For our May meeting, the Colorado chapter was fortunate to hear from Jack Makovsky. Jack is Executive VP Ralph’s Industrial Sewing and Board Member of Denver Design Incubator (DDI). He was invited to speak about the state of sewing manufacturing in the State of Colorado, because Ralph’s supplies most of the sewing manufacturing equipment to businesses in the state, which makes Jack uniquely positioned to know who is doing what.
Ralph’s presentation covered a wide range of topics including Colorado success stories, trends in the industry, headwinds or conditions that impede or inhibit progress, and future opportunities.
One of Colorado manufacturing success stories is Mellanzana Outdoor Clothing in the mountain town of Leadville. Mellanzana does not sell its products online; customers are required to make an appointment to determine what is required. Growth in Colorado is also found in the bag industry, outdoor wear and outdoor gear. In addition, demand is active in the theater, military sewing, and alterations businesses.
In terms of the future, two high schools are reintroducing sewing into their curriculum, but further progress in the sewing business is limited for several reasons: limited number of skilled sewers, lack of schools teaching sewing skills from basic to couture, inadequate wages offered to sewing experts to teach others and funding needs. For industrial sewing there is also a lack of suitable or affordable facilities for manufacturing.
Opportunities to improve are abundant. Jack described looking for potential sewing industry employees at ethnic centers who know of new immigrants coming into the state who would like to work in the business, working with local schools and universities to help establish a beginner sewing program, working with the Denver Design Incubator to train people interested in learning sewing by sharing our standards of quality (certification), and teaching people how to use manufacturing equipment to satisfy industry demand for skilled labor (which DDI does).
One area where ASDP can help is by getting apprenticeship programs subsidized through local businesses, ASDP and DDI.