Leathergoods - Our makers

Leathergoods Making - Bao'an, China

We’ve been working with our leather manufacturer for almost ten years now. Based between Hong Kong and China, the family-run business operates from a small factory in Bao'an, in the Guangdong province. The team at the factory consists of about thirty skilled leather workers, most of whom have been working there for over twenty five years – a fact that speaks volumes about the culture of the business. 

At the helm are George and Lotus, a husband and wife team. Producing originally in Hong Kong (back in the 1980's) before making the move to China, and at it's peak employing 800 workers, George and Lotus have devoted themselves to over thirty years of manufacturing leathergoods, and now, in nearing their very well earned retirement, they are in the process of handing over responsibility of the business to three of their long term employees (we love this!)

Over the years, we have had the pleasure of visiting George and Lotus’ factory many times. Getting to know them, their staff, the space, and the way everything operates has been essential in maintaining, refining and strengthening our connection with every step of Nancybird’s production process, as well as the people involved in the making of every piece.

Meet the makers

Mr Yang - Cutting department and part owner

Mr Yang is a long term employee who has now become a part owner of the business as George and Lotus head into retirement. 

Hi Mr Yang!

How long have you been working here? 
It's been thirty years!

What did you do when you first started here? 
I worked in the cutting machine department.

How many people worked here back then? 
We used to have 800 workers!

What are the different roles you've had over the years? 
I've done all sorts of things - managing the storage and supplies, tracking the cutting material consumption amongst many other tasks.

You're now a part owner – how did that come about? 
Because I'm interested in this industry, and because I worked for many years here so I thought it was something I could take on. I also wanted the business to keep going. I'm now a 30% owner of the business.

How have things changed for you, going from being an employee to being a part business owner? 
I have more responsibility and now have to look after everything. The calls – lots of phone calls. Looking at cash flow – everything!

Have you enjoyed the change?
I am a bit stressed but it has made me more active. I feel happy to work here.

Did you come from a different area in China to come and work here?
I came from a village in Dong Guan, about three hours from here. 

Did you move here with your family, or on your own to find work?
I came alone, and got married here a few years later. I have two children, one boy and one girl – twenty four and nineteen.

What do your children do?
My daughter works in a department store, and my son in a Chinese restaurant.

Did they both finish school? 
Yes they finished high school.

Do you feel settled here in Bao'an?
I will stay here while I'm working, then I will buy a house back in my home village and retire.

Is your wife also involved in the business?
She is a house wife and looks after her mother-in-law. Sometimes she comes to help at the factory.

What's your favourite thing about working here?
I love to work in the cutting department, but I enjoy everything!

What are your dreams for the future? 
That our orders go up! That the business grows.

Thanks so much for chatting with us Mr Yang!

George, Mr Yang, me and Gen (read about her here)

Screenprinted Lining - Dong Guan, China

We visited the factory that produces our screen printed lining each season in June 2017. They chatted about their waste water, showing me their settling pools where the waters distilled and remaining hard waste dispose of by government accredited waste companies.

Metal Hardware - Dong Guan, China

Lastly, we visited a small workshop who produce metal hardware - it was unexpectedly fascinating! I was transfixed by the machine in the image below. They also chatted about their distilling pool, which collects the waste water after washing the hardware. It seemed like a very similar scenario to the other factories that I visited in terms of waste water - regular government inspections of their settling pools, government approved waste companies removing the hard waste. I was impressed with the regulations I saw.