Link to Owner Dr. Robert B. Pamplin Jr.



Tigard company hopes to move manufacturing from China to Salem

by: SUBMITTED - Handful Bra has been based in Tigard since its founding in 2006, but the team, made up of (from left to right) Cary Goldberg, co-founders Tina Thede, Jennifer Ferguson and Jody Filkins, announced in a video last week that they plan to bring production of their sports bras to Oregon for the first time.A Tigard-based bra company is looking to add a little support to the local economy.

Handful bras, which has operated in Tigard since 2006, announced on Friday that it planned to bring its production to Oregon after years of making their athletic bras, tank-tops and T-shirts in Quanzhou, China.

“It has always been something that we’d been interested in,” said Jennifer Ferguson, Handful’s founder and CEO.

But with U.S.-made clothing at about three times the cost of Asian-produced clothing, it hasn’t made fiscal sense for the fledgling business, Ferguson said.

That is, until now.

The Tigard company has launched a fundraiser of sorts to help raise the $50,000 it will need to move production to Salem.

Ferguson calls it crowd sourcing. Customers are able to pre-order products online before they hit the retail stores, giving the company enough funds to make the switch.

Customers have their choice of bras available only on the Handful website as well as T-shirts for the guys, Ferguson said.

“They can buy from us now, and when we hit the $50,000 mark, we will start to ship the products out,” Ferguson said. “That will give us the cash flow to update our packaging, marketing, website, everything.”

Ferguson said the idea of being able to make their bras in Oregon is a “dream come true come to fruition,” but the hard work hasn’t started yet.

The real test will be if the crowd-sourcing project works, Ferguson said.

“Everyone talks about how important it is to shop local, and this will show if people really are willing to pull their wallet out, or if it’s just talk,” she said.

To date, Handful has raised more than $10,000 toward its $50,000 goal.

“This is a way for people to acknowledge that keeping it in the community is a priority for them,” Ferguson said. “They can put their money where their mouth is.”

'Not rocket science'

Ferguson came up with the idea for the company after spending years looking for a sports bra that worked for her.

“I kept thinking, ‘This should not be rocket science,’” Ferguson said. “I wanted something to wear from workout to weekend and not always be worried about the needs of that area when you're working out or at the grocery store. I wanted one design that is versatile enough to carry you through those activities. You shouldn’t need five different bras for different activities.”

The design was a sports bra with space to add or remove padding.

The bras are also approved for breast cancer survivors who have undergone lumpectomies or mastectomies.

For years, Handful made its garments in China, but Ferguson said the company would have more access to its products if the manufacturing were moved to Salem. That move would have rippling effects into the local economy.

“Before they were in China, but now they (will be) a short drive away, and we can get a lot more done a lot quicker,” she said. “That makes the community stronger because we are able to give back to our community and the revenue and cash flow stays here locally.”

Ferguson said the company’s decision was reinforced after eight textile manufacturers were killed in a fire in Bangladesh last week and more than 1,000 people died in a building collapse in April.

Giving back to the community is an important part of the company’s message, Ferguson said.

“We are an all-woman company, making products by women and for women,” Ferguson said. “It’s very important for us to give back and have a successful place for kids to grow up. We work hard here and want it to benefit all the people we love.”

Because of the added costs of doing things domestically, Ferguson said the company will have to accept a few compromises.

“We are all cinching our belts in,” Ferguson said, “If it means we have less profit margins to have this made in the USA, then so be it. Hopefully the profits will grow higher and higher over time.”

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