Thursday, August 21, 2014

Goodbye Ahni & Zoe!

Can't believe August 21st is here already! Someone mentioned it feels like the movie Ground Hog Day and it does...

Because today is the last chance to order anything from Ahni & Zoe by Creative Memories.  

It's starting to resemble that furniture store around the corner from our neighborhood that is "GOING OUT OF BUSINESS" every. single. month.  Oh, you have one in your neighborhood too?  I finally realized that the furniture store's name was "GOING OUT OF BUSINESS."  Ahhh, now that makes sense.

As I say goodbye to A&Z by CM, CEO Chris Veit, and the Home Office Wind-Down Team...I would like to say 
Thank You
Good Luck
All the Best
Hope it goes smooth getting all of the last chance orders shipped out!
God Bless

And to the Go Forward Team...who is "furiously working to swing open the new door"...

Thank You
Good Luck
All the Best
Hope it goes smooth
Can't Wait!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Creative Memories Sold! Has a New Owner

Caleb Hayhoe, Chairman, Flowerdale Group, Hong Kong

An agreement has been reached with Flowerdale Group Limited, Hong Kong. Flowerdale Group has purchased the Creative Memories and Ahni & Zoe brands including CM Japan, the patents, and a good portion of the album making equipment. They will soon be moving the equipment to a smaller facility in St Cloud, MN, U.S.A.  (the rest will be auctioned off on September 23).

The Ahni & Zoe party plan direct sales business will be closing in the U.S. and Canada this week. Consultants and customers can order Ahni & Zoe products while supplies last through August 21, 2014.  

(I feel silly saying this again, but...) Everything is While Supplies Last and the Last Day to order will be August 21. 


No, really, it's your Last Chance...order by August 21. Ahni & Zoe orders will ship within 7-10 days and CM Outlet orders will ship within 30 days. This includes ordering any photo prints.  

Still don't believe me??  I really, really mean it!  They tell me you'll want to order soon - do not wait until August 21 because they expect high volumes on that day and we all know what happens on high volume days. Especially on the Very Last Day Ever. (really!),238.aspx

...Or...I could...perhaps...wait until the new owner brings our beloved Creative Memories bookcloth album covers and pages back and hey! maybe even paper! hopefully by mid-October? Maybe?  

©2007 Publications International, Ltd.
Flowerdale's Chairman, Caleb Hayhoe, (who looks nothing like a wolf) is committed to continuing the legacy of quality products and keeping the manufacturing in the U.S.A.. Hayhoe says, "I don't have all the answers right now, but in the weeks ahead we will be devising how to transform the business to make it more competitive and relevant, using modern marketing is my plan to invest in continuing to build and improve the simple Ahni & Zoe line AND restore some of the beloved items from the Creative Memories line (bookcloth albums, pages, paper, etc.) for those who enjoy that approach to preserving memories."

How this involves Consultants or if it will be a direct-to-consumer model remains to be seen. Either way I am relieved to know that we may still be able to order the high quality albums we use and love!

Caleb Hayhoe would like to hear from you! former customers, current customers, former Consultants and soon-to-be-deactivated Consultants (our contracts officially end on September 3).  Here is a link to his survey:

This is your chance to let him know your thoughts and what you would like for your precious photo album projects so I hope you'll take the time to complete the survey. I was very impressed by some of his questions. He seems to "get" how abandoned some of you have felt and wants to restore some of the CM products we loved.  

Happy Scrappin' from As the CM World Turns....

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Creative Memories Bankruptcy Roller Coaster

(A quick background in case you've missed the thousands of times I've mentioned this:  I have been with Creative Memories for the past 20 years - the last 8 of which many of us lovingly refer to as the "crazy train" or an even better comparison - a Roller Coaster. I finally had enough of the craziness and released my team in 2011 to pursue leadership with somewhere else (Thirty-One Gifts) - yet always hoping that CM would get it figured out and I could come back.)

When I found out CM was launching an entirely *new* company in January of this year, I came back to the "new, improved, free-from-several bankruptcies Ahni & Zoe by Creative Memories" naively thinking the emotional roller coaster was over.  

We started off great - Ahni & Zoe by CM was actually awarded the coveted Ethos Award for 2014 Best Product Launch from the Direct Sales Industry! I just knew we were on to something big...and after 8 years of ups and downs and stomach-clutching hairpin turns, I was starting to think that maybe just maybe "I've earned a life-long ride on the calm, cool lazy river."

So I jumped in with both feet - literally stepping down *again* from Leadership this time with my Thirty-One business so I could come *back* to my first love and find my *passion* - helping others get their photos off their devices and into their lives. I actually thought I was doing something noble.

Life was good! I was sooo excited!! (Except if I was CEO, I would have kept bookcloth album covers and some card stock, but for the most part I really loved their streamlined Fast2Fabulous product line.)  From January to May I sold over $8,000 in photo albums and supplies, was blessed by lovely ladies who joined my team, promoted to Unit Leader, earned an i-Pad Mini, helped my customers complete albums of love, held Dream Board workshops, enjoyed my own albums, and earned an all-expense-paid trip to a sunny Marriott spa and resort...I even floated down a lazy river...

Our CEO praised us for persevering through "tremendous head winds."  One of the windiest days was in February with the sudden departure of CM's co-Founder Rhonda Anderson. Seemingly overnight she surprised us all by abruptly announcing she was leaving Creative Memories and launching a very similar product line over at Heritage Makers. Suddenly I was inundated with requests to leave CM, join Rhonda's team, and get rich quick! It was all under the umbrella of the Youngevity company (think Amway) - we could sell photo albums, digital albums, vitamins, mineral makeup and essential oils! Oh joy! No, Thank You! 

I mean I had just come back to CM, I was all about Simplicity. I was also all about launching Ahni & Zoe by CM - I mean isn't that what we had been waiting for? To get out from under the mistakes of the past?  Besides I couldn't understand Youngevity's career plan and I really wasn't interested in selling vitamins along with my scrapbooks. I'm not the sharpest crayon in the box apparently because thousands of Consultants followed Rhonda over to her new company within days...(did they even look at the career plan?)...I guess it didn't matter - many were strategically placed onto teams to develop and promote leaders quickly. Rhonda has recently been recognized by Youngevity for having the "Fastest Growing Team in the World." I just wish she would have told me she was leaving and taking everyone with her before I gave up my Thirty-One Directorship to help her launch this "brand new" Ahni & Zoe company, but whatever, I'm not bitter. Haha.

So that was when the jolting feeling hit me - when *my* dream, *my* passion rounded another hairpin turn. I started hearing the familiar click-click-click sound a roller coaster makes as it takes its time climbing a Very. Steep. Hill.   Hmmm...I thought I was on a new track? Yet realizing I was actually on the same Crazy Train...and maybe nothing had changed. 

So many seemed excited to follow RA on this new venture and I just felt extremely hurt. During the first bankruptcy CM had somehow lost all of the Retirement Funds of their leaders and drained them completely empty. This was money that I had set aside every month from my commission checks into what I was told was a Financial Security Plan through the Home Office. Later we find out it was changed to a Rabbi Trust without our knowledge and completely drained dry. Thankfully I only set aside 5% during that time and lost around 10K but many leaders had 6 figures in there and were actually at retirement age when they found out they had no nest egg. I won't even get into the Home Office employees who lost everything during the employee-owned stock days... while the former CEO cashed out with millions.  

Wait. You thought we were talking about a Scrapbooking Company not Enron, right? Are you confused yet?

So then I thought...well, maybe it's a good thing that RA left and thousands of Consultants with her. They didn't like the direction of Ahni & Zoe. I still believed in the product, our mission and the small, committed group of women who remained. We could change the world! One album at a time! My energy was renewed. Now I was determined not to fail because I didn't want someone else to determine my destiny. And what really had changed? Just many thousands of our sales field had left, we were out of debt, we could still rise from the ashes....

So I put my head down and "Shared the Love" and earned Ahni & Zoe's very first Incentive Trip!

Are you a believer in signs?  Three things happened on that Trip that gave me the Gut Feeling that Something is Up:

The first *sign* - I had a layover in Denver and I got stuck there....broken down plane and ALL other flights overbooked. It was like a bad dream. I could not *get* to my all-expense-paid Incentive Trip!! Are you kidding me??  So I sat in the Denver airport for nearly 2 days waiting on standby for each plane taking off hoping to inch my way closer to Texas. Denver is significant because it just happens to be where my Thirty-One Senior Executive Director lives. Denver is also where I chose not to attend a LeadHERship Retreat with Thirty-One because I was too busy launching Ahni & Zoe. And Denver is where Thirty-One was having their National Conference in 2014. 

The second *sign* - when I wearily checked into my airport hotel room that United airlines so graciously provided, they assigned me to room in "To Thirty-One!!" I just remember lying on my bed looking up at the ceiling and asking God "What are you saying here?...Why am I stuck here?...Is this *just a coincidence* Lord? Or is this a significant Universe shift that I should be paying attention to?"

The third *sign* that Something Was Up - when I finally did arrive at the beautiful Marriott Spa and Resort the CEO was nowhere to be seen. I finally asked about him and was told, "He couldn't come. He's doing CEO things." Hmmm...what could possibly be more important than encouraging and rewarding his top leaders in the field? There were only 31 of us who earned the trip (yes, "31" I'm not making this up...was that sign #4?)  I thought maybe he would at least have a video message or Skype us or ??  But nope. Crickets....

Either very rude (which he's not) or like I said Something is Up.

Sure enough a couple of weeks later our CEO holds a Conference Call and tells us that we are financially at the end of our rope and we are no longer in the care of the Bankruptcy Trustee but we are now in Receivership. Which means that the Receiver will be trying to find a Buyer and if he can't, we will have no other choice but to shut down. (Wait. Bankruptcy? Trustee? Receivor? Didn't you tell us that we were *free from the constraints of the bankruptcies*? We were a *new company* with *unlimited potential*? 

Some people can handle roller coasters. 
Some thrive on the adrenaline and the excitement.
Some don't need to know what's around the next bend.
Some call that Faith.

I call that "they must have had a secure childhood."

This is me on a roller coaster...(the little guy in the front row Freaking Out): be continued