With the holidays upon us, I’m reminded of how thankful I am for my family. Not only do I get to spend the holidays with them, but also I have the pleasure of working with many of them every single day of my life. And I assure you that (for the most part) it is a pleasure. We have a lot of fun together, and we also have a mutual respect for each other, as we built this company together from the ground up.
At the very beginning, I worked with an Italian Pro to design and source clothing. Our first office was an attic. Once the clothing arrived, local friends and clubs began making orders. In 2003, I traded my full-time job for a 10’ x 10’ office space. After a year or so we purchased a building close by.
The turning point for us came in 2003 when we got an order for 50 cycling caps. Our source in Italy required minimum orders of 500 caps. I couldn’t turn down the order, though. I talked to my uncle Jorge in Medellin, Colombia, who worked in textiles. Jorge said he’d figure out how to make the caps for us; he’d never done it before, but he’d figure it out. That first order turned out to be somewhat of a scavenger hunt, going something like this:
- I emailed the order and art.
- David (my cousin) downloaded the image and saved it to a disc.
- Jorge took that disc to El Centro to get a color laser printout.
- Jorge then drove that printout to the screen company (I use the word “company” loosely, as it was an old house in the ghetto with one screen machine from 1952).
- While the screens were being made, Jorge bought enough fabric to produce the order.
- He took that fabric to a lady who used to work for him at the Levi’s factory. She now worked at a hot dog stand at the bus station. She would cut the fabric.
- Jorge then took the visors to another town to be cut.
- He drove back to the hot dog stand, visors in tow, to pick up the cut fabric.
- Jorge took all materials to the ghetto print shop.
- He then took all printed pieces somewhere else to get them sewn.
- He took all the hats home, and the entire family would count and box them.
- Last, he drove to UPS and manually filled out all export paperwork to ship.
As time went on we received more hat orders, as well as more jersey orders. Sometime in 2004, Jorge and his crew moved into one floor of a building with two computers, a few phones, and a whole lot of hope. We slowly brought the entire production process in-house, first with the paper printing, then cutting, then sublimation, and finally sewing. Each department started with one machine.
We slowly began to occupy the second floor of the building, then the third, and then we ran out of space. In November of 2007, we moved into a new facility; shortly after, we bought the building next door, and two years ago, a third building. Now, La Factoria is three very large, renovated homes originally built in the early 1900s that house more than 150 people and hundreds of machines.
Our Hincapie Sportswear office here in Greenville employs 17 people, and together with Hotel Domestique, Restaurant 17, Holowesko | Citadel racing team, and our events company, we have more than 80 people on staff under the larger Hincapie brands umbrella. Though my brother George and wife Drew are technically the only family in the Greenville office, I consider all Hincapie employees part of our extended Hincapie family. This holiday season, I give thanks for my family, my coworkers, and the company that brought us even closer together.