Today we have a great treat for you – and these kinds of podcast shows remind me of the reason we even started Global From Asia at the beginning – learn from people ON THE GROUND in Asia doing cross-border trade and ecommerce.
Our guest is one of our business partners, Andres, who is a co-founder of Akitai brand. He and his wife started this while in Chiang Mai.
We did this ON-site at the factory. Not sure I’d call it a factory, per say, and if you want to watch a video blog on this – check it out at mikesblog.com/mountain-factory.
Topics Covered in this Episode
So you’re from Venezuela, how did you end up in Chiang Mai?
How did you and your wife / team think to start Akitai?
What is the story there?
How did Mike and you meet?
At FBA meetups in Chiang Mai.
How did you find the factory?
What is the story of this – such an interesting location?
Why not a Chinese factory?
Many buy products from China – what was the reason you picked, as well as stuck with, Thailand factories?
How has the brand and business evolved?
Mike (via Shadstone) and you are working together, what is the latest?
Logistics from Thailand
What is the way you are fulfilling the orders, sending to Amazon FBA? Air, sea? We’d love to learn the process and get any pointers.
Some upgrades we are making
Building off-Amazon content, investing in storefront, branding. Let’s hear the growth strategy.
What are some of the advantages of working with Thailand?
People / Companies / Resources Mentioned in this Episode
√ Andres’ VIP Page
√ Visit our GFA partner – Mercury – for US banking solutons for your ecommerce businesss
Episode Length 55:48
Thanks Andres for taking us to this Thailand Factory and everybody for tuning in. See you in the next podcast!
Mike’s Blog – the Adventure Trip to the Factory
For those interested in the journey Andres and Mike went through to get there, with some fun outtakes – check out MikesBlog.com
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[00:00:00] Episode 383 of Global from Asia, going up to the mountains in North Thailand visiting a factory. Welcome to the Global From Asia Podcast, where the daunting process of running an international business is broken down into straight up actionable advice. And now your host, Michael Michelini. What is up everyone?
[00:00:23] Hi, my name is Faith and again, I’m your co-host here in Global from Asia podcast, and of course we’re here with the amazing Mike, how are we doing today? I’m great. I’m great. Been a month now in Thailand, you know, and uh, yeah, we just saw, just saw Andres again, our guest this week and feeling relaxed.
[00:00:46] You’re also moving around. You’re in Manila. Yes. Right now in Manila, I’m just, you know, just enjoying my time here. It’s a rainy season and you know, there’s a lot going on. Just what, just, just a quick unwind, relaxing would do for the week. There you go. Enjoy that, enjoy that. And again, you know, after our podcast with Andres, just I believe that we have learned a lot from him.
[00:01:11] From his strategies, his stories, background stories, and yeah, there’s a lot going. What do you think about our podcast? Yeah, with our guest, last time. I learned, you know, I, that’s, it’s kind of fun. I mean, I like about hosting, I, I learned new things even about the guests. I’ve known him for years, like five, four years.
[00:01:30] And uh, I learned some things about him and some business things and history. So there’s tons of packed information. Actually, Faith, actually quite a few people listened to the last show really like are curious about Thailand, are curious about business here, opportunities. So this is one where we’re talking about factories.
[00:01:46] He also shares about logistics and strategies. So I’m excited, you ready to do this? Absolutely. Absolutely. There’s a lot and we’ve been getting a lot of comments right now, mainly with Thailand, of course, the Cross Border Summit and what’s going on with that? With our plan right now and any updates about.
[00:02:04] Sure, Sure. I mean, again, we’re first time to do it in Thailand. We try to do it, but then Covid hit in 2020, so this will be a great, When we’re talking to the Thai government, there’s like events department that supports events, especially international events. May on our team, help me get through to them.
[00:02:20] We had a quick call. I’m gonna try to meet ’em, just want their support, see what kind of opportunities we can do with them. But we’re looking at February rough dates right now. Cause we really wanna get it going as soon as possible. I’m so excited for it. You know, get, have you involved and get some of our awesome people in our community here together.
[00:02:37] Absolutely. Everyone’s excited about Of course, of course. You know, when it comes to it, our pandemic and everything, a lot has been declining, everything. But we are always moving forward and we wanna make sure that this Cross Border Summit we’ll just move forward and make it happen. We’re gonna do it. It’s non-negotiable.
[00:02:58] It’s, it’s not negotiable. It’s gotta happen no matter what. All right. We can we’ll go with, And I was even thinking, you know, it was just a thought. We were doing our interview with Andres, you know, there were just backpackers in the past. True. I remember that with her wife and now. As you can see, he is a successful seller now.
[00:03:23] And what do you think about that story? Anything that you wanna relate yourself in or any kind of thoughts that you have about there? I think maybe after, in the blah, blah, blah session, after the interview, we can share some of the, some more stories and, uh, I’ll share some of my insights after, after this.
[00:03:39] amazing interview. I. Thank. Oh, I’m super excited about it. And also, of course, again, I believe that you were able to hang out with him. Yeah, we just had some hot pot. Also Don came out and some really cool people. And we’re meeting again before he goes back to Phuket for lunch. So I’m excited for all of this and we can share some ideas we’ve already gotten since after the interview too.
[00:04:01] After, after this session, we can we’ll share together Faith for those curious, I can share after the interview. Super excited about it. I think that at this point people would just love to hear lots about this interview that’s going to be stuck in their heads and mainly, of course learn from from Andres’ journey when it comes to his brand now in Akitai, and of course just mainly you and him connecting more.
[00:04:31] and his brand. And we love, we’ll, love for, we love everyone to see and hear, uh, about this one. Let’s tune it in. Yeah, Yeah. Let’s do it. All right. And thank you to our sponsor, our returning sponsor, mercury.com online bank, while it’s a real bank, but into a totally online for US. Our Blimp program participants are going through this as well.
[00:04:52] Thank you, Mercury. Travis is great. Been on our shows, been in our events, we’re gonna have another event where we will have them attending as well. And if you wanna get a little bonus for you and us, if you sign up and do some special circumstances, you can go to globalfromasia.com/mercury. I also have a video tutorial that we use, even for the Blimp people, to use the same exact video to learn how to use it.
[00:05:13] I hope you can check it out totally free. Why not? See you there? Hello everyone. Today, we have a great treat for you and of course, these kinds of podcast shows remind us the reason why we even started here at Global From Asia at the beginning. And also we learned from people on the ground in Asia.
[00:05:37] Doing cross border trade and e-commerce. Our guest is one of our business partners, Andres, who is our co-founder of Akitai brand and his wife, and he started while in Chiang Mai. We did this onsite at the factory. Not sure if we could call it a factory per se, but if you want to watch a Video blog on this, check it out, and the video notes that we have here, below.
[00:06:04] Hello Andres, how are you? Hi Faith. Good to be here with you. How are you doing? You look great. It’s good here. Very, very happy to see you with Mike there. How’s everything? How’s the weather there right now in Thailand? Yeah, it’s been nonstop rain to be honest, but always, always nice and humid. Yeah, always hot here.
[00:06:26] it was, it starts to rain like around you say like four or 5:00 PM it’ll just almost like a, like a snap your finger and it’ll just like a switch turned on and it just starts heavy rain out of nowhere. It’s like sunny and then just heavy rain. Rainy season in Thailand. I think Faith dealing with typhoons, right?
[00:06:47] Yeah, last time it was signal number five here in my location. It was so scary. Crazy, crazy, scary. Well, but now again, super happy to have the both of you here, especially Andres that we have in now in the show, we get to know you and your brand as well. We’ll get here right now, and of course, Andres, just to introduce you, like I believe you’re from Venezuela.
[00:07:12] How did you end up in Chiang Mai? Okay, so it’s a long story, but going back 25 years as a backpacker, I was about 23 at the time on my, you know, I was traveling alone and my wife today was traveling on her own too. So we both fell in love with Asia and one of the things that really caught her attention was, you know, the craft, the level of craftmanship and yeah, just the quality of of, of the crafts and of the.
[00:07:48] Clothing and that was, everything was handmade at the time and we really fell in love with this. And at some point, maybe 10 years after that, we had this opportunity. We were living in Japan at the time. My wife was a student there and we, she collected kimonos. You know, the traditional Japanese dress.
[00:08:08] And we had a chance to display her Kimon collection in a fair, in Caracas, in Venezuela. And people, like, we were just opening the suitcases to put them up and everybody just wanted to buy them, you know? And then we just look at each other go, maybe, maybe we could start a business with this. So that’s how it all started.
[00:08:28] Uh, we started basically collecting crafts and kimonos in Japan, selling them in Venezuela. Really bringing them, you know, in suitcases at the beginning. And fast forward a few years, maybe 10 years forward, that we were shipping containers from all over Asia. Cuz we like, you know, we discovered that not only Japan had really treasures, but Thailand, India, Indonesia, Vietnam.
[00:08:50] So we, every month we would come. Every year we would come for about a month and just discover and explore a different country. And the reason why we ended up in Chiang Mai was because it was the easiest place to do business in Asia, you know, in our experience. And it was a safe place, it was fairly inexpensive.
[00:09:10] And the variety and the level of the, of the craftmanship and the, and the products was, was amazing really. So that’s why, you know, in the end we chose to, to move here. We can talk about that forward, I think later in our, in the interview if, if you wanna know more. But, you know, eventually we end close down our business in Venezuela and we decided to move to Thailand because it was for us, the best place to live of all the ones we visited.
[00:09:38] Awesome. Yeah, and it still, I still, it still, I still stand by that decision eight years later. Great. Yeah, I, I, I learned some things just now. Awesome. Yeah. Oh, that sounds great. I mean, you’ve, you were able to venture out mainly, not only Venezuela, you know, you have this potential, this mindset. I, I think we can make this as a business.
[00:10:00] We can make it there. And then you, you, so I hear it Shanghai as a great opportunity to start everything up, right? Yeah. Yeah. So after we, we closed down our business in Venezuela, which was a brick and mortar business, really. It was more like a distributor, you know, we were distributors of craft, of crafts to smaller shops, and we do trade shows there when we move here, uh, in 2014, so that was eight years ago.
[00:10:26] 2014, we really didn’t know what to do. So we started exploring. We never sold online before, and we started exploring what could we do with all this knowledge that we had. And, uh, we tried to set up a website and it didn’t work, work out. So we ended up with the Amazon business that we now have. We can talk.
[00:10:47] Yeah. Yeah. This is awesome. Yeah, so that was, that was more or less how, how we ended up here doing what we’re doing and why we’re here today in this factory . Yeah. It’s really fun if we have a video version for people on the video, and you can see, and we’re really here, there’s people, there’s like different people on a team right behind us taking, these are beads behind us.
[00:11:06] I showed Faith before, but they’re, they’re like, we’re all materials, right in the right here on the ground. Well, I can really say that as well. There’s a lot of beads going on and again, I think people would wanna learn more how to do the craft things that, and everything in, I mean, we will get there, but just to ask you as well, how do, how did you and your wife of course start Akitai.
[00:11:33] So we started, actually, you know, in the very beginning it was it, because it all started in Japan, as I told you. The, the, the original name was Irasshai, which Irasshai is welcome in Japanese. Uh, because we started the, the business there and, and the Venezuelan, let’s say the Venezuelan people went crazy about the Japanese crafts.
[00:11:51] It was, it was originally focused around Japan and the brand was Japanese name was a Japanese name. Once we started expanding, because Japanese crafts and, and, and the products in Japan in general are more expensive, and as the economy in Venezuela went down and people had less cash really to buy, to buy, you know, more expensive products or crafts.
[00:12:15] Then we started traveling to India, to Thailand, and then we started, you know, thinking that we wanted to change the name of the brand because it was not really focused in Japan anymore. And Akitai is actually the name of a shell in, in Japan, what this, this shell that it’s, it’s like, it looks like a cone that’s, that’s, that’s called Akitai, but then it has the ending of Thai, which refers to Thailand.
[00:12:40] So to a certain extent it evokes Thailand. And my wife is called Rocky. So, you know, it’s almost like rocky in Thailand, but it’s Japanese. So anyways, and our friends like it and they thought that it was a cool name for a brand. So yeah, in the end that’s how, that’s how the name came into, into fruition.
[00:12:59] But as for the brand, well, you know, once we decided that we wanted an Amazon business, we, we do, you know, we did start thinking more seriously about, about looking to building a brand and finding the right name, et cetera. And then eventually we registered the brand and now, and we have a concept. And, you know, thanks to our partnership now there is a vision behind it.
[00:13:21] So that’s the, that’s more, I don’t know if I answered your question. I hope I did. That’s more or less how it came to life. Yeah, that sounds great. You wanna add something up, Mike? Since I believe so that you’re also doing Amazon. Yeah. I mean, well I, I’ve been, I’ve been with Andres just, you know, for a couple days now and I’m getting some good tips.
[00:13:42] Tidbits about the story even on our interview right now. I didn’t, I didn’t know. It’s great. It’s great the name and the story, but we had talked about, we chatting cuz you know, even, even people asking how do you make a brand right? We’ve had a couple conversations in the last couple days, but it’s that, that’s the rate.
[00:13:58] I like this. It’s like a unique name, right? It has a little bit of, has a few different relationships about your wife’s name. You know, it has a meaning of the shell, I think even in the logo. Doesn’t that have. I know it’s a flower, but I feel like there’s, it’s a, she originally it was gonna be a shell. It was gonna be that shell shell, but yeah, but eventually it changed.
[00:14:18] It turned a little bit more into a flowery brand. So that’s why you see the flowers all over the place. What else can I say? Yeah, so I, I think, I think the fact that since we started, we really wanted to build a brand and not just sell products. And this is something that I remember in the first meetups where we, where we met because we met in, in Chiang Mai.
[00:14:39] In the, in the Amazon meetups here. And you know, I, I remember most of the guys that, or, or or girls that show up, they, they had this idea of selling one product, but I really always wanted to build something beyond one product because then that’s where the value is in the long term, you know? So yes, it takes longer, it takes more effort and everything, but hopefully you, you will see the rewards over time.
[00:15:03] Right? Yeah. So that’s the idea. Yeah, I think I guess into one and upcoming questions, right? Faith, I’m pretty excited. Me too. Me too. But this is, I think, So this is the best question that we have since that a lot of people might be asking how they, you and Mike meet . Yeah. So I don’t know if it was you who started the meetups.
[00:15:27] I can’t. Yeah. I wish I could say I started. But they were, It was a common friend had been doing those already. So that at the time, you know, before Covid, I guess we were talking about 2018 or something, Chiang Mai, in the north of Thailand was like a hot place for, for travelers, for digital Nomads, backpackers, you know, young people and everybody was there.
[00:15:49] And, and someone came up with this meetups of Amazon sellers and I mean, Mike was already a, a successful guy and, you know, he had a lot of experience by then. And Wow. You know, I think they, they passed it off. There, the, the guy running it left Chiang Mai or got burnt out and he was saying it’s open source, people can just host his meetups.
[00:16:11] Yeah. It was at Hub 53 Coworking. I remember. And yeah, so I would be a regular organizer and Ivan. Yeah. So in the end, I was traveling, you know, of how to learn how to sell online because. Never had that experience. And I was, Mind you, I was above 40, so it wasn’t that easy for me, . And so I would go to these meetings and Mike was always really willing to help everyone really.
[00:16:35] So I guess we, we kind of clicked at that point and, and I, I hope that Mike realized that I was not really willing to quit this thing that easily. So, so in the end we, we’ve stuck to, to the original project and we’ve gone through problems, ups and downs. But I think by now we, we, we can talk about that later.
[00:16:55] Yeah, maybe some. But anyways, those meets really opened my mind to the possibilities that Amazon really offered and that there were all these tools and all these people doing this, you know, that I was not crazy to come up with this idea and that a lot of other people were doing well. So here we are, You know, we’re still, we’re still on the, on the path five, five years after.
[00:17:15] Yeah. And then Covid, I was in China and then we were, we were chatting. And yeah, we, we evolved over time. Our relationship and the team, like, you know, Faith knows our team. You know, a lot of people just know, like, you know, the, the show, the hosts like Faith or I or some of the others and a team like Aubrey.
[00:17:33] But, uh, yeah, we have a great team and it’s, it’s been really great to work together and, we wanna scale cause we wanna scale the. Which we believe in the, in the early stages, I would just come out to Mike in the meetups and ask him questions and stuff. And then later, I, I mean we hired one of the company for a consultancy and after a few ups and downs, eventually, you know, Mike accepted the possibility of considering a partnership.
[00:17:58] Cuz you know, the business obviously has potential, but you need a team. You know, once you start growing, you need a team. And I was doing this thing with my wife first and then solo, you know, like my wife left. She was, she’s too busy with a full-time job, so she’s like, No, no, you know, you do that if you want to keep it.
[00:18:14] And so then, you know, this is why this working together now with Mike and, and all of you guys, it’s really given the, you know, some, a lot of oxygen to, to this small venture. Yeah. Yeah. Even today, like the last few days we’ve been here on site, we’ve been really working on scaling, adding new products, increased the packaging, some different marketing initiatives.
[00:18:36] And things, so it’s exciting times, which we can talk about more. Absolutely super exciting. And of course the team are, I mean, are always ready to help you venture out and help you promote every single thing. And we are very happy that we get to work with you as well. And I believe, and also, yes, Amazon is a good one for you.
[00:18:56] I believe that you’re doing more success on that with the help of Mike as well, and again, hearing that you’re doing partnerships and everything, well, it’s always a good news for everyone, but I think I would love to ask as well, how did you, how did you find the factory that you are in right now? Yeah, so well, after coming to Asia for, for really decades, you know, and going all over the place to all kinds of factories, and then having moved here, uh, eight years ago, it’s, you know, it’s not that complicated really to jump on a rent a car or whatever you, we, or you have a car and then drive and then look for, you know, who is the manufacturer behind.
[00:19:36] these bags that, that, you know, they are sold in that market, but you’ve never been to the factory because it was too far away from the Bangkok market or something. Once you live here, you eventually can, you know, take the time to explore, to, ask the, the, the people that do the retail in the markets and eventually they will share it with you who is manufacturing because they see that at some point they can’t really supply what you’re looking for and they probably your friends after so many years.
[00:20:03] Of buying little quantities from them and you know, some, so people eventually help, help you out and this is how we ended up here. And also finding how they make certain indigo dyes, you know, in all other remote areas of Thailand or the Monk Silver jewelry, which is also very famous. So there, you know, there’s, there’s a lot of crafts and a lot of smaller factories spread throughout, Northern Thailand that anybody would be surprised to even consider that they exist where they are located.
[00:20:34] But, you know, with time and effort, you eventually make it. Yeah. So, and it’s been, you know, we’ve been working together with this factory for at least seven, seven years or so. Yeah. So, yeah, they’re our friends now. Well, that’s a pretty long time, and I think, well, that’s where we build everything. We build an empire.
[00:20:56] I totally understand that. And at the same time, you get the hang of this factory that you’re in now, it’s, it gets, it gives you a bigger value every single time. But, you know, of course there’s a lot of comparisons, a lot of times, Why not a Chinese factory and many, many buy products from China. We know that.
[00:21:17] And what, what, what, what’s the reason you picked and as well as stuck in fine factories. Yeah, no, that’s a great question. and actually a question that a lot of people ask. Yeah. I mean, they ask, so, so there there are two, there are two main reasons I would say. The, the first reason is that once you start, let’s say going to the meetups that we had in Chiang Mai with the Amazon sellers, you start hearing stories about, you know, factories copying the products of the sellers or employees of the factories that actually were replicating whatever
[00:21:52] You were selling. So we wanted to stay away from that possibility to minimize it as much as possible. That was one reason. And the other reason, which I think is really more important, is that we always wanted to contribute to the artisans, you know, that made all these products. Most of the products that we always sold, our handmade or.
[00:22:12] Made in very small factories or family own factories, and we never really wanted to substitute that by industrial China because it’s just, you know, the vision behind this is to contribute to, to that, to the handmade products, to the families that make these products. That was always part of the idea, and that’s one of the reasons why we also stuck to, to Thailand.
[00:22:33] I, I would say that the, the final reason was that after Covid, it was very hard, to, to work with Chinese factories, cuz I, I, you know, I’m, I am, I am related to Chinese manufacturing in another job that I do, and I know how hard and how expensive it was to get products out of China during Covid and even now.
[00:22:54] Right, because now still there is a zero covid policy and a lot of factories are not back to work. So once that happened and we saw what was the, the policy of the Chinese government, that’s sort of confirmed that it was a good idea to remain producing here. You know, we have already an established relationship with many of our suppliers for many years.
[00:23:15] We consider some of them are friends and we want support them. You know, it’s just as the same way they have supported us. So that’s, yeah, that’s, that’s the reason. Yeah, and I, I could add like, as part of the brand, you know, we, it says, Made in Thailand. I think even the feeling of the brand style. Right. And actually when I’ve been here, it’s my first time here at the factory and we’ve been doing some video, which you mentioned people can watch the video clips, we’ll put on show notes.
[00:23:41] But it’s, It’s Women run, it’s women only Women run here. And they’re, it’s like supporting the whole, not the whole, I don’t wanna say the whole area, but supporting actually, they, they’ve distributed the work to homes. Actually. Faith, I think you would like it. They, it’s kind of like comparative style. Yeah.
[00:23:57] To a certain extent. So they, they, sometimes women will come to the, to this factory and they’re producing it at their homes. And then they’ll take the finished goods back here to be checked and paid, I think. I’m not exactly sure, but they bring it back here and they say, I finished these necklaces. Okay.
[00:24:12] How many? Yes. Okay. Confirmed, you know, pay. It’s really a cool thing to see and I think it’s like we talked earlier about branding and, and vision. That’s part of the brand. Yeah. And, and, and I have to say, it’s not the only factory that works this way. You know, we, we, we have worked before in the past with bag manufacturers, and this is the way they run it.
[00:24:34] You know, they’ll take it to a village, they will distribute it among the villagers, then they bring the, the finished goods to, to whoever is doing the, you’re dealing with. And they, and that’s how they produce. So, you know, the whole, not the whole village, but many people in a village can get involved thanks to this.
[00:24:49] And, you know, it’s, it’s obviously an extra income that. They rely on and they can do it at home, look after their children, be with, be with the children at home. So, you know, there are many good aspects to it and we wanna contribute to that. Yeah, it’s really fun. Pretty great. There’s a lot of opportunities, especially for, for example, moms and everything, and.
[00:25:12] Again, having to hear from Mike. I mean, female. Well, as you can see, there’s a lot of things that’s happening and they’re helping you as well with your brand, but of course, I think there’s a lot going on through the seven years that they’re in the factory. How does the brand and business evolve for you right now?
[00:25:31] So we wanna squeeze in that some of those hard school of hard knocks about legal. I, I know we were prepping for this a little bit Faith, when it’s not in our show notes, maybe we just hit that. Do you wanna hit that first? Yeah. So, uh, well as I, I’ll give the intro and then Mike can add, but as I explained before, this was pretty much like a brick and mortar, you know, business in the beginning.
[00:25:55] Once we moved into Thailand, we decided to make it an online business. Then after trying a few things like websites, etsy, blah, blah, blah, we. Narrow it down to to Amazon, cuz it was really less labor intensive on us as solo entrepreneurs. And eventually we, we got, you know, I have to say I got stuck. I got to a place where, for multiple reasons I just couldn’t really.
[00:26:23] Move forward. One of those reasons was that we got sued for trademark violations in the States. So, you know, after reaching a six figure turnover, which was good in 2020, you know, and then I had hopes like, okay, now’s the time to scale up. We got really hammered by this lawsuit. And that was when I started, I was starting to work with, with Michael, you know, and, and then I was like, Michael, You know, I can’t hire you anymore of your services cuz I have to deal with this lawsuit.
[00:26:54] It, it, it didn’t cost that much in terms of money, but it froze our Amazon account. You know, we couldn’t withdraw money for several months, I think like half a year. So that means that, well, should I keep sending inventory to the, to Amazon? You know, I don’t know when this is gonna be over. And I have to pay lawyers and I have to pay this.
[00:27:15] Well, in the end, you know, we managed to survive, Let’s say the, the business was badly wounded, you know, in, in 2021, and we had to basically wait for Christmas to sort of recover. And then I reach out for Mike. Yeah, like Mike, Now it’s the time, you know, are you guys really willing to, to work together? Let’s, let’s now scale up.
[00:27:35] Here are the numbers. You can see that the product sale, but we need help marketing because this is too much work and, and there are risks, right, Involved. So we had struggle through covid, through with supply chain issues, lack of materials, then lawsuits. So now I think we are the stage where I guess we have matured by, by force, kind of thing.
[00:27:58] And, and we know, you know, where to go, where not to go and what’s what works. So I think now we, we, we’ve sort of teamed together because we know that we can scale this thing with the experiences we’ve had in the past and the knowledge and the team you guys have, so, Yeah. Yeah. Well, yeah. I. Just to like add a little bit of learning from the lawyer stuff.
[00:28:18] You know, Amazon, it’s not just with this case, actually a lot of lawyers they’re running, I think it’s AI or bots across Amazon. There might be, maybe there’s some lawyer podcast where they teach ’em how to do that, that we don’t, we don’t know about, but they, they hit other, other friends and people in our community to hit too, where they look for like sensitive keywords or even images.
[00:28:40] That are copyrighted by these, It’s not even really the, the original, certain corporations, corporations own the trademarks. They own like famous people’s names. They own old trademarks, old keywords. And then just, they just sue, they freeze your Amazon account and sue you and they go across who we don’t know, tens, hundreds of sellers.
[00:29:01] Sellers, yeah. And then they just hit you up for money and they don’t let you get your Amazon account back until you pay them. Yeah. It’s crazy. And, uh, it’s happened quite a few times in my experience with people. So yeah, that was really horrible and sometimes, you know, it’s just, Uh, yeah, I mean, it’s part of the dangers I think of, you know, web2, we talk about crypto. Andres actually likes crypto too, and Oh, what Web3 represents?
[00:29:24] Because web two is like, it’s too centrally controlled. I don’t wanna get it off on a tangent, but, but yeah, I mean there, there are these, maybe there’s some true cases where it’s needed, but I feel like a lot of times this stuff’s overdone and it hurts business, small business owners like us. Yeah. So we do have to do the, you know, we did research actually when.
[00:29:43] Wow. Sold whatever we sold. We have done some preview preliminary research on trademarks and copyrights, but I guess reality in the end showed that you can omit things, made mistakes, and eventually they can come back to you. And this is what happened to us. You know, it was not on purpose at all. Yeah.
[00:30:02] But. Once, once your account is frozen, you have to negotiate, you have to go through the whole grinding thing of a lawsuit. And, and, well, I guess some sellers will abandon their listings or lose whatever they have, but we really didn’t, you know, we have put enough effort on this that we don’t wanna, we don’t, we, we were not willing to just give it away.
[00:30:22] So, you know, it was a hard time, but now here we are with, uh, new hopes for the future. Yeah. I think, I think the lesson is also you can negotiate, you know? Yeah. You can negotiate with the lawyers. They’re just probably just trying to milk, get as much money for their clients across as many accounts as they can.
[00:30:38] So, you know, just some tips for some other sellers or people listening you can get. Don’t be shy and don’t share for sure. I mean, don’t be honest about what you earn and what you can afford to pay based on what you have sold that product, you know, Cause they can come up with ridiculous amounts and that will scare you.
[00:30:55] But once you show them, Listen, I, I sold this product for, you know, six months and this is how much I sold. How can I afford to pay you what you’re asking? They, at least in the experience we had, they are willing to negotiate and accept a fairer compensation or lower compensation. Yep. For, for the infringement.
[00:31:13] And the last part of this point is it’s not just words, it’s, it’s so images. So they, they, you know, sometimes people just download a Google image. Sometimes it’s not even actually, I don’t think it was Andres, obviously it wasn’t Andres himself. It’s sometimes people on, hopefully it’s never our team or designers.
[00:31:27] The designer. Yeah. The person on Upwork on fiverr. Yeah. Right. You pay them 10 bucks to make this design. But yeah, I mean, like, I don’t wanna defend copyright infringement or trademark infringement, but you just gotta be very carefully, you know, I, I beg our team often, please. Don’t try to save money on using like a paid photo website or you know, also don’t be lazy.
[00:31:54] Don’t go to Google. I know it’s easy to go to Google Images, but don’t use the Google image online, especially at Amazon listing a product listing or a product itself. Some people actually did it in the product itself. They put images and these, these AI now can, can find this stuff, especially on Amazon.
[00:32:11] So just, just be careful, you know? And don’t cut corners, you know. Somehow try to make sure your team knows to not do this either cuz they don’t know. They might not know. Right? So to recap, to recap, we went from a personal seller account to a professional seller account, to a register, registered brand to a brand store.
[00:32:32] And now, you know, we have a website. So it’s really cool to see, you know, how it’s evolved over time and uh, and what is more to come, hopefully right. Yeah, exactly. And I’m super happy to hear that, although that you were able to, you know, face the situations again, this could be a great, building journey for you as an entrepreneur mainly.
[00:32:55] And also for the ones, uh, that, for, for our listeners and viewers that does Amazon as well. Well, this is a great inspiration. Just do your very best and everything will just prosper over time. And of course I wanna tap into the logistics from Thailand and what is the way you are fulfill, fulfilling the orders of sending to Amazon FBA, or etsy?
[00:33:20] Well, we love to learn the process and just to get any pointers from you. So at the beginning, uh, we were doing our own fulfillment and I remember I was going to the post office very often. You know, I had a job and we would do the packing in the morning, then we stop in the post office. Then sometimes we go to lunch time, to my house to pack, and then we’d stop to the post office at the post office again.
[00:33:45] So we did that for a few months and then we obviously realized that number one, it was exhausting. Number two, it wasn’t the best for customers because customers are used to fulfill by Amazon and they can get their one day shipment or I don’t know if it’s same day today. So then we started shifting to, We shifted to Amazon FBA, and yeah, so it’s not really that complicated because the good thing in our specific industries that we deal with small products.
[00:34:13] So that means we can put hundreds of items or thousands of items in a box which lowers the price per unit, you know, the shipping cost per unit. So we just ship by air, you know, we just ship by air. So here, here Mike’s gonna show. Yeah, I mean, I know actually still a lot of people listen to the show, but if you’re watching, this is, uh, packaging.
[00:34:34] Yeah. So you know that, uh, so it’s like a for both. Yeah. So this is where it goes. And then it, it opens up and you, so you put this, the necklace. Or actually for right now it’s, it’s, uh, earring, earrings and bracelets. We’re working on necklaces now and some other, but try to use the same packaging is a good tip.
[00:34:54] Yeah, so, you know, the, the, we, we’ve managed to basically make our own boxes here. Broker a deal with a courier like DHL or FedEx or whatever you, you have nearby. And, and usually if you work at least for, with small boxes or packaging, it’s not as expensive as, as people would imagine, uh, shipping by air.
[00:35:14] And we’ve been doing it for five years and we ship pretty much on a weekly basis. And so far it’s working. Yeah. And again, if we go back to the, you know, to the, the, the analysis over Covid times and everything, it was actually very good because shipping by sea became so expensive that it’s, it wasn’t even worth it, I think, considering at some point.
[00:35:35] So we just stuck to our air shipments and we continue to work like, Yeah. Yeah. Well, super happy that everything’s working well with you. Now when it comes to air shipment, well, of course there’s some upgrades that we are making, building up Amazon content, investing in storefront, branding. We wanna hear your growth strategy.
[00:35:58] If you wanna start, I could add some points. Yeah. So, well, I mean, thanks to our partnership now we have, we’re more active in social media. Something that, you know, we just, we just really didn’t do that much because it was too much really for one or two people to handle it all, all. So that’s, that, and that is helping of course drive, drive traffic to the listings, right in Amazon.
[00:36:23] Also building the website, which we did with, I mean, we did have a Shopify store, but now it’s, it looks a lot better with professional team of designers and marketers behind it. And that also obviously adds to the traffic that we’re receiving and the sales increase in, in our Amazon listings. What else can we say?
[00:36:43] Yeah, I mean, so we did, like when we came to this factory, you know, I guess I’m gonna say some names, Faith know, actually, we love faith. Still new. She, I’d love her to give us some tips. She’s great at social media marketing. I don’t think she’s gotten yet involved with Akitai, but, uh, Anne, Anne, our marketing manager, she did some product research.
[00:37:02] Yeah. You know, we, we made a lot of product research before we came to the factory. We made photos, we got keywords. We came up a whole new, couple new product lines. That we wanna add, We’re working on improving the, the work, the shipping flow. Maybe we’re talking about that. Yeah. And, and no, it’s gonna be super interesting to see for example, that, you know, what’s the difference between launching a product when I did it basically on my own.
[00:37:26] And just to, for everybody here who is listening, you know, some of the products made me lose money they never sold. And obviously you keep over time, whatever works better. But now I’m really interesting to see how it’s going to be the launch of the new products with, with this infrastructure in place.
[00:37:44] Right. Cause I, I am excited to, I’m really excited to see how this is gonna work now. So it, it is different, right? If you have a website, if you have social media, than if you don’t, Yep. So we’re building out the email list. Email list too, which is getting there. And yeah, social media, it’s a lot. There’s a lot to it here.
[00:38:04] there’s just never, he sees it too behind the scenes, so there’s a lot to it. But yeah, I’m excited as well. Like, and also going into the fourth quarter and we’re trying to get some new products in, in, so we, I know we have a blog and there is content that is being published and there are emails that are sent.
[00:38:20] So, you know, there’s, there’s a lot of activity now, happenings. You know, I’m very happy about it. to see that he’s picking up after so many. That’s, I agree. I agree. And of course, again, marketing branding plays a big role in different businesses, especially for Amazon listings and everything. We totally agree.
[00:38:38] And of course, not only that, the reason why we are doing all of this, we wanna give value to the customers who is buying our products. What do we get? What do we, what do they get from your product? You know, something interesting and everything. We just wanna make sure that we put you out in the best way possible.
[00:38:56] Of course. It’s always is only like that. And of course, of course. I wanna tap in as well. What are some of the advantages of you working in Thailand? I mean, I could, I could take some of that. Yeah. I mean, we covered a little bit throughout the show, but like the shipping, there is some advantages of doing small air shipments here compared to to China.
[00:39:21] Uh, ocean’s not as nice though. Luckily we’re not doing ocean right now, but I do feel like the creativity. I don’t think I’ve been to Chinese factories. You know, I just came from China and we are so surprised we came here. We had some ideas, some concepts. They’re making samples right on the spot. They’re innovating, They’re, Yeah.
[00:39:38] You know, I think Thai people are, are very creative. Yeah. I mean, that’s a very good point, man. That’s a really good point. And I was not gonna say that. I mean, I, I can only say that at least in our experience, they’re very focused about how to satisfy you as a, as a customer. You know, they’re very general.
[00:39:55] speaking our experience here has been that they’re, they’re quite friendly and they wanna really work hard to make you feel that you are getting, you know, what you’re paying for. Um, I think it’s a stable country, you know, and this, uh, from, from many points of view. Like, and also there is one thing that is actually very positive that, uh, uh, you know, now with the strengths of the US dollar, if you’re selling the US market and you’re selling dollars and you’re buying in Thai Baht back, true, then that is
[00:40:24] Very helpful for, for smaller businesses, you know, cuz the, the exchange rate really works out in your favor. Uh, there are other things, like, for example, from a visa point of view, it’s not that complicated. Um, compared to other countries to get a visa or to stay here legally. And the last thing that I would say is that there, there has been, since I live here, a little inflation.
[00:40:48] And the inflation that I have seen has been mostly in the last year because of the global phenomenon, Right. where energy shortages, so the gas is going up and the food prices are gone up. But really in, in 20 years that I’ve been coming to this country is the first time, maybe the last couple of years is when I’ve seen the prizes go up.
[00:41:09] Uh, so, you know, there, I guess that’s, uh, that’s quite a long list of, of pluses for, for being here, you know, But then also Mike talk about the creativity, which, you know, I haven’t thought about it compared to China cause I don’t many factor that much in China. But yeah, it’s true. I mean, at least he be seen it first. I mean, they’re making the spec sheet.
[00:41:27] I think you’ll see in our video clip, they’ll, they actually, uh, take the measurements that making like a blueprint. I, I don’t know. I just, just feel like, again, I have Chinese friends. My wife is Chinese. I don’t, I don’t want to offend Chinese people, but, um, they usually need a little bit more. You gotta give them every single spec and outline and detail of what you want.
[00:41:50] Where I’ve noticed here they’re, they’re making really positive suggestions on the product. Well, yep. I think, uh, as I can see, both of you are really enjoying, doing business there in Thailand and believe so our listeners and also viewers will love to see a video tour in the factory, well, we’ll link it here.
[00:42:10] In this video, and I hope everyone will enjoy what’s really happening behind the scenes in your factory for Akitai. Sure, sure. Yeah. We had a full couple of days here, so, uh, you know, we actually, Andres drove, I didn’t drive. He drives I should drive. My wife drives. I don’t, but yeah, we have, we, you know, take you from the drive from the airport where he came from Phuket and we drove up here four hours and then the, the views and some of the pit stops and then we show, yeah, we really.
[00:42:38] We’re trying to be so open. I know Amazon sellers are nervous to show, but we want, we, we wanna show you what we’re doing and it’s been, it’s a beautiful drive to come up here. It’s a pleasure, you know, to travel in this country. So that’s, that’s another reason why I love to just try to build everything I can here.
[00:42:56] Cuz if I have to drive four hours to the north or to the south, or to the south, I know the landscape is amazing, The food is amazing. And for the most part, the people can really be amazing. Yeah, the only difficulty, the language, but fortunately many Thai speak decent level of English, so, you know, we do business in English here.
[00:43:18] It was pretty great. Well, I, I believe people will be very excited to see what more you can do in your brand and of course with partnership with Mike, well, we’ll surely help you every single time that we need to. And if you need our help, it always help you just put your brand out there and making more big success in your business for Akitai.
[00:43:39] Thank you very much, Faith. Really, really thank to see what comes out soon. Comes out. Absolutely. Everyone’s working on it. Thank you. Kap Khun Ka, like they say right here.
[00:43:54] Okay. That’s a wrap. That was fun. I know. Faith, I have a lot of fun having you, uh, with us on the show. Thanks again. It’s cool. And uh, you know, get some new energy here. Absolutely. I was so happy during this interview with Andres. We were learning a lot and honestly, when it comes about hearing his journey, how he ventured the business era, just all about, it was all in a simple crafting.
[00:44:20] Simple passion and making it into a bigger story, bigger picture and look where he, where he is at now. And I think at this point he would just love to share how to get there, be a coach, be a mentor to everyone as well. Or anyone could be really, be inspired about his story. I believe so. What do you think?
[00:44:41] For sure. I mean, like you said, it was backpackers. They found their passion, they. You know, what I always say is people, he took action, you know, like starting small, starting with something he liked to do, working with his wife, building out, building it out, trying offline, right? He had stores in Venezuela, his own country, he was buying from Japan, kept evolving, found a place, maybe found Thailand was more suitable for him and kept on chipping away.
[00:45:07] And, and, you know, also hasn’t, hasn’t given. There’s been a few obstacles like we shared about, but you know, that’s what separates I think, success from not is, is continuing to check in, continuing to, to keep on chipping away and then you build out this empire like, like, uh, Andres has done. Yeah, that’s totally, I truly agree on that area and I think a lot of our viewers, just in my opinion, a lot of our viewers and even listeners, I really wanna tap into a.
[00:45:35] More detail, more information that you’ll be able to give them advice on when it comes to choosing Thailand factories? Any more inputs that you wanna give them? Sure. I’m kind of still new to that, honestly. We’re working, I don’t even know if you know faith, we’re doing so many things, but May on our team, well maybe we’ll have her share sometimes just local thai.
[00:45:55] We found a database of factories and from the. There’s government databases and we’ve been cleaning it up, but she’s even been telling me, you know, a lot of times Thailand factories don’t wanna register publicly as a factory because it’s different taxes, they, they register as a different type of company, or this different, But for me, I usually look for relationships also.
[00:46:16] Like Andres, it was through referrals, through connections. I mean, obviously it’s hard if you’re not here for those kind of things, but also just going to the trade markets. There’s some small markets. I actually, we wanna do some more, like even business trips. Some, some, uh, maybe we can do a smaller trip where people can go with us potentially and see these factories, booths in different parts, a lot in bangkok.
[00:46:39] But actually my favorite hack, Faith, I don’t like to share too much. I usually do these in paid workshops, but, you can reverse engineer your competitors if they import into the US. Yeah, they, the US in September 11th Patriot Act, they have to declare publicly their import and exporter of records. So if you find a competitor that you like their products, there’s tools that show who they bought from.
[00:47:04] So you can, Yeah. Import genius is one. I’m dropping some really valuable . You need take note at everyone. There’s a good deal for you. Yeah, I mean this is usually something I do on consulting or workshops, but yeah, then, then you actually, that’s how I found one of the factories in Thailand. I actually, I didn’t even know they bought from Thailand.
[00:47:25] I thought that the competitor was buying from China. It led me to Thailand back in 2011 or so. So sometimes you can reverse engineer your competitors rather than just starting from scratch on a trade, uh, website in Asia, you could start from your competitors looking up the import export records in, in US databases.
[00:47:43] So there’s a lot of, a lot of little tricks. I think so, yeah. And again, it would always be something when it comes to business work smarter. I believe so. We totally agree on exactly. And of course I think of course when it comes to logistics as well, a lot will be asking why Thailand? What, what brings Thailand to a brighter picture in your eyes?
[00:48:08] Just to pick, when it comes to logistics, what are inputs about this? Yeah, well, I don’t even know. If Andres would say it got lucky maybe during Covid, cuz it wasn’t as strict of a lockdowns or long of a lockdowns is in China. So that actually became an advantage. Actually, China’s still better in logistics cuz there’s higher volume.
[00:48:28] I think as Thailand, you know, Philippines, other Southeast Asia countries, Vietnam. As volume picks up in Southeast Asia, prices will come down. So I can’t really say there’s huge advantages of logistics in Thailand, but there is a course less potential risks of lockdowns now, especially. And there’s also, you know, It’s more concentrated in the south, although in China a lot is in the south, but it’s also spread out in Ningbo and in the center and even a little bit in the north.
[00:49:01] So you can have, most of your, most of your logistics is in the Bangkok hub. And of course, you were able to tell me all also about the lockdown. How’s the lockdown situation there in Thailand right now. Is that. I mean, I’m not, I don’t think there’s any right now. I’m not sure about in Philippines, but so far right now there, there’s nothing.
[00:49:21] Yeah, I don’t, I. I don’t know about you. Do you wear a mask outside? I, I, a lot of the Thai people wear mask? I still wear it. you still wear? Yeah. Yeah. I guess it’s to, um, experience the time that everyone wears ppe like you’re doing fencing. It’s so funny. Everyone, everyone was using that, especially when it comes to hospitals and everything.
[00:49:46] Pretty, pretty massive, pretty massive when it comes to that area. But happy that at this point right now, you are not, you’re now doing well when it comes to the Covid situation. And I think, when it comes to this part, there’s a lot more coming in. Do you, do you, do you have anything more that you wanna share everyone that, they might be wanting to hear from you very, very soon?
[00:50:09] Yeah. I mean, I think well, we’ll have more. We’re, we’re maybe gonna try to do a show more often now, you know, now, But there’s a lot of more content about, you know, southeast Asia and, and factories. You know, there’s, there’s huge stuff happening. I hope to get to Bangkok maybe in a week or two. There’s some, some pretty cool people we’ll meet.
[00:50:27] We’ll try to interview, but lots more to come. As we subscribe and stay tuned for more updates. That’s exactly the main point. And how is, how, what is the feeling doing the video tour in his factory in Adres Factory in Akitai? Was it fun? Well, it’s, it’s really nice the, the owner there, there’s a couple of local Thai, uh, women and they’re very, very accommodating.
[00:50:58] Don’t know if I really wanna say, but they let us stay at the factory. We stayed in a spare room, . Wow. I mean, we were willing to stay in a hotel. Obviously prices especially far out is not, not, not, not the amount, but it was more about the hospi, Hospitability, hospi even, I’m messing that word up, but very hospitable and man, we didn’t know what we ate, ate at their factory every day.
[00:51:21] Like the, Actually, if people check out Mike’s blog, my, my personal video blog, I did it behind the scenes and the Fish, it was. As big as my two hands, like, like here, and it was very good and very healthy. And they’re also so really polite and, but also having fun. You know, there’s parrots, there was parrots there, there were dogs running around, there was kids coming in and out after school.
[00:51:44] And it’s always fun. I I, I enjoyed it. They’re really nice people. Yeah, we were seeing a lot of things as welding, and I hope everyone will love to view that as well. The tour that we have in the Akitai factory, and again, there’s a lot of beads, there’s a lot of everything. Everyone was just working there. Just everything.
[00:52:04] Right. And at this point I know everyone would be very curious to also get to know more about Andres while you know where to catch Andres, you know, his brand and of course let’s support his brand. It, it would be a great help with him as well. And of course that’s with sense that we are working with Andres as well.
[00:52:25] We are just here to help you Andres and we are excited for more this ventures with you. I love it. Yeah, he’s super. I hope you can meet him soon. Um, yeah, at the event, that’s my favorite part about events is we bring everybody together. Andres is excited to come. He, you know, we even met at some meetups, as he mentioned.
[00:52:42] And yeah, we’re, we’re getting back on track for, for the offline events soon, so I can’t wait. I was super excited about it. I, I think everyone is excited as well, especially the team and just looking for about this one retreat and yeah, the retreat to, so we are going to Tagaytay, believe so. Yeah. Tagaytay, the volcano and a volcano, right.
[00:53:04] It’ll be a great one. I’m excited about it. Well, it will be my first time meeting you. Well, yeah, it be a pleasure to meet you. Yeah, I’m looking forward to it. I can’t wait. Me too. And also meeting the whole team. Absolutely. Yeah. Everybody will be a great experience. We’re gonna have action packed time and might even do a small meetup for gfa potentially.
[00:53:27] I know we probably don’t have enough time to prepare, but thinking about coming early. Maybe doing some workshops, talking to Janette, our consultant, and maybe do some more for the local community. But of course, people around the world are welcome to come, but maybe just like a one day workshop or something.
[00:53:42] Maybe Faith, I don’t know if you knew about that idea, but maybe we could talk about that too. I love that and all. I was even thinking since we already have our team in this retreat, why not have a quick special episode with the team, there we go. I love it. I love it. I love that just talking about strategies, planning, how we do, just authenticity, everything that we do when we help any kind of friend that works with us.
[00:54:13] Again, we are so happy to have all of our clients today. Now, especially here with Andres. He’s been doing a lot better right now. When it comes to the social media presence and everything, and it’s because of you Mike, your help as well and we thank you for always being here to guide this team and of course Andres as well, yeah, thanks.
[00:54:35] Thanks for that Faith say really great. So, all right, I think we can wrap up for today and I’m looking forward to doing we’ll have more shows coming very soon. Can I get this whole schedule? Absolutely, and we’ll be happy to see everyone and listen. Of course. Please do wait for our future podcast. There’s a lot coming in.
[00:54:58] We are moving a lot more this a month, it’s already October. There’s a lot coming in. Please do wait for our upcoming guests. I believe so. You’re gonna enjoy. It’s gonna be great. The future. Exactly. And super excited about it. Well, you know where to catch Mike. He has his own blog. Let’s support him as well.
[00:55:18] And you know where to get our socials. It’s always here in our description. And again, we are so happy to always have you in our show. We look forward to seeing you again. Everyone have a good rest of your day. See you all later. See you. To get more info about running an international business, please visit our website at www.globalfromasia.com.
[00:55:42] That’s www.globalfromasia.com. Also, be sure to subscribe to our iTunes feed. Thanks for tuning in.
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