Kevin Meyer posted a nice little trip report on his visit to American Apparel on the Venture Hacks blog. Not sure there’s much I can add to the writeup. It’s inspiring. I know we’re a tiny fraction of a fraction but i believe we have some of this DNA. From the piece:
“Brief background on why I like them so much: this is a $500 million manufacturer of t-shirts, underwear, and the like. Typically low margin products, the kind of thing that usually comes from Asian and Central American sweatshops.
But not at American Apparel. This company makes over 1 million articles of clothing per week, from their one factory in Los Angeles and they grew 40% this year. They pay their 5,000-person workforce significantly above minimum wage (average is $12-$15 per hour), give them full subsidized benefits (such as high quality health care insurance for $8 per week), and they turn a profit.
This should embarrass the heck out of any executive who thinks he has to outsource in order to find cheap labor. Or at least call into question his fundamental competence as a leader. If American Apparel can manufacture low margin clothing efficiently enough to beat the sweatshops (in California no less), then anyone should be able to. If they try hard enough.”