10,000 Women Program

I knew that participating in China Lab would be a fantastic learning experience from the start. I didn’t, however, expect to be working on something so impactful.

The 10,000 women program, sponsored in part by Goldman Sachs, is an incredibly inspiring program. They take women from all over the world and supply them with the skills necessary to create and build their own companies.

All of the teams in Kunming are partnered with graduates from this program. Our CEO for Hanhung Folk Art went through the program after launching her company in 2003 and is just one example of the effect this program has. Because of my strong passion for female empowerment, I would have chosen a Kunming project instantly had I known about this partnership. Being a part of this makes me feel like what I’m working on is truly making an impact on something important.

Working with women from China and seeing first hand the changes this type of program can create it just another one of the many reasons I’ve loved this experience. I can’t wait to continue to support the 10,000 women program and women who are starting their own companies in other ways.

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Read this post at its original location here.

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Saturday in China

Holy crap is this really my life? Saturday was a free day from work, so my hosts said we could do what ever we wanted to. Thanks to Pinterest, I knew of a local tourist destination called Stone Forest, and suggested we go there. It was only about an hour outside of the city and we got there around 11am. It was absolutely stunning and amazing and holy crap how is that even natural? It was an incredible experience and makes me excited to one day see the grand canyon too…

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Afterwards, we went to lunch at a place that was clearly very upscale.

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But we had beer too so it was all good. Next, we went go get massages at the most crazy place I’ve ever seen. I seriously thought it would just be a normal massage joint, but we got there and it was just breathtaking. There were large velvet couches, huge chandeliers, and a staff that could only tell me how beautiful I am. Then, we went to go shower where they had new toothbrushes and all these other amenities for us. We then put on robes and got led to bedrooms and were brought blueberry juice. My masseuse came in sporting a Maserati t-shirt and I knew I was in heaven. After an 80-minute massage and a foot shaving – seriously – I went to the buffet. Thankfully they had corn and cauliflower and watermelon so I got filled up on that. Here we all are in our robes:

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After eating and dominating (aka, losing my ass) in ping-pong, we took a cab to the local KTV spot. I was under the impression that this karaoke place would be similar to karaoke in the US: tons of people, one stage, lots of drinking, etc. However, we arrived at this luxurious place with huge chandeliers and men in suits everywhere. They brought us to our private room, which would be ours for singing for the night. I had never seen anything so cool ever.

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There we drank a lot and they delivered food, such as chicken tenders and French fries, to our room. I sang Sara Barielles (for Joe) and Hanson and Adele and Taylor Swift and Steven Tyler (because I love him) for the whole night. If we had something like this, at a similar price, in the US, I’m not sure I could ever be torn away. Pretty sure I’ll need to have one in my house some day. Best. Day. Ever.

Editor’s note: Kate is in China and unable to post herself, so I’ll be uploading her submissions as they make their way to me.

Hanhung Folk Art – Week 1

Our team has made a lot of progress this first week in China. On Monday, we went to the Folk Art factory and were finally able to meet the CEO. After seeing the bags in person, we were impressed with the great quality of the handbags and the wide assortment of styles and designs. After a tour, we had the opportunity to dig deeper into what the current problems are and started forming our strategies.

On Tuesday we went to both of the local specialty stores that sell Folk Art handbags. The first one was located in a huge mall targeted at tourists called Flower City. The visit began with a walk through the most beautiful flower garden ever.

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Once in the shop, we did some customer surveys to understand more about why they chose to buy (or in some cases, not buy) Ms. Camellia handbags. Thankfully our Yunnan University teammates were with us to translate because we got a lot of great information.

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Since then we have just been putting together our recommendations in the PowerPoint for Monday. Between now and Monday we hope to practice at least 5 or so times, and then we’ll present our current findings to Ms. Ren and the faculty for the projects.

This weekend our hosts are taking us to the Stone Forest and I could not be more excited! They have been so wonderful, showing us around and just generally taking care of us. It has been an amazing experience so far!

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Read this blog again at its original location here.

China Is Amazing

I’ve only been in China now for just over a day and I already know I love it. The flight here was extremely long and taxing, made worse by my cold, but now that I’m here I’m glad I’m staying awhile before having to go back.

The first thing that caught my attention was the cars. There was a pink Bentley at the airport and it was beautiful and amazing. All of the other cars are really nice too – the man that picked me up from the airport, Victor, was driving a pretty nice BMW. Within the first 10 miles I also spotted a Maserati and the rest are really modern too. Up until this point my experience in other countries, Egypt, Costa Rica, Mexico, even Italy, has been that their cars are pretty old and not as nice. I asked Victor about it and it turns out that they have to pay 100% import tax on cars too. So, they are hella expensive.

This doesn’t make it any less scary when they are whizzing at you on the highway though. The traffic laws seem to be lacking, or, potentially the only one they enforce is no running red lights. Otherwise people don’t stick to their lanes or use turn signals either. That part feels pretty standard for outside the US.

I’m also treated like a princess here. We went to the zoo and I got all dressed up in fancy Chinese dress, and they lightened up my face more because light is beautiful, they say.

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But on top of that, I feel very comfortable here. Everyone wears colorful outfits and has bright pink luggage too. I’m seriously in love with their style here, I feel like I fit in. AND! They wear fanny packs. It is beautiful. The only reason I didn’t bring mine was that I didn’t want to look weird… now I’ll know for next time :)

I’ve had trouble eating with the chop-sticks, maybe I should have practiced first. I’m not going hungry though, and even if I do a little that’s okay because I was still carrying around Christmas weight. Anyway, I now know to ask for a fork if I think I need one. Last night we went out to dinner and I tried pig skin, bamboo, tofu, and some really spicy soups. The pig skin was a little tough for my taste, and some of the soup really spicy, but I’m happy to be eating authentic food rather than just McDonalds (which I can get literally everywhere).

Another potential reason I’m not going hungry is that I’ve discovered Oreos. And not just any Oreos, Chinese Oreos, which surprisingly are different from American Oreos. There are just a lot more flavors. So last night Victor took me to a store and we bought every flavor they had. Strawberry, Green Tea, Blueberry/Raspberry, Mandarin Orange, Grape/Peach, and Vanilla Ice Cream. I also got these amazing chocolate covered Oreo wafers, which were better than they have any right to be.

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Re: Water. They have to boil water to drink it from the tap here, and so with dinner, they served hot lemon water. I then asked if I could get a bottle of water too because the food was so spicy, and they apologized that it was cold but I said that’s how I like it. Even the beer I had was room temperature, it is interesting that they don’t drink cold things much, especially when it is so hot here! In Kunming, it has been and will continue to be a consistent 80 degrees every day. Which could be another reason why I love it so much.

Editor’s note: Kate is in China and unable to post herself, so I’ll be uploading her submissions as they make their way to me.

Kunming Folk Art, here I come!

Tomorrow I depart for China in my first ever trip to Asia. Having traveled so little prior to Sloan, I made it a priority to start seeing the world. Participating in China Lab allows me to both gain exposure to a new country while also learning about business abroad. China plays such an important role in business that I’m excited for my first experience with it.

I’m working with a small company called Folk Art, which makes and distributes handbags and dolls both domestically in China and abroad. Along with my team, I been evaluating potential opportunities to increase profit margins and improve sales overseas. This is the first time I’ve had the opportunity to truly evaluate a marketing strategy and it has been a great learning experience.

While I’ve been spending so much time preparing for the project though, I’ve let some preparations for travel fall to the wayside. I still haven’t packed, (my flight leaves at 7am tomorrow!) I haven’t researched places nearby my hotel, nor have I learned even one word of Chinese. I don’t have a power adapter and I’m not sure what websites I’ll be able to access while there. Good thing I am an expert at “winging” it.

– Read this again here: http://mitsloan.mit.edu/student-blogs/china-india-lab-2015/kunming-folk-art-here-i-come/#sthash.dNMIbMx2.dpuf

Power/Rangers for class

For my Social Media class today we had to complete a case analysis on a person, company, or issue. I ultimately chose to go with the Power/Rangers video launch for two reasons. First, it stars Katee Sackhoff and I think she’s the coolest woman ever. Second, it is super relevant and just happened within the last two weeks so it was compact yet fresh.

In addition to a short write-up (2 pages), we had to give a 2-3 minute presentation on the content. My visual aid was just a screenshot of the YouTube page because unfortunately I didn’t have time to play any of the video. When I first started I asked “how many of you have seen the Power/Rangers reboot?” No one had. Well, actually someone raised their hand halfway and said they didn’t watch the whole thing. For the rest of it, people listened respectfully and I said my part, but I couldn’t help but feel sadness in that I was the only one out of my entire social media class that had seen or was even aware of this video. If I’m not going to find other fankids in my classes at MIT, where am I going to find them?

All sadness was completely overshadowed by the fact that I was tweeted to by Katee herself though. If a badass like her is proud of me, then I’m proud of myself.