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.
Is this your first time with us?
You will receive First Order Bonus worth £100 of stock at retail value. You are entitled to claim it on your first order with us when you spend over £100 + vat. Just quote BONUS 100 in the shopping cart message box.

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.
Is this your first time with us?
You will receive First Order Bonus worth £100 of stock at retail value. You are entitled to claim it on your first order with us when you spend over £100 + vat. Just quote BONUS 100 in the shopping cart message box.

Friday, February 8, 2013

In Delhi's Main Bazaar

8th February 2013

Hi ,
Greetings from India..
Last week I was telling you about my Mystic Mission in India. You can read it here.
Well it's all go as the big V day approaches in many countries. In Asia it's almost Chinese New Year and in India the Kumbh Mela is under way - possible the biggest human gathering ever.
While most young Indians have embraced Valentines day, in China they have their own version which falls on the 7th day of the 7th month.. in the lunar calendar, so that's not until august.
Today I'm off to Delhi, there is a well organised trade show where we can connect with a number of our suppliers quickly. But Delhi is one of the oldest trading cities in the world and has a wealth of ancient often chaotic wholesale markets, catering both for the domestic and the export trades. Paharganj district is one such area close to the New Delhi Railway Station. Just across the road from the station you'll see the entrance to Paharganj's main trading area, they call it the Main Bazaar and it stretches for about one crazy hectic kilometer teeming with people from all over India, cows and camels, bikes and rickshaws.
This market is definitely not for the feint hearted. It's chaotic, noisy, dirty, and full of crumbling buildings. It's been on the Hippy trail since the sixties, no doubt you can buy anything in those dusty back lanes. However, some of the big wholesale traders have showrooms here, and there are odd things that we buy here.
If your in Dehli and like a bit of adventure you should visit. It is possible to buy and export even small quantities back to the UK (lots of shipping agents) and many a retailer does just that.
But it's so old school, be prepared to haggle for hours and because they are basically traders, you have no idea if the producers are operating ethically, plus be warned.. quality control is purely hypothetical.
Take care.. and happy trading.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Mystic Mission

1st February 2013

Hi ,
Less than two weeks to Valentines day.. so it's all systems go at AW. Lots and lots of new stock and brand new Retail Displays & Stands Department. See below.
Welcome to all the new readers to my newsletter. I travel a lot seeking out ever more unique (and hopefully salable) gift-ware, some of our customers like to read my ramblings.. but feel free to skip to the business stuff below.
Last week I was telling you about our sister company in southern Spain... and how you can get a pretty decent English breakfast there. Yesterday I landed in Mumbai, India and this morning had the finest English breakfast east of Scarborough. One thing you can say about good Indian hotels is that they really are the best in the world, where coffee is heaven, service is world class, bacon crispy and HP sauce is treated with respect. Could be my last for a while.. outside of the big city hotels it will be a real Indian breakfast, spicy masala dosa, milky tea and no HP..
I'm in India on a mission to find some seriously esoteric and exotic gift-ware. Sales of Tibetan singing bowls, exotic incense, mala beads etc keep on getting more popular. India is the place for all things magic and mysterious, probably the most spiritual country in the world. You have probably read about the Kumbh Mela - the worlds biggest spiritual gathering, expected to draw a hundred million devotees, really.. the biggest human gathering on earth ever. It's just warming up now.. so maybe my mission timing is auspicious.
The mission has gotten off to a great start. Just had a meeting with our long time supplier from Ahmadabad, our new designs of gemstone and crystal wands are.. well what can I say.. they are just magic.
More news from India, next week.
Happy trading.