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.