Company . . . . Shanghai Boomhan Location . . . . . Shanghai, China
Number of Employees . . . 12-25, depending on season Founded in . . . 2008
Things with my previous suppliers had run their course, and I wanted to find someone in Shanghai because it’s close to Suzhou, where I source silk. Plus, Shanghai is an amazing city to be in. I interviewed various candidates and went to lunch with Shao and his wife, Kathy.
I liked their energy and their helpfulness. When you’re a small company, you need partners who will work with you to help you grow. I felt like we were all in this together.
Shao and his wife Kathy are from Inner Mongolia, and worked for the giant cashmere company Eerduos, far in the Inner Mongolian hinterlands. They moved to Shanghai to represent Eerduos, and ended up starting a tiny business of their own. Since I met them, they’ve acquired four electronic Stoll machines and have their own tiny factory perfect for our production.
Shao introduced me to the poetry of Tang Dynasty hermit Han Shan,
which became an integral part of my most recent novel, This Is How It Really Sounds.
Stuff we talk about: Business plans, American Politics. Philosophical meditations on Truth. What we would do if we were super-rich.
Our lack of serious interest in actually being super-rich.
Cashmere is a tricky fiber. Small differences in knitting tension, washing or even ironing can make a big difference in quality. We’ve experimented with processing cashmere in South America and it’s so different from alpaca and wool that our suppliers don’t know what to do with it.
Shao and Kathy have spent their entire working life in cashmere, so they can insure that the fiber is done right and all the processes are done correctly. Sweaters pieces are knit on computerized looms, but everything after that is painstaking hand work. Joining the panels into sweaters, washing them to get the exact balance between softness and pill-resistance, and even ironing to size, are all critical processes requiring skill and rigid quality control. I remember seeing Shao, the co-owner of the business, seated at a table with a piece of tape carefully removing pieces of lint and hair from sweaters about to be packed. This is a hands-on business by people who really care about what comes out of their factory.