To All Members of the National Beauty Tool Sharpeners Guild, Guild Board Members, Board Chairman Jesse Hockett and the Sharpening Community at Large,
Today, it is with deep regret and disenchantment I immediately resign as the President of the National Beauty Tool Sharpeners Guild. I also resign as committee chairperson, committee member, and as the only female member on the board of directors. I was elected by the guild members to represent them and I feel I can no longer do that for a number of the following reasons.
In 2009 Larry Brooks of Sharp Edges, my competitor in the business started the National Beauty Tool Sharpeners Guild. Bonika Shears attended the conventions from the beginning but as a company were never real firm supporters. I personally at the time did not see the need for certifications but felt that a platform for education was important for all sharpeners. It was with great surprise that in 2012 Larry and Linda contacted my family to continue their vision. Reluctantly we took the organization on but as time went by I became a true believer in the purpose of the Sharpeners Guild. We designed a new logo, built a credible website and produced new banners and brochures. I now understood the need for the certification process and the critical necessity that the certification be fair and without gender or equipment bias. My family, primarily Mystie Hunter, successfully ran the conventions in 2012 and 2013 with some of the highest attendance ever. After the fall of the NSSG (National Scissor Sharpeners Guild - another sharpening convention) due to ownership by one individual I saw the need for the NBTSG to belong to all the sharpeners, not just my family. We turned the organization into a nonprofit at that time with ownership by the sharpeners. Myself, Dennis Brooks and Jesse Hockett were the principal directors. In due time, due to Jesse’s work overseas with the National Guard he was unable to perform his duties, Dennis and I pretty much accomplished all the work of running the convention with input of the various sharpeners. I was elected President each year although I offered my position with alacrity to anyone who wanted it. I also certified in sharpening in 2015 becoming the first female master sharpener in the NBTSG history and the only woman to achieve the highest score in shear sharpening. I participated in the blade sharpening certification this year in April (I am new at blade sharpening) with a score that would be equivalent to a Master level.
Today, the efficiency of the board of directors has progressed due to the leadership of the chairman Jesse Hockett. I pushed for him to be chairman since he was so instrumental in the early days after I gave up ownership of the NBTSG and felt that this time he would follow his efforts to completion which he has done so far. One of the main areas where I have disagreed with him, repeatedly and repeatedly is the insistence that the board meetings be held at 9PM at night. There are several reasons this was not good for me in the past but now with changes in my life it is impossible. I now am the caretaker of elderly relatives who are on hospice and from 9 to 10 at night I must follow a routine of duties that preclude me from participating in the board meetings. I pay a caretaker to come during the day when I am free to work and discuss board matters but can not do this at 9 pm.
There was a formal grievance issue brought up against me by Jesse Hockett and presented to me by the vice President Lou Gean in regards to a conflict of interest they felt I had with the International Scissor Sharpeners Association (an organization begun by a sharpener in Cyprus long before the NBTSG was established). I was unable to learn exactly what policy I violated or answer the charges because I was not given sufficient notice of the meeting and they held the meeting at 9PM. I explained this was not a time I could meet and begged that for humanitarian reasons they hold the meeting at another time. The board refused to change the time. In violation of policy, no one attempted to resolve the matter before a formal grievance was issued. My willingness to cooperate is evidenced that at this time that the ISSA is no longer on my website. Since the entire guild elected me and not the board, I feel that I should be given the right to speak for myself to the board. It was the entire guild who put me in office and it seems unjust that just a few individuals should be given the power to force me out of office without due process. Article VII of our bylaws shows how an officer should be removed, they have not followed this. Furthermore, It was not fair to Lou Gean to be selected to discuss this with me. He was in attendance at the Sharpeners Jam where I was talking about the NBTSG and the ISSA. I was handing out damaged shears for those ISSA sharpeners to show their sharpening abilities in order to be approved to have another company set sharpening appointments for them. Lou, nor none of the other board members present at the Jam voiced any objections as to a conflict of interest and Lou even offered to damage the shears for me. Lou seemed personally distressed to call me about this and was my first notification that there was any issue with a conflict of interest. When I step down as president he will become the new president. This puts him in a awkward position which is unfair to him. Please do not hold any ill will toward your new president or any individuals on the board. I respect all of them as professionals and fine sharpeners.
Nevertheless, I asked over and over that the meeting for my grievance be postponed while I was dealing with a family crisis. The family crisis has accelerated since Friday when my brother-in-law Harry, a member of the guild had a ruptured aorta while visiting us here in Atlanta. He is in severe critical condition. For some reason they would not postpone the board meeting to vote on the grievance. It was unanimous that the grievance had merit, but I was not told who was in attendance when I asked.
I feel the need not to postpone the writing of this letter of resignation today in spite of the family issues that have taken me from work. There are even more new policies that has been put forth by the chairman of the board. Board members have been given until June 30th to sign an agreement after agreement on new policies declaring ALL our business interests and affiliations plus an agreement not to disclose anything discussed in board meetings. If I sign this agreement, I can’t keep the guild members aware of what is going on. If the board is doing something that I feel violates the spirit of the NBTSG to advance the art of sharpening, you would not want me muzzled.
I do not want to be a source of discord among sharpeners. Sharing of ideas freely has always been of great importance to me. That is why I started the Sharpeners Jam 21 years ago. The goal of the NBTSG is stated to be “a positive and respected influence within the sharpening community.” As such, I have agreed to be an educator at the convention in Nashville with a basic shear sharpening class and a guild center presentation on pivot screws. My company, Bonika Shears not only will be a vendor but we are GOLD LEVEL sponsors of the guild. I encourage all of you to come to the convention this year. Mystie Hunter my daughter and partner in Bonika Shears personally selected and contracted with this hotel after the convention last year voted to move the convention to Nashville. At this time, myself and Bonika Shears will continue to support the mission and vision of the Sharpeners Guild. At this time it has been made impossible for me to continue as president, board member or committee member because of the above reasons. Please support Lou Gean the new president and empower him to move the Sharpeners Guild in the direction best for all the sharpeners and the industry.