Well, my father Morgan has made a good start on his stories, and he’s got plenty of them that he and mom have built up over the years. Having grown up in the family wood shop, I have a few of my own as well. For now though, since it was mentioned in our local paper (Central KY News Journal:K&M Crafts of Kentucky), I’d like to share my story of meeting the First Lady of Kentucky, Mrs. Jane Beshear.
Early each year, generally February or March, the Kentucky Arts Council puts on the Kentucky Crafted: The Market. This wholesale and retail show is one of the top ranked in the nation and brings together all of the juried Kentucky Crafted artist, as well as select artist of sister groups out of Ohio, Indiana and even Tennessee.
The Market is always a good show for us, generating good business, and affords us an opportunity to see the other artist and exchange stories from the year before and where we hope to be in the coming year. During the wholesale days of the market, buyers come from all around the country to purchase merchandise for their stores, museums and gift shops.
It was early in the morning of the wholesale day of the show. Generally you’ll notice that the majority of the buyers don’t start making their rounds till late morning, but there’s always a group that get their buying done early so as to enjoy some of the other activities at the show and around Louisville. I noticed a handful of buyers soon after the doors opened that were impeccably dressed, the suit and tie types. It’s not unusual to see business attire, but it’s not exactly common either.
I had already written a couple of orders when the suits stepped in to my booth. Where as I had seen them in ones or two walking through the show, they had all converged on my booth en mass. Every time someone walks into my booth I can’t help but get a little bit excited. You never know what may be coming your way, and even if I don’t make a sale, I’ve learned that I always get something out of the conversation with them. Whether it’s an interesting personal story, a piece of business advice or insight, or even just comparing our “battle wounds” and stories from our time in our wood shops, everyone is well worth the time to talk with.
As they were walking into my booth, two ladies of the group were already focusing in on our inlaid jewelry boxes and asking questions about doing custom inlays, designs and a little about the process and what we could accomplish. I was sharing with them about the history of our company, how my parents started it back in the ‘80’s, my experience growing up and being the second generation in the family business; all the while trying clandestinely to read the name tags of the ladies and figure out what business or group they represented.
Have you ever run into someone that you recognized, perhaps an old friend whose name you couldn’t quite recall, or where you knew them from? And then had a conversation with them, the whole time trying to recall their memory before they realized that you couldn’t place them? If you have, then you probably know of that anxious feeling that accompanies that.
We had moved on to our ornaments, and again where talking about customizing them towards their needs, but I still didn’t know what company or group they were with. With the suit coats and scarves, I couldn’t quite see what was on their name badges, and staring at a woman’s chest area, well, I didn’t want to make the wrong impression! If I was going to be able to give them a better idea of what we could do, I was just going to have to knuckle down and ask.
“Excuse me, what company are you with again?”
With the silence and looks of surprise I was getting, for a split second I thought I could hear that fabled cricket somewhere in the distance.
One of the ladies: “This is Jane Beshear, the First Lady of Kentucky”--most doctors would tell you it’s not possible, but I’m sure my face both paled and flushed bright red all at the same time.
It’s hard to recover from that big of a gaffe, I mean, “foot in mouth”, but Mrs. Beshear was extremely gracious in accepting my apologies. My father, when he heard of my meeting the First Lady, where as I had been tongue tied, with out missing a beat my father knew exactly what my response should have been: “Why Mrs. Beshear! I didn’t recognize you from your tv spots, you look so much younger in person”
The definition of Experience: “something you don’t get till just after you need it”; and with 30 years of marriage, my father has lots of experience.
From our meeting with the First Lady, we were afforded the opportunity to present a design to the Centennial Committee for the upcoming Centennial Celebrations for the 100th anniversary of the “new” Kentucky State Capitol. Working with the Centennial Committee, members of the First Lady’s staff and even Mrs. Beshear herself, we were able to put together a custom ornament for the celebrations. For us, the project was both a challenge and a reward to work on. We always enjoy new and exciting projects, and it was a great compliment and honor to be selected to produce the official centennial ornament.
We were thrilled at the reception that the ornament garnered at the Centennial Ball, and that the sales of the ornament help to fund the Kentucky Division of Historic Properties in maintaining the state capitol and other historic properties in both Frankfort and around Kentucky.