So I skipped out of Barneys midtown headquarters with a spring in my step, slightly overwhelmed and headed straight to my favorite Times Square bar to have a celebratory martini…and to immediately start googling “finding a factory and how to drop the price of my creation in half.”
I hoped to stay domestic. Keeping things “made in America” feels good for our economy and the principle of helping my home economy. I also wanted to have some control over the product. I wasn’t ready to produce in bulk some thousands of bags at a time. SO why not keep it nearby where I could be in close contact and even visit the factory if need be?
Finding a factory took me many, many months.
I spent the subsequent months googling and calling and writing factories across the United States (but mainly in North Carolina, New Jersey and Michigan.) The search showed me dozens of thrilling new designers in industrial regrowth incubator neighborhoods fostering hipsters and artisans making new goods and products. I loved the notion of being a hipster making cool new stuff in Detroit or Raleigh or Jersey City.
My favorite find was ShelterSuit, a cool company started by a woman who employs recently homeless people as sewers making jackets that double as shelter for the homeless.
In each point of my research, the factories said “this is a cool idea, but we couldn’t produce the bag for less than the price you’re paying in Brooklyn. We could hook you up with a factory in China.”
I sighed deeply as I’d ask, “Cool. What’s the minimum number I’d have to purchase?”
The answer was always in the tens of thousands.
I figured it made more sense to produce the bag for a loss, however temporarily, rather than go and find some factory overseas that would require me to buy 10,000 bags.
What the hell do I do with 10,000 bags when I have no distribution beyond Barneys?
I lamented this search to a friend on the playground, one day. She said to me, “I know someone who has a bag company. Do you want me to put in you contact?”
“Um…I’ve known you for years and you’ve heard me detail this saga for a long time. What on earth is holding you back? Yes. Yes, please.”
“Okay, but like…she’s legit. So don’t embarrass me.”
LOL. Um…I know what I’m doing these days!
I was put in touch with Sarah Naghedi of Deux Lux and the Naghedi line of women’s accessories. We chatted a bit (she’d just had a child…I know a guy with a bag…can I hook you up, bag manufacturing lady?) and I walked into her showroom the next day.
It felt really cool – I was having a meeting with more designers who’d be able to help me on my way. It was a showroom and a design studio.
I sat with my next fashion unicorns, Geneva & Kelly, who walked me through their process of re-design and that they could help me manufacture my bag at their factory.
Everything sounded way too good to be true. (And they liked the bag.)
Then I asked, “And what’s my minimum?”
“We require at least 50 bags.”
I looked all around me in their showroom “Where’s the hidden candid camera?”
They looked at me blankly.
I went on with my flabbergasted face. “FIFTY! Only fifty bags?”
Wow. I’d scored. Finding a factory had taken forever, but hopefully I found the right one. Never had I heard of a place so accommodating to a new designer.
Thank you, thank you, thank you, Sarah, Kelly & Geneva of Deux Lux.
(Also? RIP, DeuxLux. With the coronavirus pandemic, they’ve shuttered their doors, but the Naghedi brand continues. I wish them all the luck. They’ve been integral to my relative success to this point.)