Saturday, February 5, 2011

Shipping Nightmares

Have you wondered what we are up to?

Admittedly, our shelves are getting a bit bare. (But we still have some great stuff. Check it out!) And perhaps you have been wondering if we at SHONA have simply decided to take an extended vacation.

Perhaps we are on a beach somewhere?

But no, the ladies sewing machines are still whirling and have been for quite some time. And I am still here, in New York, teaching ESL and keeping up with SHONA from this end.

For the past 4-5 months we have been working on a wholesale order for a fair trade website (more on them soon!) They ordered hundreds of skirts, dresses and tote bags. WOW. We're small and to us that is a plenty big order.

It has been quite an adventure, our foray into this type of wholesale order. Fortunately our customer is extremely wonderful, and has bent over backwards to work with us. And the sewing has gone along fine, it is all the other logistics that are slightly nerve wracking. Ok, very nerve-wracking. Our order is finally finished and in transit.

Which could be a good thing.

Or a bad thing.

We ship from Congo to the US through the international arm of the US priority mail. We've been using them for years and we haven't had any problems. But of course the problems start now.

You remember that bomb scare on the passenger plane in November? After that, the US put in increased regulations covering all packages coming into the US by air. That's us. I don't even know how one would go about shipping a package from Congo by boat, but I have the distinct impression it would be difficult. So we count on airplanes to carry our packages to the US.

And our packages appear to be sitting around, somewhere between here and there, waiting for clearance to board a plane and enter the US. Or perhaps at this point they are waiting in line at customs in the US. That would be nice.

But the most nerve-wracking thing is that we just don't know exactly where the packages are.

The tracking numbers from Congo don't work. They never have with any of our packages. I've been on the phone with the boss in Congo, who generously called Europe to try and locate our packages. He assures me that our packages boarded a plane from Europe to the US last week and are probably stuck at customs now.

But then again, what would he say if they had lost our packages? Or if someone had eaten them? Probably the same thing. We have found this shipping service to be extremely reliable and professional and they have never yet disappeared one of our packages. And we can see in many online forums that many, many people who are trying to ship by air into the US are experiencing the same delay as us with the US postal service. So we are somewhat comforted.

But in the end, shipping from Congo to the US has always seemed somewhat miraculous to us. There are indeed so many things that could go wrong.

So please keep us in your thoughts and prayers as we (very!) anxiously await our packages, which contain not only our wholesale order, but also our new stock for our online store. And keep in mind that as we hold our breath and wait for this wholesale order to finally be finished (and paid) it is your purchases that keep us going. We're sorry we don't have more on our shelves. It's not because we haven't been working, or because we have forgotten our faithful customers. And in fact come check us out. There is still plenty on our shelves, and small donations to help us buy cloth are always very welcome as well. It is each little purchase and donation, that keep us going. Truly.

What we do is small but it is extremely real to the craftswomen and their families. Thank you for your support!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I feel your pain... it's always a bad day when the shipping services mess up! Nice picture of clothing though, thanks for posting that!