Feb 15, 2021

Stamping Destroyed My Life: I Had A Goal

Stamping Destroyed My Life starts here. Follow the links and read along!  
9 Months Later

To: M and Beth
From: Andrew Farther, Esq.
Re: Agreement Between Beautiful Stamps and Brave Arts
Attached is the draft contract between Beautiful Stamps (BS) and Brave Arts (BA). The following summarizes the key provisions. If you are going to sign, which I strongly recommend, I most strongly recommend signing immediately, given the patent pending situation. As always, happy to discuss.
1. BS sells all equipment, including The Stamp Maker and supplies, inventory of stamps, and mailing list, including emails, to BA for $150,000, payable immediately. BA will arrange at its expense for the packing and transport of all products.
2. BS sells "patent pending" and an option to BA to acquire its patent to design and manufacturer "clear stamps" for $25,000, payable immediately. If the Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) approves BS's application for a patent, BA agrees to buy the patent for $200,000. If the PTO denies the patent, no further payments will be made.
3. BA agrees to employee Beth to design stamps and other products -- terms included in a separate contract between Beth and BA. 
FYI - Worked with accountant. After paying all debts, including M's personal debt towards the cost of the Stamp Maker, and all associated legal and accounting fees, Beth's after contract payout (if patent approved): $150K. M's after contract payout (if patent approved): $130K. If patent denied, Beth to get $25K and job; M to get $15K.
Text from ME to Andrew:
No deal. Must discuss. Call me.
We discussed.
All this mumbo jumbo, but the bottom line is that if the patent was approved, I'd walk away with $130K. If it wasn't approved, I'd get $15K. Crazy. I wasn't selling out for that. John thought I was nuts. Andy thought I was nuts. Even Beth thought I was nuts, but I had a goal and I knew that even $130K wasn't enough to make me happy. I'd been a demo, and a good one. I'd owned a stamp company, and we succeeded beyond our wildest dreams, but I hadn't achieved my real goal:
Brave Arts refused to put me on its design team because "you have no record of actually making any cards." Crazy!! After lots of back and forth, they finally agreed to give me all of their products -- every single product sold by the company -- for free for 2 years! That was worth WAY more than $130K. And I figured once I started Design Team Member work, I'd write it all off our taxes. 
We signed. Beth and I and the husbands went out to dinner and celebrated. It was great not to have anymore deadlines -- owning a company with a monthly release was crazy hard. What we we thinking?? 
And then we learned that the patent was denied. 

Apparently, other businesses had been making photopolymer stamps for non crafty reasons so our "patent pending" went to "patent denied." It was open season and dozens of companies began producing clear stamps. It's a good thing we sold when we did!
When it was all over, we had no debt, Beth had some cash and a career with Brave Arts designing stamps. I had no debt and a guarantee of free product for 2 whole years. 
I couldn't believe how lucky I was. I couldn't wait to start making cards and getting on Design Teams. I knew getting on a Design Team would be hard, but I had NO idea what I was about to get into...........


Jan 29, 2021

Simple Blossoms


Using Pinkfresh Studio's Simple Blossoms set and Pinkfresh inks (love them - great colors).  Sentiment is one of the Sentiment Strips designed by CZDesign and available only at Simon Says Stamp. 

MOOD WHEN DONE: Hanging in there! Hope you have a good weekend.

Jan 26, 2021

Sweet Hearts

Inspired by an older card made by Design with Heart Studio. I wanted to stamp a cone and hearts but didn't have the right stamps, so I die cut the hearts using Hero Arts Nesting Hearts Infinity dies. Hand trimmed the "cone," using a stencil and white gel pen to add some details.

The sentiment is from Concord & 9th's Blossoms and Buds. Lots of foam tape!

Entering this in the Stay Crafty with Hero Challenge

Posting a smaller version of the picture for the challenge.  Sorry about that!


MOOD WHEN DONE: Great! Not a lot of anything going on here. There's something wrong with my shoulder, and that prevents me from doing a lot of stamping (or house cleaning!). Doc advises waiting until I get the vaccine before figuring out what is wrong. Luckily, it doesn't appear to be getting worse, so I'm babying it. 

What's going on with you? Hoping you are still crafting and staying well.

Jan 20, 2021

Stamping Destroyed My Life: Chapter 22

Welcome back!

Stamping Destroyed My Life starts here. Follow the links and read along! I had to reread the whole thing since it's been 5 years!

For my new readers -- this "serial novel" is a farce, poking fun at the crazy hobby of stamping. There is a lot of discussion of laws and taxes and "inside the stamping industry" and ALL of it is fictional. I am not, and have never been, inside the stamping industry. I'm just a stamper! I use real people's names only with permission, except for Barbara Bush or other public officials....


Chapter 22: You Might As Well Throw It in the Potomac

Turns out Beth was very interested in my manufacturing Beautiful Stamps.

"Half? We could cut our manufacturing costs by half?" Beth shrieked. "That's awesome. But how much time would that take and where would we do it?"

I laughed. "Well, that's the thing. My basement is already full of stacks of Beautiful stamps and mailing supplies. I'd have to empty out our garage, and move our stamps out there. I don't see a problem. John can park on the street and I'll take the driveway. No biggie. I'll be able to take an even bigger tax deduction for our home office and John will love that. And I read the directions on how to make the stamps online. Looks like a piece of cake."

"Oh, in that case, I'm all for it," said Beth. "But, how would it work? I mean, how much will it cost us to do this?"

If you are going to succeed in business you have to see the BIG picture and be willing to take a few risks. Otherwise, you'll be one of the majority of small businesses that fail. You might as well just stay a stamper.

Beth was a sweetheart, and a very talented designer, but she had no business sense. She could envision selling a few pretty cherry blossoms stamp sets, but couldn't envision earning enough money to retire to Palm Beach. 

I explained: "I looked into it and we would need to invest 30 thou. . . "

"WHAT? No way. That's crazy," Beth shouted.

I guess I had work to do.

"Beth, calm down and listen. First, and I mean this, if you say no, it's no. You won't get any argument from me. But, 'invest' is NOT the same as 'spend.' 'Spend' is buying craft supplies. It's money you will never see again. You might as well throw it in the Potomac. 'Invest,' however, is a down payment on wealth."

Really, I can't believe people that in 2011 people still have to study economics. It's simple as pie. 


Then Beth said, "M, as much as I'd like to quote unquote invest fifteen thousand DOLLARS, we do not have 15 thousand DOLLARS sitting around. And even if we did, there is no way Ted would agree to this.

"Beth, does Ted call you up in the middle of the day and ask your opinion on how to do his job? I bet he doesn't. YOU own Beautiful Stamps. You are co CEO and Artistic Director. It's YOUR decision. And, I'm not being nosy, but I bet you have that money. Haven't you been saving for your kids' college?"

"Are you crazy, M? You want me to spend my kids' college money? I would never do that!"

She really wasn't listening.

"Beth, of course I don't want you to SPEND the kids' college money. It's in some type of mutual fund, right?"

"Well, yes."

"So you took the money out of the bank and INVESTED it in the mutual fund. Nothing wrong with that. You want it to grow. All I'm suggesting, and you absolutely do not have to do this, is to take the money out of the mutual fund and INVEST it in Beautiful Stamps. I have a lot more faith in Beautiful than the market. Look what happened to the stock market a few years ago!!!"

Beth responded, "Oh. Well, when you put it that way, I have to admit it sounds so much better!" 

I didn't want to pressure Beth, so I said: "Listen, if you want to think about it, that's fine. I mean the sooner we start making our own stamps, the sooner our profits will really take off, but it's totally up to you. I am perfectly fine continuing as is."

Beth thought about it for a few more seconds, and said: 

"Um, I think it's fine. It's just moving investment tools and we do that all the time. I mean we usually do it together, but like you said, Ted doesn't check in with me every time he buys a Venti Dark Roast. I'm good. Give me 24 hours and I'll transfer the 15 thousand to our Beautiful Stamps account."

"Oh Beth, I just know we are doing the right thing. I'll transfer my share by tomorrow as well. Eeek! I'm so excited. There's going to be a learning curve, but this is our ticket to success! I'll get in touch with the company that sells the equipment. I'll keep you posted."

Beth responded: "Sounds like a plan. I'm in the middle of putting together some drafts of Christmas designs. I'm thinking beautiful flowers and snowmen and a killer sentiment set. I'll send you them as soon as I'm done."

"Great! Talk to you later."

Beth's designs would be fantastic. We decided early on to keep Beautiful Stamp's designs clean and modern. Unlike our competitors, we didn't include images and sentiments in one stamp. Keeping them separate meant higher profits. If stampers want sentiments that coordinate, they'll have to buy that extra set. I had a few other marketing ideas and Beth was happy to go along with them:

1. No upscale packaging (we emphasized environmentally friendly approach to cover the fact that I didn't want to shell out cash for fancy tissue papers and stickers); 

2. Once our sets sold out, they were gone forever -- stampers will buy anything if they think they will miss out on something (had to make an exception for our initial release, but now that we had real customers, it's "when it's gone it's gone"); and

3. Product placement and celebrity endorsements. No success in getting Beautiful Stamps in Orange is the New Black, but I was working a Simpsons angle. Also, I sent a set of Beautiful Stamps to Barbara Bush to see if I could quote her love of stamping and how much she loves our new clear stamps, but so far no luck. Then I thought about it. What's the chance that Barb would see Beautiful's ads? Pretty small. So I made up a quote and included it on some of our ads.

Haven't heard from any of Barb's lawyers, and under the law, silence is consent, so I think we are golden!

I hung up, sipped on my iced Diet Coke with a straw made from a Twizzler, and called the company that sells the stuff to make your own stamps. 

After some back and forth I told Jim, the salesman, "This is great. I'll have the 30K by tomorrow and can pay the rest in monthly installments. When can I expect The Great Stamp Maker to arrive?"

Jim responded, "Let me check." After a few seconds during which I could hear him clicking, Jim said:
"Looks like we can do next Tuesday."

"Great, Jim. We have a deal. Send me the contract and I'll get it back to you."

Next: Chapter 23 

Jan 19, 2021

Never Far From My Heart

 I'm up on the Foiled Fox blog sharing a card with a great sentiment die. You can read all about it HERE.

MOOD WHEN DONE: Well, pretty good. I have a problem with my right shoulder that has kept me out of the craft room, but I'm slowly sneaking in some stamping. I just have to do it!

The next chapter of Stamping Destroyed My Life will be out this week!

Jan 16, 2021

Breaking News



Jan 13, 2021

The Mondale Administration

March 1985. 

I had spent the morning in Court, and needed to get back to my legal aid office. It was just a couple of blocks from the Arlington, Virginia Courthouse. The area was, at that time before the subway changed everything, dotted with small independent restaurants, filled at lunchtime with lawyers and police and others connected to the court system. I liked going out for lunch. I liked seeing everyone, listening to the buzz, and just getting away from my office. 

But on that day I was in a bit of a rush, so I picked up a turkey sandwich, and went back to the office. It was 12:30 and my first appointment wasn't scheduled until 1:30. However, since I had been out of the office for a few hours, there would be plenty of messages to return. Plus, I had a hearing in a few days and needed to check in with my clients -- I wanted to make sure they remembered the time and date and where to meet me. Part lawyer/part social worker. 

I walked into the reception area and took a quick glance around. A few clients sat there waiting. An elderly couple to see the Elder Law Attorney; a young woman with a couple of kids quietly pulling on her skirt. A single middle aged man. Looks like he might be trying to sell us something. 

I hung up my coat, sat down at my desk and opened my sandwich, and my secretary came in. 

"Your 1:30 came in at noon. Do you want to see him now?"

"Bring him back in 5 minutes." Clients come in that early for a variety of reasons; sometimes it was the only time they could get a ride; other times it reflected their anxiety. Saw no reason to keep him waiting.

So much for returning messages. I quickly ate, scanned my stack of yellow telephone messages to make sure nothing was urgent, and, 5 minutes later, Benjamin Clark* walked in. Benny (as he insisted I call him) looked like someone who worked in an office, and not my usual client. He was about 50, wearing khakis and a plaid button down shirt. Oh, the guy I thought was selling something is a client. A bit unusual.

Most of my clients were women, and the few men were either with their wives or much younger. Benny had a manilla file folder with him, bulging with assorted papers, that he clutched as he sat down. The client intake sheet summarized his problem as "civil matter." I figured it was a dispute over a used car or other consumer issue. I liked to guess what a client's problem was before he or she said anything and I was often right.

I introduced myself and mentioned that I was a lawyer. I was young, and there weren't a lot of women attorneys back then. It wasn't unusual for my clients to think I was a student or a paralegal. That was why I had all my diplomas and certificates framed and hung in the office. Sure enough, Benny glanced up and checked out my certificates. 

After a few seconds, I asked him what I could do for him.

Benny pulled out a folded set of papers from his file. Immediately, I recognized them as legal papers - they had a pale blue cover sheet and were legal size (8 and 1/2 by 14 - rarely used now). I took them and turned to the most important part of any court pleading -- the last page. If it's a Court order, the final decision is there and if not, the last page will summarize what it's all about. 

In this case, a company was asking for an injunction against Benny, ordering him to stop "slandering" the company. Slander? This was a first for me. Right away, I reviewed everything I knew about slander in Virginia law. That took a second, because I knew absolutely nothing about slander law in Virginia or anywhere else. I thought about calling my assistant to research slander but then I remembered -- this wasn't a law firm, this was legal aid. I didn't have an assistant.

"Ok, Benny, tell me what happened. Why is Speedy Photocopying Services suing you?"

"Well, I was working for Speedy..."

My heart sank. Employment disputes were the worst. I hadn't had a lot of employment cases, but the ones I had were doozies - tensions were higher than in divorces. I knew why workplace violence was a thing. People at work can get really angry with each other and are completely unable to compromise. And they get angry with their lawyers. During the last employment case I had my client filing a complaint against me! (that was before we won the case.) No, not an employment case! Don't do this to me. 

"Doing what?"

"I was a salesman. Speedy fixes copiers and supplies toner and all that and I would go around to small businesses to get them to sign a service contract with Speedy. But, then I couldn't do it anymore. Speedy is going under. I couldn't in good conscious sign contracts and get money from these companies when I know Speedy is going to go bankrupt. So I told all their clients that they are going bankrupt. I had no choice."

"How do you know Speedy is going bankrupt? Did they tell you?"

"No, OF COURSE  they didn't tell me." Benny's voice was getting a little louder and faster. I put up my hands and said, "Slow down. There's plenty of time to get into all of it." 

Benny shifted in his sheet, put his folder on the chair next to him, and leaned in.

"I know they are going bankrupt. I know things. I know things before other people know things. I just know things. No one believes me but I AM ALWAYS RIGHT."

Excellent chance that Benny was not always right and in fact, was probably rarely right. This was all going in a different direction than I had anticipated when I first saw him, and it was about to go right off the map.

I let Benny talk some more and sure enough, it became crystal clear that Benny had no real reason to believe that Speedy was going bankrupt. He just "knew it" and he "knew it" because the voices in his head told him. 

My heart sank when Benny started talking about the voices. One of the first things you learn working in legal aid is that the legal problem that the client has is often one of the least important things going on in his life at that time. Benny's problem wasn't slander; it was schizophrenia. If doctors couldn't help, how could I?

I interrupted and asked him for a moment to read the pleadings. I needed to give him time to unwind and I needed a break. Turns out Speedy wasn't asking for any damages (money) from Benny, which was good because Benny didn't have any. The company just wanted him to shut up and stop spreading lies. 

So I asked Benny: "Would you be willing to agree not to talk about Speedy -- not to call their clients or anyone else and tell them that Speedy is about to file bankruptcy? I mean what difference does it make to you anymore? You can get rid of this entire lawsuit by agreeing to not talk about Speedy."

A simple matter.

"No, I cannot do that. People need to know what is going on."

I actually felt a little sorry for Speedy. Their papers indicated that they had lost 2 clients after Benny called those clients. Speedy attached an affidavit spelling out in some detail its sound financial shape. But I didn't represent Speedy - Benny was my client.

Rule #1 when dealing with a client with schizophrenia is not to challenge the disordered thinking. It was a waste of time and would undercut any trust he might develop in me. 

"Benny, I'm not asking you to change your opinions or belief. But the law is a bit of a game. If you agree to it, we can draft up an order saying you won't talk about Speedy again and no one will have to go to Court."

"No. I want to explain to the Judge WHAT IS REALLY GOING ON."

"Ok. That is your absolute right. In the meantime, I'm curious what's in that file of yours? Are there any other papers you think I should know about?" 

Benny handed the folder to me and I flipped through the papers. Lordy. A report from the Secret Service. A first for me. I scanned it and sat back.

"Benny, when did you move to Arlington?"

Benny explained that he left his home in Mississippi the day after the election the prior November. (This was the Presidential election in which President Reagan had been reelected, beating Walter Mondale in a landslide.) Benny left because, as he put it, "after Mondale won, I decided to work for him. So I drove up to Washington and after Mondale's inauguration, I went to the White House to report for work." Benny didn't think that Reagan was the President, and that it should have been Mondale. Rather, Benny believed that Mondale was the President. 

The Secret Service Report summarized the situation and kindly referred Benny to social services in Arlington, where Benny was living. But, Benny didn't feel the need for any services, so he got a job with Speedy instead. 

The papers also indicated that Benny had worked for the Veteran's Administration in Mississippi for over 20 years. The VA fired him and pretty much begged him to apply for disability by reason of his diagnosis of schizophrenia. Because of his Federal job, he was eligible for a disability and pension and the precious health insurance that came with it. 

"Benny, it says here that you could get a disability pension. What do you think about that?"

"That's crazy! I'm not disabled. THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH ME. Those people didn't understand me one bit. No one understands."


"But wouldn't it be great to get the money anyway? I could help you apply. It's money you are entitled to. That's your money that you have plus health insurance."

Benny looked at me like I was crazy and said "I would never take money that I am not entitled to. That's not honest." Benny had schizophrenia and that dominated his life, but Benny was a human being, and also  a sweet honorable man. I like Benny.

The very condition that made him unable to hold a job was preventing Benny from accepting money and health care -- health care that might make him able to work. I had seen this before. Courts had recently granted mentally ill people with important rights, but those rights sometimes backfired. Like a lot of issues, it was complicated. The system itself was far from perfect; in fact it was often crazy.

"Ok, Benny; What are you doing for money now?"

"I'm a cabdriver." Yikes.

I couldn't help myself. I had to delve. 

"Benny, do you still think Mondale is the President, because look here." I gestured to my copy of the Washington Post on my desk, where the headline mentioned President Reagan. "I mean, I think Reagan is the President. The Washington Post thinks Reagan is the President. I think Mondale lost." 

"You're wrong. The Post is wrong. I don't know why they are doing this. I know Mondale won. I KNOW he is the President. They are keeping me from working at the White House, but I know if he knew I was here he would want me working there."

I backed off. I didn't want a truly agitated Benny. And it wasn't fair to poke his delusions just to satisfy my curiosity. And, honestly, a tiny part of me was happy to imagine that Benny was right. I wasn't happy with Reagan's win. The Reagan Administration had a practice of denying ALL claims for Social Security Disability and making every claimant file an appeal. It wrecked havoc on their lives and the system. I wasn't a fan, plus I liked Mondale a lot. But I suspect there was only one person in the US who thought Mondale was the President and that was Benny.

Shaking my head, I snapped back to reality and turned the conversation back to his Court case. Benny promised me that he would come to Court on Friday and I agreed to let him testify. I knew it would be a disaster, but I would try to represent him as best as I could. I didn't want him humiliated in public. I called opposing counsel and let him know that I was representing Benny. He explained that Speedy didn't want to hurt Benny -- they realized he was very ill. They were only doing this to protect their business. I couldn't say much in response, but I let the lawyer know that Benny would be testifying.

I dreaded that hearing. It was going to be awful and it would be public. I just hoped that we would get one of the nicer Judges. 

Benny failed to show up. I had no way of contacting him since he didn't have a phone and could only ask for a continuance. Speedy's lawyer told the Court that Benny had serious mental issues and detailed the havoc he was causing Speedy. He opposed a continuance because that would add expense to Speedy by the way of additional attorneys fees. The owner of the company was there and was prepared to testify. The Judge asked me to respond. All I could do was repeat Benny's position -- that he denied slandering Speedy, wanted an opportunity to testify, and asked again for a continuance.

The Judge looked at me. He knew that I knew that he knew that I knew that Speedy was right, but I couldn't say it. He granted the injunction. I mailed it to Benny at his last known address. I never heard from Benny again but I also never heard from Speedy's lawyer either, so I suspect that Benny was smart enough to stop talking about Speedy. 

Hmm.. The Mondale Administration. 

Sounds good to me.

** All names and some details changed to protect privacy. 

Jan 8, 2021

XO Hearts Around on the Foiled Fox Blog...


You can find all the details on the Foiled Fox blog! 

MOOD WHEN DONE: Enjoyed making this card! 

Jan 4, 2021

With Love On the Foiled Fox Blog....

It's all hearts and love this time of year! I'm on the Foiled Fox blog today sharing how I made this card. Hope you check it out! Thanks! 

MOOD WHEN DONE: I've said it before and I'll say it again -- having this hobby really is a lifesaver!! Happy Monday!