Suppliers and manufacturers
We have been working with the majority of suppliers and trading partners in Asia for many years and some have become good friends. The cooperation is essentially characterized by sympathy and trust. There is no other way to do business, as even larger business transactions in Asia are often carried out without a written contract and signature, a handshake so to speak.
On many markets and bazaars in oriental countries, haggling and bargaining is almost part of good manners. In contrast, this is rather unusual in wholesale trade. If we are interested in a product, we ask the supplier for the price and calculate whether it is competitively feasible for us. Finally we order when quality and price are right. However, we hardly ever try to lower the price, as this would certainly lead to a reduction in quality.
Almost all articles are manufactured in South East Asia in smaller manufactories, which often have been in business for many generations. The workers there have a perfect command of their craft, but some of them can neither read nor write. Many products are therefore reproduced from memory. A standardization, as it is common in industrial production, does not take place in the traditional manufacturing process. Therefore, dimensions, patterns and colours may differ slightly from the specifications and photos. However, we do not consider such minor deviations to be defects if the quality is not impaired. Due to the manufacturing process, genuine unique pieces are created, which are unique in their individual form.
With wood and other natural materials, cracks or deformations can sometimes occur depending on the climatic conditions at the later place of use. Wood never stops "working" and especially wood from tropical regions can be sensitive to dry heating air. Unfortunately, this is in the nature of things and can hardly be influenced by us. Later cracks and deformations are therefore not a defect in the sense of the warranty. However, in individual cases we do our best to find a satisfactory solution together with the customer, for example by repairing and mending free of charge.
Material and ingredients
We are often unable to provide precise information about the ingredients of the paints and polishes used. Many colours are mixed by hand from memory and a wide variety of pigments and dyes are used. Mostly, but not exclusively, these raw materials have a natural basis. They are mixed according to ancient recipes that have been used for generations. It can nevertheless happen that shades of colour vary from time to time.
In many countries of origin, there is hardly any awareness of questionable ingredients. The attempt to clear up this issue is often met with a smile. The general tenor is that this is probably more a luxury problem of Western affluent citizens. Convincing our manufacturers to use harmless chemicals is a lengthy process. When we are on site, we raise the issue again and again. The situation is gradually improving, but this does not happen overnight.
Most of our products come from small companies run by families. Apartment and workshop are often located in the same building and children are also often to be found - at least outside school hours. For outsiders it is sometimes difficult to see if the children also work in the parental company. That they help from time to time is at least not unlikely. Even then, however, the question would remain whether this is playful assistance or commercial work.
After all our experiences and visits on site, we can now, however, rule out that "non-family" children are recruited and exploited as cheap labour in our supplier companies. For most of the work - for example the production of furniture - this would not be possible anyway, as it requires trained craftsmen.
When we travel in Asia, we visit many of our suppliers in person. We expect and pay attention to dignified working conditions, especially with regard to safety. Nevertheless, there is still a long way to go before similar standards apply in India or Nepal as in Europe. Competitors who claim otherwise are unfortunately not telling the whole truth.