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 . . .
-- Contributing Editor, Creative Woodworks and Crafts, Sheila Landry Designs http://www.sheilalandrydesigns.com "Knowledge is Power"