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It used to be that you could buy something, and, if it was designed and manufactured with thoughtfulness, it would work for a very long time.  And the great thing about it was the fact that, if it did malfunction, you could either take it to someone to get it fixed, or you could fix it yourself. I have repaired many things myself or taken them to someone to be fixed. For instance, my watch… St. Moritz, made in Canada, I have had it since 1989, it is still stylin’. I’ve had many new batteries put in it, and I’ve had it serviced a few times… It’s great quality, built on the old style mentality of quality is best. Yes, this company has never sold me another watch, but, I think that the number of watches that I’ve sold for them by boasting about the quality of mine probably makes up for that. This is a company that can be proud of what it makes.

I notice a lot of people have a multitude of knives in their kitchens. None of them, work for any one job as well as my one knife… that’s right folks, I only own one knife. It’s quality, so it is possible to sharpen it to a razor sharpness without it chipping and breaking. Everyone that uses it says the same thing. “Wow…. is this knife ever sharp”. “Yes” I reply, “that’s how you get them to cut”. My knife can go from cutting fresh baked bread to tomatoes  to roast beef without any problems. That’s because it’s a good quality knife. A fool abandoned this knife in a house I moved into, so I didn’t even pay for it, but I will tell you that that knife is worth a lot to me. The weird thing about this knife is that it doesn’t even bear a stamp, or logo, so I have no idea of it’s origin. I will guard it with my life.

I have so many fantastic tools in my studio as well. Guess what?…. All the good ones that actually function as they should and live up to daily use are old. Some belonged to my grandfather and some I picked up in antique shops or found in garage sales. Any  other top quality tools I paid top $ for. No regrets. And again, I boast that quality to everyone I work with or they borrow the tools and end up buying the same quality because we know that in order to do our jobs well, we need good dependable tools.

I do appreciate that some things just keep getting better. Like technology, for instance…. I remember loading all my important possession into the back of my truck in 1988 when I moved to Vancouver from Kingston. I had my Vector Research Amp, Tuner, and Tape Deck and my B&O Turntable, my speakers, which took up at least 6 cubic feet, my 300 albums, and of course… my clothes. That’s it. That’s all that was important to me. There were no personal computers, no iPods, no cell phones (not unless you wanted to carry around an extra purse). There were CD’s but, vinyl still rocked best.  It was the year after I moved out here that my brother started telling me that some day I would be able to carry those 300 albums around on a unit no bigger than a credit card. I was doubtful.   He also predicted that quality would start to decrease in favour of profit, and that fine skills and trades would slowly disappear. He talked of ‘bartering’ skills in the future, because there would be few solid goods worth as much as skills.

Turns out, he was right…. it’s now very difficult to find anything that has the quality of goods produced in years gone by. If you can find them, they are only available to the very wealthy.

This is where things start to look crazy to me. It seems like a lot of the things that I’ve bought lately have had one of the following issues.

1) Built as though it could be fixed, but, when it does break, the part that breaks and the labour to fix it makes the repair  worth more than the original product purchase price.

2) Built to be taken almost directly to the landfill… but, first a quick stop off at home, so you can destroy any evidence that you actually purchased this seemingly quality product.

3) Things that just simply don’t work because the manufacturing is not precise enough

ie. tweezers that won’t grasp a hair

Some might argue in this case that you get what you pay for… I beg to differ….I payed for tweezers and what I got was a useless piece of metal that will end up in the landfill because it will not perform the function it was intended for…. or perhaps it  is fulfilling it’s function, by allowing a company to get fatter off people that just take it for granted that nothing will ever work! We live among a generation of consumers that have no idea that things used to tooled with precision and that there is no reason to put up with this crap that companies keep selling us to fill their pocket books as well as the landfills.

And, last… but, far from least….

4) Whoever manufactured it, had absolutely no idea of its’ end purpose

the BBQ brush that melts

the clapper with screws in the bottom (completely defeating it’s purpose by allowing condensation to build up on the screw heads only to drip back onto the fabric)

notchers that won’t cut on one side

These companies think they are so clever, “knocking off” tools. I can almost hear their thought process… “hmmm this tool is very expensive, if I change this aspect, I can reduce the price”… only thing they don’t know, is that that one aspect of the tool that they changed was the part that made it function for it’s original intention. They make the change, virtually rendering the product ‘useless’.

I happen to have examples of every one of these issues in my life at this moment. I call frustration and disappointment!

Bob Dylan said it best with his song ‘Everything is Broken

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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.

It’s been how many days since my last post?… Wow, 3 weeks, too long… Today, was the first full day I’ve been off in at least three weeks, but, I’m thinking that in reality it’s more like 6 weeks. I can’t really remember. What have I been doing?… I can’t really remember that either, but, I’ll try.

Let’s see… oh yeah, 26 costumes for Red Riding Hood, 9 costumes for Fairly Odd Parents, one suit, with long coat for Jim Byrnes‘ character on Sanctuary, 2 jacket linings for my friend, 10 pairs of pants for Sanctuary, 6 T-Shirt for Stargate Universe, and a skirt for myself…I draft the patterns, cut them out and construct them, so it’s fairly time consuming. As you know, I’m also working on my Buggy Bag® business, which has, for the most part been phone calls, emails, filling out forms, approving samples, Trademarks, Patents, manufacturing, Stuffed Articles Act Registrations, Duty Judgements, PO’s, Proforma Invoices, working with designers on hang tag designs, trying to line up bridge financing….shelling out much, much money…. which leads us to the real reason that I haven’t taken any time off. I need to finance my business start-up costs and, support my daughter and myself, at the same time. The build up to this falls commercial airing and it’s outcome is absolutely exciting! I have put so much into this thing… especially the wheelchair lap blanket, that I just can’t wait to get it out to more people. The feed back on last falls batch was so positive, that I just know that this falls’ line is going to be met with even more enthusiasm….it’s even better than before! The Stroller and Jogger models are really looking fantastic too. The commercial is going to focus mainly on them, with a 10 second spot on the wheelchair. The idea is to get a demographic read on the market based on the purchases made, through 150, 1 minute spots… This is going to be really interesting.

Because I work as a contractor, for the film and TV work that I do, I feel compelled to take everything I can possibly manage to do, and sometimes it gets so busy that I don’t see any time to relax… this has been one of those periods. It’s great though, because it is one of the things that I simply love doing.

Ok… well, that’s not quite true… even if I haven’t had a day off, I’ve taken many evenings to enjoy live music, dancing, friends and playing my guitar…. it’s just sometimes hard to squeeze all this fun into one lifetime!

Before I go, I just have to say that last night I went to see a Cuban band by the name of Wil Campa…. an absolutely sexy band and music… fantastic…. Which leads me to my next question… Why don’t more men learn how to dance cuban salsa? It is sooo sexy and at most events there are usually about 4 women to every guy. Last night the place was full of women wanting to dance… here is a link to a fantastic Cuban dance instructor if any of you guys want to learn… Latidos!

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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