For those of you who follow the Helga Wear story, you know that my last blog (Three Reasons I Chose to Offshore ) did not come lightly.
After we lost our local safety coveralls manufacturer and were unable to find a replacement locally, I reluctantly decided to go with a small local manufacturer with a sister offshore operation that was willing to take on Helga Wear's coveralls production. My hopes were to develop a relationship with this manufacturer and have my production eventually take place at their branch in Vancouver. Unfortunately, even early stages of development with them showed signs of trouble.
After a few weeks of chomping at the bit waiting for their sample to arrive, I learned that they were having delays in sourcing the specialty fabric and specialty notions for our flame-resistant safety coveralls. No word on lead time, just left to wait and trust.
It was during this hectic time that I got this message from my website mail:
Hi Jodi. You were a mention from SheEO. Are you able to call me sometime? We manufacture safety wear and outerwear in Winnipeg. Thank you!
Julie Land, Pine Falls Workwear
I almost couldn't believe what I was reading, and I called her right away.
Turns out Julie had reached out after learning about Helga Wear in one of her first Activator meetings with SheEO.
SIDE NOTE: In case you've not yet heard of SheEO, it's a revolutionary way for women to invest in other women entrepreneurs who are working on one of the United Nation's Sustainable Development Goals, by becoming "Activators". In short, Activators each invest $1000 (plus a small admin fee) into a pool of $$ and become a part of the (very active) SheEO community, where they vote on which SheEO venture applicant they believe should get rewarded with a no interest SheEO loan from the pool of investment $$. Please check SheEO out here!
After a brief conversation in which I brought Julie up to speed with where things were at, she told me flat out: "I am going to make your life much easier".
Julie went on to tell me about her company, Pine Falls Workwear, and how passionate she is about Canadian made work wear. We shared our belief in the importance of getting proper fitting safety coveralls onto women and, unlike ANY other manufacturer I have met, she told me she will do everything she can to support Helga Wear's manufacturing needs in terms of order quantities and price points.
Staff of Pine Falls, Julie on the far left :)
THIS is miraculous. This is radical generosity in action. I jumped at the opportunity, and am still somewhat in shock. If it weren't for my incredible experience to date with the SheEO community, I would still be looking for the catch.
What does this mean for Helga Wear?
We now have the chance to manage cash flow and inventory to grow the business.
We are no longer bottlenecked by and beholden to massive, capitol heavy, inventory expenses.
We now have the mobility to grow our product line and customer base with orders in small batch quantities while still making a profit.
We can now run pilot projects for potential major customers and test out new markets with samples of product without having to go through a massive batch order.
I am forever grateful to my community of SheEO women working together to better our world, and make success for companies like Helga Wear an eventuality.