"We are very proud of our ability to find great partners we can trust and who have safe and ethical business practices."
This is something our company boasts, it is something we were founded on and something we continue to do better than our competitors, but until I saw what this means with my own eyes I did not truly understand.
On our way to our backpack factory outside of Shenzhen, China, I was not sure what to expect. Like most of us, I did not have a great picture in my head of what a factory in China would look like, feel like, smell like, be like. I knew that our company always says our partners are great, but passing many factories that looked quite the contrary, I started to wonder what the definition of "great" was.
When we pulled up, the building was very nice and we were greeted by extremely friendly employees of the factory who welcomed us very warmly. We went to their showroom, where they had lots of samples of new colours set up for us to see, and lots of bags on display that they have done for other very reputable companies.
Our Creative Director talked to their Designer and head Production Manager for hours about our next bag and all of the possibilities (I can't wait to show you guys this!). While they spoke they brought in their zipper supplier to discuss possibilities, and several other people in different departments all talking about materials, zippers, functions, etc. It was enthralling and also a bit exhausting.
The amount of knowledge they have about manufacturing bags is amazing, and the openness to innovation really surprised me and made me even more excited. Working with factories remotely I have learned they usually have a tendency to simplify - do just enough to get the job done and shipped out the door. So it was a breath of fresh air to see we have a true partner who is as excited about our (sometimes troublesome) innovations as we are.
We then got to see some of our samples actually being made. We left the showroom and went to the sampling room, where a team of specialists work together to make handmade quality products. Their passion and attention to detail was extremely impressive and really reinforced the quality we get from this factory. We are very excited about our new colours coming this summer! Sunset Point (orange and tan, my new favourite!) and Sangria (a beautiful and versatile dark red).
After this we had a tour of the rest of the factory, their well laid out teams of people working on different parts of bags, where they store the materials, where they store the tooling, etc. Side Note: Tooling for backpacks is literally a metal cut out that is specifically formed to shape your bag's specific backpack parts so that each design is unique.
Once the tour was over, we, of course, went for some authentic Chinese food. Delicious trays of Sichuan chicken, mala pork, dumplings, turnip cakes, curry and more. Needless to say, it was an amazing experience from beginning to end. I left very confident in our partners, very excited about our new colours and our next bag, and very, very full.