by Anne Rush.
As you know, most fashion jewelry is imported from vendors in China.
Many are located in Hong Kong, or within a 2-hour drive outside of Hong Kong. However, most of my own experience has been in developing product with Korean companies whose factories are based in Qingdao, China.
Qingdao is in the north of China on the Yellow Sea. Its coastline is very beautiful, and the area also has some wonderful rocky mountains.
The area long ago was inhabited by the Germans who brewed beer there, so Qingdao beer is still a local popular beverage.
You can fly into Qingdao by connecting through Beijing, Seoul, or Hong Kong. I usually go through Beijing, as the layover is shorter. Navigating the airport can be tricky, as you need to transfer to a domestic airline to get to Qingdao.
Once in Qingdao you can stay at the Crowne Plaza or the Shangri-La hotels; both are comfortable.
Working with Vendors
Before you leave, arrange a calendar with the vendors. They will arrange transportation for you to their offices.
Make sure to take advantage of touring the factories as you can come up with new ideas based on the manufacturing that each one has use of. In this way you will begin to develop an idea of what factories will best suit your line, ship on time, and follow quality guidelines.
You’ll want to be sure that you are working with a factory that complies with human rights regulations, so the tour is very helpful to see the working conditions.
You can choose product from a vendor’s “open line” in their factory showrooms.
It’s extremely convenient to make any changes while there, and you can also give design direction directly to the factory design director. The best way is through sketches accompanied by photos from magazines, and store purchased samples.
The vendors will send you first samples usually in 2 to 3 weeks, and will send pricing afterwards. You will need to keep up continual communication in order to keep them on top of your job.
You’ll need about 3 to 4 weeks lead time for sales samples, and 6 to 8 weeks for production.
Minimums can vary but most would be about 300 pieces per style, per color way.
This is the most difficult part, as well as understanding the process of importing and the cost of clearing customs. Large companies have agents or employees that facilitate the process.
However, I believe one way of finding more information on what vendors to develop with would be to contact a local import agent and ask them for some direction.
I wish you the best of luck in bringing your designs to market.
Author Anne Rush has served as Director of Design at Miriam Haskell Jewelry in New York, as Vice President of design at Liz Claiborne, and has directed lines such as Monet, Kenneth Cole, Sigrid Olsen and Ellen Tracey. Her website is dedicated to inspiring and informing jewelry designers pursuing a career in the business.