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I have been on the lookout for new initial charms to use in Jac & Elsie designs for about a year.

There was nothing wrong with my initial charms — they were a perfect size and an incredible price, which meant that I could offer customization for a reasonable upgrade.

The problem was instead in my supplier, whom I have used since I started offering custom charm necklaces, about two years. This means that I have purchased from this supplier multiple times. I’ve spent hundreds of dollars in this store. I am a repeat customer who pays promptly, and I’m polite.

In turn, my purchases were met with slow shipping. When asked how long a shipment would take, I would be met with radio silence. Every time I made a purchase, the price was different. The seller explained to me that his or her prices varied based on the size of my order. Makes sense. So I asked for a breakdown of those prices so I could make an informed decision for my purchase — was 10 the magic number to be bumped down to a different price? 20? 50? I never received a response.

On two occasions my requests for custom orders — “Can I receive 10 A charms and 15 L charms?” for example — were completely ignored. The most recent time I was ignored, I sent a reminder convo and, again, was met with silence.

I’ve tried to ditch this supplier numerous times over the years, searching for replacement charms so I no longer had to frequent this shop that so royally pissed me off. This past summer, I became determined to learn to hand-stamp jewelry at Jac & Elsie. I purchased all the supplies, the stamps, the hammers, the little rubber mats so I didn’t dent the crap out of my desk. I purchased various oxidizers so make my stamped letters stand out more.

And I failed. Ohhhh, did I fail. For whatever reason, I could not get the hang out of hand stamping. They never showed; the oxidizers, which were to darken the indentation of the letter so it stood out against the bright silver of the pendant, never worked.

This is what hand stamping is SUPPOSED to look like, by one of my favorite stamping shops on Etsy, Bijoux by Meg. See how lovely?

I bought how-to books and watched YouTube videos. I even emailed Lisa Niven Kelly, the woman who WROTE the most useful of my how-to books and filmed the YouTube videos. She was immensely helpful … and yet, I couldn’t do it.

With this failed experiment behind me, I was resigned once more to purchasing my initial charms from a supplier who regularly made me curse at my computer. I mean, do YOU want to give your money to someone who is unhelpful and makes it clear that he or she doesn’t remotely value your business?

A few weeks ago, I started another search for initial charms. I couldn’t believe I hadn’t found a replacement yet, but everything I unearthed that could have possibly worked was straight up sterling, which is not economical when you are purchasing a starter kit of 300 letters; one of the first things I said about Jac & Elsie when I opened shop was that my jewelry would be affordable.

And then … glory of glories … I found a bulk kit of initials. When I contacted the supplier, she actually responded. When I asked, “If I want to order specific letters after this initial purchase, will that be possible?” she responded in a helpful manner. (I can’t tell you how many suppliers I contacted with that question who flat out ignored me. I didn’t even get a “No, I’m sorry, we’re not equipped to do that.”)

These letters are a different font that my original charms, and a few millimeters larger. But I think they work out perfectly, wouldn’t you say?

Modern, clean lines, and really amazing quality. To be frank, the quality is considerably better than my original font. Multiple times, I would have to hand a charm to the beau and ask him to power sand off a rough edge so a poor unsuspecting jewelry lover wouldn’t impale herself.

I’ll continue to use the former charms until they run out (all sharp edges gone, scout’s honor), but in the mean time, here’s to having a reliable supplier in time for the holidays.

As someone who runs an online shop, I cannot stress the importance of simply being nice, and friendly, and helpful to people who contact you and want to give you money. Customers are people who are willing to pay for your service. Being respectful and kind in return is not difficult. In fact, it makes your job easier, because your customers are not going to be on edge, and they’re going to have a good experience working with you. If you hate people, you probably shouldn’t be selling them things.

What’s the best and worst customer service you’ve received online? Do you expect friendly service when purchasing from an Etsy shop? I know I do.