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My Journey As A Scroll Saw Pattern Designer #105: A Silver Lining After a Dismal Day

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Blog entry by Sheila Landry (scrollgirl) posted 09-16-2010 02:24 PM 5019 reads 0 times favorited 9 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 104: Today I Get To Scroll Saw Part 105 of My Journey As A Scroll Saw Pattern Designer series Part 106: Facing Challenges »

Well, yesterday turned out to be a day where things just don’t go right. I know we have all had those days, and it was just my turn apparently. I wasn’t any one thing in particular. Just a lot of little things that added up I guess.

I did get all my cutting done, and that was a good part of the day. But in between cutting there were several messages that weren’t what I called positive. I can see my computer screen from where I cut, and I check in on messages every once in a while, as it keeps me moving around and helps me from getting achy when I am at the saw a long time.

The first message was from my new distributor. She had chosen some of my things for her catalog a month or so ago as she had discovered that she was short a page. She had picked some older items and also some of the newer ones such as a few of the See Creatures. I was happy because it was a good chance for me to reestablish myself with her, as I had done business with her company with the prior owner and although she moved away from taking patterns from outside designers, she said she would give me a try.

Her email said that there were a few of the patterns that I had sent her that were corrupted and I needed to resend them. That was no biggie, as I know that happens. She did go on however to say that things were starting out ‘sluggish’ and that she hoped they would pick up. That made me kind of sad.

Although I know we are far from out of the woods with the economy and all, it brought me back to reality. I didn’t quite know what she meant. Was MY stuff slugglish or was it that way across the board? I was afraid to ask her. She is the one that isn’t the great communicator and it is very difficult to get answers out of her anyway, so I didn’t even approach it. I sent her the patterns and said that I hoped it got batter and that was that.

But sitting at the scroll saw and cutting is my thinking time and I was dwelling on it. It was good to have another source of selling and I was hoping it wouldn’t be in jeopardy because of the slow start. I know she is all business and from a business point of view I felt at risk with her company. I wondered how long she would give me until she decided whether to keep me on as a supplier or not.

Then while I was thinking about all of that, I got the email with my August figures from my large company that wholesales my patterns. They have been struggling too as I have said and the numbers were not great. They weren’t terrible, but they weren’t anything that I could hang my hat on either.

I spent the next couple of hours convincing myself that it was going to be OK. After all, their new catalog where I had all the new stuff in had just mailed out the final week of August, which means those numbers won’t even be counted until the September numbers come out. Also, it was still ungodly hot in most areas throughout August and people really don’t start thinking about getting back into their shops until kids are back to school and the weather changes a bit. So I had to keep convincing myself it would be OK.

Later in the afternoon, my other company’s August report came in and it was pretty much the same. Not horrible, but not what I had hoped for either.

Well, at least I got all the news at once and got it over with.

I continued on with my work, and tried to think things out. I think it hit me hard because my own site was doing better than it ever has done. If I were to look on the positive side, I would convince myself that if my site did this well in the slow times when even the large companies had dismal orders, it should really take off in the busy season. I just can’t wrap my head around that yet. It would be nice if that were the case, but I am not sure and it is hard to tell.

I talked about living in a time warp and patience the other day. This is what I was referring to. The way I look at it there are two choices – find something else to do or work harder. I suppose that is why there aren’t many designers making a living off of doing what I do. It is such a long road and some days seems endless.

When I told my partner of the news, he took it much better than I did. I had told you in the past that he was a ‘black cloud’ thinker and I was a ‘pink cloud’ thinker. I asked him if I could come over and visit on his black cloud awhile and he laughed and said that if I abandoned my pink cloud, what would he have to look forward to? It was odd that he was the one giving me the pep talk for a change. Usually I was the optimistic one.

Part of my disappointment was that I had seen him work so hard and had seen how beautiful his designs are and was sad that he wouldn’t be compensated as much and I hoped for his efforts. I was used to it, but I didn’t want to dampen his spirit and enthusiasm, as he is doing wonderful work. It surprised me that he was OK with things and turned to the role of encouraging me to keep trying. Maybe some of my pink cloud philosophy has rubbed off on him after all?

So I worked on my ornaments until after 9pm and finished them. Here is a picture of some of them. You can click on the title to see the rest or I will put them in my gallery later on:

From SLD330 Sparkling Star Embellished Ornaments

These are going to the magazine and I used the gel stains that I used on the candle trays to color them. They took about 3-4 hours to cut – longer than I anticipated, but I think it was because of the many interruptions I had yesterday. I won’t be able to sell these until they are published next Spring, but I can still sell the other ones done in the Pau Amarillo as they are different designs.

Today I am going to need to go to the bank and do my bookwork for August, but I hope to work on another candle tray and use some of the beautiful orange wood that I recently purchased. I am still waiting to hear from the host company about the “dreaded site update” and that should be coming up soon so I know I will have to deal with that.

As a silver lining on my day, I want to end on a positive note. I had a customer order some patterns Tuesday and she was from the UK. I emailed her the patterns and thought that was that. I received a message from her yesterday afternoon that although she had been charged, she never received confirmation or the patterns. I looked up her order and saw that everything should have been ok. I called her and talked to reconfirm her email and make sure that she didn’t have any filters on her mail and I resent the patterns one at a time and gave her an additional, similar pattern for her trouble.

Just before I went to bed, I received the nicest email from her. She praised my customer service and said that she would tell everyone she knew what good service and care I took with my patterns and the order. She couldn’t believe that I would phone her all the way in the UK to check and thanked me for the additional pattern.

It really made my day. It was a good and positive way to end it. It also reminded me why I do like doing what I do so much – the people. It just went to show me that if I take care of things and do the right thing, everything else will fall into place.

So that is what I will focus on. The positive things. The positive people. The great customers. And doing the best job I can.

I am not read to give up yet. :)

-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs (http://www.sheilalandrydesigns.com) Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"



9 comments so far

View BigTiny's profile

BigTiny

1664 posts in 1555 days


#1 posted 09-16-2010 03:02 PM

Hi Sheila.

Zig Ziglar has a saying that covers your way of servicing your customers. “And then a bit.” If you do what is expected of you and then a bit more, you’ll keep the clients happy and the repeat orders will come in.

If only all business people were as conscientious, it would be a much nicer world. Congratulations!

As for the economy, hang in there, girl. It’ll get better, and the folks who purchase from you will appreciate that you stuck with them through the thin times, and hopefully will show their appreciation in the order department.

I’m sending you a private message on an idea I’ve got. Look forward to hearing your advice.

-- The nicer the nice, the higher the price!

View William's profile

William

9073 posts in 1509 days


#2 posted 09-16-2010 03:05 PM

It seems your worst “troubles” was the fact that the larger company sales of your patterns weren’t as good as you’d hoped. You also said your sales were up from your own site though. I may be wrong. I think though that it may be that some people buying patterns are like me. When given the option of buying from a large company or buying from the designer themselves, I’ll go with the designer every time. As a matter of fact, I have seen patterns in magazines I liked. Instead of ordering from the magazine though, first I go online and see if the designer has their own website. If so, I order from them if I can. I do this for a couple of different reasons.
Of course I’d rather deal with the actual designer. I know how good it feels to know your work is appreciated. If I were to order from the larger company, yes I would get my pattern and yes the designer will still be compensated, but there won’t be that direct communication between me and the designer. I have sold projects through stores where I never meet the end customer. It isn’t nearly as satifying to me because I don’t get to have contact with the people who will actually be benefitting from my hard work.
If I order from the large company and something is wrong or my order doesn’t arrive, they usually don’t care. If I order from the designer, they not only care but usually go out of their way to make sure I’m satisfied because most time they depend on repeat business, which I do faithfully provide when I’m treated right. The large company has much greater financial income and can stand to lose a few customers because they didn’t take time out of their precious schedules or deadlines to help a customer.
If I order from the designer, there are times that I develop a working relationship with that designer. Since I lean more towards the actual building side of the process and not so much designing things, then I have in the past called on those designers to help me bring ideas of mine to life. Without those relationships with designers, most of those ideas in my head would probably stay there until I forget about them.
Last but certainly not least, designers like yourself is what is keeping certain art forms like scrolling alive. You design the patterns. You do the hard work of keeping them out there. You constantly work your mnd to keep pushing out even newer ideas and designs. I think you do this because you love scrolling as much as me. The big companies though have one motive in this, the bottom line.
For the reasons I have listed, if I see a pattern I like of yours, I will buy it from you, and directly from your site. I will not (if I can get away from it) buy from the large company.

-- http://wddsrfinewoodworks.blogspot.com/

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

7692 posts in 1586 days


#3 posted 09-16-2010 03:26 PM

Thank you both for your great thoughts and encouragement. It means quite a lot to me.

I really do try to make people happy. I was really upset when I read that she didn’t receive her patterns. She should have had them two days before. I pride myself on getting those orders out as soon as I see them. I love when I get the emails back from the customers that say “Wow, that was quck!” and I get them frequently because I think I surprise them. She was so nice and patient and said “it happens” that I wanted to give her something extra for her understanding. I know it wasn’t necessary, but that is the best time to do it – when people don’t expect it.

I am also glad you feel that way, William. I have a lot of customers who go to me for reasons you state. Maybe you have a point that I didn’t think of in my cloudiness yesterday: maybe that is why my own sales are up. It is a good way to look at it anyway.

Thanks for being good friends and shoring me up today. We all get our poopie days – it was just my turn. You made some good points to think about that are positive though and I will focus on them.

I appreciate it a lot.

Sheila

-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs (http://www.sheilalandrydesigns.com) Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"

View helluvawreck's profile

helluvawreck

15904 posts in 1533 days


#4 posted 09-16-2010 04:02 PM

Sheila, I’m a little concerned about the economy and I’m just not sure it’s going to come around. Everyone that I read are the ones who predicted all of this before it happened but they have nothing to do with solving it and the ones who are trying to solve it are the ones who never saw it coming but were in power before it got here. I think that there is a real solvency problem with the banks and the whole financial system due to our fiat currency and other things, but that is neither here nor there. I’m glad that you’re day ended on a good note and I am sure that you must have a fine customer service department since it’s probably mostly yourself. It sounds like you are on the right track with everything and I’m sure that your long range prospects are quite good. Keep up the good work.

-- If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away. Henry David Thoreau

View Jordan's profile

Jordan

1358 posts in 1791 days


#5 posted 09-16-2010 06:42 PM

As your average consumer who buys things mostly that they NEED, I suspect as helluvawreck says, it’s probably the economy. Sales at the Stampede salons were waaaay down this year and it wasn’t a reflection of the art even though many of the artists who usually make a year’s wages there were down in the mouth. If you compared your patterns to say, knitting patterns, many of those stores here are almost empty on any given day. I’m not kidding you when I say your patterns are fabulous so take it with a grain of salt. Perhaps you might’ve asked them how sales of their other products were doing.

-- http://www.jordanstraker.com

View grizzman's profile

grizzman

7040 posts in 1970 days


#6 posted 09-16-2010 11:34 PM

you better saddle up and remount that pink cloud…lol…your working hard…there is no doubt that your product is top of the line…so hang in there..i know someday’s are tough..this economy is something else and if you can just be in the position to ride it out…sometimes there is sacrifice to be made…maybe you need cut back on those sweet rolls…lol…...you have a great day…grizzman

-- GRIZZMAN ...[''''']

View Dennisgrosen's profile

Dennisgrosen

10850 posts in 1782 days


#7 posted 09-16-2010 11:43 PM

ceep up the head Sheila, William had a real good point of how some people think
For myself always go to the local baker and by my bread , even thow it wuold be more easyer
for me just to take it down from the shelf at the dailystore when I´m there to buy what
we need in the kitchen, its the same price and the same baker but I can´t see why the big store
shuold have some of the money that the baker had worked for

have a great day
Dennis

View woodcraftertom's profile

woodcraftertom

38 posts in 1519 days


#8 posted 09-16-2010 11:50 PM

I couldn’t agree more then with what William said. I would rather go to the designer if they are available. It gives me a feeling that I have a working friendship with the designer. I have someone to ask questions and when my brain decisdes to come up with an idea I have someone to go to to see what they think. I will admit you are one of the nicest people to deal with. I have cut your candle trays and love many of your other designs. Don’t get too discouraged there are those of us in the scroll saw world that couldn’t “cut it without you”

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

7692 posts in 1586 days


#9 posted 09-16-2010 11:58 PM

Again a thanks to all you guys. I just get my moments, you know? I really like talking to my customers too and hearing the stories about how they are using my patterns and stuff. It is a good thing that I am a “homebody” and like to be here in my little nest. I am available most of the time to talk to people when they need me to help.

I usually do look at the big picture, not day to day. I know we all have our ups and downs so I know I can look forward to things looking up in the future. Having you guys as friends to cheer me on really helps. I appreciate it a lot.

I am looking to paint tonight and work on the pond set and hopefully I will have another one to post tomorrow. That will certainly help move things in a good direction. I know you are all right and it does help to sometimes hear it. Thanks again. I hope you all have a great evening. :)

Sheila

-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs (http://www.sheilalandrydesigns.com) Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"

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