What a crazy past few day’s it’s been in the AZ/CM scrapbooking world! Sunday evening an email went out to Ahni & Zoe consultants announcing that Rhonda Anderson was resigning from AZ. For those that aren’t familiar with the name, Rhonda is one of the co-founders of Creative Memories. You can learn a bit more about the history of Creative Memories in this video.
Before I go any further I have to say that this will not be an objective post. It’s going to be filled with emotion and feelings along with facts & info. This newest development, for me, is sort of like ripping the scab off of an old wound. I realized as I watched the video linked above that am still mourning the loss of Creative Memories and the loss of my CM business. I LOVED being a CM consultant and loved what I thought the company stood for. Learning what I have over the past year has tainted my view of the company and of Rhonda Anderson. I understand that many people just want products they loved & trusted back – and I want that, too…but for some of us there is now the question of if we want to do business (even if only as a customer) with people we no longer trust. That being said, I do realize that there is life after Creative Memories. I’m enjoying the freedom that comes from not being associated with only one company and still being able to help others preserve their memories…but it’s still hard.
Back to last Sunday. Many former CM consultants and current AZ consultants were contacted by Heritage Maker (HM) consultants and were told that Rhonda Anderson was going to announce her signing with HM as a consultant. They also shared information about HM and the opportunities that are available with the company, thinking that many CM/AZ consultants may want to sign up in light of this soon-to-be made public announcement. Even though many of the HM consultants asked for these conversations to remain private, it didn’t take long for this news to go through the ranks of social media. On Sunday evening an email was sent out (I believe in a hurried effort to do “damage control – addressed to “Creative Memories Consultants”) to AZ consultants announcing the retirement of Rhonda Anderson.
That same evening Rhonda Anderson began recruiting AZ consultants via her Facebook page and conference calls – inviting them to follow her to Heritage Makers while frequently tossing around the word “integrity” and insisting that she wasn’t recruiting. She also stated that she was leaving AZ because of their lack of commitment to the field.
It was Rhonda that I had exchanged phone calls and emails with before this last bankruptcy was announced about the lack of support for all CM consultants. Traditional products were disappearing at an alarming rate from the CM product line and there was only outdated, limited support for CMCs that held workshops and classes. Rhonda insisted that most album makers weren’t interested in scrapbooking, that they found the term “scrapbooking” scary and that CM was “getting off the scrapbooking rollercoaster.” According to her, digital and albums with pre-printed pages were the way to go. Talk about not supporting the field!! There is little doubt in my mind that AZ didn’t support their field of consultants properly but this started long before AZ did.
Rhonda has joined as a consultant with Heritage Makers – a multi level marketing company owned by Youngevity – a company that has many brands under it’s umbrella. Rhonda is going to head up a brand under Youngevity and hopes to offer cloth covered albums with blank pages, tools and cardstock. This is indeed encouraging news for those hoping to find replacements for the products that disappeared with Creative Memories.
It will be interesting to see how this new line of products are tested for photo safety & other standards that were a hallmark of some Creative Memories products. Rhonda was asked if the new products will be up to ISO standards. This was something that was impossible to confirm with AZ. Reportedly these new products will be tested in a lab and that they will be at the threshold level of ISO standards that is considered archival and photo safe. That doesn’t sound like a “yes” to me so we’ll have to wait & see about this.
When this mess started – before the bankruptcy - some CMCs dared to rock the boat, warning CM that by eliminating core products and not supporting all consultants and types of album makers the company was treading dangerous waters. Those CMCs were called negative (by Rhonda Anderson & many CMCs) and were told they should just trust CM. We chose to think of ourselves as passengers on the Titanic who, when seeing the iceberg ahead, tried to convince the captain to change course & avoid the collision. Turns out AZ – without products to support traditional or digital scrapbookers – isn’t doing so well. Now I’m wondering if Rhonda Anderson is like the Captain of the Titanic – abandoning ship. Creative Memories was Rhonda’s baby, there is no doubt that she helped make that company what it was – question is did she help turn it into what it is now? Perhaps she had little to do with the business decisions and wasn’t much more than a consultant wrangler. Either way, it seems like she’s now realized that there is a need for cloth covered albums with blank pages, tools & cardstock and these will be a part of her new product line. I’ve also heard that there will be albums pre-printed pages in Rhonda’s new product line. I really, really hope that Rhonda Anderson finally realizes that there is room for all types of scrapbookers and decides to support them unlike in the past when CM/AZ tried to convince album makers that their way was best (remember 12x12ish pages, proprietary software and albums with only pre-printed pages?)
There seems to be a bit of a mass Exodus, including several Elite Leaders, of AZ consultants leaving to join HM and/or Rhonda’s team. In fact several Elite Leaders had their accounts deactivated by AZ, reportedly for setting up conference calls for Rhonda and sharing them with their team. Non-compete clauses, and the Direct Selling Associations non- proselytizing policy certainly make this all the more interesting.
I understand why many consultants are interested in Heritage Makers. Those of us that had digital customers were left hi & dry when CM/AZ abandoned us. Personally, I’m sticking with Panstoria – I love SBC+/Artisan and that there is no need for an internet connection when using these programs (unlike the Heritage Makers website). I also like being able to print my projects anywhere and I don’t like having to pay for a subscription to access most digital content on the Heritage Makers website.
Panstoria supposedly is going to be adding more income-producing opportunities for it’s affiliates. I’m hoping that this will soon include items in their Print Shop. I’ll be sure to share if/when that happens – along with updates to this scrapbooking saga. Remember – my Facebook Group is the best place to get the latest information.
Stay tuned for the next episode of “As the (Scrapbook) Page Turns”