Saturday, June 16, 2012

A F T E R M A T H

I wanted to take a few minutes to write about our recent experience having a flash sale on fab.com. What an overwhelming and awesome experience. We put so much of ourselves into this sale, and we feel really good about some of it, and not so great about other aspects of it. First the not so good. Before you read on, if you know me at all and have been reading my blog for some time, you know that I pride myself on being incredibly honest. I hope this post doesn't come off sounding negative, and maybe its the incredible amount of sleep deprivation, or making sure everyone know where we stand that drove me to write this, but either way, I hope you can see where I am coming from and how appreciative I am.
Firstly, we love fab. We love what they stand for, what they are doing, and the customer base is amazing. They are such an inspiration for any business looking to grow. They have been around just a touch longer than we have and look at their incredible membership rates. So we were overjoyed when they emailed us to do a flash sale. Never in a million years would I have understood how much work was about to come from it. I also never expected us to sell out. That was my first mistake. We should have been prepared for the sale to sell out and I will know that for the future.


Because it was just the two of us {with the sporadic help of Doug's sister, or friends who helped us cut wood for patchwork or stuff boxes with thank you cards and postcards...} we almost killed ourselves trying to get it all done. We both spend most of last week working until 8am, taking a quick nap, and working another 24 hours straight. We had too high expectations about how much we could get done in such a short amount of time. Therefore, the quality of some of the glasses were not as perfect as we would have liked. They are still made well, they are still going to look beautiful on your face, but the little tiny details that we pride ourselves on like making sure the insides of the glasses are perfect (meaning - no over spray.} "Why, Beca, does it matter what the insides of the glasses look like," you may ask? Well, since we hand spray all of the individual pieces ourselves {that's 640+ components for this sale} there can sometimes be over spray. It's not glue, its a finish, And since we matte the backs of our frames, sometimes there is over spray. It will go away when you wear your glasses since the oils of your face will make the insides of your glasses shinier, but this is a complaint I have heard and we do our best to make sure the insides are as clean as possible, but when doing it all by hand, there is more room for imperfections.

Also, I suppose there has already been some confusion as to the item that customers expect to receive. We don't make solid wood glasses. We have never claimed to make solid wood glasses, and we have strong reasons as to why we don't. They are too fragile, too time intensive to make {unless you make them with a laser, which doesn't really constitute handmade, does it?} and too expensive for something you are going to sit on, lose, step on, drop in the river, leave in your car, drop in your purse, etc. We are very honest about the work we do and the materials we use. Some people are really into it. Some are not. That's okay. I wear our glasses every single day. I know what they can withstand, I know how much they can take. I have also broken my glasses. I slammed my purse in the van door and broke a pair of our sunglasses AND my $400 Dolce and Gabbana eyeglasses, at the same time, in the same way. That tells me something. Glasses, whether you pay $72 for them or $400 are still fragile, they are still plastic, and they can still be broken. That's the nature of the beast. But please don't tell me our glasses are cheap. I know better, and I am not biased - we have had many, many repeat customers to prove it. 

Lastly, when you do a flash sale, you are wholesaling your items at at least 50%. At least. We stood our ground and decided to not raise our msrp prices. We believe in the product that we make and that it should be affordable, but to be honest, we spent so much money on supplies, we aren't bringing in that much profit. You have to consider this when doing a flash sale. I am not good at math, and I am not really that great at business, but I know what my heart says, and it says that we want lots of people to have our rad sunglasses. We want to love what we do, and we want to continue sustaining ourselves through our small business. 


*disclaimer* If you purchased a pair of our sunglasses on fab.com and are not 100% happy, you can contact me at tumbleweeds.shop@gmail.com, and I can direct you to the proper channels to receive a replacement. We are only two human beings and we want every single one of our customers to be stoked on their glasses. 
{Maria from Little Tree wearing our Lolitas from the fab.com sale, a happy customer!}

Of course, because of the fact that we are human and bound to make mistakes, we are always close to our email to respond to any and all questions, whether you bought our glasses on fab or in our etsy shop or in a brick and mortar shop or on ustrendy or where ever. It's just me, and me alone, answering email, and I am friendly as can be I hope. And I will always do what I can, within reason, to fix a problem and make our customers happy. If I could send out a virtual hug to every single one of our customers in the world, I would.

Lastly, the only other thing that I would have done differently is that I would have closed our etsy shop. It's hard since that is our only source of income right now, but I wish we could have made that work, because I feel terrible that it is taking so long to get etsy orders filled lately. After our featured seller interview, the fab sale and a few other shout outs, we have had hundreds of orders, thousands of emails, and it's been a heck of a challenge keeping up with it all. I made too many promises that I couldn't fulfill. It breaks my heart. So, if you're waiting on an order to be shipped, or for me to reply to an email or etsy convo, I'm sorry. Thanks for being patient. 

Now for the good stuff. We learned so much making this big order. We learned the kinds of tools we need to be more efficient, the kind of patience we need to get it done right. We may have made some mistakes this time around, but we are growing as craftsmen and business owners. I am constantly working on my customer service, and Doug is constantly working on his skills as a maker. I have learned that I need to step down a bit from my role as maker, also. I have taken on too many responsibilities and the quality of my life, and the quality of our work suffers. Doug is a perfectionist, I am not. Not by a long shot. I am giving him more responsibility when it comes to finishing the glasses, and I am going to focus more on the business side of it all. I am okay with that, but I learned this during our busiest, craziest time. 

I had a handful of breakdowns during this experience, and feel better now that I know why. I am so incredibly sensitive and eager to please everyone, especially customers. But I will not kill myself doing it. That has been a huge lesson to learn this past month. I am concerned with how strangers judge me based on the work I do. I know that sounds shallow, but it's true. I want my work to be a reflection on who I am. If I make a promise to get something shipped on a certain date, and then don't, what does that make me? A liar, or just a person overwhelmed by a quickly growing business? I hope the latter. We'll get out shit together, I promise. Thanks for hanging in there...  

The other great thing is all the incredible positive feedback we have received. People are generally happy. We like happy people. We love what we do, and I am glad we are constantly growing and learning and becoming better at everything we do. I don't regret working 36 hours straight, I don't regret the breakdowns and the tears. I have learned so much about what we can or cant do during this experience. 

I hope this wasn't too much to swallow. I care so much about small business and sharing our most personal experiences. They may not always be picture perfect experiences, but we know we can always be better. This is just our journey to become the best we can. It is so hard for me sometimes to see other people having so much success, yet it seems so flawless and effortless. I don't see the world that way, so this is just how I felt we should share it. I appreciate each and everyone of you.
Back to work!


xo,
Beca

18 comments:

  1. You both are fabulous, you know that, right? I love your values, Beca. You're such a kick ass girl, and you're extremely admirable. You stick up for yourself and your products, as you rightly should, however you're humble as hell and just so sweet. That's rare - and wonderful. If I had a lot of $$$$, I'd buy every single pair of your sunglasses so y'all could go on a vacation!!!

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    1. thank you from the bottom of my heart.

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  2. I just think it's so impressive that you two have been able to take your creativity & artistic talent and fashion a life (living) out of it. People wouldn't seek out handmade things if there weren't quirks, right? You should be proud of yourself.

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  3. You're doing a wonderful job and you're truly a hard worker! I read about these owners of businesses where they claim to create their own items or hand make them not shipping stuff out even when they have tons of help. Or when a customer isn't satisfied or calls them out on something (rather than be honest in the first place) they reply with hateful words or erase comments. No one ever plans for something to go wrong but when it does you're honest about it and that what makes you a great business person and a good human being. Keep working hard you're doing a fantastic job :)

    xo Amber P.
    http://theowlsden.blogspot.com

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    1. youre always so supportive. thanks amber

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  4. Bravo! I'm in love with your honesty and integrity. You guys seem to really love what you do, and it shows. Keep it up! :)

    xoxo,
    Lauren

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  5. *hug* *hug* *hug* It's all good, Beca. Everyone knows you guys are hardworking amazing people. So you have to add a couple turn around days to your expected shipping date, no big deal. People are generally understanding and if they're not, they're those mean psycho people who should be punched anyway.

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  6. oh goodness i hear you. i am the worst at saying yes to everything, even if i KNOW i don't have time or I'll have to really struggle to get it done. I can't even imagine how hard it is when those opportunities you might have to turn down affect your growing business. i hope those few rude customers don't outweigh the people who are stoked to get your glasses!

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    1. thanks for your texts today friend. xoxo

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  7. We missed y'all today at the Flea! I get it though, learning boundaries in work/life is tough but so valuable. Thanks so much for your vulnerability and letting us watch your biz grow. It's truly inspiring!

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    1. Thank you Sara. Next time I'm in Nashville we should get coffee! :)

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  8. Darlin' I love your honestly. Truly. And I love your transparency with business. I need to take a note or two. :) I'm so happy for all your success lately. It's awesome to see hard workers thrive like that.

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    1. Thansks Erin! I appreciate you!

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  9. I ordered a pair of your cat eye, patchwork sunnies from Fab and I absolutely love them! They're even more beautiful than I expected, and I think you should be proud of what a great product you've got. It's obvious that you really care about giving everyone who purchases from you a quality, made-with-care product.

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    1. Thank you Ashley, that means the world to me. I think i wrote this in a sleep deprived just received a really frustrating email kind of state, but I am so glad you love them!
      xoxox
      Beca

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