Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Rallying behind the banner of the tie-dye beanbag

Well, I have been avoiding writing this post for about two years (come on, get a cup of tea and a biscuit  and settle down, you know you want to with a build up like that). But, you know, I've finally been poked a poke too far so I'm doing it, although I actually should have done it a few years ago when it might have been useful. I'm so out of the loop on this one I might as well be telling you all that fake taxidermy and moustaches are fashionable.
Sew Hip. Passionate about fabric and not paying people. It strikes me now that that photo would have been better without the carpet. You see, this is the lack of design sense that leads to tie dye beanbags
(NB those of you who are long-term blog readers, mwah love you all every single one, this is nothing to do with the Difficult Experience of last year - it's completely unrelated. I have to wait to do that one until certain people are dead, although I promise you it will be worth it, so you might need to hang on a while. I just attract bizarre things).

Anyway, this is about Sew Hip and All Craft Media, and I am doing it now because I just want to add to the general clamour that indie designers should look after their work and be treated properly. People: learn from my mistakes. This is why I make them! So you can all be happier! Otherwise it'd be depressing! ;-).

I used to have designs published sometimes in Sew Hip. I had my first couple published before the difficulties became widely publicised, and I was really pleased to have them in a magazine: I imagine a lot of contributors, particularly the inexperienced ones like me, felt the same.
The Mondrian Skirt! I was so excited to have this published that I haven't quite burned every Sew Hip I ever owned on a pyre and danced round the flames
Getting payment for them, though, was a different story, and this is where I partly blame myself. I once worked for an organisation that went into administration: I can tell you it's not much fun. It was absolutely clear as glass to me the first time I rang up KALmedia (as they were at that point) to chase an invoice, of which I had had no acknowledgment despite repeated emails/ phone calls, that they were completely financially screwed. It was just obvious: all the signs were there. No payment, no communication, no apologies, an appearance of absolute incompetence. (And I should have known). I was so irritated but, see second paragraph above, I had limited energy for chasing, and also I didn't want to add to the problems of the people who actually worked for KALmedia and did not own it, as whenever I got actual employees they were so nice and pleasant and helpful, and I knew nothing at all to suggest that it was their fault (in fact I thought it probably wasn't. I imagine I was right). Anyway at that point, what I should have done was blog (in a non-prurient way) to warn others and walk away, cutting my losses (because I did have actual losses - I paid postage to send samples, which were never returned, I paid for materials to make the samples) - but, I wanted to be nice. I have been in that position, through no fault of my own. I felt sorry for the employees. I didn't want to add to their problems. So I kept my mouth shut and tried to be professional. It got me nowhere. I was just completely ignored.

At that point Sew Hip got a new editor who I had worked with in the past (she had edited Sewing World) and who I knew to be extremely professional. I told her about my difficulties with payment, I believe she intervened (I think she had this radical expectation that freelancers with purchase orders ought to be actually paid...), and payment from Kerrie duly appeared (with no note, remittance advice, apology, anything: however - payment!!!). I agreed to provide a few more projects. The new editor soon resigned, because of the issues, which at that point became widely publicised: after that, I will be honest, I am not sure I even bothered invoicing any more: I chalked it down to experience. I don't advise anyone ever to do that: it was stupid, and it was defeatist (always invoice the buggers! Make them pay!): but, the energy I knew, given my past experiences, it would take, at a time when I was being forced to put all my energy into something unrelated but all-consuming and soul-sucking, just wasn't expendable. I hadn't got it in me. I hadn't, and I knew at that point that I did not have a snowflake's chance in hell of actually getting any money. I felt, frankly, that I had been utterly scammed (not in any way by the editor, who was helpful and professional throughout and beyond, and who I don't actually think got paid either: by All Craft Media), and I just moved on. I knew they went into administration and I thought, what an idiot I have been because I could see what was happening and then I made more stuff. More stuff! Including the infamous Tie Dye Beanbag.
Some people have a breakdown and drink. I tie dyed and took up pole dancing. It was great but now there are some things I can't escape from. Actually do you know what I'm doing ATM that we may chat about in future posts? Pole choreography. I did my floor work in the lounge while the news was on last night and Partner was speechless. In a bad way
So now we come to A Poke Too Far. A kind person contacted me to let me know that not only had I been initially scammed, I had also been Zombie Scammed: Kerrie Allmann appears to have sold the rights to one of my designs (along with the designs of other people) - the Tie Dye Beanbag, which appears in one of the last issues of Sew Hip and which, let me be entirely honest, is perhaps not the achievement I want following me to my grave - to Igloo Books, where it now appears, without my permission having been given, in a book about sewing. I have been talking to Igloo Books, who are perfectly friendly and responsive and who, as far as I am aware, did not know that Kerrie had not been given permission by designers to sell the designs. I know absolutely nothing to suggest that Igloo have acted unethically - I don't think they knew. But, the fact remains that insult has been added to injury: my design is in a book without my consent: I wasn't asked: money was made from me by someone with whom I had not, shall we say, enjoyed my dealings. I am not sure that a tie-dye beanbag is the hill to die on: however, I am also not sure it isn't.

I am sad that what started off as a nice magazine ended as it did: I feel annoyed that I lost the fabric that went into the samples, only one of which was ever returned (by the new editor, to whom, thanks. It's a double pointed needle case: if anyone wants it, leave me a comment! It's quite nice. Neutralise its karma): I feel stupid that I didn't deal with it all more energetically: and now I will be haunted by a big floppy tie-dye beanbag forever. So I'm sharing my story (my name is Susie and I'm and All Craft Media victim. Hello, Susie), to say: People! whether you're a new designer, a hobby designer, a designer who lives solely on your freelance earnings, whatever you are and at what level, value your work. Don't ever be grateful that someone's publishing you: don't be shy about asking for agreed payment: don't be shy about negotiating terms. I was a sitting duck: don't you be one! (And be careful what you tie dye. It might follow you forever...)!

(I'm sitting here wearing ASOS tie dye leggings. I never learn).


Tanya said...

this happens so so often! what the hell!

sorry for your crappy situation!

Stitched Together said...

I have read so many of these stories from designers of fabric and fibre projects. I'm so sorry you were one of Kerrie's victims. Every time I see one of her magazines on a shelf I want to rip it up and stamp on the remains whilst shouting at all the other shoppers "never touch this magazine or risk bad karma never leaving your home".

Anonymous said...

I have read about this before and with the same woman and magazine group. How awful! It's so dishonest to put a glossy coat on the view the world sees but behind the scenes everything is done by stealing people's work etc.

Magazines take huge liberties with bloggers. They interview them etc and then don't pay as it is meant to be flattering. It's just a rip off. I think bloggers deserve to be treated professionally if they are good enough to appear in the mags in any capacity, which they obviously are. Often a fee does even seem to be in the offing, yet magazines are filled with the work of bloggers. I hear that even writers are coerced into writing for free as it will be good for their profile blah blah. Does no one think creativity is worth anything these days? We all seem to want freebies.

I'm pretty fond of your tie dye been bag but I understand you should be asked (and paid) for your permission to use it. What a horrible situation :)

SallyO said...

Thank you for speaking out. So many people have been affected by Kerrie's companies (3 failed companies in 20 months) and their 'mismanagement' by Kerrie. Non-payment of invoices, non-return of samples (there were 350 samples left in the office when ACM closed). One designer found that she had 12 designs published in A Guide to Knitting (another Igloo book).

YarnAddictAnni said...

Sorry you were one of Kerri's victims. I could easily have ended up in your situation. I was a regular design for Yarn Forward/Knit and in fact, Kerrie published my first ever print designs so I was grateful to her and loyal. A few months before the demise of KAL I was owed for a couple of designs, I started chasing them. by that time I'd already sent in a few more design due to be published. I had the fortune of seeing Kerrie at a few shows and arranged on several occasions to collect payment from her stall. I did get what I was owed and fairly quickly too. Then I went public to warn other knit/crochet designers on Ravelry and my blog.

i didn't work for them again and I just hope and pray I won't find any of my designs re-published elsewhere without my permission.

Alex said...

Aww for what it's worth, I think that beanbag is a perfectly cute "hill to die on" ;-) Glad you've been in touch with Igloo and that they are receptive- hopefully they'll nix working with her once they realize what an unethical sack of crap she is. (Does no one Google the people they're about to work with? Google! Always Google!!!)

Julie said...

Sympathy. So many got taken in. She's a disgrace to the community.

All I can offer is the fact that there are many, many people on Ravelry dedicated to following her around and warning future marks of her history.

Vivianne said...

How did I miss that bean bag ?? It's gorgeous ! x

Eskimimi Makes said...

I'm another one that has been stung by 'that woman' as she is referred to in this house (though only the once - I think).

I gave up my battle against that particular injustice as I was too busy fighting personally much bigger things at the time and so it kind of fell by the wayside.

I'm never quite so astounded as when another story gets added to the already mile long list as I can't believe just how much wrong this woman is still causing. I hope everyone gets some justice from this one day or this individual is at least stopped from causing more trouble.