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What I Learned From Re-shoring Our Manufacturing As a US Consumer Brand"

Fresh Voices

With American manufacturing being a huge topic of interest for our President, Donald Trump, you would think it would be an easy transition to re-shore your business. Well, try running a company with double manufacturing expenses on a single sales revenue.


Our brand, FOXERS, is steadily increasing in demand around the globe, and it's perfectly poised for a second factory, one in our homeland. We already had some products made in the USA, right in Atlanta, GA where we are located. So, to help combat inventory selling out due to our growth (and thus lost sales) I thought that it might be time to manufacture some of our highest volume products here. I have always wanted manufacturing to be close to the office, but the cost and expertise had never worked out before.

There were a lot of questions that came up with that decision. How do we handle two factories with double purchase order expenses? How do we purchase all of the fabric and parts months before production and be able to pay for it? When to start and what to make first? This also requires double the cost for everything (fabric, labor, parts/notions, etc.) so how could I possibly handle this increase? One top of all that, we hired a new marketing manager for FOXERS Amazon sales, and he was asking us to increase inventory before he increased advertising. He was familiar with crowd funding and thought it should be our next marketing step for exposure. Interesting? I needed capital to create the USA manufacturing while we still maintained our manufacturing abroad and he needs reliable inventory made quickly and steadily that won't run out. So we have the answer: pre-order-crowdfunding to purchase a FOXERS racerback before it's made to get us the money and exposure we need.

We decided on the FOXERS 24/7 Racerbacks. Our customers already love the comfort and style, they even reorder often with every new color that becomes available. So why not also bring in some new fabrics (made in USA) and a new size that's been long requested (3XL). First decision made, product samples made, samples tested, and new size developed. Cost of samples, patterns, grading for each size, photography, video production, models, etc.: all done and paid. All that was left was choosing a platform to setup pre-ordering and start raising funds, one Kickstarter account later and we were ready to go. The cost was already adding up, but the dream of USA manufacturing was coming to life right before our eyes.

Everything was ready to go, but we still had to make the promotional materials and actually get people to pre-order. My first thought was, "Oh no!" I didn't want to put myself out there and ask people to buy my racerbacks out of nowhere. What if no one pre-orders? Or even worse, what if only a few people do and we don't get the funding to build the local manufacturing to supply those pre-orders. Our marketing manager assured me that it would work and do well. He said you will have to market to your FOXERS customers, the racerback customers, your family, friends, business associates, etc.

So, here we go June 18th launching a pledge-based ordering system through a crowdfunding platform. I was so nervous on that day that I hardly remember anything from hour to hour. I told myself, "It's okay if we get about $1,500 today in pledges for the racerbacks?" But the marketing manager kindly reminded me that no, you need to get at least 50% in the first few days or it might not fund. WHAT?! I can tell you one thing: I did not sleep for three nights straight after the launch. I'm still thinking about it day and night as it is ongoing, but I can already say this experience has pushed my limits whilst bringing us so much great exposure. Am I scared? Yes. But it was definitely the right decision. Fear is something that all business owners feel. Being a bit scared or even nauseated when you grow your business in a new direction is completely natural. Now, I use this knowledge to keep me focused and calm when I do feel that way; I know it's the norm and it means things are mostly going to be successful so long as I can push through.

We funded over 74% within the first week and still have three more weeks to go! Yes, I'm still putting myself out there, but it is working!

Since the start of our campaign I have had so many great inquiries for new business opportunities and sales. We've increased sales everywhere on all our other platforms and formed new relationships simply because we put ourselves out there with this one campaign. My family and friends have learned so much more about FOXERS and are all talking about the campaign! I have learned what to do better as well as what not to do, if I were to ever do this again. We learned how to market our brand through a crowdfunding platform like Kickstarter, but we also learned that pushing our boundaries is worth the fear once you get to the success. If anyone else is thinking of doing this, please email me anytime. I'll give my advice on what I did and didn't do, from one friend to another.

You can support our Kickstart campaign here.

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Self

I Have Been Bullied Both At School and At Work. Here's What It Taught Me

Starting with a little background, I am an anti-bullying advocate and have recently graduated from The Parent Leadership Training Institute, where as part of our studies we were asked to come up with a community project close to our hearts and put it into action. My cause was bullying, and I began a blog and Facebook page to address issues pertaining to all forms of bullying. Implementing this project was followed by a thre- minute speech to my peers, and, after all this, here is what I have learned about bullying.


Bullying makes people feel bad about themselves, leading to feelings of inadequacy, low self-esteem and even physical symptoms. The repercussions of bullying can cause people to miss school or work as well as countless other negative side effects.

I have been bullied both at school and at work, and I know of others who have suffered the same plight. It is not fun!

My first bullying experience was in seventh grade as a young teen. There was a group of three "mean girls" who harassed me and, I later found out, several of my friends; they thought it was funny to pick on others about their clothes, their looks or whatever else they could come up with (who knows). It felt awful at the time. Supposedly, I was chosen to get picked on because they claimed I bought my clothes at the Goodwill. That wasn't true, but really who cares? Why they were picking on me was never really the point. Luckily, after a while, the meanies went on to the next victim(s) like a never-ending cycle. I tend to think once a bully, always a bully, which goes to show how good a lifestyle that is, because those "mean girls" never amounted to much. In hindsight, I feel sorry for them. Watch the movie The Gift if you're really curious about what happens to bullies when they grow up.

And bullying was not just an issue when I was a teen, since then nothing much has changed. My own nephew was bullied in eighth grade, and he recently talked to me in depth about of how the bullying took a toll on him. Especially because I had the same experience, I could relate to him in ways that some others couldn't. Like reliving my own memories, I was incredibly broken up to hear how it made him feel.

Even worse than that, bullying does not end in the school yard. Employees are being bullied on the job at an alarming rate. When you are bullied on the job as an adult, it taken an even bigger toll. Further it doesn't just go away like those middle school "mean girls." Unless you can quit your job, you might just be stuck. There are all kinds of physical symptoms, stomach pains, migraines and even panic attacks. Beyond the physical, people's mental and emotional state is extremely sensitive to bullying, and as a result work performance might suffer. Furthermore, it might feel like there is no recourse, no one to believe you. You can hope that the HR Department is willing to listen and do something about it, but the whole process can be so disheartening. And in the hierarchical corporate environment, sometimes the bully seems to get ahead and you are left lagging behind in a subservient position. This is what happened to me as a victim of workplace bullying. It started with me being told by a co-worker that my boss was following me to the bathroom, staring down the hall whenever I left my desk to make sure I came right back to my seat. Then it was standing over me as I typed, ordering me to get in a car with them, not allowing me to sit somewhere if it wasn't within their sight. The list of offenses could go on endlessly. There were times I felt like I couldn't breathe. And then, the bully torturing me got a promotion. Like the character of Miranda Priestly in The Devil Wears Prada, the classic bully is revered by her peers, despite the fact that all of her employees are terrified of her. Yet, she is in a role of high stature and praised as a bully. We live in a culture that is not only complacent in the existence of bullies, but one that actively allows them to thrive.

It makes you realize how unfair life can be. Of course, no one said that life would be fair; maybe you just assumed that bad people would not get ahead. But, they do. Even now, I cannot help but to shake my head in disbelief. I often wonder what makes a person feel the need to laud their power over another. Are they insecure? Were they bullied themselves? They must feel bad about themselves in some way? Do they feel the need to do this to make themselves look good? Whatever the reason, it certainly isn't nice at all. I have found myself at different times in my life standing up for people who have been bullied around me. And I certainly do not allow anyone to treat me in any way that I find disrespectful. I truly believe in karma, and I tell myself that at some point in time, the bullies will get it back in some way. I have seen it happen, and in the meantime, I just say to myself "What goes around, comes around."

Bullying shows no sign of slowing down, and in this day and age, it's even worse than I have experienced in the past. Cyber bulling, rumors, fist fights, knifes, guns and other forms of both mental and physical cruelty, it truly sickens me. I know that I cannot save everyone, but I try to be an advocate as much as possible and encourage others to do so as well. NO ONE SHOULD BULLIED! It is disgraceful to say the least. You should always practice grace as much as you can. With every person who chooses to do so, the world gets a little bit better. I will be writing more on this topic on a regular basis; I feel it helps to talk about this subject aloud and spread the word. and, if nothing else, be kind.