and to do it progressively better, more efficiently and more economically which produces greater profits for the employer. Some people never realize, never assess, their personal wealth. They never think how they can invest it for their own gain. Some who think they would like to use or invest their KSE for their own gain do not know how. Still others who do use their KSE are rarely ever able to do more than have a job of their own. Finally, others attempt only to fail and return to the regular job.
I have been crying out for the past several years the virtues and good economic sense of Independent Enterprise Networks as the perfect means for you to invest your KSE in the development of your own enterprise.
Even while you remain unemployed your KSE remains in your possession. It was not lost with your job. Your KSE has not lost value. On the contrary, it continues to increase in value because some of the same employers and small businesses who could no longer afford to keep you on payroll would gladly buy your services as an independent Constractor/Consultant, not an employee. Employees on payroll represent a drain on companies, a liability risk and a need to provide steady hours of work for them.
The IE-Network model has its local roots, but can quickly expand to regional than statewide than interstate business. You, if you wish, need never leave the comfort of your local stomping grounds. A local group of individuals who bring together their wealth resources, that is, their KSE for investment in the IE-Network, represent an attractive option for employers and businesses eager to seize the opportunity to move forward.
Opportunity is knocking at your door. Answer it.
There’s an interesting contrast between the apparel and computer manufacturing industries in these short articles. I have listed the important points in both articles for an easy comparison. These are things which concern both industries as well as independent consultants, resellers and retailers, too. Especifically, the objectives of growth and reduction of costs are commmon to both whether your manufacturing partner is a party of more than one, local or overseas.
The Independent Consultant (Independent Contractor, Independent Enterprise) Network model is well suited for addressing those areas of primary concern; finding a manufacturing partner, growth, cost reduction and profit margin increase. As independents, the life (or death) of the partnership whose life purpose stems from 1) design, 2) manufacturing and logistics, 3) materials and 4) operating expenses, is dependent on the service provider as the service recipient network members. The risk is nominal, because neither one has great amounts of money invested. The IE-Network at-home model is local, regional, statewide and nationwide beginning in Round Rock, Texas.
A verifiable set of information to obtain when looking for an apparel manufacturer:
their facility the
number of people they employ
their bank references
their customers' references
their management team.
The areas of growth in computer manufacturing:
small and medium enterprise
emerging countries, while improving profitability and cash returns
The actions of growth in computer manufacturing: reduce total product costs across all areas, including
2 manufacturing and logistics
4 operating expenses
A manufacturing facility in Texas. That's one I've heard in conversations with seasoned former apparel workers. I've read it in the Austin American-Statesman, among others. Up and coming couturiers in Austin search for that elusive manufacturing facility. If it exists it's a well-kept secret.
What is not a secret is the extraordinary number of displaced apparel workers. How about the fact Texas, formerly the nation's number one in apparel manufacturing, is number one in the number of displaced apparel workers. I have a good friend who is an extremely talented and knowledgeable individual. Her experience ranges from production worker to trainer to supervisor to the wheeling and dealing for fabric that once bustled back and forth between the US and Mexico border. "If a manufacturing facility were to open in Austin it could be fully staffed with 500 workers in one month" she says. I won't argue with her. I believe she is right.
However, it would probably not be more than a month before the cost of operations, including labor, machinery and materials, would drive the manufacturer (as well as contractors and subcontractors) to squeeze "more for less" from (low) paid workers in order to accommodate suppliers and retailers. Therein are the seedlings for sweatshops, outsourcing and a product dubbed by disillusioned consumers as, "one size fits none". I do not wish to be a party to such.
A virtual apparel manufacturing facility
The cyber world of the Internet has revealed you do not necessarily need to be physically present to have a virtual experience of something in your senses. The automotive and real estate industries have marketed successfully many a sale by providing their clients the opportunity of a virtual experience of the car or home of their choice before they buy it. It's not a stretch to envision a virtual apparel manufacturing (VAM) facility without the existence of a plant in the conventional sense. Do you necessarily need 500 people working multiple shifts in one physical locale to create an apparel experience for you?
What prevents a VAM facility from taking root in Texas? Old thinking.
Independent apparel producers and independent retailers can have a face-to-face, personal and dignified, mutually beneficial business relationship. It's more than "someone in the 500" or a worker abroad whose gender, age and working conditions are unknown to you.
The elements of a VAM facility include: a home. Throughout homes in Texas (and America) are individuals experienced as pattern-makers, cutters, sewers, quality control and more. The popular credit card commerical comes to mind:
Conventional apparel manufacturing in America: costly
"Conventional " overseas : cheap*
"Virtual " America : priceless *
America has seen what "cheap" got us in pet food, human food, children's toys and apparel all in 2007. There are more than a few who would take up the opportunity of using their resources to create an at-home income as being priceless. No one individual is likely to possess, or would want necessarily, to "do it all". Each one contributes to the process as they wish, are able and agreed upon by business parties. What is important to understand is the skills that populated the production floor are in homes in your community.
How do individuals in a VAM facility come together? The are brought together through Independent Contractor Networks to "staff", not so much a "facility", as a network.
Networks create an environment of interaction for retailers and apparel producers
Networks create a constant growing source of talent retailers may need to meet apparel demands
Networks create revenue for members whether retailer or apparel producer
Networks create a salesforce for your product among apparel producers
Networks start locally, but grow regionally, state and nationwide
Networks grow exponentially
Business owners are familiar with risk and loss. You know how to assess risk. You know how to manage risk when you determine to take it on. You know how to overcome loss.
There's no greater truth than to, "love one another", to "do" good for one another just as you would have it done to you.
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
There is a matter of urgency which requires your political activisim. Perhaps neither you nor your friends are independent apparel makers, but somewhere it is likely the clothes you and your friends wear may well have been designed or produced by an independent individual or small group of independent contractors/consultants.
Kathleen Fasanella, owner of Fashion Incubator blog, has a much longer history in her (and mine) drive to make people aware and rallying them to sign the petition Design Prohibition Piracy Act. She has provided all the reading and links if you wish to delve deeper in the subject.
Your signature (this is the "political activism" part) requires no more than just that, _ your signature, yet its impact on behalf of independent designers, producers will be significant.
As my church knows my interest and passion for independent contractor/consultants in apparel design and production I will ask our staff to send this out to the entire church body. I will post this on mychurch.org as well.
Just do it.
Tuesday, June 09, 2009
The nine pointts below are taken from a small, aggressive apparel manufacturer's site. The claims, explanations and services are quite typical. They are not outlandish.
They could as well be made by a local Independent Designer Group (IDG) in Round Rock, region, state or in the USA. Most of these manufacturers, so called, independent contractors consist of a small employee workforce numbering from as few as 5 to as many as 16 or 20. This is the single biggest difference from the IDG which is the combined, collaborative effort of truly independent contractors/consultants.
1 Made in the U.S.A. quality and service.
2 Low production minimums.
3 Quick turn around times compared to international manufacturing.
4 Project management.
5 A phone call away from painless communication.
6 North American Customers, no need to pay duties, beauracracies, tariffs or high shipping costs.
7 U.S.A made products are popular all over the world. With the low dollar, your business has a competitive advantage of entering the higher end markets around the globe.
8 U.S.A. made products can be easily exported to NAFTA countries (Canada and Mexico).
9 Supporting American Jobs and industry.
Although IDG members are independent they are not immune or exempt to market demands. An IDG must deliver if it is to survive and thrive. Like any business entity an IDG will produce its own offspring of individuals who are either attractive to the IDGs clients or who simply go out on their own once they have seen their own capabilities and opportunties in the market.
* * *
The PROM-DRESS NETWORK link on this blog is not limited to prom dresses. You are invited to post your information. It is free.
Sunday, June 07, 2009
Layaway is one of those old retail business practices which has made its way back into daily business. Layaway, as a purchase plan, became popular in American retail during the 1930s Depression. It allowed people in serious economic struggle to purchase items otherwise out of their reach through a simple plan. Basically, the retailer retained possession of the merchandise until the buyer paid for it over a short timeframe from four to twelve weeks.
Since fall of 2008 Burlington Coat Factory, Kmart, Sears and Marshall's have reinstated the layaway plan.
What would a layaway plan look like and benefit consumer and retailer through the apparel Independent Consultant/Contractor Network model?
The creation of the local Independent Design Group (IDG) is self replication. You are the best. You know those closest to you and can readily identify others with top quality skills and service in apparel to bring into a network alliance. The IDG can easily implement a self-styled layaway plan of its own. I use the term "design" in a very general sense to include pattern-making, assembly, alteration and everything necessary to produce an apparel item to the customer's satisfaction. The IDG generates revenues for all members.
1 Network retailer members simply post in their boutique the IDG service for their customers and clients.
2 IDG members advise or recommend options to the client: Purchase a pattern, have one made, recommend fabrics, styles. The pattern is their property and is reusable and alterable.
3 The customer/client (CC) purchases/saves their pattern, fabrics and as well as their service fee. Whether it takes the CC one or two months neither consultant nor retailer have any investment tied up.
In the same manner as layaway plans work, IDG members can secure a portion of the service fee at the time they receive the order is delivered to them. Service by IDG members is either through the retailer or directly with the CC with compensation coming from either the retailer or the CC.
Layaway, the IDG way, is a practical, economic means for consumer and consultant/retailer alike to benefit in this present opportunity. Major retailers have shown their readiness and willingness to accept lessons and instruction in this economic environment. Independent retailer are equally capable of learning and implementing layaway for their gain and ultimate survival.