Many an evening spent in Melbourne’s south east, drilling down to the core principles and ethics behind the vision of “TheFlipFlopCo” start up. We knew what we wanted; we knew where we wanted to go; we knew what we stood for. One thing we didn't know was how to execute the production successfully. After going back and forth, we couldn't shake the fact that all signs pointed to China.
As two outsiders looking in, this didn't seem right.
How could a company born out of the need to provide a sustainable and environmentally conscious alternative to harmful PVC and EVA flipflop’s, possibly consider Chinese production.
We researched…and researched again.
After going back and forth with emails, questions, specifications and samples with a whole host of manufacturers, we made the plunge and flew to China.
Having travelled to the main spots in China previously, we had a brief idea about the country. Beautiful landscapes, intense cities, vast varieties of local foods; all the criteria required for the avid traveller.
For years there has been questions surrounding Chinese production. Stories regarding inferior quality, cheap labour, poor working conditions, quality control issues, language barriers and simple access to production companies.
Companies that are set up to offer a quick, cheap alternative to western produced products, in order for retail companies to make a quick buck….the reality is quite the opposite.
Having met with these companies first hand, and experienced their openness and hospitality, toured their factories and experienced their working conditions, we were blown away in all areas.
With relationship building being such an important part of our visit, we were keen to immerse ourselves in the local culture, and experience the Chinese way of doing business.
Within business, it is customary to begin a meeting with a traditional Gonfu Tea Ceremony. This involves sitting around a table, whilst the host prepares fantastic tea for the group. From there, attempts are made to bridge the language gap which can involve anything from pictures, gestures and poor acting; like a game of Charades after a few wines!!!
This is a strange, yet fascinating experience, and one that helps to forge a partnership between two otherwise distance parties.
Chinese people are fantastic at accomodating english speaking outsiders as well as they can. They love to talk and engage with people from other countries. The language barrier may be huge, but with a little ingenuity and patience, two diverse groups from highly varied backgrounds are able to come together and not only establish basic communication, but laugh and joke together. #lovetravel #cultural
We returned home; tired and weary, but excited. An issue that we had deliberated over for weeks on end, one of which we were almost scared to pursue, and one we thought could have threatened our already fragile start up had turned into a great success.
A positive. Possibly even a strength.