Behind the scenes No.2 – The manufacturing sites
Quality and reliability of products made in Japan
We are confident that top quality is one of A.Y.Judie's major characteristics.
With the exception of a few metal parts, all material used in our products and all production is domestic. We entrust our production to reliable outside workshops located in the vicinities of our headquarters in the city of Komoro, Nagano Prefecture.
It is impossible to foresee and avoid every problem that might occur at the manufacturing sites. That is why staff members from both A.Y.Judie and the workshops are always in constant communication with each other, trying to understand together the product's purpose or the manufacturing details, in order to achieve a stable and high quality production.
Skill, labor and strict standards
When we commission the production to a workshop, we first conduct a painstaking meeting focused on the production specification sheet drafted by our in-house designers.
We first explain about the materials and parts that are going to be used, and then we describe each work process—such as assembly and sewing—and any areas of attention for the production, schedule, and much more.
We are especially particular about the structural strength of our products and making sure they don't lose shape, so we hold lectures for the workers regarding points they need to be extra careful. And should the need arise, workers also undergo sewing training and make test products before real production starts.
Sometimes the workshop staff give us suggestions on how to change the sewing in order to make it stronger, or propose different methods so that we have even more beautiful finished products.
Voices from the actual workers are incredibly valuable to us for improving the production process and our quality.
Even products with rather simple construction undergo at least a five-stage manufacturing process: prep work, such as tacking; permanent sewing; attachment of finishing parts; inspection; and packaging.
Let's take the inspection process for example. In this stage, there are numerous requirements that must be checked including whether or not there are stains or scratches, distorted seams, excess pinholes due to resewing; and whether the length of the thread after finishing is appropriate. Only after all these points have been cleared can the product be considered ready.
Earnest and good-hearted craftsmen
One of our outsourced workshops is represented by Ms. Etsuko Kikuchi. She is responsible for around 30 female workers from all ages, and takes full care of our production by providing a working platform that fits every one of their lifestyles.
One of the strengths of Ms. Kikuchi's team is that she has many excellent sewing technicians, so we can send them requests for products with a high degree of difficulty.
And because her team is quite numerous, they are more than capable of addressing our most difficult and urgent demands. Even when they are inundated with orders, we can request them to do it fast and in large quantities, all while maintaining our quality standard.
Even in such cases, Ms. Kikuchi's flexibility and shrewdness are exceptional, and she is able to delegate all the tasks without making any of her staff feel overburdened.
"Certainly, we are very busy, but the happiness of making the products surpasses the difficulties. So, in the end, it is fun." says Ms. Kikuchi with a smile. For that, she and every one of her staff have our absolute trust.
Partners and fans at the same time
"My staff is responsible for making the products, but at the same time they are also A.Y.Judie fans," comments Ms. Kikuchi.
Not only does the workshop staff cherish our products, they also give them as gifts to friends and loved ones. She mentions: “It is not unusual for one of my staff members to go to a shop and check how sales are going, and to even straighten an uneven display when no one is looking."
It is only because the workshop staff love our products, that they have strict standards towards them, and do not compromise on their work.
Ms. Kikuchi considers that she "works feeling responsible for putting the products on shelves. It would be disrespectful to the product and the customer if it weren't so." We believe that such feeling is shared by all staff members in all of our workshops.
It is thanks to these women that A.Y.Judie has become the brand it is today.
That said, it doesn't mean we had this production system structured since the early days when the company was founded.
We had so many exasperating and sad experiences when we were signing contracts with sewing factories from abroad or from other prefectures, because we couldn't create the products as we had envisioned them. The reasons were many: we couldn't communicate with the manufacturing staff; our instructions regarding specific details wouldn't reach the production line; our precious products were not being handled with care—the list goes on.
Management-wise, there was always the option of prioritizing cost; however, when we asked ourselves why we were in the manufacturing business, the answer came naturally.
Many turns and twists later, we were finally able to build a good relation with workshops equipped with highly advanced sewing techniques, and an uncompromising attitude toward their work and the product.
We hear from the shops where our products are dealt that they “hardly ever have complaints from costumers concerning A.Y.Judie products." Such words are the highest praise our manufacturing staff could ever receive.
Our outsourced staff is a part of A.Y.Judie, and our philosophy is a part of them.
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