The Fashion Knowledge Report
I’m super excited to have Vicky, Operation Director of Shan Gong Fang , a really interesting social enterprise in China to share with us on this issue of The Fashion Knowledge Report™! This regular publication will provide you with ideas, strategies and information to help you succeed in your fashion business.
How did Shan Gong Fang get started?
“Shan Gong Fang ” started as a social project for the local community. The idea came when Shude Textile and Garment Association had the goal of making the local textile industry more sustainable so they reached out to local Junxing charity to see any possibilities. In the end both sides found each other shares same the vision on sustainability and community development and then that’s how the project got started!
Shan Gong Fang means “Good textile workshop”, we upcycle leftover fabrics from the local jeans factory and turn them into products that people want. Majority of the proceeds from sales of the products will go back to the workers who made the products. These workers are usually local under privileged groups or retired garment factory workers who have trouble in improving their living condition
At the same time, we hope to use our mission and value to promote sustainability mindset to the local factories. We want to use this program to help them realize that they need to upgrade their factories to create less waste, to be more environmental, and to create a long term sustainable business model.
Where do you get all these fabrics from?
Guangdong Shunde Junan town is a big denim production and wholesale town with approximate 2,000 denim related manufacturing companies. There are a lot of waste from the jeans manufacturing especially leftover fabrics and these leftover fabrics not only take up spaces but are also a potential fire hazard for factories. The scrapes don’t create economical value by sitting there so we decided to upcycle them and create products people want.
Where do you find these workers?
We find them through the local community service center. These workers some of them have disabilities, some are from low-income families, some can’t work regular hours because they have elders to take care of at home. These people are often labeled as welfare-dependents on them and very difficult for them to find jobs and as a result, they are often excluded and hard to earn a better living. One of our goal is to change that by providing them opportunity to learn a skill, to earn more money, to have a better living, and to help them to gain more confident.
Can you state two problems you ran into at the beginning and how you solved them?
At the beginning we faced many issues on the production side like finding equipment and the right sewing technique as my background is not garment manufacturing. We also faced problems on how to make the production process suitable for our workers. At the end we were able to solve these problems by finding some skilled workers with experience and also finding some good and cheap machines from secondhand dealers, and getting some experts to coach us.
What’s your goal and how to promote this throughout China?
Our goal is to build a platform connecting leftover and deadstock fabrics with other enterprise that will upcycle them into products that consumer wants. We will also do more collaboration with other like-minded enterprise that will want to use our facility for their production and by this we will be creating more income opportunities to the underprivileged groups in the community.