This time next week, assuming no further curveballs, this glorious container should be backing up to our warehouse and opening its doors. Doors which should have been opened nearly four months ago. Doors which have been sealed shut for weeks battling through queues in Yangon, sitting piled high in the port in Singapore and getting clogged in the Suez Canal. Doors behind which are thousands of beautiful, individual, handmade products desperate to go to their new homes, and which hundreds of you have been waiting patiently for since October.
Back in July, I wrote about how we, like all small businesses, were learning how to navigate the pandemic, but that really our greatest challenges continued to be home grown. Well Corona has upped the dial since then. In September, Burma went back into full lockdown. Production continued in the smallest, home-run workshops, but had to stop in the larger workshops which were no longer allowed to function. Lots of people went home to their villages and some are still stuck there, the bus network having closed, and air-fares being unaffordable for most. And lots of Kalinko products were left almost finished on workbenches all over the country.
Meanwhile in the UK, our warehouse looked like it had about a months worth of stock left. Two at a push. We desperately needed those products. I get an email at the end of each day telling me which products are running low or out of stock, an email which I used to like as it was rather exciting knowing that everything had been snapped up. But very quickly it became the email ping I now dread. Everything was selling out, and in retail, November is a terrible time to be low on stock!
Lockdown did lift, finishing touches were made, and by late November we were ready to ship. It would be too late for Christmas, but we’d already made peace with that. What we hadn’t seen coming was a bill three times bigger than usual for the freight charge. With air freight volumes right down, ocean freight is completely overloaded, demand is way outstripping supply and the prices have skyrocketed. When you manufacture, ship and sell all of your own products, you bear the brunt of this. And if your business model runs on very tight margins, keeping prices as high as possible for the maker, and as low as feasible for the customer, it’s a full on flying tiger in the ointment.
But the good news is, unless our container is put under hotel quarantine when it arrives next week (“4000 portions of fish and chips to room 301 please…”), all of those little blue ‘sold out’ circles should disappear from our website and our harried goodies can relax in splendour on their squeaky-clean shelves (a happy byproduct of an empty warehouse!).
We are so nearly there! Thank you all so much for sticking with us. And an extra thank you to those of you who were erroneously emailed last week by our over-excited system which jumped the gun on some back-in-stock emails. That was an unfortunate glitch in the matrix, but has been smoothed back into position, ready to spread the correct news next week.
If there’s anything you’re waiting for, make sure you’ve signed up to the back-in-stock alert for it (just below the sold out button). As each item is scanned onto its shelf, it will trigger an email telling you it’s back. The warehouse A-Team are home schooling like everyone else, but they’ll work as quickly as they can to get everything checked in, then will turn around your orders as fast as possible. If you’re in the Kindred Club, you’ll have 24 hours on everyone else, and if you’re not in the Club but want to be by next week, find out how to become a member here.
And once the stock is in, if you see something you want, grab it while it’s there. We make everything in small batches, so they don’t hang around long.
In the meantime, send any questions over to Olivia (firstname.lastname@example.org), and if no questions, picture Sharron and Tracey limbering up for the big unload while they battle through phonics and algebra. And if you, like me, are wondering how on earth you’ll get through the next week without self-combusting from anticipation, watch these instagram stories of the beautiful light from Burma. I tell ya, there’s nothing more soothing.