Tuesday 26 December 2017

Shaming the consumer, what a helluva way to do business...

In today's Toronto Star newspaper article, Missing the silver boat, Michael Lewis begins with:

"Consumer brands are missing the boat on millions of dollars in potential revenue thanks to ad buyers’ misperceptions about the 55-plus demographic, says the president of a consulting firm that aims to help companies do a better job of reaching affluent boomers." 

Read the article. He's right and it's about time someone said all this, but I don't think he goes far enough.

Remember the movie Network, from 1976? Watch this clip to bring it all back. Netflix, are you listening? Just watching that clip -- wow, absolutely NOTHING has changed in 41 -- yeah, FORTY-ONE! -- years! Might be time to bring it back, yes?

I was an extra in the TV studio audience in the movie, yelling out, "I'm mad as hell and I'm not taking it anymore!" (FYI, you can just barely see me and my BF at 0:09 in the lower left: the lights are shining off Michael's bald head, I'm just to his right.)

Well, I AM mad as hell, and have been for a long, long time. Here's my New Year's resolution a week early: no more being nicey-nice and mealy-mouthed -- and if I offend anyone, well, just maybe you need to be offended. Here's me yelling out loud and clear:

Hi, Michael, 

Man, these people are so missing the boat, and I'm surrounded by them everywhere I go. Arrogance and ignorance out the yin-yang. I'll tell you, though, if you really want to effect change and wake these people up, you need to stop being so polite about it. 

I'm almost 66, get a pension, still alive and kicking, work full time self-employed plus run my own jewellery business and look after my mother, and I and everyone I know have (at least some) money to burn. But you know what? NOBODY seems to want it. 

Along with doing transcription, I make jewellery these days, and I do a good trade in custom jewellery and alterations for kids and grownups into their 90s. Yeah, kids. Kids and teenagers LOVE my stuff (and their parents are so freakin' grateful). I'm a vendor and instructor at The Gem Expo in Toronto three times a year, and 20 and 30-somethings tell me all the time that not only do I have the coolest booth design at the show, I have the best stuff anywhere in Toronto. Yep, I do weird. People love weird. 

Why do they buy from me? Because my jewellery FITS whether they're a size 0 or size 100 (novel concept, I know), it's flattering and the right proportion to aging, sagging necks and changing body types. How do I manage that? All my jewellery is alterable. 

But mostly, I listen to what they want and need. What these marketers don't seem to get is listening to what people have to say is what will encourage them to buy. Don't give them a questionnaire asking impossible-to-answer questions confirming the company's own biases. I used to work for Angus Reid. I know stupid questionnaires when I see them. 

I was in Toronto this summer. Went to the Bay/Sak's to see what they had. Zip, zero, nada, unless you planned to spend 24/7 in the Entertainment District and wear over-priced size 2 frilly nothings the entire time. The whole store was filled with this crap -- what? Six floors, seven floors? -- sitting UNSOLD -- and, even better, not a customer in sight. 

Seriously? Disregard demographics -- and reality! -- at your peril, people. 

Another thing these 20 and 30-something marketers (and newspapers, ahem) need to do is STOP designing websites that have teensy faint flyspecks for type. When I see that, I'm gone -- and I'm not alone. I buy a ton of stuff for my jewellery business online; as soon as I see those flyspecks, I'm gone. I started out life as a typographer and typesetter. My ads sell; "design" today repels. 

When you have a salesperson visibly in-your-face rejecting you when you want to buy something just because you have grey hair, holy moley... it is mortifying and infuriating all balled up into one big hunk of rage, sorrow and shame -- yes, shame -- and you will Never. Ever. Shop. There. Again. 

THIS is what marketing is all about today. 

Get Jeff Weiss to contact me. I have 50 years of design, print/media, travel, language/culture experience across all sectors. While he definitely won't like what I have to say, I do speak very articulately for a whole lot of people. 

Dunno if this Jeff Weiss guy will call -- I'll let you know -- but geez, Louise... I've been pissed off for 20 years. The grey hair story up above happened to me, and I was so freakin' furious and mortified because this little bitch -- YES -- little bitch said what she said in the tone of voice that she said in front of other customers. 

Well, you better believe that everyone I know heard about it. I don't know if anyone I told stopped shopping there, but I will never EVER support a store or business that allows their staff to treat customers that way. EVER. 

The arrogance that business owners/employees (and advertisers) exhibit to their customers in so many ways, shapes and forms is unconscionable. Where does alienating the customer (and their money, hello???) come from? Eaton's, Sears, the Bay, Target, Zellers... has no one learned anything??? Alienating and ignoring -- and shaming -- your customers does not work. Why do you think it will??? 

Thank you for reading, and I'd love to know if you've experienced the same things I have. 

Meanwhile, if you're in southern Ontario, yes, the Woodstock Farmers Market is open this Saturday, December 30th, early*** until noon. Shopping for your New Year's party? We gotcha covered. Didn't get what you reeeeally wanted for Christmas? We've definitely gotcha covered. See you there!

***How early is early? I'm there around 5:00 a.m. and most vendors are up and running between 6:00 and 6:30. 

Tuesday 19 December 2017

Christmas Shows & Markets...

Most people who know me know that I do NOT do Christmas craft shows.

Yeah, well... that is, until I do.

This past Sunday I took part in a Christmas artisan show and coffee open house at the newly opened Burnt Brick Cafe in downtown Woodstock. It was a hoot and a half, and everyone had a good time. Next year it'll be held it a few weeks earlier -- too many people couldn't come because of family obligations. (But don't despair -- there'll be one coming up in time for Valentine's Day!!)

My table by the window. The light was good at noon -- but by 2:00 it was getting overcast and pretty dim.

Showing crystal pendulums, gradated blues, purples and cream Peruvian opal necklace, semi-precious wand pendants, semi-precious chip & wire trees, carved skulls, pewter bookmarks, quartz crystal pendants... 

Showing Tibetan silver Hamsa hands, rose quartz stone & wire tree, Chakraluscious healing bracelets, resin raven skull pendants, Taxco sterling silver pendants, semi-precious carved skull and heart pendants...

Shots of the show in the main dining area and the other room with the bar/serving area and kitchen with Rene Hoelscher, the owner, behind the bar.

They make great lattes, of which I drank far too many during the show, and the food there is beyond fantastic. Do not let the word "healthy" scare you away. I had a maple bacon scone: just wow. If you ever get a chance to sample their cheddar/jalapeno/bacon soup, it is truly heaven in a bowl. 

This coming Saturday, 23 December, is your last chance to come to the Woodstock Farmers Market before Christmas. Officially open from 7:00 until noon, I'll be there from about 5:00 a.m. for all you early birds. 

Can't figure out what to get the jewellery-lover on your list? I have crystal cage pendants ready to insert their favourite stone or crystal, jewellery cleaning cloths, carved semi-precious skulls and skull pendants, crystal trees (seen in the above pictures), candles in the shape of crystals, dragon incense burners, plus new artisan-made sterling silver pendants from Taxco, Mexico, and Bali. 

With over 120 different beads to choose from, I can make almost any healing bracelet combo you can imagine. See my Chakraluscious stacking bracelets and aromatherapy/diffuser pendants and bracelets. 

Prices range from $1 to $300, gifts for kids to great-grands -- oh, and FYI, I take Visa as well as any pesky cash. STILL can't decide? I'll have gift certificates available.

I already have my custom-cut half a turkey breast from Miedema's at the market. :-))) Made the cranberry sauce this morning. Just need veg and bread. Maybe some more of Peter's orange brandy Christmas cake. YUM!!! See you at the market!!!

Monday 4 December 2017

Saturday Market Tips: Repairs & Sales...

I can't emphasise enough the benefits of offering repairs and restringing. People are truly desperate for this service, but having grown up in a throw-away culture they have to be educated that, yes, it's possible to inexpensively repair their favourite jewellery, that this service is not restricted to expensive gold and silver items. A couple of dollars (or even less) and they have a new clasp/jump ring or new earwires or a wearable necklace. This has become a lucrative business sideline for me: around $75 on Saturday just on repairs.

 A customer brought in a baggie full of broken 4mm blue stretch bracelet beads on Saturday. We'd talked a week or two ago about possibly adding some other beads when I did the restringing. She sat down and started playing with beads -- she was amazed to see how some colours worked and some just were NOT going to look good, no matter where she put them.

This is what she came up with, still keeping with the fine and delicate 4mm blue beads, but with the addition of 6mm aquamarine, and tanzanite flanking some beautiful moonstone with blue flare.

The lighting is a little off in the photo (taken in a hurry under my OttLite at the market) but her 4mm beads (possibly blue chalcedony or more likely dyed quartz???) and the 6mm aquamarine were almost identical.

Customers can save my design time charge by picking out the beads themselves and making the final design decision to their taste. When they're happy with their choice, they finish their shopping while I string the bracelet (or necklace). She paid for the extra beads and my standard $5 restringing charge.

Later on in the morning... an easy leather bail:

My jewellery-making pal Lynn Dutton in Toronto scored a string of these skulls for me on a recent trip to a New York City bead store. The entire string was scooped by one of my regular customers who loves skulls. Here are the final two chokers I made with the beads.

This is a great style for men's jewellery in particular: about three to four inches of large hole (2mm) mixed metal beads with jump ring spacers on either side of any number of possible pendants, strung on an adjustable leather choker. It's fast, and simple, and looks solid and good on anyone. Changing the proportions of copper to gunmetal beads as I did here transforms the look completely.

When the leather gets gungy, they come back and I restring the beads on new leather.

These pendants had a large hole, so I made a really fast and easy bail out of 1.5mm leather, pushing the two ends of the leather down through the skull and tying it in a knot inside in the back. It's a very secure way of making a bail, and this way I didn't have to fiddle around with wire which would have taken a lot more time.

Thanks for stopping by!

Sunday 3 December 2017

Wrapping a Corroded Old Iron Arrowhead for a Choker...

I bought this solid iron arrowhead from a guy who knew a guy...

Nah, actually, I was wandering around the local antique show a few weeks ago looking for my pal to give her the coffee I'd brought for her and eventually found her. I ended up buying a small box of interesting things, probably paid too much, but "oh, well," right? You want what you want when you want it.

I was told the arrowhead in particular came from Europe and was "old" and "real". That's all the vendor knew. I did some research when I got home and found some information here. Looks to be a longbow arrowhead, vintage the 1600s, used for hunting game like wild boar. Surprising what a heavy sucker it is, too, for its size. It would do some damage, whatever the target.

My next decision was how to wrap it. I didn't want to damage the arrowhead at all and avoid glue unless there's no other way. I figured with all the pitting and corrosion that the wire would have enough to grab onto. The copper wire will eventually tarnish and become a little more blendy. I used a vintage-finish copper jump ring, squashed it down it down to make a D-ring shape to give me two corners to wrap to the arrowhead using 28 gauge bare copper wire. Zig-zagged the wire in back to tighten up any slack. Added three jump rings to jump ring to distribute the weight of the arrowhead on the leather cord.

If you have any old and/or meaningful items that you'd like to have turned into a pendant bring them to me at the Woodstock Farmers Market any Saturday, or contact me here or via email. Maybe I can do something for you.

Thanks for stopping by!