Design Make Produce matches fashion designers with international technical experts and manufacturers across the ASEAN region to break down the barriers of the fashion and manufacturing and market.
In late 2015, Dr. Felicity Millman and Michelle Teo had initially investigated starting a fashion label after deciding to expand on their passion for creativity and design. However, after a few months they found that the fashion and textiles industry are notoriously secretive, dominated by large organisations and difficult to navigate due to the geographic and linguistic barriers within the ASEAN region.
The textiles industry is worth over US$10 billion a year in the ASEAN region alone and yet, small design houses don’t know which manufacturers can meet their needs for scaling. Likewise, small manufactures struggle against the might of large corporate manufacturers to find and access designers. Felicity Millman, a PhD psychologist, and Michelle Teo, a senior economist on billion dollar oil and gas deals, combined forces to tackle the biggest barriers to starting and scaling a fashion label based on their own experience.
Easy access to international technical experts
Design Make Produce works with international technical experts in fashion design and manufacturing. All of the consultants have experience in major international fashion houses including Ralph Lauren and DKNY. If designers are poor on time or lack the experience to complete any aspect of the process, Design Make Produce is able to match designers with technical experts.
These technical experts provide one-off consultations or complete any task needed for the product on demand. In doing so, designers and consultants get to spend their time doing what they love and what they are good at.
How to find a manufacturer: language and knowledge.
Design Make Produce, or DMP as the team affectionately refer to it, has collated the largest list of manufacturers across the ASEAN region and developed a much smaller list of manufacturers who have been validated by the industry. DMP has team members based throughout the ASEAN region, such as Malaysia, Vietnam and China and pair designers with high quality manufactures appropriate for their specific needs.
Overseeing the production process is the local DMP team. The process ensures individual designers do not need to spend time finding and validating manufactures in a secretive market, attempting to negotiate in a foreign language or having to fly internationally. Ultimately, this process saves both the designers and manufacturers time and money, providing a better final product.
Fashion to further things
Design Make Produce is focussed on scaling the business over the next year and is positioned to expand into other verticals as well. Given the recent ASEAN free trade agreement, DMP is perfectly positioned to help facilitate the increasing access for designers and manufactures across the region. Felicity and Michelle have also seen significant interest in their products and services, and are interested in taking capital investment to increase their access across the region.
Billion dollar energy deal to brilliant designs.
Changing careers was a big step for both Felicity and Michelle. Previously, Felicity had been university academic trained in Psychology and Genetics before deciding to switch careers into technology entrepreneurship. She initially started a venture which won numerous awards but had struggled without having the right team behind it. Michelle concurrently hand had been flourishing in a corporate career but had wanted something more for her life. The two got together over coffee one day through a mutual close friend and decided to share their passion for creativity and design and so Design Make Produce was created from their own experiences within the industry.
Combing Felicity’s technology and research experience and Michelle’s supply chain and economics experience, the two found that many of the problems they experienced were easily surmounted. The two decided to share their solution with others and soon enough their team grew to include international technical experts who wanted to be a part of their movement to disrupt the industry and help people find their perfect solution, simply, easily and affordably.
The logistics of working across the ASEAN region means that Felicity and Michelle often shift their business meetings from sitting together in Australian ice-cream parlours and co-working spaces to online Skype meetings across continents. Felicity and Michelle still take many of the designer calls and initial consultations themselves. However, they both agree it is worth it to support people’s fashion dreams, to potentially be a part of changing fashion history and opening up the ASEAN region for easier trade between nations.
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