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Really, it wasn’t one of those “wow.. that was quite the Gong Show” sort of events. It was a fundraiser for Interfit Integrated Fitness Society. It’s an event that I not only attended last year, but will likely become known as a ‘regular’ at in the future. This years’ event was themed as a ‘Gong Show’, with lots of entertainers attempting to upstage one another in front of a panel of judges, with mallet ready to strike the gong.  There were the good, the bad and the ugly, and the utterly breathtaking, rocking and hypnotizing. It was sheer entertainment.

Silent Auction Table

My friend Rina from LiddleWorks came with me,  and we bought a glass of wine and began making our way along the super long table sporting all of the donated items that were up for silent auction. There were a huge variety  of items ranging from vacation get-a-ways, original art, jewelry, sports accessories, and of course there was my very own contribution, Cairns Technical Gear (aka. buggy bag, story to follow) Wheelchair Blanket,… oh, and not to forget the huge beanbag cushion. Lots of cool stuff. We bid on many items and then staked out a seat on the groovy low white leather ottomans  in the centre of the room. All the couch seats were already gone, or we would have been there.

Rina and me

Looks like I’m making some wise-crack out of the corner of my mouth….

All the volunteers at the event were dressed in 70’s outfits, some of which were just stellar.

Gong Show MC

We were also entertained by a very handsome man who kept bringing little yummy bits over for us to sample.

Yummy.... um... hors d'œuvres...

One of the entertainers that really stick out in my mind was a very young guitar player that played so beautifully, in the realm of Steve Vai…  wow… he’s going to be even more amazing when he gets older. And the best part of his act was the fact that he was sporting the long, free-flowing hair of the 80’s rocker… totally fit into the gong-show theme.

Here’s a picture I took of Interfit founder Brian Bell.

Brian Bell

Last year I promised myself that I would take my good camera with me, but, I forgot, so you get my iPhone pics instead. Maybe next year I’ll remember.

 

 

 

 

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This friend, I hadn’t seen in 23 years. I lived in Kingston, Ontario in a past life. This other life, the one that ended 23 years ago, when I loaded my stereo, speakers and albums into the back of my Ford Ranger. I would have brought other things, if there had been room, but, what can I say? Music took priority. Still does today, but, now my stereo would fit into carry-on luggage.

I always had a bit of a ‘thing’ for Don, so when he told me he was coming out to Vancouver with a band that he does sound for, I was a bit anxious and a lot curious. We had dinner plans for the night of his arrival which ended up being just in time for dinner, since they were stuck on the runway in Toronto for 5 hours. It was really great to see Don. After so many years, it was oddly comforting to see him… we had not changed at all… well, we both look 23 years older, but, the rest was the same. We enjoyed a long, relaxing dinner at the Keg, with much, much catching up.

The next day at 1pm, was the Pacific Contact time slot the band had come to Vancouver to appear in. I was excited to see the Abrams Brothers do their thing, and I was not to be disappointed. James on fiddle, John on guitar and Elijah on bass. They performed 3 songs with an amazing level of energy and showmanship.

Don and I sat and watched Flying Bob while the guys got their gear packed up, and then we left and I had the honour of not only meeting the band but loading them all into the back seat of my 2-door Honda Accord … with all their instruments. It was a tight ride back to the hotel, where they went and changed and put their belongings into lock-up for the rest of the day. We loaded back into the car, and I was immediately transformed into ‘Tour Guide Slightly Extraordinaire’.

Out Kingsway to Main and then through the downtown East side, through Gas Town and then around Stanley Park. Stopped at the Totem Poles and a super BIG tree. Then, around the park again, since I missed the exit onto the bridge…back around and onto the Lions Gate Bridge, where John did some ‘through the roof’ Vlogging…. U-Turn…. back over the bridge to Denman Street. We parked there and walked to English Bay, where I took this picture of The Band.

 

James, John and Elijah and a bunch of laughing guys

 

We then headed SouthEast and took a spin down Granville, or at least as much of Granville as we were allowed to drive on. We were all really hungry by that time so we headed back to my place for a bit and to pick up my daughter to join us for dinner. Now we had a small challenge… I had to take everyone over to the restaurant in two car loads because it was starting to pour rain, and  we didn’t want to get soaked walking over.

We ate a wonderful burger dinner at Burgers Etc. on Hastings Street, compliments of the boys in the band, then headed back to my place to look at a few photos from 1985 of Don and myself, and  had a few laughs at our expense.

Here we are now… I was going to put a couple of the ’84 shots in but, I couldn’t get my incompetent HP scanner to scan the shots… note to self: never purchase another HP product… EVER!

 

...surrounded by laughing guys...

I then drove the guys back to the Hilton in Metrotown, where we said out goodbyes. It was a really fun weekend and a wonderful visit with an old friend and some new ones. Miss you guys already… hope you picked up some BC gigs while you were here! See you again soon.

 

I’ve been having a really hard time posting anything lately…. I’m always trying to keep it ‘light’ and ‘positive’, so when times are tough, I find myself with very little to say.

Time to lay it all out there… to bare my soul, as they say, or as close as I can get to that.

Last Christmas, my daughter and I kept a really low profile. We stayed home by ourselves. We went out for dinner one night and saw a movie with coupons someone had given us. We put up our tree and enjoyed our new little kitten, who entertained us by running up the centre of the tree, over and over again.

As this year winds down, I’m asking myself, how the heck I ended up here… more broke than last Christmas, wondering how on earth I’m going to pay my rent.  I feel like I worked every second last year and really didn’t have time to even stop to evaluate my finances. I just had to keep moving ahead with my goals with little time to stop and reflect on my personal situation.

I’m just going to start by trying to remember all the things that I did accomplish or put into action.

In the fall of 2009, I started working with Teresa, from Blacklake, who I’ve been working with ever since to establish quality manufacturing for a price that would make it possible to start selling Buggy Bag® at wholesale to retailers.  The manufacturing costs here made the price untouchable at that level, so I was only able to sell  the product one at a time, directly to end users… I wanted more people to be able to find it and use it.

The year 2010 started out with work for the movie ‘A-Team‘, going to a local theatre to fix a velvet stage curtain, and the construction of some Fencing Jackets for the Arts Club Theatre.

Much work with Rina from Liddleworks, and a photo shoot with the lovely Jessie Claveau for our new flyer which Rina designed.

Got my first set of samples back from Hong Kong. They looked pretty good, but, I wanted to make some changes to the fabrics, and components, and see what the prices would be like….shipping costs $350

My generous friends took my daughter and I to Whistler for Easter weekend where I was able to prove to my self that I could still ski. That weekend was such fun!

Went to the Dragon’s Den auditions and was told I didn’t have enough sales to move ahead. That was fine, and it was a benefit to me to work on the numbers etc. with Rina before hand. These exercises always shed light on the value of planning ahead and setting goals. My friend Wendy from PumpEase made it through the auditions, and onto the show which aired in October.

I was contacted by LandMark Direct, who do TV commercials like the ‘As Seen On TV’ ads. I decided to have them make a 1 minute commercial for me that would run in 150 spots across the US. The purpose being to test the market to evaluate where advertising $ are best spent. I sent some samples of the Stroller, Jogger and Wheelchair weather blankets, and the process began.

Received another round of samples from the factory … shipping $340

I met with the SCISN Board for the Rick Hansen Institute where I met with Gary McPherson about designing some custom wheelchair weather protection for him. I made a few sales there and met some lovely and inspiring people. It was through my work for former Vancouver mayer Sam Sullivan, that I ended up there. I had done a custom wheelchair poncho for him in the fall of 2009.

I did a bit of work for a friend who had a contract to do some costumes for the Olympics. Then, an old school friend of mine moved back here from Singapore. She needed a place to land while she settled back into the Vancouver workplace and found a place to live. It was really nice having Kai here for that time and we had many fun times and good meals together. We went to many free Olympic festivities. It was really fun being in Vancouver at that time!

I shortened many, many sleeves for a TV show called ‘Human Target‘, did some pattern work for two local women’s wear designers, then I headed over to my friend Deb’s studio to help her with a bunch of gaberdine 50’s styles she was manufacturing for a TV show called ‘Fringe‘. I think I spent a few weeks over there. Nice to get out of my place… even though my place is like heaven, I still get lonely… I know I talked her ear off… I miss working with people.

Got another set of samples back, decided to focus on just the three main products for now, because of the minimum order quantities. The zippers and fabrics now looked good, but we still have to work on the reflective logo…. shipping costs $275

Found a US Patent and Trademark Lawyer and started to proceed with this process…$2500 later, I find out that even though, I have the trademark Buggy Bag Registered here in Canada and have owned the buggybag.com address since 1998, and I make and sell mobility accessories…. they feel that there will be some ‘confusion’ with the other company that makes shopping cart covers and uses my name only with an extra “g” on the end….I should have applied for the US TM back when this company first offered to buy my URL…. who knew they would just add another ‘g’ to the name. The patent is still in process… and the cost is unknown, but a fair guess would land it in the $10,000 range.

Had Lawyers read contract with Landmark Direct… $500

Found out I need some very pricey licences to be able to sell a ‘stuffed’ article in Ontario, Quebec or Manitoba. One for each province and for each year at $500 each! Ouch, there goes my rent for that month.

Next, I stumbled across a blog written by the mom of a beautiful little guy by the knick-name of Bugg. I was moved by her ability to document their life and the wonderful quality of her blog photos. http://thebuggslife.blogspot.com/ I sent this little guy a Buggy Bag Stroller Blanket to use on his tiny wheelchair. I was so happy to meet this family and help make Bugg’s outings a bit cozier. We still keep in touch and I hope to one day meet them in person.

I then built some leather dresses for the character ‘Ginn’ on ‘Stragate Universe‘, and started working on another dog movie called ‘Treasure Buddies‘ featuring lots of cute children’s costumes, and also squeezed in an alteration of a down jacket for the movie ‘The Big Year‘, hemmed some shirts for ‘Ice Road Terror‘, and a bunch more custom work for ‘Stargate Universe’.

Got some more manufacturer samples still with issues …. shipping $400

It was around this time that I met a great guy by the name of Brian Bell, the founder of Interfit in North Vancouver. Some friends and I went to their fundraiser, which I also blogged about.

Got many different script revisions over this time and finally approved one and then had to get the money together before the commercial production could begin…. $3000

I made 9 pairs double layer fleece leg warmers for Sam Sullivan to give out to his associates, the moved onto yet more alterations for ‘The Big Year’, much more work for ‘Stargate Universe’ and the leather coat I made for ‘Sanctuary‘, which I also blogged about. It was right around this time that I got the sad news that Gary McPherson had passed away.

More one on one work with Liddleworks… business plan.

Got a first copy of the actual commercial. It looked great and I was really happy with how our conversations went. I was so apprehensive about the whole thing to begin with and the amount of $, but, if everything went well we would be getting lots of sales and valuable information about the marketplace, not to mention the commercial to use in whatever way we liked…$3500

More work with Liddleworks… hangtag designs…. three tags with usage illustrations. Had a friend help with the french translations and found a hangtag manufacturer close to the factory in China.

I made a dozen various aprons for ‘Red Riding Hood‘ before starting on the years fun show…. ‘The Fairly Odd Parents’ I always have fun working for Angus Strathie and this show was no exception! Many wonderful costumes for this show.

More work on business plan…more $$$ I owe Liddleworks.

Right after that I had the pleasure of meeting Jim Byrnes and making him a pair of trousers and an overcoat for ‘Sanctuary’.

A man I  spent two years trying to forget, suddenly appears in my life again, only to vanish again two months later.

Another photo shoot featuring 5 wheelchair models and one stroller model, a mom and a sweet working dog…$600

Pay for hang tags… $1100

September finally rolled around, the commercial was ready to air, the production was in place and would be ready to ship at the end of Sept. I had to decide where to have the product shipped to, and decided that most of the sales would likely be from the US, so I found a ‘pick and pack’ place in Blaine.

Volunteered at the World Wheelchair Rugby Championships. So fun, met lots of athletes and got to see some of the games.

Commercial aired to no sales and therefore no stats… frustrating, but, must keep looking ahead.

Landmark proposed an agreement to sell the product through catalogue sales.

Lawyer read another contract…. $500.

Chris, my brother and I head down to the ABC Kids show in Vegas to see what the competition is like, what to expect when we go to the show as a vendor, evaluate what kind of a booth we need,  to look for sales reps and get a bit of R&R. We walked hundreds of miles that week and most of it was in the convention centre. We also, visited just about every hotel in the  city, we won $76, and we had some fantastic meals.

Launched new version of the Web Site that has been in the works for many months… it looks great and it’s only Phase I! Was immediately “de-friended” on facebook by the fellow that did the last version of the website.

Went on a sailing trip to Molly’s Reach with some friends, which was another stellar weekend!

Product is ready to ship, need to get financing… bank turned me down… evidently I should have bought an apartment instead of trying to make this great product available… at least that’s what they would have me believe!

Went to a private investor, who saw the real reason I’m doing all of this and wants to help make it happen…. $17,000 debt

Landed the product in Canada and the US and took delivery the same day that we had our Buggy Bag reception for friends, customers and media…$550. Had a blast even though no media showed up, the important people were there. Including David Rountree, who I met when I volunteered at the World Wheelchair Rugby Championships back in September. He brought his ‘Floor-Board‘ for all of us to try. Sylvi MacCormac was a special musical guest at our event, who was also one of our models at the last shoot. We felt so honoured.

Inspected the shipment that arrived here in my living room with Teresa from Blacklake. We realized there was a small QC issue with the shipment and had to look at our options…. do we send them back? I’m totally against that idea. I try a few different methods to deal with the issue and discover that I can solve it 100% with the use of my commercial iron.

One of the perks of working in film is the ‘wrap party’ at the end of the show. I went to 4 wrap parties and a gala benefit for Spinal Cord  Injury. I wore the same outfit to 3 of them!

Got an order for the stroller and jogger blanket from Babies’R’Us… a small trial order for the Canadian web site.

Had to buy a Universal Bar Code number for the company… $500

Dear friend Barbara passed away, which left me in a blue funk for some time. Sadly missed.

More work for  the TV shows ‘Stargate Universe’ and ‘V‘.

Teresa and I head down to the States to deal with the QC issue on that part of the shipment. One day and two very sore backs later and we are back in Vancouver, satisfied that the product is 100% perfect.

December rolled around with no movie or tv work for me, so I started making phone calls. I always said I wasn’t a sales person, but, one call led to another and another and by mid December I had already shown the wheelchair weather blanket to at least 7 places and got it into 4 stores and 10 locations in the lower mainland. This is the easiest thing in the world to sell. It just makes sense because it’s easy to use and  it helps people stay warm. I’ve been focusing on the  wheelchair weather blanket, but, also got the jogger weather blanket into two stores as well.

I read a blog that really touched me and I responded by sending a wheelchair lap blanket to the autor, Patrick, for his wife Patti. The response I got was worth every bit of the hard work I’ve done this year!

I put 2 paid ads on Craig’s List one in Seattle area and one in NYC, looking for commissioned sales reps to rep the wheelchair weather blanket… $50. There may be a few potentials among the responses… I sure hope so. And it looks like I may have a rep in the Chicago area, who is a friend of Teresa’s…. Yeah!

Ok… now it makes sense!  As a single mom, with no financial help from anywhere, I’m just getting deeper and deeper in debt. This year of business has cost a lot. I’m financing my business with my income from film work, my lines of credit and those kind enough to help me.  My coffee maker, my kettle, my watch, a computer, and my hair dryer have all become incapacitated in the last couple of months… not sure if I’m just noticing all of this because I can’t fix or replace them at the moment….but, it just adds to my anxiety levels. I have to keep reminding myself of the quote I put up on my facebook wall a while back:

‎”I do not think that there is any other quality so essential to success of any kind as the quality of perseverance. It overcomes almost everything, even nature.” — John D. Rockefeller

I sure hope that’s true… because my intention is to keep on keeping on, no matter what, because I believe that it is the right thing to do, and to continue to count my blessings.

This year I:

posted 171 times on the facebook fan page….

tweeted 684 times….

wrote 28 blog posts….

responded to 479 emails about the offshore production….

did work for 16 different production companies

responded to 275 emails from Liddleworks….

added a store front to my FB page as a way to sell old stock…

had 750 Buggy Bag units manufactured

took 49 guitar lessons….

spent 60 hours in dance classes….

got to 99% on Brain Challenge….

hugged my daughter 730 times….

toilet trained my cat….

After reflecting on the past year, I know what my blessings are as clearly as I know everything is going to turn out great.

I’m thankful for my daughter, my brother, my parents, my friends, my guides, my supporters, my vision, my health, my atitude, my customers, my humour,  my suppliers, my teachers, my dance partners, my employers, my mentors and everyone who has crossed my path for whatever reason…..please know that every single one of you are responsible for at least two of the things I’m grateful for.

buggy bag® mobility products

Buggy Bag® Mobility Products is dedicated to helping loved ones stay warm and dry while on the go. Buggy Bag® Stroller, Jogger and Wheelchair blankets protect against the cold and wet, while offering visibility in low light conditions.

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