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Partnering with a production partner to scale your business

Partnering with a production partner to scale your business

In the early days of my business journey, the thrill of crafting, designing, and packaging my products in the comfort of my home fueled my entrepreneurial spirit. However, as the demand for my creations increased, I found myself caught in a relentless cycle of 7-day workweeks, often clocking in 16-hour days. Frustratingly, my annual income was less than my pattern-cutting role in London, despite nearly doubling my working hours. The realisation struck: a change in my business model was imperative for both sustainability and sanity.

The crux of the issue lay in the time-intensive process of creating each garment. Determined to break free from the confines of handmade production, I began reaching out to UK-based production facilities. Unfortunately, the response was disheartening; these facilities demanded colossal volumes or quoted prices that devoured nearly 80% of my retail revenue, making collaboration seem like an insurmountable challenge.

Undeterred, I expanded my search to international production partners, a decision driven by necessity rather than choice. Navigating through the vast ocean of search engine results proved daunting, with established businesses dominating the online landscape. The hidden gems specialising in production were elusive, obscured beneath the relentless wave of SEO-driven enterprises.

Through meticulous research, I narrowed my focus to India. Apart from the cost advantages, the country was a hub for the organic fabrics integral to my designs. Turning to platforms like Upwork and Fiverr, I engaged with freelancers who could bring my visions to life. After a series of enlightening Zoom calls, I found a small production business that not only shared my commitment to sustainability but also aligned with my preference for organic fabrics.

The partnership commenced, and it didn't take long for us to hit our stride. Multiple collections emerged, each boasting a remarkable standard of quality. However, as with any venture, challenges presented themselves. The most notable bottleneck was the time required to transform our designs into tangible products. In a typical scenario, design or grading issues could be swiftly addressed within days. Dealing with an international business, however, meant navigating shipping logistics and delays, resulting in a few extra months added to our launch timelines.

Despite this drawback, the decision to collaborate with our Indian production partner proved to be a game-changer. The benefits far outweighed the challenges, allowing me to redirect my energy from the relentless grind of 16-hour workdays towards nurturing and growing my business. The relief of not being bogged down by the minutiae of production has been liberating, enabling me to focus on strategic planning, marketing, and overall business expansion.

In conclusion, the journey from a one-person, home-based operation to a thriving business with international partnerships has been transformative. While the decision to engage an overseas production partner had its hurdles, the rewards have been substantial. Breaking free from the limitations of handmade production has not only elevated the quality of our products but has also positioned us for sustainable growth. For any entrepreneur at the crossroads of scaling their business, exploring international production partnerships might just be the key to unlocking new heights of success.