Wednesday, February 5, 2014

I have a new Blog!

Thanks for checking back in, but please make note I now have a new website with Wordpress, and will no longer be posting here at Blogger.  

I was going to move these posts over to , but then decided I kind of like the idea of having a clean fresh start over there.  Plus linking and moving posts is HARD.  No one tells you that, but it is.  For me.

ANYWAY, pleeeeaaaase start following me at

See you there!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

I'll have a Blue Christmas...

Last year, I had the honor of designing and sourcing new Christmas decorations for the Four Season's Hotel & Residence, here in Hong Kong.  Last night, before picking up a few Christmas gifts at IFC Mall, I decided to swing by the hotel for a few drinks (and free dim sum… !) at Blue Bar.  I mainly wanted to see if they were using my decorations again this year, and to my surprise they were!  

I can't recall the exact number of themes needed to decorate each of the public spaces throughout the hotel, including the residence lobby and apartments, but I think it was 8 or 863 or something like.  But, of course, each one was a complete blast to develop.  Of them, the tree in the Blue Bar was without doubt my favorite.  What you don't see from the above story board used in the final presentation is I had about three times the amount of ornaments developed for the Blue Bar tree, than any other theme.  Blue isn't a color I care to use for Christmas, but I LOVE THIS TREE.

Sorry the pictures are so dark.

It's a bar.  And, well…  it's   a   bar.

The color inspiration came from this amazing glass block column in the middle of the bar.

Here's a little look at the huge lobby tree.

From this little story board and sample presentation…

Came this…

Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Ribbons and Bows 101

As I mentioned in my post regarding Nutcrackers, when I visit a factory and learn how something is made, I'm always surprised at how much of the process is executed by hand.  A few years ago, when I visited my first ribbon and bow factory, I once again was amazed at how important hand work is to the process.  Something as inexpensive as a .99 cent bow, is assembled and packaged by hand.  In addition to Christmas trees and nutcrackers, today I thought I'd share how ribbons and bows make their way to your packages… just in time for Christmas!

Ribbons and bows are usually made of polypropylene (PP), which can be produced into any color or finish.  The below images all consist of either mirrored metallic or iridescent laminated polypropylene, which I pronounce shinny and super shinny.

Above, from top to bottom and left to right, is the monster machine that magically produces rolls of PP.  I didn't ask for details, I just took their word.  As you can see by the Pantone board, the color options are endless.  The rolls of PP are loaded onto cutting machines.  These machines cut the large rolls into smaller widths.  The workers take the smaller cut ribbons (which in this case had been spooled) and place them into the retailer's packaging.  Once packaged, the workers then place the UPC sticker to the outside of package.  Typically, every detail is directed by the buyer or product manager.  In this case, we wanted the package to read from warm to cool, so the silver and white ribbons went in the package first (the bottom), followed by the gold and bronze ribbons last (top of package).  If these instructions weren't provided, each worker would place the ribbons in different orders, which would cause each package to look different.  UPC placement instructions are needed so store cashiers aren't searching all sides of a package, looking for the barcode.  We also need to make sure the UPC label isn't covering important parts of the product.      

The cut ribbon is also used to make bows.  Below you can see the smaller cut ribbon being curled and cut into 6 inch lengths.  The 6 inch strips are then counted, (in this case they used 6 ribbons for each bow) and staple by hand to a small square adhesive paper that will later secure the bow to your package.  

The workers below are producing folded bows.  Along with making sure the machines have adequate ribbon supply, as the machines finishes each bow, (one at a time) the worker removes the bow and tosses it into one of those boxes.  Once the boxes are filled, they are taken to a table of workers for packaging and labeling. 

These workers are folding sheets of tissue paper and placing into the retailers packaging.

Below is matte finished polypropylene being twisted.   This machine feeds a 2.5 inch strip of PP and slowly spins the PP into a tightly twisted ribbon called Raffia. 

And once again, here's a group picture of the factory's owners and management, along with my team as we head back into our home away from home… the VAN!

So, there you have it, Ribbons and Bows 101.  I remember when I first learned workers stapled the curled ribbons by hand, or when I saw workers folding tissue paper (both being products I have purchased as a consumer a thousand times), I couldn't believe an actual person completed those tasks.  When I tour factories, I don't have many questions when standing before a machine, as I would much rather see humans work.  I am fascinated at what is still produced by humans and to learn why.  For a manufacturer, the less people needed the better.  Machines are consistent and never require pay increases or holidays.  But as a consumer, I still like knowing as I rip into a package, that someone, somewhere, made it.

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Nutcrackers 101

No matter what the product, when we hear the term "made by hand", or "handmade", or "handcrafted", we typically equate that to better value or high end products.  But in most cases, handmade doesn't automatically mean expensive.  Take these nutcrackers, they retail for US$9.99 and are 100% handcrafted.   

I took these images a while back, as I conducted a factory quality inspection audit for a big box US retailer.  And since it's Christmas and all, I thought I would share how Nutcrackers are made.  The answer, very patiently!  These talented individuals specialize in manufacturing handcrafted nutcrackers.  Due to a late issued purchase order, they had less than one month to produce over 450,000 nutcrackers.  What did you do last month?    

Makes you think twice before complaining about how your job seems 
so monotonous or tedious, right?

Each worker is responsible for one task, such as painting the arms, or adding sequins or painting accent trim.  As I walked around the production line, it was clear this guy clearly was the envy of all other workers.  He got to assemble all the parts together and the last person to touch the nutcracker before packaging and labeling.    

I think I would go postal at about 9:32am, if I had to do this all day.

I accidentally distracted this lady why taping this video.

GRA's (Glitter Related Accidents) are no laughing matter.  
Imagine being this guy and suddenly have an itch in your eye!  Yikes!   

The next time you look at a Nutcracker… 
take a real look and remember, it was made by hand.

This is a group picture with the factory management and owners,
as we were leaving the Nutcracker factory.
They made my favorite green bean dish for lunch.  Super nice people!

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013


I wanted to spruce up the bathrooms for holiday guests, so I decided to head across Victoria Harbour to the flower market in Prince Edward.  As usual, the flower market delivered.  I found these (all four) for only US $24.00!!

Merry Christmas to ME!