As a new fashion business, one of the main challenges can be finding a reliable supplier, particularly one that will accept low minimum order quantities. Ziqi Deng is the co-founder of Resourcefashion, a production supply chain specifically designed for emerging fashion brands. Ziqi joined me on episode 39 of my podcast Start, Scale Succeed, to explain how Resourcefashion works, and how to place low minimum order quantities for your new fashion business.
Who are Resourcefashion?
Resourcefashion was cofounded by Ziqi Deng and Tatiana Tian, college friends from China who met when studying in America. They found a common interest in e: commerce and are passionate about empowering entrepreneurs. It is in their blood; Ziqi’s mum runs a company in China manufacturing clothes for lots of big brands.
Ziqi and Tatiana started out setting up the fashion brand Z and T style, and soon encountered lots of challenge sourcing stuff from China despite speaking the language and being able to talk to manufacturers directly. Things were delayed and when they eventually received the product pieces were missing.
They identified several key issues that start up fashion brands had when trying to manufacture their products, and set up Resourcefashion to address and solve these pain points
What are the typical problems for new fashion businesses that Resourcefashion solve?
1 It can take a long time to find the right manufacturer
Ziqi explained you can spend a lot of time looking for suppliers, hunting on LinkedIn, Alibaba and the like. We act as the middleman, and do all this work for you. Resourcefashion have built a trusted list of manufacturers they work with. Some of these are people Ziqi’s mom’s company has been working with for the past two decades. They also do a lots of site visits, building face to face connection with manufacturer, making sure that they have the right equipment, are treating their employees well, etc. Resourcefashion make sure they understand the manufacturer’s history, vision and what they are doing on a sustainability and ethics side. For each supplier they create a mini company profile to share with our customers.
2 The language barrier
Many clothing manufacturers are based in Turkey, Bangladesh or Pakistan, where you are not on the ground and can’t go and see them. There is also the language barrier which can cause communication problems. Resourcefashion manage everything through a single touch point website, and have contacts on the ground in China to ensure quality control.
3 Prohibitive minimum order quantities
When you are starting your new fashion business you usually want to place low minimum orders. However, the manufacturer often wants this to be much higher, because they may be investing heavily in the brand with fabric sourcing, prototyping, and more. Most suppliers won’t accept orders for less than 200 units. If you’re starting out and you want to make a range of eight items, that’s an order for 1600 unites when you don’t know what’s going to work. It makes that initial outlay prohibitively expensive. We have changed the model and are able to offer much lower minimum order quantities to fashion start ups.
4 Problems with quality control
Another problem start up brands face is that it is very hard to conduct quality check before things are shipped out. Once you have received the item, and realized there is a problem, it is very difficult to ship the items back to do the work, and very expensive. Even when you have a sample that’s agreed upon by both sides, the bulk production can look different. At Resourcefashion we check each stage of the process, to ensure we avoid these issues.
5 Long lead times
Traditional manufacturers will prioritize big orders. Emerging brands with smaller order quantities are more likely to be pushed to one side and have the timeline extended over and over again. This means it can take month’s for your order to arrive. At Resourcefashion we have a Uber Eats model, with a number of manufacturers in the network. And we can quickly identify which ones are available at the time. So we’re able to feed the order to manufacturers that are already available, which means our turnaround is much quicker.
6 Poor communication
The way of working in the industry has not changed much for the past 2 decades. A lot is done through emails, phone calls, chat groups and sending files back and forth, which is time consuming and inefficient. It’s hard for brands to locate where things are or keep track of what is going on with every single sample. Resourcefashion have built a proprietary digital supply chain dashboard, where everything’s clearly outlined, and brands can check the status of their work in real time.
How Do You Start Working With Resourcefashion?
Resourcefashion are on Instagram & TikTok, but the best way to get in touch is to book a call through the website. They will talk to every single brand they work with. The team will walk you through their service. They run a monthly subscription base, you can enroll with us anytime and cancel anytime, as long as there are no pending tasks. They also offer the first month no questions asked refund.
Once you join Resourcefashion you have access to their system, where you can do everything in one place: it holds your information, images, files, fabric searches, sample requests etc. When you select a fabric, Resourcefashion will create a sample within 3-5 days, and upload a picture to the system. The brand can give feedback, and then when you are ready the sample will be shipped to you, usually arriving within a week. You can then either do another round of sampling or move on to bulk production. There are no minimum order quantities, so you can place an order for just 10 pieces which will be fulfilled as soon as possible. Resourcefashion will ask to have one sample item to use as the benchmark, so they can guarantee the final production quality.
How does the subscription fee and payment model work?
The sampling process is covered by the subscription fee.
When you move to the manufacturing stage there is no price negotiation with the manufacturers. Resourcefashion wanted to move away from the traditional model where you had to negotiate everything. It saves time and ensures no cut in quality. Instead, they will help you find the best manufacturers for each stage of product creation. If you have a target price, they will keep that in mind when sourcing fabric and manufacturers.
It is not a single price covering everything model.
For example, when you are creating a tie-dyed hoodie, the tie dye, the embroidery and the cotton will all be done by different manufactures. When you work directly with manufacturers, they give you one price because they just allocate the task to their partner manufacturer and getting the fabric for you.
However, Resourcefashion list out for you how much each stage costs.
This means you can make adjustments such as taking the tie dye to decrease your cost.
All payments are process through Resourcefashion. 50% is invoiced upfront for bulk production the remaining 50% and shipping costs invoiced right before the shipping.
What do you need to provide Resourcefashion with to get started?
So there are a couple of ways that they work with brands to produce a sample. Ziqi explains what they need:
- You supply us with a tech pack
- If you don’t have a tech pack, but have the product you want created just with a different fabric, you can ship the product and fabric to us, and we will create it
- We can also work from just an image of the product you want to produce, recommending fabric and producing a prototype.
- Finally, we also our own tech pack designer, which you can hire to work with first in order to produce a tech pack to pass on to us.
Thank you so much to Ziqi for explaining everything that Resourcefashion offers and how you can place low minimum order quantities for your new fashion business. You can listen to the podcast in full here.
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