(Hey Friends! We just had this brand new blog built for us to be able to take customers on the journey of what it takes to actually make our products. Glad to have you on board!)
For the first 10,000 years of human history, up until the past 200 years or so, human beings actually understood how the goods and products they used everyday were made. Why? Because almost everything in the world was hyper local and was almost always made by craftsmen that you knew personally and would see with your own eyes.
Globalization, cheap and fast shipping, the Internet, and retail outlets that sell you items without ever quite explaining the who, what, when, where, why, or how of their production process, radically changed how human beings understand and interact with the food we eat, the clothes we wear, and all of the consumable goods we rely on every single day.
Fast fashion is at the center of this.
Do you know what that is? It's where exploitative companies rip off emerging designs and trends and then mass produce them with cheap and unethical labor, cheap and environmentally harmful source goods, and then sell them for outrageously low prices that undercut the entire market.
Nearly 2 years ago when I simply set out to produce a Black-owned t-shirt, I thought I could figure it out and get it done by the end of the week. By the end of that week, I thought I could get it done by the end of that month. By the end of that month I realized that the entire supply chain in the fashion world, which is amazingly complex, has been set up in such a way that Black people set the trends of the world, but are left out of almost the entire supply chain from the farms, to the factories, to the web design, to the banking, to the shipping, and more.
Ultimately, it took me nearly two years to learn how to produce t-shirts and hoodies that are made of organic cotton produced by Black farmers, designed by Black designers, using Black photographers and web developers, Black banks, and ultimately packaged and shipped to customers by Black owned fulfillment companies.
I figured out the t-shirts first. And we've now shipped almost every t-shirt order that's been made here on our website so far.
But the hoodies have been a unique challenge.
Almost 100% of the hoodies sold and worn throughout the world were produced without Black people being a single part of the supply chain.
The one place that I found that could make organic cotton hooded sweatshirts stopped making them several years ago.
IT TAKES AN ENORMOUS AMOUNT OF COTTON TO MAKE ONE SINGLE HOODIE!
I had no idea. And not only does it take a ton of cotton to make one single hooded sweatshirt, it takes months to make them.
From the time the cotton is harvested at the farm, then cleaned, then pressed, then made into fabric (which is a wild process), then dyed, then cut and woven into hoodies, then finished takes about 70-80 days. Sometimes, depending on whether or not the cotton is available and in season, it can take much longer.
We are working on a new order for a newly designed t-shirt that is going to take 120-150 days to produce.
Right now, our hoodies, which we pre-ordered with the hope that we would be able to sell them to our customers, are about halfway finished. That doesn't mean that the hoodies themselves are halfway done - not at all - when the fabrics are finished, cutting and producing the hoodies only takes 2-3 weeks, but the entire process is about 50% complete.
Here's what's complete so far.
- The hoodies were designed by our design team.
- The designs were approved by the manufacturing team.
- A sample was made and then shipped to us.
- We approved the sample with some minor changes.
- We approved the colors.
- We approved the tags, strings, cuffs, and packaging.
- All of the cotton for our order has been harvested.
- All of the cotton for our order has been cleaned.
- All of the cotton for our order was then made into yarn
That was finished yesterday.
Today, the process of turning the yarn into tear-resistant fabric begins. That process is called kiting and is scheduled to be completed on November 18th.
Then, all of the finished fabrics for our hoodies will begin the coloring and dyeing process which will be completed on November 20th. That process will actually begin around November 4th once the first round of fabrics are finished.
Then, the last week of November, all of the trims will arrive and bulk production of the hoodies will begin!
Finally, the hoodies are scheduled to be completed on December 13th and will be shipped to us soon thereafter.
We are always trying to see if we can cut a day or two down from the timeline without sacrificing quality, but the process doesn't have much wiggle room right now.
I've gotta run. Heading into meetings now.
More updates coming soon!