Indra reflects on the production trip
During these 9 days we have been busy with developing and optimizing the new samples, but besides that, we’ve also experienced the Indian culture. It is clear that food and family play a prominent role in the everyday life. Everyone is caring and truely interested in our personal and family life. This genuine contact makes doing business here even more fun. Paulien and Jessica have been coming for years and it is great to see that the relationships with our producers goes beyond doing business. During this trip we were invited to many social dinners, at Ipshita’s home (Producer STC), dinner at Patrick’s home (leather tanner), dinner with Swapna (owner EMA), and I felt very welcome everywhere we went.
Kolkata is a busy and eventful city full of life and is known as the city of joy. However, when strolling around on the streets of joy, poverty is also visible. Many people are living and sleeping in the streets. In contrast, interviewing some of the workers at our producers factories has been a surprisingly pleasant experience. It was great to hear that due their work they’re able to support their families and send their children to school. Our work is never finished and we can still help them improve on the labor conditions, but it was great to see that our producers have the same mindset as we have. They plan for the future and it was fun to talk to them about the improvements they have planned.
Also, this trip has made it easier to understand some of the production challenges we always face. When in our HQ in Amsterdam, it is easy to forget the different circumstances in India. One of the producers explained to us that it is not unusual that a worker does not show up for work for a couple of days. Just like in the Netherlands the workers receive vacation days but unlike here they do not state in advance which days they will be away. This means that while we want to have new stock asap, it can happen that the producer is facing absences from the production floor. One producer explained to us that this is one of the reasons why he loves to have a mix of cultures/religions on the work floor. This way, not all his workers are absent during the same period. Besides that, electric shortages can happen and the monsoon (rainy season) can cause transport delays.
We are very excited to be able to donate backpacks to all the kids of the Brickfield Schools for the first time, 3000 pieces! During our production trip, we visited the Brickfield Schools as well.
Lastly, I want to say a big thank you to Jess who kept her cool during this trip and really made an effort to show me around the city where she and Paulien have been coming for so many years now. It has been an unforgettable experience!
O My Bag