Learning from my biggest business blunder | Mama Jewels

You’re probably wondering why I would want to admit to making such a business blunder, especially because I felt like such an idiot and was so embarrassed at my own naivety, but I’m hoping that others who are starting up may benefit from my mistake.

my biggest business blunder

Back in late 2010, my business was in its infancy, I was so new to everything involved in business admin and I guess just got excited when a design I’d created started to gain traction and more people wanted to buy than I had stock for.

I had an issue with buying some of the components in the UK, I just couldn’t get enough stock and so I started to look for suppliers online, spending hours researching and looking for as near to what I was using as possible.

I exhausted the UK and started to look through various online portals that sold products ( by acting as an agent) for India. China and various other countries worldwide. After quite a few liaisons, checking of images and agreeing on colours, I settled upon a supplier in China with quite a large MOQ and probably shaking as I did it, placed the order.

To set a little bit of context, I was not taking a wage, had been made redundant 6 months previously and although I had huge plans for the business, I was crippled with start-up costs, tired, looking after two small children and we were surviving on one wage when we had been used to two. Stressful doesn’t quite cut it, but sales were increasing and now I’d found a great new supplier who would solve my stock issue!

I guess it was about three weeks later when the parcels arrived and I was so excited to open them and get cracking, making and selling and really looking forward to not having to hold back on promoting. Elizabeth and I ripped open the boxes, not even trying to contain our excitement, the pendants spilt out onto the floor of our workshop and that’s when I saw the problem, the grey colour we had ordered has a tiny scratch within the acrylic. I checked them one after another after another, hoping beyond hope that there would at least be some that were perfect. It was then I realised the issue must have been with the mould, as every single pendant had the exact same fault. We then hurriedly ripped open the boxes of the other colours to see if they were ok, but the problem existed with them too!

Emotional young woman after making mistake during work with laptop in office

I literally wanted to cry! (I’m pretty sure I did cry, but it’s 11 years ago and I’ve probably buried the trauma) But I thought well ok, I’ll contact the supplier and at least get them returned and get my money back. I was fuming inside, and so angry with myself that I hadn’t got them to send me a sample before ordering in a larger quantity. But I was more angry that they hadn’t checked them for quality before sending. When I contacted the supplier and explained the problem, they simply said ‘we don’t accept returns’, but we can offer you a discount. A discount, what bullshit!! They were absolutely useless to me, they were terrible quality and there was no way I was going to send out second rate quality jewellery to my customers and so they were an absolute waste of money – a double blow at a time when I really didn’t have any money!

I did get the pathetic discount and after investigation with my online networking group realised that at the time Chinese suppliers very rarely if ever have anything returned, I just had no idea and felt so embarrassed and disappointed in myself that I’d taken an image on the internet as a guarantee without first ordering a sample. I was just so naive and trusting and really couldn’t believe that they would send out such trash! There was no way my customers would receive such poor quality.

Learn from your mistakes and used memo sticks.

I can tell you I have never made this mistake again and never will!

I ended up donating the lot to a local charity that uses craft materials in schools and Youth clubs and so at least they were of some use to them, but it was a hard lesson in the early days of Mama Jewels, one which toughened me up, sharpened my senses and realised that you really cannot trust images on the internet.

These days I’m much wiser, not perfect, but knocked into shape by such an expensive error.