Mr. Campbell’s car pool driver almost had an accident on Wednesday. Their snow-packed tires began to skid on the snow-packed road. When the car finally stopped, they were a centimeter from the concrete barrier. It all happened in slow motion, and Mr. Campbell thought his co-worker was simply slowing down and pulling to the side of the road.

I feel like I’m slowing down and pulling Red Violet over to the side of the road right now. The hazard I’m facing is the cost of quality fabric. When I began researching this venture, I said I would stop if I couldn’t offer shirts I love at a price my customers would buy. As I look at the fabric necessary to create a shirt I love, the final price creeps higher and higher. I wish I could stick with my original fabric choice, but my customers would unpack their shipments from me in anticipation, and their faces would fall as they fingered the fabric. Of course they’d feel happy again once they tried the shirt on, but not in the “this is the best shirt in the world” way that I want them to feel.

As a small manufacturer, some things require compromise. I can’t offer you Sea Island Cotton, and I may have to use plastic-y looking buttons. But quality fabric is important. I like the way the jewelry designer Wendy Brandes expresses my dilemma on her blog:

If I waste expensive labor on inexpensive material, I wind up with a customer who wrinkles her nose and [says]: “You’re charging THIS? For SILVER/PLATED BRASS/PLASTIC/RHINESTONES?!” (Have you said that? Be honest. I bet you have: “This handbag is CANVAS?”)

So while my pattern maker works on my new patterns, I am going to search high and low for a fabric that will make you love the way the shirt feels on you as much as you’re going to love the way it fits.

After their car stopped, the driver calmly pulled into the center lane (they had been on the snowier HOV lane), and Mr. Campbell and his co-workers continued safely to the office. Here’s hoping that I find the right fabric and continue safely to production!