Thursday, September 12, 2013

My Black & White Idea

Greeting from Spain, where we have a sister company. Last week I was telling you about the strange conversations you can hear in Ancient Wisdom's customer service department. You can read it here.
I'm really excited, besides my self.. because this week my baby has finally arrived. Conceived in Bali, gestated in Bangalore, and birthed in Blighty this week. I'm talking of course about our new incense range: Dark Arts & White Magic.
It started like this.. I'm in Bali with our agent Ringo (who knows everything there is to know about Bali) and he is explaining to me why many of the statues are dressed up in black and white checked clothes. All over Bali you will see black and white chequered cloth draped over trees, statues, and worn by people in ceremonies. This special cloth is called saput poleng in the local language and is considered somewhat sacred. Often trees are wrapped in the cloth, this means that someone believes the tree is the home to some mystic spirit. Ringo told me that if you look carefully the material is black and white and grey. The pattern reminds us that good and evil are woven together. To truly know good you must also touch evil, we humans are the mixture, the grey in the cloth.
We were at one of our suppliers (the one who makes the mosaic turtles), businesses often burn incense for good luck but the incense I could smell was just really nice, evocative and fragrant. I went to check which incense it was and discovered a pack Darshan incense. I'd not heard of this company, based in Bangalore, where as luck would have it I was headed the week after. I'm pretty sure this was the moment of conception. That chequered cloth of Bali gave me an idea for a new brand of incense. I resolved to visit Darshan in Bangalore.
So as soon as I got to Bangalore I called them up and went to check them out. In total that week I visited maybe eight companies. Only two met our criteria for good working conditions, one of them was Darshan International.
A lovely company run by two brothers. South Indians, very gentle but very smart. They showed me round the factory, without any qualms and I was really impressed. Nice well ventilated working areas, and staff that seemed happy and motivated. What's more when I floated the idea of a new incense brand, they were hugely enthusiastic and offered up their in-house designer a guy called Vinod to work with our designer Helen, to put my concept into action. They both worked really hard on it, as did Carlos (our man in Spain), and you can see the packs are designed to be bilingual.
Here's the boss, just after we signed a deal to be exclusive distributors for Spain and UK.
Well that was back in October 2012, so the project has taken eleven months to fruition.. I hope you think it's worth it.. please check it out below.
One foot note to the story, I was back in Bangalore to to check on the projects progress in July, as it happened the Bali distributor was visiting the same day. Actually a family of six had all come, an old guy with his wife his son and his wife and their children. All very smiley and happy a real family business. We showed them the new incense range.. they were just absolutely delighted. I told them it was actually a packet of their incense that had started it off. The old guy took me to one side and pumping my hand with tears in his eyes he just thanked me for promoting Bali culture.
More news next week.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Our Eclectic Home and Back To School Offer

Greeting from Malaga, Spain where I have just landed after a brief visit to AW Sheffield. Last week I was telling you about our Ancient Wisdom wedding couple.
You can read it here.
Weddings don't get more eccentric and eclectic (I love that word) than theirs. But then any given day at AW can be pretty eclectic. Probably because our product range is stuffed with a load of esoteric and mystical stuff, our customers are also a pretty strange and eclectic bunch. When I say "strange" I mean that in a good way.
The other day I'm just stood in our order processing department. It was buzzing, every phone ringing, warehouse staff running in an out like bumble bees, and stuff been sorted out at a rapid pace. We have been rather busy this week, a short week because of the bank holiday, sort staffed because of the holiday season and a record number of orders received. I know we are a bit behind - so please bare with us. Honestly we are working hard to catch up.
Back to eclectic.. I was stood there just watching and listening to what was going on. If those government spy's are eaves dropping on our offices they may be a bit confused.
Kerry; (across the office) "I have The Arc Angel on the phone, can we add a pack or "Let Angels Pass" simmering granules. Ursula: "There's someone from Another Realm in reception"
Bruno: "I think the postcode for Cloud Nine is wrong.. Jessica: The courier can't find the entrance for "Heavens Gate".. Zoe: "Have you got that message from "Whispering Angels"?
No, it's really like that. And those really are the names of our customers. :)
Crrrrumbs! Have you noticed it's practically September.. which means it's almost Christmas. Action stations.
Actually this year I think we are more prepared than ever before. Thanks to a ton of hard work from Craige (warehouse manager) and his motley crew. The steady stream of containers (arriving for the busy season) have been offloaded and sorted and put away ready for the rush. Warehouse systems are go! We have more new and eclectic stock than ever before. The best ever deals, and faster selling lines, scummy soaps and bath-bombs etc etc.. You can't get better. (even if I say so myself :) )
Until next week take care.
ec·lec·tic (iˈklektik) Adjective: Deriving ideas, style, or taste from a broad and diverse range of sources.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Double Trouble

Greeting from... well believe it or not, the UK. I'm in Sunny Sheffield at Ancient Wisdom HQ.
Last week I was telling you about my Poetic Train trip in New Delhi, India. You can read it here.
Since then I have made a flying visit to our Spanish sister company and onward to Blighty.
Well.. just in time for an upcoming Bank Holiday weekend. Or officially known as "Late Summer Holiday".. in Scotland it's one week later. If you're feeling canny and up north then I guess you could hope over the border and claim a double bank-holiday.
There has been a DOUBLE wedding at AW.. Actually two folks that work at AW got married to each other this week. So I'm counting that as a double.
So big CONGRATS to... Urszula and Callum. If you are regular customers you will know that Urszula is a hyper-vibrant, super-organised, rather gothic, belly-dancing Polish gal, with a convincing Yorkshire accent. Callum is the stolid, mystical embodiment of Merlin the Wizard, complete with bushy beard, sage sayings and of sound British stock.

Urszula is headmistress of Customer Service, and Callum Dropshipping supremo. :) They got married in Poland.. which was double trouble. (I had suggested the staff room, with quick shindig in despatch and back to work, but they weren't impressed) - so we have been a touch short of staff this week. But those not invited to the wedding, have rather sportingly done a stomping job, and managed to keep the everything shipshape. Well done team!
Here's some picture..
Take care..

Friday, August 16, 2013

Poetic Train Trip

Greetings from Mumbai airport. Where today is Independence Day in India.
Last week I was telling you about the Chapatti Redeye flight from Shanghai to Delhi.
Since then I have bumping around India trying to complete a few missions. In Delhi with the help of our agent, Amit the Poet (yes he's really a poet - more later) we found a supplier of pretty cool block prints. Little hand carved wooden blocks, originally made for the sari industry, but now sold as beautiful craft items, you can decorate cards and letters with little owl, or yin-yang stamps.. Coming soon.
People kept telling me about the Delhi metro, how modern, clean and smart it was. Just like Shanghai metro. So off we went, Amit showing me the ropes. From Nehru Place to Grand Bazar. We bought a pass card it's mine for life. Pretty slick system, you just top up your card from time to time. Wave them at convenient machines and it tells you your balance. As you enter or leave stations it reduces your balance. It's scary cheap, just penny's per station.
Well it might have been state of the art two years ago, but like anything else run by the state here it has degenerated in to a state of glorious squalidness. Really the ticket booth is a den of badly written signs cracked glass and disinterested staff. Paint work is a splash job, and I can't say anything looked particularly clean. When I tried to take a picture, two security guys were on me in seconds. No pictures sir.. Why? Terrorists apparently.
The privately run airlines, five star hotels and top restaurants are the finest you can find. The contrast between the excellence of young private businesses and the rotten corruption of old establishment government is one those Indian culture shocks.
The train journey was predictably jolly. In the crush we quickly made friends, everyone asking me lots of questions, where are you from, how many children do you have, how much do you earn, do you know David Beckham? those sorts of things.. Then someone recognized Amit the Poet, and a large circle opened up in front of us in a kind of awe. For here amongst them is a very large man, with an impressive mustache and a big booming voice. Very soon we have a poetry rendition underway.
We get off the train at our stop and now have a following. This is India.. I love it.
More tales next week.
Take care.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Candle Factory Closed By Heat

Greetings from Yiwu, China. Last week I was telling you about how confusing the names are in Bali. You can read it here: By George that's Confusing. In China today, temperatures are just subsiding after some violent storms. Earlier it was the hottest and most humid in this region's history. Yiwu was stonking hot. In the 40's.. and even with air conditioning you seem to end up a sweaty mess by the end of the day, clothes like sodden rags. It's been so hot we have had to suspend candle production in our little factory, because the wax is behaving so strangely.
Yes, the massage candles from our factory just landed. I can tell you they were a huge job. To get the product perfect we had to ship essential oils from the UK, source the very best brand soywax in China and spent weeks perfecting the blends and designing the packaging. But the response is worth it.. I'm really pleased to see so many people enthusiastic.
Plus I think Tomas in marketing at HQ Sheffield has done a great job with the web pages. Any feedback, tips or ideas on how to retail or use in spa's or therapy sessions - that we can share - would be appreciated.
Talking about Bali (where the weather is always barmy and equitable), I'm pleased to report that our new little warehouse (you may have read previously) in Yellow Coconut Village near Ubud is in full swing.
Ringo (our agent) sent me pictures yesterday..
It's great because now our suppliers - who are all small family businesses can bring finished stock as they make it, and we can pay them faster. Another advantage is that since no artisans pack the goods in cartons for export, we can now do this job ourselves (rather than the local shipping agents, who charge way too much) and ensure that quality is good at the same time.
Before you ask.. there is a container enroute, arrives possibly next week.. and yes there are Hati Hati Angels on board.
Hati Hati - means take care in Indonesian.
So until next week - I'll be in India..
Hati Hati!
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Soybean Massage Candle has been carefully blended using only pure essential oils and natural plant waxes. Jojoba oil adds a tactile and luxury feel to this warm wax massage.
The ingredients are extremely rich and moisturising so a little will go a long way. Ideal for rubbing into those dry skin areas to replenish and nourish the skin. Made with the finest natural blend of waxes and only pure essential oils.

The Chapatti Redeye to Delhi

Greetings from Delhi, where I have just landed. Last week I was telling you about out hot it was in China (read it here). Last week in Yiwu the word was a plane had crashed in the little airport there. Impossible to find what happened initially, the web was quickly blocked. It turned out that the heat and direct sunlight on the end of runway had melted some of the tarmac, and the plane landed and sunk into the runway like swamp water. No one was hurt fortunately.
I'm writing this with slightly jet lagged brain power, so please forgive any typo's.
I've just come on the Midnight Shanghai to Delhi Air India flight - the Chapatti Redeye. Always an experience. Before now I have been one of a handful of passengers on this infamous night run, able to sleep peacefully across three seats. But last night was almost full, mostly Indian businessmen heading home, a few brave Chinese businessmen and women heading out, and for the first time a number of Chinese families on sightseeing holidays to India. India like many countries has just woken up to the fact that Chinese tourists are big spenders, and there's a lot of them. They represent a significant boom in tourism revenues, so they have recently made it relatively simple recently for Chinese to get a visa - so the flight is full :(.
India is home to some of the best airlines in the world! Air India is not one of them. The Chapatti run (as I call it) is delightful in an archaic chaotic kind of way. Flight safety demonstration? Not that I noticed? Use of mobile phones and electronic devices prohibited during take off. No issue. The Indian sari clad ladies have long given up trying to control the Indian businessmen, and barely had a word of Chinese. Instead barely at cruising altitude the ladies were pouring super large whisky's and delivering them to the Indian guys almost without asking. I asked for a G&T and was thrust a handful of mini bottles and three cans of tonic. Get the buggers nicely sozzled and they will be less trouble, is clearly the policy.
After the fastest meal distribution, and half hearted tidy up, that's the last of the we saw of the stewards on the 6 hour flight. I could see the Chinese tourist were not happy with the food, what do you do with a chapatti?, and what no chopsticks? Early stage culture shock setting in.
A rather relaxed captain came on the tannoy to announce our imminent arrival in er.. Delhi, a slightly worrying pause as he obviously checked - in fact - where we were going. Your luggage will be on belt 12, and the local time is 2.40am. Luggage was on belt 10, and it was 1.40am.. but only minor things. I read recently about an Air India captain who went to the toilet, and locked himself out of the cockpit. He was rattling and banging on the door trying to wake the sleeping no.2 inside.
Landing in Delhi at 2am local time, is not such a bad idea, you can breeze through the immigration and customs without any trouble. Everyone is half asleep. My hotel had sent a car to pick me up. They remembered me. Then it struck me, how come in such a hectic, crazy place like India they can produce the best run, and elegantly calm hotels in the world?
Only a few days in India, and so much to do... must get on.
Take care.
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Friday, July 26, 2013

By George, that's confusing

Greeting from China. Where it is also very hot.
Last week I was telling you about the "Bad Lands of Java" you can read it here.
I believe it is a jolly time in the UK. What with the royal birth and all. Now I'm guessing half the males born this year will be Georges, and a good proportion of the girls will be Georgette also.
Can you imagine the classroom roll call in a few years time.
I just got back to China having been in Bali (and Java), whilst there discovered something about Bali names I never knew.
I'd noticed that high proportion of the people we work with there are called Wayan. I mentioned to Ringo (our agent there) how popular this name is. "Of course" he said "all first born men and women are called Wayan". After a little more questioning it turn out that most Balinese have one of four names. One name for the first born, another for the second born, another for the third and one for the forth. And, get this, if your the fifth, then you just start again with Wayan.
The name Wayan is derived from “wayahan” which means “the most mature.” The title for the second child, Made or Nengah, is derived from the word “madia” which means “the middle one.” Nyoman, the third child, is taken from the word “uman” which means “remains” or “last.” According to traditional Balinese belief, a family should only have three children. After the third one, parents should be wiser. However, many families have more than three children. As such, the fourth child, Ketut, means “little banana” or “the outer edge of a bunch of bananas.” This child is considered the “bonus” child. More than four children, the name cycle repeats itself.
To make it more complicated there are no sir names.. although modern Bali folk have taken to inventing one, and of course nick names are common. Our agent; Ringo is really called Nengah a second child. This system if I understand correctly is all wrapped up in the Hindu Balinese believe in reincarnation and that people are reborn again in the same families. On the way to the airport we passed a ceremony, lots smartly dressed people in the street having a very good time, laughing and singing. "Ah, said Ringo, looks like someone very important has died, it's a funeral". Turns out Bali funerals are happy occasions, you are only allowed to mourn for a day or two, beyond that they celebrate rebirth.
By George, so confusing.
More startling revelations news next week.
Until then.
Take care..

Friday, July 19, 2013

Bad Lands of Java

Last week I was telling you about the new residents of Yellow Coconut Village in Ubud, Bali. You canread it here.
This week I have been on a road trip to East Java. It happened like this; I have been looking for something to replace the root baskets we have been buying from China. These are made from sustainable fur-tree roots, they are beautiful but fur tree roots if not properly treated and dried can crack. On the last few shipments this has been a growing issue. So I have been tasked with solving this knotty problem :).
In Udud, where I am now, there are lots of traders selling teak root products. As you know teak is very hard, and the oil in it allows a little movement which means cracking is not a big issue. The big problem is whenever I ask about sustainability of the teak supplies, I get blank looks. So Ringo (our Balinese agent) and I started to do some rooting around to find out how the teak-wood business works here. The first thing we learnt is there are no commercial teak forests on Bali, or teak artisans. The teak is trucked in from Java roughly carved but not finished, the artisans stain and varnish the pieces to suit the customers. So it seems the teak trader middlemen don't verify the source of the wood, it's all a cash business.
A lady in one of the wood carving markets gave us the name of a town where she thought the teak came from. A quick bit of googling revealed the place. It didn't seem so far away, just a ferry to East Java and and a hop over the mountains. We decided to branch out and make the trip. All I can say is don't trust google maps estimation of driving time in Indonesia! It was a long way, mostly spent going up and down steep windy hills though thick jungle stuck behind trucks crawling along at snails pace.
The ferry to East Java drops you at the foot of a jungle clad volcano right out of National Geographic, the road after a couple of hours enters the vast teak forest. Now Ringo tells that this road is home to bandits who roll rocks out of the forest at night, when a car or truck hits one in the night they come to "assist" you and take money or goods for their help. These same forest folk probably illegally take teak wood which finds it's way to the dodgy traders. It's known as the bad lands of Java.
In the day time it's better, but we were still stopped three times at unofficial tolls, a "broken" truck blocking the road and dodgy guys with buckets claiming to be collecting for Ramadan.
The good news is that this forest is controlled by the government, and in the last year have made big steps to enforce the control. The road has been upgraded to a good tarmac road, every twenty kilometres or so there is a ranch style police station with round the clock security.
Eventually we made it to a small coastal sugar cane town. The industry was devolved by the Dutch who built cute narrow-gauge railways running through the plantations bringing the sugar cane to the port. Some parts of it still working. There has been a half-hearted attempt to make a tourist industry here. It's certainly beautiful, stunning mountains, mangrove swamps and white sand beaches. But no tourists, Ringo and I hired the two best (teak lined) rooms in a big run down beach road hotel for about £12, there was just one other guest. Ringo said the Muslim call to prayer from the many mosques at four am and lack of alcohol, put many tourists off coming. Sad because the people were lovely and the place stunning.
But there is a thriving handy-craft industry. We found marble carving, shell jewellery, mother of pearl boxes and the like, and teak wood of course. We were taken to workshops practically on the beach where families worked together making lovely stuff. Eventually we found a village with teak wood work-shops, we visited them all.
One guy in a small factory told us he was "just the local chief of police" (pointing to a police station along the road), his wife was the boss, could we come back later.
What we learnt was the the government have cracked down hard on the teak wood trade to ensure the sustainability of supplies. Local artisans can (or should) only buy from the official run logging company, and the police enforce the rules, hence the police presence in the forest.
Teak wood of course is mainly used for furniture and flooring, the roots are a by-product and of less interest to the bad guys because it's more work to dig up. But the most beautiful bowls and plates are made from the random root shapes all slightly different. Yes a little expensive, but will last forever and help support families like this.
The lady on the right is the boss. Her son and his wife are part of the business, and the little guy with long hair in a Man-united shirt is their son who just wanted to be in the picture.
More news next week.
Expect to read more about the Ubud outpost in future reports..
Until then.
Take care..
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Friday, July 12, 2013

Resident of Yellow Coconut Village

Last week I was telling you about my recent visit to Serampore on the banks of the Ganges and it's links with Wimbledon. You can read it here.
Since then I have been back to Delhi, to Bangalore and then flown via Kuala Lumpur to Bali. More precisely Ubud in Bali.
It may cheer you up to know the weather in the UK is much better than Bali. Here it's been raining all week, with electric storms at night :).
Ubud is one of the worlds great giftware hubs. Highly creative people and hugely industrious locals produce artisan giftware that is shipped all over the world. I doubt there is a giftshop (at least one with taste and style) that doesn't stock some Indonesian handicrafts. There are other places (and growing fast) in Indonesia that produce handicrafts but Ubud sits regally up in the mountains, like a mythical giftware kingdom.
So it makes sense to have a warehouse here. Mainly so suppliers orders can be consolidated, and we can ship whenever we have a full container load. Right now we have to try and coordinate suppliers to finish their production at the same time, at the point we want to ship. This means that inevitably, some suppliers are waiting to deliver long after stock is made, and others rushing to complete in order to get stock in the next container. It all ends up a bit of a botch job, and quality control can suffer.
Last time I was here, on my last day. We spotted a part built warehouse, this been Ubud, as picturesque a warehouse as you can imagine, with stone statues outside and it's own roof top temple. Inside enough floor space for two container loads, although two walls were missing and the office at the back had been taken over by the jungle it looked almost perfect. The landlord, a young local architect (a pretty cool guy with a funky handshake), appeared and offered to do the place up to our specifications. He assured us it would be to a high standard. Ringo (our agent) was worried that a 40ft container wouldn't negotiate the narrow lanes to the site. So before we could finalise we had to make sure the access was OK. But subject to that we shook hands on the deal, and as good as his word the warehouse was ready for occupation on time.
I signed the lease this week. The terms of the lease state that we must abide by the rules of the village as set by the village elders. This is the system here, every area, each village has elders who ensure that everything is equatable and peaceful and beautiful. The rules can change, I'm not even sure what the current rules are. It's going to be interesting I think.
Our village is called: "Br. Nyuh Kuning" or the Yellow Coconut Village.. which seems as good a name for the location of an Ancient Wisdom outpost.
Expect to read more about the Ubud outpost in future reports..
Until then.
Take care..
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Friday, July 5, 2013

Andy Murray and Ancient Wisdom

Greetings from Indonesia, where I have just arrived from India.
Since last weeks newsletter from Saharenpur in Northern India (read it here), I have been to Kolkatta.
The big floods, you will have seen on the news, close to Saharenpur are a long way from Kolkatta but the same water flows down in to the Ganges which, by the time it reaches Bengal is a truly mighty majestic river.
Mr Chatterjee picked me up in his new Nano car from my hotel on Sunday morning. We drove out of Kolkatta across the Howrah Bridge (built by the British in 1943 and still possibly the busiest bridge in the world) just one of the 300,000 who cross here every day. Rudyard Kipling said; " This is Imperial. This is worth coming across India to see!"

Actually the water flowing under it was worth seeing, high up the banks, scraping the temples. This normally placid river, dark brown rushing and angry. So much water moving so fast.
We drove, along the river bank through little towns busy and shambolic, catching glimpses of the river between buildings until we reached the town of Serampore. So from Saharenpur in the far north to Serampore in the far east, connected by the water. In the hot wet monsoon, this is real India.
serampore villa
Mr Chatterjee has a small company making gift products from Jute. Seampore was once rich, in the days when the jute industry here supplied the world with jute backing for carpets. There are magnificent wonderfully ornate streets of villas, now magnificent only in their decay. You can imagine a British Raj living in some style here. The British have long left and this town always feels to me like it was frozen in time since then.
Mr Chatterjee's oldest friend was a professional tennis player of some fame, now a tennis coach of renown in Hong Kong where he helps the rich and famous win a few aces.
He also helps his home town, not least investing in Mr Chatterjee's jute business, and he also supports the local tennis club. He was in town for the annual general meeting of the club and invited me to see. In this tumbledown river town of temples, holy cows and creeping vines it seemed incongruous to find such a thing as a tennis club. They told me with some pride that four members of the club were at Wimbledon this year. Alas not playing, all four are umpires. The Bengal Indians are famous for fair minded debating, so I'm not surprised they make world class umpires.
So there you have it, my tenuous link to Andy Murry all the way from banks of the Ganges in India to centre court Wimbledon in two handshakes.
I'm here working on the next batch of jute and cotton related products, one of which is door stops, here are some preproduction ideas. The coming new trend of 2014 (I hope).
Later Mr Chatterjee and his partner showed me the new factory they are building on the outskirts of the town. Four floors with better working conditions and nice views of open countryside.
Some stock just arrived from there you can see below. This is Mr Chatterjee with his staff proudly showing their work.
You can support the town of Serampore, Mr Chatterjee and his team, the new factory, the tennis club and AW by stocking jute products.
Did I mention that Jute is ultra green, JUTE Bags are very eco-friendly.
Jute is 100% bio-degradable.
Jute is a fast growing crop with a much higher carbon dioxide assimilation rate than even rainforest.
Jute production creates much needed jobs in areas that need it.
... actually I probably did. Sorry to go on so.
Anyway until next week.
Further distractions. Howrah BridgeJuteNotPlastic.comSeampore Tennis Club Facebook page - please hit like button.
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Friday, February 22, 2013

One year on. Indonesia Report.

22nd February 2013

Hi ,
Greetings from Bali, where it is the monsoon. Which is great because it's low season, the hotels are cheap and between downpours it's cool enough to work.
Last week's news was from India, and I was telling you about our Soft Art Cushion Covers and Having a Blast in Bangalore. Read it here.
The beaches I have hardly seen, but I can tell you even in the rain Bali is the most beautiful place on earth. Those volcano and rice padi vistas all those exotic temples, trailing vines, moss encrusted bridges and so many stone statues.
In the hinterland of Bali outside the main tourist zone a huge handicraft industry growing rapidly and collaborations between the islands artisans and western designers are producing a wealth of gift ideas. It's just over a year since I was first here, in fact this is my sixth visit, and like a lotus flower slowly opening I'm discovering more beautiful things each time. Also slowly and gradually coming to know the secrets of doing successful business in Indonesia... believe me it is very different thinking to India or China.. like a whole new world.
So this year between Java (the main Indonesian island) and Bali, we are about to ship our seventh container, have started trading relations with over 30 companies (all small family businesses) and have listed over 600 products. The plan now is to establish our own permanent office and warehouse similar to our set up in Yiwu, China. I'm here this time with Eric our QC and re-order guy from the UK office and Carlos from our Spanish sister company to look into this.
Interesting fact. Bali planning laws dictate that no building should be higher than a palm tree (only a few hotels built in the sixties are high-rise). Balinese Hindu culture is all about balance, so our agent Ringo tells me. Balance between, humans and God, between fellow humans and between humans and the earth. Hence the palm tree planning laws.
More news next week. Off to Java shortly.
Take care.. and happy trading.
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Having a Blast in Bangalore

5th February 2013

Hi ,
Greetings from India, last week I was telling you about the Grand Bazaar in Delhi.
You can read it here.
I hope the Valentines Day trading was a success, and you had time for a little romance.
This week I met up with Carlos in Delhi, our Spanish MD, to check out the Handicraft show.
The trade show was good, many new designs on show. We was surprised at the growth in the digital print cushions. From one company (on my last trip) to perhaps twenty producing this product and I have to say fabulous designs. When you see so many companies jumping on the band wagon, you know it's a product that sells through. And the wholesale price has dropped by half, but I'm happy to say still nowhere near our prices for our Oh-so-soft cushion ranged launched today. Digital prints on high quality cushions are major gift trend. Remember you read it here first :)
Oh but Delhi was smoggy and the air quality poor, so many people with hacking coughs, we were glad to escape down to Bangalore. The garden city they call it, and high on a plain it is relatively cool, with old colonial buildings and ancient huge trees arching over the wide roads. Traffic is bad, but it's mostly clean and cared for, the cops are cool in their cowboy hats and always helpful. I like Bangalore.
The airport is about forty kilometers out of town, so you have an hours taxi ride down the smart landscaped motorway they have built. Normally no problem, but we hit a road block and a huge crowd of people blocking the way. It was the Bangalore air show, and the city had ground to a halt.
With our taxi driver practically begging us to stop and watch the show for a bit, and standing traffic, it seemed like we might as well. So we pulled over and joined the excited crowd, as fighter jets roared over head, whizzed past in formation and did spectacular twirls. The jets were great but I also loved the people, hanging from walls and poster hoardings and wherever just to get a better view. These were the cheap seats, well free seats and the people of Bangalore had turned out in mass to watch. Of course two western guys soon make lots of friends in such circumstances. As they say in India "We had a blast!"
Click to enlarge picture
Yes I know.. but we finally we did some work, working on a secret new product range.. so can't tell you too much just yet.
More news next week. Next week I'm in Indonesia.
Take care.. and happy trading.
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