NPR logo How A Small Bondage Business Competes In The Global Economy

Trade

How A Small Bondage Business Competes In The Global Economy

"We have our designs pirated and mass produced by competitors in China." Paul Hillier/courtesy Kink Engineering hide caption

toggle caption
Paul Hillier/courtesy Kink Engineering

We received this email from a listener in Toronto this week. We edited it for length and added some links.

Hi Planet Money Team,

First off, we love your podcast and listen to it all the time in our workshop while we work at our small business. What business is that? Well... we work with latex. Specifically, we make latex clothing for the fashion/fetish community. We also make bondage toys and other sexy things. Your podcast has been both entertaining and spectacularly educational for us.

In your recent "small worlds" podcasts about the artisanal pickles, and kosher foods, I realized that there is a similar small world happening in my business.

* We have our designs pirated and mass produced by competitors in China (and constantly have to design ahead of the curve or seek markets that want custom/artisanal work)

* We source our latex sheeting (raw materials) from overseas and thus suffer from currency shifting, shipping rate changes (oil prices), and liquidity problems with financing bulk purchase.

Article continues after sponsorship

* We would NOT still be around if we didn't have universal health care here in Canada, we'd be bankrupt. (My partner and 2nd employee to go full time had Appendicitis 4 weeks after going full time on our tiny business).

* We have recently added high technology (A computer guided laser cutting tool) to our trade to cut down on manual labor (cutting out repetitive patterns), and expand on creative labor (design). So even our tiny business reflects the need for more education in the workforce.

Cheers,
Matt Olmstead - CEO/Head of Design/Sweeps the floors.