Jillian Kaufman Grano thinks a lot about the clothes she produces.
While other fashion brands continue to rev up the velocity at which they churn out clothes, Jillian’s company Archerie remains steady—focusing on the quality of every piece.
But that’s certainly not to say this small business is moving slowly.
Since 2010, Jillian has been producing women’s clothing of the utmost quality. After starting a separate fashion brand—Utility Canvas—with her husband back in 1990, Grano wanted to forge her own path.
Upon realizing the serious vacuum in women’s fashion where comfortable and work-friendly yet interesting day dresses ought to have been, Grano decided to fill this vacuum herself.
Thus began Archerie, NYC.
And ever since 2010, Grano has been running her brand in pursuit of this mission to produce quality, appropriate, and exciting dresses for women to wear as they go about their lives. Whether you’re an entrepreneur, a mom, a student, or anything in between, Archerie’s dresses will appeal both to your eye for fashion and your need to be practical.
Visiting their sun-drenched Soho brick-and-mortar store, you can easily spot how Archerie’s fundamental mission manifests in its fashion. Bright prints jump out of utilitarian fabrics, and it’s not soon after trying on a dress that you realize, hey, I could wear this to work. I, for one, can’t remember the last time I found a day dress (that I actually enjoyed wearing) both interesting and work-friendly.
That’s Archerie’s charm—it makes the often-impractical act of investing in fashion, well, extremely practical.
Archerie’s mission of creating comfortable, classic, and appealing dresses for women might seem pretty straightforward initially.
What’s any women’s fashion brand trying to do but to make clothes that women like?
Well, Archerie’s brand mission looks far beyond making you want to buy something—in fact, it begins after the transaction ends.
With Archerie, Grano envisioned creating a brand that would allow women to find work-appropriate clothing that would not only endure trends and wear, but also creating a brand that would simply let women feel like themselves.
Grano was spurred on by the lack of legacy in today’s popular fashion. In the past, Grano says, fashion “used to get discussed and passed down. Now, it’s just the blind leading the blind.”
With Archerie, Grano aims to embrace a lost legacy of feminine modesty in fashion. Women—now populating the highest-up, most traditional offices—should still feel good in their clothing, even if it has to adhere to a traditional workplace dress code.
Where can a working woman find the crossover between work-appropriate, flattering, and interesting in her wardrobe?
That’s the call that Archerie answers with its product.
Beyond Archerie’s final product, though, where else does its mission statement manifest?
Well, the dresses that you see on Archerie’s website and in its store barely scratch the surface of how Grano pursues her mission for her fashion brand.
For starters, all of the dresses that Archerie produces are handmade right in New York. Instead of outsourcing production, Grano opts to keep production local.
When asked why she chose to keep production close, Grano starts to list off the merits of how Archerie’s clothing is made.
And this list is certainly a robust one.
Some of the reasons for keeping production local are practical ones. For one, Grano is able to visit the factory in which her subcontractors sew, and as a result, she’s able to keep a close eye on the quality of the product.
Additionally, when production of her dresses happens locally, there’s less transport required, which allows for a quicker turnaround in getting her dresses to customers.
However, on the other hand, there are some notable ethical merits to Archerie’s local production. Not the least of which comes from the environment in which the subcontractors who produce the dresses work.
Because Grano can keep a close eye on the factory, she’s able to stop by often and have an ongoing relationship with these subcontractors. Plus, most importantly, she’s able to ensure that their work environment is humane and that they’re paid a fair wage.
The ultimate indication of the merits of how Archerie executes its mission statement?
Each subcontractor makes each piece from start to finish themselves.
Instead of making a disembodied sleeve or collar over and over, day in day out, Archerie’s skilled subcontractors execute a piece of clothing from start to finish on their own. This makes for an empowering production cycle that infuses Archerie’s mission down to its very roots.
Not to mention, this empowerment that unstaged production engenders makes for the beautiful, quality clothing that Archerie’s brand ultimately relies on.
You’re probably wondering how exactly Archerie can pull off this production model.
Obviously, local production is ideal, but it’s unfortunately not quite feasible for many fashion brands. In order to keep up in the world of fast-fashion, many small businesses feel they need to outsource and optimize their production models to a pulp.
That said, with all of her experience, Grano has learned to prioritize quality over quantity. While other brands churn out new styles day in and day out, Archerie keeps its head down and sticks to a steady, metronomic pace.
Plus, keeping production local helps Grano to avoid many logistical costs. When transport just means a quick drive to a nearby factory—rather than multiple overseas flights or container ships—your bottom line will seriously decrease.
Additionally, keeping things local seriously speeds up the production process. As a result of this production model, Archerie’s dresses go from design to production to their hangers in the Soho store within four weeks. Meanwhile, other “fast” fashion brands generally take four to six months from design to production, with up to a whole year dedicated to sampling as well.
As a result, Archerie’s product comes from a more authentic place. And though their production model isn’t “optimized” in a traditional, capitalistic sense, their product still gets to store faster and is far more creator-driven than anything you’ll be able to find in a big chain.
With Grano’s years of experience, plus a steadfast mission that informs all aspects of its business model, Archerie seems to have everything figured out.
Where do they go from here?
Well, Grano, ever the entrepreneur, is ready to continue forging onward with her small business. She had huge plans for scaling Archerie to an even broader reach, but she needed access to capital to fulfill these plans.
Together, Grano and Fundera worked together to find her very best business funding option. Before Fundera, Grano found the “merchant cash advance world bombarding and hard to navigate.” With one of our Senior Loan Specialists, Grano was able to secure funding to expand Archerie’s product range.
With this funding, Grano has invested in design development and inventory to push her scaling plans forward.
Recently, Grano stopped by Fundera’s office to speak on a panel of women entrepreneurs. Before a crowd of local entrepreneurs—men and women alike—Grano shared the magic of Archerie’s story and mission as she wore one of her beautiful, carefully-crafted dresses.
By sharing Archerie’s story, not only through panels, but also through their publication and their social media, Grano is able to re-initiate a heritage of shared, passed-down fashion for women, and stop the cycle of “the blind leading the blind.”
Maddie Shepherd is a former Fundera senior staff writer and current contributing writer for Fundera.
Maddie has an extensive knowledge of business credit cards, accounting tools, and merchant services, but specializes in small business financing advice. She has reviewed and analyzed dozens of financial tools and providers, helping business owners make better financial decisions.