Fashion Startup Challenge

Day Two: Getting your Samples / Prototypes Made

This video is a clip from a LIVE Chicago event for fashion startups about getting your first samples made. The strategy I share in this video has worked for dozens of new designers in lots of different cities, with many different products.


How did you like Day One’s challenge? Did you fill out the “Crossover Exercise” worksheet?

I’d love to know what you thought of it and if the exercise was helpful to you. You can head over to my Facebook Page and let me know! Use the hashtag #FBAchallenge so I can find it.

A lot of what happens in the fashion industry is sort of underground. I often refer to it as an INSIDER BUSINESS – and it can be really frustrating if you’re on the outside trying like heck to get IN and get some answers. You can’t just Google things up – I’m sure you’ve noticed that.

So today I’m going to take you inside and tell you 3 major tips about where to find sample makers and manufacturers.

1) Craigslist

It’s possible to make the first sample yourself (if you know how to sew – and if you don’t, that’s TOTALLY fine) to see how it comes together. However, I don’t recommend that you make your own samples or production for the long haul since it’s NOT a scalable business

If you’re sewing, you’re NOT out selling – and that’s a problem.

I have a video clip that explains how to find local sewers and reveals the sneaky way I found sewers for my blanket line. The video is posted above – on this page.

2) Factory Lists

Here are 2 resources I recommend.

a) Maker’s Row is an online marketplace that connects U.S. based factories and suppliers with small and medium-sized product-based

Find them here: http://makersrow.com/

b) About Sources offers resource guides for designers in the U.S. to find fabrics, trims, and contractors. They have a few different books available and I used them all when I had my womenswear line.

Find THE CONTRACTORS book here: http://www.aboutsources.com/thecontractors.html

Please Note: Both of these options provide LISTS of contractors. It’s up to you to go through the lists and do your research, call them up, and find a good fit for your brand. A lit is just a list – it’s a great start but it’s not the EASY button. Speaking of easy…

3) The Easy Button

If I were to start over today with another product-based business (but I’m NOT, not yet anyway…) I would choose the Easy Button option.

I ran my own production (using NY and Chicago contractors) for over 14 years and I was good at it. I didn’t LOVE doing it though, and like I mentioned in #1 – I don’t want anything to keep you from the time you need for SELLING your product.

The Easy Button is to hire a team of experts to take care of pattern making, samples, fittings, and production. This option isn’t for everyone, of course, because a) it takes more money and b) it demands a product that has margins big enough to afford the added consulting fees.

My go-to Product Development guru is Boaz David (and his wicked-smart team) from Humanb.com in NYC but there are a LOT of option out there to get hands-on manufacturing help.


#1) First, make sure you watch the video above.

#2) Next, decide on your NEXT step. Will it be…

A) Put an ad in Craigslist for a sample sewer
B) Invest in one of the manufacturers’ lists (From About Sources or
Maker’s Row)
C) Investigate a full-service consulting company
or D) something else??

#3) Stay accountable by telling me what your NEXT action step will be. Head over to my FB Page, use the hashtag #FBAchallenge, and put your next step out (no matter how big or small) into the universe!!

The key to startup success is to take IMPERFECT action – every single day. What will it be today – A, B, C, or D?? It can be as simple as B. “I’m gonna carve out 2 hours next Wednesday to go through the info on Maker’s Row.”

BAM – simple action step in the works… Go YOU! 

What to do next: Click here and leave a comment + read what other designers are saying. 

See you tomorrow,


P.S. If you’re enjoying the Challenge so far, will you do me a favor and SHARE it? Here’s the link (and thank you!!):


People can join the challenge at any time and they’ll get all 5 days.