I did not discover until later how fortunate I was to have stumbled upon North Shore Embroidery. Washington the owner is simply a magician with embroidery; his patience and attention to detail to ensure perfection are unrivaled. North Shore Embroidery was and still is the partner I use to help me do initial runs of my first prototype designs.
It was tough then to start at the top, because the only way from there is typically downhill. Starting to move into serious planning for a hat product line of JFK, LAX, MIA and DFW was no easy thing. While North Shore was great with quality, the cost to produce in Hawaii and ship to me in Dallas was simply too much. Starting in December 2016, I therefore started looking locally in Dallas as well as in NYC and LA. Five other groups made samples for me, each one providing lots of promises to how great their embroidery was and how many big, well-known fashion clients they had. In the end though, each was hitting the same challenge: keeping the borders of the “flip board” straight and rich. Curvy, thin and cheap borders were always the result. Luckily, Jacob was back in Dallas and started to get involved with NxTSTOP for the first time to sample different hat styles (we were also evaluating New Era, Yupoong and Otto Cap blanks). People who saw them did buy them, which was encouraging, but I was confused how no group seemed to equal North Shore.
I was so frustrated in fact that I wanted to simply pick the best of the worst to proceed. Luckily, my friend Natalie, who used to work in the fashion industry, quickly dissuaded me from this. She said, “Brendan in fashion you only get one chance to impress. People don’t need your hats. You have to make them want them. If you walked into a shop and picked up this hat with curved, cheap-looking borders, would you buy it?” My answer was always no with each provider, except for North Shore. Knowing the first run of products would likely be to give away to people I therefore decided to use North Shore using the Otto Cap blanks.
As a side note. New Era has a reputation for having the best-fitting and highest quality caps. In my first evaluation of the hats side-by-side, NE really came out on the bottom. Otto was a far sturdier cloth and had deeper, richer color. NE blanks were also 2x the cost of Otto at $9.85.
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