Saturday, October 6, 2012

The Big News is.....

 I am no less than amazed by the sheer volume of support, kindness and compassion shown me by your numerous comments and  emails sent my way since posting about why I really began selling transferware yesterday and sharing some of the hardships my family has endured.  Thank you so very much.   I am richly blessed to be in the company of so many wonderful individuals, some of you living in the same city as I and some of you residing in other countries altogether.  wow, Wow, WOW!!!

So, did I leave you with a cliffhanger yesterday?  I suppose that if you are here now then perhaps I did.    Thanks for coming back because now I am ready to share my exciting news along with the details of a particular phone call that I've mentioned in my last two or three posts.

Two and a half weeks ago I received a completely unsolicited and  unexpected email from Beth Levison.  Beth wrote to me that she had stumbled upon my Etsy shop and "was immediately intrigued". 

Beth began her message to me with a polite introduction of who she was and what she does.  In case you don't know already, Beth Levison is a Peabody and Emmy award winning film producer and director with quite the impressive resume'.   She produced  HBO's 'Classical Baby Series' and recently produced additional HBO specials including the 2011 children's animated program 'A Child's Garden of Poetry' featuring classical poetry readings from some of the world's best known actors and actresses like Liam Neeson, Claire Danes, and Gwyneth Paltrow.  Next Spring (2013) HBO will premiere her upcoming special, 'Don't Divorce Me' where kids share their stories about the heartache and pain of divorce.   Beth also produced and directed a 24 part series for PBS entitled e2 which were narrated by Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman.  In addition to producing she was also one of the primary creators of EGG, the weekly national arts show which aired on PBS.  She worked for Sundance Channel as the Senior Producer managing production teams all over the world, and has also worked at National Geographic Television, NBC Peacock Productions, ABC News, MTV,  has been invited to showcase at major film festivals including Toronto and Sundance and has just finished an independent feature documentary about ex-con turned spoken word artist, Lemon Andersen.  As if that were not impressive enough she also works for Etsy supervising video of production where she and her team of film makers create documentary shorts about unique spaces, makers and their creative process.  Some of the people they feature are Etsy sellers; some are not.  The lovely videos they produce have received millions of views, been reposted all over the web and have been invited to screen on television and film festivals alike.  

Take a few minutes to watch some of them. They are nothing short of first class, quality productions and each endears you to the subjects they choose to feature.  
Here are just a handful of my favorites:

No Place Like Here:Brazenhead Books:
Handmade Portrait: Liberty Cycles:
Handmade Portrait: Sophie Blackall:

In her message to me, Beth asked if I had done any custom wall decorations that were real stand outs to me or if my own home was filled with Transferware installations (you know it is!) and that based on my blog she had a strong sense that it was.  She said she was interested in making me the subject of one such video.

She scheduled a conference call with me for the following day and it began by her again saying who she was and what she does.  She was very specific and very plainly told me that she was just talking to me to see if there might even be some kind of story here.  I really thought that she was trying to let me down before I could get my hopes up about anything.  We had about a 30 minute conversation about my wallscapes, transferware in general,  and I shared some of the historical stories about patterns that I've shared here on my blog, etc. and so on.  Beth told me that she never knew what transferware was until discovering my shop/blog but immediately recognized that this was the term for the dishes her Mom had collected.   I agreed with her completely, as I learned in very much the same way what it was that I was collecting and had grown so fond of.  In fact, I frequently come in contact with people who say the same, or similar, thing.  

I was so afraid of being asked a question to which I had no answer to or did not know the answer for.  Fortunately, I did have answers to all of Beth's questions, and she was very detail oriented and inquisitive asking me where and how I did my research on transferware, about my sources, and so forth.  She told me that she had shared my shop with, I think, the CEO at Etsy or the person who heads up the Etsy blog...maybe both... but that they were blown away by my shop and inventory.  It made me feel so good to know that she was excited enough to have already been sharing her ideas about what she might do with me/my shop with other executives at Etsy.

Roughly ten minutes into the conversation Beth asked me how and/or why I started selling.  I can not quite explain what happened was as if a flood of memories overcame me and I had to pause momentarily to regain control of my emotions as tears quickly began to well up in my eyes.   If I let just one tear roll... oh man, do the flood gates I had to get control of myself and get it fast.  This was one of the most important and exciting phone calls I have ever had and I did not want to totally blow it by having a break down right in her ear.  I exclaimed to her, probably with my voice cracking,  that "I was sorry, and that I did not want to get emotional".   She responded immediately and assuredly by saying something to the effect that I in no way had to share anything personal like that and we could move on.  I said, "No, it's okay, I just had a rush of feelings come over me and I was reminded of really difficult times.  I then said something about how I started selling out of desperation and because we were having a hard time financially.  I told her that one day I just had a more than the usual bad day, that I was mad at the world,  and instead of trying to hold a garage sale I bought something for now know the rest of that story.  So the call continued with her asking me more questions and during one of my answers she basically interrupted me, though not in a rude type of way, by saying, "ok, let me cut to the chase.  I want to do this." and something like, " I want to feature you and I want to push this through and I'd like to do it soon with the holidays approaching. I'm thinking that I'd like this to air in mid November and it is going to take some quick, creative planning to make this work".   Her reaction really left me with the impression that she felt something that compelled her to choose me.   Honestly I think that my telling her the truth about how I started this whole thing may have been what she was really looking for...a real story behind a creative person with a very niche business.   She asked me to send her photos of the interior of my house, my wallscapes, my inventory...where and how it is housed, a photo of me outside of my house with either my kids or Shawn and relevant blog posts.  She said she needed it all by Monday morning and would be meeting with a team of some of the many creative people at Etsy to discuss the possibilities of this video.  I sent her everything she asked for including about 15 to 20 links to some of my blog posts.  

 By Monday afternoon I had gotten another message from Beth saying, "I think this is going to happen. Exciting"  and by Tuesday afternoon I was being vetted by Etsy's Trust & Safety team, their Marketplace Integrity team and so on.  My shop then underwent a critique which was really wonderful to have a professional go through it and tell me in all honesty what I need to do to make it look its very finest.   I'm going to have to do some cosmetic work there and have already made a few changes they suggested such as my's the pic I used in my post yesterday...just a shot of various colored borders...simple but to the point of what it is I sell.    Take a look at my shop and tell me what you think.  I am taking heed to everything they say!    Then...then...I got another email...the incredible one saying "it's a go" and that I should expect Tara Young, Etsy's in house producer, to be contacting me soon. 

So, that is my big news that I have to share.  I am going to be the subject of a docu-drama produced by a team of very skilled, talented, award winning people and in addition will be featured on Etsy's blog (pretty huge reader base) and on Etsy's front page which is seen by millions of people.  For me, this is the biggest thing that has ever happened for my business and I am incredibly, incredibly thankful and so very flattered that I have been selected for this feature.  

I have been working with Tara Young this past week (I am going to share more about this amazing lady to in a different post) and just got a message last night of things I need to do and prepare for... like a sit down create a wallscape with Spode Byron, pull a list of pieces she wants to photograph and shoot...and pull all of my hunt scene and turkey ware pieces and state in my listing of those pieces that they will not be available for shipping until after the 16th...they won't be available because they are sending a film crew from New York here one week from tomorrow.  They will be here for about 3-4 days, two days will be filming a sit down interview, a walk through of my inventory (which just might make you think that the film crew for Hoarders should have come instead), wideshots of my wallscapes and styling a turkey table with me.  So...

All I can say is
Yes.  I.  AM.  FREAKING.  OUT.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Back To The Beginning: Why I Really Started Selling Transferware

Two weeks ago today I had an amazing conversation with an Emmy and Peabody award winning  film maker who asked me how and why I began selling transferware.

I answered the question truthfully but later thought about the fact that right here, on my blog, I have intentionally avoided sharing with you all exactly what it was that lead me to dealing in English transferware.  It has bothered me ever since my first blog post and is something that I have constantly battled with inwardly: whether or not I wanted to share this part of my life.  I have told myself that my blog would be the one thing that I would always maintain as a positive in my life.  But the reality of life is that all of life is not positive.   The plain jane truth is that I've been afraid to let it all out because I am afraid of what you will think.  Perhaps a due result of my quietness in demeanor, my shyness in nature or my unfortunate lack of self confidence I have let my fear of "what people will think of me" keep me from doing so many things in life that I really want to do.   For goodness sake, it took me almost two years to work up the nerve to author a blog, and frankly I'd never have considered it at all had it not been for my sister-n-law, Monica, who writes professionally btw, make the suggestion to me.
Hmm, I just realized I can blame her if this all goes wrong.

I consider myself to be fairly creative and can only say, from my own feelings and experiences, that as a creative person there are times when I am confronted with an uncontrollable need to create...whether it be writing, decorating, cooking, tablescaping, etc.  Creating is something that I feel is innately instilled in me and it is a way in which I express myself without really having to say a word.   I have gone through times in my life where I literally  wake up in the wee hours of the night and know that I could not return to sleep but rather I had to write down what I was feeling or thinking or get up and begin a project.  I had to get out of me what was trapped inside of me, even if only to jot it down on paper never to be seen or shared anywhere, anytime.  That same feeling is what has been nudging me inwardly since my first blog post, regarding sharing my 'real' story here, so much so that I can't seem to shake the compelling urge to write this. 

In my very first blog post, nearly 3 years ago, I told you about how I started selling transferware and how I had made my first online purchase ever, which was a transferware piece, on Ebay.   I wrote that, by coincidence, the seller I bought from lived only a few miles away so I decided to pick up my purchase in person.  As soon as I saw her wonderful collection of Mason's Vista I didn't even want the piece I'd come for.  I wanted a collection that would rival hers.  
What I chose not to mention in that post was the fact that at the time I bought that piece I had absolutely no business at all buying anything for myself.  Shawn and I were in the midst of losing our home to foreclosure and selling everything of material value we had to just to make ends meet.  We lived in a lovely English Tudor style home on a private road that was right off a major thoroughfare and were holding weekly garage sales selling things we could in order to try and stay in our home.   Though you all know Shawn mostly as a chef (how that came to be is another story), he was actually an incredibly successful entrepreneur with several business who had become a millionaire by the time he was 30 (that's also another story in itself!).  

 Ultimately we wound up losing my husbands businesses , our homes to foreclosure (ah ha you say... now you understand why we why we have lived in 7 different places in 10 years: foreclosure = bad credit = no home loan = rent a house), our cars, leaving the home we'd worked so hard to create and uprooting our kids not only from that home but from the private school we thought they would each attend from kindergarten to graduation.  Most of our 'friends' were parents of the kids our kids went to school with and when money was not to be had neither were friends.  They quit calling, and in turn quit inviting our kids over to play with their kids.  It was so difficult for me to lose my home, but seeing my kids lose their home and their friends was almost unbearable.  We became invisible to a lot of people real fast and learned that we didn't really have many friends at all.  We lost everything,  materially speaking, that we had and the past 10 years have been in much part spent living in recovery mode.  

The day I bought and picked up that transferware piece I'd purchased online I went home and began assessing what pieces I had in my small collection, including the one I'd just acquired, and started listing those pieces for sale online.  As they sold, I'd use the proceeds to either buy a piece of Vista that I wanted for myself, or moreover, to buy other pieces that I could turn around and sell for a small profit.  I was making bits of money here and there and was able to contribute a little to our families expenses.  I kept buying transferware and the more of it I bought and sold...well...the more of it I bought and sold.   That's when transferware became much more to me than a passion for collecting and decorating, it became a viable source of income for our family. fortunate that it was something I could do from home and be something that I was totally, totally into. lucky am I to be able to say I LOVE my job???   My transferware business was completely unplanned, it has been a long and slow evolving process that just 'became'. It is a small business, but one that turned into our sole source of income for nearly two years. 

  As strange as it may sound, Transferware has been a true blessing in my life, and my families life in so many ways.  I am not able to secure a small business loan but  my plans are to continue to grow my business as I have been doing: slow and steady, all the while learning what I can about transferware.   Nearly three years ago I made a big move from selling on Ebay to selling solely on Etsy.  I began with approximately 300 pieces listed online and last Fall took that to about 1000.  Currently I am keeping my inventory at about 1100 unique items by almost daily listing items to my shop.  Etsy and blogging have been absolutely wonderful venues for me not only to sell the wares I offer but to pursue some of my creative interests, find like minded people (some of the most amazing people), and simply to share...share whatever it is on my mind or in my home... like I am so compelled to do today.

Now, all of this leads me to the big news I've been hinting at, and for those of you who were concerned that it was something is not.  It has to do with the phone call I mentioned in the first sentence, which was what really triggered in me the thoughts that I have kept placing on my minds back shelf for so long and which got the whole thought process going about where I came from before entering the blogosphere, the hardships my family has endured and about how my business has played a key role in where we are, where I am, who I am and who I still hope to become.

Tomorrow, I promise I'll finally share with you some details of my phone conversation with Beth Levison and my big news...exciting news!  It won't be a downer post, ok?

Thank you so much for taking time out of your busy life to read this, or any of my posts, and for giving me a voice.

~ Nancy

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Harvest Time Tablescape and Reflecting

I have been reflecting a lot lately, about my life, about my business, about things in much so that I have been working all day on a post about those things and about the 'big news' I mentioned last week.  I've had to take a few cry breaks along the way and because of that I have not finished writing that post.  Almost done though.  So, in the meantime,  I have decided to revisit my early blogging days and share this table again.  I know, I know,  this is two weeks in a row that I've posted an old tablescape.  I'm sorry.  Hit me...hahaha you can't reach!    This table is so old though that I bet most of you  don't even remember seeing it and if you're fairly new here then you probably never saw it at all.

I hope you like it.

The pattern is Harvest Time; a pretty,  fruit themed brown transferware pattern with a mix of apple green and burgundy/red hand painted touches.  It's by Johnson Brothers and I've got a lot of it in my shop (see sources at the end of the post).

Assuming I can find the intrepidity to hit the publish button, I will be here tomorrow with the post I'm working on now including some things about me and my past that you don't know.

Have a wonderful night and celebrate beautiful Fall!  Hooray! It is finally here!

p/s Thanks to Courtney at Country French Cottage and Honey at 2805 for featuring my Easing Into Fall tablescape on their blogs this week! I'm honored and flattered.  Thank you both!

Centerpiece -  I created this with a garland and wound it around clear glass (dollar store) candleholders and added various sized apples throughout
Placemats, Napkins and Napkin Rings -  can't remember where I got these!
Topiary's made with matching china are available HERE or contact me for custom order
Bubble Tumblers - Walmart---2 or 3 years ago know where! Harvest Plates, Cups & Saucers, Platters, Soup Bowls and more are availalbe in my Etsy shop or click HERE: (I have cups/saucers, square plates, dinner plates, etc)
Apple tureens:  Bought from a catalog...think it was called Collections.

Joining these awesome parties:

No Minimalist Here
Common Ground
Between Naps on the Porch
French Country Cottage
A Stroll Thru Life
Romantic Homes
Savvy Southern Style

My entry into No Minimalist Here Open House Party  sponsored by Appliances Online.