When I initially decided that I wanted to work on my clothing line while in China, I planned on just going to one of the tailors on the streets of what ever city I ended up in- at least that’s what all the travel articles I read online suggested!
A conversation about how I was going to go about creating my line was actually what sparked Vivian’s interest to hop on the “BagLady Basics train” (the name BagLady Basics was later decided).
She basically laughed at what I thought was an ingenious plan. Having years of experience in the trade/manufacturing/production industry in China (and one year in Dubai), Vivian began to explain to me the importance of approaching the production of – then my samples, in a way that was up to industry standards. She said that approaching it this way may be more costly, but would prove beneficial in the long-term.
Of course being a newbie I was grateful for her advice, we became partners, and started to work.
Throughout all of the many crazy experiences I’ve had thus far on this side of the world. I’ve managed to meet many amazing individuals, who by their actions have reminded me of the kind of people we all should be. Kind, selfless, helpful, generous- you know, how we reallllly should be! Haha
On Friday we made our bi-monthly trip to our little workshop to meet with Zhang- the sweetest lady who’s in charge of making our garments. As usual I was moved by her hospitality and overall devotion to BLB, and decided that I would introduce her to you all.
Runnin through Guangzhou- literally at times. This "fabric market" was more like a mall with over 5 floors.
Meeting Zhang for the first time at the pastry shop. *That's Joy in the middle.
Finding a factory that was willing to take our small business seriously was a task, especially since our orders were very small. Fabric in hand- literally, we spent some time searching Guangzhou for a small factory that would take our business. After being turned down, and literally ignored by a few small factories, we finally found one that was willing to work with us- and they seemed nice!
A week later, our first set of samples were made, and they were perfect! We felt as though we made progress, and were very excited to move on to the next phase! Then we got a quote, and minimum quantity for future production of our perfectly made samples… lets, just say we kept it moving, started and brainstorming.
We live in Guangdong province, which is known for production of the world of products, our city is specifically known worldwide for the production of clothing- so we knew that somewhere out there was at least one person willing to help us.
I suggested that we asked our friend Joy; she’s our go-to-person for any question that we've had production wise, and has a wide network. Within 5 minutes into our conversation, she let us know that she has a friend that has a small workshop and would be willing to help!
That’s when we met our factory angel Zhang!
Zhang is actually best friends with Joy- which I’m pretty sure contributed to her willingness to assist! She had a small workshop and once supplied garments to Taiwanese clothing brands. Unfortunately, Zhang lost these clients due to overall increasing production costs in factories in China.
Vivian & I had our first meeting with Zhang at our favorite bakery/pastry shop. Joy introduced us, and after casually chatting, we immediately got to work- right there on the patio, Zhang pulled out her measuring tape, we showed her our sketches, and that was the start of our amazing relationship with her & her team.
Zhang works with a team of two, a pattern maker, and a tailor, to render carefully constructed BagLady Garments. She goes the extra mile for us- sometimes literally driving out to our town if for some reason we can’t make it to her workshop.
It’s such a blessing that we've met Zhang! She doesn’t speak English, which motivates me to learn more Chinese as most times I just really want to express my gratitude towards her!
The process of communicating to her what we want our garments to look and feel like has become very organic and I’ve come to look forward to these very informal meetings.
If Zhang comes to us, we usually meet at my studio apartment, sit on my bed, or couch, eat fruit and discuss business- Vivian translating of course.
We always look forward to going to the workshop however, it ends up being a day outing, that includes, eating at restaurants, shopping in the street markets, eating street food & desserts, and of course actually doing BLB related things like sample fittings, and fabric sourcing. Sometimes we even visit Zhang’s home (where we’ve met her mom, dad, and son), sit on her bed, chat and eat fruit of course!
On our last trip to the workshop we met Zhang’s husband Thomas, he speaks some English, so he has an English name (Zhang doesn’t want one). We were at our favorite restaurant discussing the need for us to make plans together for Chinese National Day, and it was then I realized how much we’ve actually become family. Here we all were, once strangers a few months ago, chatting about what we should do together once we all had time.
It was a wonderful feeling. I tried to not let it overwhelm me, but that moment I felt truly blessed.
I want our brand to succeed for many reasons. But I’ve added another reason to my list lately…
I want BagLady Basics to succeed so that we can be a blessing to Zhang & her family- just as they have been to us.
Having lunch with Thomas, Zhang and Vivian.