4/28/2013

INTERVIEW WITH BRETT FISCHER OF - 2 EVOLVE TATTOO SUPPLY - CAPETOWN S. AFRICA

2EVOLVE IS A SOUTH AFRICAN SUPPLIER, HEADED BY BRETT FISCHER, WHO'S FORWARD THINKING AND ETHICAL BUSINESS PRACTICES SHOULD SERVE AS AN EXAMPLE FOR ALL SUPPLIERS TO ASPIRE TO. HIS SENSE OF COMMUNITY, ACTIVE SUPPORT OF EDUCATION AND PARTICIPATION IN RAISING HEALTH STANDARDS AND PRACTICES IN TATTOOING / PIERCING, HAS  ESTABLISHED THIS FAMILY OPERATED BUSINESS AS SOUTH AFRICA'S SUPREME SOURCE FOR QUALITY PRODUCTS, SERVICES & ACCESSIBLE EDUCATION TO ALL ARTISTS.



GIVE US A BRIEF LOOK IN TO THE EVOLUTION OF 2 EVOLVE - WHAT THE GOALS WERE WHEN YOU STARTED AND HOW THEY HAVE 'EVOLVED' UP TIL NOW.
We moved from the supply of piercing to include tattoo when approached by studios for assistance in sourcing supplies. Unfortunately it was a case of naive sourcing by price, demand and availability, the intention was never to rape the industry but the gross naivety of how a Pick n Pay (mini Wal-Mart) type supply concept creates total havoc, never totally sunk in until clients and willing ethical manufacturers such as yourselves better educated us on the affects. That disconnect a supplier and manufacturer can have from the person walking around with a new tattoo is often the source of ignorance in the modus operandi of a supply chain.
When we changed our company name to ‘2evolve’ it was kind of a mission statement in itself – the evolution of our business in its commitment to the community. Our livelihoods are 100 percent linked to the survival of the street shop and their ability to produce quality work with quality supplies.
Today we are drastically improved in many respects but our goals now are;
- Improving supply vetting, monitoring as well as ensuring we maintain it.

- To drop many items from our supply range, replacing them with better quality. This is the one benefit of hindsight in supply- the real end cost of cheap products to both us and the client.
- More selective about manufactures, if they don’t understand our local issues or engage with us on dialogue over it, they no longer interest me.
- Being able to hold larger stock volume to compensate for quality items that are not mass produced, manufacturing lead times frustrate local artists and their increasing ability to parallel import is what is keeping us on our toes right now.


BRETT FISCHER (RT)  - CAPE TOWN TATTOO CONVENTION.
HOW CLOSELY DOES THE S. AFRICAN 'TRENDS' IN SUPPLYING FOLLOW THE NORTH AMERICAN MARKET? - HOW POPULAR IS THE ROTARY COMPARED TO ELECTROMAGNETIC?
20 Years ago supply trends were limited to the release of new catalogues from suppliers like Spaulding or information shared by artists returning from Europe and America. Today with manufacturer web-sites, social media platforms and blogs, artist are being exposed to supply trends almost immediately. This equates to an artist demand for certain items ultimately driving the suppliers to source accordingly.
To a large extent a lot of what is going on right now, matches North America in terms of flavour of the month or ‘endorsed’ products. There is a demand we can directly correlate to endorsed / sponsored products appearing in blogs, online advertising and technique related DVD’s by the more internationally recognised artists. The upside is good endorsements give confidence in the products where there is no history and the downside is bad endorsements are creating a fad consumer culture in the community.
Right now we sell way more electro-magnetic machines than rotaries; however, the demand for rotary machines is definitely on the rise.

HOW MANY COUNTRIES, PROVINCES IN THE CONTINENT DO YOU HANDLE?
Currently we supply throughout South Africa and her nine provinces. We also supply Swaziland, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Uganda and Botswana.
THE DYNAMICS OF THE TATTOO INDUSTRY HAVE BEEN A HURDLE FOR US AS FAR AS COMMUNICATING THE MUCH A NEEDED CHANGE IN ETHICS DIRECTION AND EDUCATION.
HOW DO YOU HANDLE THIS? HAVE YOU SEEN CHANGES SINCE THE BEGINNING,? AND IN HOW LONG OF A PERIOD, WHAT PERCENTAGE OF THE ARTIST POPULATION THAT YOU SUPPLY "GET IT"?

The challenge has always been an adoption of unified best practices, getting to a point where there is a unanimous consensus on issues like studio hygiene, cross contamination etc. We lack national laws and where by-laws exist we lack enforcement, this has lead our business to adopt internal standards we expect clients to adhere too, however I don’t believe this is ideal….
In terms of ethics, suppliers have a commitment to the products they supply and whom they supply them to. But right now those ethics are meaningless in stopping the wave of supplies that are readily available on almost every online auction site! Many manufacturers have gone a long way to removing their products from this sales domain, but it’s been a needle in a haystack approach to cutting off the supply to minute made artists….
All in all, I am not going to lambaste other suppliers as we have our own history and faults to be critiqued – but we do all need to up our game in this regard. Much like the artists that lack a consensus, the same applies to the suppliers and manufacturers. However it’s important that the artists realise that they themselves hold the key to supplier ethics by virtue of funding. A simple case of not purchasing equates to a vote of no-confidence in the suppliers ability to maintain their ethics. Personally I don’t think artists realise their ability to control the supply is in their hands and that the ethics they exude are basically mirrored in the suppliers they purchase from.


GODOY SEMINAR - JOHANNESBURG


 WE KNOW THAT YOU PROMOTE EDUCATION, WE HAVE SEEN IT - ORGANIZING SEMINARS AND PAYING PART OF THE FEES FOR ARTISTS WHO HAVE POTENTIAL AND HAVE ECONOMIC DIFFICULTY - THIS IS UNHEARD OF IN THIS SELF ABSORBED INDUSTRY… WHY DO IT AT ALL?

When we started our company in 1987 it was done with R200.00 (about 100 dollars at the 1987 exchange rate) and zero resources, because of that we understand the hand to mouth nature of many small studios as they build a client base. On-going education should be a core focus and being able to assist with that meant a great deal to us.
When we had the opportunity to host you in RSA it was a huge deal for us, it was largely because of you that we progressed to be the supplier we are today. Hosting your seminar was also an opportunity to learn from you while here and also to see that information parted among artists locally was a fantastic experience for us.
WHAT KIND OF CHANGE DO YOU SEE THIS TYPE OF ACTION BRINGING TO THE S. AFRICAN INDUSTRY?
I don’t think I can overstate the importance of getting peers into the same room, to get them chatting and sharing ideas in an educational setting. To be able to share information is pretty much the only way the community moves forward. North America is spoilt in this regard – attracting global skills and dispersing them through seminars and conventions. To have seminars brought here, to see internationals arriving on our shores to guest or participate in conventions like the Cape Town tattoo convention, is fantastic. It up’s our game but the fundamental is the dynamic of peer participation and shared skills development.
WHAT ARE DISTRIBUTOR ETHICS? IS THERE SUCH A THING? ETHICALLY, WHAT ARE SOME REQUIREMENTS WHICH SET YOU APART FROM OTHER SUPPLIERS?
I think the simplest definition for me, would be the understanding of the end impact of supply choices: what the product impact is as well as the impact in the hands of the person whom you have sold it to.
There are suppliers with great ethics, some maybe better than ours. But my personal concern is to eliminate poor products from our range as well as the poor usage of our products.

YOUR PRODUCT STOCK HAS PROBABLY CHANGED ACCORDING TO THE NEEDS OF THE ARTIST? DO YOU FEEL THAT THERE ARE UNFOUNDED DEMANDS FOR PRODUCTS THAT ARE NOTHING BUT HYPE? ARE YOU LOOKING OUT FOR ARTISTS AND INVESTING IN PRODUCTS THAT ACTUALLY DO WORK?
I find this all the time, the ‘flavour of the month’ products that come and go so fast these days. Every second person is making tattoo machines these days it seems. There is massive pressure on suppliers to keep up with the demand or be seen as ‘behind the times’. It’s a double edged sword for us, we prefer to invest in lines of substance and not in trends but it even goes into the issue of cheap vs quality. I think quality manufacturers also need to be more progressive in pricing structures to assist smaller countries like ours where scales of economy are not factored in on the ‘bulk price’ and moq’s.
HOW MANY OTHER SUPPLIERS ARE 'YOUR COMPETITION? 
It’s a good question, not so long ago you could count suppliers on one hand, today there are 20 odd in Cape Town alone that I know of. But in terms of quality supplies and not just a stock holding of straight up Chinese only products, around 3 to 4 only.

THERE IS A SAYING 'IF YOU DON'T BUY, THEY CAN'T SUPPLY" THAT MEANS WE AS ARTISTS CAN POTENTIALLY CONTROL WHO IS ALLOWED 'INTO' OUR INDUSTRY AND WHO CANNOT COME IN. HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THE INFLUX OF THE CHINESE LOW GRADE PRODUCT?
It’s not an easy answer, we were one of the suppliers who went this route when we started, the problem as you have stated is not with Chinese product, it’s the demand for cheap Chinese product. More worrying though is the demand for dangerous products like counterfeit inks.
Ultimately it’s based on demand – We have been trying to phase the cheaper needles out, but find we hit a brick wall with demand for them. Again here we are stuck between demand and ETHICS of knowing the product supplied is not of the production standard it should be. The middle ground route we have undertaken is to get an improvement on the production of the product whilst still keeping the pricing reasonable for local artists and our much lower buying power. Here again like you have mentioned – the demand is created by the artist, if you don’t buy it – they we won’t supply it….
WHAT IS MORE IMPORTANT, AN ARTIST'S EDUCATION OR THE ELIMINATION OF THE CHINESE MACHINE - THERE ARE TONS OF OTHER 'REPUTABLE' MACHINES WHICH ARE ON PAR? WE FEEL THAT WITH A REAL EDUCATION ON MACHINE FUNCTION AND TECHNIQUE, AN ARTISTS CAN SHOP WISELY AND REPAIR OR MODIFY ANY PRODUCT HE ORDERS. HOW DO YOU SEE THIS?
Education, education, education. The elimination of an inferior cloned product comes down to the education surrounding it. Having the ability to modify and repair is still a major issue locally and fuels the ‘full draw of useless or problematic machines’.


2E MACHINES  - BY GODOY MACHINES
IS THERE A STANDARD? DO YOU SEE THAT THERE IS A HOMOGENIZED STANDARD ON PRODUCTS, OR IS IT A FREE FOR ALL ? OR IS THERE A MADE UP STANDARD' WHERE A REPUTABLE MACHINE IS REALLY NOT AT ALL WHAT THE HYPE SAYS IT IS? AND NEEDLES TOO?
I think there is repetition above all else, a copy of standards created years ago. We see it with machines out of China as well as new ‘machine builders’ who pretty much clone others and modify the side plate to create a sense personalisation. I think most would agree there is a lot of copying above all else.
WHAT DOES THE FUTURE LOOK LIKE.. YOU SPONSOR ARTISTS WITH THE 2E PRODUCTS, DO YOU SEE THAT THE TORCH IS GONNA BE PASSED DOWN TO UP AND COMERS OR WILL IT DIE WITH THE GREAT ORIGINALS LIKE DEREK BAKER, RASTY… RYAN BOLTOON,, DAMIAN MARTINS…TAMAR THORN… ARE YOU LOOKING AT SPONSORING ANY OTHER TALENT?
I am very upbeat about our future locally and the attention our country is receiving, recently after the very successful Cape Town Tattoo convention, I had the privilege of getting tattooed by Bob Tyrell at Metal Machine – next to me tattooing in quest spots were– Rosanna Demadona and Randy Englehart…..
Our local artists are creating an outstanding calibre of work and are being invited to travel to conventions in Asia, Europe (recently: Derek Baker) and Australia (recently: Tamar Thorn) as well working as guest artists throughout the USA (recently: Ryan Bolton and Tyler B Murphy) – to name but a few.
There are planes in the works to sponsor some very talented new up and coming artists, but I don’t want to give away too much on that just yet ; )
IF YOU COULD HAVE YOUR WAY WITH THE INDUSTRY IN S. AFRICA, WHAT WOULD IT LOOK LIKE?
I wouldn’t like to meddle to much outside of my role in the community, but If I could have one wish, i would like to see the total eradication of counterfeit goods, namely the cheap toxic knock off pigments coming out of China.
WE WERE SO IMPRESSED WITH YOUR OPERATION, THAT WE OFFERED TO DO A GREAT MACHINE FOR A GREAT COMPANY… HOW DID THE 2E AND THE A2E IMPACT YOUR BUSINESS?
ALUMINUM 2E MACHINE - BY GODOY MACHINES
You guys have been the first manufactures to honestly take note of us and South Africa, the fact that you built us a quality custom machine still amazes me today. The 2E was important to us for two reasons; it offered us a brilliant quality machine at a very reasonable price to local artists, as well as showing your trust in us with your brand. The A2E was just the crème on top, a super light-weight aluminium frame with no sacrifice on the typical super smooth Godoy machine performance.


SOUTH AFRICA F*CKING RULES. - GODOYS

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