One of the challenges of internet retailing is getting across to website visitors the difference in quality between various suppliers of seemingly similar products. Normally the difference is only appreciated at the point when a customer receives their furniture – from that point it becomes clear that you DO get what you pay for. Unfortunately that helps neither the rather disappointed customer, nor retailers like ourselves who charge more, for a higher quality piece of furniture. We missed the sale, the customer receives delivery of a rather underwhelming product often only bearing only a passing resemblance to the picture on the website – a bit like those juicy burger pictures you see when you visit McDonalds or Burger King. Have you ever actually had a burger that firm and juicy?
We made the decision to manufacture the majority of our children’s furniture in our own factory here in England rather than, as it would seem, what most other retailers seems to do and import cheap, inferior quality furniture from overseas. We don’t admit to being the cheapest but we would like to shout from the rooftops that our furniture is extremely well made and, for the price, is far better than any equivalent children’s furniture on the market that we are aware of – we can guarantee it.
Why we are a little bit different.
1) Being made to order means that we can give you almost unlimited choice, be it size, colour or design. We offer countless options on our site, but if you still can’t find your dream combination, then call us and we’ll make it!
2) We GUARANTEE our products for quality – not only in the materials that we use and how we construct them but the durable painted finish that we apply as well.
3) Because we make it – it’s never out of stock and our lead times from order to delivery are consistent and relatively short.
Of course, when it comes to making your decision to purchase your son or daughter’s furniture there are a number of factors to consider and price will obviously be one that is high on the list. Here’s our advice:
Our Advice – learnt the (very) hard way.
The old adage “pay less and pay twice” is advice worth heeding particularly in the world of children’s furniture where being scuffed, pulled and jumped on is an everyday occurrence. Ok, we’ll let you into a little secret here, but a long time ago before we decided to follow our heart and make our furniture in the UK we also made the mistake of trying to get it made overseas.
Tears, tantrums & laughter – the birth of our beliefs.
The following is a cautionary tale of that experience that produced tears (plenty) and tantrums (ongoing), laughs (most usually turn into tears!) and divorces (okay not quite but nearly!) however at the time all we could think of was what could possibly go wrong?
It all started with that simple idea (don’t they always) – a design for a range of children’s furniture – what could be simpler than that? Not just any design of course, a design that would sell in its thousands, a design that would be papped and gossiped amongst the veritable celebrity throng and tweeted and youtubed via the masses. Yummy mummy’s from around the world would flock to sign up to Lucy Willow and Beyonce’s little bundle of joy, Blue Ivy, would be top of the waiting list for her new and exclusive Little Lucy Willow bedroom set. Making us, of course, rich beyond our wildest dreams along the way…..”Simples”, this is too easy to be true.
First of all we needed to get it made. Where shall we get it made? who shall we get to make it? I know, let’s do what nearly everybody else does – find a cheap manufacturer overseas (I’m not as stupid as I might seem, more profit margin you see!). At this point I turned to my husband “Do you know anybody?” a pause “Umm, no”, “Do you know anybody who knows anybody who makes furniture overseas?” another pause “Ummm, no!”. Well it can’t be that hard can it? Armed with Internet and mobile my search began. Where does everybody else get theirs made I wondered?…cue Google search [furniture manufacturers in China]. Okay, this is the bit where you need to talk amongst yourselves for a while because after weeks of searches/emails and telephone calls the best of which was “we promise best quality Mrs Juicy Pillow”!! It was apparent that they were all as good as each other. Okay we need to make a decision, we needed to choose one and get some samples made. Twelve weeks later our first sample batch arrives – the excitement I can’t tell you. Needless to say that there was a little bit of wee when the delivery man knocked on our door! First box…a broken leg! Oh well, these things happen. Second box…. broken corner and leg. Third box…a piece of furniture that did not even resemble what we had asked them to produce. Cue the tears (many) and tantrums (ongoing), perhaps we need a different supplier I thought!
It’s amazing who knows somebody who knows somebody when you ask around. It should be two degrees of separation rather than six! Of course not only do they know someone but he is the best in his field, an expert who needs no introduction but someone who sits head and shoulders above his peers with a reverence only the Dalai Lama could aspire! So convinced were we by ‘the man who knew somebody’ we didn’t even bother with samples and delivery was promised in 20 weeks.
No news and 20 weeks later we were let’s just say anxious. Thankfully our customers who had placed deposits were patient. A few frantic phone calls and emails revealed that there was indeed a delay. Apparently the ship left China on time but had to go via Australia first and this will cause a slight delay! When it was finally due to dock in Dover (28 weeks later!!) the weather was so bad the ship had to divert back to Belgium! When it did arrive back in the UK 10 days later and was unloaded, some nice young fellows with hoods decided to dig up part of the railway track for a laugh? This final leg of the journey caused a further weeks delay. One might feel that these are all genuine and acceptable reasons however you try explaining this to customers who, let’s just say, by this stage are now not quite being so patient. My reply was always a professional calm and reassuring “please don’t fret, it will all be worth the wait I promise”. Cue more tears.
Ahaaa, finally!…to see a 40ft container arrive for the first time produces a lot more than wee I can tell you. Firstly, its way bigger than you expect…. secondly, how to get into it?! “You need bolt cutters love” said the driver. “Oh really? nobody said”. Eventually we found someone who knew someone who happened to know someone who had bolt cutters. Finally, we were in. Drum roll please….first box….not too bad but the finishing was not very good. Now here goes my way of thinking ‘First off means that this was the last one to be loaded so they may have rushed the finishing to get it loaded in time’ (always half full you see!). Second box… finishing is slightly worse, third box… slightly worse again….fourth….fifth……48th box was but a mere crumpled heap of wood. Cue more tears (plenty) and tantrums (ongoing). Oh ‘Jucy Pillow’ will you never learn your lesson I blubbed….cue near first divorce!
Can we go through all that again? No!
In a way, despite this experience being painful both mentally and financially, it was good thing to have happened as it focused the mind and ultimately led to our decision to invest in our own UK furniture manufacturing facility. We are immensely proud of what we make and delight in the knowledge that we not only producing quality children’s furniture but quality British Made furniture.