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What a difference a year makes.

I just sent an e-mail…I guess you could call it fan mail…to graphic artist/designer Kathy Davis, who was profiled in the September 2009 edition of More magazine.

Kathy is soooo much further down the path than I am, but elements of her story resonated with me:

  • working, working, working – always WORKING
  • occasional bouts of insecurity, feeling like there is too much competition
  • branching out, trying new designs, new directions

As I said, Kathy’s way down the path now.  Her company produces over 1,000 new designs each year, and she has sold over 100 million cards since she went into business.

Some of you know that I exhibited at the National Stationery Show last year (and you are the ones that know how much of a bath I took!).

In a prior career incarnation, I did my time in the bowels of the Javits Center in NYC, America’s Mart in Atlanta, the Bayside Expo Center in Boston (grossest bathrooms in the world!). So – naturally, I thought I could sail back into Javits last year and come away with a ton of orders.

As my former boss Doug Kline liked to quip, “Never underestimate my stupidity.” I got hosed.

I wasn’t writing as many orders as I had hoped, and I was up one night, gerbil-wheeling over how much money I had spent on the booth, questioning why I was even there in the first place, kicking myself for thinking I could jump from my dining room table to the show floor with ease.

I stumbled on a quote from Babe Ruth the next morning: “Never let the fear of striking out get in your way.” I cut it out and taped it to my show folder, and went back into the Javits Center with an open heart and ears.

I spent the remainder of the show talking with other exhibitors, asking them about their learning curves and how they had grown their business. I asked buyers – the few who bought from me and the slew of those who did not – what was selling well for them in their stores, in terms of product and pricing.

And I came home, recharged enough to regroup and redirect.

My rep Debbie Hawkins, who covers coastal Carolinas for me, has been very instrumental in the studio’s growth and direction this year. She knows her market intimately, and my mantra is “What Debbie sells, Debbie gets.” So, if you’ve been wondering why in the world my recent images are smothered in azaleas, Spanish moss and alligators – well, it’s what’s selling up and down Rte 17 in NC and SC!!!

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I am thankful for all of Debbie’s input and effort.

I also want to welcome Rick Lantz, who will cover coastal NJ, DE and MD for me, as his surfing schedule permits!!!

I would LOVE to have a rep in New England and GA/FL…so, if any of you retailers or other manufacturers have anyone in mind, please let me know!