Our fabricators are mostly migrant Chinese that have come to the big cities to earn money to send home. Just like anywhere. But within their own (huge) country. Since we started our factory in June 2014, we've given 14 skilled and trained tent makers work and paid them well over the average wage to help us make amazing tents for you.
The workers mostly came from small villages 5-7 years ago and have been working in other factories in the area – some in pretty bad conditions, but mostly have been treated well since they work hard know their stuff! They didn't care much for us at first. Westerners running a Chinese factory, what's the difference? Many Westerns are already there and many, run the factories in the same way as Chinese owners would because it's cheap and no one complains.
We try not to follow the crowd. We have no manufacturing background and keeping the bottom line is not our priority. We filled the place with trees. Set a sewing machine under each one, turn the machines off at 8pm and no one is allowed to work on Sundays ( they did not like that ). We pay them about 30% higher wages than their counterparts in other factories and provide 3 free meals every day. We pay their rent! They have more disposable income than management. Which isn't hard.
What we really wanted to do was to educate them and elevate them from just being factory workers, to being able to question their world. To see beyond what their government shows them; give them a glimpse of a different life and make them understand that the tents they are making, provide people across the world with a new way of experiencing nature. So we took them on holiday.
Last month, we took 10 of our workers to the Guilin, home of the famous pinnacle mountains and the river Li. We took them caving, mountain climbing, horse back riding and river rafting on 2 person bamboo rafts. They enjoyed themselves. However breathtaking the scenery was though, it was the golden taps ( faucets ) in the hotel that seemed to make the biggest impression on most. That and the size of the TV's in their rooms. You can take a horse to water....
Next year, we plan on taking them to Mongolia. No TV's or taps there!