Since taking over a California shoe factory, Jaclyn Jones has taken major steps to modernize manufacturing.
“I could see so many inefficiencies and I could see all the waste,” she told FN. “So what I was excited about was being able to put my hands in the process and change the sustainability efforts and the employees’ health and safety principles.”
The founder of her namesake Jaclyn Jones USA label bought the shoe factory in October 2018 from its former owners and has since worked overtime to improve conditions for the existing 22-person team. For instance, Jones put in $50,000 worth of dust collection machines, planted indoor trees to boost morale and switched from solvent-based glue to water-based glue. And in keeping with an eco-friendly mindset, the factory also repurposes waste or works with local artisans to reuse any left-over materials.
In addition, knowing firsthand how difficult it is to find made-in-America factories as a small designer, Jones has upped the companies’ online presence and has become more visible for potential partners.
Located in a new space in Los Angeles, and renamed Clover & Cobbler, the 20,000-square-foot factory produces women’s shoes for three in-house brands: Jones’ eponymous line, her newest label Californians and Salpy, which she acquired from the previous factory owners. Along with smaller, emerging accounts, she regularly works with three large companies on private-label collections.
For Clover & Cobbler, being made-in-America is a major selling point for prospective clients, especially during COVID-19. Jones said she’s been fielding more inquiries, as brands begin to reevaluate their supply chains.
She added that what sets her apart from factories overseas is shorter lead times, flexible minimums and transparency.
“We have no minimums. That’s a big draw for younger brands. And that’s part of our sustainability process; you’re not forced to overproduce,” Jones said. “We do the entire shoemaking process in-house. We are not bringing in components. We craft our own heels from wood, our own lasts and insoles. You can’t really put a dollar amount on the tangible collaboration you’re getting here.”
Also, by offering a showroom and space for clients to work hand-in-hand with pattern-makers, Jones aims to create a synergy in her factory. As a result, she’s partnered with local California leather suppliers and encourages clients to take advantage.
“I’ve tried to do things a little bit differently and be a little bit more collaborative and open,” said Jones. “We’re here to support. It’s not a competition.”