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Los Angeles
2024 SPESA Advancements in 
Manufacturing Technologies Conference
Los Angeles | April 11, 2024

Speaker Bios

Meet the industry experts who spoke at the 2024 SPESA Advancements in Manufacturing Technologies Conference in Los Angeles. Speakers denoted with an asterisks sponsored the event. 

Marty Bailey, President of Manufacturing, US Standard Apparel

Marty Bailey has served in the apparel industry for 40 years.  He spent nearly fourteen years at American Apparel, holding various positions including COO, President of Manufacturing and Chief Manufacturing Officer.  Arriving at American Apparel in March of 2002, he was challenged with a young $20 million dollar company that had tremendous growth opportunities, but had operational and financial obstacles.  Working with the founder, and through the steady and managed growth of production flow infrastructure, the company was able to experience extraordinary sales growth year after year, exceeding $600 million dollars in 2013, in combined wholesale, e-commerce and retail venues.  

In 2023, Marty accepted a position and is currently President of Manufacturing at US Standard Apparel, in Vernon, CA.  USSA is a cut and sew manufacturer of knit T-shirts and Fleece products and a former customer of TSG.  In a short period, Marty and the USSA team have implemented a fully automated cutting department. As well they have reset the sewing operations into team-oriented manufacturing and implemented multiple automated Unit Production (Hanger) Systems.  Finally, the company has invested heavily in effective sew automation to promote sew efficiency and quality. These investments also aid to de-skill relative operations and minimize training time. The consensus goal of the company is to steadily become the premier manufacturer and provider of knit blanks in the USA.

Nayantara Banerjee, Workforce Development Manager, Garment Worker Center

Nayantara Banerjee is a former small business owner with over a decade of experience in custom garment tailoring & alterations. She studied Fashion Design as an undergraduate, and pursued graduate studies researching Labor & Responsibility in the Apparel Industry. After several years of volunteering with Los Angeles’ Garment Worker Center, including facilitating creative sewing and pattern-making classes to upskill members, Nayantara is honored to work alongside garment workers to transform the industry as a Workforce Development Manager.


Christian Birky, Founder, Because Capital

Christian is the Founder and Managing Partner at Because Capital, a new investment and innovation firm focused on acquiring US apparel factories. Christian's start in the industry came as the founder of sustainable luxury brand Lazlo, for which he was recognized as a leading global innovator by Ashoka. Lazlo custom-developed organic fabrics and set up a cut and sew operation in Detroit. Christian is a founding board member of the Industrial Sewing and Innovation Center in Detroit and the co-founder of Nimbly, an apparel startup building out digital infrastructure to move from a supply-driven to a demand-driven system. He holds a degree from Princeton.

Helen Campbell, Planning Director, City of Los Angeles City Council District 1

As the director for Councilmember Hernandez, Helen guides and advises on all major development and planning related policy in the district on behalf of CD 1 constituents which consists of over 250,000 residents. 

Helen has nearly two decades of policy and planning experience in the nonprofit, local, and state government sectors to advance equitable outcomes in housing, transportation, environmental justice, and community economic development. She most recently worked for the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research where she managed regional planning programs, and co-developed land use policies and legislation at the intersection of housing, climate and equity. She also recently served the City of Los Angeles as a City Planning Commissioner. Helen holds an MA in Urban and Regional Planning from UCLA.

Stephanie Choi, CEO, Rewilder

Stephanie is a problem solver with a passion for zero waste thinking that stems from her cultural upbringing as a first generation Chinese-American. She grew up playing in the trash piles of her parents’ small cut-and-sew factory in Alhambra, CA, where she first started upcycling rags into one-of-a-kind shirts. She loves making bone broth because it's similar to upcycling: a humble process of alchemy starting from remnants that undergo transformation against all odds. She applies her background in science, research, marketing, and storytelling to share Rewilder's vision for waste reduction.

Garrett Gerson, Founder & CEO, Variant 3D*

Garrett is the founder and CEO of VARIANT3D, the disruptive technology platform pioneering the future of textiles with 3D knitting. The team at VARIANT3D is paving the way for the textile industry to become a leader in sustainability, transparency, and innovation. Our goal is to connect factories, domestically and globally, to produce on-demand, customizable, and sustainable textiles with near-zero waste. Our focus is education, lowering domestic factory costs, and enabling industry-wide adoption of our digital twin LOOP design software. Garrett sat on the Innovation Board for Peter Diamandis's XPrize Foundation, where he's committed to nurturing businesses to develop industry-changing technology that brings us closer to a better, safer, and more sustainable world.

Daisy Gonzalez, Campaigns Director, The Garment Worker Center

Daisy Gonzalez has over 10 years of experience in community organizing around issues of responsible development, union jobs, local hiring, and affordable housing. She is deeply committed to building power alongside low-income communities of color. She co-led the effort in 2021 to pass garment worker led legislation — the Garment Worker Protection Act — in California. Daisy is proud to be a part of the GWC team and to work with garment workers everyday to fight exploitation in the industry.

Jen Guarino, President & CEO, ISAIC*

As an accomplished executive and a leading voice for the advancement of domestic manufacturing, Jen Guarino led the creation of the Detroit-based manufacturer Shinola's leather manufacturing unit. Promoted to VP of Manufacturing, Guarino's responsibilities grew to include more categories as well as key manufacturing partnerships.

Guarino is sought after as a speaker and thought leader. Speaking at varied audiences from Ted talks to industry groups her message advocates for change and innovation. With a futuristic and human-centric eye towards manufacturing Guarino is on the forefront of global shifts towards sustainable and responsible supply chains.  Guarino is fully committed to quality domestic manufacturing and passionate about the return of valuing tradespeople and the work they do. A robust leader in all aspects of manufacturing, Guarino is as comfortable on the floor interacting with line workers as in an executive suite.

In 2012 she was named Minnesota Manufacturing Awards CEO of the year. In 2016 and 2021, she was recognized by Crain's Detroit Business as one of Michigan's 100 Most Influential Women. She currently serves as President and CEO of ISAIC.

Jen holds a bachelor's degree in fine arts from the University of Oklahoma, where she competed as a Division I volleyball athlete.  She completed special study programs at the Academy of Arts, San Francisco. Her early career focused on fashion illustration, creative direction and product design/development. She eventually transitioned to business development becoming Vice President of Brand Management for The Sak in 1998. In 2003 she became CEO and co-owner of JW Hulme, a struggling 100-year-old leather manufacturing firm. While there she righted the company and set a new direction of success.

SK Gupta, Ph.D, Smith International Professor, Aerospace & Mechanical Engineering Department, University of Southern California (USC) School of Engineering; Director, USC Center for Advanced Manufacturing

Dr. Satyandra K. Gupta holds Smith International Professorship in the Viterbi School of Engineering at the University of Southern California and serves as the Director of the Center for Advanced Manufacturing. His research interests are physics-informed artificial intelligence, computational foundations for decision-making, and human-centered automation. He works on applications related to Robotics and Manufacturing Automation. He has published more than four hundred technical articles in journals, conference proceedings, and edited books. He is a fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), Solid Modeling Association (SMA), and Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME). He is a former editor-in-chief of the ASME Journal of Computing and Information Science in Engineering. He has received numerous honors and awards for his scholarly contributions. Representative examples include a Young Investigator Award from the Office of Naval Research in 2000, Robert W. Galvin Outstanding Young Manufacturing Engineer Award from SME in 2001, a CAREER Award from the National Science Foundation in 2001, a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers in 2001, Invention of the Year Award at the University of Maryland in 2007, Kos Ishii-Toshiba Award from ASME in 2011, Excellence in Research Award from ASME Computers and Information in Engineering Division in 2013, Distinguished Alumnus Award from Indian Institute of Technology, Roorkee in 2014, ASME Design Automation Award in 2021, and Distinguished Alumni Award from Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi in 2022. He has also received ten best paper awards at international conferences. He serves as a member of the Technical Advisory Committee for Advanced Robotics for Manufacturing (ARM) Institute and a member of the National Materials and Manufacturing Board (NMMB).

Frank Henderson, Owner & President, Henderson Sewing Machine Co.*

Frank Henderson is President of Henderson Sewing Machine Co., Inc., one of the largest distributors of industrial sewing machines, sewing machine parts, and associated products in the world. Founded in 1968, Henderson Sewing Machine Co. is known for offering customers the highest quality products at competitive prices with superior customer service. 


Mr. Henderson has more than 40 years of experience in the textile and sewn products industries. He has held a wide variety of industry, community, and national positions including Chairman of SPESA, President of Lurleen B. Wallace Community College Foundation, Covington County Economic Development Commission Board, President of Andalusia Area Chamber of Commerce, and has been named to Who’s Who in U.S. Executives. He received a degree from Auburn University’s Department of Textile Engineering.

Justin Hershoran, Senior Solutions Architect, Aptean*

Justin brings over 25 years of industry experience, and was part of the original team who developed the Shopfloor concept and software. He has had a creative outlook on the software from day one, with a focus on efficiency and saving as many seconds as possible in the daily life of an operator. Today, he is focused on the continued growth of the shopfloor platform including the addition of functionality to further help manufacturers become more efficient.

Jerker Krabbe, CEO, Eton Systems AB*

Jerker Krabbe is the CEO and majority owner of Eton Systems since 4 years. His background is in leading positions in large Swedish multinationals in among others white goods, construction and security segments.


The textile business is the latest and the most interesting business due to its innovative, complex and global environment Jerker mentions. Leading and growing a tech textile company like Eton Systems in this environment is very exciting and rewarding but it requires a lot of experience in order to understand the textile industry.

Eric Lee, Executive Director, Americas, Alvanon*

Eric Lee is Executive Director for the Americas at Alvanon. He’s leading the charge to bring Alvanon’s innovative new ai-powered fit solutions to market. Eric has spent the past 14 years in the apparel industry, specializing in international Ecommerce and digital design. Eric believes that, with the right tools and technology, apparel brands can create sustainable processes and clothes that actually fit. 

Ilse Metchek, President, California Fashion Association*

Ilse Metchek, the President of the California Fashion association (CFA), created the organization in 1994, with assistance from the major financial and manufacturing participants of the region’s apparel industry. The CFA provides leaders of the Southern California’s manufacturing and textile community with the opportunity to share information about the business of conducting business in the current global economy.

Prior to the formation of the CFA, Mrs. Metchek was Executive Director of the California Market Center (then called the California Mart), and before that, she was President of White Stag Inc., a division of Warnaco Industries. As a manufacturer, Metchek was Owner and President of Ilse M. Inc., which she purchased from the Anjac Corporation in 1984. Her career at Anjac began as the company’s designer in 1967; and seventeen years later, she owned the company!

Ms. Metchek was appointed to the U.S. Department of Commerce Exporters’ Textile Advisory Committee (ETAC) in 1998, and still serves in that capacity. Her public service includes participation on the Executive Board of the California Fashion Foundation, the Advisory Council of UCLA Extension, Board member of the Los Angeles Economic Development Corporation and the Vernon Chamber of Commerce.

As a member of the Board of Directors of the Fashion Industries Guild of Cedars Sinai Medical Center, she was honored as the Person of the Year in 2001.

Paul Minestrella, Vice President of Sales & Marketing, STC-QST

Paul Minestrella graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University’s School of Business in 1997 with a degree in Business Marketing and a Minor in Economics.  Since then he’s worked in the Apparel Industry for Levi Strauss & Co, owned an independent, multi-brand showroom and now runs the Sales and Marketing for STC-QST,  one of the largest suppliers of apparel inner construction materials in the Western United States.  

Tirsa Parrish, Cofounder/Managing Partner, Fashion Index

Tirsa graduated with a degree in Fashion Design and Merchandising from Marist College. When she started her career she could design product with the best of them, but had limited knowledge of how to translate that into the manufacturing world to build and sell product profitably. She has dedicated herself to learning and mastering every aspect of product development and the supply chain to have a truly holistic view of how to create and build a business in the fashion industry from end to end.  


She co-founded Fashion Index in 2020 to bridge the gap between small to mid-sized companies and brands in the fashion industry and the resources that are scaled to work with them. Through Fashion Index, she is able to share that knowledge and industry acumen with the larger fashion community. With the tenets of Sustainability and Make-It-Local (To You), Fashion Index is an industry leading platform determined to move the industry towards an environmentally friendly future.

Ketty Pillet, Vice President Marketing, Americas, Lectra*

Ketty Pillet is a seasoned professional with a wealth of experience in international marketing, Customer Relationship Management (CRM), and sales within the industrial high-tech sector. Currently serving as the Vice President of Marketing, Americas for Lectra, Ketty oversees the marketing efforts for Lectra's industry 4.0 solutions in the Americas.

With a career spanning two decades, Ketty has established herself as a leader in the industry. Before her role at Lectra, she held the position of VP Marketing for Gerber Technology, where she played a pivotal role in the global marketing and communication strategies for Gerber's acclaimed software and automation solutions.

Ketty Pillet's journey in the tech sector began at Oracle (Siebel), where she served as a Solution Consultant for CRM solutions, gaining valuable insights into the intersection of technology and customer relationship management.

Ketty is a proud alumna of the École Supérieure De Commerce Tours in France, where she earned her MBA. Additionally, she holds a Bachelor of Science in Business and Technology from Coventry University in England.

Michael Rabin, Sales Director of the Americas, Morgan Tecnica Spa*

Drawing upon more than 35 years in the apparel industry, Michael Rabin’s experience covers all facets of product development and production, with the use of design, merchandising, production, and management best practices. Michael has in-depth knowledge of the complete process, including the initial concept to sourcing production through global sourcing networks, using a variety of
software tools and applications to deliver to retailers and wholesalers worldwide.

In the late 90‘s, combining manufacturing and technology experience, Michael developed an innovative application which enabled the merchandiser to customize a generic product for fashion wholesalers, manufacturers and importers.

Michael later went on to successfully sell innovative ERP/PLM solutions to vertical fashion companies, bringing new European technology to the North American marketplace.

Today, Michael Rabin is Sales Director of the America’s for Morgan Tecnica Spa. Morgan Tecnica is a technology/product solution company for Textile related and manufacturing companies worldwide, featuring some of the most innovative tools for 3D, CAD, Cut Order Planning software and integrated machinery for all area’s of material handling, spreading and cutting. Morgan Tecnica’s
technology/products are viewed as some of the most dynamic in the product machinery, and among the first to bring these new technologies and products to the North/South American Market.

John Robinson, Senior Strategic Account Manager - Apparel, Aptean*

Sales, marketing, and business development executive with 30-year history of record setting revenue generation and successful new technology product launches in retail, apparel, footwear, accessories, home and other sewn-products industries. Core competencies include sales management and leadership, strategic account sales and management, international sales (Latin America, Asia, Europe, Eastern Europe and the Middle East), marketing and promotion, operations management, field sales, inside sales, and CRM implementation.

Ram Sareen, CEO & Co-Founder, Tukatech*

For half a century, Ram Sareen has served the garment industry with an extensive history characterized by one word: disruptive. This philosophy is ingrained in Tukatech, the fashion technology solutions company Sareen founded in 1995. 

Tukatech is credited with successfully bringing digital pattern making to dozens of countries and are an innovative leader in virtual sample making for design and fit with real-time motion simulation. They were the first to develop and implement on-demand manufacturing processes and are known for advanced cutting room solutions. Tukatech’s robust systems are implemented by fashion experts from all corners of the garment industry.

Kyle Stephens, CEO & Co-Founder, KolAi Denim

Kyle received his PhD in Cognitive Science in 2015, then worked on Innovation for VF Corporation and Kontoor Brands from 2016-2020. In 2021 he co-founded KolAi which provides A.I.-based design tools for the denim industry. 

Sven Sörbö, Sales Manager, California/Mexico & Technical Sales Specialist, Eton Systems AB*

Senior Technical Sales Manager Designing and sell Eton overhead handling system solutions with more than 40 years experience with Eton Systems. Love to find solutions that makes a difference in our customers production. 

Responsible for the Californian, Mexican, Central American, Scandinavian, German and French markets. 

Guadalupe Tlatenchi, Small Factory Owner, GTLA Apparel

Guadalupe Tlatenchi is founder and CEO of GTLA Apparel Development, inc. Growing up in the heart of the fashion district she has been inspired by her community to build a more responsible and equitable apparel manufacturer. Using her past experiences to break barriers and build a company that helps brands and designers at every stage of the production process, from apparel design, product development and in-house manufacturing. 

Thank You to Our Sponsors!


Official Knowledge Partner


Fibre2Fashion has been a forerunner serving as a single-stop solution for the Textile-Apparel & Fashion industry, carving a niche for over 2 decades. With a strong global presence and widespread reach in the industry Fibre2Fashion is a world leader in facilitating businesses with critical & accurate industry information, innovative brand building solutions, market research insights for textile sector Fibre2Fashion is a name synonymous as ‘Knowledge Disseminator’ that delivers exactly what matters to the industry and businesses in the textile industry.

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