Houston Entrepreneurs

The Path to the Perfect Onesie

In a city that still lacks basic resources for clothing manufacturers, bringing a line to market is an uphill battle.

By Sarah Gabbart April 9, 2014

With her fourth line debuting this spring, designer Esther Freedman has learned a thing or two about producing a clothing line in Houston. Given the lack of local resources for manufacturing, Cuteheads, her children’s clothing business, took lots of finagling and ingenuity to finally get to market.

Esther Freedman with baby Naomi. Photo by Melissa Fitzgerald.

“I had to figure it out and find the right people," Freedman said. "That’s just been how my business has been. Just figuring out a way to make it work.”

In another large city, Freedman says, she would be able to go to a garment district and pick out a bolt of fabric. Here, “I have to order samples and wait for them to come."

Freedman found that traveling to New York or L.A. to produce her items was cost-prohibitive, and outsourcing production to another country made her uncomfortable. So she looked to her community to find people that could sew and design her own fabric, giving her a bit more control over the process.

“They’re more expensive, but I know where they come from and they’re much higher quality,” Freedman said. 

Photo by Melissa Fitzgerald.

With designers like David Peck and Chloe Dao creating their own manufacturing bases here in the Bayou City, and the recent advent of Houston Designed, which aims to promote Houston fashion and court manufacturers, it may be easier to launch a line in the future. 

“One of my most valuable lessons that I’ve learned is that you have to face your fear,” Freedman said. “Like [marketing guru] Seth Godin said, 'you just have to ship on time.' If you’re waiting for it to be perfect, you’ll never get it out there. Just starting and putting yourself out there is scary."

Now that she’s comfortable with production, Freedman is taking on wholesale.

“I’m really trying to sell this new collection to stores,” Freedman beamed. “Hopefully from there, I’m taking meetings with local businesses and businesses across the country—just trying to get it out there.”

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