Nov 15, 2005

In the words of Rodney Dangerfield, "I can't get no respect"!

I enjoy a unique and sometimes frustrating position in the Scrapbook industry. I have come to think of myself as the "Rodney Dangerfield" of scrapbook business. I get very little respect from some industry insiders for the thousands of hours of research and work I have done to turn women with a dream into educated and industry-savvy business owners. You would be surprised if you presented you with a list of current and former ScrapBiz members. They are some of the up and coming names in the industry.

One of my favorite movies is Barefoot in the Park with Jane Fonda and Robert Redford. There is a character in the movie named "Viktor Valasco". At one point, he "oogles" at young bride, Jane Fonda. She pulls her coat around herself tightly and steps away from the older man. He says, "Am I making you nervous?" She says, "Yes" to which he heartily and laughingly replies, "FABULOUS! I try to make at least one young woman nervous every day!" I kind of feel like that at times – it’s kind of fun to make people confront realities that they would rather ignore!

Trade Magazine editors don’t know what to do with me. I suspect they would like me to disappear. I don’t fit in the traditional mold of a "business educator". When they compile a list for an article about scrapbook business education programs, they list about half a dozen companies but never ScrapBiz. It amuses me because half the business education programs out there are far younger than 3-year-old ScrapBiz – yet, they are "industry powerhouses" and we are invisible!
Interestingly, I was recently invited to submit my CV (resume) to a large independent expert sourcing group. They had a client who needed info on the scrapbook industry. My application was accepted and now it's Nobel Prize Winners, College Professors, Professional motivational speakers, and ME! It's like that T-shirt that says, "London... Paris... Rome... Topeka..." - LOL! I get more respect OUTSIDE the industry than I do INSIDE the very industry I work in.

Then there are the wholesale vendors in the industry. Don’t get me wrong – lest you think we don’t have "connections", let me be clear; we work with some of the biggest names in the scrapbook industry and MANY vendors have changed their policies to sell to our members. We thank those vendors and hope that they enjoy increased business because of their relationship with ScrapBiz. That being said, many others would like to pretend like the home-based retail channel simply doesn’t exist. They often paint all home-based retailers with a broad stroke that labels them all as discounters and frauds. They don’t want to admit that there might be successful, profitable and educated business owners out there who happen to also live at their "business address". In fact, I would argue that you could not round up 300 bricks and mortar store owners who have access to the kind of business info and have received the same quality of training that over 300 home-based business owners at ScrapBiz have access to. I have always said that there is no lack of talent in the scrapbook business world, but there is a HUGE business education gap.

Sometimes their logic for locking us out puzzles me. Some very large companies will not work with home-based businesses because of an archaic bias from problems in the industry several years ago. Yet, we can easily and readily purchase their products for the same wholesale prices from distributors we work with. So, they really aren't stopping anything by refusing to work directly with home-based businesses. Then there are others who say they are afraid our members will sell their products BELOW retail – which they don’t do any more so than any other retailer. Yet, these same companies are eager and willing to work with a direct sales company who solicits for "hobbyists" – scrappers who can join JUST to get a 20-25% PERSONAL discount. The inconsistency in their arguments is amusing.

At Memory Trends, I stood in the booth of a very large nationally know manufacturer from Utah and had a rather pointed discussion with their sales manager about these very issues. He said they plain and simple were shutting out ANY business that used a home address. The stupidity of their policy, though, was that if I rent a storage unit or a PO box at a Mail Store, I can suddenly "qualify" for an account. It made no sense. A business owner with a 2000 square foot basement full of products for her online store is apparently LESS of a business owner than a woman who rents a 6x6 storage unit for her products. Interesting…

So, I will continue to enjoy my unique position in the scrapbook industry for now as I struggle to educate an entire industry about the virtues of alternative sales channels. Someday in the future, though, I hope to move from being a sort of "Rodney Dangerfield" to being respected as an industry Maven. If you don't know what the definition of MAVEN is, look it up here.

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