Sunday, October 18, 2009

Vision Before Focus

Last month, I had the pleasure of meeting and speaking with a lovely woman I met through networking. Her name is Joan Rudder-Ward and she's a photographer. She writes a blog called Picture Your Success, Successful Ventures With Photography. She teaches new and established photographers how to branch out and be successful at selling their art through different venues.

She plans on publishing a book she's writing on the subject by the end of the year. She chose me to interview about how I go about buying artisan cards and what special things I look for. I thoroughly enjoyed our discussion, which ended up being about much more than artist's cards. I was touched that she felt so in tune with what I spoke about, but now am verklempt as I read what she wrote about me. I have to reprint it here so you can read it, too:

"Vision Before Focus

This spotlight interview is with someone who is not a photographer, yet there are valuable lessons here for anyone wanting to start or expand a business venture.

Lori Webster is the owner of Webster’s Fine Stationers, a family business that has been serving the Altadena, California area since 1926. I interviewed Lori for my new book on how to start your own greeting card business (release set for December 09) , because she buys custom photographic greeting cards for her store. She gave very good information on the whole process of how she buys them, how to price them, the best methods of making contact, and what store owners look for in purchasing greeting cards. This information will be revealed in the book.

Though the business has been around for 83 years, Lori, with her husband Scott, have owned their store for the past two years. We had a chance to talk about the challenges they are facing with consequences of management decisions made before they took over, the effect of big box stores moving into the area, and the economy.

Lori exemplifies what it takes to successfully start and run any type of business, and I’ll relate these to starting and running a photography venture. Even though the store has been established for years, change is needed to meet the varied challenges the retail sector is facing in today’s world. Therefore, in putting a “new face” on Webster’s, it is parallel to starting a new venture.

3 vital things you must start with to have a successful photography venture


~~Lori’s vision for the store goes beyond stationery. The vision is to offer the community more lifestyle choices in what they carry, such as recycled and fair trade products, and products made locally and in the USA. They offer much more than stationery as customers can purchase products for their home and office, for their children, for school, and even for their appetites with the gourmet food selections they offer.~~

What does your ” finished product” look like? What is your vision? In other words, what goal do you have for your photography venture?

Is your goal to have a full-service boutique- style studio that caters to expectant mothers and their children? Or is it a weekend wedding business where you are booked three weekends a month? Perhaps it’s the art market where you want your images displayed in fine art stores in your city, or across the country. And then again, you may only be interested in having good images for your own personal reasons, such as documenting family history that can be passed down to generations to come.

Solidify your vision. “See” your end result from the start.

Craft a Plan

~~Lori is attending a 26-week ““Business Builders Boot Camp” where she is crafting her plan to reach her vision for the store.~~

Once you have your vision, you then need to craft your road map, your plan, to get there. This is the time to do research and gather the resources that you need. It’s a common joke that creative people don’t like taking care of the business end of things in learning the left-brain parts of launching a successful venture… like creating business plans and setting up and accounting system. You don’t necessarily have to create a full-blown business plan, but business acumen is necessary. Small Business Development Centers can be found in most cities, with business classes available for nominal fees. They also have counselors that can help guide you to beneficial resources. You can also seek the assistance of professional photographers who offer consulting services.

Work the Plan

~~Even while she’s going through the business boot camp, Lori is simultaneously working her plan, by supplying her store with products and services that match the vision she has for the store.~~

One of the challenges of being in business is the follow-through on the different aspects of a plan. Diligence and perseverance are key to fulfilling your vision. Keep moving forward and stick with it. You can do it!"


Wow! I am beyond honored that Joan would think enough of me and the store to write this article and I'm so thankful that we got to meet. I only hope that someday I can return the favor, but for now a simple thank you will have to suffice. I also want to thank you, Joan, for the prayers - I appreciate them more than you know.

Links to the story and to Joan's blog are below on my blogroll.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Haute Halloween Spookfest at WFS!

Witches on their broomsticks fly
Ghouls hitch rides with vampires sly
Ghosties and goblins arise from their lair
All decked out with frightening flair,

They're coming to town real soon, I hear
Youngsters and oldsters quiver in fear
Of dreaded apparitions in the dead of the night
When silence runs deep with the absence of light

Join us to welcome this gruesome crew
Come party – let's have a Halloween do
At WFS, wear your scariest outfit
‘Cause 10/31 is reserved for it!

Bring the kiddies, bring Grandma
Bring yourself, bring your pa
Bring everyone, get ready to greet the night
Filled with fabulous Halloween delight!

----Lori Webster



Make plans now to join us Saturday, Oct. 31st, at WFS for Halloween fun and festivities! Pick up coloring pages for the kids to create Halloween masterpieces that'll be hung on our Halloween tree. Each artist will be entered into our Haute Halloween drawing and names will be drawn at 2:00 p.m. Don't miss out on the wonderful prizes for kids and adults! There will be treats, too, for what's Halloween without treats? You won't find any tricks here, though....just straight up, spooky fun.

Following the drawing, we'll take the kids on a Halloween Procession up and down Lake Avenue and around to the back of the store. You're encouraged to participate, but definitely bring a camera – you won't want to miss out on this perfect Kodak moment! We'll march back into the store for more festivities, fun and Halloween treats!

Remember, all this on Saturday, October 31st, from 2:00 pm until 6:00 pm!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Tempus Fugit

Don't write yourself off yet.
It's only in your head you feel left out,
Or looked down on.
Just try your best,
Try everything you can.
And don't you worry what they tell themselves
When you're away.

It just takes some time,
little girl, you're in the middle of the ride.
Everything, everything will be just fine,
Everything, everything will be alright.

You know they're all the same.
You know you're doing better on your own,
So don't buy in.
Live right now.
Yeah, just be yourself.
It doesn't matter if it's good enough
For someone else.

Hey, don't write yourself off yet.
It's only in your head you feel left out,
Or looked down on.
Just do your best,
Do everything you can.
And don't you worry what their bitter hearts
Are gonna say.

------Jimmy Eats World
"The Middle"

Wow! Two weeks has flown by almost without my knowing it! Time's like that blink and it's gone. My friend, Debi Swanson-Patrick, mentioned that she hadn't seen any posts from me in a while and I thought, "really? I haven't?" I swear it seems like just the other day that I had.

When I last posted, Michelle, our manager, had found a more secure job elsewhere and left us on Oct. 2nd. Thanks to all the wonderful people who wished her farewell, I'm sure she'll miss you! Since then it's been a whirlwind of training - not just Leilana, who has been promoted to manager (yay, Leilana!), but our two new crew members, Trish and Devon. We've also been busy planning our Haute Halloween Night on Saturday, October 31st. The whole crew is involved in planning this event, so I'm confident that we'll all have a frighteningly fun time! I'll be posting more information about it mid-week, and keep your eye out for updates after that.

Yesterday was my 3rd class at the Business Builder's Boot Camp at the Women's City Club in Pasadena. I'm still awed by the talent of the women who are teaching and attending this class with me! They're all fascinating and I'm learning so much, not just in the class but by being in the company of such powerful women. It's an empowering thing to be bouncing ideas off of and having meaningful, intelligent discussions with this part of the area's top movers and shakers....for that's what we are, no doubt about it.

What we're learning is how to build a business phase by phase. By research, data, life experience and intuition, it is possible to fashion a successful business and by hard work, perseverance and sheer determination it is possible to keep that successful business going. Having the talent needed doesn't hurt, either. We're finding out, each of us, how we're going to craft that business and if the resident population in our areas will support it. Personally speaking, I want to be able to write a business plan that will take us where we'd like to be and also help guide us into the future. I'd like to grow that plan to encompass the North Lake Business District and its merchants. Cooperative advertising, cross promotion and building community are things that we should be doing all the time - I'd like to help us get there. Promoting a healthy business environment, nurturing it and keeping it thriving are key elements to a successful Altadena.

So while I'm busy learning how to improve this part of my world, please feel free to drop in, have a cuppa, a cookie and a looksee around the store. New things coming in for the holidays, which are almost directly upon us. Escape for awhile, indulge and allow yourself a small luxury or two. Enjoy the experience and if you do, please let us know. You can leave messages on this blog, you can contact me via email at or you can leave a suggestion in our suggestion pumpkin on the coffee table at the store. You can even write comments in our guestbook! I suggest you check out our website,'s informative, user-friendly, and best of all, chock full of wonderful things, some available on-line!

Thursday, October 1, 2009


(Turn and face the strain)
Don't tell them to grow up and out of it
(Turn and face the strain)
Where's your shame
You've left us up to our necks in it
Time may change me
But you can't trace time"

---Song lyrics by David Bowie

Since my last post, there's been quite a few comments about the situation at Webster's here on this blog, on our Facebook pages and on Altadenablog. The general consensus of opinion seems to be that the walls between the stores and the lack of good customer service has severely impacted area residents' willingness to shop at Webster's. Scott and I and our entire crew understands that. We're working extra hard to bring quality shopping back into the fabric of life in Altadena because we believe you deserve it. We'll keep pushing until all parties involved understand this concept as well.

Having a thriving business center on North Lake Avenue is a sweet dream of ours. With some work and cooperation, the dream could become reality. The work the Altadena Arts Coalition has been doing toward this end has shown great promise. We're in the midst of planning our next event, tentatively scheduled in conjunction with the lighting of Christmas Tree Lane in December and we're so excited about it! Fabulous things are in the works, so definitely stay tuned for more details as we plan them out, and follow my updates on Twitter.

As a store in transition in an uncertain economy, WFS has been able, for the most part, to hold its own. We are grateful to Webster's Pharmacy and our supporters, without whom we wouldn't have made it this far. As a result of this uncertainty, though, many of our employees feel insecure, and I don't blame them....I've been feeling a little insecure myself. Our manager for these past two years, Michelle Perata, is leaving us tomorrow for a better job elsewhere. We wish her the best of luck and will miss her dearly. She's helped us keep it together throughout the confusion of construction, the transition to being our own separate store and then helping retrain everyone to be the type of sales crew we envisioned. She's a wonderful gal and I hope you'll come by Friday to say goodbye to her. In Michelle's honor, we're serving cake (from Pastries by Nancy!) and lemonade from noon on and offering a 10% discount if you mention the code phrase "Michelle is the best manager"!

As sad as it is to see Michelle go, we're tickled that we could promote from within and give Leilana De Los Santos the position of manager. She'll be leading our crew Monday next, so if you haven't met her yet, drop by anytime to say hello. We're also sad to announce the departure of one of our newest employees, Tania. Her mother hurt her back and Tania left her position to help her out. We wish Tania the best of luck, also, and hope her mother's health improves soon. With Tania gone, we were left with two positions open and are thrilled to say those positions were filled within minutes. Our two new crew members are Trish and Devon, both local residents and both very smart, beautiful young ladies. We're building quite a team for you here at WFS and there's no time like the beginning of fourth quarter to hone their customer service skills. We'll have interviews with the new crew members soon.

We're also planning our Haute Halloween Festivities for Saturday the 31st. Keep reading to stay informed of our plans, and drop by the store anytime for decorating inspiration!