Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Instagram Etiquette?

I literally just Googled, "Is Instagram just for ass-kissing?". Let's say that I didn't get the answers I was looking for. Reminder to self- don't ever google "ass" and "kissing" together and expect anything but porn and such to come up. ***Pssst*** Really hardcore porn.

I was looking for some articles on Instagram etiquette, really. I guess that's what I should've put in the search box. But I'm not sure if that's what I'm looking for either. I'm only giving context of what's going on to illustrate that I'm so not in the know of how Instagram is supposed to work in terms of the compliment etiquette. I've said a million times- I'm a message board/Facebook gal. If someone posts something- a photo or story, on either one, the idea is to give thoughts on it. Especially on a message board- that's what the premise of them are.

I'm new-ish to Instagram. I joined a few years ago but I never really got it, and have said that I don't particularly like it. I'm getting the hang of it more lately. I don't hate it like I did. It can be weird because people use screen names instead of their real names, so half the time, I don't even know whose pictures I'm looking at. You can't post a photo in a response so that's annoying when the photo would be helpful. I also always feel like I need to make my responses shorter so I don't fully get to say what I want to say. I'm not exactly the most concise.

Instagram is mostly for work so on my work account, I unfollowed most people who are just actors or not in the world of some kind of interior design. I really needed to limit it because otherwise my feed was cluttered with stuff I wasn't even really interested in. I like the cast of Orange is the New Black, but I don't need to see every thing every single one of them posts. And with their hundreds of thousands of followers, they don't notice or care about my like. I unfollowed socialites or people that I'm not sure how I came to follow them in the first place.

I needed to focus. I have some personal friends from real life or my message boards in my work feed, then I have all decorators, designers, product photographers, and then some other people in that world or right on the periphery, but I'm not totally sure what they do.

Being honest though, even some of these famous designers, I don't like or get what they're doing. Our work/creative style, generally speaking, is not this "minimalist" or modern stuff. I've discussed this- to me, it all looks the same. I'm not being a dick. For twelve years, I've been looking at design one way- which is, "why would you want your home to look exactly like everyone else's?". I also know the difference between quality and cheap, imported stuff. I watch two people here, in my store, physically MAKE things. They make and cut patterns, sew, and painstakingly check their work before calling something finished. I feel I've earned the right to be able to pick out what's truly "high end" and what is not. I may not be famous or have a design show, but that doesn't make me less knowledgeable about what's out there in our industry.

Just as some short/quick background - We thrive on making lighting and lampshades special. I scroll past a lot of these rooms, show houses, etc, done by semi-famous to famous designers, and a lot of what I see really cool drapes, bedding, plush couches, but with really boring, cheap lampshades. Or really cheap looking cookie-cutter big-box store pendants and/or chandeliers.

As an aside, I was reading the comments under a photo of a designer's, where people were arguing.  I guess the designer referenced stuff looking the same, other designers purchasing from big box stores, and seeing the same rug all over the place in other design photos. She was accused of targeting certain other designers (from the jist I got). One of the arguments from other designers was that they are often on a strict budget and sometimes need to mix in big box stuff. Uh, I get that at like, Homegoods, they may be able to get stuff on the cheap to mix in. However, in this argument in the comments section, a chandelier from Pottery Barn was referenced. Pottery Barn isn't inexpensive.Sure, it's inexpensive compared to Italian Murano glass, but I wouldn't use Pottery Barn as your argument for having to do a room on the cheap. There are plenty of ways to get more for a client's money than to just go to Pottery Barn.

Most of the time, I click like on the room photos and keep scrolling. I'm trying to be interactive. I want to comment on the stuff I see because I *think* people want feedback. But then I'm not sure if they really do. All I really see is the oohing and ahhing over the work and no one ever saying they don't like something. Not that they should troll or be mean, but I don't find anyone having any kind of opinion. Every. Single. Comment. is just a full on hair-petting.

Last night, for the first time, I told the truth. I said I love everything in the room, that it's fantastic, but I would've done a different or "better" lampshade- meaning a more high quality shade. The chair, the art, the pillows, all looked very rich looking with a lot of color. The lamp had color. The lampshade looked like a cheap paper shade. Well. That was the first time this designer acknowledged anything I've said. I like and comment on his stuff a lot- it's not like I came out of nowhere to troll him. In fact, I've always commented with something very complimentary- short & sweet. I've just been totally ignoring the lampshade situation, which is bleak, at best. I do love his use of color and prints though- A LOT. He just said- "Well I like the lampshade we picked!" HA! His response came off so annoyed & bitchy to me. I replied back that it's just NMS (not my style) and that I said I loved everything else.

Now, this guy has thousands of followers, is in the Hamptons for some show house thing. People are kissing his ass left and right. I'm just wondering if that's the etiquette. Just tell people how great they are and call it a day. I know from looking through comments on other famous people's pages that there are trolls or they famous person will say- "Haters will be deleted" or something like that. But I think actors, musicians, and tv personalities, maybe expect or are used to having trolls on social media? Maybe designers aren't? I really have no idea.

I've only been really active on Instagram for the past couple of months. I can count on one hand how many times someone said something I'd consider mean about any of our stuff. Once, a guy, maybe on Instagram in the beginning said that he liked a "before" picture better than the after. Two ladies went back and forth, almost like they were a plant, saying we were expensive, and that people should go to some place on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. Lastly, a lady who is just a Facebook fan of our page said she didn't like a lamp or something.

I totally get that our aesthetic is not the same as everyone else's, especially these days. I know people, especially younger, right now, are very into the modern thing. I catch HGTV every now and again, and from the look of people's homes in their thirties that I've seen, it all looks like what I see on these home renovation shows. Even Traditional Home magazine, on Instagram, is constantly posting pictures of rooms that are totally not Traditional. I just can't tell people that a whole room is amazing, spectacular and so perfect when I think the lighting sucks. I've been picking things in the photos out and saying stuff like- "Great sofa! Love the colors!" or "Amazing prints!" instead of saying that I just love the room, so I don't feel like I'm lying or complimenting the lighting.

It's not that I can't appreciate other kinds of lighting. I can, I'm just really not into modern- just my personal preference. If a follow a designer, then see their aesthetic is totally modern and minimalist, I just unfollow. There's no reason to give my opinion or be interactive, because we're just on totally different design pages.

There are others though, that I like ninety percent of what they do, it's just the lighting I don't get or like. When I say that I need to look at the designers name though to figure out who's room design it is because they mostly look the same, I'm not exaggerating. I happen to only know who the designer is who didn't like my lampshade thoughts BECAUSE he is a little different in his use of bright colors and mixing interesting colors and prints. Generally speaking, I think I can say that I know I'm going to like his rooms before I even see them. EXCEPT the lighting or lampshades. To me, it was like- "this room COULD HAVE BEEN stunning, if ONLY there was a better lampshade". If I see a fantastic chandelier, I compliment it.

I just can't lie when I don't like something. If I just scroll by and don't comment or hit like, then I'm not interacting, but I don't want to kiss ass over things I don't fully like either. If I just hit like, without saying something- either picking out what I do like and mentioning it, or saying I like everything BUT the lampshades, I'm reinforcing that I must like the whole thing. I also feel like if they're putting stuff out there, they want commentary. It's just whether they ONLY want to be stroked and ass-kissed. THAT, is the question.

Such a conundrum- Kiss ass, keep quiet, pick one thing I like, comment, and stick to that....Oh, social media. How I love and hate thee. #olddognewtricks

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Millennials, Mischegoss, & Belp

I don't even know where to start this one. I was HOT last night. Not the weather, not "in heat", but HOT, more, "under the collar". I needed to calm myself, and I had real stuff to do, since free time isn't given away like condoms at the pride parade.

I need to first thank my seniors, as in senior citizens, for being the great clients they are. I need to make my appreciation known. That's our main clientele in our store, Shades of Soho. I've explained why this is before, but for those who just happened to catch this entry, I'll give you the Cliff's Notes. Seniors respect quality and craftsmanship. They're actually patient. They get what we do- they know we make things. Made in the USA actually MEANS something to them. They're willing to pay and they are appreciative when they pick up their lamps and lampshades.

What is a Millennial? The majority of researchers and demographers start the generation in the early 1980s, with many ending the generation in the mid-1990s. That's what I'm going with. I hate to use blanket statements, and we've had SOME lovely clients in this demographic (like my friends), but I have to tell you- almost every time, they are a problem. They don't come in often, to be quite honest. They shop online, they want what they see on HGTV, and they don't think they need to pay for quality. Nor do they really care if it's quality because they'll just throw it away when they're tired of it.

We've had some real head-scratching, bile regurgitating moments lately with people in this age group within the past week. So I'm calling this entry "My Belp". Instead of Yelp, which, to me, might as well be the online mafia, I only have my blog as recourse for crazy or asshole. Yelp gives a voice to people who are angry and only can spew venom behind a computer screen. There is no trying to manage a situation face to face- it's just- smile in your face, then go home and type out some kind of maligning commentary. 

For instance- Robert Dawson: He's around thirty-three and married. I don't think he has kids. He came in and asked B to fix a plastic socket casing that broke and to recover an old lampshade. It cost around $200 which was 95% cost for the lampshade. The plastic piece was to be glued. He never said the electrical needed to be looked at. He handed B a plastic piece and said to fix it. B did that. And Sam made a stunning lampshade. Yadda yadda, Robert went home and expected the electrical to have been worked on, when that's not what was discussed or paid for. He called and was angry and B told him to bring it in.

B fixed it on the spot when Robert came back. He doesn't really have the time to do that, but he did it to be nice. Robert took the lamp and just left. No- "Hey, THANK YOU, what do I owe you?". He literally just took the lamp and walked out the door. B didn't go after him, even though that's a $25-$50 repair, and HOW WE PUT FOOD ON THE TABLE. B just felt like he did a nice thing and left it at that.

Robert then called B and berated him for not fixing the electrical the first time. Said he had to waste his precious free time, in traffic to come back, when it's "Lamps101" to just know what has to be done, and it should've been done right the first time.

Someone who left a review after Robert made a great analogy- Do you go to a mechanic for an oil change and expect them to have also checked and changed the brake pads? Of course not. He never said the lamp didn't turn on. So B just fixed what he told him was wrong. Robert then said HIS FREE TIME IS WORTH MONEY. His free time is worth money?! What the what now? He wanted us to PAY HIM FOR THE TIME HE HAD TO TAKE DRIVING HERE AND BACK. Ok, if that's how things are supposed to work, I'm going to start sending bills to CVS, my doctor's office, and the supermarket, every time I'm not taken or seen right away. Because my time, sure as hell, is certainly worth a decent dollar! He said that he is planning on writing us a bad review. However...if B pays him $25, he'll write us a good review. #thatscalledblackmail

B refused to be blackmailed. B was so angry, he called me at E's swim meet to ask my opinion. Since choking Mr. Dawson out for his entitled blackmail request, was not an option, and neither was giving him money we didn't owe him, we would have to take the review.

I'm telling this story not just because Mr Dawson needs to be called out, but just to illustrate that this isn't an isolated event. As this was going on, we were dealing with a similar situation. A young woman, somewhere between twenty-eight and thirty-five, asked B for a quote on chandelier work, through email. B gave her some options, all with prices via email back. She then had someone else bring the chandelier in, with no instructions and no payment. He emailed her to ask what she wanted to do and she proceeded to tell him she got "four other quotes, all less than his..."

This email from her was after her public post that her local lighting store COULD NOT do the work. B has been doing this work for over twenty years. We KNOW there is no one else that she could've called for what he was going to do, let alone even know what it meant. She blatantly LIED just to get the cost down. If the cost was an issue, she should've SAID something. How about coming in, like an adult, discussing what she needed done, what would be the best option for her budget, etc. Instead, she tried to do it all behind a computer screen, wasting time, instead of saving, for all of us.

Further- another problem we encounter is people NOT reading emails or there's a serious lack of reading comprehension. I think I know why this is too- Mr Dawson put "TL:DR" before his bad review. As a woman of a particular age, I had to look this letter combination up. THIS, tl:dr, is an abbreviation to let people know a post/comment is long so the summary is right there or they can skip to the end. #howfuckinglazyisthis #slanderquicklyandtherestisirrelevant

B sends out emails with how we do things, estimated time frame, and any other pertinent information. It's just about guaranteed that he's going to get emails back with questions he's already answered in the body of the email(s) he already sent. It's happened with young designers or designer assistants in NYC, to people like the woman I wrote about above.

I knew that woman was lying about her four quotes. I didn't even consider working with her on price. She also low-balled so much, it wasn't worth it to do the work for that low. Her whole way of going about the situation, AND the lowballing was so insulting, it feels like we're being fleeced. We aren't a big box store and won't be treated as such. I told her that unfortunately couldn't meet her price and she could pick up her chandelier any time. What do you know? She said - "she'd like us to start the work". Of course, that's not how we do things, which B had TOLD HER IN THE EMAIL. You come in, we work together on what you want to do, make decisions, we give a price, you pay, we start. No pay, no start. On top of it, her chandelier is sitting here, taking up room, like we're a storage facility. #entitlement

We had another guy, recently, who was a little older. Not a senior, but in his late 40's I'd guess. He came in with a thirty-year old craft paper lampshade. It's a brown, paper, water-stained looking kind of thing. Back in the day- a cheap shade that went on everything in the 80's. Sometimes people want them now. We don't make them but we can get them. This guy came in like a bat out of hell from another lighting store that sent him to us- because we're the ONLY ONES who could help him. He wanted them yesterday, for cheap, and they had to be the same size or as close as possible. We didn't have the lamp, pictures of the lamp/room or anything. He was a little annoyed we didn't just magically have shades matching his old ones, but we said we'd get them within days, for the day he'd be back in the area.

We did that. We got them, early, called him, and he came. Complaints only. His issue was that the holder, the metal that keeps the lampshade on the lamp, wasn't the right color. Well, we'd need a time machine for that. The actual lampshade was almost an exact replica of what he had, but his holder was aged and rusted. Ours was new brass, because it is a NEW LAMPSHADE. He made B crazy with painting it, making it closer to his old one. He was rude and petulant. He came to pick up, grabbed the shades, didn't say thank you- not for getting them so quickly OR painting them, and didn't ask if he owed anything extra to paint the holders. It took B time and it wasn't easy. Further, it took him away from doing other work he needed to do.

Something like this but older, dirtier and uglier

B doesn't mind doing extra work, at all, even for no pay, but where is the common courtesy? Where is all this entitlement coming from? Why do people feel like their free time is worth more than our work time? So I don't know if it's an age thing, or just a jerk thing. Trust me, I have had crotchety seniors. I had a lady scream and curse at me, telling me we ruined her lamp and took advantage of an old lady because B fixed her lamp and now she can see the bulb. Well, she legit put her lampshade on upside down. So there was that. That happens way less often then problems with younger people.

We want to expand our business and make things that appeal to a younger market. However, I can't say that we're not a bit fearful. We don't need the headache of people who run to social media vs resolving things face to face. I'm only writing this HERE because I have no other recourse. I can't get the review taken down, I can't stop him from slandering my husband- what Mr Dawson wrote on Yelp was an outright lie. Nothing I can do. B tried to appeal to him first by being kind and saying not checking the electrical was "miscommunication" when really it was this customer never asking him to check the electrical. B was willing to accept some of the responsibility because he knew, he KNEW his "type"- the type to run to give a bad review.

We are ALWAYS happy to keep working with someone until they're happy. It's the attitude that it all goes down with. It's the interaction. We'd just like to be appreciated for the skills we have, the work we do, and how we hard we work to make sure people are happy. Mind-reading isn't one of our skills and we aren't in the habit of accepting blackmail- so if that's what we're going to have to deal with, I don't know how much expanding we'll be doing.

We LOVE what we do. We want to keep doing it. Really connecting with clients and making stuff they love is our passion. People who act like dicks dampen our day but not our spirit. So, here's my Belp review, and now it's out of my system....Suck it, you entitled douche, Mr Dawson. I think you owe me $25 for having to take the time to write this.



Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Maximizing Joy

Since summer started, my life hacks and accoutrements have really come out in full effect. Like, all my stuff that makes life easier, is in use and on display. No one will ever be able to say that I travel light, but I'm always extra prepared. I joke that we could live in my car, but we probably could, at least for a couple of days, quite comfortably. Food, water, changes of clothes, cleaning supplies, first aid, etc.

I'm not a survivalist in the true sense. I don't live on conspiracy theories, or even in any kind of fear. I'm not even that organized, in any traditional sense. My car and my space is almost always a mess or appears to the naked eye to be in some kind of chaos. I just happen to have STUFF. Meaning, I have umbrellas and/or ponchos if we happen to be somewhere and it starts raining. Or instead of having to buy a 16.9 oz bottle of Poland Spring for three dollars a bottle at some kind of event, I have this car canvas cooler thing strapped to the back of my driver's seat filled with my own bottles of water. E always has thought of my car as some kind of magical restaurant because food and water always seems to appear out of nowhere.

Stay with me here as I shift gears...I was listening to a podcast where the hosts were talking again about how it's summer now and they planned nothing for their kids. Now every day is a pain because they have to figure out stuff for their kids to do. They were like- why does everyone else seem to be on the ball and get this planned in February? It's cold & they don't want to think about summer. Meanwhile, I'm in the car, yelling at them, which is incredibly frustrating because they can't hear me. And E has been signed up for eight weeks of camp since the end of the last summer.

Ok- so you think I'm anal and really pay attention to detail now...NO. Ask anyone who really knows me, and they will tell you that I'm SO not "Type-A". I used to rely on my friend Cohen in pre-school to remind me that we had off from school, AGAIN. Because every other week there was another holiday. I've forgotten pizza day and given E lunch. I've had library fees up the wazoo.

I realized today what my deal is....I've been on message boards since I found the internet. I like message boards because there's the element of advice giving. Idea sharing, but also advice giving. I went to school to be a counselor. I'm not doing it in the traditional sense, but being in sales is still a form of counseling. Being a good salesperson means counseling someone into what to buy. Not just handing them something and calling it a day. So I use it, but not in the way I get total fulfillment. So I've become part of message boards. However, when things don't make sense to me, or seem to impede people's enjoyment, it's like a trigger for me.

Someone called me out for not being empathetic to a serious fear. I didn't take my answer as being particularly assholish, although it could have been construed that way, depending on how sensitive one is, I suppose. I realized that it's my nature to be a problem solver. I think it's usually how women describe not being understood by men. She wants to vent, he wants to find a solution. She doesn't want a solution, she just wants to vent. That's fine. However, I think like a guy I guess, and when someone presents a problem, my immediate thought is to find a viable solution. Then, I get annoyed when the response to solutions, mine and others, are just met with excuses. Usually, it's also excuses that don't really make any sense. I didn't see excuses in the situation this morning, I don't even know what the aftermath was of calling me out. I just mean in general with the excuses. You know- people that always ask for advice, or have things they're venting about but never seem to want advice, or have a million reasons why the advice won't work, without actually doing anything to remedy a situation.

In calling me out, it was said that it would be better to say nothing. I thought about it though, and I don't know how that's better. Even my answer, possibly on the bad end of the asshole-pendulum, does give a different perspective. If someone said- I'm having a fear but I just want to know that others can commiserate, I could just be quiet. But if someone isn't asking just for hair petting, I'm going to give it to them straight and say- no, this is not good, it doesn't make sense, and you need to do something different. 

The fear in question HAS/HAD a solution. One that seems relatively easy. Do xyz and then you don't have to be afraid. I guess the assholish part was the tone of, "why wasn't this solution common sense prior?", which I take ownership of said assholish tone now. But the overall solution seemed like common sense because it's what would make that person's life easier, happier, more joyous, if you will.

My friend had a fear of letting her kid have some independence. I told her to get the Gizmo Gadget like I got E. She waited and waited. Then we let them run amok at the town fair and she was really nervous. She got it the next day. She said that she's only pissed she didn't get it sooner. Problem solved. Not being all, "oh thanks to me"- but it was maximizing OUR joy- I was happy her problem was solved and then we could have joy TOGETHER, socializing, not having to watch our kids like hawks. 

I realized that my solutions for me, are all about maximizing my joy. My fun. Getting the most out of my time and not letting what could be a small thing, if prepared, stay small. I'm always focused on MY enjoyment and what will make MY life easier. Enter- my life hacks and As Seen On TV products, if you want to get more specific. My friend has been goofing on me since summer started, about my beach cart that I take everywhere. Everyone goofs on me that I bring it to the town pool. They're goofing until they're loaded down like a pack mule and trying to keep their kids from running into traffic in the parking lot. As I happily push my cart, filled with our bag, food, chairs, etc. without sweating, stopping, and dropping stuff.

Even with swimming & kids- as scary as water can be, there's still a way to maximize your joy. A lot of people, I've found, are paranoid about their kids and being around water, not knowing how to swim, and even dry-drowning. It doesn't make sense to me to just live with this fear, especially when the fear is debilitating to the point where you're not sleeping, worrying about what could happen. To me, the solution is to make sure your kids are proficient in the water.

I didn't want to have to worry about water. I made sure E had swim lessons as soon as he turned one, I think. I'm not a great swimmer- I can hold my own but I never swam competitively and I barely go in the pool now. By five, I had E try out for a swim team because I knew he'd be swimming or around water without me, and I didn't want to have to really watch him at the town pool. To me, swimming is a necessary life skill, not just an activity you do for fun, and I didn't even really have a specific strong fear about him and water. To be able to enjoy MYSELF at the town pool or the ocean though, I made sure that he's a strong swimmer. I made it a priority. It doesn't make me better than someone else- I just know what *I* needed to enjoy myself around water. If I only had money for one extra curricular activity ever- then it would be swim because it's not about what he likes, it's about necessity for safety. If he likes it, which he does, it's just a bonus. Hear me- I'm not saying I'm a better parent for making sure he can swim- I'm saying that if my peace of mind is being severely threatened then the answer is clear to me as to what needs to be done. Or if my fear is really unfounded, then I need a hypnotist, medication, or therapy.

I have Pack-It bags like I own stock because I don't want to deal with separate ice packs. I don't want to hear "sorry mama, I lost it". I don't want that aggravation for my OWN joy's sake. I have a side table that fits on my chair so I can keep track of all the stuff I like to have near me at the pool or beach without getting up. Those are for "fun". But my kid is signed up for eight weeks of camp the summer before the next, not because he's spoiled, or I don't want to see him, or even because I work, but because it would ruin MY time if summer arrived and all of a sudden *I* had to scramble. I would be miserable if I had to figure out what the hell to do with him everyday. We'd both be miserable. I have a cart so I don't have shoulder pain or don't lose or leave anything important at the pool or beach. I have ponchos in the car because I don't want to have to leave somewhere fun because it started to rain and getting wet would force us to vacate.

It's all about getting the most of our day, our time, our experiences, our fun. Or more specifically, mine. B was telling our friends yesterday that I'm the "most prepared" with stuff he and E likes- so that's my way of showing caring. It is...I care about their likes- I try to make them happy in that way. It's also a more of a way for us to be able to have the most fun. We don't get to go on vacation. We only have one full family day together a week because our store is open six days a week. In the little free time we have, I want to to suck every moment of joy I can out of it, with the the most...EASE I can find! Now you're all been told the method to my seeming madness.

Some photos of just a few of my joyous life hack accoutrements- just by the way...

cherry pitter
My face hole chair

Brown & Crisp bags
Beach chair side table

Saltwater Canvas Whale Bag

Clear $3 poncho from somewhere

My cup that unscrews to put ice in