To start this story at the beginning, go to the Press Release and follow the links.
Recap: "M," a stay at home mom meets Gina K at a local craft shop and is introduced to rubber stamping. Gina is a demonstrator for Get Down With Stampin and invites M to a workshop. M is thrilled and imagines becoming Gina's best friend. One thing leads to another and M buys a bunch of stamping stuff, and agrees to host a workshop for Gina, where she sells over 11 thousand dollars worth of stamp supplies in one night. M then signs up to become a demo. She also learns that Gina is leaving stamping to to to law school. Get Down With Stampin hears about the 11K workshop and invites M to fly up to Vermont at GDWS' headquarters at their expense. M, and M's husband John, are impressed.
Chapter 9: "They can be downright useful."
"I just want to know how much can I steal and get away with."
"Well, I have to say that's the first time a client has ever asked that question quite that way," said Andrew Farther, laughing and sitting back in his big leather chair.
"Listen, Andrew. Can I call you Andrew? I don't have time for chit chat. At $175 per hour, we need to talk fast."
If Andrew Farther, attorney at law, thought he was going to shoot the breeze with me while his clock was ticking at my expense, he was Wisteria Wrong. I was now the CEO of my own business and about to go on a bonafide all expenses paid business trip on a private jet. I wasn't some Mrs. Please Help Me. I was somebody and about to be a whole lot more.
Kitty had asked me to write down my "secrets for a successful workshop." At first I was so excited, so complimented, that Kitty Richman would want my ideas. But then I thought, wait a minute. Wait a berrylicious minute. Kitty Richman wants MY ideas? Of course she does!! They want to just take my ideas for nothing. I realized that my secrets for a successful workshop were MY SECRETS for a successful workshop. If I spilled it all to GDWS, every demo in the country would have them. Did she really think I could be bought off by a flight to Vermont and a one night stay in a B&B?
I didn't sleep a minute the night Kitty called me. The next morning, after getting John and the kids off, I scheduled an appointment with Farther, a local attorney, whose claim to fame was successfully defending a stripper accused of stealing dance pole designs from a competitor. John would FLIP if he found out, but I was a businesswoman now. John didn't check in with me every time he made a decision at work, and I wasn't about to get his permission to run my business my way.
I needed advice and I needed it before I got to GDWS. Besides, I could write off Farther's fees as a business expense. Two days later I was sitting in Farther's office.
Andrew sat up straight, put down his pen and said, "M. I apologize. Please call me Andy and explain exactly what you mean."
Whew. He was taking me seriously.
Ralph Lauren tote, and stamped a flower right then and there.
"See what I just did?"
"That's a rubber stamp. People are making millions of dollars selling stamps just like this, and the ink, and the paper and everything else that goes with it, to women who make greeting cards with this stuff."
"Yes, really. Let me tell you something, Andy. Barbara Bush stamps. And I want to be one of the people making millions selling stamps to people like Barbara Bush. And to Liz Cheney and Susie Stamper down the street."
Andy was taking notes.
"Here's the deal. There is a company called Get Down With Stampin that manufactures these products. They sell them through home parties the way Tupperware or Mary Kay Cosmetics are sold. I went to one of those parties and loved every minute of it. Their products are high quality and made in America. Ladies love this stuff. I also held a workshop in my home as a hostess for another Get Down demonstrator and sold eleven thousand smackaroos of this stuff in one night."
And then I handed him the GDWS catty.
"Barbara Bush stamps?," Andy asked, while starting to flip through the catty.
"Yes, she does. And I have it on good authority that she held a stamping party at her son's place -- you know, the White House -- last month."
Andrew put down the catty and looked impressed.
"Wow. And you sold 11K of this stuff in one night?," he said, gesturing towards the catty. "That's amazing."
"Yes and it is amazing. In fact, I am amazing. I am so amazing that the owners of Get Down called me up and are flying me up to their headquarters next week to 'learn my secrets'. So I got to thinking. Why should I give them my secrets? What if I offered to sell them my ideas? But then I had another idea. What if I used the trip to learn their secrets instead and start my own company?"
Andrew interrupted, "So you want to know how much of Get Down's ideas you can copy and get away with?"
This guy got it. Why does everyone hate lawyers? Get the right one and they can be down right useful.
"Exactly. And I'm going to need your help incorporating or whatever I need to do to start my own business. And, you know, tax tricks."
"Ok, I can do that. Let's set aside the business part for a minute and discuss your trip. How are you going to get away with not giving them your secrets for a successful workshop?"
"Oh, that's easy. I'll pull together some crap. Basically, I'll give them the opposite of my secrets."
"Yeah, I thought so."
Then Andrew said, "Well, to answer your question, anyone can make a stamp that says common words and phrases like, Hello or Happy Birthday. And you can probably get away with quotes. I mean that's a little tricky, but the chance that the estate of some dead guy is going to sue you is remote. Images are a little trickier. You risk a law suit if you copy an image exactly. See this bear?," he said, pointing to the Best Birthday Bears stamp set in the catty.
I shook my head yes.
"Well, it clearly is not a real bear. It evokes the idea of a cute little teddy bear. You can't copy it exactly. But you can change up the face, the size, the width of the lines. Make it just a bit different so that it would be too expensive to go after you."
"So basically, I can almost copy?"
"Yeah, that's a good way of putting it. The law is actually kind of vague in this area and that confusion is to your advantage."
"Excellent," I replied. "I was hoping you would say something like that. Ok, here's another question. Get Down has 75 ink colors, all with catchy names. Can I come up with a line of ink pads, with different names and slightly different colors, and sell them?"
"Absolutely, but I'd strongly advise against it."
"There's something called good will. It exists in every industry. If you want to make a go of it, you can't look like you are ripping off another company even if you really are ripping off another company."
"Oh," I said, a bit depressed. "You want me to come up with my own ideas? That never occurred to me."
"Good lord, no. 'Borrow' from a bunch of different companies. There are other stamp companies, right?"
This guy was worth every dime.
"Yes, there are. I saw a bunch of them at Craft Stuffing, that craft shop down the street."
"There's a craft shop down the street? Where?"
"The corner of Concord&9th."
"Oh yeah," Andy said. "I know that store. My wife loves their stuff."
"See," I told him. "Your wife can be my first customer!"
Andy laughed. "Ok, we'll see about that. Listen, I am happy to be your lawyer. And the most important advice I have for today is to discuss this with no one. Not your best friend. Not your neighbor. Not your kid's friends. Not your kids. Husband is ok, but no one else."
"You don't have to worry about that. I'm not even ready to tell my husband. I want to get the details worked out first.
Andy nodded and said, "You have a lot of homework to do. It's a lot of work to start a business and it takes a significant investment."
"I know. Wait, let me get out a pen. Can you give me that yellow pad? I want to make a list."
Andy got out another yellow pad of legal paper and handed it to me with a pen. "Ok, let's make that list."
And 45 minutes later I walked out of his office with a long list of things to do and an appointment in two weeks.
The next week went by in a blur. On Wednesday I was at the terminal for private planes at Reagan National Airport. I didn't even know there was a terminal for private planes! Who knows, maybe I'd have one someday.
A gorgeous woman with dark chocolate brown eyes and a ton of thick, wavy, glossy hair in the same color walked towards me. She was wearing hot lips patent leather sling back heels and a rainbow colored dress that I'll never forget.
"Hi, I'm Laura Bassen with GDWS," she said, smiling. "And you must be M. On behalf of GDWS, welcome to our little family."
Next: What else? Chapter 10