Consultant Rate

Checking in to see if anyone has consulted in a production/manufacturing capacity for a 3rd party and what a “going rate” would be…

I do quite a lot of production consulting. I charge $60-85 per hour depending on the professionalism of the client/brand, how much of a mess the styles are coming into PP, the complexity of the product, the complexity of the number of steps involved in managing the production, the timeline, and how deeply I need to reach into my network of vendors to get the work done to standard.

That said, nobody wants to pay on an hourly basis so I generally end up baking my costs into either a production management retainer fee that is paid out over the course of the production (usually a 3-4 month contract) and then they pay all the vendors directly, or I calculate one huge cost for my fee and all the vendors fees and charge the client that huge fee and take my cut out of it and just deliver the finished goods.

I generally work on small collections or groups of styles at a time, so I would calculate out how many hours I need to do the work. A typical one for me is 15 hours per week to push a small collection through PP and into production. I then calculate a monthly cost. $85 per hour x 15 hours = $1275 x 4.5 weeks in a month =5737.50 I would round it to 5700, and then multiply by the number of months I would work at that rate to get it done. 5700 x 4 months is 22,800 but I work less on it when it’s on the line in sewing, so I would adjust for fewer hours needed in the last two months and recalculate. Then I bill for my labor monthly and the client brand pays the vendors directly. This is easier to sell because the number is lower and the brands are hungry to get vendor contacts, but they may very well cut you out after the first round of work and use your vendors going forward without you. Its absolutely happened to me and I tend to charge on the high side this way.

The alternative is to bake in all the vendors costs and sell that as full package production program. These are harder to sell because it’s a MUCH bigger number, they are a lot more work to build a quote since you need to know the common costs to make different types of garments or borrow their samples to get costing etc but you’ll get to gatekeep your resources until you know the client is going to be a reliable long term source of income (they find out everything eventually but i don’t really care as long as I’m getting paid). For these huge contracts I try to break the payments into monthly but it really depends on what I have to front payment for or what payment the vendors are requiring to commence work so sometimes it’s just a big deposit and balance at delivery.
This way you absolutely get paid fully and can make even more money by shopping around on your fixed costs but it’s much harder to manage the cash flow.

would love to hear how other people do it!


This is such great information! Thank you for the reply and taking the time to explain how you charge! Really appreciate it.