I am finally on my last leg of the 20-hour journey that started when we left Shanghai at 9:00 AM on October 20th. The coolest part about traveling home from China is that I’ll get to live the same day twice on two different continents. For the past ten days, my mom, who is also my business partner, and I have spent countless hours on planes, trains, and automobiles so that we could gain a whole new appreciation for how our products are made and the people behind the magic.
Our first visit required a three-hour car ride to a small town outside of Shanghai named Shengzhou. Our lovely driver picked us up at our hotel in Shanghai and drove us through the rural countryside to the factory of our supplier Michael. When we arrived, we received a very warm welcome from Michael, his office staff, and the people who work in the cutting and sewing factory. While we couldn’t communicate in English with anyone except Michael, the occasional use of our Google voice translator allowed us to have basic conversations with everyone else and they were all extremely kind and welcoming throughout our visit.
After two days with Michael in his city, we moved on to the city of Hangzhou. Hangzhou is a beautiful and bustling city that is home to nine million people as well as the incredible West Lake. We had an amazing visit with our newest supplier of three years. We were absolutely blown away by how young they were and the remarkable company they were running.
They picked us up at our hotel and took us to the office where we were greeted by a warm welcoming sign before each employee introduced themselves. Then we had a lovely conversation with the owners about business expansion ideas. Afterwards we were given tours of the print factory and the cutting and sewing factory before ending the day with a whole company hot pot dinner at a restaurant known for the best customer service in China. It was hands down a once in lifetime experience.
While I could go on about how wonderful our suppliers are and how fortunate we feel to be surrounded by loyal and honest companies, I would like to highlight the long process and all the people behind making the products that we deliver to our customers.
While customers are searching for discounts, they often don’t realize how many different people are involved in the work that goes into the final product that we deliver. These people work hard and are dedicated to their work. Fortunately, we have suppliers that take good care of their employees, treat them as family, and pay them good wages.
The products go through a multi-step, labor intensive process. This starts when the office receives the order, then checking the design to make sure everything looks correct before sending the fabric to be made. The fabrics are then either woven or printed before the fabrics are checked and verified, or then reprinted if the colors need to be adjusted. Once the fabrics are complete, they sent to be washed, steamed and dried. Then the fabrics are shipped to the cutting and sewing factories, where they are measured, cut, and sewn into ties, scarves, or shirts. Finally, they are prepared for export once they have a finished product.
While my description may seem simple, in actuality, it is incredibly complex. There are many different factories and employees that our products pass through requiring transport between factories in different cities and every detail has to be correct before they can put together the customer’s final product. I never really understood how asking for small details and changes on orders was a much bigger deal than I thought because of how it affected the final production.
So I want to share with you my newfound appreciation for our factories, the workers, the time and effort that goes into each of our orders and how dedicated our suppliers are.. Many factories in China will only produce garments or textiles with MOQ (minimum order quantities) of 1,000 pieces or higher. The amount of work and the process that goes into a thousand-piece order is the same amount that goes into one of our smaller 30 piece orders.
If we want to live up to our core values and be compassionate, we ask that our customers also understand all the hard work and precision that goes into making their custom product. I hope that this creates an understanding for why we are about fairly paying our suppliers, they are very every bit deserving. We hope that this helps you wear your custom product even more proudly now that you know the story behind it!