International Art Materials Association

    eNews:  August 14, 2019

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Ignorant Intelligence

by Rich Kizer & Georganne Bender, professional speakers, retail strategists, authors and consultants.  KIZER & BENDER’s observations are widely featured in national newspapers, national and international industry and consumer publications, and on radio and television programs across the U.S. You can learn more at

The Wright brothers didn’t take no for an answer; the year was 1903 and they were full of big ideas. They also had the ability to ignore the common belief about man would never be able to fly; lead them to try radical new ideas. We all know what happened: The Wright brothers took to the sky and the rest is history. They flew in the face of all the negative beliefs swirling around them. Orville and Wilbur Wright demonstrated what we refer to as “Ignorant Intelligence” or i2.

Fast forward to late in the 20th Century, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where our friend Nick has just landed a job selling vacuum cleaners door-to-door. Starting his new career, Nick went through the same sales training exercises and activities that every new salesperson encounters before being set lose to sell on their own. In Nick’s case, the last two days of his training involved being sent to a test neighborhood near the home office to practice his door-to-door techniques. Now, it’s important to note that because every sales trainee is sent to this very neighborhood and they leave the office with a word of warning: NO ONE will buy a vacuum cleaner from you, so just practice greeting customers and getting your foot in the door. One problem: They forgot to tell this to Nick.

So Nick hit the streets not knowing he wouldn’t be able to sell a vacuum cleaner in this neighborhood if his life depended on it. He didn’t know it was a cold market, so he unleashed everything he learned in sales training. And sell he did, bringing in a record number of sales.

There’s power in i2.

The Wright Brothers and Nick the Vacuum Cleaner Sales Trainee had in one thing in common: They were smart men who just didn’t know they weren’t supposed to be able to do what they did. They didn’t let history or what they were told they couldn’t do dictate their actions. And neither can you.  Never, ever let assumptions or people who say “That can’t be done” stop you from trying new and innovating things for your life and your business.

We came upon our Ignorant Intelligence theory during a meeting of minds during a brainstorming meeting in our office. The goal was to find a solution to a client’s problem; his company was in tough situation that required a strategy and solution path that could be implemented right now. So we turned off the phones, grabbed a flip chart, rolled up our sleeves and got to work. We brainstormed and brainstormed and brainstormed. After two days of throwing around strategies and tactics we still didn’t have anything we felt confident enough about to present to our client. Oh, we had plenty of ideas; some off the wall, and some tried and true, but we knew this situation required something completely new and different.

On day three we put our heads together again, only this time we asked a few local entrepreneurs, people we trust but have no particular knowledge of our client’s industry, for help. After listing all of the issues, we suggested they take thirty minutes alone to think about what we shared before we reconvened our brainstorming session.

You know the rules of brainstorming, right? No one gets to say, “That’s a stupid idea” even if it is a stupid idea, because what one person thinks is crazy just might lead to an incredible idea by someone else.

When we re-grouped around our conference table we asked each person to share what they came up with. After just 20 minutes the room was buzzing with fresh ideas, and implementation strategies were bouncing off the walls. We were all so excited that our downstairs neighbor came up to see what all the commotion was about.

The solutions that came from this brainstorming session surprised us; they certainly didn’t fit the paradigms of successful strategies we’d seen and used in that industry before, but that’s the point.

Here’s the deal: People from outside your inner circle have an uncanny ability to look at your business and make suggestions with fresh eyes. When an outsider offers suggestions it’s too easy to think, “Yeah, okay. What do you know about my business?” Well, they know enough not to say, “We tried that before and it didn’t work.” And you need to be smart enough to take their ideas and tweak them until you reach your desired outcome.

That’s what we did. We merged the strategies our partners shared with ours, tweaking as we went along. Then we did a few test implementations to see what would happen and the strategies worked. We knew now what to suggest to our client and how to present it.
Two weeks later we met with our client to present the tweaked ideas. It was tense at first, as our client’s team mulled over the strategies we shared, then the lights started to come on as one person after another said, “Why didn’t we think of that?” and “That makes perfect sense, how did we miss it?” They thought we were brilliant; the strategies certainly were. There’s genius in understanding the value of intelligent ignorance and how can work to your advantage.

So, what’s the take-away? Easy! Don’t let past history dictate your actions or compromise your decisions. Ask for help. Sometimes those with the least amount of experience can see the path to success more clearly than you can. Know that it’s okay to ask for help, and it’s okay to be intelligently ignorant.

Get a bigger table for your lunch room because it will increase your team’s involvement and productivity. Schedule monthly brainstorming sessions to talk about what’s going on in the store, especially about what’s stale and how you might do ____ better. Encourage everyone to come to the meeting with new, fresh, innovative and exciting ideas to solve your problems. Miracles can happen - you’ll begin to hear problem solving ideas that we bet you haven’t heard before. And maybe even a few opportunities that you didn’t know were there.
The next time you’re planning an in-store event or promotion, a major change in layout, or are simply looking for new ways to attract customers unleash the power of i2. Ignore what you know and brainstorm fresh ideas with your team – and maybe even a few core customers or trusted local retail partners.

There’s a new phrase bouncing around our office these days, and a new i2 sign that adorns our conference room wall. Intelligent Ignorance can work for you, too. Give it a try!


Membership Satisfaction Survey

If you have already taken the Membership Satisfaction Survey, thank you.  If not, please take this opportunity now.

This survey will take a few minutes to complete and your input, along with those of other Namta members, will help shape the association’s strategic plans.

At the end of the survey you will have the opportunity to submit your contact information to be entered in a drawing to win one of five $50 gift cards.



to Attract and Keep Millennial Employees in Retail

Story from
by Laura Gayle 

As an employer, it is important to do your best to attract prospective employees. In today’s retail job market, most of the candidates you’ll find are a part of the millennial generation. Employing and retaining millennials becomes considerably easier when companies learn what’s important to them. Millennials aren't like the generations that came before them; they have unprecedented ideas about what they’ll accept to make a living. Let's take a look at what you can do to keep millennial workers happy and productive in your retail setting.

Most millennials have definite ideas about the health issues, manner of engagement, and greater meaning of the work they do, requiring employers to give more thought to how they approach the workplace. The following are some considerations to keep in mind for better engaging millennial employees in retail work:

Assuming it’s situated to attract customers, your store likely is already located in an area convenient for attracting millennial hires. Convenience is becoming more and more important as the generations progress and the world becomes more crowded, and many millennials prefer to work close to home. Environmental concerns also are leading more workers to avoid long commutes or time spent in vehicles.

The millennial generation would much rather live within walking or biking distance from work, allowing them to enjoy a short commute each day. Consider installing a bike rack close to your store to keep employees’ bicycles safe, and make sure water is always readily available to your employees.

For most, balancing work life and home life is a difficult task. Now more than ever, workers value jobs that afford them a healthy balance between work and home. While it may be argued that it’s up to the individual to keep their home life separated from work and vice versa, employers actually can do many things to make the balance easier for employees.

Although retail work requires floor employees to be on-site, allowing managers or non-sales workers to do administrative work remotely on occasion is one possibility. Or consider implementing a more flexible schedule for employees, allowing them to exert more authority over their own work and accomplish things on a more natural timetable.

Another important aspect of making sure your workspace is attractive to millennials is fostering a healthy work environment. It’s vital to make sure employees are friendly and work well together, and workplace disagreements or problems should be taken care of in a timely and appropriate manner. It is also important to make sure your employees feel welcome when they come in to work.

The millennial generation is known for taking their health very seriously. If you want to make sure your employees know you care about their health, consider providing healthy snacks or even lunches on certain days of the week. Make sure employees are getting plenty of breaks, especially for sales floor employees who stand for most of the day. And for admins who sit at a desk most of the day or inventory personnel who load and unload merchandise, stretching and moving can help to prevent repetitive stress injuries.

While it may be a little difficult to change your company motto based on who you want to employ, consider emphasizing your company’s ethical message or products, as they may draw potential employees to you. Millennials care a great deal about the message the company they work for puts out into the world. Make sure you advertise the things that are positive about your company to let your employees know they can believe in you. The knowledge that they’re working for such a great company will help them be confident and proud of the work they do there.

One thing that will surely make working for your company a hit is offering company perks to incentivize workers. Consider holding company potlucks for your employees, where they will have time to socialize and enjoy their time at work while relaxing and eating great food. For special occasions, a raffle or various games with prizes employees can win. Host holiday gift exchanges for those who wish to participate, and acknowledge the birthdays of your employees. These small gestures can instill a sense of teamwork and togetherness among your staff.  

Retail work requires customer service and related training automatically. But beyond the basics, if there’s no way to move up in the workplace or expand their knowledge base, millennial employees may not see a reason to stay. To mitigate this potential issue, make sure you provide extra training to employees who wish to take advantage of it.

The nature of the training will vary depending on your workplace, but it is important that employees feel they can continue to improve themselves and move forward within the company or industry. Developmental training can benefit not only employees but the overall business, as well.

Retail spaces undergo periodic redesigns to keep up with changing fashion and business trends. The next time your company reboots or opens a new store, consider integrating changes designed to benefit millennial employees’ preferences. Millennials value a sense of teamwork and communication with the people they work with, so, if possible, try dedicating a back room as a collaboration space or open working space. During the workday, team members can enter that room to trade advice with co-workers on how best to handle a situation or assignment, or they can relax and socialize during breaks.

When it comes to hiring millennials, it’s important to realize they prefer technological communication over face-to-face communication. While this seems ripe to present conflicts in a retail setting, it also can be seen conversely as an opportunity to keep up with the changing way that people shop, facilitating a smoother customer experience. Savvy shoppers are likely to have already done online research about products they seek, and allowing employees to consult technology to further assist them can level the playing field.

Also, implementing the use of text, email, Skype, or Slack for staff communication can be advantageous to employers looking for millennial workers. Messaging can be quicker, easier and more schedule-friendly, making shift changes smoother and communicating with workers who aren’t in the store easier. It also provides all workers a clear, written idea of expectations and issues, which cuts down on confusion in the workplace.

Employing millennials can be a breeze if you understand the way they work. Implicating the right workplace policies, incentivizing workers, and learning how to communicate with the millennial generation are all key factors in attracting them and keeping them as employees.


Art Advocacy - Art Matters

PTSD Treatment

Australian Veteran says Art Therapy 'changed my life' after returning from Iraq

Story from
by Camron Slessor - journalist and digital producer with the ABC Adelaide team in South Australia. Follow Camron on Twitter @camronslessor

David Gillard has never described himself as the 'artsy type'. But it turns out that the Adelaide veteran is quite handy with a paint brush and believes his introduction to art therapy has "changed his life".

Art therapy is a common treatment for people suffering post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and for the first time an Australian-led study will look into just how beneficial it can be.

Mr. Gillard says he can still remember his experiences in Iraq like they were yesterday. The 54-year-old from Adelaide served in the Royal Australian Air Force for more than 24 years and said his time abroad had "changed" him.

The veteran was discharged three and a half years ago, but said the pain of what he went through was often still fresh in his mind. "I joined up when I was 17 and served for 12 years initially and then I got out for about eight years, then I joined up again for another 12 and a half years," he said. "During the second lot of my service I went to Iraq … that changed me quite a bit. I can still remember it all too well unfortunately. It had pretty much consumed me."

On his return home Mr. Gillard said at first he did not acknowledge that he was suffering any form of post-traumatic stress. But he soon learned that something was wrong and that he had to act before it slowly "consumed" him. "For me it didn't really register or kick in, I called them little leaks," he said. "When I first started seeing a psych, it was like I'd locked everything into a box and one day I blew the door off the vault, that's when it all started to come out. "That was in 2010, six years after my tour in Iraq and within 12 months it had pretty much consumed me, that's when I started seeking help."

He looked for help in various places, trying a PTSD program, anger management and mindfulness techniques — but when he dipped his brush into art therapy, something changed. "With art therapy I could lose myself for a couple of hours and not think about all the horrible things," he said. "The thinking that's involved, I like to call it displacement therapy, it takes away one thing and puts another thing on my mind. "When I'm doing a painting, I become so absorbed in it, I'm not thinking about anything else, it has certainly become a big part of my life."

Read more about the Australian led study on PTSD

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2019 Grant Program sponsored by

Recipients will be announced on October 1

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"When natural disasters occur, the arts and culture can advance the recovery process. The arts can help rebuild the development of the community , economic recovery and communal healing."


Read more Facts on

The Question Is . . .

Members - answer this question before August 25 to be in a drawing to win an Art Matters T-shirt.

What Namta Member, and fourth-generation-retailer, located west of the Mississippi, was President of Namta in 1995, and received the Namta Hall of Fame in 2004.

This member's 5th-generation-retailer son, often seen at Art Materials World and the Next Gen Reception, is pictured right.

One answer per question please.

At the end of the year, whether you've won a bi-weekly drawing or not, everyone who has answered correctly will be entered in a final drawing to win a $100 Gift Card.

The Last Question was in July 31st eNews and the answer is 2005.

Masako Drugan from Artisan Santa Fe is the winner.

New Product

F.M. Brush

Vegan Camel Hair

F.M. Brushes’ latest breakthrough in synthetic fibers, intended for tiny hands and growing minds.

Our Synthetic Camel Hair Watercolor Brushes are vegan and cruelty-free. All components of the brush are biodegradable.

Our unpainted wooden handles are sourced from FSC-managed forests, safe for children and our planet. These brushes are free from allergens, dander, dyes, and lacquer.

 Visit the New Product Page

F.M. Brush is a 2020 Art Materials World Exhibitor.

Welcome New Member

New art supply store, Medium Effort Fine Art Supplies, is located in Brockville, Ontario, Canada.

Medium Effort was born from a desire for local, affordable, quality art supplies. They will provide a one-stop-shop for artists and the community: a specialized art supply store, affordable studio rental spaces, and a teaching/meeting/gathering space - place that offers continual learning opportunities for visual artists of all ages and experience levels.


Member News


Actor, Wrestler, and Certified Ross Instructor David Arquette will guide students through a happy little landscape on August 24 at Raw Materials Art Supplies' new location in downtown Los Angeles, California (645 S. Los Angeles St.)

This event has been arranged by Bob Ross Inc., MacPherson’s and Raw Materials Art Supplies.

This class is specially suited to beginners. At the end of this two hour event, students will leave with a complete painting featuring Bob Ross-style happy little trees as well as a certificate of attendance.

100% of ticket proceeds go to Inner-City Arts.

Visit Raw Materials Art Supplies for More Information

Bob Ross Inc. is a 2020 Art Materials World Exhibitor.

Peak Media Properties LLC, an operating company backed by Macanta Investments LLC, has acquired the crafts and fine arts assets of F+W Media. As a result of the acquisition, Peak Media Properties becomes a significant publisher in the burgeoning upscale crafting and fine arts categories, serving the “maker” enthusiast marketplace in print and digital formats. The business is led by Greg Osberg, who became CEO of F+W Media in June, 2018.

At Namta's Art Materials World 2019, GOLDEN invited their retail partners to visit their booth and play ‘GOLDEN Grand Slam!’ Players had to get 4 base hits (answering questions about new initiatives from GOLDEN) in order to win a T-shirt and enter the grand prize drawing for a trip to the GOLDEN factory, which included a private tour and an educational product demonstration. Well, in July, Golden welcomed the lucky winners from Hull’s Art Supply & Framing from New Haven, CT, to our facility!! 

Pictured left to right are:
Jim Gazzaniga, GOLDEN Sales Rep.
Ileana Garcia, Hull’s
Stewart Johnson, Hull’s
Shawn Szirbik, Owner of Hull’s
Sandra Theoharatos, Hull’s
Bill Hartman, GOLDEN Director of Sales

GOLDEN is a 2020 Art Materials World Exhibitor.


A Notable Quote 

"95% of millennials say their friends are the most credible source of product information."

- Jay Baer

Jay Baer is a Hall of Fame speaker and emcee, New York Times best-selling author of six books, an Internet pioneer, a 7th-generation entrepreneur, and the founder of five, multi-million dollar companies.

Namta Staff recently found these business articles on the Web that may be of interest to you and your staff.


Your Organization Needs a Learning Ecosystem
Like a biological ecosystem, organizations are either growing or they’re dying. And organizations grow when their employees are learning. So if you want a high-growth organization, you need to create a learning ecosystem to support high-growth individuals — to expose them to new and challenging opportunities before their roles become stale...

How Successful Business Owners Limit Daily Stress
When most people decide to start their own business, they do so with the anticipation that it’ll give them more freedom, flexibility, and control. And while these are often byproducts of the switch, there’s also a darker underbelly that, when not properly controlled, poses a significant threat to emotional and physical well-being: stress...

How Successful Business Owners Look At Financial Decisions
Don't get hung up on the price tag…

This New Kind of Expensive Lawsuit Could Easily Bankrupt Your Small Business
Wage-and-hour suits are complicated, boring and could potentially bankrupt entrepreneurs. Here's how to protect yourself...

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