November 13, 2018

One Off Apparel produces 20,000 units per day

Photo | Courtesy
State Senator Eric Lesser, One Off Apparel CEO Jeff Lavin, Legislative Director Alexis Foley, & State Representative Jeffrey Roy.

One Off Apparel in West Boylston was one of several manufacturers honored as Manufacturer of the Year at the Massachusetts State House in October. The company produced merchandise for the World Series winners Boston Red Sox and has also done work for the New England Patriots and Boston Celtics. In an interview, owner Jeff Lavin spoke about the company's success since he started in his parents' basement in 2007.

Congratulations on being named a Manufacturer of the Year. What does that mean for a company you started in your parents' basement?

Winning this award is very meaningful to me. I remember back in 2007 I had finished my degree in finance from UMass Amherst, and I told my friends I had decided to print T-shirts in my parent's basement. They were all like, "Jeff, you have gOne Off the deep end man!" Luckily, I was so blessed to have had the support of my mom and dad, who believed in me and encouraged me to give it a shot. So, to go from that kind of a beginning in my career to being recognized as a Manufacturer of the Year by the Massachusetts House of Representatives is an incredible honor.

When did you begin considering the company a manufacturing company as opposed to a fashion or art-based company?

Apparel manufacturing is such a cool industry. Of course, we do a lot of work in the fashion space and interact everyday with very talented artists – both as customers and on our own staff in our art department. But, when it comes to making products, where art meets science, it is very much so manufacturing-forward. When people visit the facility they are always amazed at how industrial the operation is – tons of massive equipment, ink kitchen to mix colors, dark room for exposure of screens, conveyor ovens 20-inch-long, flash cure heaters with light bulbs that heat up to 600-plus degrees and shine bright like the sun for a few seconds when activated. At the end of the day, it's a combination of both art/fashion and manufacturing. You need to be able to work with and produce graphic art, operate the equipment to imprint the apparel, understand ink chemistry based on fabric composition to properly mix and cure/dry the inks, maintain a high level of quality control, and move thousands of units out the door every day.

How has One Off grown since in terms of employees and production?

It's really hard for me to believe the growth since the days of being in my parents' basement making a couple dozen garments per day at best. Today, One Off Apparel is a team of 21 full-time employees, two part time, and a couple of interns who produce over 20,000 units per day.

It seems like the company does a lot of work in the beer industry. Is that a focus?

I'm a huge craft beer fan, so I love working in the beer industry. We are an official print partner of the Massachusetts Brewers Guild and Vermont Brewers Association. Craft breweries like working with us as an apparel & accessories vendor because we're local, obsessed with quality, price competitive, and fast. It's been so cool working with some of my favorite breweries like Trillium, Long Trail, Wachusett, & Jack's Abby. I'm such a huge fan of their beer, it's really an honor to be their apparel vendor.

Has One Off gotten work for Boston sports teams previously?

Yes, over the years we've done printing for the Red Sox, Celtics and Patriots. Given that our teams are so good and win all the time, this is probably the best market in the country for an apparel company. I feel very lucky to have done work for these guys, and it's so cool they're winning is both awesome for me as a fan and awesome for me as a business owner.

You were one of the first to produce WooSox material. Was that official team merch?

Yes, in fact the Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce approached me to produce hats and tees for their official press conference to make the announcement, and I told them I couldn't help them without written permission from the Red Sox. Sure enough, the chamber was able to get written permission from the Red Sox front office, and we did the first and only official run of WooSox merch. I get hounded nearly everyday from friends and customers to purchase it from me, but I can't do it because we are not licensed to sell it. In fact, the logos we made are not even the official logos yet, it's likely to change. Their branding (or name) isn't finalized. We were only granted permission to create apparel for the announcement.

Are you hoping to land work for whatever the Worcester team will be called?

Yes, absolutely!

This interview was conducted and edited for length and clarity by Zachary Comeau, WBJ staff writer.

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