Luxury Basics Blog
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I am encouraged by so many good things happening in our economy, at long last. Now that it's Spring, for me, it's time to start looking in the closet and reevaluating what belongs and what doesn't. That's my next task. In my case, the closet, which my father refers to as "the tunnel" has a myriad of opportunities to go back in time - if I'm in the mood. If not, those beautiful clothes of a few years gone by continue to pile up and suck up the room that my new additions need. Every season, it's like this. What to keep, what to give up. For some, this process is not a big deal. For others, like me, there may be history in the clothes that I am not yet ready to part with. I'm sure that I do hold on too long to some things, knowing full well that I won't wear them again, yet I still want to see them in my closet. I try to choose a morning to start the "repurposing" process. It can sometimes take a few mornings to complete. Right now, I'm still sitting with all of my dark winter clothes in front of me, with 70 degree weather and sunshine outside. I'm very aware of my ambivalence about this closet purge - not quite ready to change. Maybe tomorrow morning. I have been dreaming of new jewelry designs, lately - surely a good sign that my optimism is returning. I'm looking forward to a much better second half of this year.
It's been a long slog through the past year of the economic roller coaster. Over time, it becomes difficult to live in the dark places of gloom and doom. I know that for many, things have only changed for the worst. For many others, things were never that bad but the mood darkened even the lightest of times. Like so many things in life, acting the part can often get you the part. Most people in our country pulled back drastically in spending, (including those that really didn't need to) and made things even worse. Understandable, we were all worried that the country was going down the poop chute. We pulled back and then almost drove it down that chute. In the most broad sense, our country has been traumatized with a severe loss of economic wealth and up until Christmas was acting like Scrooge on steroids. Thankfully, Christmas brought out a little reaching into the pocket, thereby rescuing what was looking like a retail debacle, with reverberations throughout the rest of the economy. Listening to the pundits, both economic and otherwise, it appears likely that our recovery will neither be easy, smooth nor fast. Instead, we are looking at a bumpy ride over the next couple years, as the country struggles to resorb lost jobs, lost industries and lost opportunities. Day to day may feel pretty similar to what it has been - mixed news on the economic front combined with the assorted political stalemates that are paralyzing our country. In spite of the upcoming uncertainty, there still can be room for a small bit of cheer. We have somehow averted cataclysmic disaster economically and we are on the long, windy road back from the brink. This is the situation now - better than the situation before. So what do we do about it? Try to develop a more positive attitude to the present and near term. Thinking positively will help in every way. I am dusting off my jewelry and creating some new designs. I will start to move my inventory into stores shortly. I am thinking creatively about my business prospects and considering new approaches. If the worst is behind us, then we must conclude that good is ahead of us. Many very successful businesses began at low points of our economy and built from there. It can be done. Just not overnight. So we need to get some sleep and start putting the pieces back together slowly and steadily, better than before. That's what I'm trying to do now and I feel better already.
I'm sure that this Chistmas, like the one that passed in '08, will long be remembered - for the misery, the uncertainty and the wholehearted lack of enthusiasm blanketing the holidays. Yes, I have been out at the malls, I have visited the main shopping streets in Pasadena, Beverly Hills, Santa Monica. I have heard the Christmas music piped in through the trees on the street and in the malls throughout. Looking around, though, without the music prompt and just looking at the faces of strangers passing me by, I get the distinct, gut feeling that many are deer in the headlights, frozen in Christmas space, wondering what to do next. It is definitely an anxious time for many. For some, it is even worse. Yes, I know that a large percentage of us are still fine, thank you and managing quite well. I'm glad. We can't all go to hell in a handbasket. Those of us that are better off need to step up this holiday season to contribute to the welfare of many who are hungry and unemployed. This season, I suggest thinking and doing something about what the Christmas holiday actually stands for - goodwill to others. Sorry to say, but lately I notice a profound lack of even basic consideration of others - in stores, on the street, everywhere. It's time to take a step back and consider that all of us occupy a place in this society. Common regard for others in the form of courtesy and respect is what a civilized society practices. I do hope for a better year in 2010. I know that I will have a part in making it better by doing and being the best person I can be. Difficult to do, but if you take it one day at a time, it is easier. Have a joyful and healthy holiday season. Here's to a more prosperous and stable new year.
Actually, shopping isn't the real issue, it's buying. So, rephrased - to buy or not to buy? My new motto for this coming Fall and Holiday season is, "Buy better, buy fewer." But, then again, I have always been a quality buyer. Over time, you do wind up with quantity, yes, but all of what you have is quality pieces. As a classic Midwesterner, this has been the approach that made the most sense. I really hate the idea of buying something, spending real money on it, and then essentially throwing it away because it was either too trendy and looked stupid two seasons later, or it was poorly made and didn't survive a couple of cleanings. Or, in the case of jewelry, was a piece of costume junk that broke or bled black or green on my wrist, neck, shirt or fingers. So, my interpretation of all of the financial calamity is to make more out of less. Pay off the credit cards and make a new habit of being highly discriminating in your purchasing behavior. I notice that most of the fashion magazines are focusing once again on investment dressing. Further, it appears that many of the manufacturers are starting to ever so quietly, ease up on pricing. The designer discount sites on the Web seem to be generating very substantial sales and that's good, because it does send a message to the designers that women don't want to be suckers. Last year, women sent the message that they were finished with stratospheric pricing and stopped spending (some had to, others simply got tired of being gouged). Even I was shocked at some of the typical markups on some of these items. Very excessive. On the other hand, there is so much competition and so much talent out there, in order to make a living, many thought that high prices would be a safer bet. Last year, that philosophy stopped working. So, it's on to a new season of still very expensive clothing, shoes and purses, minus a few key players in each category. Jewelry has taken the biggest beating, I think, because it is so unnecessary. I am hopeful that some rationality will ultimately prevail in the fashion industry, though I believe it will take time to recalibrate the designers, manufacturers and retailers to the "new normal" in women's purchasing behavior. It's been a wild ride this past year. On September 15th last year, the market began its collapse, and the world since then has changed dramatically, maybe permanently. Fingers crossed on getting through the rest of this year without more of the same.
I haven't been writing too much on this (mostly) unread blog, mainly because the "externals" have been so bleak. The world news, the economic news, the California strife etc. have not been very encouraging for the Luxury Basics jewelry business. Many of the fashion magazines have gotten the message that spending for frivolous items has gone by the boards - probably for a long time to come. Maybe this is the new normal, watching what and how you spend and making sure that you put something away for that rainy day. This behavior certainly characterized my childhood and growing up years. Materialism was not the center of our existence - not that we didn't crave certain items. We saved for them. Silly notion. I guess that has been where I have been coming from all along with my premise for this jewelry business. Buy quality. Real gold, real pearls, real jewels. Invest in the things that you really love and leave the rest behind. Of course, buying what's in fashion now is completely fun - but it's also an expensive habit to maintain. What's in today will be out tomorrow. Classic is always in, though not as much fun. Much easier on the pocketbook, though, and easier on your head when you go to sleep at night. Fewer wrinkles of worry. Less Botox. See, it does make sense. Adjusting your head to the new reality of limits will result in less worry and over time, more hopefulness about the future and your ability to be happy and satisfied with the life you are living.
Of course I love fashion. I love to see it in magazines, on the street, on cool-looking, well-put-together women and everywhere I go. This Spring's fashions mainly win my vote, with a couple of qualifications. First, the shoes. The platforms, hidden or obvious, and the sky high heels to me, at least, are at best, whimsical. They are only made for viewing, certainly not for walking more than a few steps, mainly for sitting, I think. The prices are as high as the heels, stratospheric - certainly hard to rationalize as a must-have wardrobe addition, given the limited use. I could be wrong, but it seems to me that the whole lot, including those sandals with a grid going up your ankle, can only last a season. By Fall, they should be well hidden in the back of the closet, if you broke down and got a pair. The same with the jewelry. So big, so chunky, most of it so unattractive, too heavy. Some of the pieces out there in the magazines and stores are so large and heavy, you would need to be a giraffe to comfortably wear them. Or maybe Queen Victoria, who was prone to large pieces. I am hoping that the oversized, excessively decorated pieces will also find their way to the back of the drawer by the end of the season, as well. I find that while being part of the fashion business, I still need to be true to my instincts and my talents as to what really, truly looks good on a woman. It's one thing to want to look fashionable and stylish, it's another to wear something that actually detracts from your attractiveness or looks just plain ugly and inappropriate. I believe that it's important to keep in mind what you are trying to achieve with any particular look. Also, it's important to keep in mind that others will be looking at you and forming opinions, just like they did of Susan Boyle last week. She had the opportunity to change people's minds when she performed. You may not get the chance. I do respect the talent and creativity out there in the fashion world. Not everything works. I don't think that the men designing the 7 inch shoes would be caught dead in them. Nor would the men designers of the heavy jewelry put one of those necklaces on for more than a second. It feels like wearing a ball and chain around your neck. I know that fashion can require sacrifice. Just have some perspective.
Such a horrible last three or four months, at least as we move into March, the days will get longer and things will start to bloom. Spring is really my favorite time of year. So what is there to say? I have been conspicuously absent these last couple of months, basically trying to assess the local, national and world situation, on an absolute basis and of course, on how it all relates to me. We all know what the news is. The question that remains is how to maintain a positive attitude, generate enthusiasm and move forward? Challenging.........but I am trying. I have created a new section in my webstore - The Must Have Work Week Wardrobe - where I have boiled down the items from my various Collections to the essential few that will take the working woman through her week, out at night and traveling. You can find it on the Home Page and click from there. I will be sending out a Press Release shortly. I'm still creating new pieces and have a fresh Collection waiting to be photographed. Maybe in late spring or early summer. So many of my friends are experiencing the trauma of the downturn emotionally, though not necessarily financially, the timing just doesn't feel right yet. In the meantime, this whole economic nightmare gives us all a chance to cultivate the notion of living each day as it comes and celebrating the small as well as the big. Spending a little money, or giving a little money (or both) also wouldn't hurt. What's important now is to take the control of the things that are within your control and stop ruminating over those that are beyond your control. Stay focused on the good, watch less news on TV, and hopefully, by the end of this year, things will start to improve. Fingers crossed.
The old saws of "counting your blessings" and "be thankful for what you have" may fall a lot short for many people this holiday season. It can be hard to live on lemonade when life hands you all those lemons. And for those of us that are more fortunate at this moment in time (and we all know that this condition can change) it is up to us to reach out to those that are paddling in a boat with some holes in it. If we all do a little, then the misery may moderate, at least a bit. A good thing to remember is that the ecomony does swing back and forth. Since we are currently in the "swing back" mode, it is really critical to keep in mind that at some point in time the economy will "swing forth." We just hope that the swing forth stage happens in our lifetime! But I believe that it will. So, instead of dwelling on the negatives this holiday season, and surely, there is plenty that we can dwell on there - I think it would be time better spent to assess how to "do your life different" this coming year. Focusing on the qualitative in life, not the quantitative. Deriving pleasure and satisfaction from good deeds instead of good purchases. Good purchases are fine, but the satisfaction is fleeting. I'm talking about sustaining an interest and involvement in an activity that generates the kind of satisfaction that is good for your soul and spirit and makes you feel good about yourself. So get out there and buy a toy for a child and drop it off at your nearest fire station, grocery store or police station. That's a very cost effective way of starting the season out right and paving the way for a new beginnning in January.
There is so much news out there, it's enough to make you gasp for breath. We have a new, historic President, an economy on the skids and heading further south, a world economy heading in the same direction as us, and lots of the same terrorist threats, ad nauseum. So what's a person like me, in the jewelry business, to do? Good question - I ask it of myself every day. Clearly, jewelry is a luxury, not a necessity. Further, adding to your jewelry wardrobe is, at best, a low priority. Wealthier customers may not feel like the timing is right to go out and blow thousands of dollars on baubles to wear to downscaled parties this season. How, then, to justify or rationalize an expenditure that you working women out there who are doing well, thank goodness, would like to entertain in the jewelry department? I will offer this. Buy what you really like and will use and enjoy for years to come. Buy things that are versatile, and can be worn in a multitude of settings. Try to avoid buying super trendy pieces that will look like yesterday's news by next month. Focus on pieces that don't repeat what you already have at home. Stay within your budget. There. Do you feel better? What I'm trying to say is, don't throw your hardearned money away on stuff that will just sit in the drawer. We all have tons of that. What we need to do now is use this downturn to rid ourselves of all the stuff that we have and don't need or use. In our closets, in our garages, in our drawers - you get the picture. We can and should donate these former treasures to others that are is greater need right now. Then, when you can finally see light in between the hangers in the closet, and space in the drawer, give some careful thought to the life that you are living - the lifestyle, the day to day. Try being realistic about what you really need to live your life happily and then try being practical about making your holiday list. Not an easy task, I know. Still, I think the message of what has occurred in our economy today, blended together with the issues relating to our planet should provide the underpinning of a new philosophy of less consumption, greater appreciation of the intangibles in life (love, friendship, family) and a giving an outstetched arm to others that could benefit. Buy less, enjoy it more.
I just got back from a quick trip to Neimans to pick up some skin cream (Darphin) that was on a special. Of course, I had a few spare minutes, so I circled around the first floor, with particular attention to the jewelry section, natch. I am happy to report that there was an unbelievable amount of gorgeous jewelry there - looked to me like the department had expanded, yet again. David Yurman had his own section of at least 6 cases, brimming with his signature stuff. Steven Dweck's star must be falling, since his once prominent place front and center, was now given to Ippolita. Dweck was now in the back, with only two cases. So it goes in the jewelry wars. One thing that I noticed right away that wasn't falling - prices. I guess the sky's the limit these days, for semi-precious jewelry. I didn't even make it to the back corner to look at the fine jewelry, I was too dizzy with sensory overload to have taken it in. The styles, the colors of the stones, the gold (mostly) the gigantic Tahitian pearls, the big, the small....I tried to absorb it all. One problem that I didn't have today, was getting a close look at each counter. It seemed like quite a while passed before I noticed another person in the whole department. A man on his lunch break, likely on the hunt, though he didn't look like today would be the day. Things are very quiet. With the economy in shambles and the election impending, it's hard to concentrate on bling. Still, there are many of us still lucky to be in the workforce, toiling away. Once in a while, a little reward is necessary, to remind us that we still count, at least to ourselves. We need to be prudent with our hard earned dollars, not waste them or throw them away on bling or things that don't matter or that only last (or look good) for a season. I noticed in the paper today that a woman was promoted to the CEO position of DuPont, a Fortune 100 corporation. Her picture showed her in a big black pearl necklace with matching black pearl earrings. Classic, power jewelry that won't need to be tossed next year, or any year. It's important to periodically be reminded that investments come in many forms. By investing in your personal style, you are also communicating to others that you are intentional, that you are responsible and pay attention to both detail and your whole look. In short, you are in control. Others will sense your aura of authority and respond. Something to keep in mind this season when shopping. Luxury Basics..........work.
Segment 1 came out last week on YouTube and is getting some decent viewership. We just added Segment 2 this afternoon, so if you have a spare 6 minutes and 50 seconds, you will be able to see the whole thing in one sitting! More later. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=69W360IjBus.
That's what I did this morning when I sent out the link to my new interview series on YouTube, called Fashion Styling Secrets from Zane's Sex Chronicles. In the 4 segment series, I interview Moonglow, the talented Costume Designer from the series who did a really terrific job, given the usual constraints of budget and deadlines. Luxury Basics (my jewelry) was prominently featured on two of the main characters in the series, which will air on Cinemax on October 10th. Filming the series, which we did in a great new restaurant and bar, The Oak Room Bistro and Bar, managed by my friend Sean Murphy, was a lot of fun, considering we're rank amateurs. Of course, I could use voice lessons and acting lessons if I want to continue to have lunch in this town, but since this is my first go at it, I do admit to a wee bit of pleasure that it isn't a total bomb. (Although if it was, I promised Moonglow that it would never see the light of day) The funny thing about the Zane's series is that, completely unprompted by me, Moonglow put my jewelry on the main character, who plays a CEO, and one of her best friends, who plays a doctor. He was completely unaware that I am designing for the working and professional woman, (as well as the "professionally retired woman") but I guess the jewelry spoke to him and guided him to the right necks, as it were. This season will be a busy one for me, thankfully. We'll see how this first segment does and we will be releasing one per week leading up to the show. I'm lucky to have Cheri Gerson working with me now in Marketing and Communications - so I will get getting the message out, finally, that Luxury Basics is ready and open for business. That's what this whole thing is about. I have many other things going on in the pipeline, so stay tuned. If you have a minute, tune in to my first performance. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=69W360IjBus
Considering it's still August, my life has suddenly shifted into the faster lane. I have been keeping a few important developments under my hat, so to speak, but very shortly, next week, to be exact, I plan to break out Luxury Basics from its semi-obscure state. As today's title may suggest, it has to do with TV. Let me not get ahead of myself. First, I can tell about the fun I had last week at the filming of a pilot online celebrity show, produced by two quite talented and savvy guys - Michael Yakovchik and Marcelo Alvarez, of the up and coming production company, http://www.greytv.com/ with whom I have had the recent pleasure of working with on another project. (To be announced) The star of this new show is Lauren Bergfeld, an adorable, infectiously happy young woman well connected in celebrity-land. Naturally, when I heard about the show, I offered to bring "a little something" for Lauren to wear with her debut outfit. Actually, not knowing what she would select to wear, I brought a wide assortment (that I could barely lift!). Once she settled on her look, her choice of jewelry was inspired. I think she looked great! Hope you agree.
No, it's not my favorite month. Beside the overall weather issues, which I try to dodge and deny, there seems to be a malaise that sets in with just about everyone I know. The accumulated exhaustion of the beginning of the year that combines with the knowledge that it will all crank up again the day after Labor Day? Maybe. The fact that half of everyone you know is vacationing somewhere and the other half has their brain on vacation? Maybe. August has never really been known as a month of accomplishment, so trying to get something done is challenging, at best. I have been working on a number of different projects, in the multi-tasking model, and hopefully, they will all start to come together - though setting an August deadline seems stupid, at best. Soon I will be working on some creative initiatives designed to enlarge the general audience for my jewelry. Along these lines, there has been some good news - my jewelry will be featured on an upcoming HBO series called, Zane's Sex Chronicles, based on a popular book of the same name. There are more things happening in the wings that I will announce in early September, when the general population awakens from the August stupor. In the meantime, enjoy the sleepwalk through the rest of the month and stay tuned.