So - if there are no walled gardens, what DO you do in the wild world?  

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This is carrying on from my last point (11).

I'll probably say a lot more on this whole issue as it's one of the main ones facing any business nowadays. For now, just some simple advice:

  • Face up to the fact that there is some very strong global competition in the world and it's not going to go away. Just don't hide your head in the sand.

  • Also - as the cliche goes - don't panic. Of course you can compete in this new, internationalised market. You just have to put some time into thinking how.

  • Realise that there are huge positives in what's happening. Asian producers are not just competitors they may also be suppliers - even if all you end up doing is stringing some Indian glass beads with Bali silver findings - or even better, collaborators. You can find people - in any culture or country - that you can work well with.

  • Be honest and be confident about your own skills, experience and abilities. What can you make that people will want? Regardless of competition. What do you have that's unique in some way?
Globalisation makes the competition tough, but it also opens out all sorts of possibilities that just weren't there before. We are currently buying silks direct from India, getting our inks from England, our paper and fabric to print on from Czech, our messenger "base bags" are made for us in China - to our own design and specifications - and so on. One day I'll write a whole post about this and maybe - for fun - make a map.

Then the finished bags (and soon cushions and other things) go off to our distributors in, for example, Australia, and to shops in Greece, Germany, Japan or the USA...

Ten or fifteen years ago this would all have been very hard to organise and we would probably mostly have sourced in one country (even if fabrics etc ultimately came from somewhere else), made in one country and sold in one country. Nowadays that often isn't the best way to do it - not just in terms of cost but also - and this is an important point - in terms of the range, depth and quality of what you can produce.

Okay, it still takes a lot of work (finding good people who love good quality as much as we do is never easy) but nowadays even a teeny tiny studio like ours can work globally. And well.

Yes We Can! Whoops, sorry, wrong post.

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