Thursday, December 24, 2009

the Christmas Cheer

It's Christmas time.... (well very very almost) A time of sharing, togetherness, reflection and joy. All of us have a different way of looking at Christmas and that makes the world interesting...


Find below some vids that I consider to be part of the Christmas feeling in some way: some frivolity, some seriousness, sharing the warm fuzzies around. Thank you for reading my posts and I wish you a fabulous New Year: that it may bring you all the best for the future.












Have a great holiday!


Saturday, December 19, 2009

free marketing



so what's the story here?
Goats can be useful. They munch, they are fully eco operational and they provide free cuddles when interested. On top of that: you have yourself a weeds clearing operation. Why didn't I think of this? RENTAGOAT: now available in various breeds to suit your lifestyle... Nico we might have a more sensible use for our fluffy flowers after all (aside from the Angoran wool and the future milking.)

and what's the free marketing? Seeing is believing people.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Age of Free





“Don’t presume your product is still valuable”


Rupert Murdoch is throwing a tanty because media is changing. He doesn’t like it because he can’t control how communication (through Social media) will work from now on. Comparing how the printed media incorporate advertisement to the new business model of selling Free makes sense to me. The focus has shifted a while ago from an advertising medium to no advertising which now is changing to freemium centered models.


“The key is to create the right mix of features to segment out the people who are willing to pay, but without alienating the users who make up your free audience. Do it right, and your conversion rates might be as high as 20%. Do it wrong, and your LTV gets very close to zero.” - Andrew Chen


The “Free” has taken over. The selling occurs through (free) conversation/download and the services and products are being paid for as a result (by select members). It’s mostly about what problem is being solved and what feeling of satisfaction the client has regarding the product that determines whether they’d be willing to pay. The key word here is value and how it’s exchanged. A relationship needs to be established first.


What is Freemium?


“Freemium businesses are companies that generate revenue by offering a free product with an upsell or premium version. Their economics blends elements of the free, advertising-supported, “eyeballs” business with more traditional e-commerce and subscription businesses.” - Eric Ries


Initially it was extensively used exclusively by the Information technology and Internet companies. But with the costs of digital duplications coming down drastically more businesses from diverse areas are moving into this area. The freemium concept due to its inherent nature calls for a high quality product that can be duplicated digitally. This is essential in order to use it in the freemium model - The Freemium Blog: Taylor Davidson


So in this time of Free how do you determine what YOU will give away for Free, if at all?


Good question as all businesses owners now think about this. And: should you really?


Time is the new value. Most of us have enough income to live on; we need services and goods to make our lives easier and to use these items to help us relax. Also: we require programs and products to keep up with the latest technology. How slow will your computer get if you don’t upgrade and look after it?


So how to decide then what fits our needs best? In the changing time of recession many try to reduce cost and find things for free. Once we trust the person selling us something for free, we usually decide to continue using more of their services or we decide to buy their product. This is the method transferred from the digital to the real life sphere where we have a free consultation and then decide to hire the business’ services.


The other aspect that’s interesting is wanting to learn to do things yourself: the how-to-websites continue to glow hot. People want to learn; easy, fast and NOW.


“I will (mostly) give anything Free a go and when Free exceeds my expectations, then you have my credit card; hook, line and sinker.” - Sy Yin Khoo – web & print designer as mentioned in Idealog


The Freemium strategy


The strategy uses the ‘free’ to showcase your actual value. I see it as a shopping window where you see the baker’s scrumptious muffins and breads. You can smell it, get an idea of the taste and you will decide in that moment whether you will go in and come out the shop with breakfast, lunch or afternoon tea or maybe the whole lot.


According to Eric Ries there are 3 models:

  • Free serves paid. Trading 2 currencies + user-generated content sites
  • Free trial. The original freemium model
  • Free as inventory. Pay only when you want access to a person or item.

Bottom line: the decision will have to be made which customers you will have to turn away by default and which ones you will keep. Another word that comes to mind is Niche: determine who your target customer is as you cannot appeal to everyone. Decide what type of consumer you will offer your service to and how you will approach them.


So what’s the story? Provide something they can’t get elsewhere.


A. The conversation is the process.


I see examples of various businesses that – either deliberate or not – use the Free consultation services to build a relationship with the client through conversation. What does this social dance do?


A conversation establishes:

  1. Listening ear: the wants and needs of the client
  2. Education: teaching about the product, client learns
  3. Likeability: establishing emotional connection
  4. Authority: “they know” creates trust, client feels secure
  5. Problems will be solved = satisfaction and peace of mind
  6. Repeat business

“Today the creative person first step is not to find funding and professional help, but to find a customer and make an impression.- Allison O’Neill in Idealog


B. Your unique insight in how to help clients brings you business.


“Your business asset is your insights, not people or good customer service.” - Matt Ayres



You will know when customers tell you how special it is that you help them in your unique way because:


You understand and listen to them
You give them what they want and make sure it’s a winwin deal.
You are actually looking after them
You have a superior product
Your procedure just makes things easy: customer loyalty


C. Adapt to the market


Understanding your target audience, how they think, what their needs are and what you and your service/product can mean to them is essential. It’s your Business guide for Dummies. Think about your mission and what you’re offering. As times change, will you? Your customers are likely to change with the times as well. Be aware: look around, read, talk to people, and keep your ear to the ground. Don’t think it’s just a fad and everything will return like before because it won’t. The main thing is to look clearly at what’s working for you and HOW it’s working for you. That’s the key.


RECAP:
You will have to decide who your target customer is: define niche
Is the freemium business model right for you?
If so: what do you decide to give away for free?
HOW will you integrate the latest technology and developments?

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Christmas spirit

The count down has begun! Lalalalalala oh tannebaum.....



What am I doing? Sharing the Christmas spirit! I have started a fundraiser for Les to enable him to receive funds to get his heating fixed as he is experiencing the winter cold in the US.... So far I have received the twitter support from 6 twitter stars. Let me know if you are excited too to show your Christmas support! Donate 1 item (digital or not) that we can sell off. As a Christmas Spirit Supporter you will be mentioned on the RES (cue) LES website.

And for now; think the lotus...feel the lotus... drive the lotus..... :D

Monday, December 14, 2009

the things we do...



I must be insane at times. There I said it. Work is busy and there's tons to organize at home before my parents fly in for Christmas. Not to mention the fact my business needs occasional attention. But what do I do? I come up with an idea to support a friend of a friend on twitter to see we can raise money to fix his heating system as he hasn't the funds. He lives in the US and it's winter over there. Noble? Maybe. Insane? Definitely.


I guess I can't resist the idea of being able to help someone out and then not doing it because it's not convenient. Truth is: things are never "convenient". Dying relative? Oh not now! (See that sounds horribly insensitive - this is an example ok) Friend in personal drama? Ehm... sure. Organizing all the Christmas presents myself? Absolutely honey! When? Seeing people before Christmas wen I really can't? AArgh. Even my hairdresser is booked to the max. Of course. So I will have to chop my own hair.


Darn darn.


So what do we do? Staple all the to do lists together. Try not to panick. Just start at the top and work my way down. Thinking of that bourbon on Friday.


Now please don't expect any posts or emails around Christmas time at which I will have collapsed in a pile and got the phone off the hook, internet plugged out and it's just me, my dear canoodly husband, our animals, family and friends snoozing on the lawn or hanging about in the pool (not the goaties in that pool 'course) But before then I promise I will work my butt of to keep my promises and to help my friends.


Wishing you restful thoughts and a great family time for Christmas....

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

media is changing

How media has changed:
The 10 ‘Women Online’ Trends 2009



This article was first pucblished about 11 months ago - how accurate has it been? Very very turns out.

"2009 is a make-it-or-break-it year for nearly every business in existence today. And as for women’s websites and communities, we think this industry is also in for a bit of a shakeup" Wendy Piersall

1. Women’s Ad Networks Glam media, Blogher, MomLogic, Martha’s circle are a couple of the women’s ad networks. Consolidation may be upcoming. The online advertising industry is best positioned to weather the economic storm, albeit with only moderate growth. For publishers, it’s therefore getting harder to get in the networks.


2. Women’s Social Networks. Piersall sees an epidemic of social networks to women, and in particular, moms. She points out that winners will be social networks and online communities for the top three activities women engage in online: shopping, reading the news, and socializing.

3. Number of Women online. Numbers will go up, as out-of-home entertainment with the recession will become more popular.

4. Social Media Marketing. Since social communities are here to stay, and women are extremely active in these communities, companies and brands are getting to the point where they can’t ignore social media marketing any more.

5. Beyond Advertising. Online communities will change their business models, introducing products, services and incentives instead of 100% advertising based models. The number of social shopping networks will increase: a mix of Engadget, Facebook and Shopping to find new ways to generate revenue.

6. Companies will Lean on Recession-Proof Industries. Craft retailers, health & skin care, groceries & cooking, children’s clothing and educational products are all relatively safe places to be in 2009.

7. Women Love a Deal. In 2009 women, and especially moms, who are increasingly online will ‘need’ a sale; so bargain hunters may increase activity across networks of sites, even in this economy. The lowest prices will win, and any site that serves up savings is going to do well.

8. Local Family Recreation & Travel Moms seeking cost-effective activities for their kids will be turning to the internet to find more things to do close to home. Families will go camping, do more locally at parks, attractions, and local tourist destinations, all to be sought online.

9. Think Green. Green will become mainstream in 2009. Women will be doing more (online)research about living more eco-friendly and finding green products.

10. How to- sites. The discussion about trends gave trend number 10, ‘how-to’ sites will do well.

writer: CEO, Wendy Piersall of Sparkplugging, a US blog network dedicated to work at home resources

Monday, December 7, 2009

Happiness



So what IS it with happiness? All of us seem to be continually on the lookout. What if this... when will I win Lotto? But why would you want rescuing from your life? What could you do now to change it, and most of all: your perception of it?


Here's the Recipe for Happiness:
  1. Be a do gooder
  2. Don't sweat decisions
  3. Spend well> experience
  4. Aim high - but not that high!
  5. Be a joiner
  6. Stop dwelling
  7. Be grateful
So there you go,  that wasn't so hard to follow was it?  Forget about the result of the soup though... it's how you decide to cook it that makes the difference.


(Source of how to be happy)

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Joi of Design





Now and again, when I'm very fortunate, I meet likeminded creatives that are slightly off the wall too. Joi Murugavell is a Designer Extraordinaire and works as an Art Director for her own business Joi Design, which she owns with Casper Buchanan. She works both in Melbourne - Australia, as well as in Auckand - New Zealand, and San Diego - US.

Last weekend I was very humbled to find on Twitter that Joi had done her "Oodlies" inspired by 4 people, 3 stars: @lewisbostock @simonmainwaring @audaciousgloop (Simon Young) and then also this Dutch chick she had met recently @QualityLMiriam... (read her posterous-post here)



I find her illustrations truly wonderful, Joi's style reminds me a bit of the artist Miro, who's work I'm still very fond of. Joi's "Oodlies" excude such a flirtatious wonder of life. They Zing Zang and go POPPPPPP!!!!!!



I also follow Simon Mainwaring. Simon is an advertising creative director, branding consultant, speaker and author based in Los Angeles US. Check out his website here.

The truth is there are many very active and intelligent cookies to discover beyond the usual realmness of our daily lives... Lewis Bostock (website here)  is a Public Speaker, Video Blogger, Citizen Journalist, Independent Filmmaker, Film Critic, Social Media Consultant. Another Kiwi, Simon Young has just started branching out in #SY (website here). Simon is a social media consultant, entrepreneur, writer and speaker.


 
So what did I want to touch on with this post? That unexpected things happen; that the wonderousness of people can still touch and amaze us.
That this week I'm very happy to catch up regularly with Joi -she is working on a snazzy project which involves my humble bovine-, but also with another Miriam I have met this week who is as cookie nerdy as me and then there's the lovely Shauntelle, who's finishing off an interview with me for her website. More about that very soon! Keeping you woockily doodly posted.....

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Passion


The word passion is popping up a lot. I've been spotting it online on twitter, reading about it in Idealog (my favorite NZ mag) and in blog posts of various geeks.

At the moment I'm reading a book -bits of it at every opportunity- about motivation, career changes, drive, psychology and work satisfaction. The main question is: why do we do what we do? And muy importante: how to stop working! When you have passion then work is no longer 'work', as the drive has taken over the conventional 9-5 stamina attitude. It's about actually wanting to work as it becomes what you love to do.

Also great work is about getting back to the grind instead of living it up after one success (example: Coco Chanel). Read: dedication baby. The new generation seems not to like to work diligently -generally speaking- because they are used to immediate gratification. Everything HAS TO BE now. Why wait later to finally drive that flash car? Why not have money now? But I want to go overseas NOW?

Most of us envy the people who absolutely love what they do. They get up happy in the morning and bounce around exuding an aura of satisfaction. They inspire others by simply enjoying their life. They set an example, they raise the bar and they inspire. I guess the combination of possessing that good karma to know what you love, to dedicate yourself to your cause and to appreciate that which you already have unify the pleasure of work. (Also it pays to find out if you are a dreamer or a visionary here -article by fellow Businessblogger Charles)

Believe in what you do, share the joy and knowledge around and support others in their search and you will contribute more than you think. Be passionate! Find out what your zesty thrill buttons are - what really spins your wheels?

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Accents


Interesting. Seth Godin makes a point on his blog today that differentiation shaped by your accent can work as a disadvantage if you're not aware of it... He refers to how you speak, not necessarily your accent as such. It's about "the way you write and act. More than geography, accents now represent a choice of attitude." (read Seth's blog post here)

His point is that if you are different from him, he is less likely to trust you. This is where it gets interesting. Naturally we all relate to people we can easily connect with as they seem to be LIKE us and we all know like attracts like. The question should be: which kind of people would be open to the conversation on your particular accent? It's a mistake to want to appeal to everyone, you want to appeal to certain someones, and you should know who they are.

This natural selection process can work as a means of navigation in this crowded world of voices that: want to be heard, are looking to find answers, solutions and meaning. Instead of screaming loudly on twitter that you should be followed because you are so darn special, it would pay to listen first. They may listen if you have a news worthy accent and bring a remarkable story to the table. So the accent is not just a 'front' which enables you to connect to similar accents, but to lift this accent in such a way as well that it becomes something that by nature will attract attention, not because it's aiming to find it.

An accent is only interesting if it has value because people want to know about what story it is telling, not because they need to hear it all. Listening however is more of a factor in connecting with others then it is to speak. Put your ear to the ground, talk later.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Summer is here!

Yay! We are ready for some serious sun and icecream action over here!
Hemptech has realeased upholstery fabric 'Cows and Couches' and the cushion prints of 'Summer' featuring Pukeko birds and jandals I designed for them.


The Summer design is available in 2 colour ways! Don't they look snazzy summery perky?

Cows and couches upholstery fabric:

I think they look awesome!

I get asked sometimes, where do you get your inspiration from?
Well... ask Kate (below) and Kuddles. Nieces Cutie and Sweetie also make a dashing note. Their dad Carlin is a fullbreed Highland bull and has a face as broad as a pickup truck's wheel. Many people think he's scary, but he's quite a softie bless him.


Then of course there's the fanclub....

And my personal advisor Diva Spunky. It's true, pigs are very intelligent. She wasn't sure about those funny blue birds as she had seen them just now and again in the fields below, but she was tripping on the jandals. Get me some pink ones she said.

So finding inspiration is definitely not the hardest part of designing, it's finding the time to do it, and to make squishy cushions that are fun for you in your home.

Monday, November 16, 2009

goats man, that's what

In case you were wondering: goats rock the kazba. Oh yeah.



It may seem incredible: much of the story behind the new feature film The Men Who Stare at Goats (featuring Jeff bridges, George Clooney, Ewan McGregor and Kevin Spacey) is based upon secret U.S. government programs to turn paranormal phenomena into operational intelligence.

For more on the story behind the goatstarring:
movie trailers and writer Jon Ronson

Friday, November 13, 2009

the busy-o-meter

When do you hear anyone saying these days that they’re quiet, have nothing to do and are bored in the weekends? That’s right: NEVER. Our lives have become trends of busyness: the more worn out we are, the more we seem to score. But do we? Maybe it used to look interesting, but only till we reach the point of actual exhaustion and have a Burn out, then all of a sudden the busyness does not seem so cool anymore.

This morning I heard that yes the newly printed Pukeko cushion design AND the full upholstery fabric samples will be send to me today, they have been so FRANTIC at fabric manufacturer Hemptechs (excuse the pun) that there was a delay in getting the samples to me! But, all good things come to those who wait, and even better: to those that ASK.

What have you done so far this month that puts you on your brownie-points-yeehaa-achievable-meter and what have you organized that actually ensures continuous sanity and YOU-time?

It REALLY doesn’t matter if you’re busy or not, it does matter what you do with your time….

#1 be effective
#2 work smarter, not harder
#3 know your priorities
#4 set your boundaries (preserve you-time)
#5 have fun

Thursday, November 5, 2009

re invention


Do we continue to re-invent the same wheel? Yes and no.
Yes we do go in circles and no, we discover a new way by spiraling out of the box we were in.

The good news is that there are always ways around something or to just take a left and get off that busy highway of 'destined life'. We can choose not to churn out another 2 years at the same job or to finally decide to take fate in our own hands and design our website ourselves, learning WordPress and figuring out how to earn a revenue online. It just takes a bit of time to get our head around learning something new. The decision to change, is made more quickly.

I've decided to turn a leaf in my book. Not because I don't like the book, but because I think it's time to redevelop my abilities. Adding on to my experience seems to be a more interesting pursuit opposed to accepting the status quo and putting myself in parking mode. By more then one person it was suggested to stay with a certain action plan just because it would be easier. This I do not understand because of the reason stated above. I wouldn't learn anything new. To me, no progress equals no life.

I keep having very interesting conversations online and offline. They give me ideas; I find information which takes me further. You see, there are always going to be people who do what they do better then you. That, however, is not the point. If you have the predicament like me, to find yourself unable to cram yourself in a box so others can understand and label you, then it's time to assess the box and see whether it's necessary to establish any parameters for such a box. Do we want the box? Is the box useful? Do we really need one?

The problem with being an outsidethebox-er, is that it will also be more challenging to identify the 'target' audience, and therefore it will be harder to market to them. A consistent story gives a clear image and result. People are getting smarter though. They may find what they are looking for, but in this day and age the trend develops of your interests finding you. As a consumer, we need a more proactive approach to regulating what we let into our lives unless we are happy to let a stampede of media in.

The more complex the technicalities of our modern world get, the more interesting the conversation becomes, and the easier it is to connect. The contradiction is that there is so much on the market, yet it also becomes easier to pinpoint who shares your interests. The downside is that it's challenging to disconnect yourself from it.

As Chris, a commenter on Gapingvoid's blog said: "For me, the BlackBerry has become much more of an intru­sion than a pro­duc­ti­vity tool. I know plenty of peo­ple swear by their BB’s and ipho­nes. If that’s what they need to get their job/life mana­ged, so be it. I still have my Mac Book, etc, but I need SOME space/time when I am not wired in, and igno­ring the BB when it chirps and buz­zes isn’t wor­king. Plus, about $75/month savings!"

Hugh Macleod is a great example of a Creative who is knotting out his Niche. He is a business card cartoonist, a CEO of a South African winery, he's written a book on (social media) marketing and has -very successfully- build a Tribe of followers: the Crazy Deranged Fools. What he has nailed is combining his talents and uniting his activities under one banner. Basically he is now selling Stormhoek's wine in Texas through promotion (conversation) which shows his famous cartoons on the bottles and through both his website as well as his promotional work he sells Art prints of the cartoons, and selling his book on Marketing. I find this fascinating, as he successfully blends all his talents, which is not an easy thing to do.
These Renaissance people are on the rise: they blend their multiple talents into one brand. And the interesting thing is that the brand is personified: it's about the story, the unique product and the person behind the work. We will see more and more of this Niche type brand building then ever before. I'm also trying to knot out how to fit my interests and abilities in a format that makes sense to others, and how to present that.
And I know this: Business has become personal. Is there any other way?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Point of difference


Communication, whether online or off, can be altered to suit the writer. We all make our own truths, create our own private vision of the world. Now why would our view -generally speaking- be so different from someone else's? Because it will be like reading the same book, but told by a different person. Other highlights here, deleted paragraphs there. That, I find interesting. The whole concept of uniqueness and yet of sameness. Things may look similar, but are not.

I was going to write about my fabric today. That I'm working on morphing the Cows & Couches cushion design into a full blown upholstery pattern, how exciting this is, as it's to be printed for a cow rancher in the US. I was going to tell you about my Highland girls Kate and Elsie who inspired me. A lovely story about personality and fuzzy vavoom with horns. So what happened? Something else did of course: I got another idea to write about. (Apologies to the lovely Kate & Elsie.)

You see, (financial) planning is not my strong suit, organizing things I can do. I wouldn't say that I always 'wing it' in what I do, but I go with my inner compass which has worked brilliantly thus far. Thinking and planning of course has its merits. We don't jump into something we should think more about, like marriage, buying a house or whether to get used to eating pizza every Friday night. Then I realized something while reading 'Industrial Design Portfolio Advice: Back to Basics', an article by Designdroplets. Instead of following their excellent advice straight away I thought: sometimes it can be just fine to run with an idea and continue to work on it while you're running instead of waiting till it's all ready. Why?

You miss out on the fun of learning, meeting new people and finding new clients while not experimenting but wanting to do it 'right'. Even if they find you on your imperfect website, they at least find you. Naturally this could give you the image of being premature or unpolished as it's clearly in transition. To be honest: does it matter? Whether someone likes what we do or not, it's about carrying out our own ideas and seeing if they come to fruition. I'd rather not wait till I'm all properly prepared but just go for it. Maybe that is silly. Heck it could be. I know it takes time to perfect a website and get an online store up and running. The trial and error phase is definitely an essential part of the process IMHO.

And the truth is: we are never ready. Even if you finally stand up to get started: whatever it was that spun your wheels before, it may have ceased to matter. It's like saying: ok we will have a child now only to find out you can't have them anymore (because you waited too long to decide and your ovaries went on a permanent vacation or your partner's sperm has stopped swimming uphill and the whole IVF is not what you want to get into).

We can think too much, get too worried, always planning to conquer life. (Whatever that is.) For what? They don't say for nothing: We plan our lives and God laughs. It's great to learn, lets' not start by limiting ourselves or dictating an essay about how it all should be. Life is now, just have that coffee and smile to your neighbour or the strange lady passing in the street.

Start on your project. Write your own story as it comes to you. Do what feels right. You know best. And yes if that means you do want to plan it all then go for it, research does have its benefits, just don't wait too long to reach "Stage Perfect". It may not happen. You may regret the wait later.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Back to basics


I have tried to narrow down what topics I write about. Truth be told: I like quite a few things which could confuse people as I shift from one field to another.

So... what the heck do I do? Really?

A creative whizz popsicle like me tends to enjoy:

  • communicating with others: what makes you tick?
  • connecting people (network beastie)
  • design: whether it's 2 dimensional or 3 dimensional...
  • live the good life (farm)
  • writing + learn in whatever capacity

So by implementing all of the above I enjoy doing my interior styling and advice work, chat to clients, network with people both in and out of the industry, design for New Zealand fabric company Hemptech, design my new line of jewellery for Bonvivant, write my blogs and also post on Businessblogs. I enjoy looking after the farm animals, they rock, especially the goats. And I learn, every day, or as my husband says: I have my moments :)

So I'm grateful for all of you for bearing with me, as I am finding my way in building my business and work, how to shape my blog, enjoy being happy at home, and write to you about various things that occupy my whirry brain.

All I can say is: I hope you're enjoying your life as well! Feel free to email me if you fancy a catch up or chat online: I can be found on different social media for your convenience. Have a good one!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

replay button


A friend of mine says certain events in our life may be repeated until we ‘get’ it. I’m sure you know as well as me, that it is in fact interesting how things can seem to have hit the replay button now and again. There may be a year of so in between, or even months. Oh dang! It’s THAT again. Bugger. Now what to do:

1. Ignore the situation altogether
2. Mull it over too much (analyze it until it creeps you out)
3. Gain some insights and recognize it for what it is

Naturally it’s nice when we get door number 3. It helps to see what the situation is for and how to change the way we behave and think, in order to ‘get it’ and evolve. It doesn’t mean you have to change yourself as such by force, more about integrating what you understand and choosing something different from now on. By being you and understanding why you react the way you do or why certain things seems to happen -just with a different person in a different setting- helps.

Life is not Monopoly. Still it makes sense to not hit our head repeatedly. One step at a time and surely we will get there. We think. Oh jeepers, now there is something else again! Why oh why? Well would you want a pre ordered menu then? Nah. Too boring.

When you start enjoying the experience, you love living life. It’s not about avoiding the cracks or the pitfalls but learning to spot them before hand and go oh goodie! Found another one, yay! I know this one!! (Bouncing up and down now.) Also it pays in general to just focus on what does work well and not worry too much (gives you headaches and aspirines are not to be used like lollies).

So there you go: there’s no shame in making a mistake, having to learn something again, or to repeat an experience. I’m in favor of nice ones though. It’s sure amazing how that Law of Attraction kicks ass.

Monday, October 12, 2009

attitude


I write a lot about attitude. I think I do because I find it so fascinating that people's psychological outlook reflects directly on how their lives develop. I have found great joy and benefit in seeing people that have the same upbeat attitude I generally have. Recently I have noticed how some people I started to see less off are complaining and that they get upset when things don't work out the way they want to. From my own experience I can say that if you force your hand, or make demands on other people, it's definitely not going to take off. It will crash and burn. Results: zero.

On the other hand: if you share something of value with someone, and you know they have an interest in it, things can pick up and develop almost by themselves. I find it's definitely more preferable to meet people who are on the same wavelength and who are actually keen to work hard and enjoy what they do. It's not about fluffy positive thinking, it's about awareness. Choosing who you associate with is more important then you realize, so choose carefully. I try and see people who like to peek outside of their world and comfort zone. They know things I don't, which is cool and I always learn from them. I'm an inherent giver and like to help others out when I hear they are looking for something or someone particular.

Putting the effort and the belief in what ever it is you enjoy doing most, it will always grow. Sharing it in such a fashion that your gift is received happily and respectfully, makes all the difference. There is a time and place for everything, sometimes you cut yourself by wanting something to happen too quickly, or it runs away with you as the process is actually quicker then you are. Is it all linked with your attitude? You betcha.

"Share you ideas and work with those who you respect and want to learn from, if people are stuck in a set way of thinking, choose to keep your thoughts to yourself."

light shown: Alex Earl of Melbourne, Australia

Thursday, October 8, 2009

dedication


I've noticed recently that some people I know seemed to have the notion that I must have a lot of play time on my hands. Because why, I seem to be able to follow social media and write blogs. Forgive me but I'm baffled. Today someone literally said: "I don't have time for that as I'm too busy."

Writing blogs and following others on Twitter is not because I'm a lady of leisure, it's because I like to know what's happening out there. I've been writing since I set foot in New Zealand in 2002, it's not a recent thing. In order to sell my jewellery it's also helpful that I'm easy to get to know. To sum it up: I like writing, have a passion for designing and I love people.

I get the strong impression that many think sales is about getting to know people so they can sell their products or services. Buzzer! No. I sell both more furniture and jewellery when people trust me, because they like me, and value what I offer them. But the connection comes first, never the product. It's about building a relationship, not to 'score'.

Marc is from Business Blogs twitters (@BusinessTalk). He is on Facebook as well to promote Business Blogs of which he is the Founder, he's director at Mobilize Mail and owner at PropertyTalk.com. He runs these businesses from Wellington. He's a very busy man and has invited me to join Business Blogs. I am grateful that he appreciates my stories and that I'm getting to know him.

Marc says: "If you are not passionate about what you are doing then you will fail. Only do what you are passionate about as the passion will get you up in the morning after working 4 years without a holiday and keep you going when it all seems to get too much."

Is he someone to lounge about? I don't think so. How does business work: we trust someone, we like their services or products, we listen to them and we talk. Online and offline chats both have their value.
Word of mouth even works in the twittersphere. What's important is how we think and what we spend energy on, how we represent ourselves and how we do our promotion. Things are changing. As my work dictates I have to stay put during the day, online media is another way of staying in touch. I have found Businessblogs a great read, have inspiring articles and good information.

"Buyers research online before making a purchase decision so if you cannot be found via search, blogs, forums or social media networks then you don’t exist! Businesses also need to gain trust with buyers and continue to deliver value. BusinessBlogs.co.nz increases the awareness of your brand and message." So building your name is groovy, but it starts with your passion. What makes you tick and how is that different from anyone else?

Basically: if you love your work: awesome. If not, you might like to think about why the heck you do what you do, and HOW. (Visit Jonathan Mead's website and download his free ebook on the Zero work week, which is what I'm currently reading.)

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Interior Styling III

After the house frontage (I) and entryway (II) we are today focusing on

The Living room.

The thing is that a lounge, or living room, takes a bit of work. Most people tend to fret about the seating, the carpet/flooring and possibly the drapes. Especially the drapes can bring up discussions as they are surprisingly personal.

Where to start?

a) overview: draw up a plan to scale. (Yes you heard me get the tape measure out ok)

b) review

  • get a friend, neighbour or colleague to come in and quickly dot down what they notice about the room in an honest manner. (This may prove hard so ask someone that is allowed to hurt your feelings. Remember they're here to help you.)
  • at the same time make a quick list about your own gripes and loves of the room. What have you wanted to do to it and why?
  • Compare results

c) Think big: what feel/image would you like to create? How does this contrast with the existing scenario? Gather clippings from magazines to distinguish what you like.

d) Foremost: think practical: do you have kids? How many people in your household? Do you want that tv blaring while you have friends over? Is the kitchen close by? How 'easy maintenance' do you want the house to be? Do you have pets? Where is the scratching post to go if you have one? Where do the kids play? Is there access to the garden? Is there a deck outside? How about your privacy? You may be able to have sex on the couch and then again the retired couple next door might get offended. Lots to contemplate. Does the dog sleep here or in the wash house/garage? Yep, more to consider!

e) Flooring: we always start from the floor up, so: carpet, timber, tiles or other? Do your homework on benefits/maintenance and comfort.

Many New Zealanders love carpet whereas Europeans rip it out and love their timber floors. Having some rugs can be a happy medium. [Note: kiwis tend to take their shoes off at home walking barefoot or on socks so carpet makes more sense, Europeans tend to keep their shoes on so whatever flooring there is it will work. This is a taste and cultural choice.]

f) Walls: if you have kids, be aware of crayon drawings so wallpaper might be not so convenient unless your can be very strict (and still be surprised). Vinyl wallpapers could work.

What are the benefits of paint over wallpaper? With paint you can change a room quicker, (and paint over crayon) but wallpaper creates more of a statement. (Yes there is scrubable paint and wallpaper - yay) Personally I think wallpaper works well if your interior is more contemporary bland, but if the furniture and artworks are quite colorful and distinct then it makes perfect sense to stick to paint to balance. I think Designer Guild works only if you have more of a Zen approach to seating arrangements.

g) Now: drape. Golden rule: if it's NOT a hallway or bedroom we are working WITH the walls. Meaning: we pick on the colour of the wall and carry this through in the curtains. Why? This way the curtains do not visually brake up the walls but continue on which creates a calming effect and the room feels connected and 'incorporated'. Also the focus will now not be on the windows at night but on the interior, which I always think is a much better idea. [The vilest drapes I've seen are loud, cheap and have a gazillion colours. Please burn these as they break every rule in the sophisticated household. Really! Yes really.]

h) Now that we discussed the choice of flooring, walls and curtains we get to: furniture.

Again: what do you ACTUALLY require? What seating favs does the family have? What do you like? My husband for example likes recliners as so many men do. I think they are generally horrendous - big blobs and no design. [Funny; most interior designers feel this way, especially women!] In the end though it takes figuring out 'who will use what' and what size would fit in a room without clogging it up. I suggested an Eames chair to Nico with a footstool opposed to a 'big blob'. Also I am in favor of asking my employer to make a custom made stereo/player storage piece that will fit the wall opposed to Ikea.
How much furniture? This is where your scale plan comes in: cut out the size of the settee you are thinking of and check to see if there's space to move around. Do you need a coffee table? Maybe not. One side/lamp table may suffice or a coffee table with a nest tucked in the sides for when visitors arrive. Whichever way: you need to be able to walk around on your plan without bumping into anything quickly.

Corner units work in awkward areas and big rooms. I don't advise it if it takes up literally half the room. There are ways to work with smaller spaces. No coffee table maybe or one that changes into a dining table. Get creative. Big rooms: think what you need first and only THEN start filling in suggestions, not the other way round.

So! Buy what style you like and STOP MATCHING. The whole 'matchy thingy' has been done to death. Choose a settee/couch and different chairs, which is more interesting. And try not to make it look 'his and hers' either: choose well and choose design. Save and buy it over time if need be.

Tip: you can also use an ottoman as a coffee table or something else that is interesting compared to a square or rectangular box.

i) Lighting: we tend to forget this element yet it's vital in the living room. Get it right and the room feels warm and cozy, light and airy: whatever the flavor: create ambiance and personality. And please: don't use the centre ceiling light! That's a mistake, we only use a ceiling light when we get home in a daze on weekends and try to plunk the keys on the table when we're on the way to bathroom and bed. We do not use it for anything else. Just pretend you don't have any.

What to use: standing lamps, pendants and table lamps. Don't go completely nuts on trendy designs: let one light be a feature, let the rest work in as a soft background noise. Try different shapes and heights to see what effect they have. You can even use them as you would a standing art work.

Overall reminders:

think cohesive: designs that work like a charm are those that work together and do not fight over attention. Also I will let out an interior design secret here:

if you start with using only 3 colours for the whole room you will create balance, use four and you're in trouble as that is much harder to get right. There's a talent to bringing rooms together and in my styling days in Auckland I learned that whatever I did, if I stuck to the 3 colour rule it'd usually work. Tested and tried. Of course if you're going for a monotone that's different and typically done in bedrooms, not in living rooms as that is the cozy vibrant area.

Material choice: Leather over fabric? Both have advantages and disadvantages, some people say leather is easier to maintain: it depends on the quality and finish. Leather is like skin: it fades or cracks if not maintained! Fabric nowadays comes in UV resistant swatches that work extremely well for the downunder market. The more man-made generally the better wearing but look for the Martindale rub tests etc that will tell you a lot about how long it will wear. Also: Hemptech sells hemp and linen that will take an 8 out of 9 in the fading tests. Brilliant. Leather in winter can be cold, fabric is cozy.

Conclusion: use a plan and think before you buy. Do your homework. Go with what you like and play around with ideas.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

the conversation


Why do it? It adds value and connections. RT (retweet) @LizzHarmon Tip:
In social media age, getting better at PR means getting better at relationships vs. publicity.
So you decided you want to market your business better. How? You market yourself. Online and offline.

Gary Vaynerchuk –the social sommelier- is a great example of how social media can create a killer boost in sales. It’s also about being genuine. As Gary puts it: “Get up there and network. Connect and care about your users. The only way to succeed is to be completely transparent. It starts with the mirror: what do I want to do? It’s not about 9-5, f* that.” The guy is hardcore but clever. He turned his family's small New Jersey liquor store into a wine empire that grosses over $60 million a year. (See excellent video and info here)

Of course many of us network already 'live', and is it effective? What value do you bring? What problems do you solve? Do you educate? What makes you stand out? Most of all: what do you do for others and how is it actually different? It’s about what you can do for someone else that matters. If you chase cash instead of passion it's not gonna work.


What social media to choose:
Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin come out on top, there’s also others like Digg, Delicious, Youtube, Flickr etc. Each one has a different demographic core. Yeah you know the stuff, do you use it?

Benefits:
Connecting, information, chat, leads.

What are the benefits of using social media? Beside meeting other professionals and like minded individuals to network with I have found it an excellent news & information source. On twitter things pop up that conventional media pick up on later. Also there’s excellent reads to learn more about subjects of interest. Suddenly it’s possible to talk to anyone.

"Social media is about sociology and the understanding that with the new social tools available to us, we can more effectively observe the cultures of online communities and listen to and respond directly to people within the communities.” Source: Brian Solis,

So what to do?
You don’t have to become a social media expert to use it. Just start and see what you enjoy best. Give it a month or so to get a feel for what works for you. This Internet fluffy chat stuff is not going to go away. It’s all about the conversation now. More on http://gapingvoid.com/

Want to learn some more?
Essential sources:
1. Seth Godin: http://sethgodin.typepad.com/ number *1 read blog.
2. Gary Vaynerchuk: http://garyvaynerchuk.com/ social media sommelier.
3. Social media strategy and marketing: http://www.gallucci.net/
4. Social media guide: http://mashable.com/
5. Twitter tips: http://www.fastcompany.com/blog/dan-macsai/popwise/report-nine-scientifically-proven-ways-get-re-tweeted-twitter/
6. I have found the NZ http://www.businesstalk.co.nz/ to be very useful too.
7. Last resort: http://www.amazon.com/Social-Media-Marketing-Dummies-Singh/dp/0470289341

Friday, September 18, 2009

Sweet surprise

Warren Buffett is declaring that he feels the worst is over of the big R word in the US (terrorist attacks permitting). Elton John is considering adopting an orphan with his partner and has various folk in uproar and Ralph Lauren showed his latest farmland oasis collection: denim on denim on denim. (source)

As you can see the little house on the prairie is shown in full luster. Sweet, fresh as a daisy, clean and American.

Ralph Lauren himself phrases it like this: "I believe in the resilient spirit of America. Hard times seem to sharpen our capacity of idealism and optimism that tomorrow will be a better day."

That suit above reminds me a bit of the 30s/40s. Interesting.

That reminds me of Britney Spears.
Still: it's quite the surprise. Usually we are shown collections that are slighty askew, wacky or layered (sorry CREATIVE) and that's interesting but to counteract it with this 'sweetness' is well, NEW. I am baffled actually that I like it. O jeez it must be the farmerswive-thing popping up. Crikey.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Interior styling II

To continue from the previous post on house styling/fluffing/decorating/staging's HOW TOs: The hallway.

What to do with it? Hmm... too hard basket?

Often forgotten or neglected, adored or hated but we must all pass this entryway on the way to the interior cave that is our living sanctuary. What does it look like? Barren, shoes everywhere? Too many family portraits? Trip over the dog or cat? Only a ceiling light? Space to hang coats or would you rather choose a closet for that? Wallpaper or paint? Furniture or no, mirror? Carpet or tiles? Again; smell-check, you'll be surprised with how scents influence what we think and feel.

Right: after having made an assessment of the hallway we can change it if we feel that is necessary. One way to make a hallway interesting is lighting. It gives a surprise which I think is always a good idea for the hallway as these usually tend to be predictable and 'safe'. Art is great, I wouldn't suggest you smother the hallway with it as this can feel as being to forceful and can give an overbearing impression. The idea is to create an ambiance that is welcoming, warm and safe. So scrap the idea of having your daughter's fav goth pop group in there.

The hallway my dears is like the gossip alley: what to expect after this? It gives the first impression of your tastes and personality after visitors have seen the front of your house. (Of course you decorate for your own comfort and bearing in mind what a visitor would say helps pick up on hidden and forgotten aspects.)

So! Get to work:

  1. make a list of your observations
  2. make a sketch or ground floor plan.
  3. make notes of what you would like to see there:

furniture, lighting how and wall preference.

I found this company on the net Fun on the floors. Isn't that cheerful? Reminds me very much of Marimekko. I wouldn't expect everyone to like it but it definititely makes a statement and they have done well with the white as that creates a counterbalance for all the zingyness.

Now: depending on size of hallway:

Choose: small hallway? A wallpaper with a pattern can make it look smaller so stay away from that. Plain wallpaper or paint would be preferable, choose an artwork or designer light to get the wow factor. Larger entry? Wallpaper is fine but then choose a timeless light and I always prefer a table lamp somewhere which softens unless you have a very attractive chandelier...

Don't forget practical stuff as that comes first: where is the floor mat if you like one and where does everyone leave there jackets? keys? is there a mirror so visitors can check their appearance? Note: don't hang this opposite the entrance preferably as people don't like to be confronted with their own image unexpectedly (and apparently the feng shui is not improved by it either. Something about the energy entering the house doing a U-turn and dashing out again.)

So to sum it up: there's no 1 cure solution for the hallway but the essentials are:
  • clean
  • smell good
  • mirror to bounce light if needed + handy for visitors (on wall left/right)
  • solution for jackets & keys
  • inviting> have adequate lighting but soft preferably
  • don't use a standard ceiling light! (chandeliers are the 1 exception)

The one thing that creates the all-in-one-spot-on-effect unfortunately only comes with experience... that's how you learn what works and doesn't, but this will give you an enormous head start. Good luck and feel free to email me how you get on.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

jewellery and design trade fair in Queenstown

The new jewellery designs are in and they are stunning! I'm very pleased with how the kiwi and the pukeko have turned out, but most of all the pieces are in nz plywood which I think will do better then the acrylics. I'm keen to develop and grow in the eco/organic market of the niche of high end sustainable new zealand design. More about that in the next few days...


Through twitter I've met the lovely musician and jewellery designer Boh Runga who's been kind in recommending a wholesaler to me for chains. I decided to visit her stockist Kapa Design Gallery in Queenstown and see whether my work would appeal to them to sell, as I was there for the day yesterday. Jackie and Mark turned out to be incredibely nice and we hit it off. They got excited about my designs and we agreed I'm going to supply them with my work. Yay! I'm confident they will sell well there. Their gallery Kapa Design is located in Rees street and -of course- beautiful. I'm very proud to have my work on display there.

As you can imagine I'm quite the bouncy fluff bunny today and Nico had to laugh as I'm still fizzing. He joined me for the day to Queenstown to visit Furnatex which is a furniture/interior design tradefair held once a year there. It was wonderful to see the new fabrics and furniture designs. We were particularly taken with a clever coffeetable Davies Furniture came up with that transforms in a small desk/table. Very handy for lofts and small appartments. Today I've been busy with clients coming in who require furniture or solutions for their interior with drapery and wallpaper. It's all good and I'm happy.

Wallpaper by Harlequin

furniture and accesories by Kovacs

More new furniture by Montreux