Marta Miller | Founder of Lefty Production Co.
Success leaves clues.
Finance Strategists sat down with Marta Miller, founder of Lefty Production Co. She shared her thoughts on the past, present, and future of the company, as well as the insight she gained from her experience in the fashion industry and starting her business.
Who is Marta Miller?
Q: Who are you and what’s your background?
I learned the Los Angeles fashion scene from Rosetta Getty and was a sales rep for Christian Siriano before launching Moody Mamas, a maternity line that was sold at Nordstrom, Target, Walmart and various boutiques. My co-founder, Emily Roiff, and I then built Lefty Production Co. to produce private label brands for Zulily, Gilt Groupe, and Urban Outfitters. Having produced in the US, Peru, India and China, I experienced, first hand, how difficult and unforgiving the fashion industry can be for a young brand. Emily and I set out to build a solution: a one stop shop development and production company that cares about its clients and their brands. Lefty Production Co. offers an unrivaled level of customer service, responsiveness and attention to detail. It is the very best way for a new designer to start a brand from scratch and it is also a fantastic solution for large brands that need their production done right.
Q: Who has been your biggest influence, and why did they have such a significant effect on you?
Definitely my dad. He built a law practice and I got to observe all the ups and downs of running a business. On family vacations, we would be at Kinkos everywhere across the country so that he could stay in touch with his office and send back important paperwork. He taught me that having a business is like having a big family and you’ve got to take responsibility for your employees and really care about their wellbeing. My dad has always pushed me and while he’s always been proud of my accomplishments, he never wants me to sit still. He’s always looking for me to accomplish the next thing and the next which is where I get my drive.
Q: Knowing what you know now, what would you have told yourself when you were in your twenties?
To just expect the fashion industry to be brutal. It’s extremely hard to show up and be taken seriously by vendors and factories. Most of them chase only the biggest brands and have no interest in helping emerging designers and brands. My prior partner and I used to joke that we would be ahead of the game if all we did was promise “not to be assholes.” As basic as it sounds, that has really been the biggest reason for our success. We care about our employees and our clients. They become our friends and we grow together because we help and support each other.
Q: What is Lefty Production Co.?
Lefty Production Co. – A one stop shop apparel and accessories design, development and production company.
Q: What makes your company different from its competitors?
It always comes back to our relationships with our clients and our focus on customer service. Our approach is to build long-lasting relationships that start with the very first phone call. We don’t charge anything to have an initial call with interested designers and brands. We want to make sure that we are the right fit for them from the start and we won’t take on a client if we don’t believe we can provide everything they need to succeed. We’re not chasing individual sales. We’re chasing relationships that we can invest in for the long-term.
Q: What led you to start Lefty Production Co.?
Lefty was born out of my frustration with my experience building my maternity line. It seemed like everybody we dealt with was trying to take advantage of us in some way. They would overpromise and underdeliver, or not deliver at all. They would take our stuff off their machines and put other bigger brands on instead. At one point we produced a collection in Peru and that was a nightmare where contractors stole money, we were hit with unexpected tariffs and duties while trying to import the products, and on and on. The last straw for us was when our domestic production came back smelling like cigarettes. That’s why my Co-Founder and I decided to launch Lefty as a solution for brands like ours that needed more love and care. Since then, we’ve built an infrastructure that we believe in and are very proud of.
Q: What has the experience of building the business taught you?
It’s taught me that caring matters. When we care about our clients, they do better and so we do better. When we care about our employees, they are happier and more empowered and they do better for the company and the clients. Chasing a quick buck may sound appealing but it is not the way to build a business for the long haul. We want to grow with our clients for decades to come.
Q: Where do you see things headed for you in the next 5 years?
2020 has been a crazy time for Lefty. We’ve shifted a large portion of our business to producing face masks, isolation gowns, caps and other PPE for hospitals, healthcare companies and the public. It’s been overwhelming but also rewarding to be able to create these essential products and to do it right here in Los Angeles. We hope to continue our partnerships with the medical community and all the amazing people we’ve met long into the future.