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How My New Tea Boxes and Serving Trays Became a Reality Amidst a Shipping Nightmare

I have received wonderful response to the launch of my latest products, my new tea boxes and serving trays. These products did not come easy or as fast as they should have. I want to share with you, all the steps they went through to ultimately end up on my online shop, the brick and mortars (my stockists), and finally in your hands and homes.

Here is their development story and timeline.

February 21, 2021 

I contacted the factory I had chosen in Hong Kong asking about their minimum quantity requirements and a quote. In the past two years, there had been an overwhelming request from my clients for a slightly smaller serving tray and tea box. So the factory sent me recommendations of size, minimum quantity requirements and of course the cost. Based on all the numbers, I made a final decision.

The next step was choosing the designs. I didn’t want to repeat the same designs as my last collection, however the Armenian Beauties were so popular that I kept that one. I added Ani and Shant who are two of my most beloved characters as well as Anush and Armen and decided to create one more for a different audience with Hantes. I sent high resolution files in a vector format and templated the art to meet the specifications of the tea box and tray measurements for the factory.

Final approved designs for serving trays and tea boxes

At that point, color and finishing decisions had to be made. What color would each box be? Would the finish be glossy, matte or semi-gloss? Do I offer different color options for each design? Would the interior be leather, velvet, wood? What’s the cost difference of all these decisions? What sort of gift boxes do they come in? I spent a few days on choosing Pantone colors so that the factory had an accurate reference since colors on a screen look different depending on your computer.

Sourced material photos from factory
And so sampling began. We went through three revisions of box colors. Some were too gray, too green, too red, until I settled on the current colors. 

Mock-up samples from factory

April 9th
I wired my deposit and the factory started production.

I was given a delivery date of May 1st, just in time for Mother’s Day but due to covid lockdowns and limited staff, Mother’s Day came and went. These were the products I had planned for the second quarter but had to miss that deadline.

(The painting below is one of my pieces called “Scream”. I thought it was appropriate to convey how I felt at this point).

Arpi screaming from frustration in delays

June 18th
The production was finalized and the boxes were ready to be loaded onto the container. 

Products are packaged and ready to ship to U.S.

I had received quotes for shipping, customs duties and taxes however, there was a shortage of containers. Every week that went by, the container charges were increased by $1100 due to supply and demand. Needless to say, I was panicking!!!

June 29th
We got a container and solidified the reservation on the ship!!!

Products are loaded into the container

July 7th
The ship set voyage across the globe for three weeks. All my fingers were crossed.

Cargo ship with hundreds of containers, headed for U.S.

On the home front, I gathered some helpful hands and started clearing out my warehouse so that we can make room for the new shipment.

August 16th
The ship arrived in Long Beach, California!!!

August 20th

I underwent a procedure to reverse my ileostomy which was the final piece of my rectal cancer journey. (I was diagnosed a year before, on June 30, 2020).

Arpi fills time with artwork, surgery, and endless phone calls attempting to locate her shipment

I spent my recovery on the phone and emailing daily to track the status of customs clearance and delivery. The Long Beach port had 70 cargo ships just floating on the ocean with no place to park with 5000-10,000 containers, just like like mine, on EACH SHIP! Every day that went by, I became more convinced that they simply were not going to make it for the winter holidays either. All those months of waiting and my huge monetary investment were going down the drain. This would set back my next product development and the plans for next year.  

Almost 100 cargo ships await their turn to be unloaded on West Coast ports

Since September, congestion has built up in the ports leaving many businesses without their products before the holidays. With shortages in delivery workers across the country, the ships continue to port with no one to unload and deliver. All the yellow triangles in the photo are the ships off of Long Beach port waiting their turn.

Congestion in ports causing delays in delivery

October 6th

I received THE BEST CALL!!! My shipment was to be delivered the next morning! I was overjoyed at the news, I had to be there when they arrived!

Thousands of trucks are loaded with containers to be delivered across U.S.

October 7th

Everything arrived and I was FINALLY able to share the news with all of you!!!

The truck finally arrives to Arpi's warehouse, products are home!

So now, I can finally breathe and move on to the next phase of product manufacturing, the marketing and sales which is a whole other story I will share with you in the near future!

Arpi featuring new Tea Box, finally able to breathe after 7 months from start to finish.
Shop my Tea Boxes and Serving Trays!

Thank you for reading!


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