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Maternity Brand

a milestone for my business

Nearly 10 years ago, my mum gave me a $300 sewing machine and I started making breast pads and nursery decorations that I sold on Trademe.  I've slowly built up my home-based business and website over the years...

I wasn't sure whether to blog about my travels last week, perhaps some people thought that I still sew items myself.   But then I decided that you might be interested in the new directions and how my business is evolving.  Many of you have followed my endeavours as a WAHM over the years.

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Recently I have taken the plunge into producing my own clothing designs - "breastmates own label" styles manufactured in China.  I have new designs for winter due to arrive at the end of April, and I needed to travel to China to inspect the goods before they are shipped out.

I feel a great responsibility about the clothes - as it is my name literally on the label. (see the new hangtag pictured).   I wanted to check everything was satisfactory in terms of the season's production, quality, quantity, staffing.   And continue to build good relationships with my business contacts.  Some actually told me they have never met their foreign customers before.

 Last year my husband came with me, and we visited the factory together.  I'm a small town-girl, who doesn't even go out for dinner much, so this was a dramatic contrast to my usual life at home with my kids.  I felt confident  that I could make the trip solo this year.  But still very nervous.

My darling husband stayed at home with our children, and they all managed to survive without me and perhaps gained some independence.  Clare ran my business for a week.  Actually everything ran smoothly while I wasn't here.  (surprise surprise!)

Here are a few highlights from my whirlwind trip.

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6 hour stopover in Singapore.  Found a gorgeous rooftop sunflower garden in the airport transit lounge.

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OMG such a welcome sight after getting off the plane, into a foreign land.  Some writing in English, and waiting for me!
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"Chinese Laundry"  people can manage to do their washing anywhere.  I realised that I very much took my washing line (+ backyard, grass, clean air) for granted.

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Courier

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My hosts took me out for lunch, and ordered everyone this yummy fruit salad that we ate as a starter and then finished for dessert.  I thought it was a safe option, it was really yummy!  A papaya with hot soupy liquid in the middle which cooked the fruit.  Added coconut milk.  After I had finished eating it all, I asked what the clear fruit inside the bowl was. {gag alert}  I thought maybe lychee.  Turns out it was the fatty glands and fallopian tube of Chinese Forest Frog.  A delicacy called hasma.  True story.

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 At the factory, and holding a sneak peak of something new.  I spent a few hours checking through my clothing order before it is packed up for shipping.  The following day I actually went and met the shipping company, so that I could introduce myself and build trust with them - as they are shipping high value of items to me! (but small in terms of their other clients!)  I need it to turn up in Cambridge!

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The factory was very clean and tidy, and people were well dressed.  Really fancy machinery.  Air conditioning.  Lunchroom, basketball court.

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 Before we walked into the main workroom, I saw through the window that people were chatting and smiling, joking as they worked.  But when I entered they all went serious and quiet.   Even when I tried to get them to look at camera for photo they wouldn't turn my way.  A group of 6 people work on my orders.  There were 80 people in the factory.  I gave them 6 kgs of Pineapple Lumps, I hope it was enough to share around.

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A well travelled Chiefs pencil case borrowed from my son, and Treasures mag!  I am starting to think about summer designs.  The hotel room was quite boring as I couldn't find any English speaking TV channels.  Though I did have a Jody Picoult book (The Story Teller) which I couldn't stop reading and stayed up to 3am reading until I'd finished.  That was a throw-back to my pre-children days, when I'd stay up reading all night!

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I just could not bring myself to eat this Chicken Foot. I really did try.  Had to politely decline it (but still ate the broth that the chicken foot had a pedicure in).

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Solo!  In some places I went, I felt like I must have been the only European and everyone was staring at me.  But that also could have been because I was wearing sandals, and everyone else was wrapped up in winter clothes. {temperature comfortable 23 deg}

It was an amazing trip, and I am very happy with the outcome.  It's not always an easy decision to produce in China, and is risky, but I have a happy heart about my business dealings.

I still have two factories located in New Zealand that manufacture some items for me.  And of course other NZ businesses that supply product.

Franny x