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My Journey As A Scroll Saw Pattern Designer #816: Finding the Right Path

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Blog entry by Sheila Landry (scrollgirl) posted 09-13-2012 10:41 AM 979 reads 0 times favorited 12 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 815: Betrayed Part 816 of My Journey As A Scroll Saw Pattern Designer series Part 817: Next Project Finished »

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 – © 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"



12 comments so far

View MsDebbieP's profile

MsDebbieP

18615 posts in 2913 days


#1 posted 09-13-2012 11:53 AM

“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.”

do you not think that yesterday’s blog was an important story/moment/challenge to share with others? Running a business isn’t all rosy and “good luck” – there are unexpected challenges; there are situations that are out of our control; there are moments when we feel like we have hit a brick wall, and yes want to cry (no need to apologize for that); and there are times when you feel like an underdog …
“but” as you showed us, even in those times, you keep your head up the best that you can; you try to stay focused on your goals, your beliefs, and your business; and you seek the advice of wise others.

Personally I think yesterday’s blog was excellent. Not only was it informative for business people, reminding us to cross our “t’s” and dot our “i’s” when making a business arrangement, but it also was a demonstration of how not to respond with anger and retaliation.

Bravo to the two of you !

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

View William's profile

William

9287 posts in 1595 days


#2 posted 09-13-2012 12:04 PM

I’m glad you feel better going forward this morning. I don’t think you have any reason nonewhatsoever though to feel bad about putting your feelings out there or for pursuing a better resolution. It takes a huge heart to try and look at everything in a postive way. However, even the purest of hearts can only take so much at times before they have to let it go. If they do not, it will do nothing but hurt them in the long run. Sometimes a person just has to speak up, even if it’s only to get it off their chest to lift the burden.
I agree that a lawsuit wouldn’t be feasible. Even if you have a case, it would probably cost you more than you’d have ever lost in sales.
It is sad that scrolling is considered a niche market. This fact of life is often a pain in the rear for me. I think I’ve mentioned before how hard it is to obtain the supplies that I use on a regular basis. I have to think ahead on supplies or I’ll run out of stuff, because I have to recieve most everything through the mail. So that part of scrolling is a hinderance to the scroller as well as designers. With that in mind, I wish certain companies would recognize the fact and work harder at keeping a more personal relationship between designers and scrollers. This is what has made me follow your blog faithfully. While I have had many personal discussions with many different designers, you are the only one I’ve known who’s put themselves out there as publicly as you have. I have a lot of respect for that.
I hope this works out for you. I saw it suggested by several people that you drop the suppliers and simply sell your patterns yourself. While I think this would be a wonderful solution, I also know that it would be a hard one. The one advantage of working with the suppliers is also the biggest drawback. The suppliers have the reach to put the patterns before more people that would be financially feasible for you to do yourself. To not have your patterns in major catalogs would mean you doing a lot more online networking, since it would be cost prohibitive to put out the volume of paper mailing as the suppliers, and I know you already have to spent a great deal of time online as it is.

I thought of you and Keith yesterday, wondering about any advice or recommendations I might be able to make to be of assistance. The only thing I came up with might open you up to even more problems in light of the relationship problems you’ve had with this supplier. That suggestion is more suppliers. I know of a few catalogs I’ve seen your work in. there are many more well respected ones though that I have not. Have you considered contacting other publications? There are many more than what I’ve seen you in that I could give you a list of, just in case you haven’t thought of some of them, such as Wildwood Designs, Woodcraft plans, etc. Some of these are not as niche as you are currently in, but they do sell a lot of scrolling patterns. I say this because maybe you could branch out into markets where you might not otherwise be seen in except for their three or four pages devoted to scrolling that some of these have. I get several catalogs a month that are more general woodworking, but do have scrolling sections.
Anyway, that’s just a thought. Usually if you offer a penny for my thoughts, you come away expecting change from your penny.
I hope all this works out for the best for you.

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

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

7902 posts in 1672 days


#3 posted 09-13-2012 12:15 PM

It is good to hear that from you Debbie. I know in my heart that talking about this was necessary if I am to continue to write as honestly as I can about my business. But after what happened a couple of weeks ago with the other wholesaler fighting us on our kit prices, perhaps I felt like I was whining a bit too much! That event (although that is more toward the painting kit aspect of the business) is still fresh in our minds. No wonder we feel tired! We are getting it from all sides! :)

Perhaps too that is why it hit me so hard. Everyone wants a chuck of us until nothing is left. Like I said – that is why there are so few designers left.

I am glad you feel that what I spoke of was important. I don’t want to damn a particular company or start a lynch mob or boycott of them, but they need to know that they have to be accountable for their actions. And I am NOT afraid to share my experiences with them. All they need to do is treat us fairly and I will be the first to sing their praises.

Not “reacting” is the smartest advice I can offer. I do admit, when I got on the phone with them, I lost my temper. I needed to hand the phone to Keith and he finished the conversation. I thought I was in control, but when they began trying to justify their actions by saying “well, it was a free pattern anyway!” I lost it.

Anyway, we move on from here. Perhaps this needed to happen.

William – I greatly appreciate your advice and I think you are on the same page as we are. We are (and have been) working with a new supplier who has a great reputation for honesty and reliability and so far has show us great integrity and respect in working with us and our designs. We are very excited about this and I think it is a wonderful opportunity to expand our products into new markets without further taxing our own time. It is all good.

Thanks again for being here for us. We appreciate all of your friendships and are glad that we have you as friends.

:) 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 jerrells's profile

jerrells

868 posts in 1637 days


#4 posted 09-13-2012 12:41 PM

I feel there are time when we (I) must vent. I did one the other day on Facebook and after two days I took it off. My rant was over. From this outsiders view, you had a reason to say something. Now most of us are aware of this issue IF it ever pops up for us. Anyway, I am sure the inside feels better – now back to business.

And you now know that you have a vast ARMY behind you if you ever need this information.

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

View William's profile

William

9287 posts in 1595 days


#5 posted 09-13-2012 12:42 PM

You stated that you don’t want to start a boycott of any particular company. I understand and respect that. I also know that you are talking about one of two companies. Actually, these two companies have such similar catalogs that I have often wondered if they are the same company. That being said, I haven’t named them for the same reason you haven’t, I would rather people form their own opinions instead of relying on my opinions.
Yes, I ramble as usual, but I do have a point.
If I am correct that it is one of these two companies, I have a different problem with the same companies. I have actually sort of done my own boycotting of these two companies long before you brought these events to light yesterday. The reason I bring this up is because you need to be aware that businesses that do not care about the ethics of their business on the recieving or provision side of their business will eventually shoot themselves in the foot without you calling for a boycott. Call it karma or whatever, but that is the way it usually works.

In the matter of these two companies I refer to, they have violated one of my pet peeves. I have ordered several patterns from them in the past. Now I get a new catalog from them almost monthly, althought the catalog is date labeled as if it only comes out a few times a year. Now I have began to get little notes stuck in the catalogs (small to be called catalogs honestly, but you know what I’m talking about) that “warn” me that I will stop recieving their catalogs if I don’t order “today”.
This is one of those marketing strategies that always gets my goat. I order patterns as my needs or finances allow. Threatening me with not sending more catalogs is not a threat to me. Actually, I’d prefer to get the catalog a couple of times a year, since I save catalogs for future reference anyway. So them sending it monthly is costing them money unnecessarily anyway. That is their fault, not mine.
Also, most of the patterns they have are available elsewhere. So if I have a choice between ordering from a different source, or from the one who is basically threatening me, I’d go with the other source every time.
To me, this is simply bad business practices. If they would take about three or four keystrokes on their computers, they might even realize that I usually only order patterns once in a blue moon these days. When I do though, I order sometimes a very large amount of patterns at one time. I will sell a larger piece and take a couple hundred dollars out of it and stock up on patterns to keep me busy for a long time. Actually, I have a ton pf patterns now that I’ve ordered and haven’t touched yet. I will order things I hope to build in the future just in case I’m not able to find the pattern at a later date. Therefore, I order enough to make it worth their cost to send me two or three catalogs a year. The once a month thing isn’t necessary, for them or me.

Anyway, I just thought you might like to be aware of this little bit of information.
On a sidenote, the patterns I would have normally have ordered from these companies if not for their business practices, I have now started getting mostly from two other companies.
Cherry Tree toys sounds like a company for toy patterns, but in their catalog, they have so much more. I think I’ve even seen items in there similar to what you design. It might be a supplier you would be interested in.
Meisel is another one I’ve began ordering from.
Also, I don’t know if designers are able to get anything new put on their site, but Berry Basket has really become a favorite of mine simply because the patterns are available instantly for download. Also, Berry Basket I think would be a great place to showcase work such as yours.

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

View MsDebbieP's profile

MsDebbieP

18615 posts in 2913 days


#6 posted 09-13-2012 04:31 PM

integrity—another good reason for your post!

It is a reminder that we need to act with integrity and it also reminds us that if we hold others accountable for their actions and “demand” integrity (by not dealing with those without it) then we will raise the bar of our society and honour and integrity will expand.

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

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

7902 posts in 1672 days


#7 posted 09-13-2012 09:23 PM

William – I certainly understand your gripe with the magazines. I have had times when I subscribed to one and within a month or so, already began getting ‘renewal’ notices. It was so frustrating because you could never tell when the REAL renewal was. You could sometimes read the ‘code’ above your name and address, but that wasn’t always the case. Usually I too cancelled my subscriptions. It just wasn’t worth it.

Debbie – I try to act and react in a businesslike manner. Even when I am not being treated with respect. I would rather just walk away than stoop to the antagonists’ level. I don’t want to do or say something that I will not be proud of in a day or two. I don’t believe there is any shame in walking away.

I honestly believe that “we reap what we sow” and that in some way or form, justice will prevail. It may not come from me directly, but once I am through with things, that is no longer my concern. I will heal and recover from this much more quickly without vengeance in my heart, and if I focus on the many positive things ahead of me.

People will discover who the offending party is, and I do believe (one day) they will suffer because of their actions towards others.

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 nailbanger2's profile

nailbanger2

969 posts in 1896 days


#8 posted 09-14-2012 01:31 AM

Glad you’re feeling better, also good to have the kitty picture back in the blog. We are all cheering for you, Sheila.

-- Wish I were Norm's Nephew

View SteveMI's profile

SteveMI

870 posts in 2047 days


#9 posted 09-14-2012 01:59 AM

Sheila – There are many good sayings and stories about unexpected change making you better in the long term and I have found it true many times in my life. As was suggested, this may be a good time to evaluate all your alternatives. The business world isn’t anyway the same as 15 years ago. You obviously have talent and initiative, which put together will serve you well in any different direction you choose.

Also, scrolling is as “niche” as it used to be. Fine Woodworking has had a number of feature articles on use of the scroll saw. Marquetry with the scroll saw is being incorporated into woodwork now.

Steve.

View Roger's profile

Roger

15362 posts in 1556 days


#10 posted 09-14-2012 02:39 AM

Nuttin wrong wit a lil ventin. :)

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Kentuk55@bellsouth.net

View lightweightladylefty's profile

lightweightladylefty

2761 posts in 2465 days


#11 posted 09-14-2012 05:56 AM

Just down the road, we’ll all be getting (directly from you) the Sheila Landry’s Original Scrollsaw Patterns catalog . . .

L/W

-- Jesus is the ONLY reason for ANY season.

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

7902 posts in 1672 days


#12 posted 09-14-2012 10:00 AM

L/W – we DO have a catalog and sell ALL of our designs on our site. Perhaps I just have to talk about that more so that people are aware of that. We have a beautiful (free), full color, downloadable catalog HERE at the site. You can download it immediately. If you want a hard copy of it shipped, we only charge shipping, but it will ship free with any order. ALL of our patterns are in full color and many of them have step by step photographs. They all fit on a standard 8.5” x 11” paper so that the customer can print them as needed and not have to run to the copy place to print. If they order patterns to be sent online, they get them almost immediately and don’t pay any shipping. Most of our customers do that. In addition, many of our patterns are $1 to $2 cheaper than what this wholesaler is selling them for. That isn’t our doing – it is theirs. We give them our retail price and they push the price up a couple of dollars before they reach their catalog or website (and that is while they are butchering them!) They sell our patterns with abridged instructions (any coloring or staining instructions are stripped) and they are all in black and white. Of the two patterns that I randomly checked, this was done to both. The one pattern, they completely eliminated four pages of staining instructions and photos. So the customer who paid more, actually got only half the instructions. They have over 400 of our patterns, so I am sure that these aren’t isolated cases.

In any case, I will do my best to get the word out that if someone likes our work to BUY FROM US! We will give the best customer service possible and they will get the full pattern packets, not these hacked ones!

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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