Stock Mfg. Co.’s Kickstarter

Chicago’s Stock Mfg. Co. recently launched a fundraising campaign via the website, Kickstarter, a crowd-sourced funding site perfect for the small, local designer. With nine days and about $7,000 to go before hitting their goal of $20,000, I spoke with one of the partners, an old acquaintance of mine Areill Ives, about what he and the other Stock dudes hope to accomplish post-kick.

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All Plaidout: You’re a little more than a week away. How’s it going?

Areill: It’s going really well. We’re coming off an event at a local cocktail bar here, Scofflaw, which helped to spread word. We’re going to launch a Bartender series. It’s a collaboration with some of our friends in Chicago’s thriving bar scene. Select bartenders will work with us to design a signature piece that we’ll release in a limited run, and they’ll craft a signature cocktail to go along with it.

All Plaidout: That’s cool. Stuff beyond the perfectly-rolled sleeves of the Tom Cruise Cocktail: The Movie shirt, I assume.

Areill: I would hope so. I was thinking more like long-sleeve versus short sleeve, stow pockets for certain utensils they use. Each bartender is different and I’m sure if they could, they’d all design a different uniform with reinforcements to suit a specific need. We’re also working on some uniforms for NEXT, The Aviary, and Alinea. It’s great that we can use our resources to cross industries and work with other creative people in Chicago doing things we admire.

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All Plaidout: Talk to me about the Kickstarter. What lead to your decision to fundraise?

Areill: I’ve watched as so many other companies have had success with Kickstarter. We see it as a great platform to tell our story, to help with the continued growth of Stock Mfg. and domestic manufacturing in general.

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All Plaidout: How will you spend the money? Disney World, etc.

Areill: We won’t be going to Disney World anytime soon. The money raised on Kickstarter generally speaking, will help to keep jobs in Chicago, to revive a dying industry, and more specifically, to help with the upgrade of my factory. I am in need of some new machinery that will help me to keep step with my competitors.

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All Plaidout: You own a factory? It’s rare to meet a factory-owner as young as you. Aren’t we just about the same age? 

Areill: Yes we are. For forty years, my parents worked hard to make this factory what it is today, and for the last ten, I’ve carried on their efforts and built it into what it is today. In addition to making higher end garments for men’s and women’s clothing companies — Stock and women’s line Eskell, among them — we are DSCP-certified. This means we are fully certified to make dress uniforms for the military.

All Plaidout: Wow. That’s impressive. What was the certification process like?

Areill: The Defense Supply Center of Philadelphia sent five people to inspect our factory. We manufactured a size run of everything that was to be certified. Over three days, they marked and measured each piece for accuracy. Many of the pieces had to fit correctly within a sixteenth of an inch. If we’d made two or more incorrectly, we would have failed.

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All Plaidout: Thankfully, that didn’t happen, and now you’ve been able to diversify your client list in such a way that you’ll always have business.

Areill: Yes. Knock on wood.

All Plaidout: Is this something you’ve always wanted to do?

Areill: Absolutely. It’s always been my desire to incorporate more fashion pieces into what we make here at the factory, and planning for our DSCP-certification helped us to refine techniques so that we could make finer and finer garments, not to mention that military dress uniforms translate perfectly into menswear.

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All Plaidout: That’s true. Many of the major contributions to men’s dress emerged from the uniforms of war. Who currently carries Stock Mfg. Co.?

Areill: We were fortunate to have Bloomingdale’s pick up our accessories for their store in 900 North Michigan here in Chicago and in their midtown Manhattan location in New York. They bought the full line for next season.

All Plaidout: Wow. That’s huge. Congratulations. Thanks for taking time to talk today, and best of luck with the campain.

Areill: Thanks, Max. It’s been a pleasure.

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As a matter of complete disclosure, I’m especially hopeful Stock Mfg. Co. funds their Kickstarter campaign, because a few months ago, I commissioned something intended for Buckshot Sonny’s.

Please do your part to keep manufacturing alive in Chicago, and support their campaign.