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LESSONS // Five lessons in choosing an ethical production partner

An idea is just 1% of the final product. 99% is execution. 

Here are some lessons in our journey to finding the partners we work with.

1. Decide your main categories of consideration and what’s important to you. We chose:

  • Business imperatives
  • Product integrity
  • Social/environmental impact
  • Management robustness

This is the most fundamental starting point for ensuring that your values and vision for your business translates to actual practice. 

2. Weight each of these categories and develop criteria for your scoring.

These are criteria to score the above main categories. For example, because craft and heritage were so important to us, this is what we developed for Product Integrity, which matters for 30% in our overall selection.

  • Individual craftsmanship in production
  • Industry expertise / generational depth
  • Quality control and assurance
  • Supply chain transparency

3. Visit each of these suppliers personally.

There is nothing better than a face to face meeting and field trip to understand how a company works, their culture, whether they treat their people fairly, and whether you will enjoy a working relationship with them. If long term partnership is what you’re looking for, this is imperative. A Skype call is the bare minimum!

4. Sample across a few to compare quality and price.

And most importantly, don’t just go for the cheapest one. This exercise is for you to compare the quality of different suppliers and the way they work, whether it’s how and when they ask for payment, how they interact with you as a business partner, and how important your business is to them.

5. Trust.

If you’re working with a partner in a different culture, sometimes trust, and a phone call, is much better than repetitive emails and chasing. Figuring out the work culture of another country is also imperative before making quick judgements. Like how in India, everything is possible until it’s not.

If you’d like a copy of the scoresheet we developed, just write in and ask.