Do consumers care about the people making our stuff?
Don’t believe me; meet iPhone girl…
In 2008 a British man fired up his new iPhone and discovered photos of a worker at the Chinese factory where his phone was made. He posted the photos on macrumors and in a matter of weeks the ensuing comment thread had nearly 700 comments and people all over the world were asking, “Who is iPhone Girl?”
They tracked iPhone girl to a factory in Shenzhen where a company spokesperson called the incident a “beautiful mistake.” And it was for Apple. They had been blasted in the press for the conditions in which the iPhones were made and here was a pretty, happy worker in a neat and clean factory.
iPhone girl was reportedly stalked by paparazzi and eventually the South China Morning Post reported, “She’s just a young girl who has come to the city from her remote hometown. She’s never been in such a situation. She’s really scared by the media. She told me she wanted to quit her job and go back home to get away from this. We let her off work today so she could rest.”
iPhone Girl just wanted to make iPhones in peace. I’m not sure if I believe that. You have to take what you read in Chinese newspapers with a healthy grain of salt. But something beautiful did happen.
When we are reminded that actual people make the stuff we buy and that these people have slightly crooked smiles and slightly crooked caps and that they are bursting with personality and somewhere they have a family. We connect with them.
iPhone girl reminds us that we give a darn and that there is an iPad Girl, a GAP jeans Girl, a Stapler Girl, and so on.
I think all of our things should come with photos of the people who made them and perhaps a little story about their life.
An iPhone captured this young worker’s smile. And her smile captured our hearts. It was a beautiful mistake, indeed.