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May 03, 2019
Did you know that all of our products at hello shiso are handmade? Earlier this week, I returned from a trip to Taiwan, where I visit annually to meet with the ladies who run my production. This little team has been with me for many years and has become such a vital part of my business, which is why I want to introduce you to them.
I met the Hung sisters about 7 years ago, but my family has actually known their family for over 25 years. Their eldest sister worked in my dad's sample room, making shoes for many years (did you know my dad was a shoemaker?). He always likes to tell the story of how she showed up at the gate of the factory as a young woman and asked for a job so many years ago. Today, her sisters now run the production for hello shiso. Kweilan (on the right), is my chief of operations and knows everything backwards and forwards. She oversees all the contract sewists. Kweimei (on the left), is responsible for any thing hand-sewn and hand-finished.
Here are just a couple of random stories about our time together:
1. I can't read Chinese and they can't speak English, so we chat via Line and then Google translate everything. If I really can't figure out the translations, I usually call in the big guns and ask my Aunt Kathy or my dad for help (although, at this point, we're pretty good at reading each other's minds!)
2. Both sisters ride scooters and carry everything home with them this way. This includes long bolts of fabric, huge bags of buttons and ribbons - I mean everything! One time, Kweilan gave me a ride to my parents' house on the back of her scooter, which is about as close to death as I ever want to get. 😬
They've been able to quit their factory jobs, move into a larger apartment, and have more flexible schedules. I've met many members of their families and know their stories. They always tell me how proud they are to be making a product that is well-designed, and that they are the envy of their friends.
I never wanted to make cheap things on a massive scale, in faceless factories. Keeping the creation process, production, and relationships intimate has always been an important value for me and my business. I know that it can be hard to put faces to the products that you buy, but please know that when you buy our products, these are the stories that are connected to them.
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