Ahni & Zoe by Creative Memories CEO Chris Veit informed the company’s consultants today that the company will be winding down operations in the next month.
After filing bankruptcy in April 2013 for the 2nd time in less than five years, Creative Memories discontinued its traditional product line of bookcloth albums, tools, and white pages. The company was re-launched last fall under a new brand name – Ahni & Zoe – with a re-imagined and extremely limited product line that focused on the Fast2Fab album concept of using albums with pre-printed pages to achieve fast results.
The new version of the company was largely met with a lack of enthusiasm from consultants, who left in droves following the conversion of Ahni & Zoe. The exodus increased in February 2014 when Creative Memories co-founder Rhonda Anderson departed the company and announced she was forming a new venture under the umbrella of Youngevity. The new brand, called Our Memories For Life, attracted a large number of top Creative Memories leaders, leaving large amounts of consultants suddenly without uplines and reporting directly to the home office.
Creative Memories closing is not unexpected to close observers of the brand. After the bankruptcy, The Antioch Company (parent company of Creative Memories) became owned by a Liquidating Trust made up of the company’s creditors. The Liquidating Trustee’s responsibility was to maximize the value of the trust’s assets to ensure maximum payout to the creditors. As the Ahni & Zoe brand foundered, it became increasingly obvious that the maximum value was in the company’s assets instead of profits from ongoing operations, and the company informed consultants that a sale was being pursued.
Several weeks ago, word leaked that Creative Memories Japan, along with the company’s patents, manufacturing equipment, and brand names, had been sold to Flowerdale Group Limited of Hong Kong. Negotiations were described at that time as ongoing for acquisition of the rest of North American operations. Today’s announcement makes clear that no such deal was able to be completed and as a result, Creative Memories North America is winding down operations to close its doors.
Flowerdale Group Limited is a Hong Kong private equity company founded and owned by Caleb Hayhoe, a Canadian expatriate. The Flowerdale name originated with a brand of tea that his family used to sell through their company, RB Hayhoe, before it was sold when he was young. The Hayhoe family has a long heritage as entrepreneurs and a long relationship with Asia, having founded RB Hayhoe in the 1800’s to import tea and coffee and other food products to Canada. Hayhoe earned degrees from both the University of Western Ontario and the London School of Economics. He went on to found RT Sourcing, an Asian sourcing company, when he was only 28, before selling it in 2008 after 16 years and founding Flowerdale Group.
Hayhoe is the father of two teenage children. His wife Jenya passed away in 2012. Together, the couple founded the Silvercrest Foundation, which funds projects focused on disadvantaged young people in countries like Cambodia and Vietnam as well as environmental conservation projects.
So what does this mean?
- Consultants have been officially notified that their contracts will be terminated effective September 3rd.
- All orders are now “while supplies last.”
- Orders will be accepted until 11:59pm CT on August 21st.
- All orders will be shipped by September 30th.
Consultants are being promised the possibility that a new business venture will be made available to them moving forward by Flowerdale. In a letter to consultants, Hayhoe described in general terms his plans:
I don’t have all the answers right now, but in the weeks ahead we will be devising how to transform the business to make it more competitive and relevant, using modern marketing channels. It will give you access to the products you love and offer you an opportunity to make money and benefit from a team. So though it will look different than the party plan business you know, my goal is that it’s simple, fun and profitable for you. I welcome your help and advice and will be reaching out to many of you.
Hayhoe, who has long had business ties to the company, also referred to the loss of his wife as part of his affinity for the Creative Memories mission:
My long relationship with Creative Memories has given me a deep affection for the Mission. From a devastating loss in my immediate family, I have learned how preserving our memories and family bonds is incredibly important and healing. I am determined to carry forward this mission and I hope you will join me on that journey.
Flowerdale seems very interested in reviving the traditional Creative Memories line, so although the current Creative Memories entity is closing down, it is quite likely that we will see those products available on the market soon, either via direct sales or at retail. The company’s stated goal to begin production from their planned new manufacturing facility in St. Cloud is October, so the interruption should be brief.