a brush with grace

posted by the scholar on November 17th, 2007
filed under: flotsam & jetsam

i want to tell you that i was present at the design sponge biz ladies meeting last night here at jayson, and it was 1) well attended (100+ people!); 2)well structured; and, 3) well received. the evening was a series of four 20 minute talks about the who, how, where and why of marketing/pr, retailing/buying, wholesaling and scaling a small business, and financial planning. i was quite impressed with the panel of speakers and what was said, and i highly recommend you go if this event ever comes to a city near you.

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as a retailer i did my best to share information with curious people. there were times i got burned by it but for the most part i was glad to tell people what i knew. actually the whole night had me thinking about retail… and if i were to get back into it, what would i do? the hamster wheel in my mind is turning, kids, but let’s just leave it at that for now. you’ll be the first to know if anything comes of my mind’s wanderings, natch.

i said this last night to grace personally, i don’t pay lip service, but she makes her knowledge (and herself) so accessible to everyone and anyone and that is so important to people just starting out in business. thank you grace for sharing what you know and organizing an event that has benefited many, many women around the country. knowledge is power!


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10 Responses to “a brush with grace”

  1. sosser Says:

    right on!

  2. the scholar Says:

    you said it, toots!

  3. feedthedog Says:

    i often drop by here for a peek, very ecceltic little site this.
    oh the joys and woes of being a sole trader business. envious of this design sponge event. have been thinking of revisiting my strategies (!) for marketing, financing etc. for some time now.

    anyways, just thought i’d say HI, “love your work” – always surprised by what i find here.

  4. the scholar Says:

    hello feedthedog,

    i understand your joys and woes – it isn’t easy to run a small business!

    grace has made available the presentation she gave about marketing and public relations on her site. click here to go to the post and access her notes.

    thank you for the visit and for the encouraging words too!

  5. Bri Says:

    That’s great Gigi! What do you mean there were times you got burned? In business, or in the talks? I’d love any pearls of wisdom you’d like to throw our way. 🙂

  6. the scholar Says:

    hi bri,

    well, gee whiz i probably should not have mentioned that but i suppose it is good to get it all out in the open, right? i want to answer by first by saying that there were plenty of people who came through my doors who were artists and crafters and who wanted to know how to sell their goods (in my shop or anyplace) and really did not know how or where to start. i would tell them that i needed photos and a line sheet or catalog of their work, with prices. the downside was that sometimes it became contentious because the people who would walk in unannounced carrying handpainted furniture or whatever items they made, and expect me to evaluate it, price it for them and then buy it on the spot would be put off by my response. but that was the standard practice i used to determine what merchandise to buy. i carried small and limited production items, and knowing that the goal was to have long term relationships with a selected group of vendors was important to me. part of being successful in buying and building customer loyalty on the retail end has to do with consistency, and having confidence in knowing that those companies, however big or small they were, would be able to keep up with their production and orders down the line. very important, because there were plenty that i did do business with that could not keep it up for assorted reasons. does that make sense?

    now here’s the other thing: during the near decade that i was a shop owner no less than 4 former employees of mine quit to open shops of their own. i’m not taking credit for their progress, nor am i begrudging these people’s individual decisions, but i will say that one person in particular worked in my shops for 6 months, and then opened her own place with the same exact departments and merchandise that i had. this upset me and i viewed it as a duplicitous betrayal. i’m an open person and a loyal one too, so it really stung for a while and made me feel like i needed to be more guarded and suspicious, quite terrible feelings that i am not accustomed to!

    fast forward to now though — i’ve put that all behind me, and am looking forward to some new adventures in retailing… i think!

    anyway, i am so sure you are fast asleep now after reading this answer. but thanks for the comment and for asking! 🙂

  7. Bri Says:

    Hi Gigi,
    Hmmm…well I guess all these experiences, once we have some perspective, just get chalked up to “live and learn”. It is very interesting to see how often “artist types” have a hard time with basic business skills and presenting themselves. And how often business people are just out for a buck and have no frame of reference for loyalty or creativity.
    Sooooo, the fact that you are able to be both a professional, organized, consistent business person, AND loyal, creative, and inspiring to others, is quite commendable. That truly is a difficult balance, and hopefully all those experiences have made you that much more savvy, and aware, but not jaded and cynical, because you obviously have a lot to offer. Way to go! I’ll be waiting at the edge of my seat to see what venture you go into next. Whatever it is, I’m sure you’ll kick butt!

  8. the scholar Says:

    bri!

    you are so thoughtful and supportive – anyone would be lucky to have a friend like you!

    yes, if you had gone to the design sponge presentation you would have seen many talented young women designers and artists who weren’t quite sure where to begin. i seriously admire grace for putting her knowledge out there and explaining how to go about doing it in ways that are efficient and professional, because the next guy could be closed or defensive and not say a word, because they don’t want to give their secrets away or they’re too busy to talk to you or they don’t want people copying what they do. i met plenty of those when i was trying to start up a shop, and i tried my best to be as open as i could after i was up and running (and I’m not saying that I was always successful at it every single time, by any means).

    there were questions that came up to panel members like “how did you learn the business side?” which i found interesting because in these years that i have been missing in action from retail, the same theme has prevailed. so live and learn, right? for me it was (and still is) live and learn too, and also about trusting your gut and decision making abilities enough to take chances.

    thanks so much for reading and asking and commenting. you are smart and sharp and it really means a lot to me! 🙂

  9. Bri Says:

    Aww, shucks…you are very welcome. I’m so fortunate the internet has extended my friend territory.

    Being a chatty cathy myself, I’ve always felt that generously sharing what you know will come back positively in your life, than not giving away your “secrets” ever will. So, as long as we stay alert and pay attention when people try to take advantage, it’s just so much more fulfilling to share and inspire others. There are plenty of niches and expertise to go around. No need to hog it. It’s just limited thinking. Okay, I’ll get off my soap box now. 😉

  10. the scholar Says:

    hi bri,

    i could not agree more – what you put out in the universe usually does come back to you with a positive impact. it is enriching.

    and i don’t mind your soapbox one bit!

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