So, it’s finally here. I am being featured in this month’s AQS Magazine. It arrived 2 days ago in my mailbox at the shop. How did this all happen? Well, I was at the AQS show in Lancaster Pennsylvania when the Editor-in-Chief for AQS Magazine saw and fell in love with, none other than, my umbrellas.
Now, obtaining those umbrellas was no easy feat. For weeks I called people, talked to people, all in an effort to find out how to import something from China. I finally found the person that helped me and gave me that key link. My sister. She worked for R&D for SC Johnson at the time. I finally made my SC Johnson contact. It took many nights of being on the internet into the night (Hong Kong is on the other side of the world after all). Let me assure you I did everything in my power to find a factory in the USA that made umbrellas. It did not exist.
Once I had my Chinese contact, I asked how many I needed to order. They told me they could do no less than one thousand. One thousand? What was I going to do with one thousand umbrella frames? Well, I used my sweet talking convincing voice to ask for only 500. He said that he would do it but it would cost more. Well, okay. So, I ordered 500. I learned how to wire money to China, which I had never done before.
Then the day came when they were ready to be shipped. They contacted me and asked me how I wanted to receive them, to which I replied “Just send them to my house”. Well, they wanted to know who my freight forwarder was. Freight forwarder–what is that? Well, I know a woman who owns an outdoor furniture store in Ripon. I figured that she would know what a freight forwarder is. So I asked her. She gave me a name. I made the call and the woman was so very nice to me. However, this too came with a very high price tag. But what was I to do? I had 500 umbrellas that I had paid for sitting on a dock somewhere in China waiting to get to Ripon Wisconsin. So, I paid her and she took care of it all.
Time marched on, and 2 years later we had sold all 500 of the umbrellas. Women came to the shop to learn to make them as well as men. They are fully functional, just spray with waterproofing spray and they work like a charm. I have yet to see one not turn out. I also traveled far and wide to do workshops with groups of women. So, now I have ordered my second 500 so that I can fulfill orders from those that see them in the AQS magazine. And at $18 for each frame, I am proud to say that they have brought a great deal of pleasure to many a sewist!