How to Find the Right Manufacturer for Your Product
In any business, companies have a niche. Jewelry manufacturing is no different! While shopping for the right factory and production team, it is essential to keep an eye out for a partner that is aligned with both the vision and capabilities you are trying to achieve. Manufacturing is not a one-size-fits-all solution, and each factory has its strengths and weaknesses. Here are a few things to consider while shopping around.
Consider the Factory Methods
Have a look at what is currently being produced with the manufacturer. If you are looking to produce a line in silver, and the factory is creating only bridal, it may be a sign that they are not as in tune with the subtle needs of the metal, and therefore may not be the best possible choice. It is easier to work with someone that has experience working in similar materials, in case any tweaks need to be made during the design process.
Consider the Environment
Today, ethical concerns are at the forefront of manufacturing, across industries. Be sure to visit the factory you are considering. Are the working conditions safe (poor ventilation, flammables next to torches, chemicals laying uncovered, boxes stacked by a workbench)? Do the employees look happy or miserable? If you are in a sweatshop, it is obvious, and you should know that is what the factory is ahead of signing a contract. Finding a manufacturer that produces high quality product with ethical business practices is a reflection of you and your business’ values, as well as the direction your company is going in that next-level partnership.
Consider the Target Market
Who is your customer? How much does she spend? What does she wear? What does she do? By aligning product development with the vision that comes to mind, and making sure that your manufacturing partner knows and understands who she is, amazing pieces come to fruition.
Production costs should be aligned with expected expenditure (is she into fashion or fine jewelry? Does she spend $50, $200, or $2,000 on the average jewelry purchase?). There should be a clear understanding of whether the item is for self-purchase, celebration, collecting, bridal or gifting. Designer and manufacturer must agree on whom the product is for, how much the end consumer is going to spend, and how much the production cost should be to meet the pricing goal per item.
Consider Special Services
Manufacturers offer special services, and it is important to know who to work with, depending on design needs. Is product development needed? Do gemstones and diamonds need to be sourced? Is there a need for enameling, repoussé, filigree, or gemstone carving? Is there vertical integration? Each of these is a unique service that may or may not be services a manufacturer can provide, but it is important to inquire about any special needs, especially if a design calls for it.
Consider Implementing a Continuous Improvement Process
From your side, consider how the manufacturer will be evaluated over time. Year after year, the relationship and the product should keep getting better. Better processes should be put in place, promoting efficiency and quality. Challenge vendors to do better with regular evaluations and monitoring, and consider how you will do this based on the structure of manufacturer.
Ultimately, choosing the right manufacturer is an important decision that will influence and direct the course of your business. Doing due diligence considering these factors will help guide the process, yet nothing can replace the one piece that is immeasurable…a personal connection between the brand and a manufacturing partner.