Passporting Our PenguinBags
I have spent the whole week doing work related to passporting our PenguinBags. With this, I mean to work on assessing and complying with the legal and regulatory requirements our beloved PenguinBags need to comply with in order for us to be able to sell them in a given country.
There are two areas of the garments industry that are highly regulated: the young children garments and the sleepwear. When you put them together you are heading to find yourself in a kind of regulatory labyrinth every time you want to enter a country: from care symbols, to flammability testing, passing through mechanical and chemical tests and finally, translation of labels. An additional layer of complexity is added due to the age bracket we work with, as our garments cover both babies, toddlers and older children and many countries have regulations for “cot bound children” which are different from regulations for children deemed to be mobile.
When I started in this industry, I was coming from working on structured credit in the investment banking sector. That is one of the most highly complex and specialised areas of finance. I remember telling myself when I was first introduced to the complexities of manufacturing and distributing sleepwear for children that it surely I was a person used to dealing with complex issues, this definitely could not be SO challenging.
And, wrong I was.
Going through complex regulations detailing flammability testing procedures is every day on my to do list and, even when I have a legal background, I often need the assistance of specialised lawyers. As it is dealing with the different duties charged by the different countries for import.
Sometimes, you even find practical barrier for importation, and not only financial (i.e. duties) and technical barriers. And one of those is what took most of my week. We are now looking into the North American market and, more specifically, looking into the flammability criteria for distribution in the USA. Because our PenguinBag spectrum covers children from age 1 to age 8, we have to undergo some very complex flammability testing. The problem is not having to pass the test, it is to find a laboratory able to do the testing. We have spoken to almost all the major labs in Europe and none of them seem they have the knowledge and means to conduct such testing. I am afraid some calls to USA labs will be on my list next week.