last edit 7/24/20
What happened in 2015?
A bunch of things, kind of all at once, that completely overwhelmed me and my ability to take care of myself and my family, never mind take care of my clients and customers. This post from then pretty much covered everything, though I have a few insights to add from just the last few weeks, too (warning: it’s a very long post). But it included
- customers doing chargebacks and my new payment processor then tying up the funds for up to 90 days and fining me *even when I could prove the customer actually had the package,* so customers literally stole hundreds and hundreds of dollars from me, and frozen funds meant I couldn’t use them to ship or to order supplies I needed to restock to fill in-house orders. Then the customer whose stuff I had packed but couldn’t ship because my funds were frozen would put in their own chargebacks, so it was a horrible Catch 22
- my not having adjusted properly for inflation or given myself a raise in 10 years, so when I had to hire an assistant to do a lot of the stuff I basically had been doing for free, my prices barely covered it
- my academic job beating the everliving crap out of me and requiring I work about 80 hours a week most weeks of the semester, all while not paying me enough to live on. (It was a contract, contingent, non-tenure-track job, a little better than adjuncting but not by much. 26 students per section times 4 sections times 5 papers each = 520 papers to grade Every Single Semester Until You Quit in Disgust or Get Fired. Meanwhile my utilities were always on the verge of being cut off because my take-home pay after taxes and all was at about 140% of the federal poverty level. Yes, I made more money *in grad school* than at this job.)
- a handful of life and family trainwrecks that just happened all in the same year (including emergency dental surgery and a a dazzling variety of challenges related to parenting a very stubborn and very clever teenage girl)
What happened to my stuff?
So the worst part of all is that some of you had orders and/or services in the queue when I had to pack everything up and move. And it was all packed up a lot longer than I could *ever* have imagined. The plan was to unpack and keep plugging along under my new roof in a week or two. Well, I not only didn’t have my own roof to work under for a while – I didn’t have any roof at all, at least not until we literally built one with our own hands. We lived in a tent in the woods prior to that. We couch-surfed prior to that. Some of my stuff was in storage for almost two years. That means some of *your* stuff was in storage for almost two years.
It was ugly and awful and it kicked my ass and did a number on my head. I hadn’t found a magic bullet to raise the funds back up to refund you folks who had services pending, and I no longer teach or tutor or work in academia, and I’d convinced myself I could never show my “face” online again after everything exploded, at least not until I could refund/repay everybody, and I wasn’t making any progress towards accruing enough funds to do that with any of the work I’d managed to snag. There aren’t a lot of jobs out here where I ended up, and you don’t usually get recognized and promoted posthaste to the C Suite with full benefits based on how well you dazzle with the broom or calculator or whatever.
So I ultimately worked my way around to something like this:
“Yes, maybe absolutely every single customer you ever had hates you now. Or maybe your perception and thinking have been skewed because you’re massively depressed because of numerous major life upheavals all kinda happening at once, and maybe things aren’t quite like you’ve made them out to be in your head. But you aren’t coming up with the funds to pay back what you owe doing what you’re currently doing. So you should probably just face the music and let them tell you if they hate you and are coming by to throw rocks before you just decide that for them.”
And as a friend pointed out, if somebody owed me something, I’d rather dislike them while knowing they’re trying to do something about it than dislike them and feel like they crawled off the face of the earth and aren’t aware/don’t care that they owe me something.
Y’all that i owe something to? I’m aware. I’ve brooded over it at least several times a week every week since 2015. It weighs on me very, very heavily every day, even more so now that I’m back online and am getting in touch with old customers, ’cause I’m just waiting for the next ugly email, when the truth is, there is absolutely nothing anybody could say to me that is worse than what I’ve said to myself.
I’m not even close to having it all sorted out and I don’t have any way to wave a wand and poof, fix it. But since waiting for a way to poof-fix-it wasn’t getting anybody anywhere, I’m going to fix it the one-step-at-a-time way, even though it’s not gonna be fast and even though it leaves me open to ugly messages every single day I’m hanging out online without everything all tied up in a bow. So reparations won’t be fast in every case or all at once, but they will happen.
I still want the stuff in that order.
If you still want any of the products or services you’d wanted before, let me know – your best bet is to email me directly at seraphinstation@gmail dot com. I’ll bend over backwards to get you whatever you need, as that will be the fastest way for me to get right with you, if I currently have the stuff in-house to make it or can get it fairly quickly. This won’t be the case with everything, though, so feel free to write and ask.
I don’t want that old stuff but I want something else now or in the near future.
I’ll be happy to apply any of the previous order amount to store credit and you can even get first dibs on whatever new one-of-a-kind creations hit the shelves, if you tell me to keep you apprised. Or I can issue it in the form of a gift card or coupon or whatever works with whatever platform.
Or I can make you something custom/bespoke. I’m working on a rosary for a 2015 customer now. I’m also making some customized protection door charms with certain patron saints to suit another customer’s particular situation. So we can discuss your options if you want to do something like that.
Do you have all the info about my missing stuff?
Write me at seraphinstation@gmail dot com to confirm if you like.
You contacted me about one order but I had two orders.
I have to do this bit by bit, one order at a time, one step at a time, as funds are available. I have to get to the second one as a second step. I’m sorry. It’s absolutely impossible for me to pay everything back at once.
I want my money back. How long will this take?
The short answer is I don’t know. I have to have money before I can send people money. And that means I have to rebuild my business – a brand new one with a new name and URL and without any startup money. So my ability to repay folks is totally dependent on the growth of Seraphin Station, which is currently just a fledgling.
To make things more complicated, I now live in the absolute middle of nowhere (just outside a small fishing village on the bayou at the Alabama/Mississippi border). You can get exactly one brand of internet out here, and it’s DSL, and it’s slow as shit, and it regularly goes out when it rains, when a truck drives over a cable that an animal dug up, or when you don’t hold your mouth right. So getting all this going has been painfully, glacially slow, and I can spend days at a time with no internet, worst case scenario.
And I have to have materials to make things to stock a storefront with, and a lot of supplies/materials had to be thrown out when I finally got them out of storage and unpacked. And replacing all those herbs and essential oils? It’s pretty breathtaking what that’s gonna cost. It’s gonna have to happen one formula at a time. I don’t have the budget (or the credit) I used to have. (And you would not believe how much some of these essential oils have gone up in price in five years. Global warming.)
But I am not ignoring anybody. It’s just taking a lot of time and work to assemble all the info and stuff that’s spread out in a bunch of different places. And Seraphin Station has to get off the ground.
As of June 2020, I think I’ve located 95% of outstanding orders for tangible items and I’ve begun going down the list. I contact customers when I have sufficient funds in my account to refund them, one customer at a time. If that customer doesn’t want a refund but wants the order or a credit, I start working on that and contact the next customer with the offer.
And because I’m starting pretty much from scratch here, that means the smaller the order, the sooner you’re likely to get my email with a refund offer. It’s not fair and I’m sorry. But I am operating under the principle that measurable progress in the right direction is better than none. And I’m gambling that I can grow Seraphin Station to be profit-generating before another few years have passed, and my ability to make things right with folks will go hand-in-hand with that growth.
I’m not contacting people who haven’t contacted me if I don’t have the available funds right then to refund them in case that’s what they want. I figure until I have the cash ready if they want it, it’s just more empty promises. I’d rather initiate contact when I can put my money where my mouth is, so to speak.
But if you want to be sure I have your accurate information or you want to update me on an email address change or something, by all means email me and I’ll make sure we’re on the same page.
Are you still doing business as Karma Zain Spiritual Supplies?
As Karma Zain but not Karma Zain Spiritual Supplies. Seraphin Station is our farm / studio / workshop / home and the current active business entity. While my old social media still works, the karmazain.com domain got snagged by somebody in Malaysia or something since it expired when I was broke and totally out of the loop.
I hadn’t even intended to run that name up the flagpole until I could hold my head up and say I fixed my messes and made them right, even though it took me a few years. But I wasn’t expecting that so many people would notice and respond to my brief resurfacing online. I definitely wasn’t expecting so many to express happiness that I was back or say they still want any of the stuff I owed them. It was humbling but an incredible relief (even though I know there are people mad at me out there – but if the first few messages I’d gotten had been ugly instead of kind, I might have just said “fuck it” and crawled back under the bed waiting for a miracle).
But the majority of y’all that have gotten in touch have not been ugly at all, for which I’m incredibly grateful, and I’ve started interacting on social media with those accounts again to get caught up. So my name’s out there even though that wasn’t the original plan.
Karma Zain is the username on some old seller accounts that I’ll keep (because the old Etsy store that still has followers might only have three listings, for instance, but it can point the followers it still has to the new Etsy store with a lot more listings, and I have to sell things in order to have money). But Seraphin Station is the official deal these days. Basically I run Seraphin Station now instead of Karma Zain Spiritual Supplies, but it’s still me. (My partner, who’s an artist and carpenter, is also part of Seraphin Station, but you are unlikely to ever see any blog or social media posts from him unless I pin him down, interview him, and transcribe the interview myself — so you can count on any messages and mail going straight to me and being answered by me.)
I don’t like/don’t use Etsy.
I’m working on alternatives. As of June 8, 2020, I’ve set up a storefront for Seraphin Station through Shopify, which is where you’ll land if you type seraphinstation.com. I’m gambling that it will start breaking even before the first monthly subscription fee is due. I hope I haven’t made a bad gamble.
Where’s the old blog/site with all the articles and instructions and info?
It’s here on WordPress at bigluckyhoodoo.wordpress.com.
Can you make X formula still?
If it’s not listed yet at one of the shops, please feel free to write and ask. I might not be able to, or I just might not know yet, or it might be in the “need to take new pictures and upload it to the website” pile.
If I’m not sure whether I can make it, I can move it to the top of the list to investigate. If I can make it and just need to order an ingredient, I can move it to the top of the list for ordering. Otherwise I might just throw darts to make up my mind what’s next, so speak up 🙂
I disputed, or tried to, after you fell off the face of the earth and your site was down and everything.
I can’t blame anybody for that once my site went down. I was without internet for months before I finally lost my house, and then once things really started circling the drain, they had gotten so tangled up that I never could have made it through the main inbox of that email account in any reasonable amount of time. After a while, people were disputing orders I never even knew about, because they were placed while I was thoroughly offline and thought my sites all were, too. (I forgot about the paypal links in the blogs where people could still book consultations and vigil lights.)
So if you disputed after what I guess was around Nov 2015, I don’t hold it against you. I could have been dead for all you knew. When I’m talking smack about people who did chargebacks/disputes, I’m talking about the people who did them while I was still working feverishly to catch up and all my sites with all their Terms of Service were still available. *Those* people remain blocked and on my hellfire-and-brimstone shit list for eternity, especially the ones who thereby kept tens or hundreds of dollars worth of stuff that I sent them and didn’t pay for it. Because those folks are straight-up thieves.
But once my internet got cut off? Yeah, I get it. You aren’t blocked unless there’s some *other* reason for you to be.