While it's common for companies to tell you about their guarantees or make promises about how they will not let you down, we have decided to publish this list of how we might have let you down along with the lessons learned from our mistakes of the past.
Unorthodox, yes, but our culture of transparency at Jade Bloom govern these decisions. Jade Bloom is built on 9 core values and our employees are reminded of them daily. This picture outside of our interview room displays our core values. If prospective employees are brought back for a 2nd interview, the questions posed to them are constructed around these core values. We do our best to ascertain whether a new employee will fit our culture before we ever make the decision to hire them. We hold a weekly meeting with our entire team and we often take turns reading and discussing what makes Jade Bloom...Jade Bloom.
Because we promote a culture of "taking risks" along with a culture of "learning from failure", we completely understand that we will fail. At Jade Bloom, we don't attempt to prevent failure as we recognize the lessons learned from failure are much more valuable than the lessons learned from success. However, the effects of our failures aren't always just felt by our employees, which is why we believe our customers should also have access to our growing list of failures and what we have learned.
FAILURE #1 - August 2014 - Silicon Valley calls it pivoting, but we think a better word for it is "Evolving". We evolved when we decided to transition a previous company that lived exclusively on the Internet into a Health & Wellness company that had a much larger reach and vision. Our mistake was in our attempt to retain the same building and employees. The then current staff, the building layout, and the previous company’s priorities were not conducive to this transformation into Jade Bloom and our customers suffered from late shipments.
LESSON LEARNED - After 30 days of attempting to make a square peg fit into a round hole, we let 2 employees go and moved our office. Since then, we have hired 13 new employees that we believe are the right fit for Jade Bloom's culture and mission. We have outgrown multiple locations to land us where we are currently thriving in Draper, Utah and each new location has been carefully selected for functionality. We believe that, because of our failure, we are better prepared to hire the right people and expand our offices as we grow.
FAILURE #2 - April 2015 - In our first year of business we went through a lot of growing pains, but the mistake of sourcing caps that leeched a red dye onto our white euro droppers was among the worst of them. This particular failure was extremely frustrating because it took us almost a full month to identify how our euro droppers were turning red. We are extremely grateful to our small loyal group of customers at that time that never gave up on us. We work so hard and go through great expense to ensure that the quality of our oils is the best, but then we started receiving complaints from customers about their euro dropper turning red, and in some cases, the dye was leeching into the oil itself.
LESSON LEARNED - Today, because of this failure, we approach new supplier relationships with extreme caution and a healthy amount of skepticism. We would rather move slower to introduce a new product or bottle type than to have our customers suffer because of supplier failures.
FAILURE #3 - September 2015 - We spent so much time, money, and energy on ensuring we manufacture the highest quality oils, but we made the mistake in not reserving some resources to ensure our euro droppers were also the highest quality. We source our glass from a supplier in China, and the glass has always been top notch, but the euro droppers they manufactured were sub-par. The lower quality euro-dropper presented 2 problems that we were aware of during the year of 2015 and we worked for months to try and identify and resolve the problems. First, we had an unusually high number of complaints from customers that their oil bottle leaked during shipment. Second, we had an unusually high number of complaints that the oil didn't dispense well from the bottle.
LESSON LEARNED - It's just as important for us to take the same obsessive approach with our packaging and containers as we do with our oils. We learned that our customers care about the entire experience with our oils and not just the oil itself. As such, we now source a euro dropper that is 7 times more expensive from Germany. Since we made the change, our leaky bottle reports have fallen 96% and rarely do we get a complaint about how the oil dispenses from our bottles. Most customers aren't aware of this, but this failure actually led to the implementation of different sized orifices to match the viscosity of the oil.
FAILURE #4 - March 2016 - In the first quarter of 2016, we were notified of an attorney from New Jersey that intended on filing a class action lawsuit against us for claims on our website. With some research, we discovered that the attorney was not representing a class of people, but rather himself, who had earned the reputation in the state of New Jersey as the serial class action attorney only interested in exploiting the laws of the state of New Jersey that makes it easy to file a lawsuit with only 1 person representing a class action. We discovered that the attorney files new class action suits almost daily in order to make money through settlements. It is cheaper for most companies to settle rather than to defend and the attorney was not embarrassed to disclose his angle. Our main attorney agreed to work pro bono on our case and he was successful in recruiting a high profile attorney with the board of ethics to also work pro bono against the forces of evil. This case is now closed and a couple official complaints have been filed with the board of ethics against the attorney.
LESSON LEARNED - Although the uncertainty of this suit brought many sleepless nights for us, we would not trade this experience for the lessons learned. Although lawsuits may be filed against anyone and for any reason, we potentially could have deterred the New Jersey attorney from filing his suit by being more diligent about documenting studies done on essential oils. Since this experience, we have added a new tab on each single oil page that documents all available scientific studies performed by The National Library of Medicine. The attorney was specifically attacking the results of a study performed on Neroli essential oil. After bringing the studies to his attention his response was, "if you defend then you will probably win, but are you really willing to spend the money to defend it?" The information on our website is much more complete because of our initial failure and the experiences and perspectives we have gained from this suit are invaluable.
FAILURE #5 - July 2016 - We started receiving reports from customers that their credit card had been compromised after using our website. Initially, it was easy for us to document the report, but not pursue it further because when we started Jade Bloom, we proactively made the decision to not store customer credit cards as there were many reports in the news at the time of some of the biggest brands in the world getting hacked. We didn't want the liability of storing sensitive data, but we also couldn't ignore the reports as they started piling up in July 2016. In the first week of August, we hired Customer Paradigm out of Denver, Colorado to a complete forensic analysis on our files to see if there was any evidence or possibility that our system had been compromised. We discovered that our system had been hacked, and we learned of many failures of omission we had made in security. Ultimately, a 3rd party developer had allowed a hacker to obtain access to our main server credentials and it took 2 months to fully uncover every way our system had been compromised.
LESSON LEARNED - We were very vocal with our customers through this ordeal and we gave them multiple updates as we made progress or as new information became available. Today we can confidently say we are among the most secure places to shop on the Internet. To read more about the details of this hack and the technical specifics that we have implemented, please reference our letters on security from our CEO in our blog. Click here to go to our blog.
FAILURE #6 - January 2016 to December 2017 - As we grow, we must always decide what we keep in-house and maintain control over, and what we outsource to a 3rd party company. For example, about once a month we get approached by a fulfillment house with offers to take over our packaging and delivery of our products for our customers. Those requests are always coupled with promises to get products to our customers quicker and cheaper. While we don't doubt the competency of those companies, we also know that no one cares about our customers the way we do. When there is a mistake in fulfillment, we have already vertically integrated our processes and we know how to identify it quickly and resolve even faster. Recently, our team took a cultural tour of the Zappos campus and their CEO talks about one of the biggest mistakes they made in outsourcing their fulfillment. We try and learn what we can from those who have gone before us, but outsourcing our marketing efforts seemed harmless when we first attempted it 2 years ago.
LESSON LEARNED - After failing twice with 2 different companies, we have learned that no one cares about Jade Bloom's "Why" more than we do. Jade Bloom exists to change the way people think about health. This decade-long vision will improve lives of millions of people and involves reclassifying prescription drugs as the alternative medicine. Our marketing messages must consistently reiterate and reconfirm the reason we exist, and it's easy for people that aren't involved in our culture each day to lose sight of that. If you saw irrelevant marketing messages popping up recently on Facebook, that was because of a decision we made to hire a 3rd party marketing firm to help us manage our channels. We have since rectified that decision.
FAILURE #7 - January 2018 - If you've been around Jade Bloom for awhile, then it's no surprise that we listen intently to what our customers have to say. We are so grateful for a vocal community of members that care as much about the brand as we do. From day one we have heard complaints about how difficult it is to read our bottles and how they wish we sold our oils in bigger bottles. We solved the initial complaints by creating round stickers to put on the top of the bottles. However, as we have continued to grow we continue to hear the complaint about our labels and bottle size. Last month we purchased an in-house label printer that allows us to keep the same professional appearance for our labels while shipping in bigger bottles. We failed by not taking action sooner to rethink our label for our 5 ml and 10 ml bottles, but we are in the process of rectifying that mistake now.
LESSON LEARNED - Jade Bloomers (our loyal member base) are our most valuable asset. We are implementing a better system that allows us to document requests from our members and track where the greatest needs are for our resources. We're happy to report a redesigned label that uses 100% of the available real estate on our bottle, and we promise to respond sooner to the requests that best represent the majority of our user base.
FAILURE #8 - January 2018 - Recently it was brought to our attention that a batch of our Sweet Birch, Frankincense Carterii, and Myrrh had failed GC/MS testing by Dr. Robert Pappas. Since we GC/MS test all of our batches of oil before bottling, it was as much of a surprise to us as it was for many of our customers. We asked ourselves "How can that be true?" and then began formulating many possible scenarios in our head of how this could have happened. This particular failure is still too new to know how we failed, but as of now, we are moving forward as if we have failed and we will update the information here as it becomes available. What we have confirmed is the tests performed by Dr. Robert Pappas was paid for by the Essential Oil Analysis group and the EOA gave Dr. Pappas permission to discuss them with us. Our CEO has discussed the results via phone with Dr. Pappas who has confirmed some important points. 1) The adulteration is subtle and most chemists would have a hard time spotting the markers. 2) The oil is safe to use and wouldn't harm anyone. 3) It's likely that someone intentionally adulterated the oil to cut costs. While approximately 60% of the oils are distilled in our main distillery, in order to expand our selection to meet our growing customer needs, we work directly with farmers and distilleries in other countries. We always require a 3rd party GC/MS report be performed on our batches of oil, but we have learned that the report we get may not always match the actual oil that we begin bottling in our facility in Utah.
LESSON LEARNED - As we continue to get to the bottom of an adulterated sample in a Jade Bloom bottle, we are taking immediate action to ensure something like this could never happen again. While we will still require 3rd party GC/MS testing to be done on our batches, since this is what customers seem to care most about, we will also be testing each batch right before it makes its last mile from our California facility to our Utah facility for bottling. We have hired Dr. Hussam who has a Ph.D. in Chemistry and who we trust implicitly to put the final stamp of approval for our 100% pure claims. Additionally, we are moving towards a USDA organic certification on our oils and this is something we promise to have this year. The certification requires that each of our bottles has a stamp with the batch number so we can easily trace each bottle we sell back to the batch from which it originated. Right now, we use the date sold to look up this information. We do have some questions about who handled the bottles that ultimately ended up in Dr. Robert Pappas' hands. In order to confirm the adulteration for our entire batch, we have mailed the same oils in question directly to Dr. Pappas for a secondary analysis. The batches of Sweet Birch, Frankincense Carterii, and Myrrh have been isolated and the products have been marked as out of stock until further notice.
Dr. Robert Pappas responded on the EOA Facebook page regarding the GC/MS tests on our oils. Here is his response:
As promised, I am providing an update on our 6 step action plan previously outlined from January 5th. Our Myrrh and Frankincense Carterii batches were re-tested by Phytochemia (http://www.phytochemia.com/en/home/), we are still waiting on results from the Birch, and they disagree with Dr. Robert Pappas assessment that the batches were adulterated. I was hoping to release information to the public a little sooner than today, but we have been waiting to see if Dr. Robert Pappas and Phytochemia could come to a consensus, but as of now, that doesn't seem to be the case.
Rather, than providing you with our assessment of the correspondence we believe that the EO community has the right to review the information and draw their own conclusions. Dr. Robert Pappas states that our batches of Frankincense Carterii and Myrrh were significantly adulterated with Castor oil, but Phytochemia disagrees. We also have an official statement of defense from the distiller that there was never any wrongdoing and that the .1% peak of ricinelaidic acid is a naturally occurring fatty acid from the resin that was distilled.
Here is the link to the dialogue regarding this issue from Phytochemia, Dr. Robert Pappas, and the distillery for your review along with our progress we've made on our action plan to date: https://jadebloom.com/gcms