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

Business

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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Working Moms Open Up About Their Greatest Struggles

Motherhood, no matter how you slice or dice it, is never easy. Running after small children, feeding them, tending to their physical and emotional wounds, and just taking the time to shower them with love— that's a lifetime of internal resources. Now add a job on top of all of that? Geez. We spoke to 14 working mothers to get an open, honest look at the biggest day-to-day challenges they face, because despite what Instagram portrays, it's not all dresses on swingsets, heels, and flawless makeup.


1. “Motherhood in general is hard," shares Rachel Costello. “It's a complete upheaval of life as you once knew it. I have a 22-month-old due any minute and a baby. The hardest part is being pregnant with a toddler — chasing, wrangling, etc., all while tired, nauseous, and achey. Then the guilt sets in. The emotional roller coaster punctuated by hormones when you look at your baby, the first born, knowing that their life is about to be changed."

2. “I'm a work-from-home mom," shares Jene Luciano of TheGetItMom.com. “I have two children and two stepchildren. The hardest part about parenting for me is being the best mom I can be to someone else's children."

3. “I joined the Air Force at 18 and had my first child at 20," tells female power house Robyn Schenker Ruffo. “I had my second baby at 23. Working everyday, pumping at work and breastfeeding at lunch time at the base, home day care was rough. Being away from my babies during the day took a toll on me— especially the single mom days when they were toddlers. I had a great support system of friends and military camaraderie. The worst was being deployed when they were 6 months old, yes both, and I was gone for 90 days. Not seeing them every night was so depressing."

4. “Physically, the hardest part of the parenting experience (and so far, I'm only six months in with twins) was adjusting to the lack of sleep in the very beginning," shares Lauren Carasso. “Emotionally, the hardest part is going to work everyday with anxiety that I'm going to miss one of the twins' firsts or other milestones. I know they are in good care but potentially missing those special moments weighs heavy on my heart when I walk out the door each morning," she continues.

5. “The hardest part of being a parent is social media, actually," says Marina Levin. “Shutting out the judgmental sanctimommy noise and just doing what works best for you and your family in a given moment."

6. “Trying to raise a healthy, happy, confident and self-respecting girl, when I'm not a consistent example of those qualities is the hardest for me," explains Adrienne Wright. “Before motherhood I was a pretty secure woman, and I thought passing that onto my daughter would be a piece of cake. But in the age of social media where women are constantly ripping each other to shreds for the way they raise their kids, it's nearly impossible to feel confident all of the time. Nursing vs. formula, working vs. stay at home, vax vs. anti-vax, to circumcise vs. not, nanny vs. daycare— the list goes on and on. We're all doing the best we can with the resources we have. We should empower each other to feel confident in the decisions we make for our families."

7. “The hardest part is the sense of responsibility and worrying that comes along with it," says Orly Kagan. “Am I feeding my kids properly? Are they getting too much screen time? Are they getting enough attention and love? Are they developing as they should be? It goes on and on and on."

8. “For me, by far the hardest part of motherhood has been managing my own guilt. As many triumphant moments as there may be, the moments when I feel like I did badly or could have done better always stick out," confesses Julie Burke.

9. “Balancing work and doing all the mom things and all the home things and all the husband things are not the hardest part of motherhood (for me, anyway)," shares Zlata Faerman. “The hardest part of motherhood is trying to figure out just how to deal with the amount of love I have for my son. It can be super overwhelming and I'm either alone in this sentiment, or not enough moms talk about it."

10. “The hardest part for me is giving things up," shares Stacey Feintuch. “I have two boys, an almost 3-year-old and almost 7-year-old. I have to miss my older one's sports so I can watch the little guy while he naps or watch him at home since he will just run on the field. I hate that other parents can go to games and I can't. I also really miss going out to dinner. My older one can eat out but we rarely eat out since my younger one is a runner!"

11. “I think if I'm going to be completely real, the hardest part to date has been realIzing that I chose this life," shares Lora Jackle, a now married but formerly single mom to a special needs child. “I chose to foster and then adopt special needs, as opposed to many parents who find out about the special needs after their child is born. It's still okay to grieve it sometimes. It's still okay to hate it sometimes and 'escape' to work."

12. “I'm a work-at-home mother doing proofreading and teaching 10-20 hours a week. The hardest part for me is not yelling. I took the 30-Day No Yelling Challenge and kept having to restart. I love my kids, don't get me wrong," says Michelle Sydney, exemplifying the difficulty of balancing work with family.

13. “I'm a full-time working mom of a 2.5-year-old," shares Anna Spiewak. “I bring home equal pay, keep the apartment clean and take care of dinner. Still my male partner gets all the praise for being a good dad and basically sticking around. It's mainly from his side of the family, of course. What I do is taken for granted, even though I'm the one who still changes the diapers, bathes her and wakes up in the middle of the night on a work night when she cries. I wish all moms got credit for staying on top of things."

14. “I am a stay-at-home-mother and currently working full-time from home on my start-up clothing brand, Kindred Bravely," says Deeanne Akerson, founder of Kindred Bravely, a fashion line devoted to nursing, working mothers. “The hardest part of my parenting experience is the constant feeling of never doing quite enough. There is always more to do, meals to make, laundry to fold, kids that want my full attention, errands to run, or work in my business. And since there really always are more things to do it's easy to feel like you're failing on nearly every aspect of life!"

This piece was originally published July 18, 2018.