Fifteen years ago, a grand theft took place. I stole my wife Carla’s hobby and turned it into my business.
Rubber stamping was introduced to our house many years before said theft by our friend Jessica from Arizona. Her passion for collecting brought her to California for shopping expeditions. Carla caught the fever and the two of them (with me frequently tagging along) would make the pilgrimage to the Mecca of stamping, Stampa Barbara. Many trips and thousands of stamps later, it dawned on me that there must be lots of Jessicas and Carlas out there and that my habit of constant doodling had found a happy outlet.
I began by drawing what I liked which was mostly irreverent retro 50s images. I put together a small catalog, took out an ad in Rubberstampmaddness and waited for the orders to flood my mailbox. No flooding took place. I arrogantly though everyone would love my little drawings. I failed to employ the number one rule of commerce, know thy customer! So it was back to the drawing board with lots of input from Carla and Jessica and the Michael Strong Cloisonné Collection was born. Our little company slowly began to grow.
Then one day while I was doing a demo at a stamp convention I met a wonderful funny lady named Kelly Ehrlich. She was so enthusiastic and engaging. We talked for quite a while before she revealed that she was the producer of a TV show called The Carol Duvall Show. She asked me if I would be interested in appearing. I knew nothing about the show or the legendary Carol so I said sure. A few months later, I found myself on a soundstage in Burbank ready to tape my first Carol Duvall episode. I met Carol on the set that day. I was petrified but Carol talked to me and said “just be yourself and follow my lead”. Her calm and friendly manner helped me through that first show without a retake! Thank you Carol for being my friend and mentor.
After that show, lots of other opportunities have come our way. I became friends with Carol’s design collaborator Cherryl Greene who later became the executive producer of The Scrapbook Lounge, a show I adored working on. Even though the show is gone, all the designers became like a little family and we are still close. I have the best job ever! I get to travel the world and share my passion for rubber art.
I am fortunate to have the support of my wonderful wife and family as we keep growing and growing. We are so blessed to have made so many good friends all over the world. Thank you all for fifteen wonderful years!