Developing and manufacturing a children's shoe collection requires a specific production process. When the business is established and operational, production packages are created for the different shoe styles. Information like texture, inner and outer soles, patterns, embroidery and patch details are part of the package. The designer draws out separate technical flat sketches for different shoe views and adds information such as children’s sizing and design color schemes. Meeting with different factory representatives and reviewing finished samples will help narrow down the production facilities.
Things You'll Need
- Design software program
- Personal computer
- Production technical flats (3 views)
- Textile swatches
- Color swatches
- Production package
- Internet connection
- Shoe samples
- Production cost sheets
- Production agent (optional)
- Production package copies
- CD production package back-up files
Preparing the Production Package
Draw separate views of each shoe style in the design software program installed on your personal computer. You will draw the views in the program's image pad, using the linear and/or curve tool feature. These sketch views are referred to as production technical flats.
The first view is the overall outline detail of the shoe design, which includes details like stitching. It is also important to include specifics such as heel height and shape as well as closure style, like elastic stretch panels or decorative shoelaces and eyelets. Bear in mind that if you select a flat heel for the shoe, there is a height dimension such as a 1/4 inch heel. If you do not specify measurements, a production factory will not produce your order.
Save the design in a separate computer file.
Draw the second view, which is the side view of the shoe, showing any decorative features. For example, if you are manufacturing slip-on canvas shoes and are including a bold print, side embroidery or rubber logo, the factory must have the side view for detail placement. Save the side view in a separate computer file.
Draw the third view, which is the shoe’s sole type. For instance, if your canvas shoe has a rubber sole with decorative grooves or imprint, the factory must have a detailed sketch. Save the sole view in a separate file.
Draw your shoe’s artwork. If you are creating a canvas shoe with a floral print, for example, the factory will need the floral print information to print canvas fabric. The same applies if you want embroidery or patches on the shoe. The artwork must include width and length dimensions as well as position details.
Add color to your shoe with your program’s color palette. You will need to match the color scheme to the shoe’s textile surface for production. For instance, if you are producing a patent leather or canvas shoe, you will need textile and color swatches to submit to the factory along with your production technical flats. The same applies to specialty soles with specific design patterns or textures like rubber.
Write on each technical flat specific production information such as color codes and shoe sizing as well as specific design detail widths and lengths. The flat must also include shoe quantity, delivery dates and target production costs. These detailed sheets are referred to as production packages.
Keep in mind that the target production cost refers to the amount you are willing to pay to produce the shoe. Do not reveal this cost to the factory. You will most likely be able to negotiate a lower cost if you are producing large quantities with repeat orders.
Print out your production package. Make sure your printer is set on a high resolution to print the details clearly.
Staple the appropriate swatches to each technical sketch with your stapler.
Manufacturing the Children’s Shoes
Conduct an Internet search on manufacturing websites such as GlobalSources.com. Manufacturing websites have detailed information regarding factory representative contact names, country, production minimum, and required lead time, which refers to the amount of time needed to produce and deliver the items. Each factory description varies.
Call and schedule appointments with a minimum of five factory representatives at your showroom. You will most likely be asked fundamental questions prior to your meeting, such as your production quantity. Request samples of their finished shoes, along with any samples of special finishes the factory produces. You must also request their production cost sheet, which includes price reductions according to the production quantity order. For instance, if you are producing 100 pairs of shoes, you will be paying much more per pair than if you order 1500 pairs of shoes.
Review the shoe samples by looking at the stitching and finishing, the shoe flexibility and the inner and outer sole. If you are producing your own children’s brand, you will need to inquire about the dye type used to imprint the inner sole with your logo. Certain dyes will rub off with perspiration and will most likely lead to customer returns.
Do not hand in your production packages.
Choose the production factory based on your showroom meetings and schedule a location appointment to visit the actual factory site. This will give you confirmation that specific industrial machines are available on the factory floor. For instance, certain factory representatives will show you a novelty design feature within the shoe requiring a specific machine. If the machine is not located on the factory floor, this is an indicator that the design feature is sub-contracted out to another factory, a factor that can severely impact your production delivery date.
Keep your travel budget in mind. You are responsible for airfare, hotel and transportation.
As an option, hire a production agent, who represents several factories in different countries, if you are manufacturing outside the United States. Though you will have to pay the agent a percentage of the production order, you will be able to avoid taking the time to scout factory locations yourself as well as follow-up on the order. The agents become responsible for the production order and do not receive payment until the shipment is in your warehouse.
Make copies of your original production package and keep swatches for your reference. Factories will have questions and issues during production. Manufacturers store these packages in production binders and keep them throughout the season. You will most likely be asked for a back-up CD copy with details and artwork in a specific format along with the paper copy of the production package.