Blog # 231 I talked about Our founder Nick leaves Zappos. In this blog I want to talk about Another tour group for China departs in April
Zappos starts a new division called “PBZ” or powered by Zappos. We would help build a site for a brand then help them run it for a fee. Our tech team would help develop the site to their specs. It was a pretty successful venture for us.
We had developed some great relationships with some factories that we also did branded business with. This is why having great relationships is so key. We were getting lower minimum quantities than normal. The brands also worked with us to add extended sizing as well.
Chainson, who made Moda Spana and Pelle Moda was quickly becoming a big presence in our private label business. With Rick’s help we made some pretty big shoes for RSVP. I had known Rick for a long time now and I trusted him to make sure we were getting great product. They sure delivered. We had extended sizing in fashion type shoes which was great for our PL area.
Rob was a big help too. While we didn’t do branded with them as they mostly did Private label, with Rob’s knowledge of the shoe industry we made some huge shoes for Fitzwell. Extended sizing, great fitting shoes too. I guess with a name like “Fitzwell” that could be important. The gel was a hit and Fitzwell was becoming our big brand for private label.
Another Rob I knew from Southern California Nordstrom worked for A company that did branded and private label. Joe who I worked with at Nordstrom was running the company and Rob was his private label specialist. He came up with some great styles and was very thoughtful in helping us assort the line.
These three were just a few examples of great relationships we developed. We had fun working with each other too. It was exciting building the brands and see our private label business grow from 1% of the company to 8%. With our growth we hired another person named Christina. She had a great eye for trend right styles and was a great addition to the team. With that Charles was quickly becoming my right arm guy. He was so helpful in running the business I really appreciated him.
So aside from my bout in the hospital a while back we usually did one night of fear factor type stuff. We did it in reputable restaurants though. Usually in China if you ordered Duck it came with the duck head, same for fish and other type dishes. With the tour groups we would always try to freak them out by ordering these types of dishes. Pidgeon heads would usually come 12 to a plate and neatly arranged in a circle. They were deep fried and all you had to do was scoop out the brain. It sounds worse than they were. They actually were quite tasty.
This time however we ordered some turtle feet. I must be honest it was disgusting. When you picked up the foot, ooze dripped down to the plate, plus the toenails were still intact. I even didn’t want to eat them, but I had fun freaking out Jeanne, Brian and Carmella who all were on this trip. All of them had priceless looks on their faces and no one tried the feet. They were awful tasting too.
I had pretty good relationships with all of them who came. Brian and I were hired the same exact day and we would often go to Sushi with Pam and “The Mayor” of Zappos, Jerry. Those were some good times and we always had fun together. Jeanne was finally hired from the shoe company she worked for in Las Vegas and was a welcome addition. She worked with the Rob in Southern California. She was great with vendor relations and was quickly making a great name for herself in the industry. Carmella did our Junior shoes and we got along really well. She was such a nice person. We both lived in Fremont and would share a train every so often.
It was always fun to see the expressions of people faces when they came to China. From touring the factories to see the full process down to the interesting cuisine we would expose them to. Not everything was fear factor type food. It was just done different over there. The closest thing I’ve experienced in the states to this is the China town area of Las Vegas.
Over the last few trip Richard and I looked at a few locations for a potential China office. We interviewed one candidate name Taylor. He was a great guy and seemed like he would be a good fit. Richard took me to a potential office site he really liked. He was negotiating with the government for a rate. We would know more in the next few months.
SIZES... SIZES... SIZES... SIZES...
…just sharing my story and tips from my footwear career.
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