Last Tuesday, September 13, we published an article I wrote about changes to the Interweave Yarn Fest contract that shifted the financial risk and promotional burden from the show organizers to the teachers. Two days later I received a phone call from John Bolton, the newly appointed General Manager of Interweave, saying he learned of the problems with the contract from the article.
“I was disappointed and upset that we did that,” Bolton told me. “Going forward this won’t occur. I have great respect for the yarn community.”
Bolton is in the process of calling each Yarn Fest teacher, including those who turned down the opportunity to teach due to terms of the new contract, to personally apologize for the missteps and offer them a new contract with revised terms.
Although Bolton is new to the role of General Manager, he’s an Interweave veteran. Bolton co-founded Quilting Arts in 2000. When the company was acquired by Interweave in 2007 he went on to become Senior Vice President and Publisher of Interweave, remaining in that role when Interweave was bought by F+W in 2012. He left F+W in 2013 to pursue another media venture, but a month ago F+W’s new CEO, Tom Beusse, brought him back to “reinvigorate the Interweave brand and its reputation,” according to Bolton. He has been given complete control of the brand.
Today Bolton asked us to publish this public letter spelling out the Yarn Fest contract changes. He can be reached at John.Bolton @ fwcommunity.com.
“We apologize for the communication around Yarn Fest. We are listening. We have made several mistakes during this process and we want to do our best to make it right. Effective immediately, we are offering all instructors a $1,000 honorarium for travel, hotel and lodging. This honorarium should provide each instructor the funds to pay for their travel expenses for the days they’ll be teaching. In addition, we will be increasing the per student fee we pay each instructor. Lastly, we are removing some portions of the contract that are unnecessary and too restrictive to the instructor. The new contracts will be sent to the instructors by Wednesday September 21st, 2016. We hope this change in policy will properly indicate our respect and admiration for the instructors and the yarn community.”
“Last month, I returned to Interweave and F+W after over three years. I left the business based on some of the very concerns that have been voiced over the past few weeks. I was as distraught as anyone to see some of the decisions that were made. I came back to Interweave because I believe that we can reinvigorate the Interweave brand and business by being a partner within the communities we serve. I assure you that we will be transparent, and act with the long-term interest of the community. Give us a chance to surprise you with our integrity and commitment to all of you.”
F+W Media, LLC
Thank you, Abby, and thank you, John, for taking our comments seriously and for making this change. THIS is why Interweave has been so long loved by the fiber community and teachers & designers!
Really nice to see this reaction from Interweave. Thanks to everyone who was willing to speak, even if anonymously. The atrocious pay structures that exist won’t change unless this sort of thing happens. Thanks to John for having a positive response, and for CIA and Abbey for making it public.
Thank you Interweave! This makes the industry better for all of us!
If other **ahem** leaders could do what Abby and John just did, I think the world would be a happier and better place in which to live.
Thank you both.
So rare that someone in power says, “We have made several mistakes.” This letter is a very hopeful sign, respecting as it does the commitment and integrity of the teachers.
It was obvious they lost some respected teachers. They had to do this to turn things around. But I agree he did apologize and not push blame elsewhere.
Thank you, John, for hearing the concerns of the yarn and fiber community. I had unsubscribed to Weaving Today and had been considering not renewing my subscription to HandWoven magazine. Your company will be receiving my subscription check soon.
Wow! And this is why CIA is needed in the crafting community.
Now _this_ is why I’m a member of CIA! Thank you Abby and thanks to Mr. Bolton for his open mind and actions.
Thank you Abbey and CIA for bringing to light, once again, the issue of inadequate pay structures. And thank you to John for addressing the issue promptly and with such refreshing integrity.
Well now. Maybe there is hope for Interwrave after all. Welcome back Mt. Bolton. Things have been very rough with F+W since they took over and it has left such a bitterness with many of their long time artists, authors, and educators. It’s amazing how much a public apology goes towards restoring good will.
I agree. And maybe there is hope for F+W with the new CEO, Tom Beusse. I saw something with Martha Pullen recently, whose face I haven’t seen since F+W bought Sew Beautiful. So maybe Mr. Beusse recognizes what a mistake it was to remove these founders and veterans from the brands they built.
I am glad that I am not the only person who noticed a steep,decline in the quality of many craft publications after F&w purchased the brands. I hope that Jihn can turn things around and re-invigorate the craft publications.
Fantastic. As strictly a consumer, I’d been concerned over the past years because I’d seen Interweave becoming something other than what had initially drawn me. I have higher hopes for it now and will give it a second chance.
I look forward to your work bringing back Interweave. It’s a great brand and it was sad to see many of the decisions that were made over the last five years. I wish you a speedy recovery and glad you’re there to fight the fight.
Looks like a nice “win-win” all around…glad to see and hear the reactions and comments.
Excellent work Abby Glassenberg and CIA! Thank you for seeing the need for this professional organization and its activism and making it happen.
Most pleased to see the wrongs now righted for fiber instructors.
I wonder if F&W ever had a true sense of the number of seasoned craft professionals who disassociated themselves from the craft publications F&W acquired because of F&W practices.
I think there’s a lot of us, Anita. This is SO refreshing to hear.
Yes, it is. I voted with my pocketbook as I felt it was my only recourse. I let all of my subscriptions to F & W media publications/websites expire. I also hold a day job as a librarian and I did my best to find alternate publications to anything published by F & W wherever possible.
I don’t think the previous CEO who was running F+W cared if he destroyed magazines or short changed the artists that make their magazines, other media and events successful. I’m so glad to hear John is back on board with a new CEO in place, maybe there’s hope after all.
I am so happy John Bolton is now the head of Interweave. I wrote a column in their first publication “Quilting Arts” for twelve years before it was cut, wrote their first book (I am still very proud of it) and worked with them on my first pattern. John was ALWAYS very fair to me, listened to my concerns and worked with me when I had issues with the new contracts from Interweave.
My quilting career was boosted greatly by his support, and readers still come up to me and tell me they enjoyed my column and miss it.
I trust John implicitly, and I know we will all benefit from his return. Right now, I’m just a reader, but I know the magazines I read will be even better than before.
All I can say is “yay for all of us!”
When is saying one is sorry ever a bad thing? It is unfortunate that it is so difficult for individuals and companies to just fess up. Doing so, most often, creates loyalty and always opens positive and fruitful communication.
great job of making it right! hopefully the magazine will flourish once again.
Wow! It is so refreshing to see 1) a problem aired in public in a constructive manner and 2) a response that is swift, to the point, and acknowledges the mistakes made by the company. Thank you Abby, CIA, and John.
I worked with John Bolton during the go-go years for Shiva Artist’s Paintstiks. I’m delighted to see John back at the helm of Interweave.
Abbey, you did it again! You saw a problem and helped fix it, making a huge difference to many people. Great work. 🙂
Abby, Kudos to you for keeping yourself and all of us, updated with what is going on in the Handmade Industry. We/I appreciate all your efforts!
a very positive step in a better direction.
I love that Mr. Bolton responded quickly and positively to your article, but did anyone notice that the best payment option–that of paying a teacher per class–is still missing (he offered to up the pay per student, but not restore the per class pay that existed before)? Having taught several classes this year at my local quilt shop, and earning less than minimum wage (there were only 2 students in the class), I hope that the payment-per-class could be restored to serve as a model for our industry.
I’m glad this didn’t go entirely unnoticed. While the contract being offered is much better, and the responsibility taken by the CEO refreshing, keep in mind that the contract is still a per student contract, while the classes are chosen by Interweave. I hope this isn’t a trend of a really horrendous contract followed by a retraction to a mildly horrendous contract with the yarn buying public applauding and the teachers mollified.
Thank you, Abby, for bringing this issue to light. Thank you, John, for returning and doing what it takes to restore Interweave to a position of respect and leadership in the field. With the Internet, more of us know about these issues and we give our opinion with dollars.
I’m glad John is back. But there are other communities that are struggling at FW. I hope his hiring is a sign that other communities will get leaders who are passionate about the employees and community too. Time will tell.
Echoing some previous commenters, this just proves the importance that as an industry we have organisations like CIA. Thank you and well done to CIA, Abby and the contributors to the original article for being brave enough to talk about it in a public setting and bringing it to everyone’s awareness. I’m heartened at John’s response but how sad that direct pleas from individual teachers weren’t enough to make a change and they had to wait for a public outcry.
I have always had a great respect for John Bolton. I asked for some changes to my contract when they were doing video magazines many years ago and we had a cordial and productive exchange. Good results for both sides. I’m so glad he’s back! Thanks Abby for being such a strong and respected influence for all of us. I appreciate your courage and obviously, you get results!