MEET THE MAKERS : A YOGA MAT FACTORY FAMILY AMID COVID-19
Since we started, we’ve shared how our yoga mats are made by this great little factory in China. It was founded in 2011 by a yoga practitioner who decided to manufacture her own mats with eco-friendly materials such as natural rubber because she didn’t like what was available in the market then.
Today, the factory remains small and sustainable. It’s still headed by the founder (who’s across every email we’ve sent!) and there are about 40 employees – mostly women aged between 28 to 40 years old who work in departments from production and quality control to administrative and sales. Aside from printing of the mats, many of the tasks such as packing and checks are done personally.
Many tasks in the factory which makes Chalk and Chakras’ mats remain done by hand.
Our friend there, Ms C, tells us more about life in the close-knit factory, including how they had to stay shut due last month to the Covid-19 situation.
We’re so happy everyone is well at the factory and you guys can finally reopen!
Yes, it’s been a long wait. We were supposed to open on Feb 7 after our traditional Chinese New Year break. At first, we thought the virus was not going to be an issue. We were not affected by it since we’re located quite a distance away. We were puzzled when businesses were told to stay closed until further notice.
Were you guys concerned about the Covid-19 virus?
It was only after we were informed about the scale of the epidemic did we realise that this is very serious. We co-operated with the government’s instructions to stay home until we got the green light to reopen last week.
How does it feel when you hear that you could finally resume work?
We were all excited. We were eager to restart after this extra long vacation. We also feel very fortunate we are all safe and healthy. There are 8 colleagues who haven’t returned to work from their hometowns due to the travel ban, but they will be back next week. To reopen, we had to ensure we have adequate disinfection measures and get our protective supplies approved. We also take extra precautions besides following the strict measures. We wear masks all the time, stay away from large gatherings, remind our colleagues to wash our hands frequently and boil Chinese medical herbs every day to concoct immunity-boosting drinks for everyone.
The employees at the factory are mostly women aged 28 to 40 years old, and many of them are mums too.
It sounds like a tight team at work.
Yes, we go for annual holidays for team bonding. We’ve gone to domestic destinations such as Liangshan and Yunnan. Last year, we even got to go to Bali! We’re also allowed to bring our kids and I brought my son once. Every quarter, we would hold team activities like camping, cycling or singing sessions.
Team-bonding trip to Yunnan
China makes a lot of the world’s yoga mats and for some of the biggest names. What makes your team different from others?
Our founder started out producing high quality and eco-friendly yoga mats. Till today, we remain committed to being a responsible supplier of yoga mats and other products. We’re also innovating continuously to create new products with better materials. We regard our customers as partners — we want to grow with them together. This is why we’re open to working with small brands like Chalk and Chakras.
Thank you! Besides us in Singapore, where else do your customers come from?
We produce for customers mostly in North America and Europe. We can’t share more cos we want to keep our customers’ trust. But they’ve been very satisfied so far. Our team feels extremely happy when we hear good feedback about our quality. I hope parents in Singapore like the yoga mats we make.