New Website Coming Soon

Meeka.com has a new look and some new products coming soon.  Stay tuned for the updates.

Go to Meeka.Com for Holiday Gifts

Hi Everyone,  We are offering some great deals in quantities of 5 for the holidays.  Please go to our website and click on the Holiday Gift Catagory.  We also just got a Sale Rack catagory where you all can find some great items at great items.  Please read our November newsletter attached

Great Holiday Gift Ideas

Great Holiday Gift Ideas

April Newsletter

Dear Customers,  I am sending out a monthly newsletter starting this month.  It will usually have coupons and interesting tidbits like foot scrub recipes or fashion tips.  With the incredibly strong Spamguards that most email services provide,  I’m concerned that my newsletter will be directed into your Bulk box.  If it does, click allow email from this address if you find it there.  You can also read off of this blog and I will send out an email with a link to this blog.  Thank all of you for your support of meeka.com

Cottage Industry in Bali

As most of you know I manufacture my sandals and other merchandise in Bali.  What you may not know is how cottage industry works.  I recently wrote a feature story for the local newspaper about cottage industry in Bali and decided to post it here for those of you that are interested in the difference between cottage industry and factory industry.

Most of us know Bali as the island of a million artists. Indeed, the abundance of talent on the island has been the driving force behind the development of Bali’s impressive cottage industry marketplace. When I first landed in Bali 23 years ago, I was overwhelmed by the hundreds of families displaying their wares on the side of the road. Upon further investigation the little workshops in the back of their homes revealed themselves. Shy children would often peek out at me from behind the backs of their mom or dad as he or she proudly showed off the special talents of their family members. I also loved the organization of how each village had a specialty. As I drove my little Suzuki jeep through the narrow winding roads, I had to pull over dozens of times in different villages that specialized in wood flowers and masks or stone carvings. A lot has changed since my first visit in 1987. Now I have to pull over hundreds of times as the variety of products available has increased tenfold. One can now find fiberglass lamps, water features, mosaic mirrors, photo albums, and blown glassware. There are baskets and bags made from palm leaf, banana leaf and tall grass. There is no end to the ingenuity of the Balinese in using natural materials. This, coupled with the ideas of entrepreneurs worldwide has led to the creation of a menagerie of products much too diverse to name individually. That fateful first trip to Bali inspired me to get busy and carve a niche for myself. I began to import goods into the USA. More than 20 years later I’m still learning about the joys and pitfalls of engaging in the wonderful world of cottage industry.

Through the years I have faced some harsh criticism from my American friends and acquaintances about exporting products from Asia. It’s painful to recall the countless times the words “slave labor” have been thrown so casually at me, causing my face to grow red with discomfort. I’ve had to defend myself frequently whilst trying to explain the term “cottage industry”. Webster dictionary defines cottage industry as: 1. A usually small-scale industry carried on at home by family members using their own equipment. 2. A small, loosely organized, yet flourishing complex of activity or industry. The loosely organized part makes me smile as I remember those first orders and the challenges in getting the quality and quantity I needed while meeting deadlines. Indeed, in the business world the term “cottage industry” is often met with chagrin as big buyers often fear small scale industry means no chance of meeting stringent production numbers. However, the Balinese operate under a system of “pengepuls.” Pengepuls are designated middlemen who pick up materials from a family organization and then bring it to more remote villages where family industry is less successful due to lack of exposure. Unlike those in remote villages, families of woodcarvers who live in a relatively accessible area have a greater opportunity of securing orders. If they receive an order for 5000 carved apples with a short production deadline, then they are able to call on the pengepuls. They give them samples and materials and farm out the production to dozens of other workers while still working within the framework of a cottage industry. In this way cottage industry has the potential to compete with the production output of small factories. This also enables the exporter’s business to touch the lives and provide income to a larger number of needy families.


If we take a look at the contrast of cottage industry vs. factory industry, it is clear that factory industry has some serious drawbacks which can ultimately have a negative effect on culture and families. For example, large factories in China and India often employ thousands of workers in urban areas. These factories send scouts into rural areas to persuade workers to come to the city resulting in entire villages that are stripped clean with the exception of a few grandmas and caregivers left behind to care for the children. Once in the city these workers are expected to live in crowded conditions, work long hours and are paid minimum wage. These are the lucky ones. There are plenty of cases of workers being locked up and forced to work 18 hour days. Some factories get around minimum wage laws by creating ambiguous behavior laws in which every minor infraction results in docked wages. Exporters who inspect factories and find them reasonably clean and adhering to loosely regulated human rights laws often find this ethical enough. Of course these manufacturers are able to offer exporters cheaper prices and larger production numbers, which undoubtedly provide the incentive not to scrutinize more closely into the inner workings of these factory giants. Sadly in the business world it’s all about being able to compete in a global marketplace. This is putting pressure on exporters who are trying to maintain a profit while continuing to support small scale industry.

Here in Bali the importance of cottage industry is even more definitive. The Balinese have a very stringent social system which requires participation in the local banjar and a never ending stream of religious duties. Without the flexibility of family enterprise it is difficult for the Balinese to maintain a thriving culture. The Balinese family workforce includes everyone in the family, from school age children who often are the only ones who speak English to grandma who minds the shop while other family members perform banjar or temple duties. Most family businesses sprouted as a result of talents developed over generations for religious purposes. The Balinese have perfected a wide range of artistic mediums in order to pay homage to the Gods. This overwhelming display of artistic talent impressed the multitude of backpackers who started pouring into Bali in the 70’s. The travelers wanted to stay or at least come back, so they began teaching the Balinese how to channel their art forms into marketable products. Soon the streets were lined with wooden cats and bamboo chimes. The partnership between the Balinese and the Western backpackers has resulted in the most versatile and broad range of cottage industry products in the world. This has created a flourishing economy here, leaving family values and cultural practices intact.

If you have a great product idea that you would like to bring to the marketplace, cottage industry just might be the right choice for you.By utilizing a family business in Bali you can make a difference in protecting disappearing craftsmanship. To get started, find a local craftsman that works within the medium that you need and develop a prototype and samples. Then find a sales representative group in your country to sell your product. You could also go home and sell your product at markets. One way to advertise your merchandise is by building a website. There are web designers here who work at a fraction of the cost compared to those in the west. I don’t want to simplify it. Or course, there will be pitfalls along the way and the details are never ending. You need shipping agents and custom brokers and a lot of time to research about your product and the best way to market it. The important thing to remember is that it’s possible to achieve your dream of seeing your idea come to life by utilizing small scale industry. This is something that you will never be able to do in large factories like those found in China and India. At the same time you can foster a great relationship with a local family and watch how your idea can help locals prosper.

Cottage industry is being threatened and it is important to keep it alive. Sadly, tradesmen have had to sacrifice their pride and product quality due to exporters pushing their prices down. It is difficult to compete with factory prices, but as exporters of fine handmade craft we need to try to remember to allow the artist to retain his integrity. It is true that it can be more challenging to turn a profit buying from small industry, but it can be done. I encourage my customers to think about the social implications when making retail purchases. It is not possible to change everyone’s beliefs but educating people on the various processes of manufacturing is a good place to start. Next time you pick up a product and see that familiar Made in China sticker, think twice before buying it. Look a little further and it’s likely you’ll find a much more unique and beautiful product with a Made in Bali or a Made in Nepal label. Yes, it’s going to being a bit more expensive, but just remember that, going deeper into your pockets to make a purchase also means going deeper into your heart.


Affiliate Marketing

I’m starting to explore into the field of affiliate marketing.  If anyone out there is interested in selling meeka sandals on their site or providing links to our site, I would be interested to know.  I am hoping to have an affiliate program in place over the next couple of months.

Sandals for Girls

Finally, I’m starting to get some of the catagories filled on this website.  I know all you big girls love my sandals so now you can have them for the little girls in your life as well.

I tried to focus on both the colors girls love and colors that other sandal companies often neglect to make. I did the girl’s classic in pink, lime and silver.  The silver is great for any special dress up event you want your daughter to attend without making her suffer through with tight dress up shoes.  The remy style comes in lime and navy.  I know it’s hard to find navy for young girls to wear with jeans, so these will be great.

Be sure to tell all your friends that the meeka.com website is being updated weekly.  Make sure you check back often and have a look around

Reusable Shopping Bags are in Stock!!

Finally, the reusable shopping bags are on the way.  Hopefully some of you will want to give a “green gift” this holiday season.  Just look in The Green Room of this website or for more info go www.kozykarma.com

for more information about this product.  Check out the easy 1,2.3 zip open pouch that reveals your clean and handy 15x15inch sturdy cotton reusable shopping bag….

                                                               

Kozy Karma Reusable Shopping Bag

Kozy Karma Reusable Shopping Bag

Reusable Shopping Bags

I’ve been doing lots of research about the amount of waste generated by plastic bags.  It has set me on a new mission.  We will have an awesome reusable shopping bag available on this website soon and we are launching a new website specifically for the sale of this bag which will be www.kozykarma.com.   My target date for this launching is about one month from now.

This site will link to the meeka.com website for purchase of the eco bag.  It’s a great product…..

Back In Bali

Hi Everyone,  I’ve been back in Bali for about a month and am working on quite a few new products.  Stay tuned to this website for new products.  Within a month, you can expect to see some awesome cotton caftans.  Since I’ve been here, I’ve practically lived in mine day and night.  Also, the girls sandals will be available within a month.  And I’ve come up with the most amazing reusable shopping bag.  I’ll show you a sneak preview tomorrow.  This blog thing is new for me, so I’ll be learning as I go.  I’ll be back tomorrow.

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