“One day here is like a week working anywhere else, there is just so much that can happen in one day”. Rocio said this with the kind of satisfied exhaustion one might have at the end of a hike with an extraordinary view. Like with any emerging business, there is a lot of learning-by-doing that happens in the Adelante office, as expressed in previous blog posts by Adelante Team members Julia, Bob, and Rocio. After three weeks of being in the office, I’ve learned that a leather used to produce one style of shoe, say a pair of Havanas, might not result in a similarly high quality pair of another style, say the Granadas.
A few weeks ago I would not have noticed the difference; all I would have seen was a table lined with caramel Grandas. But three weeks with the Adelante Team in Pastores, Guatemala has taught me so much, including that the Granadas I saw, upon closer inspection, were not up to Adelante quality standards. The leather was marked by the cambreadora (in English, the crimping machine), which presses the leather cuts into the shape necessary for the craftsmen to create the Granadas and Meridas. Because these are the only two styles that require pressing from the cambreadora it was only the Granadas and Meridas in this caramel-colored leather that were affected.
“Are these being sent out?” I asked Jeanne, Adelante’s Customer Success Manager. No -- as a matter of fact, by the time I had gotten to the office on that particular Friday, Jeanne was already composing an email to send the customers who had purchased Granadas in caramel. They would not be receiving these shoes due to the leather damage. With the workshop expecting a new shipment of leather from a different provider in that same color, those customers could expect to have their caramel Granadas in a few weeks, or switch to another color already in stock.
Each pair of Adelante shoes are examined by Horacio, Adelante’s production manager, before being sent out; rave customer reviews are a result of high quality shoes. Customer feedback is valuable to Adelante, but it’s not just praise that Adelante appreciates. Of the thirty-one reviews the Granadas have on the Adelante website, twenty-eight of those are five stars. The lowest review, three stars, was explained by a faulty zipper, and under that comment you can see where an Adelante team member reached out to the customer to discuss a solution. Modifications to the design of the shoes are made when room for improvement is found, like in the case of the Santiagos in this past blog post about shoe quality.
It has been said before on the Adelante Blog, and I’ll say it again: this is a social impact business out to prove that doing good doesn’t mean sacrificing quality. Which is why this did not look like an easy decision to make. Faced with the choice of sending sub-par shoes or having the customer wait for the quality shoes that they paid for, the team at Adelante opts for the latter because quality matters.