SPESA President Addresses Membership in Inaugural State of the Union

At the beginning of last year, I opened an email from the SPESA Board that would change my career and my life. Having dedicated years to the textile and apparel industries — from studying work-force development to translating academia to real-world application — the offer to serve as your SPESA President was one I was honored to accept and one that I knew came with much responsibility.

The past twelve months have been both challenging and invigorating, and have prepared me to take the reins from two leaders who established a long and lasting legacy in the industry. Each new day brought with it a firmer recognition of how important SPESA is in representing one of the most dynamic sectors of this ever-evolving industry.

Now I write to you as SPESA’s President — consider this my inaugural address, my state of the union for our industry. I am thrilled for the opportunity to usher this association and the sewn products industry into a promising and exciting future. I want to give you a stronger platform and voice. I want to help you drive innovation. And I want to provide the tools and resources you need.

We are witnessing an era of innovation. In the last 10 years, advancements in textile technology — automation, 3D body scanning, computer-aided design, augmented reality, and product life cycle management — have been staggering. With the development of automation in printing, cutting, spreading, folding, and sewing, SPESA members have positioned the industry to build supply chains around innovation, sustainability, and efficiency. And I believe this is just the beginning.

As we prepare for the future and identify ways to grow, I find myself looking at the foundation SPESA has already established. In its nearly 30-year history, SPESA and its members have pushed the industry forward. SPESA members benefit from the highest quality networking, education, and marketing opportunities for advancing their businesses within the sewn products industry.

It’s my goal to maintain this charge and ensure long-term growth and success by relying on four fundamentals:

  • Educate: By keeping a pulse on both the domestic and global sectors, we will help our members learn and grow, paving a future of innovation for the sewn products industry.
  • Unify: We will embody the strength and resilience of our members and maintain a unified voice on industry issues.
  • Advocate: We will lift our members up. We will offer a reliable voice for members and the industry we represent and help establish a value proposition of why they and the industry are thriving.
  • Support: We will provide a dedicated, full-time staff, providing always-on services and guidance, where needed.

We look to these fundamentals to achieve our core objective: growth. By embodying these, we look to retain, recruit, and improve, year over year.

I am joined in these efforts by Maggie McDonald, who will serve as SPESA’s Vice President of Communications, and Marie D’Avignon, SPESA’s new Vice President of Operations. I am also extremely grateful to Kathryn Doggett, who will continue on in her role as SPESA’s Financial Director for the first six months of 2019.

One of our first major endeavors as a team is hosting the upcoming SPESA Advancements in Manufacturing Technologies Conference, February 27, in Raleigh, North Carolina. To help attendees make the best use of their time and resources, we are holding the conference in collaboration with Techtextil North America. Attendees will be able to access both of these excellent events in one trip. You can learn more and register online here.

SPESA also has a new office. We are located at 1009 Capability Drive, Suite 200, on the North Carolina State University Centennial Campus in Raleigh. I encourage any members to stop by if you are in Raleigh. Our doors are always open, and we want to meet you.

In closing, I want to express my appreciation to the hard-working and enthusiastic SPESA Board of Directors. The dedication they show to the industry and to SPESA is unparalleled in the association world. Furthermore, I, and all of SPESA, are fortunate to have the guidance and outstanding leadership of SPESA Chair Nina McCormack for the next two years.

And, of course, I tip my hat to the Gardners. For three decades, SPESA and its members have had the privilege of working alongside Benton and Dave. Through their work, they embraced innovation, welcomed change, and refused to lose sight of member needs. I am excited to follow in their footsteps and build on their foundation to help SPESA grow and evolve alongside the exceptional industry it represents.

I look forward to working with you in 2019.