Do you want to see your brand in Paris Fashion Week? This week’s guest, Ashton Keys, did just that. His brand Ninety6 is defining culture with original and trendy styles for apparel and shoes. For Ashton, defining culture starts with the year “1996”-- his birth year. Multiple events that define today’s culture occurred in that year. Some examples include Allen Iverson and Kobie Bryant being selected into the draft and the release of albums from Biggie and Tupac. This time period created a culture with an energy Ashton brings to Ninety6, and he took that energy all the way to Paris. While there, he was shocked at how easily Black fashion translated to a different environment. He remembers how the lines outside of clubs were decked with NBA jerseys and Balenciaga’s, a sight similar to South Beach. This experience made Ashton even more inspired to grow Ninety6. Reflecting on the memories, he stated,
“Showcasing Black culture can scale globally because so many people are watching it.”
Ashton’s journey started in the city of Detroit at Cass Technical High School. He and his friends prided themselves on wearing the best styles, and fashion was competitive at their school. They felt the only way they could step up their style was to make their own designs. Once they started wearing their new clothes to school their classmates wanted to buy them. Ashton already had an entrepreneurial spirit through his career as the “Snack Man” at school. Now, he would bring that experience to the world of fashion. In the beginning, he struggled with finding a great manufacturer to make the products. It took lessons learned to see the things manufacturers do to cut corners.
His first manufacturer was based in L.A. and working with other brands. However, he didn’t realize they were actually a 3rd party that hiked up the price from the original manufacturer. This resulted in a shipment of 100 jackets all in the wrong color. Even worse, these were for a pop-up shop where the lease was already signed for the whole summer. Ashton had no choice but to sell the product in a different color than he had imagined. Luckily, people loved the color resulting in it being a bestseller. We interview founders so you can get #fgftips like these. How do you know you have found the best supplier and manufacturer for your brand?
Here are some questions to ask before choosing a product supplier:
Do you want to work with a domestic or international supplier?
What is their sample pricing?
What is the minimum order quantity?
Here are some quality assurance steps when working with a product manufacturer:
Get a platform inspection.
Get a piece-by-piece inspection paid by the manufacturer
Tour the facility to review the capacity they can produce.
When looking for a supplier or manufacturer the best thing you can do is get advice. A recent Future of Business Survey stated "42% of small businesses said they learn from each other, second only to online searches (64%)." Get connected to people in the e-commerce space at our E-Commerce Extravaganza on June 5th. Use the network both to chat with attendees including distributors, digital marketers, finance experts, founders, suppliers, and more! Plus you'll get #fgftips from a live podcast with special guests and 2 panel discussions-- so bring questions. Sign up to our email list for updates!