The first call came on Thursday morning. My friend (and Kickstarter backer) Amelia told me that the leather strap had fallen off the bag I had just sent her. I told her I’d send another one to her, and asked her to keep the broken bag for me so I could show it to my manufacturer.
Two hours later, when Laurie (another friend and backer – thank goodness for friends!) called to tell me that her bag had fallen apart, I knew I had a big problem. I wasn’t sure how many bags this impacted, which meant that I had to assume all bags had problems.
After thinking about it for a few minutes, I decided I had to email all my Kickstarter backers to let them know about the problem. I took the bags off my Etsy shop. I called my leather manufacturer.
And the calls and emails started to come in – other backers had the same problems with their bags (and they sent me photos to prove it). I felt incredibly sad and disappointed. I didn’t know how to begin resolving these problems.
Part of the reason I launched my Kickstarter project was to help me grow my business by outsourcing all parts of the manufacturing except the printing. That has meant giving up control of some parts of the process. Yet my name is the one on these bags, my customers pay me, and I’m the one who does damage control when things go wrong.
I think the biggest thing I’ve taken away from this is learning to hold other people accountable. So I’m hauling the remaining bags back to my leather manufacturer on Tuesday, so he can inspect and fix every bag. I will replace all damaged bags (I’ll pay the postage), and my manufacturer will fix those, too.
I won’t lie – I’ve felt pretty crappy about all of this. But it’s not unfixable. Bags will be repaired. I’ll survive this. One day, I may even look back on this, and be grateful for a lesson learned early.