Saturday, May 16, 2015

Vivian Greene: How to Weather One’s Storm the Easy Way

Vivian Greene, author and creator of Kisses cartoons and greeting cards. (Photo by Ed Foster)

For many years now, she has been teaching people how to dance in the rain through her inspiring and motivational quotes. For some, she is unknown; sometimes, she appeared to be anonymousBut for all the people whose lives were touched by her powerful words, she is Vivian Greene.
Greene encountered rough and bumpy roads along her way to success—losing a loved one to a terminal illness; seeing her 18 years worth of work being wiped out by a hurricane, thus letting go of her 22 artists whose families also depended on her; never receiving her remaining belongings and inventory which was promised to be shipped by the then president of the local franchise of Allied Van Lines who also rented her house; and a number of copyright infringements, the latest being against one of the largest retail companies in the United States, the Target stores. But there is one thing that these storms failed to do. That is, to dampen Greene’s spirits.
Unlike most artists, Greene is a dynamo entrepreneur and philanthropist who turns the bumps in the road into a trademark, LEGAL LEMONADE®. Instead of sulking over the death of her loved one, Greene coped with her loss and wrote the book“Good Mourning: What Death Teaches Us About Life”. After losing her properties to a hurricane, Greene went to Hawaii where her business venture also became a success. Her losses served as eye-opener as she realized how people had been good to her. That is why it has been the commitment of the maker of the famousKisses to give back and become a blessing to other people, especially to children as evident in her Invest in Love Programs and her work with Shriners Hospitals for Children, Stolen Childhoods, Foster Parent Plan, and World Family. When faced with copyright infringement issues, Greene turned her creativity into income as she wrote the book “Legal Lemonade: Should I Sue Or Is There A Better Way?”
Despite being supported by some of the best legal firms worldwide, Greene always tries to transform an infringement or misunderstanding into a win-win license. Giants like Wal-Mart and Barnes & Noble have helped her. In turn, the many products featuring her quotes or comics are best sellers, and attract customers and new community service programs that create good will.

Greene believes in fair play when it comes to business. There have been several products with infringements in Target. It has been almost three years now since Greene’s famous “Dance in the Rain” quote was used in one of Target’s products without properly attributing her, which she found out when she was asked to autograph it. It was the first product that was brought to her attention. Target did not offer Greene a settlement; their vendor did. She, however, never accepted it because it was only for Target; the settlement did not cover the other stores where they sold their products with Greene’s quotation.
Upon hearing the news about Melissa Lay, who accused Target of stealing her shirt design, Greene sympathized with the designer’s current predicament, as she, too, has ongoing issues against the same store.
Greene remembered the time when a college student created a pattern out of her greeting cards and sold it to a textile company. Instead of suing, Greene opted to hire the student and utilized her creativity. In this way, they were both helping each other. The textile company, on the other hand, paid Greene with a huge advance with royalties. This is what Greene wanted to highlight—that business moguls should help thriving and striving artists instead of taking advantage of them.
Though Greene believes that Target did not cheat her on purpose, she is certain that they can turn their troubles into a win-win situation if only the store will realize her worth. Greene agrees with one of her art characters who stated, “Together...we can soar.” As she had put it, “I can turn this, as I have with other big stores like Barnes & Noble or Hobby Lobby and Wal-Mart, into a dance in the rain—a better business deal for all where everyone wins.”
True enough, Greene is the epitome of her own proverbial quote. Instead of waiting for her storms to pass, she went her way and learned to dance in the rain.