Sunday, 28 July 2013

A Cautionary Tale - aka I'm such a Muppet - aka Why I am no Longer with Lacy Sunshine -UPDATED 05/08/2013

Hi everyone,

Sorry about this but I want to have my say then draw a line under the whole Lacy Sunshine/Heather Valentin chapter and get on with my life.

I'm going to keep this as short and to the point as I can.  I could do a much longer post and go into a lot more detail, but it's not worth the effort.

As you all know by now, I am no longer with Lacy Sunshine.  This has been brewing for the last 2 or 3 months as basically, I've felt like I've been having the pee taken out of me...and it turns out that I was right.

Over the last 8 months I have helped Heather Valentin build up Lacy Sunshine from scratch.  I was there working with her first solo digis upon leaving the SSS and the day she opened her shop.  I set up the challenge blog for her and spent a lot of time on it, commenting on all the entries, encouraging people, getting to know the crafters who spent time making the cards to enter the challenge.  I also spent a lot of time doing so in the Lacy Sunshine Group..and on the DT blog and the Lacy Sunshine Blog.  ALL of that was voluntary and I loved it as I loved all the members and the team...absolutely fabulous people!

But I was also converting Heather's artwork ready to sell, and that was paid work.  Now, converting a jpg into a png should only take minutes.  BUT that's only IF the artwork is top notch and the photo of the artwork is top notch. Unfortunately this was frequently not the case.  I have therefore been spending far too long converting the files because of the poor prep work by Heather .  I kept asking Heather to send me better quality pictures as all the time I was spending on converting them had taken me away from my crafting and my blog...and my son!  Every one of them (488 or thereabouts) took between fifteen minutes and two hours...very, very few took the shorter amount of time!


  I really tried to get her to give me better pics so it wouldn't take as long.  Look, this is a screenshot I sent her the other day of one of the digis she had just that minute sent me to work on.

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-QbKBSf2Gw9M/UfQQ8LCrCTI/AAAAAAAADsU/Y7zkf8UpVXw/s1600/Sample.jpg

As you can see, it has very few black lines (which are needed).  The rest are weak, broken and grey.  If you use a magic wand to remove the white background on an image like that then the grey lines will disappear as well.  If you adjust the wand so it takes less away, then the lines are fuzzy and thick...no good for a digi.  So, this meant that I had to take the digi to an A4 size then enlarge that by 300% so the image was absolutely massive and then painstakingly go over ALL the lines digitally to darken them so I could use the magic wand to remove the white background.  And as Heather's digis are all so detailed there were a LOT of lines to trace over.  And even when the images (very few of them) weren't as bad as the one above, I had to fill  the gaps Heather left at all the joins in the digi.  Every time she lifts her pen she leaves a gap when she puts it down again, and you cannot convert a jpg to a png with even one very small gap or weak line.  So they had to all be filled in and then all the 'white' had to be removed as it was usually discoloured during the photography part...  Also, often lines would be out of line with each other, bits would be missing (half a deckchair in one case, which I had to draw in digitally and I am not an artist) or there would be errors which needed correcting or bits added which shouldn't have been.  So a few minute job took hours because Heather could not/would not provide me with decent photos of the images.

 I tried to explain to her for months but there was no improvement.  So in the end I had to spend a much longer amount of time on each one than I should have had to do, otherwise they didn't get done.

Now, when I started doing this Heather said she would get her attorney to draw up a contract.  She never did in spite of me asking her time and time again.    But the deal was simply that I got 10% of all the digi sales in return for me doing the conversions, and 50% of the pre coloured digis I had worked on.  That's it...nothing more was said and nothing less was said.  So it was a verbal contract, as such.

Last week, as we were having our 'disagreement' I brought up the subject again and she said that her attorney had told her that as we lived in different countries it wouldn't hold.

Ok...for the last few months I've been pretty fed up with things.  I was fed up with all the poor images I was sent to convert.  I was fed up with all the excuses why Heather hadn't sent me digis she had told me were on the way.  I was fed up with being told that she'd done digis for such and such a challenge then finding out a month or so later that she hadn't done them so we were always late with the DT digis and then the poor girls had to find time at very short notice to get them done.  I was tired of hearing 'digis on the way in a few minutes'  and then nothing while I was sitting there twiddling my thumbs waiting for my work for hours !  Then she would come back with  lame excuses.  Now, on top of me making every single digi Heather has created since I started working with her sellable I've also done other activities for Heather...e.g. doing stuff for the blogs when she didn't have time.  I'd give her advice on how to handle awkward matters when she asked ...then find out she'd used my reply verbatim!

I've given her the gnomes.  They were entirely my idea and she thought they wouldn't sell but they've proved to be one of her best sellers.  I gave her the name, which has now changed as I told her to change it, and the idea for virtually every one of the gnome digis.  The DT girls named the first ones and I named the vast majority of the others.  I also gave her the ideas of masses of other digis as well.  And I did this freely as a friend.  And there were endless other things I did for her.

During our dispute, she said that she gave me more money than I had made with my 10%  each month out of charity as she felt sorry for me!!!!  Over the last 8 months she has paid me £757.00, which equates to just about £1 per hour for the time I spent converting the digis.  Yep...£1 per hour.  The rest of the hours (and there were a lot of them) I freely gave for the challenge, group and all the other stuff.

So last week when I had really had enough of things I sent an email to Heather telling her that she needs to really focus on her own business as it was being neglected and the shop was in a mess and no one can find what they want, and the blog was being neglected too.

And she was furious and accused me of trying to take over her business!  Anyway, things got worse and as I had lost all trust in her by this point and knew that she couldn't be trusted not to break the verbal agreement if I left, I suggested that she pay me for each of the digis I had converted instead. That went down like a lead balloon.  The sum suggested would have meant that I'd have done the paid work for her for around £5 per hour as opposed to the £1 per hour I did get...but she'd have got all the sales of the digis for as long as she sells them.  £5 an hour is still way below the British minimum wage but I was fine with that.

So...big row and I left.  I emailed her and told her I expected her to fulfil her part of the verbal contract and either pay me the 10% of sales each month or she pays me off for the work done as described above.  The email was ignored.

Yesterday she emailed and said that she was about to make my 'final' payment.  It was for £69 which has been added in to my total above to give the full sum I have been paid for the last 8 months' work. 


I mailed and asked if that was her final decision and she mailed back saying that the deal was that I get 10% until I leave!!!!  Er..nope.  NO ONE would EVER accept that deal!  That's just ridiculous and a downright lie!  I wasn't at all surprised she was breaking the deal...it would have been a bigger shock if she hadn't.

So I mailed back and told her that at least I can walk away with my head held high knowing that I have 100% fulfilled my side of the deal honestly, reliably and honourably.  I'll put Heather's reply at the end so she can have the last word

Ok...so if I were to be asked the following questions about Heather Valentin, these are the answers I would give:

Q/  What is the truth behind Heather breaking the contract with SSS last year?
A/   I don't know...but she's broken two in less than a year now and I know the truth behind her breaking this one!

Q/  Does Heather copy digis?
A/  I don't know.  I have no idea if she copied the other artists involved or the other artists copied her or whether they both got their inspiration from the same source.  Only the artists know the truth.

Q/  If a person or company was thinking of going into business with Heather Valentin what would you tell them?
A/  That I wouldn't trust her at all after having worked with her very closely over the last 8 months and with her now having broken two contracts.  Too unreliable, too unprofessional and too untrustworthy.

My last blog challenge post has been signed off by Zachary.  Zachary Creech has a facebook profile with only two friends...Heather and, er...Heather! He doesn't exist.

Now, I accept that I'm a muppet, an idiot, an eejit, a wally, a pilchard, a banana brain, a gullible plank, etc....but at least I can walk away with pride knowing that I did a damned good job at Lacy Sunshine!


 I've learned a hard lesson and I hope that someone reading this will learn from my monumental mistake.  Do NOT believe people when they keep making excuses about a contract.  Do NOT allow someone to use you...and yes I allowed it.  And if you want to get out of something but are holding on because you have the strong sense that you're going to be ripped off, then listen to that gut feeling and get out sooner.  I did two extra months work for Heather by making that mistake. Two months ago I wanted to leave but I kept telling myself that you're a single mam and need to support your son.  She's not just ripped me off, she's ripped my son off as well...time wise and money wise.  But hey ho...my fault for allowing it.

There's a lot more I could say but I don't see the point.  But when you buy digis from Heather remember that for each of those digis 10% of the money should be going to myself and my son but instead it's going into Heather's pocket.  She obviously doesn't comprehend that if someone does work for you, then that person should be paid.  Theft really, isn't it?  Oh well...

I would like to point out that every word of this post is the truth, therefore I am not bothered about threats of libel.

 I stand by any statement I have made regarding a certain other company while working with Heather.  I have only stated facts which I believe to be the truth, not based on what she has told me.

And in my Glass Houses post (further down the page) I was not defending the accusations made against Heather as I wouldn't do that when I honestly don't know if she copies other artists or not.  I did use the images she put on the Lacy Sunshine DT blog to show where she got her inspiration from but only because I don't know where other people get their inspiration from.  That post was to point out that every single artist gets their inspiration from somewhere and that goes for people doing the accusing as well...no defense of Heather or anyone else...merely a fact as I could see the damage being caused to the digi world.

Oh...and the winner of the Lacy Sunshine Gang Birthday draw is STILL waiting for her disk...and mine's never arrived either...

I'm not going to be publishing any comments that this post receives, though they will all be read so send you comments in if you wish.

The reason for no comments being published is that I just want my say and then I'm putting Lacy Sunshine and Heather Valentin firmly behind me.  Forgotten, history...gone.  So I will not be getting into correspondence about this with anyone regarding this matter, and neither will I be playing silly games.

 If Heather wishes to reply then she'll be disappointed as I've wasted enough of my own life and my son's life on her and I'm moving on and getting my blog and career back on track.  We have a living to make...a proper one!

Love to all the Sunshine Girls and my friends in the group.  No need for any of you to take sides in this.  I know that you're all friends of both of us and nothing needs to change on that front.  You all know where to find me and I'll be seeing you in the challenges!

Anyway...Heather can have the final word.  This was her signing off from her last email yesterday:

I put up with you far longer than I should have out of charity, and you have only yourself to blame for your predicament.
Sincerely,
Heather Valentin


Take care everyone & happy crafting!
xx 
********
29/07/13 17:24

Wow!  I'm absolutely stunned at the number of pageviews (1331) since yesterday morning AND all the fabulous messages/emails/comments I have received in support of my post.  I am reading each and every one of them and they mean a heck of a lot to me so thank you all from the very bottom of my heart. 

I am fine and looking forward to the future.  And if this post can help prevent just one person falling into the tiger pit that I fell into, then I will be very, very happy!   None of us have the time to make all our own mistakes so it's good to learn from those made by others as well.  I've certainly learned a lot BUT I will still give people the benefit of the doubt and trust them...but I'll also be following my instincts more as well!  Lol.  

So thank you all once again and both myself and Jamie (my little man) send big hugs to each and every one one of you.

Lexie and Jamie
xx 

********
 03/08/2013
Just been sent an email with a posting Heather has made on the Lacy Sunshine Blog, I believe.   As I don't visit (and she knows that as she'll be looking for me in feejit), those blogs anymore I don't know how long this has been up for:

 "For a  disgruntal  contractor  to   say  she is  no longer  bitter and  moving  on is  just  another  lie  from  Lexie.

She  used an   admin  privilege that I  had revoked to  go in   and   sabotage  not  only my  Lacy Sunshine  Blog  but  my  Challenge  one too... removing    some of my   artwork images and    random  creations  by my   design team and  guest  designers.

All   has been  reported to  the  proper  authorities  and  I   will be  filing  charges. No one  messes  with my  art and  my work.

At this time  I  do   invite you  to scroll thru  both of my   blogs  and  see  all the  random  images  that  have  been  removed so you  can  see  I  am not  the  one  lying.

Despite this  woman's best  efforts to   thwart it....  All  of my  Lacy Sunshine  Blogs  have been  secured and  we  are  moving   forward.

Until  next  time .......Heather"

Erm...I said above that I do NOT and will not get involved in silly games and I mean it. How could I have got into her blogs if she'd revoked access?  And if I was able to do that and was that way inclined (which I'm not) then the delete button would have done a much more thorough job in seconds.

I did clear out all my Lacy Sunshine folders on my laptop and various other places in cyber space as I was running low on photo storage space and this may or may not have caused images to go missing, though I don't see why it would.  As Lacy Sunshine and Heather Valentin are in my past I didn't see the point in keeping them so cleared out my drawers, as it were.  This was done several days ago now, so it probably doesn't have anything to do with it if it's only just happened.  If it was down to that then I apologise as it was not done on purpose. 

Odd that she's threatened to file charges for supposed sabotage but NOT the post I made initially.  Shows that she knows every single word is factual and non libelous and can be proven very easily in spite of the 'just another lie by Lexie' comment. Libelous, however, is a word which could be used to describe Heather's post on her blog, especially as she's added to it with further pathetic accusations.

Anyway...for the last time...I do NOT play games, I'm not interested in playing games and I would like to move on.  

ETA: I have found this information on Picasa (where Blogger stores our photos) and it makes it clear that the pictures were removed (accidentally) when I was clearing my storage.  It's the highlighted text towards the bottom. 
https://support.google.com/picasa/answer/61627?hl=en-GB

********
04/08/13

Sorry...one more addition:  I have been told that Heather is accusing me of changing her passwords (god knows how!) in Blogger yesterday.  She's added that to her blog post.  Ok...firstly, I wouldn't know how.  Secondly, she'd have known that straightaway as she'd have had a problem getting onto the blog to post and would have posted about it originally and NOT as an add on later.  And thirdly, I've been told by several people that the pictures had vanished LONG before Heather claims someone changed her passwords!  At least a day before by all accounts.  I think it was Thursday night that I did my 'housekeeping.' 

I was also told about a post on her group (now removed, apparently) that she was claiming that I was lying about Picasa and she stated that she has never used it and never would use it.  Well, surprise surprise...we ALL use it when we blog.  It's where our photos are stored.  And they are all neatly placed into different folders for different blogs.  She was claiming that I had lied because my own forum was intact.  Well, it would be as it's got it's own separate folder.  And in that folder there are two of each photo as I have a gallery page as well as my main page.  So every single time you post a picture on a blog somewhere it is stored in your Picasa and it does it all automatically.  Don't ask me how as I don't have a clue.  I only found all this out when I changed my avatar on Thursday and it wouldn't take the pic I wanted to use from my files but gave me the choice of going to Picasa, which is how I got in there and saw what a mess it was in and that I needed to clear some storage or shortly be charged for using it.  

So there you are.  The pictures had already vanished LONG before Heather claims that 'someone' had hacked into her blogs and changed her password twice before removing the pictures.    

ETA: Just had it confirmed that the posts vanished on Thursday night (UK) time, which is when I did my space clearing.  Anyone who has looked at those blogs since then would know that's the case as they would have seen it if they'd looked through the blogs.

Now I'd really like to get back to moving on.  Heather Valentin and Lacy Sunshine have wasted far too much of both my life and my son's life already.

My apologies to one and all for yet more waffle.  With luck this post can now go back to sleep.  

 ********
Sorry...back again and this will be the final time as I had enough of explaining things over and over again to Heather when I was with Lacy Sunshine.  She has replaced the above post with a new one as below:

"For   some  good news.  I  was  notified,  that   some of the  photos and  widgets  that   had been  removed  in   the  wee hours of the morning, yesterday from  both  my Lacy Sunshine and   Challenge blogs,  have  a  great  chance  of  being  restored, though  they   said  it might   take a  few  days.  They  are  reviewing the  time period  of  when  my   passcodes  had been   changed along  with  tracing the   source.  Picasa web  albums  have  been  ruled out especially   since my  artwork images,   a few  design  team   and  GTD cards,  some  widgets and  various  posts  had been randomly   removed.

With my  blogs in the public  eye and the  gap-toothed  state  they  were  left,  I  had no  choice in the  matter   but   to  make  a  statement as  to  why  so many images and  things  had  been  removed  and  that  the matter is   being handled.   Other  matters about  a  past  contractor  are not being  aired in  public by me.  That  matter  is   confidential.

Heather"

Ok...I set up and ran the challenge blog completely.  I did all the posts, I set out all the widgets, etc.  Heather sent me the blinkies and her freebie digis by email so they were on my computer.  Therefore when I did the blog posts (ALL of them) the images were sent from MY computer and therefore went into the Lacy Sunshine folder on MY Picasa account...NOT hers.  Therefore they all vanished when I cleared out MY account.  And same with the other blog.  I did at least half of that one as well, and that means that ANY image (widgets included) went on MY picasa account.  IF she had spoken to Blogger (which she hasn't as they have no means of contact) then they would have told her all this.  My 7 year old understands all this...surely someone who is 40 years older can do so.  It can't be made any clearer. 

Also, she has now clearly changed her mind on the 'my password was changed twice 7 hours ago' thing, as now Blogger don't know what time it was and neither have they traced who 'supposedly' hacked in...whereas in her last post she said they had been traced!  Well, as she's not spoken to Blogger (and they WOULD know a time) it's cleared that she told a little fib there...one of millions. 

I really do not have time for your pathetic games, Heather.  You are doing yourself more and more damage with these ridiculous accusations and lies.  You are insulting the intelligence of all your customers and everyone else reading your rubbish.  Now grow up and accept the fact that all those images were accidentally removed when I had a clear out on Picasa.  I was really proud of the work I did for Lacy Sunshine.  Yes, I feel a right plonker for doing it for you, but I'm still proud of the work I did.  There is no way I would have destroyed all that on purpose.  You might stoop to that sort of level but I don't.

Now you can post away as many lies and as much rubbish as you like.  People can see what you're up to so you need to drop it before you end up with no customers.  Now go and get on with your life and let me get on with mine.  Thanks!

 My apologies to everyone reading this.  I will from now on be completely ignoring Heather no matter what ludicrous rubbish she spouts forth next.  I can assure you all that Heather and Lacy Sunshine are well and truly in my PAST and I do not go near the blogs, shop or anything else.  Life is way too short for playground games, especially when there's crafting to do!

Take care everyone and thank you for all the support.
 xx

1 comment:

  1. Out of all the fabulous messages I have received (and a few saying 'told you so!') I have just received a negative one so thought that I would give the poster (and Mo Manning, though I have no idea why she was brought into it as she's not sent in a comment)some answers to the comment.

    So for Virginia (and Mo Manning, apparently) here are my answers to your comment:

    Thought that I'd publish this one as it's the only negative one I have had. No idea what Mo Manning's said as she's not commented, but wanted to say this:

    1/ The other lady has her own blog and facebook pages and many other ways of getting her side across...if she chose to do so. She's always used those resources readily so there's nothing to stop her doing so now.

    2/ Comments haven't been being published so that people could say what they wished without fear of reprisals NOT to stop Heather having her say. She can freely do so on her own sites.

    3/ Some of us aren't stupid enough to make untrue accusations and publish them on a public blog unless we are completely able to provide evidence in court if required. I have received no cease and desists or anything else concerning my post. As clearly stated in my post, "I would like to point out that every word of this post is the truth, therefore I am not bothered about threats of libel."

    4/ And there is no bitterness. I am merely warning people not to make the same mistake that I made. No, I don't like being ripped off BUT that's behind me. I won't be getting the money and life's too short. Lesson learned and moved on.

    So hope that I've cleared all that up for you and Maurie Manning, Virginia?

    Thanks for the comment.
    xx

    ReplyDelete