My Journey As A Creative Designer - Woodworking and Beyond #215: Taking Care of Business

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Blog entry by Sheila Landry (scrollgirl) posted 01-04-2011 01:59 PM 3997 reads 0 times favorited 7 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 214: The Growing Business Part 215 of My Journey As A Creative Designer - Woodworking and Beyond series Part 216: Self-Confidence and Reaching Your Potential »

Yesterday was really, really busy. I say that in a good way because I do thoroughly enjoy all the communication that I have with my customers. It seems like there are just days like that when customer correspondence is a large part of the business. It is nice though, because I get a chance to catch up with everyone and hear how things are.

I have one customer who was battling cancer. She had last ordered via the phone in December and was going for some tests to see how she was doing after treatment. She called again yesterday with an order and not only filled me in on her holiday, but she also told me she got her test results back and she is now considered cancer-free. That was a great call and very uplifting. Both she and her sister have recently found my site and have been buying patterns from me. They are the type of people that when you first talk to them, it is as if you have known them for years. They are friendly and outgoing and personable and talking to them always makes my day.

It is nice to get reports on how much people like my designs too. So many people call and start the conversation with “I can’t draw a stick figure, but so and so really loved the design that I cut out that you designed!” I hear lots of stories like that around this time of the year. It is the aftermath of the holidays and it really boosts me and encourages me to do more.

I think that one of the reasons that I like what I do so much is the great deal of variety of people and situations that I run across on a daily basis. I deal with personal customers, wholesale distributors, the magazine people, manufacturers and supply companies and fellow woodworkers on a daily basis. There are few jobs that I have seen which would offer someone so much variety. I truly love each and every aspect of it.

The other day I was thinking about the Ice Pond situation and I was beginning to get a bit down about it. I wasn’t dwelling on it, but rather deciding how to go about handling it. As if by magic, while I was sitting there discussion my options with my partner, not one but two emails popped into my inbox. Both of them were from different customers and were very positive regarding my patterns, designs and customer service. One customer had pictures of how many ways he made one of my ornaments and said that he gave them out for Christmas and how much everyone loved them. The other was complimentary on how nice the site was and how great my service was and what a pleasure it was to do business with me. My partner pointed out that THAT was what I should be focusing on and he was right. Those stories and happy customers are really what it is all about.

I did decide to give one final try to resolve the situation with the skating set yesterday. The last time I had written the editor (after several previous tries to communicate) was December 10. I felt that I had given him ample time to respond – holidays and all – and I had still not heard back from him regarding what he intended to do about the problem I had with them. He had mentioned putting up a correction on the website which still two months later has not been done and also perhaps an ad in the magazine. Neither had been done. I also still had not received the set back, which should have been sent right after it was photographed sometime in October.

I wrote an email to the CEO of the company. He is the owner’s son and has over the years pretty much taken over many of the day to day tasks of running the magazines. I had met him almost 15 years ago when I began working for the magazine and several time since at various trade shows and functions. It has been years since I have spoken to him, but I always had a good relationship with him and thought he would be the one to go to in order to get some resolution to all of this.

I wasn’t disappointed. I heard back from the assistant editor of the magazine within an hour of writing him and she told me she wanted to make things right. She asked for some shipping information to return my project to me and also some information that she could post on the website. I wrote her back with said information, but also mentioned the semi-promise of a written correction or ad. She did write back that she would need to talk further about it with the editor, but would at least get the ball rolling on the other things.

Later on in the day, I received a follow up letter from the CEO stating that he sent it to who can help fix things and if things aren’t taken care of to my satisfaction, he will make sure they will be. I was happy that at least that something is being done and it appears that someone is going to try to make it right.

I don’t like going over anyone’s head – especially in difficult times like these, but I do think that I was patient enough in this instance and it was about time that someone be accountable and do something to correct things. I seriously don’t know how much business this will bring me or how many qualified people will see it, and I also realize that since it is past the holiday season, the time frame is no longer ideal either. However, at least something is being done now and I feel as if we can put this issue to rest once and for all and move on to better things.

It takes a lot for me to do something like this. I find that I still don’t quite have the self-confidence that I need all the time to get things done. Usually I try to find other means to solve problems and I hem and haw about things and try to work things out by sometimes going back and banging my head against the same wall over and over again. When I get tired of that and frustrated, there are times like this when it does give me the courage to stand up for myself and make certain demands that I am entitled to. More so than not when this happens the results have been very positive for me. After all, it isn’t as if my demands are unreasonable. It is simply a matter of having enough confidence in myself to ask for what I deserve and finding the right person to ask it of.

It is at times like this when I sit here and wonder why I didn’t do this in the first place. It would have saved me a lot of grief and anxiety. But each step such as this that I take helps build that confidence and it will be easier the next time a situation such as this arises. I think it is all a learning process.

Today will again be busy drawing and getting some orders sent out. In looking at the figures from my site for December, I see that the candle trays are by far my best sellers, so I need to get to drawing more. My partner is going to be drawing up complimentary designs which will accommodate smaller tea light and votive candles and match the larger holders. He started that project a couple of days ago and cut the first design which matches the Sweetheart Candle Tray. It really came out beautiful and as with the original trays, can be used as a picture frame or in many other ways. I will post pictures of them as soon as I have them.

It is a good start to the year. I would have thought that this time would be rather quiet with everyone getting over the holiday. However, it appears that people are going to be looking for something to do over the winter months and it could be a nice surprise. I will just have to wait and see . . .

Happy Tuesday!

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

7 comments so far

View Bob Kollman's profile

Bob Kollman

1798 posts in 3241 days

#1 posted 01-04-2011 05:07 PM

I have a boss directly over me…It is a constant battle to get him to follow Thur with many
important issues. If I didn’t by pass info to the other Department heads regularly, things
would not get done. It doesn’t make the boss guys bad, he’s just sloppy and not effective
in some areas of his work. It can be frustrating, but I always know if I don’t follow up in
a timely fashion, it wont get done.

-- Bob Kenosha Wi.

View BritBoxmaker's profile


4611 posts in 3087 days

#2 posted 01-04-2011 06:33 PM

Sometimes you have to make a regular ‘pain in the ass’ of yourself in order to get people to act. This editor may be of the type that only deals with the customer who is shouting loudest. You might as well make that you. Promises were made and not delivered on. You go for it.

-- Martyn -- Boxologist, Pattern Juggler and Candyman of the visually challenging.

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 3165 days

#3 posted 01-04-2011 06:52 PM

if this don´t get things rolling on that magazin for you , you deffently have to skip them for good
becourse I think they have serius management problems ….well I have said it before I know that :-)
and a little clap on your shuolders for taking the step to go to the top …...maybee they will wake up
and change a few people on the mag. now :-) hopefully to the better

now back to focus on the costummers and the weekend in marts :)

have a great day Sheila

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9231 posts in 2970 days

#4 posted 01-04-2011 07:17 PM

You all have good points -

@Bob – I learned when we put on an addition to my home some 20 years ago that you have to in essence do everyone’s job. If you don’t look over their shoulder, things just don’t get done properly. I had a window put in that they had to do three times until they got it properly. I told the boss “if you can come here and look at this and say you would accept it in YOUR house, I will leave you alone”. They finally did it right.

@ Martyn – I am sure that I can scrape up a few who have seen me in my “pain in the ass’ mode. It isn’t a pretty site. I usually don’t argue unless I am damn certain that I am right. I am at the point where I expect to be compensated for all the mess this thing has been with them. I like it when I get like this though. I am not unprofessional, but I am very clear that something needs to be done. I don’t expect any more than I am entitled to. If I don’t stand up for myself though, who will? I just don’t want to be a doormat.

@ Dennis – This is my final effort. If nothing is done, then I will put it to rest. It won’t be worth any more time. But you can bet it is filed in my memory and I will remember it the next time something is asked of me.

On to good and positive things !


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

View BritBoxmaker's profile


4611 posts in 3087 days

#5 posted 01-04-2011 10:05 PM

Sheila, nothing can stop righteous indignation. I hope you are successful.

-- Martyn -- Boxologist, Pattern Juggler and Candyman of the visually challenging.

View BertFlores58's profile


1698 posts in 2972 days

#6 posted 01-05-2011 12:21 AM

From the the above, I learned how the business world connect and resolve miscommunication. Yesterday we had a meeting drafting the business plan… The target is too high.. an increase of 20% revenue from 2010. All we need now is to work rather than ask the owner to finance… a good way to realize that they also want us to do the rest… of course without the managers and people like us as the workhorses, the company will survive but at least we should be fed with those supports…

Nice reading from you all and to start my day like this is really uplifting. Thanks and God bless.

-- Bert

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


18309 posts in 3726 days

#7 posted 01-05-2011 11:07 AM

Shelia, I believe you are a little short on self confidence and you are under estimating your value. I have never been short of self confidence, but it wasn’t until I was in my own business cost accounting all the jobs we did that I finally understood my real value to my previous employers. None of them would lay me off when they got short of work. I always had to quit when they didn’t have anything for too long. They were always upset when I left. The cost accounting showed I was 30 to 50% more productive than any of my employees over a 2 year period. Only then, did I realize what my potential could be. Coupling that with my customer relations shills proved to be a recession proof business for many years. I started in a recession with no work out there. Not quite like now because this is unprecedented in the post WWII economy.

I believe you have the same potential and value if you capitalize on your customer relations and the popularity and demand for your designs. Most of us cannot draw a stick man. If the magazines will not give you proper credit in your articles with your website included and publish on a timely basis with seasonal considerations where warranted, you may have to do what I learned to do early in my career; tell the boss if he wants to be boss he is going to have to do things right; the implication being I would go to work for some one else if changes weren’t made. What ever I wanted done was almost always in their best interests as well as for my sanity and to facilitate productivity.

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

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