The Eternal Optimist

One of my aims for 2020 is to improve the visual look of our products. This goal involves a move away from labels to screen-printing directly onto the glass or plastic. We are excited about the change and spent the last few weeks designing artwork. We sent it to our glass supplier and then hit a major stumbling block when they demanded an upfront payment of £25,000. This amount is for eight weeks’ worth of glass.

We don’t have a credit account with them, which has been a conscious decision based on my experience of a previous business going bust. At the time my sandwich factory owed the suppliers a large amount of money, as the company got into trouble, we couldn’t pay, and so unsurprisingly, they stopped supplying us. We closed soon after costing my fifty staff their jobs.

The lesson I learnt through that dark, difficult period was to avoid taking stock on credit. It’s ok when business is good, but when times get hard, and a company is losing money it is too easy to keep ordering from your suppliers without realising that you won’t be able to pay when the invoices fall due.

As Valentte has grown, we have continued the policy of paying upfront for our stock and owning almost everything in the building. This strategy works well when the items we purchase are stock items and can be bought off-the-shelf. It works somewhat less well when the supplier must manufacture something specifically for us, with high minimum orders and long lead times.

So, what to do?

We asked for a credit account which the glass supplier declined. We could have borrowed the money, but why put ourselves in debt. So, in the end, we have decided to use the new artwork on clear labels which will give a similar look and feel to the screen-printed items.

Sure, it’s disappointing, we were all excited about the change, but I remind myself that growth is best when we are truly ready for it.

Running Valentte over the last year has been a pleasure as we have reached a level of financially security, with money in the bank, debt-free and plenty of stock on the shelves. Why put all that at risk and me under financial pressure to make a cosmetic change to our products.

We will know when the time is right to make the change as one of two things will be true, either the supplier will offer us a credit account, or we have enough spare cash in our bank account not to feel the pressure of tying up £25,000 in extra stock.

We live in an age that encourages us to take risks, dream big and have it all today using easy, cheap credit, but sometimes the right decision is to wait until we can afford things. This may be next month, next year or maybe not at all!

By not giving us credit, the supplier is telling us that they are not ready and maybe we are not too. It’s hard to hear that message, but I remind myself that our time will come. I remain as always, the eternal optimist.

Together, we climb the mountain, not in giant leaps but one small step at a time.

Thanks For Reading!

Hi, I’m Luke Bream, the author of this blog, one of the co-founders of Valentte, hillwalker, cyclist, dreamer and an eternal optimist! My writing is focused on learning how we create the life we have always imagined, become the person we have always wanted to be in order to fulfill the dreams and goals we have set ourselves. I believe there is a power within each of us to achieve whatever we commit to mastering. Want to hear more? Read my full story. (coming soon…)

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17 replies on “The Eternal Optimist

  • Johanne Elliott

    Love the posts.
    I love the candle labels, they are easy to read but I understand that you want to push the brand forward. You are right to build the business without debt, slow and steady is always better. Keep doing what you are doing, we love it

    Reply
  • Patricia Pyle

    I truly believe your products are the best I have used. Don’t change! I recently visited South Africa and went to the Delair Graff wine estate. Stunning! The top class winery, art and ambience were the best I’ve ever seen. And of course the loos were fabulous too! You can always judge a place by its loos. The toiletries were so wonderful, a deep, really gorgeous smooth lemon fragrance. I have hunted everywhere for a year to find one of such beautiful quality and fragrance. Well I have found it! Your gorgeous lemongrass and rosemary. I have candles, diffusers and hand cream. It never fails to lift my spirits. The quality is superb and long lasting. So please keep up the very good work. You are the best!

    Reply
  • Catherine Brearley

    I believe that things fall into place when the time is right and the decision to not go with the print on glass is a sound one. Your products speak for themselves and as a customer your fragrances speak are wonderful. My personal favourite is the lemongrass and rosemary, everyone comments on it and I always refer them to your site.

    Reply
  • Daphne Weeks

    Luke,
    When I saw the amount £25,0000 my eyes popped out I agree why put yourself in the firing line if you have gone ahead the outcome would be very painful for you and you have grown with your business we your customers are happy with the way things are as long as it is not too costly for you.
    If I were I would give it time and good thought before embarking on this new adventure you are doing so well these are my thoughts.
    Keep up with the good work you are doing

    Reply
  • Fiona Macadie

    I love your products and I love the good sense you write in your blogs. Always interesting and thought provoking. It is sad that you went through such a difficult period to get to where you are today with a great company running profitably but that experience has given you the knowledge and understanding to take things at the right pace. I hope that many people who are living on credit they really can’t afford take note of your wise words.
    I love your packaging by the way. I really loved the frosted glass diffusers in preference to the clear glass.
    You are an inspiration, Luke. Best wishes

    Reply
  • Gill

    Dear Luke
    Oh how I relate to today’s blog .

    My husband and I run a small engineering company employing a couple of staff and all was going well until the Autumn of 2019 when my husband took seriously ill . My first thought was to close everything down and concentrate on looking after my husband, but then I stood back and thought of the people relying on us to pay their mortgage etc and decided that rather than close down we would tighten our belts, reduce our overheads as far as possible and take a “keep calm and carry on approach” . Our biggest problem is that our customers expect at least 90 days to pay their bills ( and that’s often after it’s taken us a month or two to complete a job) which means we often have to pay our suppliers 6 months before we see any return . It’s really hard being in business and I have lost count of the times I have wanted to give it all up to protect my own sanity .
    £25,000 is an awful lot of money to pay out in one go and for what return? A fancy etched bottle? Surely not worth the worry and stress . VALENTTE products speak for themselves . As a devoted customer I don’t need a fancy bottle I just want the wonderful fragrances I have come to love . I really couldn’t name a favourite although I am currently loving the Lime and Grapefruit in my dining room, The calming effect of White Neroli and Lemon in my lounge and the Lemongrass and Rosemary in my bathrooms .

    I always enjoy reading your blogs. Thank you .
    I can’t quite see the light at the end of the tunnel yet, but I am trying to be optimistic . Keep up the excellent work .

    Reply
  • Lesley GH

    The really important thing about your product is what is inside the container. It is so easy to peel the labels off and reuse the candle glasses for all sorts of things, (flowers, pencils, make up brushes and even drinking out of) which I would not do if they had a logo on them. So personally I am glad that you are not going to screen print. That would make them single use items and they would go to recycling. Clear labels sound much better and keeps your money in the bank.

    Reply
  • Sue

    What an honest and heart felt message. I support you all the way. It is, after all, your quality products that sell, not the packaging.
    Keep up the good work.

    Reply
  • Mrs Karen Ross

    Just to let you know that once I use a product I recycle the jars for my craft work. I personally do not like it when a jar has a label etched on it. I prefer to be able to take it off otherwise I have to cover it. So don’t worry about your latest expensive venture.

    Reply
  • Fran

    Luke, do not waste your hard earned money on new packaging please, £25,000 is a mega amount of money!!! It’s your products we love and I think the present packaging looks sophisticated and classy anyway. To be honest, I just love the product, its an affordable treat and I get such a lift when my parcel arrives. Take care and be grateful that you were declined. Love and hugs. Xx

    Reply
  • Gail Stead

    After reading this today, during these uncertain times, your guardian angel was certainly looking down on you! One month later and we were in lockdown, your £25k would have been locked down as well.
    Everything comes to those who wait and with things as they are, you have been in a position to carry on and support your employees where many have not.
    I loved the original packaging but that’s all it is, packaging, it’s what’s inside that counts and the contents are just fabulous! My husband thinks you put something extra in the Lemongrass and Rosemary diffusers as he has never felt more relaxed..or sleepy.
    Stay positive and keep up the good work – karma will win out. Xx

    Reply
  • Angela Moyle

    Hi
    I would really like to give some feedback from my recent purchase mainly around packaging which I understand is very important to you. I am a crazy candle fanatic so was keen to give your product a try even though I couldn’t test it anywhere first. My first issue was with the quality of the box…. it was a very grey white colour like recycled cardboard – which maybe it was? However I think it spoilt the overall look and feel of the gift and also the black ribbon was a bit wishy washy…. maybe should be a nice bright purple colour like your logo? Also my clear stickers on both candles were all wrinkled and not flat.
    The smell and throw of the candles is good but for value for money quality and packaging wise I would say fine as I got them for £25, but I would be very disappointed if I had paid full price.
    I am only mentioning this as would love to see a new candle company on the market of a good quality with great packaging should one wish to send them as gifts.

    Kind Regards

    Reply

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