Post written on Sunday 18 May but didn't get a chance to post it so here it is. Now in Hong Kong and Nanling seems another world and time with earthquake coverage extensive and consumer goods in abundance.

Update: I was told on Monday by Chen that following Saturday's event and seeing the crochet works on my stall, a Scandinavian business woman based in Guanzghou has placed an order with her for a crochet style necklace and branded goods for July. They will design items together with future visits from the buyer accompanied by a translator... Zhang was present when she told me and I think it made them realise that this outcome is a promising step signalling it can all really happen.

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Wow, yesterday was the last day and it has been whipped away in a flurry of setting up, maypoling, being mobbed by kids and speaking to a myriad of locals about the bags and videos I showed and eating a fourth supper in the evening. The stalls were bustling at many points of the day and the event from the parade and pear crumble to booty shaking was a good way to see the culmination of everyone's projects pursued here.

I spent the last week in and out of different backdrops, speaking and hands on doing with both Li Gui E (dried foodstuffs) and Zhang Wei Jun (Peanut oil) as well as niece Maggie, the calligrapher Zheng and Chen- who also played the gujun beautifully during Alistair's speech (also Chinese attempted, er, beautifully).

It's been a pretty much seamless natural progression of ideas and finishing this stage of product with Li and Zhang. Both parties were really into taking on the task of trying to to see where my proposal might help and them see their products marketed and sold differently. Each meeting has seen them taking on their own initiative on prompt of my suggestions and family and friends have joined in the sewing, carving and designing of the packaging too in quite a resourceful way. It's not that family run business owners like Li and Zhang have not thought about how to sell more before but rather about knowing how, what and where to begin.

With Li, we now have some delightful, colourful, characterful alternatives to her non-descript transparent jars and food bags for her vast range of self processed organic dried foodstuffs, which range rom kumquats to musherooms and fish. A lot of interest was generated yesterday and it resulted in the sale of three of her custom crochet bags. An impressive feat for someone who was not linking the ideas of pick n mix of products and only stuck in making circular patterns. The teacher from Guangzhou also came along and was quite surprised. We sold three bags yesterday and this I could tell from her beaming smile that Li will hold true to carrying this on in someway. Vitamin's Sue arrived yesterday and I agree with her point about some sort of exchange with locals as a system too; outlets and further development is the next step. For peanut guy Zheng, packaging for both oil and husk extract (good fodder for pigs, humans and plant growth) has incited a lot of questions from especially the older locals. He even asked me more about how his family may take on ideas such as possibility to develop tours around their small factory to inform tourists, city folk etc a little about the production process. I am not a product developer but its been pretty amazing to get this thinking triggered and I know that here people talk to each other a lot.
The two documentary style videos I have created were also attentively watched yesterday by all ages, it charts the progress of both stories from beginning to end point. It must be said that my time spent here has been linguistic gymnastics since I've tried to get by without a translator, half understanding has been supplemented by Marceau actions, but we got there.
It's quite nice to see how both projects parallel in development stages, from initial hesitation to pride in family produce to how their own witness of customer responses and what might be possible.

So, we're about to set off for Guangzhou, I am going to hunt for bizarrities in the antiques shop and say a few farewells.Not leaving China quite so fast thought, looking forward to spending time with the rels in Hong Kong and who knows maybe I learnt a thing or two from microcosmic Nanling about my gran and why she still says to eat every grain of rice in the bowl. Onwards....

Topics: [jay produce]

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