MADE TO ORDER UPDATE etc...
So let's talk about Made to Orders. There's a lot here so I'll try to tackle it bit by bit. It's possible you'll think this is too personal for a "company" but I have always preferred to be very transparent with our company goings on. We're not a huge company so I have the luxury of speaking to my customers from a personal place when I deem it necessary, and I think it's actually past time, but more on that later. If you just want the TLDR skip the first 6 paragraphs.
This year has been absolutely insane. I am not the only small business out there to be affected by the COVID shop from home boom, and I am not the only shop to be unprepared for the demand at the scale that we have experienced. We started the year doing drops of 50 toys and are now doing drops of 250 toys. Each step of the way we had to re-do some sort of system, trying to make more room in an already small space. We had people in and out helping and we had to train each of them. Some of them only stayed a little while. But the demand kept rising, so we kept growing our business because it was incredible.
We had issues on issues with shipping. More than I've ever seen in our 3.5 years open. We moved from Etsy, which was a whole new system of everything. We built the website ourselves (when I say ourselves, I refer to ShopDad and me) and had to learn an entirely new platform and shipping procedure. We discovered a massive issue with our molds and had to remake literally hundreds of them. We discovered issues with our master models after just one or two molds being made from them. Supply chains were totally messed up, sometimes waiting months for certain supplies we were used to using everyday.
Now, on top of all that, we are in the middle of a global pandemic which I don't have to expand on because we've all been living it for the past 9 months. You may be asking "What does all this have to do with MTOs?" but the whole story is important.
October was bananas. We worked 60 or more hours every week because Halloween is always a busy time for our business. We never really had time to sit and plan anything beyond -Ok here's a vague idea and we're going to bust our butts to make it happen- and this is what happened with MTOs. November we were casting every single day for Black Friday. And it's not just casting, it's trimming, washing, photographing, inspecting, bagging. And maybe a mold blows up. And maybe your pet is sick, or your parents need you to bring their groceries because they can't go out. And maybe someone is just a little tired and something slips through the cracks.
So you say to your business partner -Hey, I've got a list of colors that I KNOW I can cast so lets offer MTOs since our customers have been so awesome and I know there's stuff they want but can't always get because drop shopping does suck but that's the system we have and there's not much we can do about it right now so hey, MTOs as a little treat- and he looks at you like -Ummm that's a lot of work, and too many colors, are you sure?- and you're just working 12 hours a day and chugging along in your foolish non neurotypical optimism and inability to recognize how long things take so you say -Sure!! I got THIS!- and that brings us to December.
We went straight from BF shipping (which was a nightmare in itself due to unprecedented USPS issues) to casting MTOs. Then one of our shop goblins disappeared. And Starr had to take paternity leave. And ShopDad had a ton of end of year stuff to wrap up at their other full time job. I tried my best to keep people updated on the things that were outside of my control. I worked 12-14 hours a day because I felt that it was my duty to get these things out on time. Not just to get them out, but to make them properly and give y'all my best. But I overestimated my ability to recall 16 colors, and make 279 unique toys 100% to spec in 6 weeks time. I sat down to write an update on these things several times, but I just kept putting it off because I was overwhelmed. Combine that with being a small business owner who has a laundry list of end of year tasks, and the holidays, here we are.
Some of the casts got approved that absolutely shouldn't have gotten through. A lot of these were Cosmic Crystalline. This is a color I know like the back of my hand, I have it on my desk because it's my favorite thing I've ever made. But the photos I chose were a bit too optimistic, they were the best case scenario, not accounting for how Soft likes to mix because it's more liquid-y than Medium, how color sinks when it's cold, or how no matter how many times you pour a cup the same way with the same stuff, it is a liquid medium and does what it wants.
I do sincerely apologize to anyone who felt like the didn't receive my best. I took on too much and despite my strongest efforts some folks are disappointed. I don't expect anyone to feel sorry for me. Don't feel bad for emailing me if you're not satisfied. We are still 100% committed to making our customers happy, but if I don't know that you're upset with your order, I can't help. If I can ask anything at all, I ask that you contact me directly, and let me try to make it right.
All that aside here's the general update on MTOs:
- Combined shipping is no longer possible. If you asked me for it and I said I would, I apologize but I have had to adjust my procedures and just have to get them shipped when they're done. I will refund shipping on any orders who asked that they be combined. Just send me an email to remind me.
- We are having a ton of issues with our Small Merfolk. We discovered an issue in our original master model and had to make a new master, and after 6 failed molds on the new master are making yet another. THIS is the only one that might push past 6 weeks. If you don't want to wait, email me and I'll cancel your order and refund immediately.
- We realize that the coupon codes on the bottom of our packing slips were basically useless since we haven't been able to have a drop. If you got a coupon code in the months of November-December and want to use it next year, send me an email and I'll make sure you get an updated code.
- You'll note we have a new sticker on our bags which was made specifically for MTOs. This is because we sent no photos so we felt it would be best to open up temporary refunds upon return if someone was very unhappy with their order. As far as the returned items go, we want to be absolutely transparent that we have NO PLANS for them other than to leave them in the box and deal with them next year. We're not planning to resell them in any fashion.
- We have a small list of things that need to be recast because the toys were flopped, either due to pieces of silicone we didn't see before we cast into the molds, or finding issues with the molds. These are still on track to go out on time.
- Lastly, if you're still waiting on Muted Metallics or Drips, we have the majority of these completed but need to inspect, trim, wash, and bag them. We expect to have them entirely complete by mid week so we can do the rest toward the end of the week and ship out the majority of our remaining unfulfilled orders by Saturday or Monday.
To close this huge book, I appreciate y'all endlessly and I am sorry things panned out this way. It's been a wild year but this community has made it a little brighter and I look forward to what 2021 brings.