NEW YORK — Less than three years after Maker’s Row launched, the Brooklyn-based company that connects American apparel manufacturers to small-, medium- and product-based businesses has seen its list of production firms grow to 7,000 from 1,000.
During Monday’s Sustainable Business conference at FIT, cofounder Tanya Menendez said the company will launch an e-commerce store this summer “really to showcase all the kinds of products that can be made in the United States.”
The aim will be that prices are still accessible enough for the majority of shoppers. When word first spread of plans to launch an online store, Maker’s Row received more than 500 applicants on the first day and many others have since made their respective pitches. And Menendez said they are still sifting through the pool of applicants.
Cofounder Matthew Burnett said freestanding Maker’s Row stores are definitely part of the long-term plan but the company will start with a pop-up one to coincide with this summer’s e-commerce launch. The online store will launch no later than August, but “hopefully sooner,” Menendez said. More than 20 states will be represented on the site.
“What’s really interesting is that not all of them are producing in their home state. They are using resources from across the country. They may be getting the fabrics from North Carolina and producing in another state,” she said.
Having recently wrapped up $2 million in financing, which has yet to be formally unveiled, Maker’s Row plans to use some of those funds to accentuate the storytelling element of the e-commerce site. Storytelling will be a significant part of the e-commerce site with a blog designated to “really uncovering the stories behind the brands,” Menendez said.
The Maker’s Row cofounders said they will probably be raising more funds in the not-too-distant future. The company is also in hiring mode, lining up the engineers, accountants, customer service reps and other staffers needed to help with the online store. It has not been determined where the distribution center will be located.
Last month Maker’s Row’s employee count was 12, this month it will be 16 and next month it should be 20. “Definitely hiring has been the toughest part — having efficient people to handle all the things we need to do,” she said.
Having outgrown its 1,000-square-foot temporary space in Downtown Brooklyn, Maker’s Row will relocate its headquarters to a 6,000-square-foot office two blocks away, closer to the Fulton Mall. Aside from having room to grow, the new location will be large enough for Maker’s Row to share some of the offices with its designers.
The company is also courting larger brands in addition to start-ups and more mid-size ones. Burnette said, “It’s important for us to have big businesses to expand and to produce domestically. With several large-scale manufacturers on board in some capacity, like Under Armour and Ralph Lauren, Maker’s Row has broadened that sector with the recent addition of Juicy Couture, which is looking to produce handbags domestically, as well as the American-made Alex and Ani.
“We never want to be — you just start out here and then you never come back here,” Burnett said. “We want to be an end-to-end solution domestically.”