So over the past few weeks I’ve been able to meet the moves and shakers and tour inside a very innovative facility that is exclusive to the US and right in my own backyard, Monroe, NC. Vanguard Pailung, family owned and run since 1916. They manufacture or as they put it “Engineering the future” of the knitting machines that many of the major labels use for their knitted fabrics. Gildan, Fruit of the Loom and even Under Armour use these machines to create cotton/polyester and other blends. They service the apparel, medical, industrial, automotive and upholstery industries.

Machines_Facility_7219Knitting Machine

The other plus side is they are able to develop new patented technique for dying the thread prior to making the fabric. This reduces yards of fabric unused in warehouses and eliminates the vats of dyes and toxins that are used to dye the fabric that are released into the environment.

As I work with many start-ups, the agonizing element is sourcing fabric for small runs. Having this ability will reduce some of the frustration, in that they can spin the yarn to create one specific roll of fabric. This is still in beta phase, but being able to meet and see this in person is really mind blowing.

Vanguard is also excited about educating and allowing tours inside their facility. Over the past year (2015) they have been partnering with NC State (a leader in textiles) in developing programs that allows students to work with their machines and teaching them about different technical fabrics used for sports and performance materials.

What I was surprised to learn is that many of the graduates in textiles don’t have the knowledge needed to work at Under Armor or other companies even though they have a textile degree.

I still believe that hands-on, everyday experience is the best way. You may not know this but I graduated with a PR degree and minor in Journalism from Western Michigan University. I started designing brochures and t-shirts on Mac computers when they were first introduced in 1989. I’m self-taught but those years of experience in working with the clients I have and the unique projects is a one of the best ways to learn. And having the connections that I do has allowed me a peek into the future, seeing the trends and offering those services to my clients.

If you would like to find out more call Mariellen Auer at 704-236-0568 or to set-up a tour for your group or school.