Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The whole SENZ saga!

We sure had an eventful week! It's time to do the sum-up of our time at the Scrapbooking Expo in Auckland last weekend. We'd been working hard for months to prepare for the event and organise our Kaisercraft tutors Melissa Kennedy and Al Hannah - and it's finally over!! It was wonderful to meet many of you and we were so grateful for the help and wonderful compliments on our stall and classes. So enjoy our story (dramas and all).

Here's the mess you make when you create hundreds of kits!

Here we are shrink wrapping one of the five pallets of shop stock and fittings. We're grateful for the extra large foyer at the shop!

Here's Juanita lying on the ground exhausted after packing kits and then the shop and fittings with me. She's a hard worker!

We finished preparing the pallets a week before SENZ and Graham and I jumped on a plane and went to Auckland for a holiday before SENZ. We stayed with some friends in Thames and enjoyed a little break before the crazy weekend we knew was coming. I rang the shop on Monday to make sure that the pallets had been collected - and they had. Everything was on track! On Tuesday we went around town visiting some of the craft distributors in Auckland. It was great to meet the people that we talk to and email regularly.

By Tuesday night we started to realise there were going to be problems with Jet Star and our 5 staff flights (due to the Chilena Volcanic Ash)! I spent the night on the internet trying to decide what we would do for a back-up plan. We had originally decided that they would have to do an overland trip. We could get them to Auckland by late Thursday night and Graham and I would have to find some willing helpers to set up the stall. Then we realised that it was going to be a difiicult trip - and the buses, ferry crossings and trains heading to Auckland just didn't line up nicely. I decided I had to bite the bullet and by expensive one-way Air NZ fares to get them up to Auckland by Thursday lunchtime to help us set up the stall.

Meanwhile Lowri realised what was about to happen and within two hours had changed her flights from Blenheim with Air NZ and was up in Auckland with Graham and I. That was FANTASTIC! We were relieved to have another staff member to help us. Then we started getting phone calls and texts from our Kaisercraft tutors. Melbourne aiport was not open and it was looking a bit grim - except we fortunately had them on Air NZ. I decided there was nothing I could do about their situation and that if they were late I would have to run their classes!

Meanwhile we went off to Scrapholics in Auckland to see if they had  price gun we could borrow. We had a whole evening with nothing to do except price up some stock that we'd sent directly to Auckland. After I left their lovely shop the phone rang (about 1pm Wednesday). It was the Freight company with BAD news! The train with all our stock and fittings had an accident on Monday 11pm and it had derailed. Fortunately the driver was not seriously injured. Click here for the article. The line was still not clear and the best case scenario was that the line would be cleared by 6pm and we might get the stock on Friday morning (FRIDAY MORNING!). There was NO way we were getting our stock for the set up on Thursday. Last year we spent 6 hours setting up the stall and we had 10 people helping out... I sat down on the kerb and decided that I could laugh or cry. I decided laughing was the only option. Could it get ANY worse?!!

I rang my Mum and she laughed as well! I rang the staff who were waiting in ChCh for any standby flights and they had a laugh too. All up we knew there was nothing we could do and there was no use crying over it!!

Fortunately Lowri and Graham were there to help us think through the possible solutions and options available to us. I really didn't want to cancel any classes - and I certainly didn't want to not have the stall set up on Friday. But it was all out of our hands. Sometimes it's better that way. Then you are more grateful for the miracles!

And the miracles did come. We heard that the train line had been cleared and was on it's way to Wellington. We would have the stock sometime Friday morning. Then I woke up 5:40am on Thursday with a bright idea! I knew there was no way we could set the stall up - even if the stock arrived at 6am Friday morning. So why not turn our classroom into a make-shift stall for Friday and move the classroom somewhere else for the day. Fortunately Fiona and Donald from SENZ were excellent and liked the suggestion. Next miracle - the staff arrived on the Air NZ flight on Thursday lunchtime. Then the Aussie tutors arrived on their flight Thursday dinner time. We spent a couple of hours at the venue setting up some tables in preparation for what we knew was going to be a huge next day. We headed back to the house and enjoyed some time in the gym and relaxing on the huge couches. What a great place to stay. If you ever want an amazing holiday house then check out this place!

We woke up early Friday morning anticipating a phone call to tell us our stock was heading to the venue! By 7am we were there and so was the truck. At that moment I was overcome with emotion and shed some tears of relief!! It was going to be okay. I was fully confident that my exceptional staff knew what needed to be done and that I would be ready to run the first class at 9:30am!! Yes - the only class I was running was the first one of SENZ...

This the only damage to the pallets. Graham's PA system seemed to have been knocked around though and a drawer broke. Not bad for a train crash though...

The girls went like the wind to prepare the stock and Graham put up some stands that we needed. Even the Kaisercraft girls helped prepare the Kaiser part of the stall. I was also really grateful to Cushla and her mum from Montarga Stamps - they gave us a hand in the morning even though they had their own stall. We also received excellent help from SENZ volunteers and lots of sympathy from everyone. Vicki Morris was awesome and gave us heaps of her time over the weekend in the stall and in the classroom. Much appreciated. Thanks also to those who emailed us and offered us help. It's great to be part of a generous crafting community.

 The tables were set up in the classroom ready to have stock dumped on them. We had to use the pink table cloths that were meant for the classroom - but they looked great! Here you can see the NZ Kaisercraft rep Christina Karaglanis and tutor Al Hannah setting up part of the stall for us. (We love you!)


Fortunately for us we were ready to open the stall by 9am. We put up a sign that said: "we survived earthquakes, volcanic ash and a derailed stock train. Nothing could stop us getting to SENZ!"

By 9:30am I was taking the first class and it went off without a hitch. In fact we had a bit of fun! It was called Make-Up Madness and we had promised people there would be a bit of fun, music and madness.  Diana and I dressed up, did a paraody of Abba's "Dancing Queen" (Make-Up Queens) and then sang the song we'd written at 11:30pm Thursday night about our "Senzy Annual Jounney" to the tune of Sentimental journey!

 Friday was a very very busy day and at the end of it we were all quite exhausted. We were then contemplating having to set the stall up (and be there til midnight) - but a quick chat to Fiona put that plan to rest. We decided that we'd keep the stall like that for the rest of the weekend. My staff wanted to kiss her!!

On Friday night we deserved a treat and went to Buffet King (yummy!). Here we are trying to do a sensible photo...

We were all so tired that everyone turned down the opportunity to have a massage at the mall. What followed instead was a great fun night at the house. My wonderful husband found solice from the 9 giggling girls in the games lounge with a 60" TV screen! He's a patient man.

Saturday was another busy day at the stall and classes, followed by a home-cooked meal (thanks Lowri and Graham!), and another hilarious evening of stories. (Lips are closed... but enjoy these photos)

Before we knew it, Sunday was here - the last day at SENZ. It was much quieter and we got an opportunity to look around some other stalls and chat with other retailers (always a pleasure!). Everyone did such a great job of their stalls. I'm not sure who won Best Stall Award this year (we certainly didn't!) - but there were so many options I'm not sure how they would have decided.

To end the day we had a bit of raucous fun at our stall and then said goodbye to Mel, Al and Christina from Kaisercraft. These girls are an enormous amount of fun and we hope to see them again soon (perhaps on a scrapbooking cruise??!). Here is Mel (very happy with Miss Betsy) and giving her a her a free Facelift. We can't say any more than that...

Here's me with the Kaiser girls...

 And here's the whole, most wonderful, fabulous, fun-loving, generous, hard-working Artfull Crafts Team with the Kaiser girls. From back left: Melissa Kennedy (Kaisercraft), Betsy Clark, Diana Steven, Al Hannah (Aussie), Vicki Howey, Christina Karaglanis (Kaisercraft), Graham Gregory, Lowri McNabb, Juanita Patrick and Liz Gregory.

It's over! We've packed up the pallets, and Miss Betsy is being wheeled out the door on the trolley.

Ahhhh... now we just hope the Jet Star flights home aren't cancelled...


  1. It sounds like a horror story - but I can attest it is all true!

    A stressful but fun time was had by all!

    Lowri :-)

  2. Yes, the week progressively got better but I think we will be happy with waiting a whole year for the repeat performance!