We talk a lot about supply chains and business ecosystems here on “Takes from Silicon Valley East”. That’s why our recent conversation with Fremont-based Fossa Apparel, a designer and manufacturer of custom corporate apparel, intrigued us. On top of all the fun browsing we got to do during this fashion-focused visit, it was gratifying to see yet another business service right in our own backyard supporting Fremont’s local industries. We sat down with Eric Chen to discuss the company’s history and where it’s headed.

Q: As a corporate apparel and product company, Fossa presents an interesting juxtaposition of textile production in the midst of Silicon Valley. Can you describe how the company started and how it benefits from its proximity to the tech ecosystem?

Eric: The way that Fossa Apparel started actually did not have much to do with Silicon Valley, other than the fact that this is where its founders live. The primary founder, Judy, had been involved in the textile industry for over 30 years, but only found out about the promotional products industry through a friend after immigrating to the U.S. Witnessing the lack of high-quality and well-designed options in the promotional apparel market, Judy took note of the gap and business opportunity. She started the company in 2006 and quickly brought on her husband and daughter, and eventually the company grew to include her son and her son-in-law.

Being in close proximity to the tech industry definitely has its perks. Fossa is better able to develop and maintain relationships with tech companies and companies who service the tech industry. The continued industry boom also means more investments in marketing and employee gifts and programs, which has a nice trickledown effect forcompanies like ours.

Q: How do you adapt to the constantly changing fashion industry?

Eric: High fashion trends are very fickle, but everyone has pieces of clothing that are timeless, practical, and good for all kinds of occasions. That’s our target market. Our products are designed to serve their purpose for many years, not to be tossed out after one quarter or one year.

Q: What are the benefits of a family-owned and operated business?

Eric: With a family-owned and run business, there’s a sense of stability for us, as well as for the employees, in knowing that the management team is 100 percent committed to the company. With multiple close family members around the office every day, that close-knit culture is extended to our employees. Many of our customers and potential customers appreciate the fact that we’re not only a family-run operation, but also a female-owned and minority-owned business.

Q: What are your goals for the future of Fossa?

Eric: Our goals are obviously to continue to have the healthy growth that we’ve been experiencing and to continue to attract talented people to join and grow with us. We would like to eventually expand our business into the retail market, so that consumers have access to our products, not just corporate and resort clients. We have received a lot of interest and compliments over the years from end-users who came to own our products through events or corporate stores, and we’d like to be able to sell to them directly.