January 24, 2008

Custom Apparel Manufacturer Considering Expansion in Memphis

What started as a single line of fleece hats made in the basement of a family residence less than a decade ago, has turned into a growing apparel business that may soon be expanding to Memphis.

DinoHaven LLC, manufacturer of quality children’s clothing and extreme sports outerwear, is currently considering expanding to the northeast community from its current base in St. Louis.

Owners Chris and Camilla Morrow first learned of the opportunities available in Memphis from friend, and former Scotland County resident Curt Dunn.

“When we first started talking about looking to expand, Curt told us we should consider Memphis,” said Chris Morrow. “Obviously he has a vested interest in his home community, but what he told us about the area made us very interested in looking into the opportunity.”

Morrow said the key to the project will be an available workforce.

“Right now that is the key to what we are looking for, a reliable labor pool,” Morrow said. “We feel like the customization industry is only going to continue to grow.”

The company has included an advertisement in this edition on Page 14 in an effort to measure interest in working at a Memphis location if one were established in the near future.

“Curt told us about the people in Scotland County, and he told us about the history of manufacturing, particularly in the garment industry, so it definitely is something we are excited about,” said Chris Morrow.

Dinohaven started in 2001 with the flagship Dino Hat. The following year the company expanded to offer four unique designs and now has over 50 fleece hat designs available.

The company purchased a 3,000 sq/ft store in Pacific, MO, in early, 2003.

“It was time to move our employees, and myself, out of my family’s basement and take the next necessary step to transform this home project into a real company,” said Camilla Morrow who hales from Sweden. “It was a difficult decision, but necessary if we wanted to see DinoHaven grow into its mission statement, which is – ‘DinoHaven is committed to making the highest quality custom clothes for people of all ages’.”

By 2003 just over 10,000 units a year were domestically manufactured and sold by DinoHaven, which has seen its products featured in a Nickelodeon marketing campaign, The Washington Post (along with 15 other newspapers all across the nation), Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade, Rose Parade, McDonald’s Parade, and the 2006 World Series.

In 2004 the company purchased a previous competitor’s assets, SkiHats.com. DinoHaven found itself dramatically increasing its capacity in unit sales, demographics, Internet traffic and revenue, basically overnight.

“During this year, we realized that our domestic manufacturing facility could no longer compete in the wholesale retail market, a very key area in order for us to grow,” said Chris Morrow. “In 2005, DinoHaven began to regularly import our more popular hat designs, this key (and difficult) decision was made to sustain our wholesale and group rate growth. It also freed our domestic sergers to truly focus on developing the highest quality custom hat orders possible.”

Sergers, what were described as “sewing machine on steroids” are the company’s key tools. Sergers create the finished seam, trimming the seam and enclosing the seam allowance inside a thread casing, all in one step.

With as much as 80-percent of the company’s products still being custom built in the United States, the company’s continued growth has spurred the idea of local expansion. As much as 30 to 40 percent of the finished goods are being marketed in Europe and in other foreign markets which the owners hope will only further fuel the growth.

In 2007 the company expanded its market from only selling hats and fleece winter accessories to include high quality summer dresses, using Pima cotton, ski helmet covers, and even golf club covers. All of these items are customizable using the company’s coloring brochure.

“With a corporate desire to enter into an all-year presence, we have now tipped our hat (and coloring brochure) into the summer market for custom summer dresses and sun hats,” Camilla Morrow said. “You will see an ever evolving DinoHaven site to support this new line of clothing. The key word in our mission statement, quality, remains quite dominant however. And it is not an idle cliche.”

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