Following this week’s trend, I am writing a post other than a Travel Thursday for two reasons:
a) I don’t have anything good to say about travel this week because I haven’t been anywhere interesting lately
b) I do have a lot to say about Boutique Katrin Leblond (the boutique in which I sold my jewelry)
My relationship with the boutique started off as pleasant as could be. I brought in my jewelry on the appointed day and Erin, the manager, selected fifteen pieces to be displayed in the store for sale. She explained that these fifteen seemed most cohesive as a collection. She told me to create tags for them (“out of colorful paper or something similar”) and bring them back the following week. The tags I created were less than beautiful, but they got the point across, and I figured if they weren’t adequate I would be told to use something else.
Just to give you an idea of the timeline, according to my agenda (where I write all of my appointments), my original meeting at Katrin Leblond was Monday, April 25th at 10:30 AM, and I dropped off the tagged earrings the following week – Monday, May 2nd, according to my inventory sheet. My parents came to visit me the weekend of the 14th of May and we went to the store just to see how things were going. It took me a while to locate where my jewelry was hung but I eventually found it hidden behind a big rack. They were quite out-of-the-way and some of them were no longer in pairs. Still, though, I counted them and got 11. Four appeared to have been sold.
I got a little busy and didn’t make any more jewelry until June 9th, and I decided to walk in that morning on the off chance that Erin would be available. As it turns out, she wasn’t working that day, so I called the store the day after and set up an appointment for two and a half weeks later on Tuesday, June 28th. I was a bit put off that I had to wait so long but understood that it was the busy season and so didn’t complain. Two weeks go by and I show up at the store 10am on Tuesday. Erin isn’t there. I wait around for a bit, have the store girl call Erin, but no luck. She leaves my name and number on Erin’s voicemail and says that she will get back to me soon to reschedule the appointment (and perhaps to explain why it was missed in the first place). In the meantime, I check out my jewelry, which seems to be more in disarray than before, and I count them – the same 11 pieces are there. It’s been nearly a month and a half since I walked in with my parents, and not a single piece more of my jewelry has been sold. I’ve had better luck selling them online.
new pieces soon for sale! Sorry for photo quality!
A few days go by, and I still haven’t heard from them. July 2nd, a friend and I are walking to a restaurant two doors down from Katrin Leblond, and I decide to peak my head in just to see if Erin’s around so maybe we can solve this mystery of why she missed the appointment I made two weeks in advance.
Now, just to give you an idea of how I was feeling that day, the day before was July 1st – Canada Day – and I had gone out with a friend to have a few beers (literally about 3, nothing crazy) then headed to the Old Port to watch the fireworks show with 3284932 other people all crowded in to watch literally a 5 minute show. Afterwards we fought the crowd to get a couple of beaver tails and then head on home. I was back and completely sober by about 11:30pm.
Canada Day Fireworks
SO, it was not the spins that woke me around 4am and made me sick all morning. Personally, my bet is on the beaver tail (elephant ear we Americans call it), but it’s also possible I picked something up from one of the hundreds of people packed into such a tight space. I really don’t know, regardless, I was sick and then I had to go to work. I couldn’t keep any food down so I didn’t eat all day. I finished work around 6 and, weak and hungry (to the point where I physically could not raise my voice and sharp noises pained me), I met up with my friend and we headed to the restaurant. That is the condition I was in when I walked in to Katrin Leblond.
I spotted Erin immediately and walked up to her (“a bit brashly,” my friend said), and said outright, “Hi Erin, I think I’d like to pick up my jewelry,” or something to that effect. She followed me up to where my jewelry was displayed. I’ll admit I don’t remember everything that was said, mostly just me saying I’d like to pick up my jewelry and that I didn’t understand why she’d missed the appointment earlier in the week and hadn’t managed to even send me a quick email explaining why. She said something about personal issues, and I insisted on taking my jewelry home. About that time Katrin herself came over and asked what the deal was. I’d teared up a little because I was not feeling good, and I was frustrated with the boutique and not sure what to do. “You seem like you’re getting emotional,” Katrin said.
“I’m sorry,” I said, “I’ve just had a bad day.”
“You think you’ve had a bad day!” Erin chimed in, “I haven’t been at work ALL WEEK! This has been a VERY TOUGH TIME for me!” she practically yelled. She and Katrin then went on a short condescending rant about how hard things have been for them lately. As far as I could tell, I didn’t say anything to deserve such a tone. In fact, I had just apologized! The two of them just yelled at me (literally – their voices were raised) and made me feel like complete shit. My friend said afterward that she wanted to butt in but didn’t feel it was her place, “I was so angry for you!” she said, “You shouldn’t have been the one apologizing!”
Finally, I told Katrin I just wanted to take my jewelry home. She fingered the earrings, which were still in disarray – some mismatched, some missing pairs, “Oh, but they’re so cute! Are you sure you don’t want to leave them a little longer!?”
“Well they don’t seem to be selling,” I said.
“Why don’t you make us some more, then?” Katrin said frivolously, turning her back on me.
“Well I did!” I said, “That’s why I made that appointment two weeks ago for this week!” But I was talking to her back. Katrin was retreating to the back of the store. On the verge of tears, I turned to Erin, “I just want to pick up my jewelry as soon as possible please. Can you email me when they are ready?” She nodded at me, and my friend and I left the store. As we walked out, I realized that neither Katrin nor Erin ever apologized to me or tried to patch things up – or even offered a real explanation for the missed appointment.
A week later, July 9th, I receive an email from Boutique Katrin leBlond titled “because we love you.” This is the first correspondence I’ve received from them since I walked in July 2nd. I look at the title and think, “Oh, wow, how nice. I guess they are finally going to apologize and try to make things right!” I open the email and it’s actually a promotional mass-mailer.
Boutique Katrin Leblond Promotional T-Shirt
The worst part about the mailer was the “deal” they were offering – Buy $500 worth of clothes, receive a Katrin Leblond t-shirt. Sorry, what!? Ok, let’s think about this – I’ve had t-shirts printed before, and I know that, depending on quality and quantity it costs about $5-$10 per shirt. So what you’re saying, Boutique Katrin Leblond, is that you don’t even have the class to offer your customers who spend a whopping half a grand in your store something worth more than 1-2 percent what they spent? And secondly, what are customers who go into a store and drop that much money going to do with a t-shirt?
This ridiculous “deal” that I thought had been an apology coupled with the fact that a week later I still hadn’t heard from them – not even about picking up my jewelry – led me to send them a frustrated email with an ultimatum. Otherwise, I told myself, they were just going to continue walking all over me.
Here is the string of emails that followed, starting with my response to the deal. Emails are here in their entirety. If there are no greetings, etc, that’s how they were sent. I did, however, remove Erin’s last name from her signatures.
Me, July 9th
Erin – Please have my jewelry ready for return as well as my check for what you’ve sold ready by Tuesday at 10:30am. I will be by to pick them up then whether or not you have prepared them, and if you have not prepared my check (or do not have time to) I will select an item in the store worth the amount that you owe me.
See you on Tuesday at 10:30.
Erin, July 10th
NO. It does not work like that. your items will be returned to you. A document must be prepared that records that the return happened so we are not liable for costs. We did not make an arrangement for exchange of goods. I am not supposed to be working today. If a return is prepared and ready on Monday then you will receive an email.
Your life is your most powerful art. See you at the boutique.
Me, July 10th
Erin, I am simply letting you know that I am tired of waiting for you to “get around to it.” I feel I have been mistreated as a supplier to your store – I have felt nothing but bad feelings from you and Katrin (though your staff have been more than apologetic). I was stood up for my appointment that I made TWO WEEKS IN ADVANCE with NO explanation, and when I came into your store to figure out what was going on, you and Katrin verbally attacked and belittled me. I do not intend to take anything from your store, but I feel that this demand is the only way to ensure that I actually get what is owed me and to let you know that I am serious. The earrings do belong to me, and I expect them to be returned Tuesday morning by the latest so that I can return to selling them on my own since it seems I have been more successful than your boutique at getting people to buy them.
I will be by on Tuesday at 10:30.
Erin, July 10th
Clarity. Patience. Understanding
I am sorry you feel “mistreated as a supplier”. That was not anyone`s intention.
Let me be very clear that we did not in any way verbally attack you.
We want to make peace with you and resolve this in a joyous loving way. You are projecting your own misery and commitment to conflict. It is you who is catagorically unwilling to accept that we are trying to make this better.
I don`t feel like you even heard us.
Katrin said your stuff was nice and that if it was not selling fast enough maybe you should bring in other pieces.
I apologized to you for the fact that there was no one to greet you on the date of your appointment. I asked you what you would like me to do about it. You said you wanted to take out your things and I said I would prepare a return.
I told you there had been personal difficulties that had come up that meant you had not been taken care of in the regular manner.
Clearly you would have liked for things to have gone differently. So would have I.
I can`t change that you did not get to have your meeting. You were not the only designer who had a meeting missed during the week in particular. You are however the only one where moving forward has proven difficult. I am trying to deal with things as they are now.
It is absolutely untrue that there have been any ” bad feelings” harbored by Kat or I.
Only that at this point I do consider you to be committed to being accusatory, unable to hear apologies, inflexible in the face of other peoples difficulties, generally defensive and high maintenance and costly to our time.
Reflect on the number of emails, phone calls and meetings required to manage 10 pairs of earrings.
I will not reply to any more e mails regarding this matter. I have apologized. You said you wanted to take back you things. I said I will prepare the return. What else is there for me to do.
You are insisting on a meeting time (tuesday 10:30) that has already been booked by another designer. Please make sure you have received an e mail confirmation before coming by. Do not come by without receiving notification. I will see you when your return is ready. Be prepared for a very short and sweet exchange. If everything is already prepared you should be able to come by and have everything picked up and signed out in 10 minutes.
I understand that might seem funny to you considering you already booked an appointment that was missed but let me say it again that is not standard procedure here. We manage over 75 designers, lots of which are consignment designers. try to see that there is a big picture.
I am trying to move forward smoothly as much as is possible. There is no question that you will get your earrings. Let`s try and end this pleasantly.
Thank you for your understanding.
Good luck with your future projects.
Notice there is still no true apology. And no, she did NOT apologize to me at the store the day I walked in. Not to mention, the emails that you see here (all four of them) as well as four more that were exchanged when I first dropped off my jewelry in early May are all the correspondence we had outside of one appointment (that wasn’t missed) and two times I walked in the store and talked to them. I also spoke to her on the phone once, the day I called to set up an appointment – the appointment she didn’t come to. So, what Erin is saying in her email is that 8 emails – in total, not 8 threads – and one phone call in 2 1/2 months is too much hassle for her. Let’s not mention the time I’ve spent in making the jewelry and in coming to the store, and in hounding her to get things done.
Personally, when I do business I feel that everybody involved – no matter how large or small a part they play – deserves equal respect. Bottom line here is that Boutique Katrin Leblond completely disrespected me. I know that I wasn’t a huge supplier to their store, but if they are mistreating me, I can’t imagine how they treat customers who don’t want to spend $500 every time they drop by. If your business is hurting, Katrin Leblond, maybe you should reexamine how you deal with the small fry.
As a PS, my jewelry will soon be available once again on Etsy.com. You can check it out at the link in the top navigation bar. I’ll write a post as soon as I open it up again!
— edit Aug 7 —
As an addendum, I feel I must mention a few things. First, I wrote this blog as much to give an idea to the store managers how I felt at that time as to have a bit of a mental release from the event. I recognize that it is in the past, and that it’s time for me to let it go, but I recently received another promotional mass-mailer from Katrin Leblond, and it spurred the feelings I had from before.
Second, aside from the one time in the store, I dealt solely with Erin and not Katrin, and even when Katrin spoke to me in the store, she seemed very upset due to – I assume – whatever else was going on in her life at the time.
And finally, I forgot to mention that I did in fact return to the store on the Tuesday I requested to pick up my jewelry (which involved the exchange of 2 more emails I also forgot to mention, but they were formulaic in nature and not worth quoting here). Erin was completely civil to me, and the whole process took about five minutes, as she mentioned in her email that is quoted here.
Please note that I am not trying to boycott Boutique Katrin Leblond or in any way prevent people from shopping there. I am simply trying to recount my encounter with them with as little bias as possible, which is why I posted the emails in their entirety – mine included – and an accurate timeline. Mostly, I hope this post can act as a form of release and closure, and I ask that you, the reader, take it only as such.