By Gregory Daurer | Nov 01, 2021
Sewn product development
"We are a product-development company for sewn products, which most often is apparel, but not always," says Ramirez.
So, if someone has an idea for, say, a woman's blouse or men's pants or baby clothing or bathing suits -- or maybe even a medical device, such as a monitor, which might require "a textile component" -- they can take that idea to Stitch Texas for brainstorming and design help. "We can tighten the screws on that to get it to production," says Ramirez.
Stitch Texas will produce or refine existing patterns, then create a prototype. Ramirez says the challenge for her team is often, "How can this technically be put together in a way that this is going to get reproduced in a reliable fashion in a factory, over and over again, when we're done with it?"
At its present 5,000-square-foot facility, the technical-minded company employs a CAD system for pattern files. "We also have a computer marking system that then plots out to a large-format plotter for the cutting markers," says Ramirez. There's also "a number of different industrial sewing machines," which are used "to predict and mimic how this project is going to be built in the factory setting."
Ramirez helps clients find factories best-suited for their production needs. She usually has to source the material, as well, when the product is going to be fabricated domestically. While the company's goal has always been to provide "a good string of projects to US factories," helping those in Texas stay in business, Ramirez will also provide a referral to one in another state -- or outside the country -- if that's where she determines the project is best-served.
Stitch Texas' list of clients exceeds one thousand. The majority are in Texas, but the company also works with many from outside the state, dialoguing in person -- or remotely -- on their projects. They're staying busy: "We have never, since 2014, been as consistently without any slowdown as we have been since COVID started," Ramirez notes.
A variety of factors make the company desirable for in-state clients, says Ramirez. For one, Austin is centrally located, drivable from, say, Dallas, Houston, or other points that might be two to three hours away. And a lot of people would much rather do business within the state, rather than having to travel to, say, Los Angeles. "Texas pride is a thing," adds Ramirez. "I'm from Texas. Most of the people that work for me are from Texas. And so that draws people to us, because they just might feel more comfortable working one-on-one with us."
There are also customers from outside the state who like the idea of working with an Austin-based company, due to the cultural cachet attached to the city -- which has been "for many decades, a very creative center," says Ramirez. In that regard, Stitch Texas fits right in: "We're extremely unique" in Texas, she says. "There is no other company doing exactly what we do."
Ramirez describes her creative team as "nimble" -- able to work on multiple projects, which are in various stages of development, throughout the day, which keeps them "engaged and interested." Stitch Texas was founded in 2014 by Vesta Garcia, who passed away from ALS in 2018, and Ramirez says everyone at the company is "ecstatic" to be able to continue Garcia's legacy: helping clients realize their project goals, and sending business to Texas factories, as much as possible.
"We all love apparel," Ramirez says. "We're all really passionate about textiles."
Challenges: Stitch Texas fields calls every day about potential projects -- more than it can take on. So it has to be selective about which to accept. And since the company often works with novice clients, one challenge is educating them about all the steps that are involved between going from a basic idea to a finished product. It's "helping to turn those people into good clients for us -- and good clients for factories."
Opportunities: "The clients that keep coming to us and the incredible ideas they have," says Ramirez about her steady stream of customers and their novel ideas. "The projects they bring to us that we would have never even imagined."
Needs: Ramirez says, "We originated as a development company, we did production [work] for two to three years, and then we went back to our roots [about two years ago]." Less overhead means the company needs less space presently. But given Austin's pricey commercial real estate market, the company needs to find a smaller space that's both affordable and accessible transportation-wise for its workers.