This year Jin Designs Homeware and Gifts will be 10 years in June. In that time, there have been quite a few products to come and go. But melamine Coasters and Placemats have stayed firm, being popular items from the start. All this is about to change unfortunately.
I was contacted by my trusty suppliers of my coasters and placemats at the end of last year. They said they could no longer make them for me due to price rises and manufacturing changes. One of the issues I have with my placemats is the design is so clean and simple. Usually it's one simple character appearing on a light grey or white background.
This unfortunately makes any kind of blemish or mark stand out like a sore thumb. Over the years we've had a lot of waste. Coasters and Placemats have been turned down because of marks. When you look at the process of how these are made, it's a lot of time, effort and waste - at a time when we need to be looking at ways to be more resourceful, to focus on looking after the planet and being more conscious of the materials we use.
And for customers, these are not cheap products. If you're buying something new you want it to be right. So it's a shame, but if the quality is not there, and the waste is increasing, there seems no alternative but to stop making these.
I recently asked Jin Designs customers to answer a survey on Coasters and Placemats. The results were really interesting. I had a lot of positive comments on the current placemats. A lot of people didn't want to see the end of these. But there were a few who were prepared to look at alternatives.
Here's some of the results. It's been really helpful to get a chance to ask customers what they are looking for. And these answers will help shape the future of products to come.
Are you a Jin Designs Customer?
Luckily, a good section of Jin Designs Customers took the time to answer the survey.
If you answered yes, have you bought any Jin Designs melamine? Includes coasters, placemats, trays, chopping boards
Just over half of these already enjoy Jin Designs Coasters, Placemats, Trays and Chopping Boards in their homes.
Do you use coasters and placemats at home?
A big chunk of these were coasters and placemat users. There were lots of people who shared their thoughts on this. Some used placemats for guests and special occasions, others liked to give them as gifts. Coasters were more popular to use than placemats.
Would you be interested in placemats if they were made from an alternative material, such as cotton or linen?
This question very much split opinion. Fabric wasn't a popular suggestion as it's not easy to keep clean and you'd have to keep washing them. Being able to wipe clean was something that was important for any future placemat design. Totally understandable too. If Jin Designs placemats are to continue, they need to be practical as well as look good. There were also concerns with fabric that our much loved cats may find these handy to rest on : )
Are you still interested in purchasing Jin Designs coasters, placemats and other melamine - or is it time to enjoy something else instead?
This question also split opinion. There were 23.6% who were keen to have the placemats just as they are. But the rest could be persuaded with alternative items or something completely different.
There were more customers who wanted a more sustainable, greener alternative to melamine. This is definitely something I would like to focus on. As a small business we also need to take responsibility in what we offer customers and make sure we are doing what we can to help with the uphill task of taking care of the planet. Read more on Jin Designs and Sustainability
The good news is, if there is no immediate solution and you already have Jin Designs coasters and placemats, these are designed to last. You shouldn't need to replace them for many years. They have been really well made by my UK suppliers.
So hopefully by the time it comes to replacing your placemats, there will be a new, stylish, environmentally friendlier material to wipe clean and enjoy in your homes and share with your guests.
In the meantime, I will look at alternatives and see if there's anything I can do to sort this issue out.
It's a big chunk of my stock which I can no longer provide you. It's disappointing and financially it makes things very difficult. It just shows how you can't always rely on your bestsellers staying as they are. Things will change. Prices will rise. And barriers to block your path will happen. But this is part of having a small business. You have to be able to twist and turn your way through whatever changes happen as you journey along trying to make a decent living!
Thanks so much if you took the time to reply to the survey. And for all the additional comments and feedback that I haven't been able to publish here. I have read each and every one. This will really help in the next stages. As they say, when one door closes, another one opens, so hopefully this will be the start of some nice new things I can bring you. All part of the journey.
Designer / Founder of Jin Designs