Stephen-Pres/CEO: September 2007 Archives
Let me share a few cute stories with you from our "early days". Starting with my next entry, I am going to do something a little bit different. We see vendors very regularly. I am going to photograph some of our buying session so you can both see our crew "in action" and also see some of the fabulous new products we are buying currently and which you will see in the coming months. Now back to my cute stories.
Story #1 - Laurie Comes to Work - As I shared with you in my last entry, we reached a point fairly early on when we knew we were not simply trying to liquidate an old business and go out of business, but we were going to get into the on-line fabric retail business. That's a great decision to make in the abstract, but how do you impliment it when you have virtually no staff. The first major cog in our new machine turned out to be.... Laurie.
A friend of mine owned a company that had a staffing agency as a component. He was looking for some part time help for me. At the time, we occuppied what we thought was a large space with about 15 offices, although all of them except mine were empty. One morning a hear the front door chime go off and a women's voice calls out, "Hello. Is anyone here?" So I yell back, "just follow that telephone cord down the hallway and it will lead you to my office." In walks an attractive young lady who introduces herself as Laurie. She tells me she has just left her full-time job and isn't really looking to work full-time right now, but would be happy to pick up a few hours as a temp. I tell her that is great because we are just trying to start this new business and I am not sure I have the money to pay her for more than a few hours a week anyway. I tell her to pick out one of the empty offices and we'll get started. From that day forward, I don't think she has ever worked less than a 40+ hour week. She came in and immediately started creating systems for running our business (She is very good at creating systems). Over the years, she went from helping in credit card charging and fulfillment (we all cut fabric back then), to creating and managing our Customer Service Department to her position today as our Marketing Director. In truth, she is much more than our Marketing DIrector. She is a visionary who has helped shape the direction and face of our company. I will never forget the day she followed the telephone cord down the hall to my office.
Story #2 - Sausage in the Box and Frozen Fabric- In the early days (Years 1 & 2) we bought "clearance boxes" from a box distributor. These were brand new boxes that some company never used and which we could buy very inexpensively. They always had something printed on the outside like "Bathroom Tissue" or "Jimmy Dean Sausage". One day we get a call from an irrate customer. She just received her fabric and it "reaks of the smell of sausage." Not only that, her "entire kitchen smells of sausage" & "How dare we send fabric out in a used sausage box." So I explained to her that we did NOT ship the fabric in a used sausage box, but that we bought brand new boxes that had various company's names printed on them. At first she did not believe me. Then I asked her, "you say your entire kitchen smells like sausage? Is it possible you cooked sausage for breakfast this morning?" Well, you know how that story ends. I think she is a good customer today.
The next "box" story starts with an irrate call from a customer telling me that we had charged her credit card, but never sent her fabric. She thought we were scam artists. So I tracked her package with UPS and it showed that her husband had signed for the package several days earlier. I asked her to check with her husband when he came home that night. The next day she called to say, with some embarrasment, that she had found the box of fabric. Printed on the outside of the box were the words "Perishable - Keep Frozen". Turns out that after her husband signed for the fabric, he put the box in the freezer as he thought he was supposed to do.
Needless to say, now that we have our own FABRIC.COM printed boxes, we do not have those humorous episodes any more.
ENTRY #3 - Goodbye to Kristl and Hello to Karen - One of the people you have heard me speak about repeatedly over the years is Kristl Pelz. For 6 years she has been our Senior Merchant and Buyer. She started with us when we had a limited vision of the types of inventory we should carry, and she single-handedly expanded my view of what you, our customers, wanted us to offer. Without Kristl, we would not have grown to be the company we are today. About a month ago, she came to tell me she was leaving. She wanted to start her own business selling the craft items that she has such a passion for making. While that was both sad and scary, she helped us find her replacement and is helping us through the transition. We have hired a terrific individual by the name of Karen Howard. She joins us with an incredible background both in internet technology and fabric. She is dynamic, enthusiastic, and will do a terrific job! Please join me in welcoming Karen to the Fabric.com family.
I could go on forever with stories, but I think this is a good dose for today. Look for my upcoming blog posts as we meet with our vendors and review new products.