Friday, July 27, 2007

Can we build it?

The next post deals with regional vs. overseas manufacturing. Here’s an email I received recently:

We need more baby products with "made in Canada" and "made in USA” labels. My question for Robeez founder: How did you manage not to move offshore? Do you credit your success partly because your product was made in Canada? Did retailers care about it or not? What would you advise to business women who (or wants to) manufacture locally?

It is rare these days to turn over a label and read “made in Canada” or “made in USA.” Overseas manufacturing is definitely a reality in today’s marketplace.

I may sound like your mother but “if everyone jumped off a cliff, would you?” My mompreneur advice: don’t assume that because “everyone” is manufacturing offshore that this is the best option for your business, especially when you first start out. For Robeez, we have always maintained production of our shoes and booties in BC. Simply said, local manufacturing fit our business model and contributed to our success. We see a number of benefits to doing things this way:

  • Quick turnaround – ordering products from overseas takes months of lead time to allow for production and shipping
  • Quality control – maintaining a high level of quality is important to our customers
  • Quantity control – minimum order quantities are often required in offshore manufacturing, by sewing shoes here we can make as many or as few as we need, quickly!

I believe you need to look at your business model and the product you want to create.
There are many products that are complex, using materials that require special machinery and fixtures to produce. In these situations, offshore manufacturing is a likely choice. But for simpler products like Robeez, we chose to keep manufacturing local.

Now for the second part of the question: Did retailers care about it or not? In Canada, there are a number of boutiques that cater specifically to locally made goods. To these retailers, our made in Canada label is extremely important. But for the vast majority of retailers, the label influences rather than drives purchase decisions.

I can say that I am extremely proud to know that Robeez provides local jobs and contributes to the BC economy. There are currently over 300 people employed at our head office in Burnaby.

So the moral of today’s message? Should mompreneurs manufacture their wares overseas? It depends. Carefully look at your budget. Consider the product you are making. Consider who will sell your product. What is their order cycle? Do they order six months in advance or place an order and expect delivery next week? All these factors will impact your ultimate decision.

add to sk*rt


Anonymous said...

Thank you very much Sandra for answering my question. I really appreciate your advise.


Westcoastbaby said...

HI Sandra,

Yes another question for you from me , Nicole of Westcoast baby. As our buisness has been rapidly expanding we are needing to hire staff to help out. I was wondering if you brought on family or friends as employees and how you feel about this?

You had mentioned that you brought on your brother and a third party to help with Robeez growth, was this complicated? We are currently a partnership but are interested in taking on a silent third party? Any advise?

Thanks so much, I hope in the future I can help others with the help you have provided.

Sincerely ,

Nicole Vaslot