This is a story by K’Kio Hardin, Founder and Designer of Detroit Kid, and his experience working with Clothing Manufacturers Asia.
Hi K’Kio, tell us a bit about yourself.
There are two parts to why I started Detroit Kid. For many years, as a Designer and Art Director, I’ve helped numerous businesses build their brands, and now I wanted to build my own brand that people could embrace. But why “Detroit Kid”? Well, that’s a bit harder to explain, especially to those of you reading this who don’t know what it’s like living and growing up in a city like Detroit, Michigan. I know there’s something special about my city. It’s not based on the physical location or the gentrification that the city is currently undergoing. To me, what makes Detroit so special is the people. It’s those things growing up like catching the bus to school and the characters you’d meet and the stories you’d have to tell; Detroiters know exactly what I’m talking about.
When we say, “Be Inspired!” or “Become the Inspiration!” we’re referring to being inspired by the people of the city. And now, with my ethical clothing brand Detroit Kid, I’m looking to inspire the next generation of Detroiters. So, I strive to create a clothing line that looks good and also to focus my energy on creating a quality product that represents the city where I was born.
When you first approached Clothing Manufacturers Asia, what happened?
I was new to manufacturing when I first reached out to CMA. They walked me through the process and guided me at every step from creating tech packs, to selecting fabrics, and refining my designs.” – K’Kio
My Designs and Tech Packs
I started by requesting initial samples to be made of a hoodie and a t-shirt but I didn’t have proper tech packs or even design specs. I spoke to the Client Services Manager, Mr. Tano, who guided me by letting me know that instead of emailing detailed tech packs to them, I could simply ship a sample of both clothing items to their office. So I grabbed my favourite hoodie and t-shirts, and shipped it off to them in Bali.
As soon as my samples arrived, Tano assigned my Production Manager for me, and we began the quoting process. My Production Manager first called me to discuss everything in detail, which I felt was a critical factor for me. Based on those samples I’d sent, she provided me with quotes fast and I got everything started right away. Too easy!
I had an experienced manufacturing professional showing me my options from thousands of miles away and helping me make the best choices.” - K’Kio
Sourcing My Fabrics and Materials
From the beginning I wanted to have quality fabrics and materials to differentiate myself from the market I am in. Luh, my Production Manager, sourced quality fabrics while simultaneously balancing what it would cost to create my styles. I wanted amazing fabrics but I didn’t want to blow my budget, I was just starting out after all.
In my initial calls with Tano, he had recommended some fabrics via but I wanted to see and feel my options. When Luh and I began working together, I requested fabric swatches to be shipped to me so I could assess all of my options. Luh selected a few fabrics that she knew I’d be looking for and provided me with a few more options in case I wanted a broader perspective.
Because I was making hoodies, I also needed to choose materials such as drawstrings. Luh chose a variety of drawstring chord types and sent me photos and videos so that I could see options. This made sourcing everything so easy because I had an experienced manufacturing professional showing me my options from thousands of miles away and helping me make the best choices while I was able to focus on other important things at home like setting up my business and getting all my website and marketing ready.
Working with CMA, I was never left guessing where we were in the process. Luh always kept me informed of everything at every stage.” - K’Kio
My Patterns and Samples
The biggest benefit of working with CMA was having Luh on my team. Having my own dedicated Production Manager meant that I was always kept in the loop, everything I wanted to know about my production was going to be available to me, photos and videos were going to be sent to me to show me each stage as it happened, and I could feel that an experienced professional was always looking out for my interests.
I knew that getting my patterns drafted, graded, and cut accurately was going to be at the heart of the success of my productions. If we could get my samples right, then all of my subsequent productions would simply be perfect, every time. And it was at this stage that Luh was instrumental for me. She ensured every new sample was measured in accordance with my specs and the team was able to match the stitching perfectly. From there, CMA graded the rest of my sizes and we were off and running to main production.
Luh was always sending me updates whether it was sourcing something or showing me that my patterns were being drafted and cut or even during the time my samples were being made. I really enjoyed actually witnessing the whole process and seeing the people that made my samples for me. Luh always made sure to communicate exactly where we were in the process so I was never left guessing what was going on.
The biggest compliment I have received is from a customer who said the quality of the product can’t be beat.” - K’Kio
My Main Production
My samples were made quite quickly and after receiving the original samples back, I didn’t have a lot of changes to make. I wanted to make some basic alterations because I was changing my mind about a few things, so I just set up a call with Luh and we talked through everything I wanted to change. She was fast to take action, and my changes were immediately implemented.
I really felt like Luh and the rest of my production team knew exactly what I wanted and how I wanted it. I feel confident knowing that as my brand grows, the team at CMA will be able to consistently deliver high quality products for me.
So far for me, CMA’s production process is so smooth and the production timeframes are really quick. I finalised a few initial production orders and then I was able to get into a nice and quick flow, especially when it comes to re-ordering. I love that I have a dedicated team of experienced professionals working for me, looking out for my brand, and ensuring my clothing is consistently produced ethically and at the highest quality.