When our Head of Digital, Olivia, shared that she was heading to Japan over Christmas, we cheekily suggested a catch up with one of our amazing makers!
Working with their team for over 10 years on iconic RUBY + Liam pieces such as the Firebird Pant and Weirdly Slip, although there's not a lot of cross over with our digital and production teams ~ we loved the idea of Liv & our suppliers sitting down over dinner and getting to know more about each other.
Liv shares insights into their catch up + what she learnt about our production process!
Going into the catch up, what did you initially know about the makers and our relationship with them?
Being a RUBY HQ Rubette, they were definitely a familiar a name I heard around the office, discussing our upcoming products and the fabric. I knew they were the team responsible for some of our key fabrics and were a big part of our wider RUBY family. However, in saying that, I would say that our fabric sources are a blind spot of mine at RUBY, and is one of the parts of the business I’ve never been heavily involved, as a ops and tech girlie myself.
When the idea popped up - having dinner with the team while on holiday in Japan, what first crossed your mind?
I was SO into it. I’m someone who loves getting to know more about the way our products come to life, and understanding the full life of a garment, from imagination to sampling, to production, to heading home in the hands of our customers. I’ll admit there was a nervousness, as my partner is half Japanese, and I knew about the formality in which Japanese companies operate, which is very different to the RUBY lifestyle I have become accustomed to, but I knew the value that would come out of the dinner. There was also the language barrier that I was concerned about, but nothing calms that more than getting your Japanese-fluent BF to join you for dinner.
Since meeting, what have you learnt about our relationship and the way in which we work together?
While they work with a significant number of retail businesses, quite literally worldwide, I was impressed when I mentioned the name of some of our key styles at RUBY and they knew exactly what I was speaking about. This really reinforced to me that the relationship that has developed over the years, goes beyond that of just knowing what fabrics we required. Understanding your customer further goes a long way, and is the basis for a long-lasting working relationship. Seeing how invested the team were in the wider operations of RUBY, where our IRL stores were located, where our products were made, really amplified this to me. It was cool to see this from a different angle, being that in my role, we are normally the ones wanting to learn more about our customers, rather than being the customer ourselves!
Are there any differences you have learnt between their team and ours? Is there something we could adopt from them?
It was incredible to speak to their team and learn that a majority of their team is bi-lingual if not tri-lingual. Working in multiple languages throughout the day is a skill that I could only dream of having. When you work internationally across several different countries, it is incredibly valuable to be able to interact with your customers in their native language, to help develop relationships. While this might not be the most relative to us here at RUBY, how cool would it be if we could offer Livechat on rubynz.com in an array of languages (not coming soon - but never say never 😉).
What is something you found super interesting or didn’t know?
One thing that stuck with me throughout our meeting, was that they are a family business, and have stayed true to their core values throughout the years, like RUBY. This largely influenced the way in which the business operated, staying value lead, through their origins in the Middle East. I believe this is a large similarity to the way in which RUBY operates, and it was cool to see the parallels we have, when our businesses are geographically a world apart.