experience from a denim manufacturing company
Being a good leader has always appealed to me on a professional level as i believe that without good leadership no effort on an individual or collective basis can have a far reaching and enduring effect.
I got one such opportunity when I had almost 1.5 years experience working in Artistic Milliners, a denim manufacturing company, and a number of our customers(mostly European and American fashion brands) complained that our fabrics were not up to the mark in terms of innovation despite the fact that my company had boosted R&D activity in the past few years
When this came to my attention I carried out a detailed review of out fabric portfolio from the last 3 years during which I discovered that though we had a lot of innovations in terms of shades, finishes and other areas of fabric design, we had very few new developments in terms of fabric construction and fiber composition, meaning that the new fabrics we were presenting to our customers looked new but were essentially the same in terms of performance and felt the same when they were worn by testers during wear test. In order to highlight this problem I compiled some stats of our previous developments which followed the same pattern and presented it to my head of department, the R&D manager who officially tasked me to fill this gap in our fabric collection and made me the leader of a three member team formulated to deal with this task.
As a first step my team members and I increased our exposure of denim by visiting stores of various fashion brands to understand what kind of fabrics were currently in demand. Then I started holding brainstorming sessions where I encouraged all members to come up with new ideas regarding fabric constructions, specialized yarns and fibers that we could incorporate into our fabrics to enhance their physical properties and performance. I also started inviting colleagues from marketing as they visited denim trade shows frequently and were able to bring an accurate perception of current industry trends to the table. This enabled my team to gain a thorough understanding of the current market demands and provided them an insight into the mind of the fabric buyers.
By implementing this process continuously for two months, we, as a team, had developed and produced a collection of fabrics with unique new physical properties and performance traits and presented them to various customers. Later, this collection along with some other fabrics was displayed at renown denim trade shows such as Kingpins Amsterdam and Premier Vision where it was lauded by buyers and denim designers alike. This collection not only helped us gain more business from out existing buyers but also helped add some new brands to our existing portfolio. Due to the success of this initiative I made such brainstorming activities a routine part of my team's daily activities so that innovation would become a constant process rather than a sporadic one.