November 16, 2012.
I got a call from my past yesterday, and I heard a voice on the other line that I had not heard for over a year. The voice of a woman that I admired, respected and even idolized at one point in my career. If there was one person I could attribute the early success of Jamie's Painting & Design (other than my husband) it would be her. As soon as I heard her Texas drawl it brought me back to the fall of 2003 when we first met.
Meeting Vicki Bodwell
Our partnership with The Warm Biscuit Bedding Company started in the fall of 2003, but did not come to fruition until the catalog featuring our products dropped early in 2004. But our story did not really start then, it started much earlier for me. After leaving the work force to become a stay at home mom in the summer of 1999, I remember getting Warm Biscuit Bedding catalogs in the mail. I would pour over them, wishing I could do something that could be sold in the catalog. So, wishing I had a creative outlet, other than my current one - faux painting & re-painting my hallway while taking care of my infant son.
After starting Jamie's Painting & Design in the fall of 2002 I slowly quickly started picking up boutiques and on line stores. By the summer of 2003 I thought I had enough experience and confidence in my product to send Vicki Bodwell, the owner of Warm Biscuit Bedding Company an email. It took a lot of time, a lot of re-writes and a swift kick from my husband to actually send her the email. Shocking to me she replied......the Vicki Bodwell I had been following for years. And not only did she reply, she agreed to carry my products.
Looking back I know for a fact that this was by far one of the most important and altering decisions of my company's existence. Her decision to take a risk on a small business owner changed the direction of Jamie's Painting & Design forever. The doors that her bedding company opened for me were many. Her sales were nothing we had ever seen, nor would I ever see again in the following years. It was, and still is probably the highlight of my career in the children's industry. I do not think I have ever been more excited by anything than the prospect of working with the Warm Biscuit Bedding Company.
2004 Changed Everything
I find it hard to explain the pride and the joy I felt when I first saw my signature name tiles wall letters in the WBB catalog. I had spent time creating a few designs that I thought would compliment her bedding....and they did. Not only were we in the the catalog, we had the back cover - this is the primereal estate spot if you ever get your product in a catalog. At the time I did not realize how much of an honor (and risk) this was for Vicki and her team. Lucky for me we were up for the task and we were able to meet all of the demands of her customers.
Over the years I was able to work with Vicki and her team, we were developing new designs and new products that complimented her bedding. She started selling our ornaments, birth announcements, plates and name plaques. We created exclusive designs to compliment most of her bedding. We brain stormed (eek, how I missed doing that!) on the phone for hours at a time. I even visited her in New York three times and she came and stayed with me to attend BlogHer together. Our business relationship quickly turned into a realfriendship.
To say it was fun when we were on that drunken ride of success together, would be a huge understatement. We were shipping hundreds and hundreds of products out weekly. We had press, we had excitement and everyone that had a baby knew who we were. It was like having a bar stool at Cheers for me. It was an amazing time to own a business, especially a woman owned business. We were in the eye of the Mompreneur Storm and we reveled in it. Vicki was held up (correctly) as a huge successful Mompreneur with a very successful bedding company. It was some good times we shared..... I like to say we'll always have Paris, I mean those memories.
Everything Good Thing Must Come to an End
Sadly we amicably ended our partnership with The Warm Biscuit Bedding Company in 2009. We had outgrown each other and found that it was best to go our separate ways. First we had the crisis with lead in children's products in 2007, then the recession hit all of us in the industry hard in 2008. Things would never be the same again, everything changed. Money was tight, orders were smaller and both our business models were changing. As much as I missed the sales and the brain storming sessions, I missed our friendship....I missed talking to her.
So, yesterday (and an other call today because we had a whole year to catch up on y'all) wereminisced about the good old days. I had my own little Glory Days moment with someone that was there in the trenches with me through the good and the bad times. Sometimes we were on the same track, other times we were not - but we always talked about it. Talking to Vicki reminded me how much I enjoy keeping my old friends around and why I refuse to replace them. It was just comforting to talk to a friend in the business. So, when I half joking tell her, "I used to be somebody", at least she laughs and then agrees with me.