1. A thorough internet search can provide so many leads! This should be your first stop. Even if the vendors you contact don’t do what you need, they may know someone else who can. Send introductory emails explaining who you are, what you do, and what you’re looking for.

2. Go to areas where there are resources for what you’re looking for. This could be as simple as the garment district in a nearby city, or a trade show where vendors exhibit.

3. Ask questions on social platforms and forums. You never know who may know someone that knows someone else. Crowdsourcing answers can be a great way to gather information. Just remember to follow that up with your own research.

4. Remember that it’s about relationships. Building a good relationship with a vendor is essential to the quality product being produced. That means asking lots of questions, visiting facilities whenever possible, and talking with the people you’re working with. It will be a learning process on both ends. 

5. Sometimes it takes several attempts with the same printer before you get your design to translate onto fabric how you want it to. If you get a sample back and it’s not right, troubleshoot and try again. Asking questions about how you can reformat your digital files (as that can make a difference in how your design prints), or how to hit the colors you want to achieve, are best discussed with your vendor as they are the experts. 

6. Build a community. Having friends within the industry is not just fun but important for support. I’m of the mind that a rising tide lifts all boats, but remember that everyone’s time is limited and in the beginning, it’s important to do your research and try to add value to your relationships so they aren’t one sided.