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I have a beautiful granddaughter who was born with Down syndrome. She has enough challenges to face in her life and I want to make sure that finding appropriately fitting clothes will not be one of them.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

At last some good news

Since my last writing explaining the need to find a new jeans factory, good luck has finally come my way.  April ended on a very good note!
First Jillian prepared three samples to send to three different factories.  When I started looking for quotes, I made sure the factories where in the same town that I visit in China.  I didn’t want to travel anywhere else.  Besides, Xintang is the jeans capital of the world.  Another thing I’d like to mention, I sent out requests to 10 American companies (that use Chinese manufacturers) and not ONE got back to me…not one!  What a shame that Americans didn’t even want to give me a quote.  Unfortunately, I cannot use a factory that makes the jeans in the U.S., the cost is just too high.
We prepared a muslin sample of the pants, the paper pattern, the spec sheets and a sample of denim fabric to send to each factory.  When the factory finished their sample, I asked each factory to send me pictures first before they mailed them and to measure the jeans to make sure they matched our specs.  I told them don’t bother to mail them if they aren’t correct.  The samples fit into a small mailing envelope and sent via the Post Office who uses FedEx for their Express International shipping.  The cost to mail the sample package was $75.00/each.
The first factory wanted $120.00 to make a sample.  He wanted the money sent by Western Union which cost $14.00.  I had never heard of paying so much for a sample but I assumed he was including the cost to ship it back to me so it seemed reasonable knowing how expensive shipping costs were.  After sending the money, he agreed to begin the sample.  He finished very quickly and sent pictures right away.
The photos looked great and I was amazed! Then I asked him how he would mail the sample back to me and he said he would need another $55.00 for shipping.  What!!!!  I couldn’t believe my ears.  There was no way I was paying another $55.00.  I told him that his charges were unreasonable and I refused to pay his shipping cost.  I told him that if he wanted to do business with me, he would have to pay those charges himself.  He refused to mail them to me.  So I told him I would be in China soon and he could deliver the sample to my hotel when I got there. 
I discussed what his minimum order was going to be and he told me that it would be 500 per style.  This was also too high, I couldn’t afford this large of quantity per style but he refused to work with me on this matter either.  I didn’t like this guy at all and I knew I would never want to do business with him. 
The second company had a young girl as their representative.  She told me her speaking English was not too good but her written English was good enough that we could communicate through the instant message system.  Skyping with her was not possible she said because of her spoken English.  Her charge for making a sample was only $23.00 and I was able to pay through PayPal.  The sample was finished in good time and she sent pictures which looked very nice as well.  But she said the measurements were incorrect and did not match our specs.   She said they would make another sample right away.  Her minimum order was 300 per style.
The third company I had sent a sample to was represented by a young man, his business name was Joey.  He didn’t charge me a dime for the sample and the sample was completed very quickly.  He sent pictures and they were fantastic and said the pants measured correctly to our specs.  So I had him mail them (he didn’t charge me any shipping costs either).  They arrived in 3 days.  I couldn’t believe it.  They were perfect.  They looked fantastic and every measurement was precise.  I’d never gotten a perfect sample before and I was elated.  The final test would be to try it on our model, but I just knew they would fit.  The style we sent them to make was the Marcie Dip Down Jeans.
Well, they fit her so perfectly, I was in tears.  To have this sample be this perfect the first time was beyond my expectations.  I was so used to getting bad samples over and over again, that I didn’t expect this.  He also agreed to work with me on the minimum orders and told me I could go as low as 250 per style.  This was just too good to be true.
I leave for China in just a few days and will meet this young man in person.  I will tour the factory where he will make the jeans.  Jillian is preparing more samples for me to take with me to give to him.  Of course, until I see how they produce the jeans, I won’t know for sure how good this company is, but from what I’ve seen so far, I’m not worried at all.  I’m so encouraged by these new results.
Now for the status of the children’s jeans:  Andy told me they would be shipping today, May 1.  Because I’ve waited so long for these jeans to be completed, I’m not putting any money on it.  I’ll wait until my next entry to let you know about the results of the children’s jeans.
We’ve finsihed preparing the website for the sale of the children’s jeans.  I’ve also added the ability to use all credit cards on the website as well.  Up until now, the only way someone could order would be by using their PayPal account.  The cost to include all the credit cards is expensive so I’ve held off doing this until now.  Hopefully, it will make ordering from our site more convenient.
My Chinese lessons are going very well.  The course I’m taking has 90 lessons and as of today, I’ve completed 46.  I’m excited to actually try out what I’ve learned.  Andy will be picking me up from the train station on Sunday and he promises that we will speak lots of Chinese together.  He’s been a good friend and a great teacher.  I look forward to seeing him again.
If you ask me if I will continue to work with Andy, the answer will be yes; even after all our problems.  After opening his own factory last year, I can see that this was the source of his dismay. Apparently, his partner was supposed to be in charge of production but failed in leading their workers.  They were out of control and Andy was trying to manage production as well as everything else.  It was too much for one person to handle so his business was suffering and we ultimately got lost in the shuffle. He’s now taken his factory’s name and split from his partner.  He’s paired up with a large factory now who will handle the production and he will manage the sales for his business.  This is what he does best and I think he will do a better job for us in the future.  We’ll see how it goes from here.
Without his help and support, I would not have been able to negotiate and deal with these other manufacturers.  He’s been my teacher of this industry for over two years and I'm not afraid to work with other factories now.  I understand about the clothing industry so much more, especially jeans.  I am confident now that I can deal with foreign manufacturers in China.  Jeans are so unique and difficult to make, most would not realize their challenges and Andy has helped me every step of the way; I’m grateful for how much he has taught me.  So I’m chalking up these last few years as if I had gone to school…now I’m ready to graduate. 

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