Mack and Mack may be the only business of its kind in North Carolina and is certainly one of the few American-based designers and makers of women's apparel in the country. The economy is strangling us, but rather than close our doors, we have a plan to move Mack and Mack into a new generation with fundamental shifts including 1) a move from custom designs to ready-to-wear, 2) adding styles for younger women and 3) offering items from other American companies.
I started Mack and Mack in 1995, sewing simple designs for women wanting a soft and classic look that they could wear to work or weddings. This concept is built on a woven fabric (we call it Magic) that is both elegant and durable, with the added bonus of being completely washable. The Magic collection is made up of basic separates that you can layer and wear in all seasons and for many years. The colors change but there is always a selection of neutrals, pastels and brights.
Over the years we have expanded the line to include jackets (coats, vests, dusters) out of beautiful fabrics of many different textures and fibers. This allows us to provide stunning outfits for weddings by using our elegant Magic basics, and then adding a dressy topper for a Mother of the Bride look that can be worn again and again to many other functions.
Women love our clothes because of their comfort and versatility, while making them look and feel their best, even when traveling. They never seem to tire of adding another pair of pants to their closet, even if it is a duplicate. (You can learn more at our website.)
The entire process of ordering the fabric in any of our colors can take three months or more. The fabric is made in Japan and must be paid for in advance of shipping. After the funds are wired, it takes 2-3 weeks before the fabric is delivered to us. This is one area that causes a hiccup in our cash flow.
We have a beautiful showroom with superb acoustics, and we offer it at no charge to nonprofits and charitable groups for fundraising events. We also bring in remarkable musicians for concerts that often sell out, and all of the money goes to the artists. We do not ask anything for the use of the space, and often we provide refreshments.
Our production staff consists of six employees, including production manager, cutter, designer and sewers. For the retail department, we have two full time and four part time employees. Our health insurance covers eight people, including my husband and myself.
In May 2012 we opened a satellite boutique at the Friendly Center. This was at a time when our first quarter sales were up over the previous year. Adding the additional store at Friendly also added another rent expense and more part time sales help. We were excited about the prospect of finding new customers (especially women who did not like to come downtown) and about being in a busy shopping area where sales typically increase during the holiday season. Unfortunately for us, the economy slowed so that our sales for November were 75% down.
My husband and I have put all our money into this business that we both love and would put in more if we had it, but the well has run dry. We are asking for your help to get through this period. It could literally save a business and the livelihoods of ten people.
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