I'd just moved the store from the one room in my home to Pleasant Street and word spread quickly there were new hooking digs to check out. Soon after opening, three ladies converged on my doorstep after their Thursday hook-in. They were all delightful, showing me their projects and chatting me up. They said they liked my patterns and I mentioned I planned to make custom designing part of my services. One of the women commented that her daughter loved horses and she would like to hook a rug to commemorate that. I asked if she wanted a western or an English rider and she said the latter would be fine. I was pretty excited to have my very first drawing commission and my love of these magnificent creatures added to the zeal. I went home that night with nothing but horses on the brain and stayed up until 2:00 a.m. drawing.
Back when I started the business I was fairly new to drawing and it took hours to get the thoughts in my head down on paper. Today, I can whip up a drawing quickly, maybe even several in a day. So it took upwards of seven hours to get to the point where it was transferred it to the backing. I stayed up until it was completed because I wanted to deliver the goods quickly to impress that I was the kind of gal who gets things done. I thought the pattern was lovely although I’m not the best judge of my own work and the following day, the woman seemed very happy with the results so I was pleased with my first custom design.
She told me her daughter would be overjoyed, paid for the pattern and left. Well, the phone rang later that day and it was the woman saying she showed the design to her equestrian daughter and although it was lovely, she would prefer a western rider. So I said, hey, no problem, I’ll design another pattern, you can bring back the first one and we’ll do a swap. I figured this was perfect, I would have two new designs for the shop making it a win win affair!
So it was another late night and I crawled into bed exhausted at 3:00 a.m., satisfied that I’d created another design she would like. Sure enough, she dropped by the next day with the first pattern in a bag and traded it for the new one and was very happy, said she liked it even better. The shop was busy that day and I didn’t get around to hanging the first pattern on the rack until just before closing.
I stood rooted to the spot, mouth agape and heart sinking. I’m telling you I was speechless, and my brain kept going in circles as I couldn’t get past those ugly green lines. I could have won the lottery and it wouldn't have brightened my mood. I was pin pricked, deflated and small. My shoulders sank and my head drooped. I was hurt beyond words, wounded as if someone had stabbed me I the heart.
I think what made it so hurtful was the fact that I had custom designed the piece and went out of my way to please her. I thought I'd gone above and beyond, losing sleep and pushing the envelope to fill the order, only to be taken advantage of.
Whenever I’m crushed I phone hubby, cry out my woes and he makes it all better but even he couldn’t pull me out of the funk I was in. Then I phoned Mary, my wise friend who always knows the best course of action. What should I do? How should I do it? Should I keep quiet and pretend it never happened or go on the principle that I was robbed and should be compensated. I didn’t know what to do. My faith had jumped the fence and ridden off into the sunset at a gallop pace. I just didn't understand. This was someone’s grandmother; an older woman with support stockings and Avon talc. If you can't trust granny who can you trust? If this was an example of how I was going to be treated in this business I felt I might as well lock the door now because my skin wasn’t tough enough to weather this kind of storm.
I even phoned Doris Eaton, our rug hooking mentor in these parts. Not only is she paramount in setting up our guild but she also helped get our rug school off the ground and more importantly is a gifted rug hooking artist. She told me of an experience she had with a woman who had taken one of her designs without asking and passed it around to her students. She looked the other way because she hated to have to deal with it and I was actually leaning to that side as well. Who wants controversy, who wants to deal with dirty business, where tears and false promises, hurtful words and maybe fisticuffs could result.
So I went home and slept on it, although there wasn’t much sleep. I tossed and turned and by morning I’d wrestled out my course of action. I had to deal with it and confront her or I wouldn't have any respect for myself personally or as a business woman. That morning I went to work planning on making the call first thing but anxiety took over so it was never the right time. That evening, with my supportive hubby standing by my side I dialed the number and swallowed a lump the size of Texas. This was not going to be easy. Even though I had done nothing wrong I was apprehensive to confront her; compounded by nausea and diarrhea ravaging my lower extremities.
After the usual pleasantries, I told the woman what I discovered when opening the bag and that I could tell the design was copied. I told her it was ruined and couldn't be sold in the shop. She said she didn’t copy it but I countered with the fact that someone did and it was in her possession so she was responsible. I told her if she came in the next day and paid for the pattern I would forget that it ever happened and she could continue to come into my shop and nothing further would be said. She went very quiet, then agreed and we hung up. The deed done, I made a quick dash to the bathroom!
Five minutes later she called me back. Her voice was stressed and full of apologies. I learned later she called her friends and the one told her to phone back ASAP and do whatever was necessary so I wouldn't be angry with them or possibly bar them from the shop. She said she was sorry, that she didn’t know that copying a pattern was wrong. I let that slide, ignorance is no defense in this case. Even if this was true she had to realize she’d ruined the pattern. If she couldn’t see the mess it was in, her spectacles weren’t doing their job.
We hung up. Another few minutes passed and she called again. This time more apologies and saying she would never do that again. She sounded as if she had run uphill, was out of breath and kind of panicked, I thought maybe she'd been crying so now I'm feeling bad. I promised her again if she paid me for the pattern it would be forgotten. We hung up.
Then she called back the third time even more upset. Said she had never done that before. Now I’m worried she’ll whip herself into a heart attack so I tried to calm her down, telling her everything would be okay. She seemed to relax a bit and we hung up for the last time that evening. The very next day, right at opening, her husband dropped by the shop to collect and pay for the pattern. I can’t say I felt better being compensated, it would take time for the experience to fade, but I was happy I’d done the right thing and that maybe one more person would think twice about copying patterns.
I don’t believe she ever hooked "Lucky" or any anyone else who had a copy of it. I’m sure it left a bad taste in her mouth because it still does for me. Maybe once I see it hooked it will erase the bad connotation associated with it. Cover those messy marker lines burned into my brain with beautiful coloured wool, to soften the hardness I feel for that design. The woman did a lovely job on the western rider called "Ride'm Cowgirl!" but unfortunately I don’t have a great picture.