Reflecting Back and Moving Forward
Ulrike (Rikki) Beier - Founder
As we start off the new year, I would like to take the time to reflect on 2017 but also look forward to our plans for 2018 as IKKI continues to persevere in conveying a strong belief in the power of good consumer choices. I would like to use this opportunity to wish you all the best for the coming year. For those of you for whom 2017 was not that great, here's to a positive new start in 2018.
2017 was challenging for IKKI but also exciting in many ways. I was able to travel to Europe for the Bubble exhibition in London for which we were nominated a Rising Star Finalist. We exhibited in Barcelona alongside other great startups and hosted a pop-up in Hamburg. We also hosted our wonderful Education Forum in Chongqing which gave us exposure throughout China where we were featured on a local TV network. To see this feature click here. In July we explored the Norwegian market, where wool is very much the norm and a great potential market for IKKI.
"I feel it is the duty of the buyer the brands and the end consumer to influence and improve the supply chain worldwide."
As I reflect over the year, perhaps what has become more clear to me than ever before, is the rapid change of consumer behaviour in China and the importance of making an impact here. There still seems to be a very distorted view that China as a manufacturing location is only for cheap low end products. This could not be further from the truth. It is no longer profitable to manufacture low end product here and so many low end brands have left to other countries. The living costs and standards have dramatically increased and so too the demands of the final consumer. Most of our clients are in China and so for us it makes sense to produce here but ultimately it would be a dream to be able to manufacture wherever we sell rather than having to ship abroad. Mothers here in China, like anywhere in the world are more demanding now than ever when it comes to providing for their little ones. I believe that every mother has the right to know what she is buying and the story behind a product. The higher demand pushes the supply chain to improve and this is a good thing. I have always struggled with the notion of comments made encouraging moving away from the so called "cheaper" manufacturing countries. In my opinion it is the duty of the buyer the brands and the end consumer to influence and improve the supply chain worldwide. Cheap exists because cheap is bought. As long as we keep buying cheap, the supply chain will not improve. Corners will be cut and the profit will stay with the retailer. So with this comes the need for the education of the final consumer encouraging traceability questions which in turn force us the brand to work only with the best mills. Whether in China or elsewhere the question is simple, are mills meeting local and international standards with regards to the environment, human rights and ethical practices? If they are not, then they are not an option as a part of the supply chain. Moving away from countries we believe not to be meeting standards is not a solution, rather we need to influence and change the status quo. The implications of supply chains not defined by integrity anywhere in the world affect us globally.
"We encourage our clients to buy less but buy better!"
It is with these reflections in mind that we encourage our clients to buy less but buy better. I am more convinced now more than ever that making better consumer choices is not a choice. The fact that products cost more should simply mean we buy less. With the rise of fast fashion has come a different notion of cheap vs expensive. Do we spend less if we buy cheap? I challenge this notion as did Li Edelkoort in her fashion manifesto from this year, read more here.
2018 starts off with an exciting collaboration which will see IKKI products being distributed in 20 high end stores throughout China. This supports a clear trend in China towards quality product. Mothers, fathers and caretakers need products that they can trust and that can be accounted for. IKKI meets this need. We look forward to a wonderful 2018 for IKKI. Small but Brave.