It's taken a lot longer than we first expected and it’s still being fitted out. I suppose that takes into consideration the fact it’s all a first time scenario. So, if you're thinking of manufacturing your own British label, here's a wee list of things you need to think about.
1) Make sure that your present British supplier is ok that your going to be making your own garments in-house and that obviously your orders will get smaller and eventually stop. The best thing is to get them onboard with training your staff so they are able to make your new garments to the exacting standards your customers are already accustomed to.
2) Start looking for premises long before you decide you want to set up your own studio. That way you can talk to loads of people and ask them how much they pay for rent per month so you can start budgeting. Also, don't be afraid to tell everyone that you’re on the hunt for some space. You'll be surprised what might turn up.
3) Go and look at your space a few times before you decide to go with it and take a tape measure. Measure every last inch; every nook and cranny. Then measure as much of the machinery and equipment going into your studio that you can. It’s worth sketching a scale drawing on graph paper and cutting out the shapes of the machines, tables etc and playing around with them on paper (a lot easier than humphing them around on site). Keep an open mind and don’t be afraid of changing your original plan.
4) Take your graph paper drawing to your studio - your lovely new space - and get some chalk or a roll of masking tape and mark out on the floor all the shapes from your nice clever room design. Take some photos and walk around trying to imagine your studio taking shape. Then, this is the important bit, go home and sleep on it. Then, in the morning, look at all the photos and then go back to your space. Wow! You've either clinched it first time round or your brain has done what it does best while you’re asleep and worked out the best design plan for you. Now move all the bits of masking tape to your new dream-like positions. Hey presto you have an empty room with loads of potential.
5) Now wait for your machines to arrive - this could take take anything from one month of ordering. In a perfect world, they all arrive on time and you get to place them all in their positions. Fantastic. Now you realise just how small the space has become and there seems to be an awful lot of boxes on the floor.
7) Finding the perfect employees. This is the stage we are at right now so I’ll let you know how we get on.
6) Some stuff you might not have thought about before:
- Someone in your team needs to be a trained first aider- that’s roughly £400 quid.
- There are European, legal space requirements for people working in a building so you’ll have to work them out.
- PAYE & NI, health care.
- PAT testing - everything with a plug on it has to be tested regularly so that’s more cash out the door
- You can’t always just move in (very lucky if you can) so you might need to decorate so factor in the cost of paint for walls plus flooring and/or carpets
- Insurance - you’ll need to take out employers liability insurance and workspace insurance
- Bulk ordering of threads, bulk fabric, bulk elastic and all your bulk labels
- You’ll need proper sewing chairs (these don’t have wheels on them as, if they did, they would zoom back across the floor when you press the peddle)
- Invest in some good quality scissors
- Machine maintenance - you’ll need to know someone to set them all up and service them
And don’t forget your kettle, microwave and tea-bags!
Simon and Georgia