While this isn't how we wanted to kick off the year (or any day, for that matter), there's something we need to share.
Those of you that have been early supporters are familiar with our quality of products, especially our books. Some of you may recall that our first edition of "How Ganesh Broke His Tusk," which we launched in 2018, was a hardcover copy. We quickly realized its size and paper were not baby-friendly so we pivoted to smaller board books.
Then Covid happened and China shut down, leaving us scrambling to pivot yet again. We saw this as a blessing in disguise because it finally gave us the push we needed to move our manufacturing to India. As a brand dedicated to promoting and preserving our Hindu culture, it had always been our dream to be based out of India. Just as our parents had immigrated to America over 30 years ago in pursuit of opportunities, we wanted to create opportunities in our motherland.
In the past year and a half that we've been doing business in India, we've hired everyone from a lawyer to even impoverished women who crochet for us (more on that soon). We also opened a local office and began sourcing from a variety of suppliers. While this change has allowed us to remove the cultural and language barriers we faced with doing business in China, it has also raised some new issues.
We've personally met with each of the manufacturers before doing business with them. We've seen sample prototypes before approving mass production. (It's a part of the reason why Viral has been spending so much time on the ground in India).
However, when we receive the final printed copies of our most recently published collection of Devi books, we noticed they were not up to par with the samples we had approved the prior month. Many of the books showed signs of warp and some were even beginning to unravel at the binding.
And it gets worse...
We had already fully paid the printer for the thousands of books. While we've discontinued doing business with this vendor, and have now switched to a different book printer, we are responsible for the current inventory of books from the previous printer.
Rather than being excited about getting these cultural stories in the hands of families around the world, we began to worry whether we should even be shipping them out. These books were written to inspire your little global citizens with stories of Krishna's childhood adventures, Ganesh's broken tusk, Hanuman's hidden powers, Saraswati's enchanting music, Durga's heroic feat, and Laxmi's tale of Diwali. These stories deserved to be told. But how could we?
These are the types of conflicting challenges and risks we occasionally run into as a small business. While it pains me to see us shipping out items that don't meet our quality standards, we also cannot afford to discard them completely. What we can do is heavily discount the impacted books, which you'll see reflected in the prices on our site. Additionally, if you have purchased a Devi book or the Bookish bundle from us in the past couple of months, you will receive a separate email this week with a special discount code towards a future Modi Toys purchase.
Sure, there are books and podcasts about running and scaling small businesses, but there's really no playbook on how to best handle tough situations. So, I'm not sure whether being this transparent was the right thing to do, but I hope it encourages you to continue supporting our small business (perhaps now even more than ever).