The time has finally come for our store to reopen. As many of you know, it has been quite a whirlwind over here since our last sale back in March. I wanted to write this to help you know what you can expect from us going forward. There have been many changes to our business this year, and with 2020 being what it is, the first few changes honestly feel like several years ago! With that said, I’ll give you a bit of a refresher before I explain our decisions about the store.
In January, we moved away from our subscription box model of four years and decided to focus entirely on the store. The idea was to be able to create new pieces without constraints on time, budget, etc. and add them to our existing store inventory, which was being run by our friend and customer service rep, Michelle, from her home in Texas. We had some trial and error through January on how we wanted to go about introducing the new inventory and ultimately, our plan didn’t work. This was mainly due to the fact that our pre-orders were being filled at our house, two states away from the rest of our inventory. In February, we had just decided to step back on the new inventory and regroup when Michelle told us that she could no longer handle store fulfillment. This meant we either had to take the inventory back home to Mississippi, or get rid of it. We had no place in our home to store any of it, so we agreed collectively that the best thing for us to do would be to sell it all off and start fresh. While we continued to keep the store live for pre-orders of the ReCovered collections we were offering, we began a series of sales that were meant to last until we ran out of stock completely. Life, however, decided to send us another complication: a global pandemic. By the time our final sale hit in March, we and Michelle both had our kids home with us full time without the ability to pawn them off on grandparents or friends when we needed to get some work done. We were on full lockdown. The sale was going incredibly well, but Michelle quickly became overwhelmed by the amount of orders and fell behind. She was 21 days behind on orders by the time Josh was able to leave the house and drive to Texas to help her. So we paused the sale with the intention of turning it back on once he helped her catch up. They split the orders, Michelle taking a certain amount to fulfill and Josh bringing home all the remaining inventory. We were unprepared for how much Inventory actually remained. My parents had returned to their home in Missouri, so we set everything up in their kitchen/dining room in their home here. We spent the entire day, every day, catching up on order fulfillment until everything was out the door. This was the point in which we had planned to start the sale back up. But as you know, that didn’t happen.
We were standing in my parents’ kitchen, looking around at piles of inventory stacked on every available surface, and we asked ourselves why exactly we were doing away with all of the beautiful artwork. We realized that once we made the products available as individual items at great prices, people were buying them. So we made the decision to cancel the rest of the sale and rework the store from the ground up. While many of you followed along as we packed and shipped the ReCovered collections over the course of the next few months, what you didn’t see was all the hours of work we were putting in to make sure everything was in place to reopen the store properly. We had to decide whether to lease an office and hire local workers to fulfill for ourselves, or to give up a bit of control and let an outside company handle our fulfillment. Ultimately, we chose the fulfillment center for two reasons. First, that it would mean that once we were past the initial prep, I will be freed up to spend most of my time on creating new designs, coming up with new products, etc. Second, no matter how busy we get with orders, a team can be brought in to handle it and we won’t have massive shipping delays.
Once that was decided, we had to count every single item of inventory and categorize it, give it a new name and SKU, decide whether it was coming back or would sell through and be done, and prep it for sending to the fulfillment center. Having figured out what items we needed to restock, we took the giant step of reordering all of the low-stock inventory. It was a lot. This meant that after filling boxes all day, I was prepping and sorting files, then uploading and reordering inventory at night. And Josh, meanwhile, was building out the new website, coordinating with fulfillment, hiring and training two new employees (Sara, in customer service and Trish, in design and marketing). It has been both exciting and exhausting.
So now we are here. We are still only a team of three when it comes to the physical job of prepping inventory. Xuan, Josh, and I have made sure that at least a portion of all the inventory is at the fulfillment center with the exception of the prints and shirts. The prints are being rolled here in house before being sent to fulfillment. This will continue to be the case with any new inventory brought in (as well as the initial quality control and prep for fulfillment). There was a delay in some of the materials we needed for the prints, so while the initial batch is done, prints won’t be live until we can get them sent to and sorted at the fulfillment center, which is next week.
As far as shirts go, the first few designs will be launched before the end of September. We have moved to just one style of shirt, Unisex Fitted Tri-Blend. It's the softest shirt you can buy, and the most universal fit. If you've worn a Loose Fit in the past, we recommend one size up. If you've worn a Women's Fit, we recommend one size down. And remember, we offer free return shipping. So if it doesn't work, we're happy to exchange it for a different size.
One more exciting piece of news is that we have FINALLY figured out a shipping service that makes international shipping WAY more affordable than ever before. Orders under 8oz will ship for just $7 anywhere in the world. And orders between 8oz and 16oz will be only be $10. About 90% of our orders fall in these weight brackets. Shipping on orders with multiple shirts or bag will be higher, but still much less than before.
We are so excited to be back open and can't wait for what the future holds!