Laurie’s hand made ornaments were so successful that she soon found it difficult to keep up with the demand. She decided to send off a handful of her Asian Christmas ornaments to a manufacturer in China to have prototypes made. We waited, anxious to receive the first samples and see how the company would duplicate her work. At last the wait was over. The samples arrived. They were beautiful! A Vietnamese girl dressed in the traditional Ao Dai, a Chinese girl wearing a colorful Cheongsam and holding a fan, a Korean girl in a Hanbok, a Cambodian cutie – there was no end to Laurie’s creativity. Wow – these ornaments were great! Laurie immediately placed an order for 5,000 Christmas ornaments.
I expect at this point readers may be sensing impending doom. How right you are! The shipment arrived. 5,000 ornaments carefully wrapped in bubble wrap. Our family gathered around the table and began slitting tape and unrolling bubble wrap. Mmmmmm….this one doesn’t look like the sample. Uh oh…..this one doesn’t look ANYTHING like the sample! As each ornament was revealed, we were horrified by display after display of sloppy paint jobs, crooked eyes, skin-colored paint that wound up on the outfits and vice versa. It was obvious that their best painters had done the samples and that complete beginners were assigned to complete the big order.
Several frantic emails passed between Laurie and the manufacturer. “Oh yes, no worries. We will replace the entire 5,000 ornaments. In the meantime we thought we would salvage what we had. Hour after hour, we extracted deformed ornaments from bubble wrap and separated them into good ornaments, ornaments that would be ok with the paint touched up, and the rest that would have to be tossed in the trash (which turned out to be the great majority). We laboriously touched up the paint by hand on the “best” ornaments. I even strong-armed my 85-year-old mother into the unwrapping and sorting process! We had already reached the point of exhaustion when the second batch of 5,000 ornaments arrived from China. We had tossed approximately 75% of the first shipment. Imagine our dismay when we discovered that of the new, improved batch we still had to throw out about 50%!
So ends the first sad saga of the early days at Mandy’s Moon. It quickly became evident that we would need to move in different directions and develop products where we would be in charge of quality control.