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Kevia Style Addresses JourneeBox Riviera Maya 2022 Shipping Issues

Kai Green
ByKai GreenFeb 28, 2022 | 16 comments

JourneeBox
4.2 overall rating
34 Ratings | 29 Reviews

On Friday, Kevia Style, the company that produces  JourneeBox, sent a letter to suscribers that provided transparency about shipping delays and other issues regarding their Riviera Maya Box--and provided their plan for the future.

"We are writing to share an update on the delivery of the Riviera Maya Box and a bit about the story of our Journee as a company," the letter began. "First, we are told our final warehouse delivery will be on Monday, Feb 28 and if that remains true, we expect to begin shipping Riviera Maya next week.... Our post below is intended to provide more transparency about the Box delays and how we are responding to the challenges."

The letter detailed the complications that the eight-person company dealt with in the last half of 2021, including the switch to the Riviera Maya box in October, supplier issues, deciding to not include a product that included lead and much more.

Going forward, they've found a solution for avoiding similar problems for their upcoming boxes. "To this end, we have taken the step of prepaying for orders for six months to a year in advance of shipment for both new and future customers, which is a huge investment for a business of this size," they wrote. "But we hope this investment begins to repair some of the damage to our customer community created by the 2021 Box shipping delays."

Kevia noted that they've been steadily communicating with subscribers throughout this process, and reminded them to contact customer service (and Leo, who heads up the customer service department and has been seen in Journeebox comment threads here at MSA) at [email protected] (or via live chat) if they need anything.

Here's the letter in full:

We are writing to share an update on the delivery of the Riviera Maya Box and a bit about the story of our Journee as a company. First, we are told our final warehouse delivery will be on Monday, Feb 28 and if that remains true, we expect to begin shipping Riviera Maya next week. We are so very disappointed to have only shipped two Boxes for older customers and three Boxes (an Editorial Box) for newer customers in 2021. We began adjusting our billing cycles last Fall to postpone additional charges until we are able to fulfill prepaid Boxes. Our post below is intended to provide more transparency about the Box delays and how we are responding to the challenges.  

The Story of Our Journee

As a small business, we have historically conceptualized and designed a year ahead of Journees but only worked on production one Box at a time, with a 10 week shipping lead time to receive products we develop internationally. For example, the Box we intended to release after Kyoto was Nottingham. Products produced overseas set sail to us in August, 2021. They have just arrived to us this month, February, 2022. We watched and waited as an insurmountable delay became evident and our 10 week shipping window widened to 14, 18, and finally, 24 weeks. Six months.  In late October, 2021, after countless discussions with our freight forwarders, we looked back to our planning and decided to move up Riviera Maya. We discussed shipping lead times from Mexico and we were told 5-7 days. We celebrated. We began sourcing, working with artisans and manufacturers, discussing sustainability, company practices, environmental impact and we were thankful we had switched gears to Riviera Maya. Originally, we were told the entire order would arrive in December. 

What We Didn't Know Then

 First, it is worth explaining that we work with a network of small and medium-sized companies throughout the world. Each JourneeBox usually has products from at least two different countries. Our commitment to sustainability and ethical sourcing also means we often have to provide some free business support and logistical education for vendors we work with. While we partnered with some well established eco-conscious companies in Mexico, like Ah Cacao, several of the artisan-based products required a great deal of support from us including quality control procedures and packaging standards. The molinillo, for example, were handmade by dozens of home-based artisans throughout Mexico. Moreover, the entire order was delayed by two weeks because of an error in another supplier’s production (the merlot color Sabana Maya blanket was hot pink and they would not provide us with a partial shipment). And backing up even further, these awesome blankets (made with 40% reclaimed materials) were originally intended to be a set of mugs to go with the molinillo and chocolate…  

Mexican Pottery & Lead

We sourced a beautiful traditional hand-painted set of two mugs made by an artisan in Mexico  for the Riviera Maya Box and went into production. In researching deeper into the production process, we became concerned about lead in the clay or glaze manufacturing process. We asked the artisan if they were lead-free and they assured us they were safe as their glazing practices ensure no lead. We conducted an independent test and they tested positive for lead. This was the last item in production for the order.  Thankfully, we were able to source the wonderful Sabana Maya blankets in place of the mugs but we wanted to inform consumers about the dangers of ceramics made in Mexico. What we found in our research is that while manufacturers may have switched to lead-free glazing practices, if they are using old kilns that were once used for glazes containing lead, then the ceramics will still be contaminated, according to this FDA article.  These specific concerns are isolated to Mexican pottery used for food or drink consumption. If you are concerned about any of your ceramic wear, at-home lead tests are available at hardware stores or online. Please also note that we tested the molinillos for the Riviera Maya Box in an abundance of caution and they are lead-free.  

Our Team and Customer Service

In 2022, we aim to introduce you to our team in more detail via social media so please stay tuned for that. Our entire team consists of working Owner, Kevia, and seven full-time employees that cover everything from creation, design, sourcing, accounting, marketing, sales, customer service, administration and IT. We are the definition of a small business.  One of our magnificent seven is the wonderful, kind and seriously funny Leo. He heads up our customer service. If you ever need anything, please contact [email protected] or live chat directly with him M-F 9 AM to 5 PM PST. Leo takes rests on evenings, weekends and all major holidays to spend time with his family and six month old daughter. 🙂  Additionally, please note that we have been communicating updated shipping expectations with each Riviera Maya spoiler we released. We encourage subscribers to check spam folder(s) and ensure that communications settings allow communication from us. Unfortunately, if subscribers opt out of marketing communication from us but still have prepaid Boxes, they will not receive pertinent information from us and will need to rely on our social media or a third party site to learn about updates as our email platform will not be able to send spoiler or customization information.  

The Future of JourneeBox–Nottingham Awaits

Logistics globally has changed, perhaps forevermore, and, like everyone else, we saw incredible delays unfold in real time around us. While we went into lockdown in Portland in March of 2020, we wouldn’t see the full effects of international shipping delays for a very long time. Honestly, it doesn’t look like we’ll be returning to what was normal any time soon. We are not blaming the pandemic - we have been reacting to it in real time. To this end, we have taken the step of prepaying for orders for six months to a year in advance of shipment for both new and future customers, which is a huge investment for a business of this size. But we hope this investment begins to repair some of the damage to our customer community created by the 2021 Box shipping delays.   We are at present set up to ship your customization order as soon as the Sabana Maya blankets in Salt Lake make their way to us in Oregon. Regarding importing, we see comments from our community wondering why we don’t just source more from the US. The simple answers are based both in intention and economics: 1) JourneeBox is an international themed Box and we try to source as much as we can from the region of our Journee and 2) it’s not possible to source even packaging within the US and provide a high quality assortment of 6 items for $55. For example, our beautiful blue product Boxes with magnets, ribbons, and gold foil priced out at $22-$27 per piece domestically. We aim to balance economics, environmental impact and participating in good global business while providing subscribers with high quality products at an accessible price point.  

Thank You

In the thick of it all, we want to say thank you. Our Slack channel is flooded with very sweet and encouraging emails that Leo shares from so many of our Journeers. We love our dedicated customers (did you know there’s a JourneeBox Facebook fan page!?!) and we deeply appreciate your patience and support. 

While Kevia the company has been established for over 15 years, JourneeBox just celebrated its third birthday! With an eye on that milestone, we are humbled. We are grateful for our very strong and kind team, our focus on sustainability, and commitment to bolstering women and people of color while providing high quality, unique products that we know you’ll love. With Nottingham in the warehouse and ready to ship next and Tubingen set to follow, we will continue the practice of holding payment processing until Boxes are close to being fulfillable and updating shipping expectations with spoiler releases. 

As always, we hope you JourneeWell,

Kevia and the JourneeBox Team

The Box: JourneeBox

The Cost: $59.99 per quarter ($219.99 for Annual Subscription)

Shipping: New subscribers pay $6.99 shipping per box in the contiguous USA and $10.99 to Alaska, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico.  However, current subscribers are grandfathered into free shipping for life.

The Products: Six or more sustainable, free-trade products from a different location every quarter. You might find home and beauty goods, as well as apparel and accessories. Here are the products in their latest box, Riviera Maya.

New to JourneeBox? Find out why readers chose it as one of 2021's best subscription boxes for women; explore our reviews to get an idea of what past boxes have been like.

What do you think of this letter from  Kevia Style/JourneeBox?

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Launched in 2019, JourneeBox is a sustainable luxury lifestyle subscription box that is carefully curated by founder and designer Kevia Jeffrey-West. Each box has 6+ items inspired by travel, art and nature. Getting a box is like receiving gifts from a well-traveled friend. Subscribers are guaran... read more.

Kai Green
Kai Green
Kai Green is a freelance writer who loves happy surprises, which is why she loves subscription boxes. She has a favorite box every week and gets almost TOO excited about packaging. When she isn’t thinking about subscriptions she thinks about entertainment, pop culture and BTS. Her most fervent wish is that a BTS box becomes a reality.

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16 comments

Mary L.

Was thinking about this box today and wondering about its status. My subscription is over, but I was curious to see what would be in the Nottingham box. It seems to be crickets from the company though.

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Sherri

I still have an active subscription (one box left of my annual that I paid for in April 2020 bc I skipped Mexico), and I haven’t heard anything about at all the Nottingham box. I did, however, receive a “Happy Earth Day” email from them today that talked about their commitment to sustainability and offered a promo code for new subscriptions (they are offering the Mexico box as the first box for new subscriptions).

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Mary L.

After having some time to sit with this response, I have a couple reactions.

1. I really appreciate that JourneeBox recognized there may have been lead in the mugs and took action rather than turning a blind eye to the possibility.
2. I’m bummed that there are no mugs in the box because I think that would have been a really cool addition.
3. I feel like we’re being gaslighted a little here because it seems like we have gone long stretches without communication, and this makes it sound like that wasn’t the case. It also feels like it’s implied that anyone critical about the delays is being unreasonable.

Overall, this message didn’t give me a lot of warm fuzzies.

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Sherri

While I appreciated the message to some extent, what really bothers me with all of this is that the message is reactionary, rather than proactive. And that has been consistent – when the customer service email hack issue came to light in the comments here, and people expressed surprise and dismay that there had been a security breach and they hadn’t been notified… only *then* was an email sent providing customers with information about the breach. When people here started expressing their concerns and frustrations about the current box… only *then* was an email sent providing an explanation of the delay and other matters. Had this information been proactively and timely provided, people might still have frustrations over delays, but at least they would know the company was genuinely trying to keep customers as a priority. To my view, annual subscribers in particular have a right to be proactively kept informed – the company has had their funds for upwards of 2+ years in some cases, yet the company has not fulfilled their end of the contract. And yes, I’m right there with Lisa B – my first reaction to the message was where’s the apology. IMHO, playing the martyr isn’t a good look for a business, regardless of the circumstances.

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Rebecca

What a nightmare for Kevia and her team! Shipping has been awful for a lot of individuals and smaller businesses. I really appreciate they have provided updates on shipping and schedules. It is also nice that they scrambled to provide a nice replacement (the Riviera Maya box) when items were 6 months late for the originally planned box. For a small business to try and source (and pay for, too) boxes many months in advance puts a real financial strain on them. The dedication to quality is wonderful. I don’t know of many other sub boxes that put that much thought and effort into making sure their products are safe. The mugs they were sourcing were more than likely marked as lead free by the manufacturers. So glad that Kevia and her team caught that issue before it became an problem! There’s a big difference in a Merlot colored blanket and a hot pink one. Again delays, but delays to get it right. Sending out a few boxes to MSA and other reviewers gives more people the opportunity to see the box and either subscribe, get excited because they already subscribe, or pass on the box.

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Ana

You sound like a kevia employee Rebecca. The way she has treated her subscribers is totally unexceptable, including her bogus explanatory emails.

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Sherri

What Mary L said.
Also, “I don’t think this was an apology letter” – do you not feel that subscribers are owed an apology? Look, I was a HUGE supporter of this box. And very, very understanding of the pandemic related issues. And still extremely supportive and understanding for a long time while others were frustrated over the delays. But here’s the thing, in April 2020 I paid for an annual subscription, and now just shy of 2 years later, I only have 3/4 of what I paid for. I should have received my final box in Spring 2021, so this is more than a few months or even 6 months of delay here, it’s a full year. Communication regarding issues was ok at first, but then just dropped off into radio silence – until enough people commented here to prompt them to react and finally communicate. On top of that, last summer, after receiving only 2 boxes of my pre-paid annual sub, I was billed/renewed for another year as an annual subscriber. Sorry, but that just isn’t right, they still had my money for boxes I had paid for but not yet received. So I contacted CS and here’s the kicker – I was told that they had NOT billed me, that they checked their records and there was no charge to me. Yet, my credit card statement said otherwise. I had to submit a copy of my credit card statement to them to get them to issue a refund. Frustrating, but even through that I remained understanding, things happen, right? But then the radio silence got worse, and the reality is, we all reach our limit at some point, and I’m obviously not alone. I’m allowed to express my frustration, and I’m allowed to believe a company should apologize for not fulfilling their side of what is, simply put, a business contract (even if circumstances were largely out of their control).
So yes, we can certainly go elsewhere, but as Mary said, there’s still an obligation on JB to provide what we pre-paid for long ago. And yes, once that is fulfilled, I will “go elsewhere.” At the end of the day though, that makes me sad. I still really like the curations themselves and the uniqueness of this sub – the things that made me subscribe in the first place – but I’m just no longer able to accept the extensive delays with no communication and no apparent regard for the customer experience. Heck, I even would have been ok with the delays if regular updates had been proactively provided. I truly hope JB makes it through all of this and out to the other side, and if at some point they are back to being able to timely provide well-curated boxes, I will definitely consider signing up again. But until then, my frustrations – and those of others – are valid. Just as valid as your support of them – we are all entitled to our opinions and to share them on forum designed for that.

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Mary L.

@Rebecca, The problem with saying “go elsewhere” is that some of us have annual subscriptions. JB has had our money for two years and isn’t issuing prorated refunds. I will gladly go elsewhere as soon as I get what I paid for.

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Rebecca

No, not a Kevia or Journee Box employee. I don’t think this was an apology letter, more an explanation of issues they have faced. While some companies have had better luck navigating the shipping issues, Journee Box is by no means alone. I order from Two Blind Brothers, and they also had items stuck off shore for many months. I don’t think bashing a company gets anywhere. If you don’t believe their explanation and are unhappy with this subscription, by all means go elsewhere. I found their letter informative and it seems sincere. I hope shipping improves for everyone soon. I liked how they acknowledged their subscribers’ support and thanked folks for their patience.

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Ana

*unacceptable

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Sam

Glad you bought her story but I don’t believe anything that was written. Sounds like a big sob story just like Jessica from OuiPlease box wrote to garner sympathy.

Fact is there’s more smaller businesses then bigger ones and they all have seemed to navigate international shipping with out 6 months delay in sending boxes. And they’re only now coming out with updates mind you and this is probably because so many subscribers are over this box and its excuses.

For a company that’s been in business for 15 years, you believe they don’t know how to navigate after all this time? This coming from a business that buys all their jewelry from China. Errr okay then.

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Lisa B

@Kevia & @Journee Thank you for your transparencies. Unfortunately there was something you forgot. There isn’t a sorry to be found in this after-the-fact transparency.

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Stephanie

You’re right, there’s no I’m sorry. This doesn’t seem genuine to me. I don’t see this as transparency, sounds like a bunch of bs rambling to win back subscribers. How is it that dozens of other boxes navigated international shipping with no issues from Q3 2020 onwards? I don’t buy these excuses.

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Jen

Umm I didn’t read past a couple paragraphs. They shipped a box to MSA to gain new customers but haven’t shipped anything to us. I see where their priorities are $$$$$

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Mary L.

Did they tell you if the final shipment arrived today as expected?

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kai

Hi Mary, we’ve not yet heard, will try to find out.

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