Essential Tutorial on Fibers, Fabric and Finishes

Earlier this spring I received a grant from the CT Department of the Arts and the CT Department of Economic and Community Development to present free online programming in response to the COVID crisis. One of my events was a presentation on textiles: what they’re made from, their structures and finishes. I created this presentation because so many of my customers lack knowledge on this subject, I realized that being more informed about textiles would save designers time, money and effort as well as making their lives easier when working with vendors such as myself. I have a Masters degree in textiles as well as over a decade of teaching textiles at the collegeate level. This presentation gives you an overview of an entire semester’s worth of material. I hope you enjoy watching it as much as I enjoyed presenting it!

Business Owners: Put Down that Advice Book and Read this Instead

Across That Bridge, A Vision for Change and the Future of America by Congressman John Lewis is a must read for business owners.
My own copy of “Across That Bridge” has been stuffed in my bag or pocket many times.

Business Owners: Change Your Thinking!

Collectively, we business owners have read hundreds of business advice books. You know the typical topics: how to squeeze more productivity out of every second of your day, what entrepreneurs eat for breakfast, how to pump up your sagging profits. Blah, blah, blah.

My advice…read something more holistic that will impact every function of your business.

I write about the books I’m reading because mindset matters. What’s going on in your head has a profound, impact on the everyday decisions that business owners make. You can begin by reading my post about Zeynep Ton’s “Good Jobs Strategy to you improve your profitability. Then, inject some creativity into your business by reading about Pagan Kennedy’s Inventology: How We Can Dream Up Things That Change the World

Read “Across That Bridge” Instead

Just lately, I finished¬†“Across That Bridge, A Vision for Change and the Future of America” by Congressman John Lewis our county’s most influential, living, civil rights leader. I heard his commencement address at my son’s 2013 graduation from RPI. So, while I am reading his writing, I can hear his musical way of speaking in my head. He reminds me of old school African American preachers. His writing style captures their passionate, lyrical, thoughtful way of preaching.

Before you start reading his books, I recommend watching this short video of Congressman Lewis with Stephen Colbert. In it, Lewis speaks about “getting into good trouble,” (be sure to watch till the end for something you’ll never see Lewis do again). Or, watch that RPI commencement address in which he speaks about “keeping the faith,” and “walking with the wind.”

In “Across That Bridge,” Lewis outlines seven concepts which business leaders can employ to build their business, stay motivated, and do good.

Read More!

Four Takeaways to Act On From Pagan Kennedy’s “Inventology”

"Inventology" by Pagan Kennedy is a great tool to help leverage your creativity as an entrepreneur.
“Inventology” by Pagan Kennedy is a great tool to help leverage your creativity as an entrepreneur.

In a previous post, I described the processes artists use to create and how you can use the same processes to help your business succeed. To achieve some insight into your creative process so that you can direct and apply it more effectively, devour Inventology: How We Can Dream Up Things That Change the World” by Pagan Kennedy. Through extensive research and consideration of evidence, Kennedy has managed to capture the essence of the creative impulses of invention that are often thought of as un-tameable, directionless, risky. Her book gives examples of designers, scientists and engineers who believed in their creative process and persevered when their inventions were ignored or discounted by MBA wielding management types who lacked the creativity to make room for new products and alternative solutions. I’m a big fan of buying a hard copy and having a pen handy for adding your own insights as you read. While you’re waiting for your copy to arrive (though it is available digitally), here are four concepts gleaned from her book that you can apply right now.

Find out more!

How You Can Change Your Bad Consuming Habits and Not End Up Naked

Shop at a Locally Owned Boutique
Photo by Clark Street Mercantile on Unsplash

If you’ve been paying attention to global trade issues lately, you’ve undoubtedly run across discussions about fair wages also known as a “living wage.” Simply put, a living wage is a close approximation of the amount of money it would cost to support a single person or family in the area in which they live. This well written article, by on racked.com about the apparel giant H&M, discusses why they probably aren’t paying their workers a living wage, what it means to make sure a labor force benefits from good pay and how you can make a difference. Please take the time to read it and visit the great links embedded in there. When the people you’ll read about who make the apparel you buy and wear live with their families on the other side of the world, it’s easy to put them out of your mind. However, your consumption of a $10 t-shirt or $20 pair of pants at H&M, Target, Uniqlo or other importer of apparel manufactured overseas impacts the wages of those workers. Your bad consumption habits are denying them a living wage.

The lack of a living wage and safe working conditions for the workers who manufacture over 90% of the apparel available for us to buy in the U.S. is nothing new. I’ve been covering this issue in my lectures, writing and social media for over a decade. So, let’s skip to the questions I know you’re going to ask, “Why should I care? I can’t change what’s in the store to buy. Isn’t it cheaper to live there anyway? I don’t set the prices. I’m just one person. How can I come up with the solution?” Here’s an answer you can use, with some simple steps you can adopt that aren’t too difficult or too expensive.

Find out more!

Truly Satisfying Your Customer

Industry Clothing Construction Methods

In today’s business climate, every advantage counts.¬† To truly understand what your customer wants, you have to listen to them. This short excerpt from the introduction to my book, Industry Clothing Construction Methods, highlights the essential concept of product benefits and the features that create them. Although the example is apparel, the design of any product could be made more attractive to customers by understanding these simple concepts and making them the core of your process.

“Designers hear the consumer say that apparel should offer benefits. Consumers believe that apparel benefits should help them achieve their goals as individuals, such as feeling more self-confident, gaining respect, saving time and money, attaining comfort during physical activity, attracting a lover, fitting into a social group or expressing them selves. The task for a fashion professional then is to determine what features should be included in the garments to achieve those apparel benefits. The core of the designer’s, merchandiser’s or buyer’s craft in the ready-to-wear industry is to find the right combination of features–silhouette, fit, shape, color, laundering method, fabric, texture, price, and so on–that entice customers to look, try-on, and feel satisfied¬† with their apparel purchase.”

For more on this topic, additional insight into the apparel merchandising process, and a wealth of concrete information on the construction of retail apparel, add Industry Clothing Construction Methods to your toolkit for manufacturing success.

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Why the U.S. Apparel Industry is Re-shoring Manufacturing

Big names in the U.S. apparel industry are understanding that re-shoring is a way to cut costs, improve quality, sell- through, and customer loyalty, and solve logistics concerns. What are you waiting for? Find out what leading finance company CIT has to say