What's New at DKR!
2023-03-19 Full steam ahead! Yay!
The last 9 months have been pretty rough - our long-term partners either closed or became unreliable. We then had a streak of moving from one unreliable partner to another.
As a kink educator, our options were already limited but, as Florida became increasingly and senselessly hostile to kink (and LGBTQ+ and brown people and education and science and freedom of speech and human rights...), we were less and less comfortable with remaining there. Nearby Southern states weren't much of an alternative, either.
We made the decision to move north.
Our fulfillment center is now located in New Jersey and, so far, we're thrilled with them.
We always ask potential partners if they're okay with printing/shipping educational kink materials and if we could be certain they wouldn't refuse in the future. The CEO of our new fulfillment company said, and I quote, "On pricing, cessation, service, anything - I think that should be illegal. The only consideration to this point is if your business is harmful to anyone, and yours is not."
Right then and there, we knew this was our guy.
I'm sure we'll find a nearby reliable printer, too.
For the last 10+ years, we've consistently had almost zero returns, very few problems, and high customer satisfaction. We believe this move will help us resume our streak for the next 10+ years.
We've got a lot of really cool things coming down the pipe, so this change lets us go back to getting all those cool things to you faster!
FULL STEAM AHEAD! YAY!
2023-02-28 Bad shipper! Baaaaad shipper!
Last week, our new shipping partner shipped a wholesale order to our customer like this:
Half the order was damaged. Then another customer reported this:
We expected the owner of the company to be horrified. We expected her to fix the problem immediately. These weren't threshold cases; this was an everything-went-wrong situation. Unfortunately, the owner claimed the main problem was that the prepper didn't realize the orders were shipping internationally. In other words, she was directing her employees to continue shipping domestic orders like this.
Let's just say we disagree. It's time for a new shipper.
We originally selected our book printer and shipper in Florida around 2012. Unfortunately, the world has watched with helpless anxiety as the American political climate changed drastically, particularly in the south. Nowadays, bigots feel empowered to act against LGBTQ+, minorities, kink, and anyone/anything that challenges their very regressive beliefs. Half the country has lost their ability to control their own reproductive system, with further restrictions on basic birth control expected. When actual hate crimes skyrocket, it means a lot of other bad things are happening, too. (I know most of my readers don’t support these awful policies and I empathize with those feeling trapped.)
Based on current polling, I expect these hostilities to continue for a minimum of 3 presidential elections, or 2032 (ouch, what a depressing prediction). Where Florida was once a swing state, it’s now solidly supporting these draconian measures. Therefore, we're using this change to also move northward.
Last time we changed partners, the shipper deliberately caused huge delays. I don't believe this problem will recur. This current shipper may not know how to pack books properly, but they do understand the threat of good-ole American litigation. (Canadian me: “Sorry aboot that lawsoot, eh?”)
That said, there will be some delays. I know this change is a nuisance for customers and I apologize.
Before you order, realize that there will be a delay. If you have an order currently being processed, and you want a refund, please ask.
I believe that you deserve to receive your orders reliably and from a company that respects you. It's important to me that we find business partners that have similar values.
For 10 years, we had reliable partners, almost zero returns, and almost zero complaints. I want to continue with that record for the next 10+ years. That will be my priority when we make this change.
Thank you for understanding and for your amazing support,
PS. If you happen to know any great, kink-friendly shippers and offset-CMYK printers, let us know!
2022-10-28 Delays explained
tl;dr at the bottom
First off, I want to make clear that none of this is intended to be an excuse. However, if you're interested, this is why things are delayed.
During the pandemic, I expected a rise in business - after all, we sold books & rope by mail at a time when everyone was home and bored. Unfortunately, Malaysia POS stopped shipping overseas (although, frustratingly, incoming overseas mail still worked). We tried shipping stock in bulk to our fulfillment company in Florida, but worldwide supply chain issues, plus a terrible law giving Malaysian shippers a local monopoly made doing so 5x more expensive and took a full year.
Although it happened between 1-2.5 years ago, that effect resonates. I suspect many of the problems I'm having are as a result of huge turnover (the Great Resignation) that companies are experiencing as an echo of the pandemic.
With full expenses and a staff of almost 10, but income reduced to 5%, it was just a matter of time before money ran out. I funded out of my pocket for as long as I could, but math is math.
The DKR factory closed; the location closed; trusted employees scattered once the temporary layoffs became permanent.
As of now, DKR is me.
I expected 2022 to be a year of rebuilding. A massive buildup of stock was now with my fulfillment company in Florida. We were ready to go.
Instead, the echoes of the pandemic that are affecting the world is also hitting DKR hard, yet again.
I carefully build reliable, long-term business partners and set up lots of backups to prevent problems. The pandemic tore down things that I thought were rock solid... and is doing so again.
My fulfillment company in Florida was great. Because they also shipped medical supplies, they operated throughout the lockdowns. Then, with almost no notice, they decided to close. I never got an official reason, but I suspect the reason was pandemic burnout.
At the very last moment, they informed me that Complete Shibari Vol 2 was out of stock. Through a quirk in Shopify's bundling system, I can't keep an accurate tally, so I depend on their notifications. I order new prints loooooong in advance. This time, though, they didn't give me notice, probably because of pandemic burnout.
My usual printer used to be reliable. Without going into details, this time around was a total disaster. I designed Rogue Hojojutsu and both Complete Shibari books so that printers see printing them as functionally identical: same specs, same page count, same file structure, and so on. I did so deliberately so that printers could do the exact same thing for each book... which reduces problems. In other words, if they can print one, they can print all three.
However, this time, the printer was totally incapable of doing the print job they'd done only 2 years previous. Instead of an 8/10 company, they were a 1/10. After almost 2 months of incremental delays, I had to find a new printer.
I don't know exactly what happened to them, but every employee was different... and incompetent. I'm guessing this was a result of the recent high rates of employee turnover. Pandemic Effect, again.
I found a replacement printer that was eager to work with me. Since I'm printing in puritanical southern USA, finding high-quality, sex-friendly printers can be a chore, complicated greatly by living on the other side of the planet. Then they dropped out, too, so I had to start again... again.
If the printer experience was bad, my replacement shipper was so much worse.
The friendly, helpful, enthusiastic sales person that initially convinced me to choose them left the company, just as I signed up and shipped 9 pallets of merchandise to them. Now I was stuck with their disinterested, apathetic staff. Pandemic Effect.
After a month of working on integration, it became clear that their attitude to customer security was totally nonexistent. I hadn't shipped anything and had already encountered SEVEN serious breaches of security. They were definitely endangering my security. More seriously to me, they would probably have been endangering yours, too. Their inflexibility and indifference to problems suggested shipping problems would cause huge headaches. Then I learned they'd had a customer-information breach five years earlier. They'd learned nothing. I made the difficult choice to change fulfillment companies again.
They told me that the pallets I'd shipped hadn't been touched... until I asked them to prepare them immediately to be shipped elsewhere. At that point, they told me they were broken up. After 32 days of refusing to act, they agreed to palletize my merchandise when I told them that, if I had to hire a lawyer, it wouldn't be to get my stuff palletized, but rather to sue the fuck out of them. I also told them (truthfully) that three senior employees had knowingly lied or misled me... and that I could prove they knew at the time they did it.
I honestly don't know if they were acting maliciously or if this was their normal customer service, but either way, getting away from them is the right choice.
Then Hurricane Ian hit, putting Florida underwater from a Category 4 hurricane. A 5 m storm surge is no joke.
Throughout all this, my bank in Malaysia, upon which I depend for all outgoing payments, let a massive corpus of credit card information out.
To be clear, your credit card info is safe and completely unaffected.
However, my personal bank gave their credit card lists to criminals. I was always careful with my own card, but I know it was an inside job because customers with unused cards were also affected.
My bank assured me that they wouldn't cancel my card, then allowed fraudulent charges to go through... while blocking all the charges that have been recurring at the exact time every month, for years. If you saw my website or email go down, that was why. Behind the scenes, there was more mayhem.
I can't directly attach the credit-card fraud to the pandemic, but economic pressure, job loss, etc, increase crime generally. Post pandemic, credit-card fraud in Southeast Asia has skyrocketed, with many banks affected. Again, your own credit cards are not attached in any way and not affected (your credit card info is processed in USA and even I don't see that info).
As an expat living in a foreign country, the pandemic affected (and continues to affect) the security of my life, home, and relationship in very serious ways. It's not directly related to DKR stuff, but as a company of 1, yeah, it's not helping, either.
I sincerely apologize for my delay in updating you. For what it's worth, I sincerely believed I'd have good news to report in a few more days... throughout this whole mess.
Okay, that's the bad news.
Now, the good news.
I found a new fulfillment company that's small, personable, and eager. They're female owned & seem to be staffed by about 90% women. A female-operated business isn't proof of anything in particular, but it matches the profile of my previous fulfillment company. Plus, they seem to have the same attitude. I'm optimistic.
Stock has been delivered to the new fulfillment company and is being inventoried. There are 11 pallets now, so it takes some time.
My credit card issues seem to mostly be resolved. Mostly.
Now, better news for the future.
Although my last book, Rogue Hojojutsu came out in 2016, I've been busy.
I have 40 more pages remaining of the 1500 pages of my first draft of 4 books. (I've gotten hate mail for each of my books when I pre-announced them and I'm really low on emotional energy right now, so no specifics yet.)
However, I can say that the 3-book series will be the most important book ever released for ~25% of the Ds community that doesn't get enough love.
The other book can directly change the sexual experience of 50% of the world population. That's not an exaggeration and doesn't include collateral benefit to their partners. It's the most important thing I've ever done or will ever do. Seriously.
The books are super detailed and scientific (because it's me), so I've got about 2000 detailed citations to complete. I'm hoping to hire people to help.
In addition to those 4 books, I have the content of roughly 6 more books mapped out, all of which need tons of images.
I can't do any sexual photography in Southern Asia (because it's illegal), but now that the pandemic-related border closures have eased, I can start planning travel to do photography for more books.
I'm also looking to hire people to do lots and lots of artwork. Lots.
And I'd like to rebuild DKR production to make rope again.
Realistically, I believe shipping will start for all orders in about 2 weeks; 1.5 months for orders including Complete Shibari 2. I wish I could say less, but I'm just not in control of these things.
If you want a refund, I totally understand - these delays have been the most extreme we've ever had since I started selling books in 2004.
However, if you can wait, you'll get the best, most complete books ever written on each topic... and the best, most lovingly crafted rope in the world. Each rope has roughly 10x as much time spent on finishing than another other rope. No one else comes close.
Also, you have my personal promise that all profits go back into making new books and rope, except for what I require to live (and I live a simple life). No matter who you are, you will really want at least some of my upcoming books. Plus, I have a few other cool surprises planned.
I'm truly truly sorry for the brutal delays. The word "unprecedented" has been used far too much worldwide in the last 6 years and, unfortunately, it applies here. These problems and delays are unprecedented.
Again, I apologize for the delays.
If you want a refund, I totally understand.
If you can hang on a bit longer, I promise that the books and rope you get will be worth it. I truly can't express how much your support means - it's literally the world for me.
Thank you so much for your understanding.
I apologize for the delays - there have been many many problems beyond my control (though that's not an excuse). Shipping should resume in about 2 weeks. Printing of Complete Shibari 2 should be complete in about 7 weeks. If you want a refund, I understand; if you can wait, I very very much appreciate it.
2021-08-09 Rope is back!
The last 18ish months have been the most challenging ever. It's been challenging emotionally, physically, and financially for me personally, but also for people across the planet.
In June 2020, Malaysia suddenly stopped all international mail services and, to date, has still not restarted. I expected we'd have a delay of 3 months before rope sales resumed.
What should have been an easy process of shipping a pallet overseas turned into intense, ongoing frustration. We tried more than FIVE different shipping companies and each time, after weeks or months of delays, we had to start again from scratch. I can hardly convey the crushing emotional impact day-to-day of hope-hope-hoping, only to have to restart yet again. It can be challenging getting things done in Southeast Asia, but I've never experienced this level of difficulty. (I had local employees working on it, so the issue wasn't foreigner related.)
During this time, it was important to me to take care of my ~8 employees. I kept them fully employed as long as I could, going deep into personal savings. However, with no rope sales, the materials needed for full production, and rising operating expenses (due to the pandemic), the mathematical reality was inevitable.
I had to shut down rope production. At present, I have no factory. I have no employees.
I do have finished stock, but no ability to replenish that stock. Because of complicated reasons beyond my control (essentially populist anti-foreigner racism by an unpopular government), if I restart, I'll have to do so in a different state, and possibly in a different country. All my former employees have moved on and, because I'm forced to restart in a new place, I can't rehire them regardless. Thus, all past employee experience is also lost.
I want to restart, but I'll have to restart from zero.
I have many books and other plans in progress, but between endless lockdown stress and lack of funds to hire, progress is all but stopped. I'm particularly frustrated, because I sincerely believe some of the upcoming books are the most important I'll ever write.
I take pride in producing the best value, highest quality rope and books in the world. I could earn a lot more money if I worked in a regular job, but I sincerely believe what I do is important for the kinky community. I also sincerely believe that my books will continue to provide benefits long after I'm gone.
The economic reality of my job is that the time & money I invest now doesn't start to pay back until many years later... if it pays back at all. I don't do what I do for the money, but a lack of money will prevent me from continuing.
How you can help:
- If the pandemic harmed you financially or emotionally, take care of yourself first.
- If you need rope and only if you can afford the expense, please buy some rope.
- If possible, spread the word. I rely on word of mouth from people like you. (FB, IG, TW, FL, everything helps)
Except for basic living expenses, all funds from sales will be reinvested toward rebuilding or producing new books. I hope to hire roughly 12 people to either produce rope or help with book production. Southeast Asia has been absolutely economically devastated by the pandemic, to the point that many people are literally starving. I hire at fair wages with better-than-average work conditions, so the employment is particularly appreciated. All the new jobs will be work-from-home, which will be a big benefit to people living away from big cities where good jobs are scarce (especially now).
Thank you so much for your support
2020-08-21 Shipping update: Stress, stress, and existential stress
I have a policy of keeping my private life private and DKR strictly professional. Unfortunately, the two have mixed. This is a long post.
For the last year, I've been under a lot of stress. In the last few months, it's been overwhelming.
During 2018 and 2019, I grinded on bookwriting. I produced 900 first-draft pages, the equivalent of 75% of 4 new books. I'm not a prolific writer. All my published books over the last 20 years amount to only 688 pages, so this was a major accomplishment. I've been pushing myself because I truly feel these are the most important books I'll ever produce, but I still feel deeply worn from the sustained effort. I'd planned to take a few breaks in 2020, maybe travel a bit more.
Circumstances changed, and by June 2019, it was clear that 2020 would be a stressful year for me - Sally, my trusted manager, was moving to Finland to be with her boyfriend and enroll in business school. Then COVID-19 made my plans hilariously impossible, while adding considerably more stress.
For the last 2 months, I've had a low-level, unrequited need to cry that I couldn't identify. Living in Southeast Asia, I feel saturated by the suffering I see around me. COVID-19 has made that suffering so much worse. I see animals suffering, people suffering, people at risk of losing their relationships, their jobs, and their homes. The social safety nets of developed countries don't exist here. (We used to befriend and feed some of the ubiquitous stray animals here. After 6 weeks of lockdown, it seems roughly 75% of the stray population is gone, presumably starved to death.)
The lockdown closed my usual source of stress management: gyms. I compensated by running endless circles around my building in the middle of the night. However, local palm-oil plantations have used the pandemic to burn almost every night, raising the PM2.5 AQI to unsafe levels.
I'd been telling myself that the stress wasn't an issue because wasn't I wasn't worried about existential stress, like having enough money, keeping my home, being separated from my partner, etc. Recently, I had an epiphany - I was wrong. Obviously I'm experiencing existential stress. I'm feeling the insecurity of my relationship, my home, and the futures of not just one, but almost a dozen people.
My girlfriend's visitor visa has expired and, for the last 4 months, we've been uncertain where she'll be two weeks into the future. We could be forced to split up for 6 months or more. Neither of us are suited for long-distance relationships, and our relationship would likely not survive. For months, we've been simultaneously planning to both stay and move to a different country, but we don't know if it would even be possible.
To help the vulnerable local economy, I've hired a lot more staff. We're producing rope for many years in advance, but it's been a huge financial strain. If I screw up inventory, planning, or money management, then possibly 10 people will find themselves suddenly with no job in a market with surging unemployment (despite "official numbers").
Normally, I have a manager handling day-to-day stuff, but when the lockdown started, he decided to keep collecting his pay, but stop working, and not tell me. After I was forced to fire him, I've had to pick up the mess he made. (Producing our finished, packaged rope requires far more components than you'd expect at first glance, so keeping sufficient stock of everything in the midst of a pandemic has been challenging.)
In Canada, I knew dozens of people who could have helped me. However, here, finding an available, trustworthy, English-fluent, kink-friendly helper is nearly impossible, and definitely not something you can openly advertise without the risk of drawing serious problems. I had no one to turn to for help.
Racist police have begun arresting legal foreigners and extorting them for bribes for overstaying their visas. It's impossible for foreigners to actually renew their visas and the Immigration department says it's legal for them to stay, but that doesn't stop police from abusing their power. Police are particularly targeting foreigners taking Grab trips. To keep my girlfriend safe, I now have to escort her every time she goes out shopping, etc. It's been a serious drain on my time. To reduce the risk of a problem at a random police roadblock, we never drive after dark, which makes everyday living harder still.
There were several other minor stresses, including not being able to repair my only vehicle (because mechanics were either closed or overloaded), banks incorrectly blocking standard monthly charges, and so on.
Then the big one: My landlord stopped paying his condo fees and possibly his bank loan, making my long-term home insecure. During the lockdown, an unchecked water-tank leak destroyed our apartment's main elevator motors; the condo board has no money to repair them. Although I was fully paid up, the condo management cut off my parking pass and was threatening to do more after 14 days. If they also disabled my elevator pass, I couldn't access my home, even via the stairs. Local laws exist to theoretically protect consumers and tenants but, in practice, they're completely unenforced and widely ignored. To protect ourselves, we were forced to move to someplace more stable... immediately. Suffice to say, you don't want to move everything you own, unplanned, in the middle of a pandemic. (Fun fact: When you move into an unoccupied apartment in Malaysia, the first thing you do is try to eradicate 3-6 species of ants/termites/moths/bugs that have taken over. Life, uh, finds a way.)
Once we had our new place, we didn't have Internet. Although I had my phone as a backup hotspot and my gf on a different service as a secondary backup, we were getting speeds of 800 bps to 8kbps. I'm unsure if it was heavy load on the mobile network or being physically above the cell tower, but I couldn't load a single sales-management webpage in ten minutes. Café wifi obviously isn't an option and my building is 90% empty, so I have no neighbors to borrow from. Again, the pandemic made a simple hookup much more complicated.
Did I say losing my home was the big one? lol
After I got my house set up and my Internet back, I set about packaging all the orders. I brought cartons of packages to the post office only to discover that Malaysia POS has temporarily suspended all international mail to more than 220 countries worldwide, both air and surface. The collapsing passenger-flight infrastructure and closed borders are also collapsing the mail service. Although the suspension is "temporary", there's no reason to believe it'll be revived within the next few months.
Living in SEA has made me much more safety conscious. I'm acutely aware I don't have the network of friends and social safety nets that would help me in Canada. I've carefully built a system of backups to protect my home, business, health, and those I care about. In the last few months, I've watched COVID-19 knock them down like dominoes (including many others I didn't discuss). More frighteningly, COVID-19 knocked down the foundations upon which my dominoes were placed.
And, honestly, the isolation and continuous stress has affected my physical and mental health far far more than I expected.
So, yeah, I burned out writing for two years and, since then, I've been doing two-and-a-half jobs; supervising our factory running at 5x normal capacity; without a stable home, Internet, or relationship; no social interaction or exercise; while also contending with a lot of COVID-related supply, shipping, and banking difficulties, too. It's been tough.
With all the emergencies going on, I've not kept up with emails, partly because I was overwhelmed, partly because I had no Internet, and partly because I was awaiting information or a solution for one of the many issues.
I want you to know that I'm truly deeply sorry for the stress and uncertainty I've caused you.
I've been writing books since 1999, selling books since 2004, and selling rope since 2014. I've dedicated my life to bringing you affordable, high-quality kink supplies and information. In all that time, nothing even close to this has ever happened.
You deserve better and I'm sincerely sorry.
How I'm fixing things long-term
Fortunately, I've been planning a change to DKR that solves this problem - we've been working on moving all shipping to our distribution center in USA (that already ships all my books). Since the distribution center in USA is fully dedicated to shipping, they can ship all rope and all books out together, and quickly. The response will be faster for all shipments. Because most of you are located in North America and Europe, 95% of shipments will also have shorter travel times, too. Customers in Israel will now be able to get direct deliveries of rope without involving the usual Malaysia-Israel politics.
I'm preparing a huge pallet of rope that will go out soon. However, the shipment will take roughly 60 days to arrive.
At the same time, I'll keep enough stock here so, if international mail delivery resumes, I can fulfill orders.
How I'm fixing things for you
You have the following options:
1.Get a full refund for all undelivered rope.
2.Wait, get your rope as soon as is possible, and get a 10% discount on your entire order.
If you choose option 1, I totally understand. You were supposed to get your rope quickly and stay informed, and that didn't happen. My sincere apologies.
If you choose option 2, thank you. Know that virtually 100% of the funds earned in 2020 (plus some of my own savings) are being reinvested into producing rope and books. You're helping to support roughly 10 people in a developing country at a time where jobs are becoming scarce. You're helping me hire a research assistant so I can finish my 10ish in-production books more quickly. I sincerely believe that one upcoming book in particular will be the most important thing I'll ever do in my life. (Unfortunately, with all the emergencies, I've done zero writing in 2020, even though it's my primary purpose.)
To choose option 1, send an email with your order number (DKR-####). To follow option 2, sit back, relax, and know we're doing everything we can to get your order to you. No other rope comes close to ours for value or quality - it'll be worth the wait.
To keep you apprised, I've created the stock-status update at the top of this page. I'll update it as I get new info. This way, you can get quick updates without having to send/await emails.
Again, I sincerely apologize for the delays. Please know that I'm working at catching up.
Thank you so much for your patience, support, and understanding. Please know that your orders directly fund living wages for some the the world's most economically vulnerable people. Your purchases at Douglas Kent Rope honestly make a difference, especially now.
PS. Two days before it expired on Aug 31, the Movement Control Order was extended until Dec 31. Thus, the borders will remain closed, we don't have to leave for the next 4 months. Although the decision came late, it's a good decision that gives us much-needed stability. The decision infers (but doesn't state) that international shipping is unlikely to resume, which sucks, but at least I can plan. Also, my former manager, Sally, has taken pity on me and will help with the management remotely.
2020-04 Chroma Rope!
The ropes are fully dyed and feature a high thread count so your Chroma Rope stays bright, colorful, and beautiful for a long long time!
2018-07: Complete Shibari 1&2, Version 2!
After a long, difficult search for a good-quality, reliable printer, Complete Shibari 2: Sky is printed and back in stock! It's also updated!
Before each reprint, I make little fixes, tweaks, and updates. I'm proud to say there were very few errors in the original version, and they were consistently minor. However, I made little changes to improve clarity or provide better information.
Generally, the changes were generally so minor the versions incremented by 0.01 or 0.10.
However, Land and Sky have been updated enough that both are now v2.00!
To determine your book's version:
- Open Land or Sky to the boilerplate on page 2.
- Under "Printed in Canada", look for a string of characters that look like "1.10...". The first number is your book's version number. Expect to find versions like 1.00, 1.01, 1.10, etc.
If you own an early version and you use Land or Sky often, consider upgrading. You can gift your books to a friend and get a fresh, updated set.
Don't feel obligated - your version 1 books are still fine. It's just that the newer versions are better!
And if you still haven't bought copies of Complete Shibari 1 & 2, now's the time to get them!
2018-06: Updated booklets!
Major updates to our free download booklets!
- Care and Feeding of Your Douglas Kent Jute Rope v4.00
- Using Your Douglas Kent Furoshiki v2.00