Kate's Collage
"Vinny Da Vendor"
"Benny Da Buyer"
Kizer & Bender
Memory, Paper & Stamps
Category Reports
Designing Perspectives
Scene & Heard

Creative Leisure News
306 Parker Circle
Lawrence, KS 66049
Phone: 785-760-5071
Email: mike@clnonline.com



Insights on business, and practical ways to improve your own.

Printer Version


Easy to cheapen products, but at what cost to your reputation?

by Kate (June, 2003)

(Note: Kate is a mid-level manager at a major industry company. Kate writes, "I've been employed for almost twenty years in this industry, and I am an avid, across-the-board crafter with a craft room full of supplies for just about every craft out there. Not only is the craft industry my job but crafting is one of my passions.")

Do you consider your company a Cadillac? A Ford? A Hundyai? You may not think cars have much to do with our industry, but I beg to differ. An article in the May 26, 2003 issue of Business Week compared immediate and long?term customer satisfaction levels with foreign and U.S. vehicles. Three comments grabbed my attention because they reflect issues in our industry as well.

Quality and price.

"They are working with suppliers to use proven, reliable parts from existing vehicles in future models instead of engineering new parts from scratch."

If you substitute craft kits for vehicles, you now have a common sense approach to our business. Unfortunately, once a product is a hit in the stores, two things happen that throw the common sense approach out the window.

First, everyone else now wants to produce similar kits and get them in the stores quickly. The best way for them to usurp the shelf space of the first company is to have a more appealing price while maintaining the quality of design. To do this they most likely source cheaper versions of components without first taking the time to do a thorough and lengthy evaluation.

This battle for shelf space results in the second negative occurrence. The first company now follows the lead of everyone else and does what is necessary to lower the price. What happened to the "proven reliable parts"?

Regaining lost ground.

"It will take years of good performance for the domestic reputation to change."

Ship one inferior line of products or miss one big ship date and what happens? You have created a less-than-favorable reputation for your company that may take years to change.

When dealing with buyers regarding a missed ship date, the repair job is easier from one perspective only -- you know who the buyers are. With persistence, you can engage them in telephone conversations or face-to-face meetings where the problem is discussed and resolved. You then make sure that your manufacturing department works overtime if necessary in order to not miss a future ship date.

With individual consumers the situation is much different. If you shipped 10,000 products of poor quality, how do you correct that? You don't know all the individual purchasers. You can't very well put a sticker on the packages of your next line encouraging people to buy them because you promise the quality is improved.

Go online to the message boards and see how vocal your dissatisfied customers are. Once a question has been raised about the quality of your product, that doubt spreads across all products with your name on them. Over the course of time and with a lot of work, that reputation can be changed, but at what cost?

Quality: Now and later.

"New-car quality is up, but what about the long term?"

Does your company spend as much time creating wonderful packaging as the consumer spends creating the project inside the package? Walk the aisles of any craft store and you will find a feast of colorful eye-catching boxes, blister packs, leaflets, and face sheets. That "new-car quality" certainly has come a long way, but we have to remember that our industry has a unique catch to it.

Many of the products we produce take weeks or months to complete. For this reason, in order to maintain and grow our customer base, and by default our industry, we need to make sure that the products we develop do not only satisfy consumers at the beginning but also throughout the entire creative process. To add just a bit more pressure, we also need to carry that satisfaction forward for months or years afterwards while the completed project is being used or displayed.

The bottom line is that we all rate ourselves as the Toyotas, Fords, Hyundais or Cadillacs --whatever our niche is in the craft industry. We may all think we are the Cadillacs, but the real Cadillacs are those companies who continually produce products with great design, clear instructions, and quality components, for these are the companies who remember to focus on the consumer's creative satisfaction.

(Note: Have any comments company reputations and/or cheapening products? Any topics you'd like to see Kate write about? Email her at katescollagecln@aol.com.)



horizontal rule

horizontal rule


Kate's Recent Columns...
HOW A RETAILER CAN HELP A VENDOR CREATE A PRODUCT; Product testing with store customer.

MY VISIT TO SOUTH KOREA; Crafts in a war zone?

A PERSONAL VIEW OF SCHOOL TRAGEDIES; The Newtown Massacre brought back memories.

MEMORIES OF 9/11; A proud but humbling experience.

THE AMERICAN DREAM, UPDATED; Something achieved, something lost: the end of a hard, but wonderful era.


WHAT HALLOWEEN CHARACTERS DO YOU HAVE AT WORK? They're everywhere! They're everywhere!

BOB AND DARWIN; Reprinted from the May 15, 1986 edition of Profitable Craft Merchandising.

EXCERPT: YOU DID WHAT IN THE DITCH? FOLKLORE OF THE AMERICAN QUILTER; An edited version of the author's preface.

ASSAULT WITH A DEADLY GLUE GUN; Chapter One from a hot new comedy/mystery novel.

WHERE AND HOW DO WE PERCEIVE BEAUTY? Are we open to unexpected wonder?

THE DUNCAN FAMILY; Winner of CHA's Special Recognition award.


MODERN TECHNOLOGY AND THE POST-50 GENERATION; These are modern...conveniences?

CHANGES IN YOUR LIFE THAT WILL COME SOON; In fact, they're already happening.

WAKING UP IN THE LAND OF GLITTER; Reprinted by permission by Grand Central Publishing. Copyright, 2010.

PANDEMIC PREPAREDNESS; Are you ready for the worst?

CRAFT THERAPY COULD INJECT A HEALTHIER BOTTOM LINE; A website that shows how crafts are good for consumers' health, and good for business.

WORKING IN A HOME OFFICE; Benefits, problems, and tips learned the hard way.

INDUSTRY VETERANS KEEP WRITING; Short stories, romance and mystery novels, and reference books.

MOTHER'S DAY SPENDING; Less than last year, but...


LESS SPENDING, MORE CRAFTING; The recession offers a wonderful opportunity for our industry.

A TRIBUTE TO DAVID CUNNINGHAM; Wise words for a remarkable man.

THE HEALTH BENEFITS OF CRAFTING; Research could open the door to better health for consumers, better sales for the industry.

EMPLOYEE STOCK OWNERSHIP PLANS; Another example of unintended consequences.

SO, WHAT IS EBITDA? A hypothetical example of how it's determined and what it does - and doesn't - mean.

USING YARN TO IMPROVE THE WORLD; Knitting scarves for the Special Olympics and raising funds for the Rwanda Knits project.

WALNUT HOLLOW: AN INDUSTRY AND CONSERVATION LEADER; The company went "green" long before it was popular.

THE FUTURE OF MAKIN'S USA; Changes and improvements are in the works.


CHINA'S DEVELOPMENT AND THE FUTURE OF CHINA-US RELATIONSHIP; The Chinese ambassador's address to the Peoria (IL) Rotary Club.


MEMORIES OF BILL MANGELSEN; With lessons for all importers, businesses, and people.

RWANDA KITS UPDATE; Making a difference, changing lives.

LAST MINUTE CHA SHOW PRODUCT INFO; So many products, so little time.

WHY I SCRAPBOOK; So much more than photos and stickers.

ARE SCRAPBOOKERS CRAZY? Contests, validating lives, and more.

LETTERS FROM THE FIRE ZONE; Safe, relieved, and thankful.

A GLIMPSE INTO THE 2015 RETAILING ENVIRONMENT; Shifting demographics, household downsizing, and new marketing present industry challenges.

SOME THOUGHTS ON GLOBALIZATION; A PARADIGM REVOLUTION: The Big eating the Small is now the Fast eating the Slow.

THE CRAFT FUR DUCK; The old image of crafts needs changing.

MY 20 YEARS IN THE INDUSTRY, PT. III; "We are on the edge of losing touch with our consumers."

MY 20 YEARS IN THE INDUSTRY, PT. II; "We cannot...run companies for stockholders only or look for the one item that will last forever..."

MY 20 YEARS IN THE INDUSTRY; "I still believe that accurate trend prediction is the most important driver for profits for companies..."

BEADING SMILES; Helping with sick kids through crafts.

THE WORST TRADE SHOW EVER; Why CHA is no longer in Chicago in winter.

ACCOUNTING FOR GIFT CARDS...Can mess up the books.

HOLIDAY EATING ADVICE; How to stay happy, if not healthy, during the holidays.

NRF'S TOP 10 TIPS FOR SMART HOLIDAY SHOPPING; What consumers are being told on getting the best deals from retailers.

THE MICHAELS SALE AND OCTOBER RETAILS RESULTS; The CLN Newsbrief emailed to subscribers.

WHAT HAPPENED TO PROFESSIONAL CRAFTERS? SOME ANSWERS; Lack of access to supplies, inept show managers, and more.

A BEGINNING (AND END) FOR SOME ... Why do some consumers stop crafting and other become lifelong enthusiasts?

YOU THINK YOU KNOW ME? Public exposure of a private life can be misleading, dangerous, and bad for business.

CLN NEWSBRIEFS: August sales and Michaels quarterly report and conference call.

CLN NEWSBRIEF: JO-ANN'S; The quarterly report and the conference call.

CHARITABLE OPPORTUNITIES FOR ALL; Play golf, quilt, knit, scrap, stamp, paint - all for good causes.

IN DEFENSE OF PAPER; Technology has its place, but...


LITTLE WHITE LIES; Embellishing your resume can catch up to you.

THE DECORATIVE ARTS COLLECTION; The best our painters have to offer.

LETTERS TO CLN; Rag Shops, younger consumers, tough times for designers, and more.

BETTER CUSTOMER SERVICE = LOYAL RETAILERS; 10 ways vendors can improve their relations with retailers.

WHAT HAPPENED TO PCP's; The savvy Professional Craft Producers have evolved.

PRIVATE CHARITY OR PUBLIC TAXES? Will the scalawags get rich and the poor remain poor?

HOW YOU CAN HELP KATRINA'S VICTIMS; Practical, concrete suggestions.

CHURCH BULLETINS; Typos that allegedly appeared in church bulletins or were announced in church services.

SCRAPBOOKING A SENTIMENTAL EXPERIENCE; An example of why scrapbooking is so popular.

ANATOMY OF A PRODUCT PRESS RELEASE; What should be in it, how to write it, and a model.

EXCERPT: THE HEALING POWER OF CRAFTS; Using your hobbies to gain mental, physical, and spiritual benefits.

HOW TO SAY WHAT YOU MEAN; It's up to you to mean what you say.

ENCOURAGING BRIGHT IDEAS; Debunking myths about your staff's creativity.

SICK DAYS -- AND COMMON SENSE; Working when you're sick sets a bad example in more ways than you think.

THE ART OF COMPROMISE; It's an essential tool for the mid-level manager.

KNOWING YOUR LIMITATIONS; Thinking of trying a new category, such as scrapbooking? Answer these questions first.

PROGRESS? IF YOU SAY SO.; Are craft stores losing their identity.

R-E-S-P-E-C-T; Simple acts make a big difference.

FOSTERING CREATIVITY; The care and feeding of artists is a tricky business.

DIRECTIONAL SIGNALS, WHO'S TALKING, WHO'S LISTENING; How to avoid communication snafus.

WANNA JOIN A CLUB?; Not this one, please?

GRAPVINES: STOPPING OFFICE GOSSIP; Practical ways to minimize the damage.

EMAIL: THE UPS AND DOWNS; We can't live without it but we're paying a price.

LONG TERM SATISFACTION: Easy to cheapen products, but at what cost to your reputation?

EMPLOYEE RECOGNITION: WHY BOTHER?; Because it's not only fair, it's good business, too.