That's right! As mentioned previously on our Facebook page, I have decided to move our manufacturing workshop from China to Vietnam. There are a lot of reasons but the main ones are:
1. Lower costs. This means that I can use higher quality materials and you'll be able to see the difference very soon when i share photos and video of the latest Pubbet #1 production samples!
2. Smaller workshop. This might not seem like a good point at first, but it means that I will be able to be there during production and work alongside the staff.
3. Easier visas. If I want to visit China I need to get an expensive tourist visa each time, which means 2-3 days in Bangkok while I'm waiting for it to be processed. That would add up very quickly as I travelled back and forth from my home base in Thailand. For my Vietnam visa I just pay $17 for the visa plus $50 stamping fee when I arrive. That's good for 3 months, which is more than long enough to get everything sorted out and automated.
4. Location. The workshop in Hoi An is just over an hour flight away from Thailand.
5. Cultural differences. The people I'm dealing with in Vietnam have bent over backwards to accommodate all of my crazy requests and demands. Plus they genuinely seem excited about the Pubbets project and are keen to work with me on future revisions and puppet designs. They also refused to take payment for the sample costs (as opposed to paying $300 in China) and have helped me to find an apartment for my stay in Hoi An.
6. Flexibility. The China factories demanded 500 pieces minimum and wouldn't even consider the idea of offering different colours within that order. The Vietnam workshop has said that I can choose whichever colour I like, and there's no minimum order required.
7. Future plans. My end goal with Pubbets was to end up with my own small workshop in this region, whether it be Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam or Malaysia. I love living in South East Asia and the lifestyle, food, climate and culture is wonderful. By setting up the first production run in Vietnam it will give me invaluable insight and experience into making this a reality!
As per usual I haven't started packing yet, but I will leave for Bangkok on Monday morning 7 January and stay overnight before heading to Da Nang and then Hoi An on Tuesday 8 January.
First production meeting is on Wednesday 9 January and you can bet that I'll be sharing all the ins and outs with you here on pubbets.net!