Rominder Dodd of FunkyBubs, a Fairtrade cotton licensee, has written a blog post for us on his recent trip to the manufacturing factory in India where their funky children's t-shirts are made with Fairtrade Certified cotton.
Sunday 22nd July - Trip
Depart from good old Sydney and arrive in Singapore eight hours later. Great airport! Not long after am on a four hour flight to Coimbatore. Not flying with the kids so sleep like a baby. (Come to think of it, who made that up? My babies keep waking up when they sleep. And they're not even babies anymore.) Anyway....land in Coimbatore. Woo hoo! Get to hotel, unpack, have quick cold shower (not through choice) and crash into bed.
Monday 23rd July - First day at the factory
Wake up from a good sleep and am very excited about going to the factory where our Fairtrade Certified cotton clothing is manufactured. Having been in e-mail/Skype/phone contact with these guys for nine months it will be great to finally meet them in person! I have six boomerangs, three koalas (cuddly toy ones) and a bottle of Single Malt in tow.
I am immediately impressed by the factory, it’s large and well organised. Rajkumar shows me around. He is the perfect host. I expect certain areas to be blocked off (maybe the effect of too many films on the flight over!) but am allowed to wander around and speak to the employees. Everyone who has worked on our t-shirts seems very interested to see who ends up buying the finished product.
I am glad to notice that the working conditions are safe and hygienic, and that working hours are similar to those of ours in Australia. Buses run to and from villages to pick employees up and send them home.
The social activities run by the company are particularly impressive, including a mobile hospital which provides free medical treatment for employees, and eye camps which provide glasses and medicine for under-privileged residents in Tirupur. Great to see the contribution FunkyBubs can make. Overall it’s a great atmosphere of people working hard to make good quality clothes for us to wear in Australia.
After getting a feel for the factory, we discuss a few points surrounding the t-shirts - there's so much to think of - placement of tags, designs, colours to be used, thickness of material, size of arm holes etc.
I head back to hotel and mentally prepare myself for Delhi Belly after having a nice lamb curry in the hotel restaurant.
Tuesday 24th July - Day 2
Wake up and all is well. Tummy is grand.
On my way to the factory, am suddenly struck by where I am. It’s great to get a real feel for India. It is an assault on the senses - the smell, the noise (beep beep), the colours, the food, people everywhere…… Awesome.
Today we are going to test the t-shirts - wash them at fairly extreme temperatures and see how they hold up. To start with they do well but on the third test one of the logos starts to come off. Am glad we found this out now. Time to make some changes to the screen printing. A new t-shirt will have to be designed for tomorrow and we can re-test then.
In the meantime I check out the factory some more for ideas - the different colours we can use, options for designs, and the fantastic embroidery section! A lot of work goes into this and the results are amazing. It would be great if we could integrate some of this into our FunkyBubs designs.
Wednesday 25th July - Last day
Modern technology is awesome. With Wi-fi in the factory and smartphones handy I can send my better half pictures/ideas and together we can make decisions instantly. We also keep in touch with Vicky and Pete from Fairtrade and send them pictures of the latest version of the t-shirts.
Time to clear up any loose ends and get cracking with that testing! We put the redesigned t-shirt through its paces and it comes up trumps. Phew! Really wanted to make sure we got that right.
Pack my cases and head off to the airport. I have really enjoyed my trip but am looking forward to getting back home to Australia. My work here is done - FunkyBubs is a go!