We wanted to share a little bit of our behind the scenes. Miann & Co, while a super small business, we are a busy machine behind closed doors and sometimes our hard work is dismissed because we work and produce in a global community. To be exact, we work predominately out of China and have done now for nearly 7 years.
To often throw away comments are thrown or spewed from a place of completely naivety... "Oh it’s just made in China. Why isn’t this product cheaper, it's made in China? We should QC every style because it’s made in China. I won't buy made in China."
I am extremely proud and even lucky to work collaboratively with our suppliers in China. Lucky because our suppliers are true masters and they work with us despite our very small quantities. Yes you can produce in a global community and work with small quantities, but let me tell you the tenacity, industry knowledge and taking a collaborative approach is essential to nurture these relationships.
We visit regularly to our suppliers and each time need to adapt designs to changing cotton prices, wage increases, decreasing skill set due to the younger generation not wanting to learn the crochet craft, and the increased environmental policies and procedures. Just because we produce outside Australia, doesn’t make the job any easier. In some aspects it makes it harder - the financial outlay, the trips away from your family and the growing plagiarism issues of having and producing a brand in a global community are all real struggles for a micro business like ours.
We now work with a co–op of men and woman who work from home around their family and farming needs and also their own smaller family run businesses.
Both of our suppliers I have known for nearly 10 years and as one of our suppliers said this year, she sees us as an extension of her family.
We eat (this happens a lot on trips to china), we discuss life, kids and changing environments and manufacturing processes. It really is a collaboration and a mutual understanding and something I look forward to on a regular basis. We hand over designs that we have worked on for months in Australia and go through any unforeseen issues, different and new fabrications and new production methods.
Our businesses are intertwined on every level and are a global collaboration built on hard work and mutual respect.
I am going to be honest. So many times, particularly at pop up events, we have hurtful comments about our product simply because it is made in a different country. A business is automatically assumed to be paying next to nothing for a product despite China’s growing economy, be of a substandard quality despite China being masters of their craft and be of less value simply because it was made outside of our motherland.
My first ever visit to a supplier was to Syria in the Middle East – a solo and very naive 21-year-old female fresh out of design school. I have since visited India, China and Vietnam producers. I am huge believer in visiting your supplier regularly and understanding a countries customs and manufacturing policies before choosing to work with any supplier. Ethical is very easily written and sometimes harder to put into practice. For me seeing is believing and so important.
I guess for a long time I feel like producing in China has been a bit of a dirty word in marketing and we have therefore been a little reluctant to celebrate our makers more.
Hopefully sharing this will show that creativity and quality is a global movement and despite where a product is made, doesn’t make it any less in these key qualities.