Photo: Shem Pablo
Last Wednesday I went to the Open House of Tala’s preschool. For the first ten minutes, everything was fine. Tala saw four of her former classmates from the Duck class who will also be in her new class. It was also great to talk to parents whom I knew from last year. Of course, I was very glad to know that Tala’s best friend will be in the same class as hers this year! That was such a relief!
Tala’s teachers did a wonderful job coordinating the activities throughout the first ten minutes. Then, after that – the lights in her new classroom flickered! That was the signal from the school Director that she will be delivering a short speech to the parents and the students.
The lights flickered – three times!
On the third time, a man walked in front of the school director, who looked very familiar to me! At first, I thought, “Hmmm…that looks like Jonathan!” But I was trying to convince myself that it could not be him.
Six years ago, before mommyhood – I was in the jewelry business. I was selling tons of kukui nuts (lei) necklaces that were exported from Cebu as well as other handmade natural jewelry. I was an eager entrepreneur trying to break into the market where this trend was just starting. I did cold-calling. I was very aggressive! I went through the yellow phone book and called almost every store to ask whether they want to buy these beautiful, handcrafted and mostly, organic necklaces! They were all very responsive – read: it was new, so they all want to be in the bandwagon and earn money,too!
Then, I got lucky!
I dialed the number of THE biggest supplier of fashion jewelry in New England and the owner’s son picked up the phone, that was Jonathan.
I instantly gave my business pitch and sooner, he invited me to go to his warehouse to show samples of these kukui nuts as well as other designs that I exclusively sell. He liked them – very much! Then, the partnership began. We immediately forged our alliance in the jewelry business and he was giving me great business! He would order, then reorder – and the business kept going.
Yet, when the demand began to increase, the quality of the kukui nuts coming from Cebu deteriorated. That was when he started to inspect every single packaged necklaces! I learned from him how to be perfect – I learned from him, that every single merchandise has to have the best quality. When I say, the BEST quality, every part of the necklace – from the paint and tint of each nut, to the way the knots are tied in between the nuts, then down to the way it was packaged! It was excruciating to see him go through a box of 300 leis with only ten of them good enough to leave his warehouse!
That was painful to see!
I started to get discouraged – because every time he sees a single defect in the necklaces, that means lesser money on my end! But, I pleasantly took on these “criticisms” on my merchandise. I was very glad he was honest on how the necklaces look like. And, I was not going to give up.
I listened to his demands – and his customers’ standards. He has to live up to their company’s mission and vision, which is to deliver only the BEST fashion accessories in the area, and if I was going to continue to do business with him, then I have to learn fast and fix any damages on my products, real quick!
I delivered a few more orders after the demand of these necklaces soar – but I was not able to keep up.
One thing I was glad I did despite all the frustrations I experienced was to continue with my commitment. I did not burn any bridges! I kept up with his expectations…
But, just imagine…
If I burned bridges with him – and did not deliver what was expected – and worst, if I ran away from the orders and didn’t try to get these orders delivered on time, do you think I would have the face to show him six years later?
<Back at Tala’s preschool.>
The Director started to talk and when the lights came on, he gazed on where Tala and I were standing. Then, he shouted, “Hey – Alpha! How’s it going?” Then, he introduced his wife, whose first words were, “You were the kukui nuts supplier, right?”
I felt great knowing that I did not burn any bridges.
I felt really good when we parted and said, “Say hello to Dan for me!”
I waved goodbye and replied, “I will! You’ll see him during drop-off time!”
Don’t burn bridges. You’ll never know when people will come around.
Daily with you,