Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Vanessa’s Sourcing Adventure in China Pt. 5

So I imagine a lot of you reading this love to shop. Maybe you even own a shirt that proudly states “SHOPPING IS MY CARDIO”. I hear ya sista. I too love to shop. I love the smell of newly unwrapped leather handbags, the touch of silky printed scarves, and the sight of rows and rows of yet unseen merchandise new from the factory underneath gleaming bright fluorescent lighting. THIS was my first day of the Canton Fair (China Import and Export Fair) and I was in awe. Just the sheer size and scope of what was being sold here was mind boggling. The expo halls themselves were gigantic. I mean you could have golf carts shuttle you from one place to another, that’s how big this place was!
This was just ONE hall. There were more than 10!


Anything and everything China makes was for sale here. Toilet paper? Check. Handbags? Check. Shower curtains? Check. Sexy unicorn statue? Check. Yeah you read that right. Even though the lovely display of sexy unicorn statues was calling my name, I was focused. We were on a mission to source for our upcoming collections and there was nothing that was going to get in our way!

Ok, the rows and rows of ridiculous sunglasses might have distracted us for a minute or 10…lookin good guys.

I am proud to say we found some excellent factories we are interested in working with and ordered several samples to see the quality firsthand. Overall we sourced for 4 collections and within the few short days we attended, we found options for all of them! Yaaaay!

Like a kid in a candy store, we sifted through piles and piles of swatches for our upcoming handbag collection.

Here are some of my tips for navigating the Canton Fair and interacting with the sales reps:

1. It’s a given but WEAR COMFORTABLE SHOES AND DRINK SOME COFFEE/GET A GOOD NIGHT’S REST. This place is big, REALLY BIG so be prepared. You’re also going to have a lot of people to talk to so it’s best to be alert and coherent, my friend.

2. If you don’t know Mandarin or Cantonese, bring a translator. I saw a lot of non-Chinese people walking around with a Chinese person and I don’t like to speculate, but my guess is they were translators. Not everyone here can speak English very well and if you want the best deals and negotiations then it’s best to bring someone who speaks the language. Unless you like to point a lot and make nonsensical hand gestures. Whatever floats your boat.

3. Don’t necessarily look to work with the factory with the lowest price. Many of these factories sell similar items or can make the items you want to specification. They also have similar pricing and MOQ (minimum order quantity). So what sets them apart? Their willingness to work with you. It’s important to have a factory that is going to be willing to bend backwards for you and really wants your business. The economy is sluggish right now and they know that there are many of them and only one of you. So if they seem to not take you seriously or not be eager, then walk away. Find a factory that wants the order. It won’t take you long I promise. Side note: Make sure they also seem trustworthy because you’re not going to want to see your custom designs on their showroom floor next year. Trust your gut.

I hear that Hamld dude was a pretty conflicted guy…this was printed on a handbag. FOR SALE. Almost as good as the sexy unicorn, almost.
A mobile phone that can cook?! Was this really the main intention for the iPhone Steve Jobs?! Genious!