Planning your first meeting with a Leather Manufacturer

Finding the perfect leather manufacturer for your brand or product is the first challenge many designers face.

In fact, it was one of the challenges we faced when we were sourcing a quality leather manufacturer in London for our brand, Nosakhari.

After a few unsatisfactory involvements and meetings with leather manufacturers we got tired of manufacturers altering our vision and design concepts and some leather goods factories failed to respect our original design ideas either because of the lack of care and passion for design or because they didn’t pay attention to the finer details.

The point we’re trying to make is we know and understand the struggle – finding the perfect leather manufacturer isn’t as simple as taking your design concept to the first one from google search results.

When finding a leather manufacturer, one common misconception is that every factory can do it all: sample making, leather sourcing and production. However, not all factories are one‐stop‐shops and you will likely have to find one that fits your requirements.

This is how CreateLab came to be. We offer the level of quality and services we couldn’t find anywhere else. We value the art of making great products and most importantly having a good knowledge on brand aesthetic.

Arranging a meeting with your leather manufacturer

Arranging a face-to-face meeting with a potential leather manufacturer is an important step to understanding the creation of your leather brand or product.  Firstly, you’ll be seeing where your vision will come to life. You can look at the facility and equipment and you’ll get a vibe to see if you and the leather manufacturer are the right fit; does their work ethic, ethos and personality marry up with yours?

Although it’s easy to get carried away booking in that meeting with the manufacturer, because you simply want to hold your first prototype in your hands –  it’s still something worth a little planning beforehand to get the most out of the initial meeting.

From our findings, we’ve discovered three things you should ponder before meeting with a leather manufacturer that will go a long way to making the process easier and faster for both parties:

What Do You Expect from the Leather Manufacturer?

As a leather accessories manufacturer, we have met with dozens of designers intending to start or build a leather accessories brand. We’ve found it’s always a good idea to know what level of service you expect your leather manufacturer to provide.

Whether it’s about a fast turnaround speed from order to completion, meticulous quality in the goods manufactured, their long-established history, reputation, ideal location, flexibility, versatility, or any combination of these qualities, it’s good to research a leather manufacturer before taking time from both your schedules to meet face-to-face.

After you’ve researched the leather manufacturer and decided you’d like to meet them, then mention why you chose them, so that you can help establish the relationship. For example, “I came to you because you promise quality craftsmanship and attention to detail over other leather manufacturers.”

Having this knowledge beforehand allows for any misinformation to be dispelled and helps establish a good working relationship.

What is your vision for your leather brand or company?

Once you’ve defined what you expect from the leather manufacturer, it’s a good idea to think about what you expect of your own company or brand.

This doesn’t mean you have to have exact projections and numbers of how successful you plan to be (though it never hurts if you happen to have them).  Instead, focus on what is necessary for the manufacturer to get a sense of your potential as a customer, which in turn lets you know to what extent they are willing to work with and for you.  While some might deem you too small or large to work with, others will prove to be a perfect fit for your size.

Take a little time to write down a few short and long term goals for your company that you can share with the leather manufacturer, such as having a table to show projected sales by x date, reading a per centage of your target market, or sales by regions and demand anticipated.

It’s fine if you want to start small and stay small but having an idea of how you wish to grow your brand will help the manufacture and you as a designer learn whether you are compatible.

Think about timelines and deadlines

As a designer for a new or growing leather brand, timing can often be the single biggest factor in a successful product launch. 

As a manufacturer, being forewarned of any upcoming deadlines or trends is such a helpful bit of information so that we can deliver to our designer’s expectations

So, when you’re planning your meeting with the manufacturer, decide how fast you wish to push your leather brand or product out to the market.  It’s best to write a timeline for when you will need samples or prototypes complete, deciding that you want to test the market first before committing to a production run, or marking out what products you plan to release for what future seasons.

Even a rough estimate of how quickly or slowly you hope to progress your leather designs will prove helpful for both you and the manufacturer in terms of planning and scheduling for production.

When you finally meet the leather manufacturer

Once you’ve gone through the three points above, and have a good idea of answering them, then you should book your meeting with your ideal leather manufacturer. Find the leather manufacturer that best fits your brand ethos and by discussing the above points with them in the meeting, which will not only show them that you have a sense of direction and potential for your business, but will also help you weed out companies that won’t be a good match to help your brand grow.

Ready to arrange your first face-to-face meeting with a leather manufacturer?

If you are ready to take your designs to a leather manufacturer based in London who gives care and attention to the finer details, then contact us to book your meeting.

 

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