New South Manufactory opened its doors on February 11 with one goal in mind, to build a community where emerging fashion designers can grow successful businesses. 

Though textile manufacturing may be a smaller industry in North Carolina than in the past, there are a growing number of designers hoping to create new products. And yet, there hasn’t been a facility available for them to make patterns and samples and collaborate with other designers. 
Founder David Brown, who also owns outdoor apparel and adventure startup Mts to Sea, is filling this gap with a cut-and-sew facility that operates kind of like a coworking space for tech companies, a makerspace for inventors or shared kitchen for emerging chefs. Brown wants to build an open and collaborative community, in addition to offering shared equipment and resources. 
Because of North Carolina’s history in apparel and textile manufacturing and the prominence of NC State’s Colleges of Textiles and Design, Brown hopes to foster in our region some of the momentum building nationally around independent fashion brands. According to CB Insights, funding to startup fashion brands climbed from under $25 million in the first three quarters of 2010 to more than $235 million during that period last year. 
Brown graduated from NC State with a degree in finance years ago, but in 2014 decided to start his passion project, Mts to Sea, to blend his love for fashion and the outdoors. It didn’t take long for him to realize the difficulties of starting an apparel business. He quickly learned that sourcing, pattern making and small-run prototyping were challenges experienced by other aspiring designers too, which prompted the idea to open a facility and hire seamstresses whose time and talent is available to local designers and entrepreneurs. 
“I knew I wanted to have more impact on the work than just creating a new apparel company, I wanted to do some good,” he says. “The best way I could figure out how to do the most good was to create jobs. This sort of manufacturing is labor intensive (…) but we see it as our greatest opportunity to make lives better.”   
Brown launched the new business last October, signing on 12-15 brands as NSM’s first customers while he negotiated to open the space that opened earlier this month. 
Housed in a somewhat tucked away brick industrial building located just inside the Beltline near Raleigh’s Midtown, the space takes on a different persona when you enter. Most of the work gets done in a deceptively large room where there’s a row of sewing machines hugging a far wall, a long cutting table and sporadic racks of clients’ equipment and materials. 
 Sluice is a perfect example of the types of young small companies Brown wants to help. His mission is to help make fashion businesses in the Triangle more sustainable, while also building up his own. 
“I get excited to think that while we’re just beginning to hit our stride,” he says. “We’ve each already built something here that is bigger than anything we could have done alone.”