It’s not often that I stop to consider the intricacies of the yarn business. I adore yarn. I shop for yarn. I buy yarn.
I’m a happy consumer.
But a couple of issues have arisen lately that have given me pause. Most of you have read (and read) about them. I’ll mention them only to avoid being incomplete.
I’m talking about the Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Issue (is there cashmere in the yarn, and does it comply with what the label states?) and the Tilli Tomas Sarah’s Yarns keystoning issue (keystoning is selling a product at double the wholesale price, and it’s typically — I believe — what the MSRP is).
In both of these cases I’ve tried to approach them the way I would if I was in a work situation — both to try and appreciate both sides of the issue, and even to expand my thinking for problems that could arise at work. I’m in a consulting field and it never hurts to have more perspective.
So this Debbie Bliss issue. I’ve had to deal with issues similar to this at work. Meaning, we deliver something we believe to work a certain way, and then questions or accusations arise about its truth. Fortunately, it’s only happened a couple times, and hasn’t happened for several years now (both times at a previous job).
In both cases, we truly believed we delivered as promised. You could blame some of the issue on inexperience (during the web boom you hired anyone you could find, and you knew if they lasted 6-12 months you were doing well), or a bad/nonexistant QA process (we should have caught it but we didn’t) or bad project/account management (not enough time to do things right, sold the project too cheaply to do things right, etc.).
Whenever this happened, there would be several issues we’d consider:
- Did we do something wrong?
- If we didn’t, communicate it quickly and thoroughly to clear things up.
- If we did something wrong, put a plan in place to fix it, and measures in place to make sure it didn’t happen again.
- Consider what needed to be done to smooth feathers and generally make the client feel good again. Much easier said than done. But like Seth Godin says, it was easy, no one would pay you to do it.
I’ve remained silent on the cashmere question thus far because I suspected the truth was probably somewhere in the middle, that Debbie probably believed things were on the up and up, and that the issue would be rectified.
Ascertations are flying over why this became an issue at all. One theory is that Cascade was upset that KFI released a Cascade 220 direct competitor (Ella Rae Classic) and therefore attempted to debunk their success by bringing this issue to light.
That might be the case. I don’t know. In fact, I don’t even care. Competition gets dirty. It happens all the time in business. To stay competitive you have to stay ahead of the curve. You have to be smart. And if you’re not, you’ll be left behind.
It’s not for everybody, and it shouldn’t be. I’ve been in consulting my whole career, and it’s possible that I’ve become desensitized. A competitor of one of our products lists on their site a comparison chart. While the chart is technically accurate, it leads the consumer into believing that our product is more expensive and offers less features.
Neither is true.
My point here is that competition is just that — competitive. Last year’s greatest-invention-ever will probably make it onto every major manufacturers’ product list next year — or next season, or next quarter, or next month. As quickly as they can possibly make it happen.
Until the issue is truly refuted or verified, I really don’t care how it started.
I was happy to see that Kristine was trying to help clear things up. She posted an open letter from Debbie Bliss and then posted test results on the cashmerino line.
I applaud her for trying to clear this up and move on. The consultant (non-knitter) in me is also looking forward to seeing results that confirm the label is right. Or even, results that show the label is wrong, with a plan to rectify it in the future. In general, I’m hopeful it will be addressed similarly to the bulleted list above. Mistakes happen (even when intentions are very good). And even if there is truth to the issue, it wouldn’t stop me from buying Debbie Bliss in the future (assuming it was fixed).
I’ve heard comments about how soft the yarn is, so why would it matter? I’ll leave you with this — if it didn’t matter, would the manufacturer choose to pay a premium to include it? Would it be half of its name?
Of course it matters.
As for the keystoning issue, I’ll point you to a great article to read. Knit blogger, yarn store worker, and attorney Carol wrote an excellent overview. She gives you the basics of anti-trust (where this issue falls from a legal standpoint) and walks you through several scenarios to help you make your own informed decision.
It’s an excellent article, and one that really made me think. Don’t you just love smart women?
Important Note: I considered turning off comments (which I’ve never done before) because initially I wrote this to get my thinking together and share it. However, I’m looking forward to hearing your comments on it, regardless of your perspective. All I ask is that (to quote Carol) you play nice.