Why the Guild does not reply to many emails it receives

There is a bit of a backlash due to lack of response to emails and a few posts on the face book page.

A useful reminder at this point that the Guild is a peer support organisation established for 2 very specific reasons – to raise awareness of the cosmetics products safety regulations’ and to register SME’s and self-employed who are in compliance. That’s IT, that’s our stated core activity in a few words! Everything else is gravy and happened because of the update in regulations, lack of information and consultation, and the need for someone to step up and help the small trader.

It’s not surprising that requests received from people for information on how to start their own businesses are not responded to; after all they are declaring an interest in setting up in competition with established traders. No business person anywhere will ever go out of their way to help someone set up in competition with them. To me common sense? This is not an appropriate forum for this kind of request.

As registrar and chief bottle washer I get more than a few such requests via email directly and have to ignore them. Why? I run training courses and make a living tutoring people over several months, with on-going support afterwards. Like Guild members I’ve worked extremely hard to research the information that goes into running a craft business and which I sell through my training business – I’m not going to suddenly start giving this information away. Like Guild members my own business has been affected by the new regulations and I’ve had to restructure my entire operation just to stay afloat so that I can continue to support my graduates and existing students. For the first time in my career I’m declaring a loss this year, the only upside to which is the possibility of getting some tax back – it’s always gone the other way so that’s nice (typed with irony)!

The majority of emails I get are from very nice people looking for help, after all its not the easiest profession in the world to break into. Really I’d love to help but there are real world issues as mentioned through this post. Not least this is a voluntary effort and its impossible to respond to the volume of correspondence received now anyway without employing office staff – for which there is zero budget so it ain’t gonna happen.

Against that background I’m actually gobsmacked by some of the queries that I receive (from a very small minority to be sure) and have a large bruise on my arm where I have to keep pinching myself to make sure I’m not asleep and having a bad dream – examples, edited to avoid identifying the sender, include (comments in brackets are my own):

#1. I’m considering buying a small local soap making company, are there any laws I need to be aware of? I’ve looked at your web site and there isn’t any information there about any laws (Should have gone to Specsavers). The people selling said they’ve been selling soap for years and there’s no problem – I expect a response from you within 24 hours as I have to make a decision tomorrow (Guess who hit the delete key) – this was followed up by several highly critical emails about how unprofessional the Guild is and how disgraceful it is that organisations like ours are allowed to exist (delete, delete, delete)

#2. I think one of your members complained about me to TS, can you tell them to stop because I don’t want any trouble! (Yeah sure, mention it to TS while you are explaining why don’t have any safety certs for your products – I did email back and asked them if they were aware of any safety concerns that they needed to be know about if they were selling any of their products to pregnant women for example? No response and no surprise – love them hate them the regs do serve a purpose)

#3. I’m a very busy person and don’t have time to read your web site – please respond to my email of last week ASAP (errr… classic example of legend in their own mind syndrome?)

That said the majority of emails I get are spot on, the Guild is my hobby and I thoroughly enjoy it – the examples above reinforce the benefits of having a thick skin and a great sense of humour – and I also get to practice my sarcasm – win win 

At the end of the day I’m more concerned that members benefit from the Guild and also those compliant crafters who follow the face book page and read our web site without joining – more than welcome. Its also helped several non-compliant crafters get themselves sorted out and achieve compliance, because they were prepared to put the work in!

It’s nice to be able to give something back to a community that’s done so much for me over the years, most of the students on our training courses have been via referral and that’s down to a lot of you dear readers – now please excuse me I have to oil my delete key for the day ahead…