These are two Hug Me Slugs I made for Giggle Moon Photography, in exchange for professional photographs of my toys with kids, something I was looking forward to having. The exchange was also supposed to include a feature in a children’s counting book, and free advertising in the book, on the web, on Facebook, and on the Giggle Moon Photography site. I sent these off to Janean Bagley Lindner, the owner, back in June of 2011, but, unfortunately, none of these things ever happened.
I had a hard time getting any response from Giggle Moon, but was told in two emails over the past seven months that there were reasons the work couldn’t be done, even though I continued to see photo sessions posted, throughout the same time period, on the Giggle Moon Facebook page. I’ve reported the incident to Etsy, and asked Giggle Moon to reimburse me for the toys. She promised me she would send payment for the toys, but she did not.
Update as of June 2012: Janean Lindner at Giggle Moon Photography never did pay for the toys she kept. Not one single payment. This is just stealing and it is fraud. I would beware of dealing with her. She has also since started a business under the name of Design Revolution Online, which is also on Facebook here, selling accessories and props for photographers. I have seen at least one contest on this Facebook page, making similar promises as the promises she made to me. Although she told me she could not work, she has continued to publicly post new work, and although she told me she did not have the funds to pay me, she has continued to publicly post about other things she has both bought and sold which cost more than she owes me. She does not respond when I contact her.
Update as of July 2012: I finally received payment for the toys, after emphasizing to her that what she was going was illegal, and pointing out I’d written about my experiences with her and her business online, as a warning to others. It has been over one full year since she received the toys. Although all of us, including me, go through hard times, I don’t feel that is an excuse for reneging on promises or taking things without paying for them. Everyone has a story, including me, but I don’t use hardship to try to take advantage of other people. I am relieved she settled her debt. It would have been better had she approached me on her own, at any point, to work something out with me. She should be thanking me for being as understanding and as patient as I have been. I waited over a year. She could have sent me six dollars a month and have been done with it in that time. She could have sent the toys right back, unopened and new, if she realized she couldn’t follow through. She has never asked me about my life, or my situation, and I don’t appreciate receiving emails from her trying to make me feel guilty for asking to be paid for my work, when I have done nothing wrong. No one should be subjected to emotional blackmail for trying to get paid. I will never send anything out again to anyone without payment up front.
I’d like to warn anyone on Etsy about participating in trades. I know I won’t be doing any more trades. Everything looked legitimate, and I’d had a good experience with sending my toys to be photographed for a TV show, with another Etsy member, who returned them in perfect condition, in short order. So, I thought this would be a similar experience, and am very displeased over the situation. This is my business. Even though it is pleasant to make toys, most of the time, I don’t do it for entertainment. I do it to make a living. I would never expect to walk into a store, take something, and not pay for it. I don’t expect anyone to do that with my shop either. If anyone else has had a similar experience, please report it to firstname.lastname@example.org. Etsy doesn’t mediate in trades, but they do investigate suspected scammers.
I am continuing to make my toys, and trying not to be angry. This is what my workroom looks like right now, filled with fabric and projects, with hardly any room for me. As you can see, I am not some big toy company, but one person, working from home, making toys by hand. I don’t wholesale, and I don’t send out free samples. I send toys directly to their new homes, where I hope they will be appreciated and loved.
The first is a Hug Me Angel Cat sock doll. Same as before, this kitty is helping out real-life cats and kittens. A portion from his adoption will be donated to an animal charity, Alley Cats and Angels of NC. He (or she) will come with a personalized hang tag too, with his adopter’s choice of a name, or “For + a recipient’s name.” I will be posting my new handmade stuffed animal toys in our Ruffing’s shop.
Also perfect for Valentine’s Day are Echo and Tommy. These are new, original, one-of-a-kind black-and-white tuxedo cat art dolls by Max Bailey. I am finally getting to editing some of the doll photos that got backlogged before the holidays. There are quite a few more beautiful and handsome original cat art dolls still to share. Echo can be found here on our Ruffing’s blog, and Tommy can be found here. They each have their own story.
I had been thinking for a long time that I should have business cards for my toys, but couldn’t decide where to order them. So, I designed and printed them myself. Since I love rainbow assortments of things, I ended up making them in several different cheerful colors.
I handed out my first one last weekend, to someone who was feeling blue, and, right away, it made him smile and laugh, even though he’d been wiping tears away a minute before. That reminded me that what I’m doing has a positive impact, and that my toys spread good cheer and comfort. I’ve got toys heading out to people’s Valentines, and I’ve got toys going out to lift the spirits of people who have lost loved ones. Some of them head off to welcome new babies and to help people celebrate birthdays, and they make people smile.
Wherever he stops his truck to make a delivery, the girls all swarm around Tommy. They giggle and nudge each other, and act very silly. The boys all shout “Hey! It’s Tommy!” They pat him on the back and shake his hand.
Tommy’s colorful overalls are striped in brown, yellow, orange, green, and blue. The blue matches the blue of his sweater. His undershorts are white, and his socks are yellow. He wears brown high-button shoes with gold buttons.
Tommy is an original one-of-a-kind work of art, created from my own design and pattern. He is made from 100% cotton fabric which has been sewn, stuffed, and completely hand painted with acrylic paints. His whiskers are made from stiffened cotton thread.
Tommy’s curled tail enables him to sit proudly on a shelf or a table, or in a cabinet. He can also sit on a chair, or stand with a doll stand. (Chair and doll stand not included.) Tommy is meant for display only.