Mistakes Were Made - A Rough Couple Months November 03 2016
As many of you are aware, the Holiday Prints project didn't come off as seamlessly as we would have hoped. We wanted to write this (very long) post to identify and clarify what went wrong, take responsibility for the issues that occurred and talk about how we are going to change how we do things in the future.
These issues did not only affect us as a company, of course, but also had a great impact on dozens of our customers, and was a source of much frustration, disappointment and stress both to our customers and to members of the Glow Bug team. For all of this we are so sorry, and have worked hard and tried to resolve these issues as best we can for the last couple of months.
The Revival project in 2015 and the Holiday Prints project in 2016 were both run in the same way on our end. We essentially collected orders for certain prints and then made to order those exact diapers. The process was such that once we had the total numbers set of diapers order, we had the fabric woven, printed for the quantity of each print, laminated, cut, sewn and snapped and then shipped to Canada and the US for distribution. Some larger orders were sent directly from China to the clients in North America.
We ran into two problems with the production process and one issue with shipping of the Holiday diapers and we want to explain what happened, acknowledge our fault in it and explain how things will change in the future.
For the two production issues, for some reason some of our lining fabric stock was exposed to dampness and grew mildew and also, one of our sewing teams misaligned the logo labels on the backs of the diapers instead of over the hip and then removed the labels and re-positioned them to the proper place leaving stitching holes in the fabric. Both of these quality issues affected only certain prints. However, we did not discover it until the stock was shipped direct to clients and to Canada and the US. This is a serious failure of quality control and checks on our end where we were rushing our production manager to quickly ship the diapers before the Mid-Autumn Festival (similar to Thanksgiving in China but lasts several days where the entire country goes on holidays and shipping stops) and the proper checks were not done, in order to meet the deadline.
We quickly realized when these issues were discovered, that they were compounded by the fact that it was almost impossible to rectify them immediately because that it was a "print to order" project. Typically when quality checks are done properly and we discover an issue with our regular stock, we can remove the defective diapers and replace them with other non-defective diapers of the same print to be able to ship out stock to North America (printing more of those defective prints the next time we go through a production cycle.) This was impossible with the Holiday "print to order" diapers because in most cases the entire stock that was made for certain prints (including the extras we made just in case) were affected and we were forced to re-print those prints entirely to fulfill the orders with stock that was not affected by mildew/tags or offer extra compensation diapers.
As a company, we have since made an important decision that in the future, we will no longer be doing any made to order projects but rather will be producing diapers that will only be put up for sale once the stock has arrived in North America for distribution. This way, if we do discover any issue whatsoever, we can adjust the stock numbers of what will actually be sold or re-print as necessary before the sale even begins. This will also cut the wait time significantlly, so everyone will be able to get their order within a matter of days, rather than months!
But don't worry! We will be doing another Revival project in 2017! This time with the 2017 Revival project, we will be simply producing a certain number of each of our most popular past prints and selling them individually once they are already in the US/Canada, and once they are gone, that's it!!! We believe this logistics change will result in happier customers, and less overall stress to everyone involved!
The quality problems, were not the only problem we had... Next was the issue with shipping direct from China. Eight shipments of large orders of Holiday diapers that were sent directly from China were lost and as of the beginning of November have not yet been delivered. The reason why we ship the larger orders is again to save time because usually these shipments from China take only a few business days to arrive.
These eight shipments were simply sent too close to the Mid-Autumn Festival to make it out of the country before the shut-down. Our shipping agent in China has informed us that this has affected many of his clients and it made it to the news in China. In the past when there has been a delay or "lost package" that was shipped direct from China we have had a 99% success rate with those packages being delivered within a few weeks however this has not been the case this time around. Because of the quality issues and re-printing we did not immediately have accurate stock numbers of the extra stock available to be able to at least partly re-send these orders. We now know that we also made the mistake of thinking that those packages would show up "any day now" and the issue would be resolved. We were wrong! We did not communicate our plans very well with the eight clients and as a result have greatly disappointed some of our best customers.
In the future, we will not only leave a much longer cushion of time for shipping before any national holiday but will have in place "worst case scenario" plans in the event of packages that become missing so that we can communicate exactly what we will do for any one of our clients where a crisis like this occurs including printing an even larger margin of extra diapers for each print and keeping better records of stock numbers in each of our shipping locations.
Overall, the last couple of months have been very challenging for our company. Although we have grown so much in the last 5 1/2 years and we now have a lot more people on our team, at the end of the day we are all moms working together to run a big business. Sometimes things just don't go as planned, and despite our greatest efforts, hard work and commitment in this case, we failed in providing the level of product and customer service in which we usually take great pride.
To all of you, our loyal fans, friends and customers, we want to say we are very sorry. We are sorry we did not plan everything properly, and more so, we are sorry that we did not deal with the situation in the most effective way once it fully unfolded. We promise you we will not repeat the mistakes we made and we will work harder than ever to deliver you the best products and service in the industry.
Sarah & Neta