Katie Llanos - Caden ConceptsAsk anyone if they believe that promotional products should be safe, and the answer would be a resounding “YES!” Unfortunately, beliefs often get minimized and set aside in order to close the deal. Would you actually walk away from a project if you couldn’t get the proper compliance documentation?

Lori Caden, owner of Caden Concepts, has declined an order—and she’d do it again. As a top-vetted vendor for one of the world's leading media and entertainment companies, Lori was asked to source a color-changing sequin, full-color throw pillow with a tight production time frame. What happened next was…unexpected.

“Not having a go-to pillow supplier that could meet these specific requirements, we sourced on SAGE,” she explains. “We found a supplier that had the exact item but could not produce any testing documents or proof that this item was Prop 65 compliant as well as met CPSIA guidelines because these pillows were to be given to kids. Ultimately, we were unable to find a supplier who could provide testing results and meet our responsible sourcing standards, so we let the client know we could not fulfill the request because of these issues. I think this is a success story because even though we lost out on the order, we stayed true to our standards. We know the customer values this transparency and will ultimately send more requests in the future knowing we do our due diligence.”

It’s these kinds of principles that not only separate Caden Concepts from its competitors but also helps them land the larger, more lucrative accounts. “We have worked with Home Depot for many years, and the company now requires its top vendors to become QCA Advocates,” Lori says. “But our participation goes beyond meeting a client’s requirements. We truly believe in brand safety. Being a QCA Distributor Advocate shows all of our clients that we are committed to representing their brand in a way which upholds the standards we know their company to reflect.”

While a customer request may have led Lori to seek out becoming a QCA Distributor Advocate (read the official press release here), her hope is that through her participation she can do her part to help improve standards and eliminate dangerous product from our industry. This starts with educating end buyers.

“I have spoken with many end buyers who do not know the first thing about product safety and compliance,” she says. “There’s a huge misconception that if ‘the distributor already sells this product in the U.S., then it must be compliant.’ This assumption is dangerous. I know many buyers who have purchased under this assumption and have seen it cause potential injury hazards and necessitate costly recalls. Thus, it is increasingly important to be aware of the best ways to safeguard end buyers’ brands. When clients see QCA, it is like a double seal of approval and trust.”