Beginnings: Looking for Chinese Suppliers in all The Wrong Places
It all started one day when a friend asked if I wanted to come along and see if we could go with him to find some hats. He needed to have them made to order: a specific color, logo, and some fake diamonds scattered on top.
My friend the small scale exporter
This friend is one who exports all sorts of things from China (on a small scale). Everything from furniture to IC chips. He’s done alright for himself, but would readily admit he’s still quite small-scale. But being able to make a decent living exporting and dealing with large numbers of small factories in China is already a significant achievement.
So where did we go on this fateful day? To the most crowded shopping area in Shenzhen, Dongmen, with thousands of individual vendors and not a few hat shops. My future partner had come along as well.
Everyone we talked to just looked confused. They quoted pretty low prices but didn’t seem too certain that they could do what we were asking. It was the first time I had asked small shop vendors if they could customize some good, and it was not to be the last. But it was the first in a series of experiences that led to this conclusion: don’t ever try to get something customized or specialized by regular small shops in China. It’s an enormous waste of time.
But at the time I was still unaware how incompetent such shops could be, and it looked promising. After all, the prices seemed incredibly low: how could they sell at such low prices and still make a profit from us?
Sealed at a Bar
The next day my friend and I went down to a nice outdoor bar called 3-D bar, sat down and began to talk about the idea of going ahead and doing this. At the time, I had just finished up one year of teaching English, had sold my car back home for extra money to live off, and didn’t have a whole lot to do with my time besides looking for a job. So it was set: we would try and set up a business exporting branded goods.
Little did we know what we were getting ourselves into. Check back soon to find out about how we started our small export business in Southern China.