Blog # 233 I talked about Zappos reaches over 804 brands on the site. In this blog I want to talk about Private label team heads to Shanghai
So, we plan another trip to China in October, this time to Shanghai. Rob set up some factories to check out primarily to grow our Men’s business. Tommy had helped developed out Men’s business initially but left the company earlier in the year. Now Charles was leading the charge in the development of this category. Rob and Charles worked really well together so it should be a productive trip.
The flight from Vegas to San Francisco was delayed which was going to make us miss all our connecting flights as well. Richard arranged for us to go through Vancouver then to China the next day. We would stay over in Vancouver then leave the next day. Our Lawyer was going on the trip with us and had a mishap with her luggage being lost, so it wasn’t starting out real great. We did have fun in Vancouver though, beautiful city. So the team that was going on this trip from Private Label was Charles, Lindsey and Jamison.
We finally all get to Shanghai and ended up having a fabulous dinner that night. One new dish I never tried was fish vertebrae. Basically, it was fried crispy so better than it sounds. Rob meets us at the hotel the next morning and we head out to the factory. The factory was flying a Zappos flag and had a digital welcome for the Zappos team in the lobby. It was pretty cool. They had some really nice men’s items that Charles was going to try for Fitzwell. Richard had some legal matters to wrap up with the China office so the group and I went to see another factory.
Shanghai was a beautiful city and had a lot of western influences. It was common to see many fast food places like McDonalds, Pizza Hut and many others here. We took a walk along the Huangpu Riverfront which was gorgeous. There were walkway bridges to cross which added to the beauty. The buildings were a mix of old and new with some of the skyscrapers going well up above the rest. At night with all the lights it was a sight to see. I think any trip to China should include Shanghai as a stop to see.
The plan was to go to Dongguan the next day and see some more factories Rob lined up for us. We would also visit Two more factories that were from other relationships I had. We also planned to stop by the new office to see how it was going there. The next morning, we would go to the Chainson factory which made a lot of our larger items for RSVP. We had a good meeting, and they had some incredible product we planned to add to the mix. l We had a very strong relationship with them, and they had a very nice factory tour they gave to the group. They had plenty of ventilation fans to guard against the fumes from glue and nice living quarters for the workers. Very impressive operation.
We had another tour lined up for tomorrow, so we decided to check out a factory close by with just Charles, Richard and I to see if there was any future potential. We met with the factory owner, and he took us for a tour of their facility. It was a very nice factory, super neat and well run. As we were walking, he complained of the raising costs to operate a factory. Workers were now asking for benefits and such too. At one point in the tour he turned to me and actually said “These human rights things are killing me”. I was dumbfounded. What do you say to that? We left after the tour to meet up with the rest of the group for lunch. The plan was to go to the office and meet with Taylor and then on to the next factory.
Our office was a very nice building with nice living quarters for the workers and a nice office area. Richard pointed out a tree in the front which was a symbol of luck in China. Taylor gave us a quick tour, and everything seemed to be run efficiently there. Richard did a really nice job setting up the office.
The next stop was with a factory that made Annie shoes for us branded. The rep’s name was Tom and we built a very nice business together when I was doing the branded side. He was yhe epitome of the classic Sales rep. Super friendly, Dressed nicely with suit and tie and very helpful in our business. I really enjoyed working with him. He wasn’t in China with us but he introduced me to the owners at the last shoe show, so I was familiar with them.
They had a very nice factory, and they did items for our Bouquet line which did really well for us. They made all the shoes for this line so we were interested to see if this could be something other factories did as well instead of having multiple factories involved with the same brand. They were very gracious hosts and planned to take us to dinner that night. It was a very nice restaurant and of course when I spotted the Pidgeon brains appetizer, I ordered a plate for the table. Everyone that was new looked at me like “Really?”. I told them they had to at least try it. Most everyone did except for a few holdouts. What trip would be complete without a plate of Pidgeon brains?
The trip finally came to a close and we get back home. It was always a three-day recovery from the jetlag. I would usually take a sleeping pill each night to get my body clock back on track.
Zappos hit another record day reaching 3 million dollars in December. We were all at the FFANY show at the time so we had the usual festivities. The next day we broke the record again.
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…just sharing my story and tips from my footwear career.
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