Hello! What a year.
Corona is still here and we’re all adjusting to the new normal. MGFT included. Seems like I was just writing up our report card from last year and now…another year has passed. I am proud of our achievements this year and the leaps we have made. Without further delay, let me report on important statistics and events for this year.
In Q4, we greatly scaled the business side of MGFT and launched Lionel. Despite this surge in growth, I am immensely proud of the below statistics because you can see that despite growth, we have maintained our extremely low incidence rate.
- No, of incidents on authenticity: ZERO (no change from last year unsurprisingly)
- No. of (handbag) packages lost or incorrectly shipped: ZERO
- No. of accessory packages lost or incorrectly shipped: FIVE of which only TWO were actually “lost packages”
- No. of general handbag “incidents” or “complaints”: FIVE (see below)
Incidents/Complaints to Note
- Peeling of internal lining with WOC - this issue arose from a customer complaining to us that the internal wear and tear of their WOC was decomposing. In this case, this was a type of wear and tear that our shipping team was not familiar with so thought it was just dusty when the bag first arrived into our office. After having cleaned it, I (G-daughter here) generally film etc and given this takes a while for the decomposure to start, it was evident that the lining was actually decomposing so was not disclosed. I think if you aren’t familiar with handling of vintage bags (like our shipping staff) it is easy to mistake this for just a very dusty bag. We handled this by a refund and also of course now the logistics team understands this isn’t just dust per se but a unique type of wear and tear.
- Second incident is actually very similar to the above, but to a far lesser extent. Handled similarly, we offered a partial refund. The main reason for an incident like this repeating itself is because we have a short lead time between pulling our bags out of an inventory to filming to final point of sale (all different locations). This type of wear requires time in order for it to develop and shed, so it is unfortunately very difficult to catch.
- The third incident is very similar to last year and I think going forward we should expect 1-2 similar complaints every year. Again this is really more of a technological limitation than an actual valid complaint. Light colored bags are inherently difficult to film and I think we do our absolute best to describe colors of handbags so this customer wasn’t really compensated (certainly not refunded). We assisted with finding her a new buyer but that was the extent of our handling.
- The fourth incident related to the inadequate disclosure of certain points of wear and tear in handbags: this customer pointed out there were issues in the secret back pocket and deep corners of the handbag which was not disclosed. We considered this again, not a valid complaint because these are old handbags and we need to always be reasonable as to what can or cannot be disclosed. This resulted in refinement of our house policies on this matter to prevent any de minimis complaints as a means to refund a handbag.
- The fifth incident was one that recently occurred very recently which actually wasn’t a customer-driven incident - we didn’t manage to pick out that a handbag had been recolored until AFTER having sold the handbag. Normally we declare which handbags are partly or fully colored/added pigment but there were not enough red flags for us to catch this coloring. It wasn’t until I felt that the bag was a bit dry and could use some moisturiser did we realise it was a full on coloring. We then notified our customer ASAP and advised her that she should NOT continue with such purchase. We offered her several options such as upgrading to another color, an exchange with the same model or a full refund. I think incidents like these are learning moments where you can see just how difficult it is to be precise and accurate. More so why this business needs to be run with some sort of ethics and backbone as we could have very easily saved ourselves the hassle.
Overall, A+ for the team wouldn’t you say?
Other Major Changes
In Q2 of this year, we birthed our Singapore business. We are now a duo-island incorporated bag business. Yes, that’s right - we have two businesses! I’ve always felt that Singapore was an island after my own heart (quite literally as half of the team is actually Singaporean!!) so it made complete sense to go to where a lot of our customers were. From the very early days of MGFT, our Singapore customers have been our cheerleaders and I wanted to create a more seamless and localised MGFT experience for my fellow islanders. Hello Singapore!
As many of you know, I decided to bring in two more friends into the MGFT team. Sunny Islander was brought on in August and has been instrumental in helping us strengthen our MGFT SG community - from teaching me Singlish to just assisting with a lot of the logistics. I know some of you have met Sunny Islander and find her incredibly helpful and approachable. Islanders - if you have any questions, feel free to message/DM/email her! Thank you so much Sunny Islander!
Our second hire was Snow Angel who is based in North America (east coast.... somewhere cold?) She was brought on to help with questions while I was sleeping. With her assistance, we are able to provide round the clock assistance and some great pictures of snow! In the future she will also be working towards some community management in her own locale. Thank you Snow Angel for being reliable and helpful and allowing me to sleep!
Our third hire was Meredith, my small milk tea caviar beige Diana! She is our latest model and face of MGFT and has been put on a very strict diet to ensure she keeps her svelte figure!
The final major change was of course the launch of Lionel! We worked with a completely new business partner to bring this vision to life - this partner specialises actually in luggages, they don't know a thing about handbags! I don’t know if you’ve had the experience to create an actual product, from draft to physical prototype before, but I can tell you it was an eye-opening experience. We will also be working with them to create and expand our accessory line so I will continue to foster this slow but strong relationship.
MGFT Goals for 2022
This year, the goals I've set for MGFT are the following:
- Create and launch another bag accessory
- Grow our accessory instagram page (organically!)
- Hold a pop-up!
- Harmonise our packaging in Singapore with our global packaging
I think these are doable and I hope to hold myself accountable (I like to read my own blog posts to see what nonsense I've promised myself and luckily I did hit our goals from last year).
From Side Hustle to Small Business Owner
As a personal update, since so many of you are so personally invested in the success of MGFT, I should formally announce that towards the end of this year, I decided to make the insanely crazy leap from full-time crazy working professional to full-time crazy vintage handbag dealer. Many of you know that I have labored on this side hustle for over 4 years trying to “balance” but often just failing. Despite not having ANY business experience or any business degree, this year I finally decided to turn “pro”.
I’m still growing into these shoes of being a “business owner” so give me some time to mature before I share the full business journey with you. The fact that I have been able to support myself by selling just vintage handbags is a bit insane. Being a “pro” is also a testament to the strength of the MGFT community support and a good indication of my professional skill set as dealer and authenticator in this area. You really can't make it in this business if you don't (a) know your stuff and (b) do things ethically and fairly!
I should also add that I am extremely grateful and appreciative for all of your support and trust without which, NONE of this would be ever possible. Truly. I never meant for this space to be business let alone something that I would run full time and now...here we are? I am grateful for the opportunity to explore this new side of myself - being entrepreneurial and creative!
The world is for the brave - I'm not sure what and where I want to go with this but let's run with it for now.
So to round off this blog post, I just wanted to say thank you again. My customers, followers, friends and family who have supported this little business - it feels like you’re actually just supporting me, as a person! MGFT feels like home to me and I’m glad you’ve found a home here as well.