Catch Up with Kim

It is so hard to believe that MFT is celebrating it’s 8th birthday.  It’s been such a magical time, every bit of it. Of course there have been roadblocks and hiccups and downright heart-pounding stressful moments, but those have been far outweighed by all of precious memories and amazing adventures that have been had. Over the last 8 years lots of changes have taken place.  My *warehouse* and *shipping area* went from this: newcardsforsite 278 loftpics 008 To this: 1456080_10153572184085372_1820762938_n (Hi, Leah!) 10392591_10154420501320372_5647792836555151417_n Emma went from this: newcardsforsite 268 designdivapageTo this: 10534073_10204356163734009_6941925353062328993_n Brianna went from this: scrapbookpagebriannaTo this: 1469950_10202697642227152_861910833_n MFT has grown from a home office with no paid employees to 3 office spaces including a full retail store and classroom, a warehouse, and a product assembly space with 16 employees. From this: (This is literally the birthplace of MFT.  The loft in our previous house and one pegboard section which housed all of our products.) loftpics 011To this: 422621_10151364589965372_172608651_n 967219_10152882148895372_1591515163_o And this: (a sampling of the team) 1393622_10153564045090372_465483922_n From a spiral bound catalog featuring 14 stamp sets to a catalog that is over 100 pages.  Amazing! To say I am blessed is a gross understatement.  To be grateful seems ridiculously simplistic.  I can’t put into words the feelings I have about MFT and the past 8 years.  The relationships built with our customers turned friends, and the family that has been created through this company and this hobby makes my heart and life unbelievably full. Thank YOU.  Without the fans of our products and our company none of this would be possible.  Thank you from the deepest place in my heart.  And it’s my sincere desire you’ll allow MFT the privilege of providing you with fabulous, innovative products and legendary customer service for many decades to come!

Splitcoast Love Fest

MC-LoveFest-400x333
Happy Friday to you! We are so thrilled to be a part of the Splitcoast community and to have the opportunity to share our products and inspiration with you. We are continually amazed by the exciting new ideas and projects you fill the gallery with.You teach us new ways to use the stamps, Die-namics, and supplies that we create for you and we have no doubt that you’ll continue to blow us away with future releases.   Now that we’ve gushed over your talent, we would be honored to have you participate in our challenge for you today. We think you’ll love all of the opportunities for interpretation this challenge allows for and we’re confident you’ll leave us swooning.   Head on over HERE to get all of the details. We can’t wait to see where our challenge inspires you to go!

Catch Up with Kim

Howdy!  With January almost at a close (how can that be???), I thought I’d share some pictures and memories from our Winter CHA trip to sunny California.  We had a great time with well-known (old just doesn’t sound right) friends and with brand-new friends, too! This year was the first year that Brianna joined Jody and I for the trip.  So of course we had to commemorate the occasion with Mimosa’s on the plane.  Cheers!

mimosas on the plane

Julie Dinn also joined us, and on our first day on the show floor we got to visit with Melody Rupple.  It’s always a pleasure to spend time with this cool, Cali chick. :-)  Scotch brand had an adorable photo booth make-n-take, so here we all are, enjoying the props.

cha prop pic

One of the highlights of any CHA is getting to spend time with people in our industry and people on our team.  We got to have dinner with Kimberly Crawford, Cindy Lawrence, and Sherrie Siemens followed by breakfast with Lori Craig. Below is a picture from our lunch with Suzy Plantamura and Laina Lamb.  SUCH fun!

lunch with suzy

We also got to spend time with our European distributors.  It was such a pleasure to meet them!  Prost!

Cheers with our netherlands distributors

Don’t tell the bosses, but on Monday we ditched the show and spent the day at Disneyland!  Here we are with our tickets, entering the park.

disneyland tix

And here is a collage of some great California Adventure fun!

mft at disneyland

Unfortunately the only souvenir I brought back with me was the flu.  But as you can see below, I had some amazing company to help me rest as my Tamiflu and cough suppressants kicked in. <3

flu day

I’m always so excited as CHA approaches.  Trend-spotting, friendship, belly laughs, and business just make for such an enjoyable time.  I hope you enjoyed taking a peek at our trip, and maybe someday we will see YOU there!

Catch Up with Kim

With the new year just around the corner, I wanted to take a moment to reflect on 2013 and the blessings it brought.  Since I never manage to send out a Christmas letter, maybe this can serve as the van der Sanden/MFT year-in-review. :-)

Many of you have met our youngest daughter, Emma, whose presence is just as precious as can be (and yes, I’m biased, but it’s true!).  She’s the kid who begs for kiwis and star fruit in the grocery store, and who asks for a yo-yo or a 15-piece colored pencil set for Christmas.  Truly, a one-of-a-kind little soul.  Emma is a very serious fan of Phillip Phillips, and we were so excited to surprise her with her very first concert to see him at Universal Orlando!

Em at UO

Here she is on Martin’s shoulders, hearing him sing her favorite song, Gone Gone Gone.  SO SWEET. <3

Em at phillip phillips concert

One of the most exciting things as a parent is to watch your child flourish, and this year our oldest daughter, Brianna, has done just that.  For those of you that have met her, you’ll agree that she is as unique, determined, and spirited as they come. She is an unstoppable force, and I love watching her grow.  This year, at 20, she purchased her own home.  With very little help from us, she did it all on her own.  Here is a picture of her at her closing, as a brand-new homeowner.

B house buying

 We call our home the van der Sanden zoo for good reason, and this year we added 3 new members to the family.  Here is a picture of Hugo and Ty, both of which we adopted from the Cat Protection Society,

hugo and ty

And here is a picture of Boo, my new little fur baby adopted from Candy’s Cats. <3

boo

Here is Annie, our *lap dog* with her papa.

better lap dog annie

We have a thing for black animals as they are always the least likely to be adopted.  But since black is a classic, we will always be in fashion. :-) This year was filled with exciting adventures as well.  We visited Alaska and had an amazing trip of a lifetime!

alaska

I know I’ll be in the doghouse for posting this picture, but it’s so adorable I can’t resist!

B and papa in moose hats

As soon as we came home from Alaska, we moved into our new home.  A series of miracles took place to make this a reality, and I am beyond grateful and thrilled to call this home. our new house This year MFT has much to be thankful for as well, including all of YOU.  We continue to grow each year, and are blessed to now have a staff of 13, including us.  It’s so hard to wrap my mind around our growth and our blessings! We held our first annual Workshop Retreat in May of 2013, and here is a group shot of our amazing guests and instructors.

retreat guest shot

And here is a team member group shot of our local staff members during the Deliver the Difference charity event, which provided Thanksgiving meals to local residents who otherwise couldn’t afford them.

deliver the difference

And last, but certainly not least (although it is my least favorite news), we are saying goodbye to Karen Motz.  I always find it hard to say goodbye to a Design Team member that is leaving the MFT nest, but I am finding it especially hard to say goodbye to Karen.  Of course I will miss her talented creations, but mostly I will miss her joyful personality.  Having visited with with Karen IRL as well as online, I can truly say she’s a pleasure to spend time with.  Funny, easy-going, always smiling, and always FUN. I know she has a busy year ahead and is looking forward to traveling and exciting adventures, but I know you’ll miss her as much as we will, so I hope you’ll join me in sending her off with a big, warm hug! Whew! What a busy 2013!  I can only imagine the blessings and good times that are in store for us in 2014, and am looking forward to seeing what the new year brings.  I hope it brings you peace, health, prosperity, and joy beyond measure.

Catch Up with Kim

I really love reading blogs and getting a little glimpse into the lives of those whose creativity inspires me, and it occurred to me that I hadn’t gotten up-close and personal, or behind-the-scenes, in quite some time.  So, today I am remedying that! Recently we had our annual MFT Management Retreat.  I was present along with Jody Morrow, Julie Dinn, Joanne Basile, Laina Lamb, and of course Brianna.  We always do a little work and a lot of play, and we always have a marvelous time.  Here are some highlights from the weekend… After a long day’s work play, pedicures and pampering were in order!  Here we are as happy as clams enjoying some much needed TLC.

pedis

Fancy feet all around!

pedis close up

After a strenuous morning meeting session, nothing could’ve refreshed us better than a visit to the Garden Gate Tea Room in Mt. Dora, FL.

garden gate

And once our meetings were done for the day, it was time for a BBQ.  Here are Frank and Jody enjoying a beautiful, balmy, Florida night.

Cookout photo 1

Joanne and Laina posed for this cute shot.  I helped Joanne transform her hair into a Cindy Lou Who look!

Cookout photo 2

On a serious note, although we discussed many planned, important topics, there came an unexpected yet vital discovery along the way.  As we strolled and shopped in different areas of town, we had many customer service encounters, and the majority of them left us very disappointed.  I was alarmed at how badly we were treated from stores, restaurants, and boutique-type shops, many of which were in nicer parts of Central Florida.  While I won’t go into detail (I might be typing for the better part of the day if I were to indulge you in every instance) suffice it to say that it COMPLETELY and TOTALLY reaffirmed our commitment to offering YOU legendary customer service.  And although that may not mean we won’t occasionally falter, and that we may not be able to please everyone, it does mean that it is vitally important to us to do our very best.  We believe that we have succeeded because of YOU.  And we will continue to focus on delivering excellent service, and thank you for every opportunity you provide us to do so.

Happy Birthday MFT!

Today marks my official birthday, and YOU are the best gift, ever.  Today MFT also turns 6, as it was my birthday present to myself 6 years ago, today.  Around this time of year I find myself reflective on how MFT has grown and evolved, and while I don’t often get personal on this blog, today is the PERFECT occasion! Words can not express how much I love this Company.  Not because of the growth we’ve experienced, but because of the relationships we’ve built.  I still get teary-eyed when I think back to our very first catalog (with a whopping 14 stamp sets), the first Rep Show in Boston where I met Alma and Robert (and where, thanks to Robert, my Appletini addiction began).  I vividly remember our first CHA, when Sherrie (because I’m 5’3″ and couldn’t reach) placed our Innovations Display submission into the glass case.  I remember tearing up at that moment and wishing more than anything that my Mom could’ve been there to share such a momentous occasion.  And then Carole, sensing my emotion, came over and wrapped her arms around me.  I have such touching memories, and I am grateful; to the core of my being. I am blessed by our growth.  For what that growth has meant to my family.  Being able to prosper during such a challenging time is a testament to those who love and support us.  I am even more blessed by the opportunities it has afforded us to bless others.  I would like to take a moment to say thank you to the MFT Staff (many of whom are listed on the right hand side of the blog). Martin – It takes a confident man to live in a “pink” world, and you do it with such style and grace.  I know it’s not always easy to work together, and I am not always the most agreeable person to work with.  I get *slightly* attached to my position, and I thank you for your persistence and patience.  Not to mention that Tim Holtz has nothing on you… (Sorry, Tim, I really am a fan!) Brianna – You are my oldest daughter, and a most precious gift.  I am so impressed by how much you’ve grown in your role with MFT, and how incredible you are in every role you play.  When I see the leadership role you take in our staff meetings, I find myself so proud of you that it’s all I can do not to burst into tears.  You are amazing.  Truly and completely amazing. Jody – Four years ago you walked into my life, and into the life of MFT.  To say you are so dear to me is such an understatement it almost seems ridiculous.  You get the best and the worst of me, and I know without hesitation that I am truly loved and accepted.  As are you, by me.  I don’t know how I got so lucky, but I thank the Heavens every day that the stars aligned (with help from Jen and Carole) to bring me to Arlington that day so we could meet. Joanne – You SO had me at Hot Tamales!  How on EARTH could I not fall in love with you?  You are so precious to me, and I’m so happy to call you my friend.  I love how you’ve grown with MFT and am thrilled and proud to have recognized such potential in such an adorable little package.  You are a love, and I’m so glad you’re mine. To our AMAZING Design Team – YOU are inspiration, dedication, loyalty, friendship, creativity, love, and so much more.  Each of you (past and present) have become dear friends, such an integral part of my life and the lifeblood of MFT in a way I never thought possible.  The fun we’ve had at CHA’s and shows have been some of the highlights of my time with MFT. We seriously have FUN! Belly laughing until I feel like I’ve undergone an ab workout, fun. But even those of you I’ve never met, I adore.  You make MFT the family that it is.  And I thank you. Our Illustrators/Graphic Artist Team – You are all the best and brightest in the business. MFT is able to offer the amazing products it does because of your efforts.  And I hope I let each of you know how important you are, every day.  You take the imaginings and dreams and make them reality.  I have so much respect for each of you, and so much love. And MOST importantly, I would like to thank YOU; our customers.  It is YOU who have supported us.  YOU who have trusted us with your business.  YOU who have given us the opportunity to correct mistakes. Without each and every one of you, we would not be.  I want you to know how deeply I appreciate you letting us into your lives.  Into your craft rooms, your in-boxes, your world.  We truly have the best customers in the world.  You are honest, forgiving, praising, patient, kind, and loyal.  And each of you blesses me, every day.  My office is filled with cards, gifts, and altered items that you’ve taken time to create especially for me.  You’ve sent flowers during important events.  Send notes of thanks and inspiration.  I am honored by you.  In every way. I know that this is not exactly a stamping related post, and I appreciate that you’ve taken time to share this very special day with me, and with MFT. Today, my heart is very full. <3  

A Tour of Our Retail Boutique

Many of you have wanted a private tour of our new retail Boutique in Eustis, FL, so I made a little video to show you all around!  There was quite a bit of traffic while we were filming the outside portion of the video, so I apologize for the extraneous noise.  I do hope you’ll enjoy a little peak inside, and hope you’ll visit the next time you’re nearby.   You can also view this video in larger format on our YouTube channel. I also wanted to give you a birds-eye view of our warehouse area, where all of your orders are prepared and shipped. It’s not quite as *pretty* as the front of the store, but it is highly functional, and the Team works very hard to make sure everything is processed quickly and correctly. I hope you’ll enjoy meeting the Team behind My Favorite Things in a new and exciting way! You can also view this video in larger format on our YouTube channel.