The first time I went to China to develop painted finishes (not my first trip to China) I had a horrible cold. I was working at a factory where no one spoke English and I had a translator/manager that was new and didn't understand paint or paint terms. Nothing could be translated for me. I had to be creative and I had to use other terms that could be understood.
The finish manager, brought me solvents for the paint and pointed me to two different sections of paint. There were 2 sections. She held the solvents in front of my nose so I could tell which was which. (I'm sure that was healthy for me to inhale the fumes) Unfortunately I had the worst cold I had in years and could not smell a thing. I had no idea what I had. I tried to explain, but I don't think it was translated well.
I sat at a table made for me and tried to work with the paints. I must have looked like a total fool as I tried to mix water with lacquer based paint. The finish workers must have thought “who was this fool they brought in”? Again the manager ran the solvents under my nose. Finally I asked for water based paints for me to work with. I got that through by acting like I was drinking the solvent. She brought me a few jars of dried up, fairly useless paint.
This was going to be tough. I was used to developing finishes with latex. Because latex was costly and not as flexible, and it is legal to use more volatile paints in China, they used the solvent based paints. I have to admit, once I got used to them (and the fumes) they were much easier to work with. After a few days, the shop manager realized I was sick, and she helped me with the paint problem.
They were used to having unknowledgable people come in the factory and demand the impossible. I told them, I would never make them do something I couldn't do myself. If they told me something was impossible, I would take the piece from the worker and do the task myself. It shut down the whining, because that was embarrassing, more so there than here. But I gave great praise at a job well done.
If you think buyers are hard to communicate with, try giving instructions to Chinese factory workers through a translator that does not understand the processes you are trying to explain. Sometimes you really have to get creative communicating. I did much better without the translator in the end.
Today I assembled 11 new single flower on chain necklaces and 5 headbands. I do need to make more headbands and some fascinators. I am so excited about my photo shoot tomorrow. I've started listing today, but will edit when I get the modeled pictures.
I also sold several sewn pieces. I'm so torn about this whole thing. Maybe I need to send out emissaries to wear my jewelry and pass out business cards across the country. It does seem that I'm enjoying this now, but I actually really enjoyed working in the factories in China. Hmmmm.