The terms “buy local", "shop local", and "support small business" are far more than just words to me. These empowering phrases represent who I am as a designer and a native New Yorker born passionate. Committed to helping build and uplift our local communities, I am proud to say I've partnered with manufacturers who operate locally right here in New York City. That's right. My designs are conceptualized AND developed right here in the Big Apple.
Other designers may not find manufacturing their clothing and accessory designs locally feasible or practical, but I beg to differ for quite a number of reasons. Based on my experience and expertise, I've found that establishing business relationships locally within your own community is crucial and should not be overlooked. As a designer raised in the city that never sleeps, I've been privileged to personally witness the power of community and the influences of local leadership. Let's lift each other up and thrive rather than just get by and survive. It's what we all should aim for.
My goal is to show others that something once thought to be impossible or out of reach is possible and attainable if you take all factors into account and consideration. Let me break it down for you … You may be wondering why I made the decision to have my designs manufactured locally rather than subcontracting the work to a“cheaper”company overseas. Well, there are numerous motives for my “keep it local” approach. These are just some of the reasons why I feel it's important for designers such as myself to team up with local manufacturers.
Supports Local Employment The #1 reason why fashion designers should partner with local manufacturers is because these close-knit relationships help support local jobs for your neighbors, friends and family. You don't need an expert opinion or analysis to realize the ripple effect of outsourcing. The benefits of local manufacturing are evident in and of themselves. To put it simply, a community is better off when wages are kept within its communal confines rather than sent across the world. Instead of being swallowed by big city living, community members will be able to stay put if local jobs are available. Many economists agree that keeping locals employed and housing affordable is the best way to combat gentrification and monopolization of growing urban communities. The same responsibilities apply to consumers as well. Buying products produced by local manufacturers is the ethical thing to do because he or she as the consumer knows the workers are treated fairly and paid a livable wage. Consumers don't have these said assurances when purchasing designs manufactured at factories in foreign countries with lax regulations and sometimes cruel working conditions. In fact, there's a whole movement of consumers with tons of purchasing power committed to solely buying from brands who establish fair trade practices and responsible sourcing/manufacturing. Designers who work with local manufacturing companies will enjoy reaping the praises (and support) of ethically minded consumers on a mission to change the global narrative. Consumerism is all about responsibility these days. I, for one, refuse to be left behind.
Quality Standards Americans have an affinity for well made products that meet (and often exceed) strict standards. In America we also have laws in place to make sure employment and labor is fair, ethical and humane. Another thing that sets us apart when it comes to producing high quality items is our skilled labor force. The most skilled manufacturers are located in and around cities here in the U.S. And I'm lucky enough to be closely located to some of the world's best. New York is considered one of the fashion capitals of the world, so why would you want to have your designs manufactured anywhere else. Being accessible to manufacturers within your local community allows you to be a part of the process. Rather than patiently awaiting mock-ups to be shipped or for the arrival of demo designs from foreign factories, you can check things out for yourself onsite same day. Being able to witness the manufacturing process from start to finish is an important aspect of fashion many designers unfortunately miss out on.
Allows Personal Connections Another benefit of local manufacturing has to do with the close interpersonal relationships and the business connections that are built. I've found that working with local manufacturers is best because it's easier for all to stay on the same page. Nothing is ever lost in translation or misinterpreted due to translation errors. I don't know about you, but I enjoy cultivating friendly relationships with the people I work with. Visiting my manufacturers in person has definitely paid off in countless ways. For one, I'm able to put a face with the name. You can see the people up close and personal to put your mind at ease. Trust me when I say my local manufacturers are the absolute BEST people to work with. I wouldn't have it any other way. Having these close face-to-face relationships is much more beneficial than you might think.
New York is my home – the place that raised me, the place that educated me, the place that made me the free-spirited fahionista I am today. I am forever grateful for all of the (native and transplant) New Yorkers who have helped me live out my dreams while also living theirs. Like they say, New York is where dreams are made. The city will always hold a special place in my heart, which is why I am a proud advocate for buying local, shopping local, eating local and manufacturing local. We all have a responsibility to the communities that raise us.
As a designer, I've answered the calls of the community by having my designs manufactured locally. My partnerships with local manufacturers support jobs within the community me and my family live. The rewards of choosing local and manufacturing local are immeasurable for both the designer and the consumer. A lower unemployment rate, higher quality goods, reliable contacts and accessibility are just some of the benefits associated with business practices that involve local manufacturing. I take pride in being able to help uplift those within my community. The digital revolution has made things more convenient but it has also made business so impersonal. Manufacturing designs locally is an awesome way to put the personal connection back into fashion. I'm able to provide my buyers quality while supporting jobs within the community and helping local businesses grow. I do not deny that it is more expensive to support local manufacturers than overseas but it is well worth the price. So, don’t forget to put your money where your heart is.