SEAMS Packs ’Em in for Annual Networking Conference at NC State
The keynote segment was the “Fireside Chat” moderated by Jim Hopkins, director of Sales and Marketing at Hamrick Mills, who interviewed Red Land Cotton cofounders Mark Yeager and Anna Brakefield. Yeager was on stage with Hopkins, and his daughter Brakefield joined via Zoom since she had her third child a couple of weeks before the conference. Yeager and Brakefield discussed how the company was formed seven years ago, at which time Red Land Cotton began building a U.S. textile supply chain, finding early partners in Parkdale, Hamrick Mills, Yates Bleachery, and Cotton Incorporated. Moulton, Ala.-based Red Land Cotton makes heirloom cotton bedding and towels made from cotton grown and sewn in the South.
Yeager, who owns and operates a cotton farm, decided to create the company with Brakefield after feeling frustrated over seeing textiles being imported at an unrealistically low price. All of its products contain cotton grown on its farm. The company recently entered a partnership with Banana Republic, Brakefield said.
Participating in a “Closing the Loop: Circularity Through Collaboration” panel, moderated by SEAMS’ Board member Xochil Herrera Scheer of The Chicago Pattern Maker, were Jay Hertwig, senior vice president of Global Brand Sales at UNIFI; Cheryl Smyre, director of Advanced Materials at Parkdale Mills; and Alex Whitley, vice president of Sales at Contempora Fabrics. Each panelist offered insights into a unique collaboration on circularity between the three companies.
Nicole Bivens Collinson, managing principal, Operating Committee, and International Trade and Government Relations practice leader at Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg, P.A., Washington, D.C., provided a deep dive into trade and legislation. She discussed the possibility of a federal government shutdown, the Partnership for Central America, CAFTA-DR, 321 de minimis, 301 tariffs, Made-in-USA labeling, the LPOE Trust Bill, and more.
Charlie Merrow, CEO of Merrow Manufacturing (circa 1838) in Fall River, Massachusetts, wrapped up the conference with a high-level, action-oriented talk on challenges and opportunities in the soft goods industry. In his thought-provoking speech, he shared his insights into the company’s history, its expansion and pivot in recent years, and a vision for the next decade. He emphasized the need for innovation, collaboration, and rapid product development to drive the industry forward.
Sarah Friedman AwardDuring a group dinner, Tanya Wade, PPE/Textile Resource Lab manager at the Manufacturing Solutions Center and Sewn Goods Workshop instructor at Carolina Textile District, was presented with SEAMS’ highest honor, the Sarah Friedman Award. Wade has been a force of nature and a passionate advocate with transformative ideas and actions for SEAMS since joining its board several years ago. The award is named in honor of Sarah Friedman, the former executive director who helped transform the association from a small, regional apparel manufacturing group into the widely recognized national association for the sewn products industry. With more than 200 member companies, SEAMS represents the complete domestic supply chain, comprising textiles providers, contract manufacturers, brands, vertical retailers, and their suppliers and services. ElectionsThe SEAMS’ Board of Directors Britt Moore, vice president of Sales & Customer Support at Minnesota Knitting Mills, Mendota Heights, MN, as the association’s next president. He succeeds Ron Roach, president of Contempora Fabrics, Lumberton, NC, who becomes ex-officio. Brent Jones, general manager at Henderson Machinery, Inc., Greensboro, NC, was voted in as SEAMs’ vice president, while Jim Hopkins, director of Sales & Marketing at Hamrick Mills, Gaffney, S.C., was elected secretary/treasurer. Elected to serve a three-year term as education director was Alex Whitley of Contempora Fabrics, Lumberton, N.C. Directors elected for the Year 2024 include Anthony Marini of Heartland Manufacturing, Edgewood, N.Y.; Mindy Martell of Clothier Design Source, St. Paul, Minn.; Susan Almack of Almack Liners, Chatsworth, Calif.; Marty Bailey of TSG Apparel, Long Beach, Calif.; and Brian Alhanati of CustomFab USA, Garden Grove, Calif. Elected to serve three-year terms as supplier directors were Tanya Wade, PPE/Textile Resource Lab manager at the Manufacturing Solutions Center and Sewn Goods Workshop instructor at Carolina Textile District, Conover, N.C.; and Xochil Herrera Scheer of the Chicago Pattern Maker, Shorewood, Ill.