Why does it take so long to find quality materials?

Why are supply chains such a beast?
Why do we keep hearing from designers that their great supplier fell through?
That the order is late (again)? That the sample is totally wrong? That we just can't find any reliable supply chain partners?
It's true: many companies outsource supply chain development to specialized consultants who spend 100% of their time managing material sourcing. 
It's incredibly complex, expensive, frustrating and takes designers and creatives away from their craft and into the murky world of international logistics. 
It's a tough nut to crack, particularly if you have limited experience in the industry. 

But here's a little secret: Building supply chains has very little to do with operational know-how and logistics experience and everything to do with relationships. No, really. 

It doesn't matter how good your supplier is. It doesn't matter if they have low minimums, transparency in their materials sourcing, ethical labor standards. Those things are GOOD and IMPORTANT. 
But what is absolutely critical?
Knowing the people behind that screen printing unit outside of Delhi. Knowing that the owners' son is in the hospital so the boss has been out for 2 weeks which is why the fabric is delayed. Remembering that time you went to visit the weavers and had tea on their sunny roof because mornings in India are CHILLY in wintertime and you became facebook friends with their daughter (who messages you now ALL the time). 

Nothing - no consultant, no amount of money - will surpass the power and reliability of a supply chain based on respectful relationships with real people. 
THIS is why it takes so long. Because human relationships take time.
And THIS is why there's no easy solve. Because you cannot fast-track the process of building trust. There is no magical textile trail that will lead you to the perfect ethical fabric or artisan group. You MUST do the hard work of building lasting connections.

This is #MindfulBusiness for us.
It's taking that time - even when we need things to be faster. It's about focusing on the person - even when the product feels so valuable. It's about respecting the process - not just the marketing campaign. 

And isn't this a lesson for all of us? Stuck behind our computers and immersed in our social media feeds - it can be easy to forget. We lose sight of the power of a kind word, a thoughtful conversation. We forget that there is common ground. Yes, even with our material suppliers. So, together let's recommit to taking the time we need. For our supply chains, for our craft and for each other.

1 comment

  • Liz

    Love!!! True+true=true😊

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