In the early stages of starting a product-focused business, one thing that needs to be decided early on is where you will source your ingredients from to create your products, and whether you will find suppliers locally or abroad.
Sourcing products locally is quite an easy and transparent process, especially in terms of the nature of the production. All products that are sourced in Australia face stringent regulations in their claims as well as in regards to employment and working conditions of staff. This differs when sourcing products from a different country, as it becomes a lot more complex with regard to different regulatory bodies and systems.
For our business, we found that turmeric is an ingredient that is not grown extensively in Australia, and the few farms that do grow turmeric have a price point that’s just not commercially viable. As a result and after much deliberation, we decided to source the golden spice offshore in India.
When finding the right suppliers, it was important for us to stay as socially responsible as possible, and to ensure there was safe working conditions and environmentally friendly practices in place. If you’re thinking of sourcing products internationally, below are a few things to consider to make the journey a bit smoother.
Meet face to face
If possible, jump on a plane and meet with potential suppliers face to face before you sign off on orders or contracts. There’s so much power in meeting someone in person and it is something that has helped us in establishing who we want to get into business with and who we don’t. We were so careful when picking a supplier and travelled to India before we placed any orders, as it gave us the opportunity to meet with the farmers and to see first hand the working conditions, the treatment of the land and crops and the sustainability of what was happening in the production process.
Use an agency
If you’re not comfortable sourcing the ingredients or raw products yourself, there are great, reputable agencies that can help. They often have large amounts of experience in sourcing and can help secure the perfect suppliers for you. If you are going to use an agency, still make sure you conduct as much due diligence as you would if you were sourcing ingredients on your own.
Make sure their values align with yours
Suppliers are a fundamental part of your team, so just as you would acquire a new staff member, ensure that they have similar core values. It was important for us to take into consideration whether the workplace is environmentally aware and had strategies in place in order to combat environmental factors, as we would never work with any business or supplier that didn’t have strict regulations in place to ensure good employee relations.
Build a healthy relationship
Although there may be difficulties due to geographical and language constraints, it is important to make an effort to build a strong relationship with all of your suppliers. Make sure you continue managing the relationship after it has been set up, as any relationship breakdowns or poor supply can cause serious issues later down the track.
Research, research, research
Make sure to do your research on the supplier, their history, and their processes before engaging in any contracts. To do this diligently, take a look at finished samples of what you’re wanting before any kind of production starts, talk to their staff and get in contact with any other brand that uses them.
Last but not least, enjoy the process! It’s all a part of the journey of creating a product-focused business.
Enjoy. Be Bliss. Be Present. Be Golden.