Bundshop Chinese Designs Put a New Spin on “Made in China”

November 8, 2012

1:00 pm

Bundshop’s tagline is “the new made in China.” Many Westerners associate China with lower-level, assembly-line factory work. But a group of American-born Chinese, who saw tons of creativity on their trips back East, wanted to change this.

So they took a roadtrip across China. They went to fashion shows and exhibitions in Hong Kong and Shanghai. They peeked into street boutiques and galleries in Beijing. They found design studios in the coastal city of Hangzhou.

And they came up with an array of breathtakingly beautiful Chinese designs, understated but meaningful: one-of-a-kind metal chairs by Zhoujie Zhang; a vest that’s also a bag; an incense burner that leaves a trail of ash on a white mountain, representing our slow journey; and chic modern coats made with the help of disabled orphans.

Bundshop will start selling one design per week on November 12. Come December 1, they will showcase a new design every day. The idea is to spend 24 hours celebrating that particular designer, spotlighting Chinese creativity.

“There’s this incredible creative energy that is arising out of China, and these amazing creatives who come with these backstories of conquering so many hardships and finding their inspiration, and that’s what we want to sell,” says cofounder and CMO Stephany Zoo.

The 24-hour model also helps deter copycats, who have slowed down the growth of China’s creative class. Bundshop items are made on limited runs, and anything left over after 24 hours goes into their secret calendar, available only to members. This makes selling on Bundshop more appealing to designers who are afraid to put their work on ecommerce sites or social media.

“If they put their goods on Amazon, Etsy, eBay … they basically have a 6-month sprint before everybody starts copying them,” says Zoo. “They’re very afraid.”

“For most of these designers, we are the only online or international distribution for them. There’s literally no way for Western consumers to get these products in any other way,” she adds.

Bundshop also has Western lawyers at the ready, although trying to protect intellectual property in China is no easy task.

The Shanghai startup has its eyes set on the United States first, then other countries with Chinese populations. If their vision becomes a reality, “Made in China” will be replaced by a new label: “Designed in China.”

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Kira M. Newman is a Tech Cocktail writer interested in the harsh reality of entrepreneurship, work-life balance, and psychology. She is the founder of The Year of Happy and has been traveling around the world interviewing entrepreneurs in Asia, Europe, and North America since 2011. Follow her @kiramnewman or contact [email protected]

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