With American manufacturing being a huge topic of interest for our President, Donald Trump, you would think it would be an easy transition to re-shore your business. Well, try running a company with double manufacturing expenses on a single sales revenue.
Our brand, FOXERS, is steadily increasing in demand around the globe, and it's perfectly poised for a second factory, one in our homeland. We already had some products made in the USA, right in Atlanta, GA where we are located. So, to help combat inventory selling out due to our growth (and thus lost sales) I thought that it might be time to manufacture some of our highest volume products here. I have always wanted manufacturing to be close to the office, but the cost and expertise had never worked out before.
There were a lot of questions that came up with that decision. How do we handle two factories with double purchase order expenses? How do we purchase all of the fabric and parts months before production and be able to pay for it? When to start and what to make first? This also requires double the cost for everything (fabric, labor, parts/notions, etc.) so how could I possibly handle this increase? One top of all that, we hired a new marketing manager for FOXERS Amazon sales, and he was asking us to increase inventory before he increased advertising. He was familiar with crowd funding and thought it should be our next marketing step for exposure. Interesting? I needed capital to create the USA manufacturing while we still maintained our manufacturing abroad and he needs reliable inventory made quickly and steadily that won't run out. So we have the answer: pre-order-crowdfunding to purchase a FOXERS racerback before it's made to get us the money and exposure we need.
We decided on the FOXERS 24/7 Racerbacks. Our customers already love the comfort and style, they even reorder often with every new color that becomes available. So why not also bring in some new fabrics (made in USA) and a new size that's been long requested (3XL). First decision made, product samples made, samples tested, and new size developed. Cost of samples, patterns, grading for each size, photography, video production, models, etc.: all done and paid. All that was left was choosing a platform to setup pre-ordering and start raising funds, one Kickstarter account later and we were ready to go. The cost was already adding up, but the dream of USA manufacturing was coming to life right before our eyes.
Everything was ready to go, but we still had to make the promotional materials and actually get people to pre-order. My first thought was, "Oh no!" I didn't want to put myself out there and ask people to buy my racerbacks out of nowhere. What if no one pre-orders? Or even worse, what if only a few people do and we don't get the funding to build the local manufacturing to supply those pre-orders. Our marketing manager assured me that it would work and do well. He said you will have to market to your FOXERS customers, the racerback customers, your family, friends, business associates, etc.
So, here we go June 18th launching a pledge-based ordering system through a crowdfunding platform. I was so nervous on that day that I hardly remember anything from hour to hour. I told myself, "It's okay if we get about $1,500 today in pledges for the racerbacks?" But the marketing manager kindly reminded me that no, you need to get at least 50% in the first few days or it might not fund. WHAT?! I can tell you one thing: I did not sleep for three nights straight after the launch. I'm still thinking about it day and night as it is ongoing, but I can already say this experience has pushed my limits whilst bringing us so much great exposure. Am I scared? Yes. But it was definitely the right decision. Fear is something that all business owners feel. Being a bit scared or even nauseated when you grow your business in a new direction is completely natural. Now, I use this knowledge to keep me focused and calm when I do feel that way; I know it's the norm and it means things are mostly going to be successful so long as I can push through.
Since the start of our campaign I have had so many great inquiries for new business opportunities and sales. We've increased sales everywhere on all our other platforms and formed new relationships simply because we put ourselves out there with this one campaign. My family and friends have learned so much more about FOXERS and are all talking about the campaign! I have learned what to do better as well as what not to do, if I were to ever do this again. We learned how to market our brand through a crowdfunding platform like Kickstarter, but we also learned that pushing our boundaries is worth the fear once you get to the success. If anyone else is thinking of doing this, please email me anytime. I'll give my advice on what I did and didn't do, from one friend to another.
You can support our Kickstart campaign here