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: vimeo.com/26293855
Handmade Portrait: Liberty Cycles: vimeo.com/20789680
Handmade Portrait: Sophie Blackall: vimeo.com/36116772
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 then...it 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 open...so 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 myself...you 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 banner...it'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 interview...like create a wallscape with Spode Byron,...like 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.