From Stephanskirchen to Hong Kong.

Jasmina, Junior Manager Production Woven at MARC O’POLO, spent 4 weeks in Hong Kong during her Trainee Programme at our buying/production Team. Read more about her experiences in her following Report.

The City

I think there’s no bigger opposite as travelling from MARC O’POLO headquarters (located in idyllic Stephanskirchen) to the buzzing city of Hong Kong.

Hong Kong has approximately 710 times as much residents as Stephanskirchen. Instead of the Bavarian country style you can find skyscrapers with cabels hanging everywhere and modern metallized giants. Thousands of small windows only implicate how big its population is.

Colorful billboards build a contrast to the mostly grey streets and buildings. As soon as the sun sets a colorful light flows through the whole city. The billdboards begin to radiate and advertising slogans beam from the faces of the skyscrapers.

Thousands of people are outside on the streets and the stores are openend until late into the night. A city of contrasts, permanently vibrating, 24/7 and sometimes even longer.

Our Hong Kong office

The MARC O’POLO Hong Kong office is in approximately 40 minutes distance from the city center, far away from endless traffic, crowded streets and shopping malls.

Normally I was at the office for 2 days a week and I felt always very happy to come back to that “oasis of peace”.  The office is small and the desks are very close to each other but its location at the sixth floor provides a lot of light for the space.

It was very beautiful and at the same time arkward to get to know the employees at the Hong Kong office. After one year of collaboration, phone calls and hundreds of e-mails we met in person for the first time. After several greetings and a bit of small talk the first suppliers arrived. In cooperation with the buyers we chose fabrics, discussed prototypes and negotiated prices.

For my first lunch we went to Kowloon Kitchen, a totally fantastic Italian restaurant high above the roofs of Hong Kong. The entrance is hidden in a backyard, but sitting on top of the roof-deck and eating fresh rosmary bread, you instantly feel like you are in a small village in Italy and not in a Chinese metropolis.

At the suppliers

The visit of our suppliers in China was a total contrast. The south of China is more peaceful and not as modern as Hong Kong. It always takes you some time to get to the different factories when you are travelling from Hong Kong. That’s not only a result of the travel time but also because you have to pass so many borders. Every time you leave or arrive at a country you have to fill out forms and get postmarks – and you are not the only one who’s in a hurry because many Chinese people work in Hong Kong or otherwise.

First the suppliers gave me a tour around their whole factory: the fabrics stock, the test labs, cutting, sewing and pressing and last but not least finishing and packaging.

Technically you would assume that all factories are build in a similar way, but every factory has another structure and works with different systems and machines. Therefore every tour was new and exciting. I was lucky because I could also visit the laundry-service, dye works and the purification plants.

After the tour my literal job started: the quality control. While pieces were running through the production, we looked at every step of the process, took measures and compared them to our tables. At the end we wrote a final report to record the improvements that should be fixed before the delivery. This report was discussed with the supplier and signed.

It was amazing to see so many elements of the production and to understand how many people are involved in the production of a single piece of clothing.

My challenges

My biggest challenge was the language. In Hong Kong I had no difficulties with my English, but in China. Furthermore the Chinese English needs some time getting used to. In urgent cases I could always read most of the things from the lips, but if someone had a mask on it was difficult. Fortunately I was accompanied by quality Managers with perfect English skills who stood by my side when I had lingusitic or technical problems during my travel.

My second biggest challenge was the food. I couldn’t get used to spicy rice or noodle soup for breakfast. Instead I sticked to fruits and bread. Dumplings for dinner however were great: Hundreds of small pasties with different fillings. Every single dumpling was a masterpiece and every filling offered a suprise. 

My conclusion

I learned a lot during my travel – far more than I learned at college. Because the things you learn at school are totally different from real life. My travel gave me an insight into the factories, their available funds and their day-to-day challenges.

That knowledge now helps me to respond to each supplier in a better way and to solve problems more quickly.

A special thank you goes to MARC O’POLO, who made the travel possible and gave me the opportunity to gain so many experiences and to meet so many great people.

As travelling and the local quality control are big parts of the job of a production manager, I will soon come back to China and I’m looking foward to it!