14 Nov, 2017

A Case for the Makers

We’ve just wrapped another edition of Boutique Fairs for 2017, and what a ride it has been!

The team and I had an absolute ball meeting and sharing more about Mmerci Encore aromatherapy goods with each and every one of you. Thank you for braving the wind, the jams, and the pre-Christmas rush to come support and encourage us! Your presence gives us such good energy.

As with most fairs though, you do get random oddballs who like to test the boundaries.

Some classic liners this time around include:

I’ve visited your stand before. Can I get a discount? 

If I buy two, can I get the second one cheaper? 

Is this your best price? (Honey, it’s the only price). 

And nobody can forget the guest who came over to touch our crystals, mansplain about them and leave us with: “You know, they collect bad energy too.”

Reeeeeeally? After 15 or so years of collecting minerals, I absolutely did not know that crystals are reservoirs and magnets for light and dark energy. I was just collecting them ’cause they’re shiny and I’m a unicorn. Thanks man, for doing what all those crystal guides and textbooks in my house couldn’t do. Thanks for enlightening me and injecting your bad juju on them and walking away.

Takes all kinds doesn’t it?

In the past, I would have been more apologetic. This time – a lot more assured of what it took to get here – I simply said, “No” to requests for discounts. Or nope, knowing me. And here’s why.

  • Everything in life is an exchange of energy. All our goods are handcrafted with a lot of care and intention. Not only is it sourced in small batches, it is blended and bottled, labelled and packaged all entirely by hand by someone who spent years educating herself on this craft. Not someone who just saw a few posts on Pinterests and did a coupla workshops and decided to start up a cute business. It is no vanity project.
  • All our raw materials are paid for in either Euro, USD or AUD. And to make things fair and competitive, enabling as many folks to try our goods as possible, our markup (if you can call it that!) has always been low for the quality, time, and type of glass bottles we use. Yes, there are always cheaper alternatives but we’re going for quality here
  • If you are concerned about our footprint and these raw materials being sourced abroad, please start farms and bring in your cold-pressed/distilling machines, apply and pay for organic cert testing here and we’ll think about buying raw materials from you
  • The majority of our bottles are sourced in Singapore, our sticker labels are made in Singapore, our staff are proudly Singaporean
  • Once you’ve declared the need for a discount, you’ve also decided you don’t value our work. This makes us want to take the said item out of your hands and place it back on the table, for someone else to discover and truly appreciate
  • Importantly, the idea that some entitled people think it’s ok to bargain down a local craftsperson but would never dream of doing this at a doctor’s clinic, fashion label or restaurant whether in Singapore or abroad is appalling. How have you decided that it’s ok to do? Would you go to a cafe and say, “If I order two lobster rolls, can you give me the second one at a cheaper price?” Would you go to a jeweler in New York or Tokyo and say, “I’ve visited before. Can you give me a discount?” Or, “Hey Parisian artist. Last time I bought your sketch, you got discount now?” They’d be like, TF?! And I know, sometimes bargaining is part of the culture. Take Morocco for example where they get insulted if you don’t negotiate (which is why they also have an astronomical opening price when you start bargaining). But this is Not. The. Time. And this is Not. The. Place.
  • Not that it matters, but I’m sure you have had pieces of avocado toast that cost waaaay more than our single note oils or jade rollers.
  • Staring at our products for 10 minutes only to then declare, “I only use Brand XYZ” is like me going to Fendi and telling everyone, “I only wear Comme des Garcons.” Good. For. You. We’re not really sure what to do what that info, but good for you.

Our clients know us to be generous and giving when we can (we have our ways, none of which we publicise!). We never cheap out on people. In fact, we’re like that grandma who always packs food and goodies in your backpack for later.

It’s embarrassing for you, and for us, to have to continue explaining to the 0.5% of people who ask for discounts this. So if you are at a store or a fair, and are tempted to tell the craftsperson what you think their goods are really worth to you via asking for a mark down, please don’t. It’s not cute or endearing. You won’t win points for intelligence. Don’t embarrass yourself. Project humility and worldliness by pretending to appreciate something truly made from the heart.

That old adage about the customers being right is true, to a point. We’re still going to treat you with kindness and respect, but graciousness you have to bring to the table all on your own.

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