The Tale of the IWitness Team Meeting and the Birth of GOSIG GOLDEN and his friends

After two intense and emotional days, where we have been meeting many happy, curious and very friendly children, we went to meet some other friends: GOSIG GOLDEN, VANDRING UGGLA, LILLEPLUTT, KNORRIG, KELGRIS, KRAMIG, HEMMAHOS (to help us keep the time, something we have noticed is a development area for most of us) and not to forget our best friend, FABLER BJÖRN. We went to the place where they all have first seen the light of day—the Soft Toy factory in Ho Chi Minh City.

We were all very excited to see how those lovely friends take their first steps into the world. Who takes care of them in their creation? How is it all done? And how do we at IKEA secure a better everyday life for the many people in the factory that are producing the soft toys that, in the end, will be the best friend of a child?

We arrived to the Danu factory in the morning and were warmly welcomed (and not just because it was really, really warm this day) by the team that was going to show us the factory, led by by Huong Nguyen Hoai, Business Development Manager at the IKEA Trading Service Office in Ho Chi Minh City.

When we entered the site, the team immediately noticed the iWay signs on the wall of the factory—and we all felt very proud to see what an impact IKEA and iWay have across the globe.

We learned that this factory is on level 2 (of 3) in the iWay staircase model—meaning that they are more than 90% compliant with the iWay audits.

This factory was established in 1996 and was the first Duna factory in Vietnam. In 1998, they started to produce soft toys for IKEA—so we will soon have more than 20 years of history together.

The factory has 1,600 employees, 90% of whom are women. The working week is 48 hours over a six-day week. Young workers (15-18 years) make up less than 1% of the co-workers and the factory is following decent employment standards, meaning they work no more than eight hours a day and not more than 40 hours a week. Every six months, they get health checks.

The factory is the supplier of soft toys to between 30 and 40 customers, where IKEA stands for 50% of the production. So, in this way, IKEA paves the way in being a good example for the other suppliers of better working environment standards. Since the entire factory is following the iWay programme, hopefully the other customers get influenced by IKEA iWay.

After the introduction in one of the showrooms (filled with soft toys) we were guided through the factory. It was amazing to see each step in the making of a soft toy, especially when we know them so well. We saw the fabric coming into the factory with trucks, spotting a lot of pink fabric for KNORRIG offloaded from the truck. We then had a view of the cutting process, where we found GOSIG GOLDEN to be shaped in the machines.

Then we had a walk through the sewing area, where we saw our friends start to get more in shape—and FABLER BJÖRN getting his T-shirt on. And there were a lot of sewing machines. The factory has focused on increasing the quality, not just of the final product, but of the working environment, such as improving needle control to create a safer working environment for the co-workers.

Moving over to the mounting, stuffing and testing area, we (I)Witnessed KRAMIG being dragged in its ears in the tension test to make sure the children can cuddle with the toy as much as they want to without any risk that parts of the toy will fall off.

We experienced the very noisy room (not so noisy if you have your ear plugs in) where KNORRIG got stuffed to be really cosy and look like he has had plenty of good food to eat.

Almost ready for the world, with just the final touch of finishing, GOSIG GOLDEN needed to be brushed and have his nails cut before the long trip to a child’s home.

Finally, we followed GOSIG GOLDEN pass through the metal control to then join his friend KRAMIG in the big brown boxes for the travel to an IKEA unit.

We concluded the day to be again very proud and humble for all the good work IKEA do for the many people. IKEA has not any retail business in Vietnam, but are present and contributing to the society and the people living here. It is creating jobs in the factory with the iWay standards, which then produce soft toys, which give happiness to a lot of children around the globe, and is also a part of the Good Cause Campaign, which helps the most vulnerable children around the world have access to an education and a safe place to play.

Which is the purpose of our trip to Ho Chi Minh City. To IWitness.

The circle is closed.

And to get an even better picture of how the toys are developed in the Dana Factory, please have a look at the Hippo-Crocodile’s tale here.