I returned to a solemn and calm Hyderabad yesterday due to heavy rains and the end of an important nine day Hindu festival. Usually festival days are loud but the rains really slow everything down here. While being somewhat eerie compared to the usual hustle of the city, it was a welcome environment for reflection: 10 days on the road, 5 in Tirupur, 4 printed designs, new samples, and pricing negotiations.
Tirupur exemplified everything about doing business in India – progress, frustration, late meetings, fun interactions with unexpected people in a factory (this time it was the women at the screen printers who seemed quite bemused at my presence.) I got my samples in the end, but it had to wait until that last day. Typical Indian business. I got everything I wanted done, but getting it done seemed to throw unwarranted stress my way. One day I’ll get used to “Indian time” but for now it still can get under my skin.
Where do we go from now? Well, I’m still looking into pricing, as I’m convinced that we can go lower, without taking money away from the people who are adding the most value. If we can achieve this, I can place the first order and we can sell online and through local shops. Getting to the retailers is the goal, but margins are cut dramatically and right now I need to get some money back after this past 5 weeks!
I’m also in constant dialogue with the coconut fiber people. They are very receptive and seem genuine but I worry about the time-line here, despite the fact that they have a sample ready to send me. I’ll let you know how that turns out.
So for now, I’ll let the rains pour and let the drops lead me to some conclusions.