Monday, April 26, 2010

FouFou Dog In Shanghai

The flight from Hong Kong to Shanghai is about 2 hours, I expected to visit a city similar to Hong Kong but was welcomed with what seemed like a very different culture all together. The weather in Shanghai is comparable to Toronto, warm and sunny during the day but gets chilly with wind chill at night. The city is also similar to Toronto in that there is an older part of town, like downtown Toronto, where the streets are congested and the buildings are old and run down. Pedestrians disregard all traffic lights and attempt to jay walk across the street at any given opportunity. The cars are all bumper to bumper and slow moving in these areas where cyclists and motorbikes are all cramped together trying to make it their right of way with Taxi’s using their horns like turning signals.

Ironically, just a few blocks away, the city is modern and beautiful with huge malls and beautiful buildings showing off amazing architecture. The buildings also light up with colourful lights at night time. I haven’t seen much of Hong Kong yet, but so far, if I were to compare, I would say that Shanghai is a more beautiful city, however, the traffic is much more dangerous.

The language spoken here is Mandarin, which is not what I’m accustomed to as my spoken language at home as well as in Hong Kong, is Cantonese. I must feel how most foreigners feel in Toronto. Thank goodness that my mom is fluent in Mandarin and has spent most of her time translating for my sister and me.

Our visit to Shanghai has been both work and personal related. On top of my mom wanting to show my sister and me different parts of Shanghai, we have also made some time to meet with a few of our suppliers who own or work for factories close to Shanghai. They all flew in or took the train / car just to meet with us. Our supplier of coats also brought his entire family, including daughter, wife, mother and father to join him. Everyone has been very friendly and very welcoming by offering us gifts they brought from home as well as treating us to nice meals.

It has been nice to meet with our suppliers face to face to finally put a face to all of the emails that we share on a daily basis. All of our suppliers are much younger than I expected them to be, one being 27, one 28, and another 36. Each brought with them bagfuls of samples and fabric swatches to share with us, to gauge our interest. In return, we have brought back some of the products that they have produced for us that have experienced issues and problems so that we can explain to them in person how we wish they can improve.

Unfortunately all of our suppliers also speak Mandarin as their first language with very limited English speaking skills and so the meetings that we have had to go over samples and any new upcoming orders have been lengthy and, for lack of a better word, boring, as my sister and I are forced to sit in the meetings while listening to my mom speak with them in Mandarin and translating for us what they say while telling them in Mandarin what we need to tell them.

All in all, it has been a good experience and I’m glad that we got to spend some time in Shanghai, where my mother was born and to see the city as well as to meet with our suppliers.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

My First Hong Kong Trade Show

As soon as we stepped off the plane, my sister, my mom and myself were off to the first trade show in Hong Kong. I think this was the first of three that we will be attending. At this show, I got to meet our supplier of dog booties and his wife. Interesting fella.

I also got to witness first-hand what Cheryl does when she's working these shows, which involves travelling up and down each and every aisle of 10 different halls in which aisle upon aisle is a different supplier displaying all kinds of different products. The language barrier is very frustrating as Cheryl and I were born and raised in Canada, our first language is English, with some knowledge of Cantonese. However, the mother tongue of Hong Kong is Mandarin and so we have run into many difficulties as we attempt to find out the minimum order quantity and different costs for different items. Luckily my mom is there to translate for us because she can speak different dialects of Chinese including: Shanghainese, Mandarin, Cantonese, and of course, English fluently. I guess my mom was tired when we visited our first booth as Cheryl turned to my mom and said, "Mom can you find out what their MOQ's are?" basically suggesting that my mom ask them in Mandarin what their minimum order quantities are. And my mom turned to the supplier and asked them verbatim, "What is your MOQ?", while the supplier turned back to us with a look of confusion. LOL

Monday, April 12, 2010

Count Down to Hong Kong

My sister, my mom, and myself will be making a trip out to Hong Kong in exactly one week from today. My mom actually makes a trip out twice a year to visit her mom, dad, siblings, other family members and friends, in addition to attending the annual HK trade shows. My sister also makes it out twice a year to network, attend the HK trade shows, meet with our suppliers, source out new factories, visit family members and to meet up with friends abroad. This will actually be the 2nd time in my life to visit Hong Kong. The last time was exactly 20 years ago, I was in the 3rd grade and I'll never forget it because I was actually quite sad to have to depart Canada during the holidays where I was in the running to play Mrs. Clause in our annual Christmas play.

I'm excited, nervous, and a little hesitant. Excited to see Hong Kong, to see my relatives whom I haven't seen in 20 years, especially my grandfather who is becoming a little less coherent as the years go by. I'm nervous to meet with all of our suppliers whom I deal with via email on a daily basis and I'm hesitant to take that 18 hour plane ride, to feel jet lagged, to have to endure such close quarters with my mom and sister who butt heads ALL the time, and most importantly, to be pulled away from my routine life in Toronto. I'm not a huge fan of change. I don't remember the last time I left the country for more than a week, but I think I'm more concerned about leaving my desk and all the work behind. I am concerned that while I'm away, something may go wrong at work and I won't be in the country to fix it.. FouFou Dog will fall apart and life will end as I know it.

But I could be overreacting... I guess we'll see...and so the count down begins...

T minus one week and counting....

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Stupid Dog Trick...

Watch as Amie does her "play dead" trick when Cheryl shoots her with a pretend gun.

Too bad she can't fake being dead for very long as her laughing tail is a dead give away.

Ernie has always been a natural at modelling.. it's as if he was born to be the face of FouFou Dog. Watch as he poses naturally on the wall as paparazzi snaps photos of him in his snuggy pj's.