After a few negative comments we've received on Twitter we wanted to explain in a completely transparent way what we're about at Coconut Lane and respond to some of the comments:
You work with so many bloggers, it affects your credibility!
When Jess and I started Coconut Lane, our mission was to create a community of bloggers around our brand - our Coconut Queens. I have some personal experience of blogging and I know how frustrating it can be to be discriminated against on the basis of the number of followers you have. This is why we are open to working with everyone. We don't say yes to everyone who applies to be a Coconut Queen if we think that they are not a good fit with the brand (e.g. I kid you not we once had a gardening blogger apply who said they liked our 'garden ornaments') but we would never say no to anyone on the basis of being too small. Everyone has to start somewhere and we're about supporting bloggers, not ignoring them.
The Coconut Queen Scheme takes advantage of small bloggers!
This could not be further from the truth and is so upsetting to read. We are so so proud of the scheme we have come up with and 99% of Coconut Queens have personally informed us that they are absolutely thrilled to be a part of it. We have worked to develop a scheme that has so many benefits for bloggers. We want to give back to all the bloggers who help promote us and in turn, help them develop and grow in the blogging world. The benefits include - Website Features (e.g. The Blogger Spotlight), Social Media Features, Hosting #sassybloggers Chat, Unlimited Discount on our products (not just for promotional purposes), Exclusive Giveaways, your chance to design products for our website, and so so many more. I completely understand that individuals who are not Coconut Queens will not know these benefits as you will not have read our brochure but if you would like to know the benefits in full please drop me an email on email@example.com.
Being a Coconut Queen invites you into a close knit community which is about SO much more than just Coconut Lane. Our Queens are a bunch of gorgeous super sassy gals who can interact and get to know one another. In fact, we're in the process of organising our first Coconut Queen Meet-up - exciting times!
But it's ridiculous that bloggers have to pay for their products!
Now this gets a bit deeper... Jess and I set up Coconut Lane as two 23-year-old girls - new to the world of business. We had no investment and used our savings to start everything whilst simultaneously working other jobs to support ourselves. As I'm sure you understand, this means our budget could not really be any lower. We had to buy our stock in extremely small quantities as we could never really afford to spend a lot of money in one go. The idea of sending out gifts to bloggers was something we could never really consider, much as I wish we could. We quickly gained overwhelming interest from bloggers and this prompted us to develop a scheme where bloggers would get a hefty discount as well as many other benefits. 99% of the bloggers that we work with are thrilled with their discount and think that what they get back from Coconut Lane more than covers the fact that they don't get products for free. Not to mention the fact that when we can afford it we give our Queens free gifts to remind them how much we appreciate them. Last week each Queen received a free £10 voucher to spend on the site.
Your products are overpriced and you make loads of money out of bloggers!
I think this is the most frustrating series of Tweets I have read as people are completely wrong about our stock. One cheap Chinese website that has been thrown around on Twitter takes popular phone case designs and develops them in an extremely cheap way and then sells them for next to nothing. These phone case designs are pixelated, the sides of the case and transparent and rubbish quality - basically a piece of paper with the design on is glued to the case. Kinda like if you imagine your friend has a picture on her Wall that you like the look of. You take a photo of it on your iphone and print it at home and then stick it on your wall. NOT the same as the original. This is absolutely not how the cases that we sell are made and we do not source them from this website - our cases are made using a technique called 3D sublimation which takes a lot more effort and costs a lot more money. I invite anyone to purchase these cheap cases and drop me an email and I then send you a free Coconut Lane case for you to compare (based on stock availability, please don't everyone do this!!!) If you find they are the same then I will physically eat the phone case in question- yum.
I can assure you that we do not make much money out of bloggers. For us the Coconut Queen scheme is not about making money at all. Obviously going into a detailed account of our mark-ups and profit margins here is probably a bit too far and perhaps somewhat verging on unprofessional (I was keen to do this but Jess said I needed to calm down). Anyway, if anyone wants more information then please please drop me an email - we are completely transparent and honest and more than happy to discuss this further!
All your stock comes from China!
Our mission with Coconut Lane was to get our Sassy Slogans and designs printed on all sorts of products - that's what we're about. Unfortunately, for the reasons explained earlier - we have a very low budget. Getting our own designs made on products is a very expensive process which we have now managed to do with multiple products on our site (Wall Art, many Phone Cases, Cushion Covers, Notebooks). We're so so proud that we've managed this and our aim is to create so many more! However, as wanted to have a good range of products we decided to source a few products from external suppliers based all around the world. Some are indeed from China, others from India, others from the UK.
Sourcing products from suppliers is something that 100s of brands do. Did you think that the sunglasses and phone cases on Missguided are made by them in the UK? They're not. Many brands source 100% of their products from suppliers - this is not something we want to do as we want to be unique and we have so many cool design ideas that we want to create. Gradually, we're replacing our supplier sourced designs with our own sassy slogans but this is a long and fairly slow process due to financial constraints. If anyone wants to chuck us £100k that would be much appreciated. We're not ashamed to source products from suppliers and honestly, if anyone has a problem with this - don't work with us and don't buy our products.
Prove it... show us where you source your products!
Over the last few weeks I've been really keen to do this but we did recognise that sharing our exact suppliers and sources is something that seems a bit risky and not something that we've ever heard of a brand doing. We decided to seek legal advice on this and have been informed that under no circumstances should be sharing details of the exact and precise details of our wholesalers and suppliers of our stock. This puts us in a really vulnerable and risky position whereby anyone could recreate Coconut Lane and undercut us. No brand would ever ever do this and as two 23 year olds in this position, we're not going to assume that we know better than what professional legal advisors have told us.
A Final Point...
It's been a really hard couple of weeks for Jess and I. It took so much courage for us to decide to take the plunge and set up Coconut Lane - putting your money into something that you don't know will work is a scary decision. As two 23 year old girls we were constantly being told to wait until we had more experience in the business world. That's the truth... we don't know everything and we don't pretend to. We're learning everyday. Dealing with negativity is definitely something new to us and I guess it's going to be a useful skill to learn. Hopefully one day we'll be able to brush things off more easily.
It's easy to hide behind a keyboard and Tweet some harsh words without having proper knowledge about a situation. When you tweet a brand it's easy to assume that behind the screen is some big corporate company who don't care what you're saying. Well with us, reading those tweets are two young girls - getting seriously stressed and upset by your negativity and complete inaccuracy. Yes we may be super sassy but OK, we're super sensitive too.
I'd like to thank you for taking the time to read this. Sorry it's a bit more than 140 characters... I do have a tendency to waffle.
A final shoutout goes to all our Coconut Queens who have stood by us and helped us fulfil our dreams. We couldn't have got to where we are without you lovely lot. Forget the negativity - the support we've received the last couple of weeks has been overwhelming. I can't thank you all enough.
Written by Charlotte Stagg | Founder of Coconut Lane | email: firstname.lastname@example.org