The adventures and musings of an aspiring shoe designer

I ended up finding a factory, Mary had known a rep that worked for this factory and she told me about them (after I exhausted my resources).  One thing I find frustrating about this industry is that you cannot find a lot of these people via the internet a lot of times.  I did so many searches and talked to so many people and short of paying thousands of dollars for a list of manufacturers, I thought I had done just about everything I could and still no factory. 

I would like to mention something at this point, my intention with this blog is not to bad mouth anyone or be negative just for the sake of being negative.  Although the justification may or may not be there, I have found that it is not productive and I am doing my best in all my dealings to attempt to stay positive.  I will be honest however; because that will be the best way to impart all that I have learned.  Because I have both good and bad things to say about the factory, I will not be using real names.  The policy I have made for myself and the blog is that if I can say great things about some one and the person allows me to I will use their real name. If I have some things to say that may not be so great I will respect that persons privacy and give them a fake name. 

So Mary told me about the factory and lo and behold they do have an online presence (still don’t know how I couldn’t find them).  The website was dated to say the least and when I first saw the site I had a lot of doubt. To be completely honest I really thought that the shoes were not my kind of shoes and perhaps this was not going to work, the shoes and the site looked like they were stuck in time.  When I voiced this to Mary, she said something like “you are the designer, they make women’s dress shoes which is exactly what you’re looking for, you are looking for the skill set, you provide the design.” I still had reservations but what she said made sense. 

Another side note I am trying to remember how I felt at each of these moments and to make sure to reference the doubts because as I am sure you all know, through your own experiences, in hindsight I had plenty of warnings.  But I talked myself out of them or let someone else convince me otherwise.  I mean they know more than me, right?

I called and talked to the owner we’ll call him Frank, he seemed very skeptical of me and I felt like he wasn’t even going to meet with me.  Finally he agreed to discuss the possibility of working together, if I wanted to come to the factory we could talk, after we spoke I just knew he was thinking “she’ll never show up”.    There are a handful of factories that I had talked to that were not willing to work with another designer, they produced their own brand and did not want to do “private label“. 

I made the arrangements for Mary and I to fly out to the factory for a day, we had previously set an agreement for how this would work.  I agreed to pay Mary a daily set fee when we traveled out-of-state (rather than the hourly rate) and also I was to pay for her flight and meals as long as she was with me working.  I mention this here because it will be a point of interest in the future.

As we were preparing how to approach the factory Mary informed me that she had been talking to Taryn Rose, (her old boss and friend.)  Mary apparently had been discussing the Made in America idea with Taryn as well, she told me that Taryn might be interested in going with us to the factory.  I had some mixed feelings about this, on the one hand I had been learning quite a bit about Taryn and have great respect for her. Seeing that she had already done what I was attempting to begin I was very interested in meeting her.  On the other hand I had some reservations, Taryn had just resigned from her own company and to my understanding had plenty of money to do whatever she wanted in the future. 

There was some nervousness because Taryn could start an American made line sooner than I could and she had the cash, experience and connections that I certainly did not.  I also had a slight hesitation about Mary here, she wasn’t necessarily revealing my company secrets but it seemed to be a conflict of interest.  I finally decided that Taryn will do what she’s going to do regardless of what I am doing and I reminded myself that I am in my own race, I don’t care what another is doing.  I certainly couldn’t stop her so I chose to look at this with excitement, maybe she would be open to sharing some of her wisdom with me.


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