Normally, I am not one for drama. In fact, when I read about others’ arguments and fights being aired online I tend to turn the other way. I don’t like to instigate turmoil. In fact, I much prefer look at the good side of things and trying to find positive things in the world to focus on. It just seems far more productive to me.
As I look at the number of posts that I have written here on my blog (over 800 now) I am proud because I know that the vast majority of them are positive in nature. I try hard to stay away from politics, religion and other topics that are catalysts for arguments and negative comments and being judgmental of each other. I grew up on the south side of Chicago in the city. During the late sixties/early seventies there was much racial tension, as there was throughout the country. While I was too young to understand what was really happening, in my area there were ongoing protests and walk-outs because of the issue of busing the black students to our white neighborhood school. There were many days when the schools were closed and I remember large protests at the nearby high school. My friends and I were there in the crowd, as the school was only two city blocks away from my house, but we didn’t really know why. I remember thinking that I couldn’t grasp the reason that there was all of this fighting just because someone was born with darker skin than another. It made no sense to me.
As I grew up, these memories stuck with me. When I got out into the world and went to attend a state university, I saw the diversity of people and learned to respect it. I was no longer in my isolated neighborhood where everyone attended the same church and thought the same politically. I was in the real world, where people from many different backgrounds came together to live and function every day. This concept was further displayed as I left university and began my first real job at a large downtown Chicago bank. I learned it was just how the world was.
Because of this, I feel that I have learned to look at and judge people without considering race, religion or political beliefs. Each of us is an individual and we should be looked upon and judged by our own actions and how we treat those around us. Regardless of whatever stereotype we may fit in. That is how I look at others and I hope that others regard me in the same way.
With that said, I do want to apologize for the drama of my post yesterday. While I feel that what I said was true, I realize that it was very emotional and perhaps a bit too much so for this forum.
One of the main purposes that I write here everyday is to help others who are perhaps thinking of running their own business see all that it entails. I think that learning from each other is something that can be vary valuable to us, and my goal in writing here is to share my experiences so that others can perhaps avoid some of the pitfalls that I encounter during my daily life. That means not only sharing the good experiences, but also the bad.
Yesterday was exhausting. As I sit here today looking back, I remember vividly why I don’t like conflict and try to avoid it at all costs. It sucks the life out of me.
Our day was spent talking to trusted friends, reading advice and sorting through our next steps in this situation. The response from you, my friends, was overwhelming. I can’t tell you all how much Keith and I appreciate the many, many messages, notes, calls and support that we received in this matter. I haven’t been able to personally respond to everyone, but I want it noted that we appreciate so much how so many of you took time to support us. Thank you all.
In the end, we believe that we have come to some viable solutions that will benefit all involved. We sent our proposal to the company yesterday and we are awaiting their response. We don’t know what will come of things, but we do feel peace in our hearts that we are doing the best thing for our own company and that what we proposed would be fair to all involved.
Many of you suggested lawsuits. While we believe that without a doubt we have a case for infringement, we are at this point choosing not to pursue that direction. The cost both financially and in time would be very high for us, and proving actual damages would be extremely difficult. We just don’t feel that it would be prudent at this time.
We are in a ‘niche’ area and unlike general woodworking, there is a much smaller audience for scroll sawing patterns. Another consideration is that many of the people that do scroll saw are of an older age bracket, and while many older people embrace computers and online communication, there is a much larger percentage of scrollers who do not. Reaching them in other ways would be difficult for us to do, especially considering the time and expense it would involve to advertise to non-online customers. This is where the wholesalers have the advantage over us.
We realize that they need us too. A very healthy percent of their product line is ours. If we were to withdraw and end our relationship with them, it would certainly be detrimental to them. We would not be the only ones hurt if this were to occur.
What we decided to do, that would be best for us, is to negotiate clear and concise terms as far as distribution of our patterns. Yes, this should have been done in the beginning, but fifteen years ago as a new designer, I was just happy to have a company their size even consider my designs. I was willing to take any terms they offered. As time went on, there was never an urgent reason to do this. We both were making some money and there seemed to be no need. But now we see how there is a need, and in order for things to continue, rules must be set and adhered to.
This is one of the main reasons I write this blog every day! I hope that by sharing my experiences and issues with you all, it will save some of you from going through the same things that I have had to go through. Again – I apologize for the turmoil of yesterday, but I felt it was necessary to share it with you all as a part of owning your own business. This could happen to anyone in business, no matter what business you are in.
So we go on from here. A new day is beginning. I went to bed early last night because I had just had enough of the day and wanted it to be over. That in itself was a sad indication of my state of mind, as I typically embrace each hour of the day with enthusiasm, and wish for more. Nothing creative was accomplished yesterday, which reinforced my reason for avoiding conflicts if I can. We did hash out our proposal and that took most of the day and all of our energy, so in that way it was a productive day. But as far as creativity goes, we came up empty.
I am strong though. Stronger than I thought I was. A year or so ago, this would have sunk me to the ground. While I will not be happy if we have to walk away from things, I know in my heart it won’t be the end of me. We have worked hard and long over the past couple of years to make this business successful and we will be able to survive despite the outcome of these negotiations. We may be wounded for a bit, but we will heal and it will make us stronger.
When I awoke this morning, I felt much better. Today is a new day and a fresh start.
We have some new ventures on the horizon, and I will be talking about them in future posts. My focus will go to them, and not to the past or looking back at what I ‘should have’ done. As long as I am on the right path now and moving in the right direction, I have hope that we have a bright future. And that is the path I choose right now.
Thank you again for all of your support. There was a brief moment yesterday when I wanted to cry (yes! I am such a girl!) but I began reading all of your encouraging and supportive notes and I knew that we weren’t alone in this. I realized what a silly thing it would be to cry about it. The best way to deal with the things I didn’t like was to change them. And we are well on our way to doing that.
I wish you all a wonderful day. Thank you again for your friendship.
“As a single footstep will not make a path on the earth, so a single thought will not make a pathway in the mind. To make a deep physical path, we walk again and again. To make a deep mental path, we must think over and over the kind of thoughts we wish to dominate our lives.” – Henry David Thoreau
Fine Art Print – Â© Axel Lauerer
-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs (http://www.sheilalandrydesigns.com) Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"