I should have said, "No thanks."
While the wholesale price seemed fair, I was completely unaware of the reality of working with a massive corporation. Nonetheless, I dove in with what my husband calls, "reckless abandon." Like all corporations, they involve lots of middle people. Each connected me to websites of videos and documents about how they wanted things done, but no one person could provide all the answers. Like where I was shipping them to, specifically, how to use their bizarre database system to make packing lists... I had to pay one company to make labels, two different kinds and individually mailed. Being a required element of the process, they have no incentive to charge a decent price or even share an envelope, so I paid $19.50 for 40 labels ($10 to ship from LA) and the same amount for 100 labels. These then had to be applied, per their specifications, along with a personal tag (which I strung with emrboidery thread on the 3 hour trip home from Monterey) to each mug.
And then there was the packaging. One of our business philosophies is to tread environmentally as lightly as possible. With islands of plastic clogging the seas, I don't feel comfortable contributing new bubblewrap and polybags to the mess. For this massive packing project, we diverged from the recommended materials and used:
- a roll of foam floor padding
- a swimming pool cover (the thick blue bubble-wrap style)
- foam padding from the dump's Recycle Town (sterilized, naturally)
- a yoga mat
- unused farmer's market produce bags (from our friend, Jason, who used to farm)
- dumpster dived cardboard (from the recylce bins in a business park, of course)
- lots of packing tape
- and friends' and family's collections of bubble-wrap, cardboard and styrofoam...
It took a solid 3 days to pack up all these mugs. Only 140 of them, but they became 10 massive boxes headed to two different locations in Reno (one for distribution to stores, one for distribution online). The livingroom became buried under styrofoam snowfall.
Overall, it was a stressful experience. In the painting, my owls and octopuses did begin to feel jailed. I got more robotic than I was comfortable with, a little too mass production, a little too soul seduction. A lot of time was expended figuring out how to maneuver through their system. And when I was finally ready to wipe my hands of them, the freight pickup man called and insisted that my boxes had to be "palletized and shrink-wrapped". I told him that was impossible as this was a residential location (like I told the operator who took the order) and I don't have pallets. Another operator sent me a regular UPS truck and said I could make the labels online or the driver would have them. But I couldn't fill out the forms online because they wanted to charge me rather than the receiver and when Tom arrived, he laughed that she was clearly "in another state", that he didn't carry labels but was friendly with the UPS shop in town. He called her and she had labels that would work, but I couldn't transport the boxes in my tiny Honda Civic. So we loaded up his truck and he delivered them to her shop for me (saint!). I spent another hour there manually filling out forms and attaching them to boxes.
Back to selling my pottery to humans.. one at a time