Thursday, March 17, 2011

A Little History

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!


Christina Hicks said...

So glad you had a friend to get you started. I loved watching you on The Carol Duvall show and your Cloisonné stamps are spectacular.

Unknown said...

Congratulations! I saw you many times on the Carol
Duvall show. I never missed a showing if I could help it. AND I really like your cloisonne stamps. Have you
tried Zentangles? If no, go to Zentangles. com, and you will be hooked.

Sarah's Treasures said...

Sorry about the previous comment. It went out under
my daughter's name since she uses my computer for
her email, and I hadn't signed in. My name is Sarah
and I am 91 years old.

Hetty said...

What a wonderful story, Mike! And I am sure that you don't have a moments regret of your theft, for you did not go to prison, but arrived in Stamping Heaven. I am glad one day you decided to come to The Netherlands. On to conquer the world!

Capescrapper said...

Thank you Michael for sharing that wonderful history of how it all began!

And I feel so very fortunate to have also found The Scrapbook Lounge when I was missing the Carol Duvall Show desperately. Because of that, I found, YOU, Club Scrap, and ironically, two of my best friends today, Ron Perry and Cherryl Greene!! How amazing that this would change my life forever!


Take care and STAY POSITIVE! Trena said...

I'm so glad you were inspired by Carla's hobby and shopping! All of us who enjoy your stamp images are benefiting from it. ;o)

Sending a big shout out to Carla & Jessica!!

Take care and STAY POSITIVE!

ModernaDesignsArt said...

Well written, and I'm glad Carla's hobby which inspired you was stamping. I'm proud to have several stamps from your early days, and I'm always happy to have the new ones too :-)
Thank you for your ongoing sharing, inspiration and generousity.
Dorly Weitzen, Isarel

Christina said...

Dear Mike

Keep going another 100 years, you are an awesome artist and a better person, I enjoy your cards, stamps, etc, etc, so much

Congratulations for the first 15 years!!!


Chris Kaplan
Scrap & Yap Monrovia

Jenni said...

Hi Mike, What a lovely story you have to tell! I liked the bit about the 'theft'! I had the privilege of seeing your episodes on The Scrapbook Lounge and really enjoyed them. I have been a fan of your stamps for a long time and always enjoy seeing you here in Holland. I wish you many, many years of stamping and designing pleasure, on to the next big celebration -a silver 20 years.
Congratulations on the first 15 years!

Ron said...

Mike, I saw your post a few days late, but "Happy Anniversary" nonetheless! (and your anniversary is my birthday - how cool is that?!?!)

Lindy said...

It was fun to read your story. Thanks for sharing it! I love your stamps too, I have quite a few of them. I miss the Scrapbook Lounge too!! It was great. Glad we can still see some of the old videos. Still getting inspired by them.
PS did you ever reach 100 posts for those stamps last year?? If I keep posting until it gets to be 100 can we have the drawing, LOL

Fab said...

I totally enjoyed reading your story Michael ! It's amazing how life turns different corners and we're on a new path. I never thought for a minute I'll be completely bonker about cardmaking and here I am 4 years later feeding this endless addiction.

I can't wait to see your next creations.