I have been thinking about my blog and what I want to get out of it, what I want is it to be is a record of me trying to start-up a new business here in Vietnam and the up’s and downs along the way.
It is not easy to start your own business and you have to be very fortunate to find some wonderful people to help you on your way, and already in the short time I have been making bags some amazing people have come my way, so it would be nice to recognise them.
So how did the bags come about, well it wasn’t like I was really a “bag” type of girl, I would never spend much money on a bag, but I did have this one bag that I brought from Tesco’s (Supermarket in the UK) that was the perfect size for me with two kids but I could never find anything in it as there were no pockets.
So on a girl’s weekend away to the beach I got to asking everyone what would make the perfect bag.. armed with a pen and paper I started to design the interior of the perfect bag. Someone had a Penny Scallan bag that they liked – good size but the fabric went mouldy in the humidity.
Now came the problem of where do I start finding someone to produce the bag, I went to Manish here in Vietnam, he had made some “Saigon Shopper” bags for an expat who sold them at bazaars, he was willing to help us but was unable to source the fabric I was looking for.
He did however produce the very 1st Mia Tui bag from my dimensions.. Mmm I could have fitted both my kids in the bag.. So we made some adjustments and got to an OKish bag, but not really what I had in my mind..! I wished I could have kept the 1st bag he made me.. Just for a laugh.!
I went looking in the local market and found the type of fabric that I was looking for, and a great interior fabric..so I was getting closer.
My husband works here in Vietnam and has some good contacts that produced gift sets for him, so I went to see Mrs Hang.. She got me the 1st Mia Tui sample that was pretty close to what I had in my mind, but she struggled to find me a factory that could produce the bags..
So off I went back to the UK for the summer break with my sample bag from Mrs Hang.. I loved it, I could find everything I needed all the time, there were a few little design flaws..
When I got back to Saigon in Aug a good friend of mine Guy gave me a contact of a man who could find me a factory to produce the bags.. he didn’t speak a word of English so I got Lan to come and translate, he arranged a meeting for me at a factory.
I arranged to have someone on the end of a phone who could translate if needed and off I went to the factory.. This is where an amazing girl came my way, and I will always be indebted to her..
Van – her brother owned the factory and she gave me the break I needed to get the bags produced, Van has worked for Coach and she knows all about bags and how to make them.. she got a sample made up and then we slightly modified it so the bag could have a zip closing, Van and I sat on the factory floor with the workers getting the closure of the zip right. The first sample Van Made below..
Van has been with me every step of the way, yes we have made mistakes.. Van has cut the interior of the fabric wrong on 2 separate occasions.. We have now thrown that pattern in the bin..!
But we have learnt so much and every bag I sell or see someone at the airport carrying my bag.. I feel so proud.
I have just finished producing for the 2nd time, production has increased by 200% and I will be shipping to the UK, Hong Kong, Singapore and will dip my toe in the Australian market.
There have been some steep learning curves this time, on what types of fabric to use.. I have personally ironed the interior of 200 odd bags.. and I will be attaching tags and packing them all myself in the next few days..
I have a big thank you to say to Simone who has helped with the bag tag design, logo design and was the person who created our 1st website.. She is truly a great friend.
Also to all my friends here in Vietnam who I must bore to death with all my stories of bag making.. Sometimes it is the only thing I can think of..!
Lastly there is Lauren who I started this whole journey with, and if it wasn’t for her I wouldn’t have got off my backside and started a business.. She has a job, 2 gorgeous kids and just didn’t have the time available.
So I begin the next round of selling.. Lisa in Hong Kong is on stand-by, the bags will be with you soon, and we will have two hard days of selling to the ladies in Singapore.
I just hope everyone love’s the bags.