After several years of working with our Taiwan partners and never meeting face to face, we decided that 2014 was the year. Flights and hotels were booked, factory tours were arranged and we set off to put faces to names and to see Halfmoon’s overseas operations firsthand.
We arrived appropriately jetlagged in Taipei after multiple hours of flying. And one night and a questionable hotel meal later, we were off to Taichung at 300 kilometres an hour via Taiwan High Speed Rail.
Suri, our hostess with the mostest (and more officially, our main contact), picked us up at the train station. First order of business: Check in at hotel. Second order of business: A presentation and meet and greet at our Taiwan partners’ office.
At the office we put faces to names we’d previously seen only on emails. We learned more about the company. And we participated in what we came to understand as Taiwan’s national pass-time: eating.
I found food in Taiwan delicious, plentiful and definitely different from what I’m used to here in Canada. Pictured on the right is a tomato smoothie. It’s considered a dessert and is served sweetened with honey. My tastebuds were both delighted and confused with every sip.
When we weren’t eating, we learned all about how Halfmoon’s many overseas-sourced items are made. We watched giant rolls of yoga mat scroll overhead before being cut down into the familiar 72” x 24” sizes we’ve all come to know and love. The finished mats were then rolled, labelled, and packaged by hand.
We watched skeins of thread weave themselves into webbing and the factory-owner’s sister hand-cut and hand-finish that webbing into yoga straps.
We watched yoga blocks emerge from large pieces of technicolour foam as they passed from one set of hands to another. Cut to size. Edges bevelled. Packaged. And placed in boxes to be shipped all over the world.
You’ll notice that I used the word “hand” a lot. And that’s because there were a lot of them involved. One of the biggest (and coolest) learnings for us was that, just like at Halfmoon’s factory in Vancouver, much of the manufacturing of our products in Taiwan was done by hand by real people. In fact, any one of the factories we visited could have been picked up and plunked next to our Vancouver manufacturing floor. It would have fit right in!
We were also thrilled to learn that the majority of our factory partners in Taiwan are family-owned and family-operated. Given Halfmoon’s roots as a family business (the owners’ daughter Adya still runs our factory and warehouse in Vancouver), this place of alignment had a special place in our hearts.