Stamping Destroyed My Life: The Prologue
Chapter One: "It's Kind of Magical"
Chapter Two: A Match Made in Heaven
Chapter Three: "Just do it."
Chapter Four: Salsa and Chips
Chapter Five: "I have a plan."
As promised, John came home around 5:30 to take the kids out for dinner so they wouldn't be around for the workshop. Plus, I wanted John out before the valets showed up at 6:45. However, the RSVP Catering van was in the driveway when John arrived. Forgot about that. I wasn't tried to hide anything; I just didn't have time for questions.
"M, a catering van? You said the workshop wouldn't cost a dime! How much is this costing us?"
I could have dismissed his concerns and told John we'd discuss later, but I loved and respected him. He deserved an honest answer.
"John, darling, it isn't going to cost a penny, a dime, or a dollar. Really. Yes, there is an initial upfront expense, but I have a plan. Within six months, I will have repaid the cost of the caterer and made a profit. I cut back where I had to on this workshop. For example, I nixed the photo booth and bag piper."
John just stood there, and his eyes moved from one marvel to the next. Platters heaped with beignets and crisps and other yummies were scattered throughout. An ice sculpture with the GDWS logo carved in it was in the center of the dining room table, glistening under the crystal chandelier. China and crystal goblets shone in the candlelight. Not a paper plate or plastic cup in sight -- this wasn't a Tupperware party. Silver bowls of flowers with mini greeting cards inside that Gina had provided in advance were scattered throughout the rooms.
|Source: Kinloch Anderson|
And make no mistake, this was business. I had tried making a few cards when my box of GDWS stuff came, and it was way harder than I thought. The images were all smudged and all my sentiments were crooked. I put all that junk in a closet until I could figure out how to use it.
In addition, once I learned that Gina was going to law school, I decided to take over her business. How dare she drop in and out of my life like that? After the workshop, I planned to ask her how much it would cost to buy her out. I wanted her customer base and "downline." Oh yes, I had done my research and learned all the details of the GWDS compensation plan. Frankly, it was a tad confusing, with all sorts of levels and trips and badges and, if I understood it correctly, a free cat once in a while. I wasn't a Girl Scout. I didn't want a badge; I wanted money, so I focused on how to earn cash, and from what I could figure out the keys to success were:
1. be a demo, not a customer
2. buy as little as possible
3. get a downline and whip them into shape
4. have a workshop a week
5. spend money to make money
6. don't sweat technicalities like copyright
7. refuse to take cats
Except for the fact that I did not know how to stamp, I was ready. If Gina didn't want to sell out, there was always Plan B.
"An ICE SCULPTURE??," John said, almost raising his voice.
"Cool, isn't it? Could you move a bit, honey? I want to get a picture of it."
"M. M. M," he sputtered. "How can you possibly pay this off in six months?"
"John, I have a plan. And part of my plan is to have tonight be amazing. And it can't be amazing if I have to stand here talking about my plan. Can we please discuss this later?"
Buffy and Garrett walked in and that, thank heavens, ended our conversation. We rarely argued, and if we did, it was never in front of the kids. Off they went. Kisses from everyone, including John. All was well.
By then the caterers had left, and I sat down and took a moment to take it all in. I poured a glass of wine and popped a xanax -- I needed to be my best. The bell rang. Must be Gina.
"M!," Gina exclaimed. "Valets? I can't believe you paid for valets. And where did you get those GDWS caps?" I could tell she was impressed.
"Gina, where are 50 people going to park? Seriously. It's a beautiful night, but what if it had been raining? And aren't the caps darling? I just photocopied the logo and went to the Cap Store. No biggie."
Gina mumbled something about copyright law and blah blah blah. Nothing worse that a wanna be lawyer. Ok, Gina, send in the FBI. I'm a copyright criminal, I thought. But I said nothing.
Gina looked around. She'd never been in my house and I could tell she was blown away. "M, this place is stunning. Oh my, look at those platters. What are those?", she asked, gesturing at the dark choclate greeting cards with raspberry ink.
"Chocolate cards! Aren't they darling?," I responded. Then I walked her through the menu and offered her some chilled sparkling water or hot cider.
"Did you make all this?"
"No way, although I did design the menu. The lemon pomegranate lasagna was my idea. I had RSVP Catering create it just for tonight and promise to never make it again. Luckily, they seemed fine with it."
Gina gasped, "You catered a workshop?"
And then she spotted the ice sculpture.
"Wow, an ice sculpture! What's that carved in the middle?," she asked, peering closer.
"The GDWS logo. Now don't go all legal with me. Everyone knows that you can't violate copyright laws if the logo melts."
Gina shook her head and said, "Hostesses make brownies and if they are feeling ambitious, maybe some salsa and chips. The really ambitious ones might upgrade to pigs in a blanket. This is fabulous, but kind of a bit much. I'm not sure it goes with a stamping workshop."
I grimaced at the thought of serving salsa anywhere near my oriental rugs. Good gawabba, we didn't have as much in common as I first thought. I bit my tongue, which trust me, almost never happens. How could I tell Gina that, even though the GDWS website indicated that she was a top demo, she really didn't have a clue? I couldn't. I still needed her.
"Oh, sorry Gina. Sometimes I get carried away. I won't make that mistake again." And, with that I walked away to answer the doorbell.
I stood at the door and introduced myself as the crowd poured in.
"Hi I'm M. Thank you so much for coming! Make yourself comfortable. This is going to be fun! The show starts at 7:30. In the meantime, have a bite, and if you have a chance, go say hi to that woman over there with the gorgeous dark hair and red twin set. That's Gina. She'll be making the presentation tonight."
Short and sweet.
More and more women showed up. They ate, talked, looked at the samples, and the cattys. Every once in a while, someone squealed when she saw the ice sculpture. You could feel the buzz. I slowly worked the room, getting names and contact information and providing my own.
At 7:30 sharp I moved everyone into our Great Room. It was tight, but between our furniture and the chairs I rented, everyone had a seat. Standing is a buzz kill.
Gina began by welcoming everyone and introducing me.
"Let's thank M for this amazing spread."
I stood up to more than polite applause and sat down quickly. I watched Gina carefully. I had a lot to learn. Gina's presentation was smooth as glass. She had asked me if there was anything I wanted her to emphasize and I suggested she start with Stamping 101 + Embossing. I figured the folks were here for the free food and would have no clue what stamping was. And I was right.
Gina did as asked. It was great. After she embossed a card, the ladies clapped! I sat in the back and didn't say a word and didn't volunteer. She had the group laughing and asking questions. One woman asked how much it all cost, and Gina responded.
"Stamping can be an inexpensive or an expensive hobby. It is up to you. I have a recommended "starter kit" that comes to $120. That's a lot of money, especially for you underpaid teachers like Michele Hetland over there, but it includes everything you need to make all the Christmas and birthday cards you'll need for the year, including envelopes. If you don't celebrate Christmas, you can substitute some other stamps. Add up how much you spend on Hallmark, and you'll see that making them on your own is actually cheaper. Yes, there are bells and whistles you can buy, but you don't have to."
Well, isn't that interesting, I thought. No mention of this starter kit when I was shelling out over $600 at Francie's workshop. I let that thought drop immediately. That was yesterday, when I expected just to sit around banging stamps on ink pads and watching our kids chase fireflies. Now I was going to become the #1 GDWS demonstrator.
Sure enough, the women asked to see the starter kit list, and Gina took out a bunch of photocopied lists -- with a stamped image on them, and distributed them to everyone. Gina's presentation ended and the women started flipping through the cattys and filling out orders. Gina walked around answering questions.
And then it was over. The ladies left. John and the kids were upstairs. I moved the sculpture to the back lawn so it could melt in peace, and told my housekeeper she could start cleaning up.
Gina and I sat in the kitchen. She took out her calculator and motioned me over. She looked exhausted, but excited.
"M, I have to be honest. I thought you were nuts when I walked in here. But I have to hand it to you. We have $11,575.89 worth of orders!"
Bingo. Making money at this stamping stuff was going to be sooo easy.
We high fived, and then I said, "Gina, there is something I want to ask you."
Next: Chapter Six