The past couple of weeks, I had talked about some new directions that Keith and I were going to try out. While this direction may seem similar, there is still a LOT to learn.
A month or so again, I was approached by Jim Barry, the owner of WoodworkersWoodshop.com which is a great company that distributes both paper and electronic woodworking plans for over 20 designers. He ships world wide and has a great reputation for being fair and honest.
Jim asked me if we would be interested in teaming up with him as a new outlet for not only our scroll sawing plans, but my painting patterns as well. If you visit his site at the link above, you can see that he covers a huge array of woodworking projects that range from smaller scroll saw items like I design to large furniture pieces and yard art. One thing that is really cool is that Jim is located right here in Nova Scotia – up a bit north from me in Loch Katrine, which is just a bit south of Antigonish where Keith and I went this summer on our way to Cape Breton. It is funny how small the world can really be.
While I felt that we were up to our eyebrows with things, we knew that in order to grow as a company, we needed to spread our wings and try some new venues for our designs. Between talking to Jim and doing a little research on our own, we felt that he was a reliable and upfront person and also honest and straight forward. He and his wife Gina have been in business for many years and their list of other clients was very impressive. We thought we would give it a try.
All of you who read know that I am not good at making a long story short, but I am trying my best to do so here.
After lots and back and forth, we decided to jump into this new venture. This was no small task, as between Keith and I we have probably over 500 patterns. We needed to update many of the older designs that had outdated information and get them in top shape before sending them on. As I stated many times recently, we do things a bit differently now (and hopefully better) and we had to decide just how much ‘tweaking’ we had to do to bring the older designs up to snuff. It was a tremendous amount of work on all parts, but the result was that everything is really in great shape now.
Jim and Gina have spent the past month or more loading our stuff into their huge database, and we really appreciate their efforts.
One thing I found about Jim is that he is full of great ideas. When he initially approached me, I thought he was only interested in the scroll saw patterns. But he loved my painting patterns as well and wanted to take everything that we sold. He also had the idea that many of my painting patterns would make wonderful huge lawn art patterns. He has the ability to print quality pattern sheets any size and saw a great new avenue for Keith and I to follow in designing.
I will talk more about things in detail later on, but the results of our efforts were realized yesterday when we finally finished our first collaboration of ‘growing’ one of my recent designs into huge yard art. I am very excited!
I started with my SLD402 Boo Ghosts and Pumpkins pattern:
And we “grew” the ghosts to almost 4 feet tall!
Jim and Gina Built and painted the prototype:
And they even found some great plastic chains at the dollar store for the ghosts to hold! The results is wonderful! (That’s Jim with the grouping on his lawn)
He even sent us a picture of how they look in the dark, with some spotlights and some spooky glitter! (You all know I love sparkles!)
I can’t tell you all how great it feels to see this project come to be. While it is similar to draw on a small scale, there are many new factors to consider when making patterns this big. Learning to draw for the plotter, how to instruct people so that they can recreate the project and all the new things was a bit of a challenge, but one we were both up for. Keith is currently working on his first large design too, and we are both very excited and pleased with how they are coming out.
But I want to make it really clear that we could have never done any of this without Jim’s guidance. He has been so patient and wonderful with us, sharing his experience and knowledge and putting up with my 50,000 questions and mistakes. He has turned out to be one of the nicest guys we have ever met, and we are very grateful to him for his help and guidance.
From a business side, he does everything very professionally and how it should be done. All the terms we discuss are done in writing, and we have a written agreement. This is something that (especially after my recent dealings with other companies) is essential to any type of business agreement. I can’t stress enough how important having things in writing is for all parties. Not only does it prove that both sides are being honest and straight forward, but it also insures that everyone is thinking in the same direction and there is nothing left to chance. That is where misunderstandings and bad feeling begin and it can be really detrimental to both sides. Contracts are a great way to clear the air and start off on a great note and build confidence in each other. I don’t think I will ever go back to doing things any other way in the future.
So all is well and we are very happy and excited about the future. The link to the pattern on Jim’s site is here: 48-SLDYA802
It feels great to have a new outlet for our patterns, and better yet, to have new colleagues and friends. Keith and I are bursting with new ideas with working on a large scale, and we will be able to incorporate not only scroll sawing, but also painting and general woodworking into our arsenal of patterns.
We are also learning how to make good cover photos in Photoshop without having to make the full sized designs. Creating each design would not be practical for us, as we have so little room here as it is. Since it doesn’t involve an intricate amount of woodworking, such as fitting and so forth, we think that it is unnecessary for us to make each large piece. Here is my rendition of the ghosts and pumpkins pattern that I made up in Photoshop:
I think it looks pretty nice. I think that it took me longer to make that picture than it did for Jim and Gina to create the real project! But I will get better with time.
I am very optimistic about moving into the general woodworking area. Not only does it allow us to keep making patterns, but it also will allow us to reach a broader audience and try some new things in the process. While there are still some things we need to figure out, such as shipping and setting up the site for orders for these types of designs, we are hopeful that our designs will bring something fresh and new to this area of woodworking and that we will do well.
Who knows what it will lead to next?
I want to publicly thank Jim and Gina from both Keith and myself. He is a great breath of fresh air and brought back out faith in trusting other businesses to handle our products. I hope you all check out the other great projects and patterns he has to offer too. I am confident that he will take good care of you!
Have a great day!
-- Contributing Editor, Creative Woodworks and Crafts Magazine, If you like reading my blog, come visit at Sheila Landry Designs http://www.sheilalandrydesigns.com "Knowledge is Power"