I decided, that if I was going to 'do this,' I was going to be true to my authentic self and manufacture according to the values by which I strive to live:
I'm manufacturing a fun product, so I wanted to make sure that all stakeholders were treated well. From me as the Founder, my supportive family and friends, the great people working with me, our community, our customers, the people making the products AND the environment (more on this later!).....we wanted ALL to be well-treated.
The journey has been very interesting, and a HUGE learning curve! We could have entered the market sooner if we decided to get product to market in the usual way. However, that is NOT who we, as a Company, want to be. We decided to take the time to find potential factories, visit them, then have Social Audits done to ensure compliance with our Company values.
Here is a sample of what we looked for:
If a factory didn't already have major Western Social Compliance accreditation, we sent an American Company, In Touch Manufacturing Services, to conduct Social Compliance audits. This company has branches in many Asian countries and understands the culture where our potential factories are located. Their audit list is extensive and we felt that, if a factory passes In Touch's audit, we could feel good about moving forward with that factory.
Now, we heard that not all Chinese factories allow audits. We decided that if a factory refused an audit, we wouldn't work with that factory. To my surprise (and delight) we discovered that most factories (in China) were happy to allow inspectors inside. The factory managers and owners realize that many Westerners still feel that Chinese factories are 'hiding something' and these managers are eager to show that their factories are NOT what we might think!
The photo above was taken with one of the factory managers and two of her brilliant sample makers. They welcomed us with open-arms and the visit was wonderful.
With our plan for Social Compliance in place, we then began to focus on product accuracy in production and QUALITY.......