WOW, we are so grateful to have visited China recently! The entire trip opened my eyes to the bigger world, and I left with a totally new perspective and respect for China and its people.
Earlier this year, we were lucky to meet my clothing suppliers in Sydney, which prompted the discussion and opportunity to visit our suppliers' factory in person.
Visiting my suppliers and being in the factories for the first time to be involved in the process and creation of our kākahu and products, connecting with our manufacturers and strengthening my relationship with them was really important. I really wanted to work on and finalise my new releases; it was important that I do that in person.
Our factory is about 1.5 hours from the fabric market where our team source our fabrics, so I had a new appreciation for the effort that goes into searching for our fabric requests. It was awesome to go in and feel the fabrics myself and learn about different fabrics. The manaakitanga from our agents was top tier.
Meeting our suppliers earlier in the year meant everything flowed freely in China.
Our suppliers were great at showing us the local spots. The owner and my husband really got along, and we're taking selfies everywhere we went, lol.
We were fortunate to visit the biggest fabric market in China, about 7 stories high. Every shop was fabric, except for a few accessories like buttons, belts, embroidery, etc. It was so fascinating!
They took us to try traditional Kai and to see significant landmarks in their cities, like the Canton Tower (The tallest tower in China) and the Guanyin Temple. They also took us to try traditional Cantonese kai, and I have to say it's the best kai I've ever tasted!
They also had terotero as a delicacy and parengo as well. I rarely saw fizzy drinks or juice. They drink a lot of hot and cold tea with everything.
The biggest adjustment for me was the amount of people, but you get used to it. Everyone moves around each other. Same with the cars. They don't wear helmets on scooters and motorbikes, and I saw so many people on their phones while on their scooters, just chilling on the motorway, lol. It's so different to home.
We spent most of the time being lost and feeling confused, lol. We were in a mall trying to go shopping, and it was so big that we spent 3/4 hours just trying to navigate our way around! The malls are HUGE! And we couldn't fit anything! Everything is in small sizes, even the shoes. I tried shopping for women's shoes, and they had to take me to the men's section, and I'm only a size 9!
If you have the opportunity to visit China, I recommend:
- Hiring a translator if you can't speak Chinese because English is VERY limited. We had Google translate, which really helped, but it was still a huge effort to pull your phone out everywhere.
- Get familiar with their payment methods because cash and EFTPOS/credit cards aren't accepted everywhere.
- Be prepared for the weather. We went in autumn, and it was so humid and hot! There was also a small typhoon that we luckily missed. Take clothes and shoes suitable for the weather and what you will be doing, and get familiar with their cultural customs and etiquette. It will come in handy!
My highlight was the culture! Even though they were scared of me lol I found that our cultures are similar in many ways. I enjoyed learning about their beliefs, whenua, reo, and kai.
So much to take in, but it was a trip of a lifetime. China was never really a place I ever planned on travelling to, but now I can't wait to go back! And next time, I really want to take our kids so they can experience the world, too.