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My Journey As A Scroll Saw Pattern Designer #815: Betrayed

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Blog entry by Sheila Landry (scrollgirl) posted 09-12-2012 10:23 AM 5072 reads 0 times favorited 21 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 814: If First You Don't Succeed Part 815 of My Journey As A Scroll Saw Pattern Designer series Part 816: Finding the Right Path »

I don’t know where to begin today. I am truly feeling ill because of some things that are happening with my business. Those of you who read on a daily basis, know that I typically don’t gripe and moan about things, as I usually try to look at the bright side of things and focus on that. But some times it is difficult to find the bright side in a situation and there is nothing but darkness.

Yesterday I found out some extremely troubling news regarding one of my wholesalers. A friend of mine decided to order some of my patterns from them ‘just to see’ what the patterns looked like. I had discussed in previous blogs that this particular wholesaler had tried several times to strip all of my information from the patterns that they were distributing. We had gone through the rounds about leaving contact information so that customers who purchased the patterns through them could still contact me with questions or concerns regarding the patterns. While “company A” wanted to strip all of the information, as they felt we were competing with them, we had told them if that were the case, we would not have them sell for us. As a result, they promised (in an email that I still have) that nothing would be changed in the nature of the pattern and that our contact information would remain on the pattern.

Recently, things have come to my attention that made me believe that this was perhaps being violated. Just to be sure, I had my friend order some of my patterns from them. He received them yesterday and scanned them in and sent them to me. What I saw made me sick.

Not only was there NO contact information for me on them (they did have that I designed it, but only my name) but they also changed the instructions completely. Much of the instructions were removed, and other parts were changed as far as thickness of wood, etc., making the project something that I had not intended.

The pattern was the Victorian Birdcage ornament pattern, that I had shown here on my blog:

But in the pattern my friend was sent, the plaque was completely different.

While I had stated in the instructions that this pattern required 1/8” wood, they had in it to use 1/8” to 1/4”. I couldn’t imagine how ugly and clunky these would be with that thickness of wood. They also left the blade size at a 2/0 blade, which would have extreme difficulty cutting the straight lines on 1/4” stock, making the pattern hard to do.

They had asked me if I would allow them to include a pattern that I offered free on my site at the time as a limited ‘bonus’ pattern, and I agreed to do this, thinking it would be good business and nice for the customers. The pattern was the companion plaque which used one of the cages as an overlay piece. One could choose any of the eight original cages and hopefully, after purchasing the plaque would also want to purchase the set of 8 ornaments. This was, I thought, good marketing.

Not only was the plaque downsized – making ALL the pieces extremely difficult to cut successfully – but they also decided instead of making it a self-framing plaque, that you were to put a plywood back board on instead, having to glue it to the frame itself. You can see by the picture that the decorative holes around the frame would leave you with either seeing the backboard through the holes or very little to hold on to. This to me made the piece cheap and crappy. Not to mention that now the original sized bird cages wouldn’t even FIT into it!!

I am angry and disgusted beyond words.

I have been working with this supplier for over 15 years. They just had a catalog come out which is about a third of our designs, and knowing that they have butchered our patterns like this makes me livid. On top of all the cutting back (the plaque pattern was originally FIVE pages and they have it cut to ONE!) they are charging TWO DOLLARS more for the pattern than I am – and paying me at a percentage of my own retail price!

Now I don’t care what they charge – they can charge the moon if they want. I agreed to a percent of my own retail. That isn’t the point. My thoughts are with the CUSTOMER who pays so much for this piece of crap with my name on it! (And they have several hundred of my patterns!)

This was a substantial part of our income. But since they are printing my patterns “in house” I have no confidence that anything they are doing is on the up and up. They out and out lied to me when they said they would not change anything and that they would include our contact information and I don’t know how I could trust them with anything more.

All of this work that Keith and I do every day for what? So that they could lie to us and butcher our products and cheapen them while charging customers more?

What bothers me most is how people who are getting these patterns are viewing us as a company. With the quality they are getting for the price they are paying, they must think very little of us. And there is NO WAY for them to tell us if they don’t have internet! I am quite upset about this.

We are just getting on our feet as a company, and we are just getting our head above water. I don’t know if we can even afford to pursue this legally, but we need to do something. Beside the revenue and customers we already lost, we are saddened about the future income from this source, as we are just now beginning to survive on our work.

It really is bad, and I am very discouraged. There are only so many times you can climb out of a hole. No wonder there are so few designers left.

Sorry to be such a downer today. I finished my latest project and wanted to show you all that. Perhaps another time.

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



21 comments so far

View lumberdustjohn's profile

lumberdustjohn

1259 posts in 1889 days


#1 posted 09-12-2012 10:45 AM

Hope all goes well for you.

-- Safety first because someone needs you.

View William's profile

William

9221 posts in 1565 days


#2 posted 09-12-2012 12:01 PM

I’m sorry to hear that you’re going through this rough patch with the supplier.
I often encourage people, when possible, to contact and purchase from original designers instead of suppliers. You are not the first designer I know of who has had their patterns butchered. I think the worst case I’ve heard of was one designer’s patterns were downsized so much (a clock was cut down in size to fit a 25 page pattern onto ten pages) that it would have been absoutely impossible to cut, even with the smallest blade available. Luckily, I knew the designer, made him aware of this, and he sent me (via email in PDF form) the original patterns.
It is absolutely disgusting what they are doing to designers these days. I personally don’t understand it. Without the designers, these same companies would be out of business.
Several of my favorite designers have just about completely disappeared off the map. I wonder how much of that happens to be because of similar problems.
The bad thing is, some people don’t even realize there’s a problem if they’ve never dealt with this kind of situation. The circumstances you describe, such as not being able to cut patterns because of small size, is something that only a scroller could completely understand. So if you get a pattern that has this scenerio, and I have, the first thing you do is either give up or call the company. The company then blames the designer. They say, and I quote, “we just sell the patterns, we don’t design them.” So then, some people, if they don’t know better, blame the designer and avoid any other patterns from that designer.

I wish I had some wise advice for you, but I don’t. I will primise that if I hear of anyone having issue with your patterns, I will be sure to make them aware of the situation and make sure they know how to contact you so you can handle it.
I’m sorry you are having to deal with this. I pray it works out for you.

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

View MsDebbieP's profile

MsDebbieP

18615 posts in 2883 days


#3 posted 09-12-2012 12:01 PM

I can only imagine how horrible you must feel. They have broken the contract. They have damaged your image.
I’m not sure what you do about the issue, legal action would be extremely costly.

On a broader, note, however, perhaps this is a turning point in your business that is pushing you into another direction – something bigger than what you are doing now (not necessarily bigger in time but bigger in personal rewards). Perhaps a year from now you will be saying, “thank goodness that happened—look at where we are now!”

I think I’m seeing a pattern in your last few business issues. I think I’m seeing that the businesses need you and rely on you. But do you need them? Is there a way that you can remove the middle guy and still grow your business?

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (https://www.facebook.com/DebbiePribeleENJOConsultant)

View jerrells's profile

jerrells

860 posts in 1607 days


#4 posted 09-12-2012 12:12 PM

I do not know the supplier or do I care. I do see your patterns listed in some places. As far as I am concerned I will purchase directly from you as long as I can. I know the time and effort you pur into your work. I feel that you have a real case here but not sure what you would do about it. Anyway stay strong and brave. I know you must have a large following behind you.

-- Just learning the craft my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ practiced.

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

7834 posts in 1642 days


#5 posted 09-12-2012 12:17 PM

Thank you both for your words of support William and Debbie. It feels better just to know that people understand what we are feeling right now. (I am trying not to be a ‘girl’ and cry about it, but I have had a lump in my throat and I feel like someone punched me in the tummy!)

William hit it right on the head. This is a reflection of US and OUR WORK. People here on the internet may know we are better than that, but all those people who buy the paper patterns from the company and don’t visit the internet don’t. Many of our customers are older and don’t like computers at all. This hurts our reputation incredibly.

Debbie – you are correct in that the legal action would be costly. Someone else suggested a class action suit if we could bank other designers together who are in our position but frankly, there are few left and I am sure that many of them don’t have the quality of our patterns to begin with. I am not trying to say that with a big head, but I have seen many other patterns and we always try to make ours ‘the best.’

On the positive side, I WAS thinking along those lines of this happening for a reason. We have some things in the works, and perhaps it is time to change direction. You all know I am a firm believer in ‘fate’ and also faith in going from this point on instead of fighting to keep something that may be detrimental ‘as is.’ Perhaps it is just time for us to move on into other avenues.

I will certainly keep you all posted as to the outcome of this. I have already received a great deal of positive notes, feedback and responses both personally and on my other pages where my blog is posted. It is good to know that people do care and we do have support. With that knowledge, it is easier to get up and fight for what is right.

Sheila

And thank you too Jerrell! Your post came in as I was writing this. It is people like you that make our ‘work’ so nice. :)

-- 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 Rick13403's profile

Rick13403

215 posts in 2227 days


#6 posted 09-12-2012 12:30 PM

Good morning Sheila,
I just received the catalog from that supplier and I mentioned to Kathie that it should be called the Sheila Designs catalog!!! That was one place where I started to get your patterns way back when I was just getting started but when I found your contact information on one of them I immediately started ordering from you AND will continue to order from you! I agree with Ms Debbie, the cosmos is pushing you and Keith in a better direction for your business!
Rick

-- Rick - DeWalt 788 - www.thescrollerandtoler.com

View MyChipCarving's profile

MyChipCarving

476 posts in 1847 days


#7 posted 09-12-2012 12:47 PM

Hi Sheila,
Sorry to hear of this low-life supplier and what they have done to you and your patterns. If I were you I’d cut all ties with this wholesaler as fast as possible and never look back. There’s not enough time and energy worth spending on folks who work this way. Your integrity and uprightness will shine through as you move forward in your business without this wholesaler. Be encouraged, you’ve just weeded out a worthless distributor!

-- Marty, https://www.MyChipCarving.com, 866-444-6996

#8 posted 09-12-2012 01:11 PM

Sheila,
I want to encourage you to consider in all seriousness selling all your work on your own website.
It’s not as scary as it may seem and it will solve most of your problems with the middleman.
My wife is a knitting/crochet pattern designer. I do all the graphic design for her printed patterns and we print them ourselves. We never sell to a catalog middleman because, as retailers ourselves, we know how much money is being ripped out of the process by people with no talent for designing.
You will find, if you decide to be your own distributor, that you will make more money, have a better relationship with those who buy your designs and have the ultimate control over your own business.
No more “punch in the tummy” feelings! Don

-- Will trade wife's yarn for tools.

View BritBoxmaker's profile

BritBoxmaker

4422 posts in 1759 days


#9 posted 09-12-2012 02:26 PM

It certainly seems that trust and business (at least with this company) do not go together. I am saddened to hear this has happened to such a good friend, Sheila. As far as business advice is concerned I do not feel qualified to give any other than to listen to what those who have replied here, who are more experienced than I. My gut reaction would be to cut this company out of any further dealings (drop them) and seek any legal redress available. You’ve made it through hard times before and I believe you can again. Don’t give up.

-- Martyn -- Boxologist, Pattern Juggler and Candyman of the visually challenging. http://www.theartofboxes.com

View NedB's profile

NedB

659 posts in 2288 days


#10 posted 09-12-2012 05:56 PM

Sheila, onward and upward, no advice, but tons of support from central NY.

-- Ned - 2B1ASK1 http://nedswoodshop.blogspot.com

View BertFlores58's profile

BertFlores58

1646 posts in 1644 days


#11 posted 09-12-2012 11:00 PM

There are things that will pass by due to time. Time heals. Your qualities will never be affected by this. I view it on positive side. Your corrections mentioned like definitely 1/8” to use but not that 1/8 to 1/4 is the greatest example of instilling to distributor that they had gone too far. If they would realize that such a change will not lead the customer to rely on them then they will to go on your original web (mentioned by Rick above as example), I think that your next move is to prepare for the clients’ demands now that it will be directly ordered to you. What a blessing! The only way that you need to do is to let those clients of them know what are the errors that this distributor have done. There must be a way that you will be known by their clients.
Be energetic and hope the best counter on this event.

-- Bert

View scrollingmom's profile

scrollingmom

857 posts in 1186 days


#12 posted 09-13-2012 02:50 AM

My support is with you as well. If you need anything from me just say so.

-- Kelly, Allen,KS

View Mathew Nedeljko's profile

Mathew Nedeljko

637 posts in 2552 days


#13 posted 09-13-2012 03:47 AM

Shelia, I strongly believe in fate and Faith, and I’m with Debbie. This is clearly a sign for you to embrace a change in direction and pursue an alternative. You already in your heart know what that is. Have the courage to do what is right, and I’m sure you will be rewarded beyond your wildest dreams. We all have your back!

-- Aim high. Ride easy. Trust God. Neale Donald Walsch

View Druid's profile

Druid

670 posts in 1518 days


#14 posted 09-13-2012 04:11 AM

Sorry to hear about this type of unethical business practice. Of course there are limits as to how far you might want to pursue this, and there is a lot of sound advice in the previous comments.
Personally, I would be interested in finding out whether or not any of the publishers such as Fox Chapel might be interested in doing a comment in their editorial section regarding this type of supplier. I know that I would want to know the name of the offending company, simply so that I can make sure that I NEVER do any business with them, and I would be quite active in passing that information along to every woodworker that I know.
Stick to the high road, and put your efforts into your web site.
Keep smilin’.

p.s. You might want to get the head of this “offending company” to have a look at this blog, then suggest that they think about the long term consequences? Just a thought.

-- John, British Columbia, Canada

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

7834 posts in 1642 days


#15 posted 09-13-2012 09:24 AM

I wish to thank you all again for your advice and kind wishes. It means so much not only to myself, but also to Keith. We had a hard day yesterday, and we were both overwhelmed by the amount of notes, emails and support that came our way through the various places where I post this blog. I am trying to catch up answering everyone, but last night I was just too tired to do so. I wound up retiring at 8:30, as I was just spent.

But all of your thoughts were read and considered (and very much appreciated!) It is good to know that I have so many of you all over the world that I am able to call “friends.” Your advice and experiences have been a great help to us in deciding what to do, and we have come up with some options. Hopefully they will prove to be viable and positive for us.

Thanks again to you all. I will continue to keep things updated.

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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