Mckillop Manufacturing Priorities #1 People#2 Factory#3 Brand
Who We Are
Mckillop takes a different approach to clothing. We are a small team of sewing professionals that are lead by Owner/Designer Ryan Mckillop and his approach to business is different because it is about the people first. Our Clients and our Staff are our first priority. We are also not a brand, we are a factory where we can empower our team participate in all facets of the business. Our goal is to change lives, have fun, and we measure our success by how many jobs we are able to provide.
As a Designer Ryan was never happy with the fit of Men’s clothing, it was very generic and never fit properly. Ryan took his classical fashion design training and applied those skills to Men’s underwear and later to shorts. Many brands do not have designers on staff, they just order a style from Asia and hope it sells well. Here we hope it fits well, Ryan moved from Canada to Mexico so he could have control over all aspects of production, this is also why we have the ability to offer custom fronts. Each style is Designed and Tested by Ryan Mckillop himself, and if something doesn’t fit right it does not get produced.
We also hand make our clothing, we cut each pair individually using old fashioned techniques. We cut each elastic by hand and verify it is the exact measurement, and we pin the elastics to the fabric to make sure it fits perfectly. This is a time consuming process but we feel that our clients can feel the difference. In our modern age of automation we prefer to hire more staff rather than a machine that can replace us.
Our uniforms say (Creemos) We Believe, we believe in making our clients happy by providing them the best service possible and how we achieve that is by believing in ourselves, empowering our team and striving for excellence in all we do.
We believe you can feel the difference.
Sept 2018 we moved into the most beautiful building, it is a 200 year old Historic Spanish Colonial with Cathedral ceilings and 6 large glass doors flooding the place with natural light. There is also enough room for a possible future store or showroom. Upon settling in Ryan was inspired to Design Hoist and thus far has kept us very busy as it is our most successful launch to date. It is just a couple days into 2019 so this part of our history is our vision. We believe that 2019 will allow us to expand our customer satisfaction and really offer the best service to our clients; who we believe are our friends. We will be installing solar panels on our roof and will be changing our packaging to be more environmentally friendly. With the packaging we are updating who we are and coming up with innovative ideas to tell our story. But as a small business we are also wise to the world around us and are entering this year with baby steps. Many countries are going through lots of changes right now and we are being optimistic that it will be a nice stable year. We will be doing the best we can to serve each client to our best ability. And we continue to be grateful for each and every one of you whom support what we do. We wouldn’t be who we are without you and we Thank you!
From our MCK Family to yours All the best for 2019 we wish you Joy, Luck, Happiness and New underwear. 🙂
We opened the office and gave Ryan Mckillop much overdue help managing everything. We expanded into better Web Design, Logistics, HR, Accounting and Customer Service. The factory was stable and really productive but this was the year to make real change in our staff’s lives. We doubled Salaries, and leveled all of the salaries so they were all the same. Your time away from your families is equal here. We offered extra vacation time at Christmas and brought in a specialist to help us create an HR dept that was not only paperwork but a place to change the ways of the past and forge into new territory. Workers in this region were trained to be “head down worker Bee’s” and we wanted to change the psychology, we wanted to bring the uplifting and inspiring ideas from the North to our team. We listened and redesigned the whole company from our findings. Seeing the team change right in front of our eyes was more gratifying than anything we could ever imagine. And just when everything was perfect we noticed our building was not safe, so for the 7th time in our history, we moved again.
We outgrew the carport. Time to really expand. Also the team was really large now it was no longer Ryan’s story. It was Our story. The area we were in was difficult to find additional staff so we moved to downtown Merida, found a 3 story office building and rented 2 top floors. 1 for the factory and 1 for the office. We moved in and hired 10 more people and 6 months later we opened the office floor and expanded our team by 4 more people. We expanded into many more stores globally and our design’s were real fan favorites. Still a small business but our big dreams were becoming a reality in a big way. Numerous new collections were added and became very successful. People got word that we made custom fronts and created a special relationship with our clients. We had been doing it for years but some underwear fans on Instagram helped us spread the word and our team became really busy creating the one of a kind pieces. Getting recognition for our work and changing lives at the same time was so fulfilling.
Thanks to Max Bulge the corporation was becoming a big success, the house had a carport which was turned into a mini factory, Ryan moved into a house all on his own, we hired 6 more sewing people and Ryan was able to design systems to help the team tackle harder projects and styles. Ryan was able to travel to Mexico City and expand our fabric resources. Major infrastructure was developed and more sewing machines were purchased. New design’s were still coming out weekly and Ryan was truly understanding the clients needs. He was able at this point to really invest in his team as well, offered health care, taught the employee’s kids English on Sundays, and increased salaries. Ryan’s dream to change lives was starting to take shape. It was a magical time for him and for us.
Business was great, everything perfect, then the post office started to fail, and importing was troublesome. The perfect simple life got really complicated. He moved once again to save money and then importing stopped completely due to a bad lawyer. It was almost the end of Mckillop. But Ryan being addicted to his craft had to get creative. He found a model who would work once a week and Ryan would go to the fabric store weekly and he would design something new every week. He would hold his breath if he could afford salaries every Friday. But magically he always made it. Because he couldn’t import it forced him to expand out of underwear and that is why today we have shorts. Also many of the most popular Mckillop items are in our Store today because of this difficult time in Ryan’s life. Luckily the importing problem was fixed and Ryan had a much bigger store with great new items. Once of these weekly ideas was the Max Bulge Collection. Almost overnight Max Bulge exploded and turned Mckillop from little self employed 1 man show to the corporation it is today.
Knowing only 2 Spanish words the first year in Mexico was exciting but challenging. Learning all new laws, customs and language was hard. He worked from his living room and found a bilingual fashion student to help him. He would sew in the mornings and take a swim and a nap in the extreme heat then back to work in the evenings. It was heaven but it was hard to find staff in his location. He loved to a small hamlet within the city and put a sign up looking for staff. within 30 min had 2 applicants. He taught them how to sew the Mckillop products without words, just showing and lots of hand gestures. He wrote 10 words on the wall and they communicated by pointing at the wall. Business was gaining momentum, economy was strong and Ryan took some Spanish courses. No fancy pool but he could afford a team for the first time. He recalls his favorite moment was standing at his front door thanking his team as they went home for the day. He didn’t stop sewing but was able to work on the business more. It was a simple life but lots of gratification.
Over a 6 month period a friend who moved to Mexico would talk about his experience and Ryan would ask a few questions, then forget about it, then ask a few questions and forget about it. Then he thought even if he was working by himself why work in the cold when he could work in the sun. Ryan made his final decision with a question, which is better? Option 1 hire 1 Canadian who would leave after a few months for something better or Option 2 have an opportunity to change lives in Mexico. That was an easy question to answer and after 4 months of logistics and immigration and some help from friends he was off on his adventure to Mexico. Ryan packed up his sewing machines, his 2 cats, maxed out the airline’s luggage allowance and without ever being to Mexico before landed in Merida.
Ryan’s sewing machines caused a little bit of electrical damage in his bachelor apt. Oops, so the landlord made him find a new sewing studio. He found a storage locker with electricity and late night access. It was in a basement of an old building in Yaletown, Vancouver and the coolest part about this place was the basement was full of musicians. No one would allow drums in the posh high rise condos so musicians would soundproof the storage lockers and play well into the night. Some of the tenants and my cohabitants were famous too. So Ryan would sew in a closet 2 meters x 2 meters with 3 sewing machines, a coffee maker and a space heater while listening to saxophones and drums echoing through the building. He was in love but business was getting too busy and he looked for help but he couldn’t afford the high salaries of this posh part of Canada. Working 14-16-18 hours a day was not sustainable and he looked for alternatives.
Daily Freedom and Ryan’s New sewing machine gave him the ability to create custom clothing and he could sew what he needed instead of buying stock. This is where his education really came into play, he wasn’t just a Designer he could be a manufacturer as well. Freedom had one base style and many leg lengths to appeal to a wider audience. From order entry to cutting and sewing and shipping he was a 1 man show, money was still tight and had to make the scariest decision of his life go on his own and quit his job or find another full time job that made him happier. He looked at the calendar and it was a leap year and months earlier he wrote the word Leap on that date. He took this as a sign and it said Leap and so Ryan said OK I will! He sewed in his apt. and had a hearty diet of Macaroni and Cheese boxes but finally was self employed and couldn’t be happier.
Economy slowed down a bit but business was still steady but at this time it was just a part time job. Ryan returned to the world of customer service in the day and worked at night on the business. Taking the hour long train everyday he would tweet and build relationships with the underwear fans there. To this day they are still great friends with Ryan. Our trademark fabric ran out and Ryan tried something new called Power. Ryan’s biggest failure. Power was made of neon fishnet (Which ironically would do really well now, but back then no one wanted this style). It was also made in China at this time and the sewing was not very good, he did resew all of them himself to fix the problem but he knew something had to change. and Fast. One night he woke up in the middle of the night and a instinct said go on Craigslist. Only been on there once before he checked it out. and there was a sewing machine for sale that would change Mckillop forever. With some help from friends he came up with the money to buy it, and he brought it to his bachelor apartment tried to figure out how to use this new style of machine. This machine inspired Ryan to design his first Brief style called Daily Freedom (Similar to JAG). He dropped China and sewed everything himself on nights and weekends.
The Canadian Government saw potential in Ryan’s business and he was invited to attend an Entrepreneur program to teach him the in’s and out’s of the business world. He would go to school in the mornings and in the afternoon would work on the business. Thankfully the underwear industry was very kind to him, a small knit community welcomed new comers and he was contacted by other stores to carry Mckillop. It was far from being a livable wage but the program offered a subsidy to give Ryan a good start. He expanded his designs and luckily Vancouver had the Olympics so the economy was still stable in this part of the world.
Ryan had made a pair of underwear for himself 6 months earlier and within a week of being laid off he walked 3 blocks to the local Men’s underwear shop and asked if they liked his design. It was a pouch that could flip up when you are at the club and could go commando, and flip it back down for the walk home. He thought they might by a couple pairs if he was lucky, but they bought 300. Delivery was in 30 days and Ryan had to scramble to find a factory, buy materials, open a business and with a 2000.00 loan from his Dad; Mckillop was born. Ryan didn’t know the underwear industry at all or web design or this new thing called Social Media. But he sure learned fast.
Growing up in a rural area in Ontario, Canada Ryan Mckillop spent his childhood dreaming about being a designer. He remembers making Cabbage Patch Kids clothes in the backyard of their family home. But underwear would not make an appearance till his adolescence. He used to buy underwear and keep the front cover of the boxes and hide them in the sides of his waterbed. Through the years this fetish would reappear time and time again.
In High School Fashion appeared as a viable option for him when he was asked to coordinate the schools fashion show 2 years in a row, and in his spare time also created shows for local charities. In each show he designed new items from scratch.
In College Ryan had the privilege of attending a Fashion Design College in Toronto, Canada where he learned the tools of the trade. Most schools taught just design but this school specialized in production. He thought women’s evening wear would be his future but the world would reveal his real passion in later years.
After College Ryan could not find his footing in the small Canadian fashion industry so he took a 4 year working vacation around the world to try to find himself. But he mostly found himself in clubs being mischievous but was always wearing his own garments.
Tired of travel and discouraged of not finding his niche he decided to move to the Vancouver, Canada; not a fashion capital at all but he felt it was time to settle down and get a “Real Job.” Unaware that his dreams awaited him there.
Ryan spent 5 years (12 years in total) working in call centers in Vancouver and in his spare time designed custom garments for clients. Call centers he remembers steals a bit of your soul but it never crushed his ambition. He would help customers on the phone but there was always a sketchpad full of imagery right next to him. When the 2008 recession hit he joined 5000 laid off workers and had to make a change.