Editor’s note: A version of this story appeared in the January edition of BRAIN.
OLD FORT, N.C. (BRAIN) — For Kitsbow Cycling Apparel to increase domestic manufacturing, David Billstrom came to a necessary conclusion.
It couldn’t be done in Petaluma, California.
Hello, Old Fort, North Carolina.
Old Fort, North Carolina?
A sleepy textile mill town with a population of about 700, Old Fort is at the foot of the Pisgah National Forest in the Western North Carolina mountains and where Kitsbow plans to reduce the dependency on Asian manufacturing.
Kitsbow is now located in the former home of Parker Hosiery Co., a 100,000 square-foot building built in 1976 that has an additional 25,000-30,000 space for lease. Kitsbow began operations in December.
“To reduce our dependence on Asia, and fully commit to making our own clothes, it was obvious we couldn’t do it in the San Francisco Bay Area,” said Billstrom, Kitsbow’s CEO. “The other manufacturers in the region must be smarter than we are, because I don’t know how they do it. Labor, transportation, rent — really, everything — is so expensive that there is very little margin left to build a business, let …read more