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My Journey As A Scroll Saw Pattern Designer #1379: Thank You All American Crafts

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Blog entry by Sheila Landry (scrollgirl) posted 08-11-2014 11:49 AM 5185 reads 0 times favorited 30 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 1378: A Perfect World - Panel 12 Part 1379 of My Journey As A Scroll Saw Pattern Designer series Part 1380: Circling the Wagons »

Writing today's blog post is something that I have not been looking forward to doing. I like my posts here to be positive and up beat, and it is difficult for me to feel that way after receiving the news that I heard over the weekend. However, since word got out, I have been receiving many notes and emails and I feel that the best way to answer them all is to post about things here, so I will do my best to do so and share the information that I have on the matter and also some thoughts on the situation so everyone can better understand what has happened. 



On Saturday afternoon, I received notice from my editor of Creative Woodworks and Crafts magazine Debbie McGowan that not only has the magazine been discontinued, but the publishing company of All American Crafts has filed bankruptcy and as of the close of work (last) Friday, closed its doors. As you can imagine, many people were in shock, including the editors, staff and contributors and designers. Many of us knew there were problems with the company, as the tell tale signs were evident, but most of us hoped that there would be some way for the magazines to pull out of the situation and continue to function. Evidently, there was not.



This is very disheartening for so many people involved. Not only the staff and contributing designers such as ourselves, but also the wonderful subscribers who enjoyed the creative inspiration that each issue provided. All American Crafts published not only Creative Woodworks and Crafts magazine, but also many other issues such as "Paintworks", "Create and Decorate", "Wood Turning Designs", as well as several quilting, scrap booking and beading magazines. All of them will no longer exist. 



Right now, I am receiving many questions regarding what will happen next. I can assure you that I have little information other than what I already stated. I am assuming that we will just no longer receive issues to our subscriptions (yes – I subscribe to several of them as well, as I tried to support the company I worked with) and that will be that. Many people have inquired as to whether they would receive refunds, and I am making an educated guess that they will not. That is what bankruptcy is – legal protection against outstanding debts. I know this may anger many people – especially those who recently subscribed, but I am certain that if there were any way to fulfill the obligations, the people at All American would have done so. As a designer who contributed to several of the magazines over the last several years, I want you all to be aware that we too have things in the works that need to be sorted out. It is as disappointing to us as it is to you as subscribers, and we all are taking a loss as well. This is one of those situations where 'no one wins.' 



With that said, I want to say a few things about the group at All American Crafts. 



I began working with the company seventeen years ago when I met them at a trade show in Chicago. At the time, I had just began working with Scroller, Ltd., when they were owned by Scott Kochendorfer and Roy King. Some of the Scroller projects had been published in Creative Woodworks and Crafts and one of our collaborated projects made the cover of the magazine (April 1997) and had done very well. I was fortunate enough to say that it carved me a place with the editors back then and as a result of its success, they picked up projects from me not only for Creative Woodworks magazine, but also for Paintworks and Craftworks magazine. They were a huge help in getting my name 'out there' in the crafting world in several venues. 



Not only were they helpful professionally, but as people, they were wonderful to work with. All American Crafts is not a huge corporation. It is a small, family-owned company that was founded by Jerry and Maddie Cohen. Their three sons also work there, and as Jerry experienced health problems and lessened his involvement with the company, his sons took over. Most of the editors and employees have been with them for many years or since the beginning. This gave a very close and 'family' feel to the company. 



I can only speak for myself, but I always had the feeling that I was part of that family, from the first day that I met everyone. Not only did the editors treat me as a friend and colleague, but so did Jerry and his sons. In the early years I was associated with them, attending trade shows was much more lucrative and we all got together several times a year at these functions to promote our magazines as well as crafting in general. In these past seventeen years, I got to know the family very well and I always admired their kindness, desire and dedication to their business and their customers. They always tried to do the best for all involved and offer as much as they could to make their customers happy. 



Robert Becker was the Editor of Creative Woodworks and Crafts for many years and I owe him a great deal for teaching me good business practices. His dedication to customer service always stood out and he was known for his win/win/win arrangements which benefited the customer, the designers as well as the magazine. He taught me that customer service was paramount and came before all else, as he realized that without customers, there would be no business. When he retired and Debbie McGowan took over as Editor, she continued to support that standard of excellence. She had worked as Robert's assistant for many years and I also had worked with her directly. This made the transition easy and I always admired her attention to detail and excellence in doing her job. I was proud to be part of the group and represent the company. 



While it is difficult for myself and also the subscribers to see the company folding, I can't imagine what the family is going through. I know they spent years of their lives building their business and I am sure it was a gut-wrenching decision for them to finally close the doors. The difficulties were mounting, as costs for printing and shipping keep increasing and more and more magazines are going to a digital format. The publishing industry as a whole is suffering greatly, as more and more people and designers self-publish and advertise online. I believe it was just a matter of time and a sign of progress. I don't know why All American didn't offer their magazines in digital format so I can't comment on that question. I am sure they had a reason.



As for myself, I am heart sick about these developments. For the past seventeen years, I have been a contributing editor to Creative Woodworks and Crafts. While I never counted, I feel I can safely say that I probably had over 150 projects published with them and it has been a great boost not only to my credibility as a designer, but for my business as well. As I mentioned, I have also been published in their other magazines with both my painting and even my sewing patterns. I feel I owe them a great deal. 



I have had several people ask if I will be OK with the magazine going under. Fortunately, I feel that my company is diverse enough to withstand this, but as with any designers, it is never an easy path. There is only one scroll sawing magazine left (Scrollsaw Woodworking and Crafts published by Fox Chapel) and one painting magazine that I know of (The Decorative Painter published by The Society of Decorative Painting). The resources are becoming more and more limited as you can see. 



What I feel is important for you all to do is to support these publications as well as the individual designers. Many of the designers have their own web sites and publish their own patterns. I have listings of links to many designers on my site, and I invite those that I don't have listed to submit them to me for inclusion. I also ask that people don't share patterns with groups or friends and purchase their own patterns when they make their projects. If designers are not supported by the public, there will be no way for them to be able to continue to design. I will tell you that from experience. There are also a great deal of "free" patterns available for you to use legally. These are great for many things, but I find that buying patterns from designers usually provides me with a better level of pattern. Everyone likes different things though so I think it is good to shop around and see what you like and what suits your way of learning, be it when doing woodwork or painting. It is a small price to pay to keep people in business so that you have a wide variety of patterns to choose from. It also helps keep the industry alive. Too often I hear complaints that there is no place  to order patterns or supplies, but if people aren't willing to support others, then there is no way that these small business can survive. No one would keep going to a job if they were not getting paid. Designers are no different. 



Finally, I want to give a word of thanks to the people at All American Crafts and especially the Cohen family. My heart goes out to you all and I hope that you are able to land on your feet when all of this has settled. From the day I met you all, you treated me with kindness and respect and made me feel like part of your family. I admire both your business ethics as well as how you treated your customers and designers. You all were a wonderful role model for me in both my personal life as well as my business life. These last seventeen years of working with you has been a pleasure, and I wish you all the best in whatever you do next. Thank you for believing in me.



I am still digesting what has happened. It will be odd for me to no longer say that I am a Contributing Editor, as I have done so for such a long time that it will feel as if part of me is missing. But as always, I feel that things do happen for a reason and Keith and I will seek out new avenues to share and market our designs and in the end, things will happen just as they should. While I am sad about what has happened, I will embrace these circumstances and find some good in them. Change is never really comfortable, but without it we are not able to advance.  I hope you all will join me in my continued journey.



I wish you all a good Monday.



 

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



30 comments so far

View Roger's profile

Roger

15039 posts in 1523 days


#1 posted 08-11-2014 12:05 PM

Wow Sheila. Some sad news there. I do wish you and Keith the best. I know the old saying of “it takes money to make money” is very true. I could hope you & Keith could start your own magazine. I really do wish you both the best of luck. Both of your talents are well recognized in my opinion.

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

View kepy's profile

kepy

175 posts in 993 days


#2 posted 08-11-2014 01:03 PM

I know that it is a loss to the scrolling community. I was a subscriber for quite a few years but finally reached the point where I could no longer justify the cost as only once in a while did I find a pattern that I could use. Between the scrolling forums and buying from individual designers, I have all the patterns I can handle. I did enjoy the articles but again it became cost prohibitive.

-- Kepy

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

7830 posts in 1639 days


#3 posted 08-11-2014 01:10 PM

Thank you, Roger and Kepy.

Yes – as I mentioned, with many designers being online as well as the many free patterns available, print magazines are becoming a thing of the past. When you consider the $25 or so (average) cost of a subscription for anywhere from 9-12 issues per year, you can understand that the shipping and printing costs would eat most of that subscription money up unless it is done in a huge (millions of subscribers) volume. Then you need to pay the designers and your staff and employees. I don’t “do numbers” but even I can see how it would be a struggle.

I think the good people there held on as long as they could. They are truly honest, kind and caring people. My editor Deb is just awesome, and tried so hard to put out the best magazine she could. I can tell you she worked many long hours to make sure each issue was great. I have so much love and respect for her and all the people there!

I am also sure that this was the last thing they wanted to happen. But times do change and hopefully they will all do OK and find other ventures.

Thank you both for your kind comments. :) 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 HillbillyShooter's profile

HillbillyShooter

4826 posts in 1012 days


#4 posted 08-11-2014 01:58 PM

It is always sad to see a business close, but it seems to be a sign of the times and result of technology. I wish you and Keith the best in this rapidly evolving business climate. It reminds me of some advice my father gave me when I was first starting: “never put all your eggs in one basket.” Sounds like you and Keith heard and followed this bit of wisdom.

-- John C. -- "Firearms are second only to the Constitution in importance; they are the peoples' liberty's teeth." George Washington

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

7830 posts in 1639 days


#5 posted 08-11-2014 02:07 PM

Yes, John – that is something I also learned earlier on this journey thorough my life. You all may wonder why I paint and even embroider and show it in my blog. They are all branches of creativity that can potentially help support me. The painting and wood supply we do for Artist’s Club can be very lucrative. Becoming educated on the different ways of marketing effectively and also getting to the proper audiences can be a full time job in itself. But it is well worth it.

Because of that way of thinking, we hope this will be no more than a bump in the road for us. And being the way I am, I feel that sometimes changes such as this will force us to explore avenues that we had not thought of looking into before. It could work to our advantage if we coax it to do so. (Thus my tagline – “Knowledge is power.”) ;)

Thank you for your thoughts and support. :)

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 Celticscroller's profile

Celticscroller

845 posts in 792 days


#6 posted 08-11-2014 04:37 PM

I have no doubt of your continued success Sheila! Both you and Keith are very talented artists and your diversification will keep your patterns and your business new and exciting. It’s not the losing of a business that is sad but losing all the relationships that you have build with the people involved and hopefully those friendships will survive. I will all those people in All America Crafts all the best and hope that this change in their lives will bring them something new exciting and fulfilling for them.
I like your new tag line!

-- Anna http://richmondcarvers.com/

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

7830 posts in 1639 days


#7 posted 08-11-2014 04:44 PM

Thanks, Anna. Yes – changing the tagline was “odd”. I felt as if a part of me was missing. But the other parts will just grow stronger, that’s all. (Remember – I am from CHICAGO! We are TOUGH! ;) )

Thank you for your kind words and encouragement here every day. I always tell you how much I appreciate and I always mean it from my heart. :)

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 Dan Krager's profile

Dan Krager

1680 posts in 954 days


#8 posted 08-11-2014 10:27 PM

Wow. Catching up with you and Keith led to this bombshell. I hope this truly is no more than a bump in the road for you. BTDT. Our publisher filed bankruptcy protection (Cengage, formerly Thompsons) but pulled through. They were huge enough to make the restructuring options work. Sometimes, sadly, it does not work out that way.
Sheila, you have great spirit, solid character, and drive. I firmly believe you will succeed, even if the direction changes a little. Keep up the good work!
Now I get to use some of your fine patterns to restock for fall show!
DanK

-- Dan Krager, Olney IL http://www.kragerwoodworking.weebly.com

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

7830 posts in 1639 days


#9 posted 08-12-2014 12:59 AM

Hi, Dan:
It was a heck of a day. Not the “funnest” day I have ever had for sure. But when I think of things in perspective, I still feel very fortunate in my life and I know that this will lead to better things. Thank you for your kind words. They truly mean a lot to me.

Take care, 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 TopamaxSurvivor's profile

TopamaxSurvivor

15005 posts in 2395 days


#10 posted 08-12-2014 01:35 AM

Certainly a sad day for everyone, especially the family who are all involved in the business. I hope there is no negative impacts to you and Kieth. This sort of reminds me of the day I was told the pay check I had deposited a few days earlier would be bouncing ;-( Best wishes, Bob

-- "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View lightweightladylefty's profile

lightweightladylefty

2707 posts in 2432 days


#11 posted 08-12-2014 06:13 AM

Sheila,

While I’m not a subscriber to any of their magazines, I feel the pain of so many print publications being discontinued. I like to hold a book or magazine in my hand while I read, digest, and underline or highlight. For economic reasons, I often choose to borrow a book or magazine from the library first, and then if I feel it is something from which I would use information repeatedly, I purchase it.

While the computer is convenient, for us it will never replace the actual printed piece. We wish you and Keith continued success in your business ventures.

L/W

-- Jesus is the ONLY reason for ANY season.

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

7830 posts in 1639 days


#12 posted 08-12-2014 10:41 AM

Thank you so much Bob and L/W. Yes – it is a hardship for all involved. There is nothing good about something like this happening, except maybe the relief that will come a later on for those who were tap dancing around the debts. I can’t see anyone finding joy in it.

There are other avenues for us to follow, and we are going to certainly concentrate on exploring them. Both Keith and I appreciate the support that everyone is showing not only use, but other designers in the industry as well.

I wish you both a wonderful day! :)

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 disappointed's profile

disappointed

1 post in 102 days


#13 posted 08-13-2014 04:18 AM

I am sorry, but I am not sympathetic nor emphatic (as the previous posters) for All American Crafts. I started decorative painting 18 years ago & subscribed loyally to both PaintWorks & Quick n’ Easy Painting. Back then there were so many painting magazines, and they have all slowly gone away. I have been ripped off 3 times with having renewed subscriptions & then the magazine went away.

I had just recently re-subscribed to both PaintWorks & Paint-It-Today for 2 year-renewals. Of course, they took my money, same as another sleazy publisher did, then closed their doors.

I could care less about what they are going through. They are thieves, knowing what they knew. Unlike you, we weren’t privy to “seeing the writing on the wall”. Yet those renewal notices kept coming in the mail. I am sorry, it is all just wrong.

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

7830 posts in 1639 days


#14 posted 08-13-2014 11:18 AM

Well, disappointed – you have every right to the way you feel. Since it appears that you set up your account here just to make your point, I will address it fully.

There are others who feel the same as you do. I respect that but I also feel that it is unfortunate because you don’t know the Cohens as I do. They are not rejoicing in the failure of their company. They are as devastated as one would be who built something from the ground up and worked for over twenty five years on it to see it succumb to whatever people blame it on. The digital age. Print costs. Mail increases. All of the above.

Most of the employees had been with them from the beginning. There were reasons for that. I believe it was not because the jobs were so high paying, but because they were good, decent people with integrity that worked hard to see painting, woodworking and the craft industry succeed. It is difficult not to notice that most of the long term designers, companies and leaders in the industry feel as I do. We all saw not only from the outside, but from the inside of the business how dedicated they were and how much they have contributed. Not everything in this world (believe it or not) is measured in dollars.

No one wins in a bankruptcy. Not only are the customers (like yourself) not given what they were promised (the magazine issues), but the designers are not paid what is due to them and the employees are now looking for ways to earn a living in a very limited field of the job market. The advertising and exposure for the shops, suppliers and pattern makers is also now reduced to other means. Not everyone has or enjoys the internet. But it is a “way of the times” as I have heard so often these past days. I can assure you – we designers are owed far more than the subscription dollars that you are out. I can only speak for myself, but the amount is substantial. Yet I choose to be compassionate and empathetic because I know the family and I know that they did all they could to fulfill their obligations. I believe that is my advantage over you.

That is what bankruptcy is. A legal means set up for those who cannot fulfill their financial obligations. It is tragic for all involved, as I said.

I suppose in thinking about it, there is no good point to file. In reading both sides of comments for the past several days, I came to the conclusion that no matter when they closed their doors and file, there would be people closer to the end of their subscription and those who just renewed. I also renewed my subscriptions recently for several of the magazines. May it was I think. But with the subscription price being that of two or three decent patterns, I just consider it my loss and move on. There are many involved who have a far greater loss that I. I believe that if they had the money to refund the subscriptions to all the readers, they wouldn’t have to go bankrupt in the first place.

Empathy – Identification with and understanding of another’s situation, feelings, and motives.

I am empathetic to the family and the situation. Perhaps it is because I am privileged to knowing them for the past seventeen years as well as working with them. I have no doubt that they are also angry/sad/upset about the situation and did everything they could to prevent it.

I am also empathetic to the customers and subscribers. Many of them are my own customers. I realize that some (such as yourself) feel taken advantage of and ‘duped’. Perhaps that is why I chose to write about my own feelings about things. I want others to see that there are two sides to the story.

As I said – no one wins here. The occurrence was perhaps inevitable in the long run. Our world is ever changing and there is discomfort for most when these changes happen, whether we see them coming or not.

Thank you for voicing your thoughts. I am certain there are others who feel as you do. I hope you will keep on painting and consider some of the other alternatives to the magazines and support your favorite individual designers and suppliers directly, or they too will only be a memory.

I wish you a good day.

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 Glassworks's profile

Glassworks

4 posts in 102 days


#15 posted 08-13-2014 08:46 PM

Sheila, I have contacted NJ Bankruptcy Court to get a case number for All American Crafts so I could file a Claim Form for articles I wrote and AMC’s published in their last Bead Design Studios August Issue. They never fulfilled their contract and paid me for my work. The clerk said that there was no company by the name of All American Crafts, Inc. that has filed for Bankruptcy in the state of NJ. Do you know of a different name they may have worked under?

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