There is something about working together with wonderfully talented people that really elevates my own level of designing. Even though the company name is “Sheila Landry Designs”, there is far more to the company than just me and my own creations.
Since teaming up with Keith Fenton almost three years ago, I found that I have created some of my best designs to date. Could that be a coincidence? I really don’t think so. I think that it was just a mix of circumstances that fell together like ingredients in a fine recipe and the results is something like a gourmet dessert.
I realize that it is rare to find someone who we feels compliments our own talents and ambitions. In the past, I have tried partnerships with others, and for one reason or another it didn’t really work out well. Perhaps it was because our goals in the business were too different or even that our strengths and talents weren’t complimentary to each other, or the dedication to the business was unequal. But whatever the reason, things didn’t work out well. Fortunately, I was able to remove myself from those situations without too much discomfort and eventually most of the friendships were salvaged.
It was with a bit of apprehension that I decided to take on a partner again. But for some reason, knowing what I knew of Keith and seeing how he worked, I somehow felt it would be fine. And I haven’t regretted it for a minute.
It isn’t always easy to work so closely with someone you live with. In many cases, it wouldn’t work at all. As it is, we live in a small place here and spend most of our time together in working together as well as our off time would prove to be too much for many others. But we always like to say we are the exception, and find that having each other helps us more than hinders.
Take last week for example. On Wednesday afternoon we received a sizable order for some painting kits. We were both in the midst of our own designs, but we were well-prepared and clicked into action. We spent Thursday working together and between the two of us, the kits were ready to ship by dinner time. As we each sat at our respective saws, with the music blasting and the dust flying, and we watched the mountain of pieces grow, I couldn’t help but think how much fun this was!
I thought about the days before Kieth when I used to do this on my own, and there was no comparison. Had I received this order and still been working alone, in all probability I would have felt overwhelmed. But between the two of us we jumped into action and having a partner to work with made all the difference in the world. When we production cut, we always have a friendly unspoken competition as to who can cut their pile of pieces the fastest. For the most part, we are neck in neck and it makes the entire process a lot of fun. In the end, everyone wins because we push each other to a higher level and respect each other for our individual accomplishments. It is a great way to work.
This weekend, while I was cutting out my twelve new ornaments, Keith also was cutting out his new projects. He designed a new cross plaque as well as some wonderful bell filigree ornaments to go with his other filigree sets that are really selling well.
Even though we have two saws (the DeWalt and the Excalibur) both of us very much prefer the Excalibur for the type of cutting we are doing. We do use the DeWalt for the production work (I use that saw) and I feel it is fine for that, but for delicate cutting, I think that the Excalibur is a bit more precise. Besides – we secured a storage room in our landlords’ basement and keep the DeWalt saw there unless we are cutting production pieces.
We spent the weekend taking turns on the saw and everything worked out fine. I finished cutting my own ornaments, and Keith was able to cut his entire plaque. When I saw the finished piece, all I could think of was “Wow!” I truly think it is one of his best designs to date.
He allowed me to show you this ‘teaser’ of his plaque. I just wanted you to notice the wonderful caliber of work he does. This piece still has no finish on it, but it already looks amazing!
And then, just after I saw that, I received notice that our new distributor Jim Barry posted a project. Jim has taken on our patterns to distribute through his company Woodworkers Workshop. Jim’s company has been in business for many years and he sells many types of wonderful woodworking plans all all kinds from furniture to yard art and smaller projects. He is the one responsible for helping us branch out into making larger yard art patterns not only out of our older scroll saw designs, but now we are developing many new ideas too. He and his wife Gina have been instrumental in our recent growth and have fast become respected colleagues and friends.
Jim’s ideas of “Thinking Big” is something that neither Keith or myself would have considered before. When Jim saw my Forest Leaf series of patterns, he envisioned them large, so they can be displayed on a porch or the side of a barn, cabin or shop. Both Keith and I were a bit skeptical as to whether these designs would translate well to the larger size, as they would need to be cut with a jig saw. But Jim definitely proved us wrong. Yesterday he posted his “Jiggin for Salmon” project here on Lumberjocks and just blew everyone away. It really looks amazing! He has photos of how he accomplished this at his personal website and I think if you take a look over there, you will be amazed. (Click on “Super sized Forest Leaf Salmon” on the left menu) He makes it look easy!
Jim has shown Keith and I that there are endless possibilities ahead of us. I must admit that after some of the things that went on with other wholesalers, our morale was pretty low. It seemed that we took turns cheering each other up and encouraging each other to keep moving in a good direction. But teaming up with Jim and Gina has really made a huge difference for both of us. It has helped us think of our business far differently than we previously have and it showed us that there is a world of opportunity for us if we only take the chance and venture out. And they have renewed our faith in people and specifically in wholesalers. They have shown us that there are successful people out there that do things right. There are ways to do business and be successful without stepping on the backs of designers. They see that their continued success is closely related to the success of the designers that they work with, and they work together with them so all can do well and be happy. And that attitude breeds a positive work atmosphere and overflows with new and creative ideas, and everyone benefits.
All these factors point to a very bright future for Sheila Landry Designs. Not just for Sheila Landry. Even though I am the voice of the company, and it is my name that is on the letterhead, there would be no way I would be able to do this without those who are every bit a part of this company as I am. I just want to say how grateful I am for that.
I can’t wait to get these new designs in our lineup. I have already had many people inquire as to when they would be available, and I am working hard to make them so as soon as possible. We are aiming for a site update by the end of the week or the weekend and we will certainly have these designs (and maybe one or two more!) available to you all by then.
Thank you all for your wonderful comments and encouragement. And I would personally like to thank both my partner Keith and Jim and Gina for all their hard work and dedication. If you haven’t been to Jim’s site, please go check it out. He has many thousands of wonderful woodworking projects of all types (not just scroll sawing) and his dedication to customer service and satisfaction is the best in the business. You won’t be disappointed.
It’s Monday already. Another week starting. I hope you all have a great week planned. I know mine will be good.
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"