It’s absolutely insane to start a business with nothing more than an idea and what (in hindsight) is an unusual amount of delusion. But, that’s what we did - no business plan, no investment, no clue. I think back on that, knowing what I know now, and I shake my head at myself. There are two sides to this coin, though. One side is – what the hell were you thinking? The other side is – it makes for one hell of a story.
That delusion I referred to comes from the fact that I was born and raised in America, and have had it pounded into me that you can be whatever you want to be here; anything is possible. The perpetual pounding of that message has come from movies, television, music - my whole environment. It doesn’t matter if it was a load of bullshit, I bought it hook, line, and sinker – and I refuse to see it any other way: American entitlement.
One anecdote: When I started making Hedgehouse THROWBEDS, I knew nothing about manufacturing, zero. I thought a designer discount at Clarence House at the Pacific Design Center was a good deal. God help me. One day, a buddy of mine was going to a textile trade show, and she invited me along. I almost blew her off. That would have been tragic. It was the Los Angeles Textile Trade Show down at the California Mart. Who knew that show would be the first in a series of many steps to growing HEDGEHOUSE into what it is now (which is still small, certainly, but not as small as it was!) I couldn’t believe the world that opened up to me there, the textile manufacturers I met, the resources, and the zippers! I was buying RIRI zippers for $15 apiece before I found this show - and that’s just for starters. I won't bore you with all the details, but trust me when I tell you, it was like doing really bad cocaine and not knowing any better until someone comes along and says, “Hey try this.” BOOM! EYES OPEN! And, you say to yourself – OH! I get it now.
At that market, I found a textile dealer we worked with for years, until we started making our own linens. Plus, I found a zipper maker, our cotton ticking manufacturer. Most of these are people we still work with today, and I have been back to that show many times. One of the things I bought there (also at the urging of my friend) was something called The Sourcer's Guide. It's like a phone book for manufacturing and sourcing. It looks a little “crafty” at first glance, but when you get into it, it’s kind of unbelievable, the information that’s in there. That book was the gateway to our education about manufacturing in the UNITED STATES. And, what an education it has been. From that book, we wound up in the Smokey Mountains at a cut-and-sew (actually, a couple of them), represented by an old character named David who drove a giant Black Dodge Ram Diesel Dually, fully-equipped with shotguns and moonshine (I made Jodi drink it.) That is another post FOR SURE, because I could go on and on about the pros and cons of manufacturing in America, but not today (my husband thinks my posts are too long as it is.)
The first thing we learned there is that when anyone in manufacturing tells you, “Don’t worry, it’s all under control”, you should definitely start to worry.
OUR MANUFACTURING GO-TOS: