You're going to learn the TOP 5 reasons why we chose China for Staavias! You'll be shook because it's not what you think!!
Firstly, let me address this misconception that everything made in China is trash, is sh*t, cheap quality, everything has dangerous chemicals and cost businesses peanuts. This may be true but NOT the case for everyone.
What do you think of Iphone you're using? The Beats headphones or Macbook you own? What about the tiles or vinyl in your home? The kitchen bench? The cars we drive? Yes they are made in Japan or Europe - what you may or may not know, is that a lot of the car components are made in China and then put together in Japan or Europe.
Fun fact: Did you know, if have half of a product is made in one country and the other half made in another, you are legally allowed to claim it was made in one country. For example, upper and soles made in China but assembled in Italy - I can then say my shoes are made in Italy and because it's partially correct it's totally fine🤯🤯 Crazy right - I thought the same thing when I learned this too.
Back to these products, are they known to be of cheap quality? No. I personally prefer Apple products and I absolutely love them. Apple is one of the best companies in the world and they assemble in China. Components may have been made or designed elsewhere👀👀 Check your Apple products packaging, they mention it there also.
So, if China really is everything the public assume them to be, why do companies choose China for manufacturing? You know there are a lot of reasons and here's our top 5!!
#1 - SPECIALISED SHOE MAKING SKILLS.
Creating shoes requires a lot of specialised skill especially if shoes are handmade. One pair of shoes requires 5 - 6 different people working on a specific part and then one to put it together. China is number #1 in the world for shoe making, they have some amazing skills! They can make even the most complex shoe designs.
Unfortunately in countries like Australia and New Zealand, these skills are very rare and hard to find and teach. The shoemakers in both countries are not willing to do production at all, their advice for me was to look offshore.
Shoemaking Workshop NYC 2015
#2 - COMPONENTS ARE EASILY ACCESSIBLE.
What does this even mean? Well a shoe factory is where the shoe is "made" aka put together. All the other components are made in their own specific factories. For example, there are last factories, fabric factories, pattern factories, soles, heels, hardwares - they are not all produced in the same factory - they cannot be.
Every shoe component has a strong presence in China, therefore making it easier for the factory to do their job. I've been to sole markets, heel markets, hardware markets and so on. Another positive is when things go wrong - it's a matter of driving down the road to the factory trust me you would prefer that when you're in the middle of a production.
Choosing fabrics for shoes in China 2016.
Gustavia pictured with the owner of the shoe box factory, China 2016
#3 - EXPERTISE & KNOWLEDGE.
China leads the world in footwear manufacturing with over 75% of global production. They know their stuff. The fact that they can create an entire shoe from a simple 2D drawing is mind blowing! The technicians can pick up on the smallest things like for example the degrees at which the heel should stand, needs to be to the dot.
I remember walking into the factory during our first production and saw all these men around one of my heels. When I asked what was going on, they introduced me to 3 of the top footwear engineers & technicians in Chengdu. As our shoes are "unusually big" according to them, they needed experts knowledge to double check everything and keep things in proportion.
Before starting Staavias, I too had a preconceived misconception of China. The experts would make suggestions and I couldn't help but think they were trying to "rip me off" or make "rubbish shoes". I would agree to see what would happen and to my surprise, their suggestions always worked out better for me & my foot and of course, YOUR foot too now.
Gustavia pictured with a Footwear Technician, Chengdu China 2016
Sewing uppers together, China 2016
#4 FINDING FACTORIES IN OTHER COUNTRIES ISN'T AS EASY.
When we first started our journey we actually looked into Spain and got samples made. I was quite stunned after comparing to our Chinese samples, I felt they didn't match the quality. Yet they were more expensive. I wanted to look into India and Vietnam maybe Phillipines also. However, when I went to the Trade Show in Las Vegas, none of these countries were present but there were about 300 factories from China - they literally showed up.
I’ve always been set on what I wanted and that's the best possible shoes for my own feet. Super comfortable, can fit properly and was my own design. In the footwear industry - Vietnam is more known for making sport shoes, India is known to make good quality but not be able to keep up with demands or deliver on time. Also known for making more sandals and summery type shoes.
So it would've taken me a lot more time & money to go to these countries to look for suppliers. I'm sure there are a few suppliers who could do what I was after but time wasn't on my side. Also, another huge thing for me is my safety which leads me to my last point.
Factory owner & staff, China 2016
#5 PERSONAL SAFETY.
When you first start out in business, cash is scarce. I couldn't afford to take my family or even shout someone else to come with me so I looked in to safety of these countries for solo travellers. My research concluded China is probably the safest so long as you stay in the right places and not put yourself in any unsafe situations. You know, basic common sense & good decision making.
My first trip to China was alone, I would be lying if I didn't say I was low key scared, I went ahead anyway. I went with strangers in their cars and to their factories, I never got any weird vibes. I always felt very safe. My safety is obviously paramount and I knew China would be a safer place to travel alone.
Mind you, I do communicate this tough, confident, not scared of anyone kinda vibe when I'm overseas. It's just a tactic I use so anyone around me knows not to try me. Let's be honest though, I was raised in South Auckland so throwing hands is a skill I've learned from my home town.
I've been advised by a lot of my Indian friends not to go to India alone, no matter how tough I think I am - Yes, I took their advice.
Gustavia pictured with staff holding shoe socks, China 2016
So there you have it, the top 5 reasons we chose China. Nothing to do with cheap prices, cheap labour or anything silly like that. Bottom line, I've found amazing factories that can keep up with our demands and the quality we're after.
I'm enjoying the quality and so are many of our other customers. How do I know? Our many 5 star reviews, lovely emails and comments from our customers.
Now you know, let us know in the comments. We'd love to hear your thoughts - did you expect any of this??