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The Cost of Making Cool Baby Clothes in the US

Saturday, November 22, 2008

I have decided to start talking about the process of making cool baby clothes in the United States because I keep getting these emails asking how in the heck I can charge so much $ for a one piece. I am forced into this long monologue of defensive explanations. Simply put, when I lay out the costs to someone for all that we make it becomes obvious why we have to charge more than $12 for a tee shirt.
To cut and sew a simply tee here in the US (not counting fabric costs) is between $4 and $5. If I purchase my blanks from American Apparel we are looking at $4 to $5 a pop for a one piece. That's not organic. Tack on another buck for that. Then, we hand-dye our pieces. We also hand-screen everything. That means that we are right there placing each screen on your shirt and dragging ink across your shirt. Then, the big thing is, we have to do wholesale in order to actually stay in business. This means that we have to sell our shirts wholesale at HALF the cost of whatever we sell it to you for. The stores buying our baby shirts won't really take anything else. You can try lower % but they won't buy unless your stuff is just so original that it can't be found elsewhere. So, in order to sell our shirts that cost us around $8 to make, we have to sell the wholesale for $12 and that will cost you $24. We are making $4 a shirt which isn't even viable. We have to make at least double our costs to remain in business. This means we should charge $16 and you pay $32 for a baby one piece. WOW.
For cutting and sewing in the United States for the organic fabric we are looking at around $7 to $8 a yard. To produce an original pattern and grade it out you are looking at a $500 investment. For our princess twirly dress we use around 2 yards of fabric. To cut and sew that piece cost $8. $32 is what it costs us to make a size 6T. Double that for wholesale and you are looking at the store charging $128 and who in the heck would buy that dress for $128. To be competitive it should be priced at around $42. So, we took it out of wholesale, lowered our price as much as we could and are offering it drop ship. We are still not making the margins we should make to consider it a viable product.
So, if you are wondering about our pricing, trust us when we say we put a lot of thought behind it and aren't at all trying to rip you off by asking you to pay more than a China made shirt. I haven't even told you all about the huge efforts to find patternmakers, cutters and sewers and quality control issues in the US. You wouldn't believe the time lag of doing it here vs overseas. Next post I will tell you all about that one!

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