Written By: Maggie Karl (Manager Contract Manufacture)
In June 2009 I was approached by my boss with an interesting opportunity. It went something like this:
Heather: “Maggie, how would you feel about going to China?”
Maggie: “Ok, that sounds great let me see what my…”
Heather: “You’re leaving in September and going for 6 weeks, use this website to apply for a visa, then let’s book your tickets.”
Ok, maybe it wasn’t QUITE that shocking, but what I’m saying is there wasn’t much notice and next thing I knew I was living in Shanghai and trying to learn how to use chopsticks before I starved myself.
How could I say no? Here’s a chance to get to know our China team better, explore the factories, and see a part of the world I deal with on a daily basis but have no empirical knowledge of. It was amazing to follow the process as a bale of cotton turned into a gauze sponge; from spinning the threads to threading the needles to weaving the material, cutting to size, folding, packaging, and sterilizing. There were lavish dinners and lots of Baijou and more pearls than I could count. I got to see the quality processes and became adept at putting on shoe covers, bouffant caps, and lab coats in seconds flat. I washed my hands until they were raw. I loved every second.
(Saw some interesting translations in my travels, too)
Thankfully, the China team speaks English much better than I speak Chinese. I never progressed too far beyond “Ni Hao” (Hello), “Xie Xie” (Thank You), and “Fapiao” (Receipt). I did, however, learn the universal language of “karaoke”.
I also learned some neat things about our factories, saw some very impressive machinery, and finally got to put a face to many of the names and voices I work with every day. In my 4 years at Dukal I had learned a lot about our products, but to actually watch them being made gave me a new respect for the process and the efforts of all the individuals who have a hand in the final product.
All in all, the experience was pretty amazing and I’m so grateful to have had the opportunity. If you should find yourself traveling abroad, however unexpectedly, be sure to give me a shout – I have some great tips for you.