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Friday, February 5, 2016

My best networking story

I’m not good at networking but I do believe it can work miracles.  This is my best networking experience, one that led directly to getting more fabrics than I can shake a stick at (should I care to do so). 

So I was living in Atlanta at the time, making laptop bags from repurposed fabrics that I was getting primarily from thrift stores.  I joined a small networking group called Coffee Connection consisting of local businesswomen.  After introducing myself and my business, one of the women asked if I were familiar with a blogger in the area named Sustainable Patty (aka Pattie Baker).

I had never heard of her but when I went home I looked her up.  Sure enough, Sustainable Patty had a well-written and colorful blog that covered all sorts of environmental topics.  I emailed her about my business and asked if she would have any interest in writing about it.

Of course, bloggers are always looking for topics and since mine was right up her alley, she responded right away.  Turned out we lived only a few streets away from each other, so we set a date for her to come over and have a look.  We really hit it off, and she ended up writing a very nice story about me.  Sales did not improve.

But a couple of weeks later, I was contacted by Lisa, the CFO for the Jim Thompson Company, a manufacturer of high-end fabrics with factories in Thailand and Italy.  She also lived in the neighborhood, saw Sustainable Pattie’s blog, and wondered if I would be interested in receiving fabric samples from them.

Seems that they send small samples or “memos” to potential customers – typically hotels, condos, office buildings, and so on – who then choose fabrics for wall coverings, upholstery, draperies, etc.  They have to send the samples back, and the samples are stored in boxes, never to be used again.  The Jim Thompson folks store them for awhile, but eventually they have to be discarded if no one takes them off their hands.

When I visited their offices, I was shocked to find that they had boxes and boxes of samples, some quite large, most about 8”x10”.  They were absolutely gorgeous:  Thai and Italian silk; fine linen; cottons; wool; high-end synthetics.  Beautiful prints; glowing colors.  It was stunning, and all free. 

Thus began a beautiful symbiotic relationship, and all because of a networking breakfast that I attended in Dunwoody, Georgia.

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