Melissa and I are talking, and she seems to genuinely want things to go right. She forwarded me a nice email that explained all that had happened, that I will repost below, and she seems like she just got in a bit over her head, and that she is working on getting back on track.
Hopefully very soon, I will have some pictures of the kidlets in their new Clever Kingdom outfits to post, and believe me, the minute they come in the mail I will!
I have always maintained that I loved the Clever Kingdom product, and I am willing to give the benefit of the doubt, and I can totally understand getting in over your head. So let's hope that this is all behind her now, and Clever Kingdom will be moving forward in a positive direction!
This is Melissa's letter, and I wanted to post it for all to read. This is not an open invitation for more Melissa bashing, if you already left negative comments on my other post, please do not do so again, I have a delete button, and I am not afraid to use it ;)
An open letter regarding clever kingdom!
I began clever kingdom! almost two years ago. It was my dream to partner an adorable clothing line with my strong belief that professional mothers should have options. After holding each of my newborn sons, I knew that going back to work was a torture that I wasn’t ready to endure. I knew I was not alone and so I set out to create another option. Something more.
clever kingdom! began in a spare bedroom with four of my friends acting as consultants – only one of which was brave enough to hit the home party scene. But, because of her efforts, because of the countless hours we all put in, and because of the internet, word got out quickly. In our first 6 months we hit 19 consultants and at our first anniversary we had surpassed 100. Just shy of 18 months, we had signed on over 150 women.
With any start-up there are challenges and hurdles, some much harder to anticipate than others. Have I made mistakes? Yes, there are many things, with hindsight, I wish I’d done differently. Production speeds up and production slows down. Consultants (especially 100+) require many different types of training and support. There is a lot to learn along the way. For the majority of the past two years, I have worn 90% of the hats from design, training, production, and administration -- typically, working 16-18 hour days which, of course, is to be expected. I am definitely not complaining.
And of course, I began this business on a shoestring. Beginning a venture undercapitalized is tough enough, but when it involves other women (I quickly learned) it becomes even more complicated and certainly is, in many ways unfair to them. And this is definitely one of the things I wish I would have realized when first starting out, and absolutely an area that I am constantly focused on improving.
Personally, especially over the last nine months, there have been life circumstances that have made things much more challenging. There has been unexpected illness and hospitalization to close family members (on several occasions) and a cross-country family move. By no means do I believe this removes my accountability. However, these certainly were circumstances that I did not plan on, and they were difficult to navigate through while running a business that was growing exponentially. Thankfully the future allows for maturity, wisdom and hindsight – all offering new ways to handle situations that I can only wish I’d handled better previously.
But there are so many things to be proud of. We have many happy consultants and our business is still growing, thankfully, steadily. I have now been able to place key people into positions creating a stronger infrastructure for the company -- and for the consultants who depend on it. I have a board of business partners that bring many different talents to the table. I am better informed when critical decisions need to be made. This is a far cry from even four months ago when I, for the most part, was doing the majority of work alone. Of course, it is truly exciting to have such a strong team assembled to support clever kingdom! as we continue to gain momentum and altitude.
While I do want to acknowledge, because it would be dead wrong not to deal with this head-on, there is truth in some of the posts: we did have delivery time issues, we have had returns – just as most companies do, we have improved the quality of styles that we had issues with, we did find and begin using a much more reliable and durable production process for embellishing our garments.
I’ll admit, when cash flow has been tight, refunds have taken time, but refunds are (and always will be) made. It ends right there.
There is not a day that goes by that I do not think about the past and take action to make myself and clever kingdom! better. Each day I keep moving forward -- making better choices, aligning myself with better people and bringing this company forward in the manner that all clever kingdom! consultants deserve.
I am a decent human being, a mom, a wife, a business woman who got in over her head. I was blessed with a great idea and have a very special company that has experienced explosive growth. And the truly empowering part is that I have been able to (and will continue to) take from the past to create an even better future for myself and for clever kingdom!
I will continue to do everything I can to make any outstanding wrongs right, and to move this fantastic company --that is at the heart of this-- forward to achieve the dream that we all at one time had, and that I (and so many others) still hold.
In closing, I’d like it clear that I am not here to start an online dialogue. If there is someone reading this that has an issue that needs to be resolved or a concern to be addressed, please contact me directly. It is absolutely my intent to bring reasonable resolution to anyone (at any time) that has an issue with clever kingdom!