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Yangon Post

It's our 4th Birthday!

It's our 4th Birthday!

And WHAT an exciting crossroads we’re at.

Just out of interest, I googled “developmental milestones for 4 year olds”. 

It’s scarily accurate:

“If you think your 4-year-old is hard to keep up with, it’s probably because kids develop lots of new skills very quickly this year and with that come lots of new challenges… (hello stock headaches...)

“If you’re spending more on groceries and clothing lately, it’s probably because they’re growing fast… (cooeee cashflow crises...)

“They should be able to put together a simple puzzle and have begun to understand the difference between real and make-believe, but this may still confuse them... (bienvenue running a business in Burma...)

It’s true, we’re growing quickly. And lots has happened since November last year which we didn’t see coming. And I don’t just mean the tantrums.

No business owner (except maybe CEO of Mystic Meg Ltd) would have sat down in their January strategy meeting and said, do you know what guys, I’ve got a feeling we’re heading for a global lockdown this year, which on the face of it means people might stop shopping. OR…maybe people will react by feathering their nests and shopping like crazy. Hard to tell, but let’s quadruple our stock levels now, and prepare for option B, just in case.

Well option B did happen. But we weren’t prepared. You chomped through our warehouse in March, April and May, leaving us with tumbleweed on the shelves in June. You were very patient while our shipment took a thousand years to chugg its way to Southampton (read all about why HERE). Then the moment it hit our little Welsh cave, you gulped down the goodies in no time. Our Rangoon Chairs sold out in 9 hours, our Kids beanbags in 48, and lots of other lines in a few short weeks, leaving Sharron and Tracey once again working out how best to arrange the empty space.

You see, the problem with a business that sells handmade products made on the other side of the world is that it takes about 6 months from ordering a product to having it ready to shop. So our “top-up” shipment that arrived in August had been ordered in February, pre-pandemic, and was way. too. small. We’ve now got an enormous shipment waiting to leave Yangon, but as none of you will be surprised to hear, it’s hugely delayed for ten thousand reasons.

One of the great things about a business that sells handmade products is that people love to give them to each other for Christmas. Makes sense. They’re beautiful, useful and should last for ever (our three rules when developing new products). But this is a little harder for people when you’re rather low on stock.

And the saddest thing for any business is people wanting your things but not being able to have them. We’re desperate to wow new customers with our beautiful products made by incredibly talented people, packed with love by Sharron and Tracey, and delivered with very careful customer service by Olivia. But we can’t do that if you can’t checkout!

Happily, our existing customers (YOU lot!) are proving to be exceptionally loyal, patient and understanding. Somedays, you really knock us off our teak chairs actually. One particularly wonderful couple had been waiting for a Rangoon Chair for months, and when it finally arrived it had a crack down one of its arms. Now these chairs are SUPER solid and made of reclaimed weather-hardened teak, so we are stumped as to how this happened. The only answer we can conjure is that Mr Dpd dropped it on a corner and the arm received the full impact. Anyway, rather than email us in a rage, this couple sent this message:

“We took delivery of our Rangoon Chair yesterday and it sadly arrived damaged. We love it, and would actually like a second, but would love your advice on how to repair the first. It seems to us such a shame and waste to not use the chair, as we love it otherwise, and it’s travelled such a long way to be with us!”

Well that is how to silence an office of addicted people-pleasers. We got straight onto Lin Tin (the magical Chair Maker of Myanmar), who sent us step-by-step instructions on how to mend the crack, including links to the clamps and glue they’d need (…what a guy). The next thing we knew, we were pouring over photos of the triumphantly repaired chair, along with the below of the customer’s grandfather sitting in his very similar chair in Rangoon in 1940.

1940s photo of a Kalinko customer's grandfather in Rangoon

If you could get an OBE for being a wonderful customer and human, these guys would be first in line.

So despite the stock setbacks, thanks to you guys and to our wonderful makers, we’ve had a rollocking year. We launched the Adventure Collection, the Tropical Collection, the Cane Collection and Kalinko Kids. Loads of you became members of our Kindred Club and have been helping us design next year’s products, scooping up free gifts from our favourite partner brands, and winning Kalinko prizes just for being great.

And as we head into our fifth year, we aren’t slowing down. There are tons of fun things on the chalkboard (and literally TONS of products being made, ready to ship in January, March and May).

In the meantime, those of you who were following last year will be excited to hear that the Wonky Sale is back! It’s launching on Wednesday (or Tuesday if you’re in the Kindred Club). Fingers on buzzers….

And if you’re starting to think about Christmas shopping, while we’re out lots of our staples, the good news is we have LOADS of great gifts in stock, so before you order from a giant company, do have a look and see what we’ve got. We really do have something for everyone, including all batty aunts, and every order comes with the knowledge that you have just made a tangible impact on the life of the person that made your things.

If you’re waiting for something to come back into stock, this is our plan: the moment the ship is on the sea, we’ll open for pre-orders. Make sure you click on “Email me when Back in Stock” on the things you’re after, and you’ll get an email when this happens.

We are going to do our VERY BEST to get these things out to you before Christmas, but we are sadly totally at the behest of Yangon’s lockdown and the knock-on effects of that on our shipment. So if we don’t make Christmas, they’ll be with you as soon as we can say HAPPYYY NEW YEAR in 2021.

And while we wait, just so you know we will be hard at work practicing our new 4-year-old skills: jumping with two feet, using door handles and doing log rolls and somersaults. And obviously licking the icing off our birthday cake.

Thank you, THANK YOU for sticking with us.

 

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