While the guys have been on their adventure around the world, I’ve been learning about how to be an entrepreneur. Last time I wrote here about the very complicated issue of trying to get startup money, which I eventually got, by the way. Now I’d like to tell you about what’s going on with the beads and about my adventures in the wonderful world of importing goods.
As Juho told us before, we decided to ship most of the beads to Finland by air freight. The guys’ drive to Nepal was so eventful and challenging that we thought it would be too risky to attempt to bring all the beads back to Finland in the van. Additionally it turned out to be very difficult to clear the beads for transport through all the countries on the route without having to pay customs in each country. We wanted to make sure that we will still have something to sell, too, in Store of Hope -the online store.
When the Lump got in the accident and had to undergo major repairs, I was really pleased with the decision we had made.
The air freight to Finland took 10 days, which is considerably less than it would have taken in the van. While the beads were on their way here, I investigated how customs declarations in Finland work, and I also needed to find out how we would transport the beads from the freight storage to Tampere.
I started my research on the Finnish customs website. Pretty quickly I understood why the phone number of the customs phone service was prominently visible on every page, as the customs bureaucracy is quite baffling for
a beginner. I called the customs service where I was told that web import would be a good and easy way to go, and that I could do that once the beads arrived in Finland. So I waited for the beads to arrive. A week ago on Sunday night I
got a text message saying that there is a shipment for me in Vantaa.
On Monday I started filling out the customs declaration and the web import turned out to be quite challenging. They wanted answers to all kinds of questions, from the packing materials to the origin of the air planes. It wasn’t as easy was I was led to believe… I made some phone calls to the freight storage, to customs phone service and eventually I called the Tampere customs office, and asked whether I could declare the beads there. They told me yes I could, and so on Tuesday I paid a visit to the Tampere customs office. Turns out, I couldn’t declare the beads there. They were very apologetic for the misinformation and I told them it would be a good idea to write a ”Customs declaration for Dummies” guide. So I then went back to web import. I still couldn’t figure it out, and I spent a lot of time on websites of different forwarding agencies, seriously contemplating using one of their services.
In the end I managed to finalize the web import, with the enormous help of the customs phone service. The skillful customs agents know that their webpages aren’t very helpful and so they invest a lot in the phone service. The service I got was great! The web import took me a few hours, with a customs agent helping me on the phone the whole time. So handy. Without the phone consultation I could not have done it, as just the different documents needed in the declaration required many different codes and identification numbers.
During the next days I had to make corrections to some of the codes, and I also had to deliver documentation and photos of the beads. After that I was waiting to get an answer. On Monday I called the customs office and suddenly a very friendly agent told me that I’ll finalize this for you now, and you will get an answer in an hour. In less than fifteen minutes I got email from Web Import, letting me know that I could now go collect the beads, yeayyyy!
In the end things just worked out and I could collect the beads from the freight storage. I called my friends and asked if someone could go with me to Vantaa on a very short notice. I also had to find a car that could accommodate the beads, and me and my friends. Thanks to Hanna for lending the car and a big thanks to Elina, Mikko and Lotta for spending you Monday evening and going to Vantaa with me. Juho and Misa cope just fine by themselves in Asia, but I needed three friends to go with me to Vantaa. I needed Lotta and Mikko to drive, Elina to take pictures and myself to act as the tour leader.
Here’s our trip in pictures.
So the beads have arrived and they are absolutely gorgeous! I feel so relieved after all the work I put into this! We still need to finalize the online store so that we can start selling the beads. We’ll keep you up-to-date here, on the Facebook page of the Store Hope or send us your email address at www.storeofhope.fi and we’ll let you know when you can buy your own Princess Beads.