A Short Lesson in Modern French Slang

Bon Chic Bon Genre. Observe the first letter in each word and say them as one word. "Baysaybayzhay." Say that more quickly and there it is, "Baisebeige!" Translated, it refers to people who think they're all that. I am exploring the changing values of world culture and expressing through dress the evolving image of the pillar of our modern society.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

From Crickets to Profit


This wasn't my first holiday season on Etsy, but this was the first time I actually had a holiday season. Look at this! My little Etsy shops did this much business in just one day and I am not particularly "seasonal." Needless to say, I got my rock star mail lady a nicer-than-usual Christmas treat for all that bending over she did. I'll bet she wonders what happened. My home-based, online business used to be the one business on her route that she could count on to not vex her during the December package rush. The deafening sound of crickets used to fill the space outside my door where the Priority Mail boxes are stacked. What happened to change that? I did the smart and right thing and repaired the titles, tags, and listing content in all of my Etsy shops and then ran Etsy Search Ads to maximize that effort. Will the trend in increased sales continue after the holiday merriment ends? Yes, it will. I can say that with confidence because I paid attention in the integrated marketing communications course I am finishing today. After I press "submit" to turn in the final assignments, I'm logging onto Etsy to discover what all of the data I collected informs me about the next direction to take.

Etsy, as a company, has such an intimate relationship with data that, in September, it acquired Blackbird Technologies, a Big Data company, to be able to apply Deep Learning and Artificial Intelligences, especially to consumer searches. The idea is be able to provide an enhanced shopping experience which is unique to the buyer (Armstrong, 2016). I want to take advantage of these changes, and, fortunately, Etsy provides me with data relevant to the daily activities of my shops in addition to data generated by my ads. I also have data from Twitter and Pinterest, which are my social media networks I use most to promote my shops. For having a tiny business, it certainly seems I have plenty of numbers. That's good because I know, that no matter the size of the business, evaluation of marketing campaigns is beneficial. In a way, I am reverse engineering research. My goal is to more deeply understand my customer and discover the messaging to communicate better in the future. The better I align my goals within the Etsy strategy, the better my results will be, and the outgoing boxes will continue piling up. I have to be able to understand what happened until now and data can tell me that.

At first glance, when I started running and paying for the ads, I felt like my efforts made a good example for the marketing concept called marginal analysis. The spending on ads seemed to have a limit to profitability (Clow & Baack, 2014, 103). Plenty of clicks seemed to generate an underwhelming amount of sales. On one hand, the increase in traffic was desirable, but conversion was elusive. The process short-circuited at the listing level and that becomes my first focus when creating an integrated marketing strategy that works better. There were sales. There also was a product-specific awareness determined from keyword searches that included exact words from item titles and listing content. Affective responses, "hearting" items and shops, increased. The short-term successes are indeed noteworthy achievements in evaluating a simple ad campaign (Clow & Baack, 2014, 413). Evaluating the metrics will help me make decisions about tailoring future ad spending to conform better to results already observed. However, I must exercise caution about my judgments since online shopping, especially for one-of-a-kind items, suggests a Cinderella's slipper situation. A poorly performing ad might simply indicate the right shoppers have not yet searched for the item. 

Doing everything I can possibly do to increase the visits to my shops is only part of the plan. The messaging, which I use in my shop content as well as the messages I create on social media networking sites to promote my shops, is also ripe for evaluation. My online metrics will provide some insight (Clow & Baack, 2014, 421). However, getting to better know the customers who were motivated to add items to the cart, can shape future communications. I have ZIP codes and the A C Nielsen company has narratives that describe, with amazing accuracy, persons living in every ZIP code in America (A C Nielsen, 2016). Knowing to whom I am speaking can guide the words I write and the images I create. Being specific optimizes effectiveness of the futuristic technology Etsy now owns. Similarly, care must be taken to avoid alienating other market segments by being too specific. Finding the balance becomes the challenge as I attempt to address what I think my customer thinks about my content and how the customer thinks that content applies to a want or need. Applying inferences about thinking as derived from generalities is beginning to sound suspiciously like the realm of cognitive science. Lucky for me, the next course I will study, beginning in January, is cognitive psychology. And, yes, I will be playing along at home.

References

A C Nielsen (2016). ZIP code look up. In My Best Segments. Retrieved from
    https://segmentationsolutions.nielsen.com/mybestsegments/Default.jsp?ID=20&menuOption=
    zipcodelookup&pageName=ZIP%2BCode%2BLookup&filterstate=&sortby=segment_code&
    prevSegID=CLA.PZP
Armstrong, P. (2016, December 15). What you don't know about Etsy (and its 2017 strategy). In
    Forbes. Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/sites/paularmstrongtech/2016/12/15/what-you-
    dont-know-about-etsy-and-its-2017-strategy/#40cd9e3b4d90
Clow, K. E., & Baack, D. (2014). Integrated advertising, promotion, and marketing communications 
    (6th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc.; 103, 413, & 421.








Sunday, November 20, 2016

Thinking About Priority Mail



As an Etsy seller, and because I do 100% of my shopping online, mail is important to me. I don't want to put pressure on Terri, my rock star mail lady, especially at the advent of the holiday package delivery season, but she will be more likely, than not be, the person who will confer my diploma someday. Why not? She's my biggest fan and most important business and personal support system. My mail carrier as well as mailboxes locked far from porch-pirate-thieving-hands securely inside this building are reasons why I chose my current home. It was a sobering revelation, in the midst of celebrating the important Etsy milestone of 100 sales in my QualityJunk shop this week, to realize that meant Terri bent over 100 times to pick up those packages. Every single one of those packages was a United States Postal Service (USPS) Priority Mail package!

Priority Mail is a magnificent product that allows me to provide a superior customer experience as well as provides me with peace-of-mind that the package arrives at its destination safely and quickly. That is such a simple concept and one would think that simple concept would be simple to communicate and simple to understand. I was astounded, from the point of view as a long time user of Priority Mail, that the feedback about one of the earliest commercials for the Flat Rate variety of Priority Mail had mixed and mostly negative feedback. Apparently,"If it fits, it ships" is open to a wide range of interpretations (Audit Field Financial - West team, 2010). When thinking about that, I remembered spending significant time failing forward while learning how to use Priority Mail. When visiting the USPS web site, a user can't find one cached file of everything necessary to know about Priority Mail. I'll admit it. I get "warm fuzzies" from watching Priority Mail commercials because of my experience with the product, my wonderful mail lady, and how easy Priority Mail makes living the Etsy shop dream. However, when trying to visualize how someone who has never used Priority Mail might perceive it, the effectiveness of the message is quite different.

Currently, as I am pursuing an online education, I'm studying a marketing topic called Integrated Marketing Communications, which essentially involves creating uniform marketing messages to strengthen the impact of marketing campaigns (Clow & Baack, 2014). The first thing I notice about Priority Mail is that there is absolutely nothing to be integrated with those lovely commercials. If a viewer is inspired to explore the product, there is no next step to take except for trying to navigate the USPS website (USPS, 2016). I learned firsthand that will yield confusion more often than relevant information. I do believe research would help USPS understand this consumer dilemma. After all, important reasons that motivate marketing research include centering business on consumers and focusing on consumer needs. Additionally, research allows businesses understand target markets better and can help improve messaging and communications (Fletcher, 2013). At this point, any messaging and communications would be better than nothing. Spending the time to interview focus groups could help shape a plan for developing a Priority Mail resource that provides both information and support. Not everyone is willing to spend the time I did to learn how to use Priority Mail and not everyone learns in the same way. What would be the best marketing tool? Is it a dedicated web site or a social media site or a collection of how-to videos? Research can, and should, determine that. I do believe that improved marketing strategies would convert potential first time users into loyal customers, and it's my wish that the USPS will soon make their Priority Mail product easier for everyone to use.

References

Audit Field Financial - West team (2010). What do you think of the Priority Mail advertising 
     campaign? [web log post]. In Products & Services. United States Postal Service Office of 
     Inspector General. Retrieved from https://www.uspsoig.gov/blog/what-do-you-think-priority-
     mail-advertising-campaign 

Clow, K. E., & Baack, D. (2014). Integrated advertising, promotion, and marketing communications 
     (6th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc.

Fletcher, B. (2013, April 25). Five reasons why market research matters (and five tips for using it).
     In MarketingProfs. Retrieved from http://www.marketingprofs.com/opinions/2013/23874/five-
     reasons-why-marketing-research-matters-and-five-tips-for-using-it

USPS (2016). USPS web site. Retrieved from http://www.usps.com


Sunday, November 6, 2016

Difference Does Make Us

Etsy. Sometimes I live it, breathe it, and sleep it, but still feel everyday I am operating my shops within an ever-evolving larger context that isn't completely known to myself or much of the world. All I knew in the beginning was that "Etsy" was a nonsense word coined from transcribed dialog from Federico Fellini's film 8 1/2. The characters were saying "eh, si" a lot and Etsy evolved from that (Etsy, n.d.). Etsy didn't even have a business plan when the site launched, and the intention was to evolve the site as circumstances dictated (Walker, 2007). Interestingly, the trials and tribulations of building the Etsy brand closely emulate the process of rebranding, because a more universal understanding of Etsy has been revealed, the market is constantly being evaluated, underlying issues are being addressed, and new strategies evolve (Geyer, 2016). As a result, I have struggled with resulting changes in the Etsy algorithm that guide search, considered consumer traits when creating listings, and reassigned product categories. I have sided with Etsy in the controversy surrounding the evolving the definition of the handmade business and welcomed public trading of the company. Having flexible intentions for growing into its destiny spared Etsy the pain of reevaluating and starting fresh. All of the hard work is an ongoing process for Etsy and its loyal sellers. However, Etsy isn't simply just an online global marketplace for handmade and vintage items as well as craft supplies. What Etsy needs most is a clear, concise, and consistent statement to communicate what Etsy is to consumers. The careful crafting of a tagline seems to be the missing part of the Etsy brand.

Etsy recently launched its first global online advertising campaign called "Difference Makes Us" (Klara, 2016).  To me, the operative word in that statement is "Us." The most identifiable element that distinguishes Etsy from all other marketplaces is its strong sense of community. There is little to distinguish buyers from sellers in our internal social network and we participate together as members of special interest teams. The phrase, "Whoever you are, find whatever you're into," currently invites visitors to initiate a search for products. Melding the idea of individuals with diverse interests with belonging to a community would yield an ideal message that perfectly describes Etsy. The current commercials focus on the wide array of merchandise, but a human element drives the content. Ads are constantly edited to include new items posted by sellers. Viewers see different commercials every time they watch (Klara, 2016). Etsy CEO Chad Dickerson is acutely conscious of the human element in the business and emphasizes that each transaction ends with a real product from a real person. He calls it "existential satisfaction" (Etsy, n.d.). "Difference Makes Us" is certainly a step in the right direction toward a tagline and there is certainly more to consider. The biggest challenge seems to be squeezing many positive attributes into few words that perfectly describes Etsy.

References


Etsy (n.d.). In Wikipedia. Retrieved from https://wikipedia.org/wiki/Etsy
Geyer, F. (2009, March 24). Four best-practices for renovating your brand -- before its too late. 
     MarketingProfs. Retrieved from
     https://www.marketingprofs.com/9/best-practices-for-renovating-your-brand-geyer,asp
Klara,R. (2016, September 14). Etsy's first global campaign is an expression of individuality, just like      the stuff it sells: Here's what makes it and its everyday items different. Adweek. Retrieved from
     https://www.adweek.com/news/advertising-branding/etsys-first-global-campaign-expression-
     individuality-just-like-stuff-it-sells-173404


Sunday, March 23, 2014

Tiny-fying

An important aspect of living sustainably is being able to do more with less and space definitely is included with that. I am currently living in a tiny house that was originally built semi-detached from a grand house in 1892. The industrialist who built this house put his science lab on the third floor, so the maid's room and her loo as well as an open first floor plan to accommodate parties were part of his controversial home design plan. This space was enclosed sometime during the mid twentieth century and this is my home today.

I do have a large kitchen as well as the 17' by 35' front room and spacious storage in the basement to share, but I'm trying to find that sweet spot of comfortably living and working in my textile studio and running an e-tail business and gardening in my BathroomFarm conducted inside this room. So far so good, but it can be better. So, that means tiny-fying. Constantly. Like. A. Lot.

Small space living with an eye on profit and productivity certainly adds a new dimension to the process. At this point, there is probably nothing wrong with most of the things I have. Most of that unnecessary fluff is long gone. I do have to keep scrutinizing possessions to determine if they are appropriate to my goals and release them if they are not. Lucky for me, my neighborhood has the best neighborhood yard sale ever and it's coming up soon.

Right now my life is an intricate exercise of sorting, sifting, stumbling knee deep over tubs of stuff, separating the Etsy biz wheat from the yard sale chaff, photographing, editing and listing and there's not much fun stuff to talk about. I enjoy this part because I know that I'm going to wake up on the second Monday of June with a more ordered and focused life.

Intrigued? Visit my neighborhood yard sale during the first full weekend of June every year. Shop 80 acres of yard sale paradise at the Woodruff Place Flea Market this year on June 7th and 8th in Indianapolis, IN. We tithe 10% back to our neighborhood to preserve our historical prettiness. I love to participate in this event because I appreciate the luxury of living in an outstanding historic district. Being able to efficiently declutter allows me to enjoy doing that even more.

Can't wait until June? Shop for vintage textile treasures at my Quality Junk shop on Etsy! This is where textile items that are too fragile or difficult to sell at my yard sale come to find new homes. I named this shop after my own sale at the Woodruff Place Flea Market. Of course, there will be plenty of other textile items for sale on my porch in June. I'll see you there.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Handmade and Vintage Clothing and Textiles

My Baisebeige Studios Shop on Etsy has a swell tagline proclaiming "Handmade and Vintage Clothing and Textiles! I carefully chose those words with flow in a circular nature to to express handmaking by using vintage materials and the changing uses of items made from those materials. I have amassed an impressive collection of vintage clothing, salvaged materials and household items during my entire lifetime. Now, it's time to get busy!  I am going to pack up my act and take my show on the road!

On First Friday, Indianapolis local fashion magazine Pattern in conjunction with AIGA, the professional organization for design, opened The Bindery, a Pop-Up co-working space for fashion design at The Harrison Center for the Arts. From First Friday August to First Friday September, there will be a fully functional fashion design studio available free for any Indianapolis creative to use. I moved to Indianapolis in 1982, and this is the most ambitious fashion project this city has ever seen.

It's a call to action for our design community and depending how the community responds to this opportunity, may be the first baby step toward having a local fashion incubator. They didn't have to tell me twice! I cleared the decks and organized the stash. Although, as a fashion artist and upcycler, I exist on the fringes of fashion, the possibility of building a local fashion industry matters very much to me. Local business makes sustainable economies and empowers all of us. In the very least, I will have fun with doing my part in improving local culture and business and make swell new friends in the process.

It may sound like a hassle to pack up my work and commute to a new workspace, but the possibilities are truly unlimited. I visited the space to acclimate myself to the equipment and resources today. One of my projects now is to make vintage clothing and lingerie relevant for these modern times. It seems like this space is perfectly appointed for my needs. This Victorian s-curve torso could be just the thing for draping beautiful bustles. I have been to The Bindery promised land and am pleased.

I am going to savor the opportunity to participate in the community. The finale of the project on First Friday September 6th is a Pop-Up Shop of our products and a prime opportunity to discuss works with the public.

Watch for frequent updates as this opportunity unfolds. We're making business history in Indianapolis and creating a better economic future. This is an exciting story to tell.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Shop Cleaning and Halloween-ing!

Yay! October!

Sometimes I think October is the beginning of my year as opposed to January, which is fine with me. I like riding the wave of the change in the season and the glitz and the glam of Halloween crafting and costume making adds sparkle to my attitude as well as twinkle to the floor of my studio. The renewed energy inspires me to plan and expand my work.

I am very happy for my source of new old stock vintage masks. Being able to sew beads onto the surface of the masks, makes a much more beautiful product and I have added a few new items crafted in this manner to my Etsy shop inventory. But, as I always say, "out with the old and in with the new"! Therefore, I have added some of the plastic masks decorated with glued decorations to my new clearance section.

Also in my shop clearance section are discontinued rag knit items. Most of the fun for me in the creation of rag knits is making the fiber to knit. The direction the rag knits is headed is toward items that include more hand dyed elements to enhance the upcycled fibers or to be made completely from dyed fabric and fiber. I also am changing the style of the cowl to be more like a small capelet with a closure at the neck. My fingers are crossed that buttons made from drilled beach stones will work perfectly for them.

That "out with the old and in with the new" is also in action in my own personal inventory of my lifetime collection of very cool and useful things. I have added new items to my studio destash shop named for my annual sale, Quality Junk. This shop is the end-of-the-road for items that I'm sure I'm never going to use myself. I have a serious weakness for interesting vintage textiles and need to be firm with myself about getting too overloaded with my acquisitions!

Why am I ambitiously cleaning things out? Baisebeige Studios has a plan for expansion! I am going to expand my space in this interesting old house. My work frequently spills out of my room so I am going to make my takeover of that space official in November.

Halloween is calling me back to work now. Stay tuned for more news on this year's merriment and the changes in my studio!

Monday, June 25, 2012

A Few Alterations to Rock and Roll History

Today is Global Beatles Day and I have a tiny tale of my own related to this celebration of modern culture influenced by the Fab Four. Meet my friend Faith Cohen. We go way back to the good old days of punk rock except she was talking more about The Beatles then. Time has passed and she is making bigger noise about The Beatles now. She's the creator of Global Beatles Day! She lives it, breathes it, sleeps it. ... And now she wants to wear it out on Saturday night!

This jacket is a genuine artifact of rock and roll history. It was previously owned by Pattie Boyd who was first married to George Harrison. They met on the set of A Hard Day's Night in which Pattie appeared as an extra in the film. Pattie was a model for Mary Quant and is credited with creating the definitive "London Look" that was perpetuated by Twiggy in later years. After Brian Epstein gave the Beatle his permission to marry her, she accompanied him to the Maharishi's ashram in India. She inspired The Beatles song "Something". And, yes, that is Pattie Boyd in the video at the link. After her subsequent marriage to Eric Clapton, and being the inspiration for his rock classic "Layla", Pattie Boyd became known to be "The Greatest Rock Muse" ever.

The jacket itself has a pop culture connection. It was made by Kings Road designer Nigel Preston for his fashion line branded Maxfield Parrish. He was well known for colorful leather and suede clothing and was popular with rock stars in the mid-1970s going forward. Although Mr. Preston is no longer living, his brand is still in production.

So why doesn't Faith look very happy in the picture above? Maybe it's because she is swimming in the garment and something must be done! Lucky for her she knows me and Baisebeige Studios is the home of the Gonzo Alteration. It was no problem to take the jacket apart, raise the shoulder line, take in the torso, take in the sleeves and shorten the sleeves while preserving the original intention of the maker's design lines. And, it doesn't hurt at all that I completely "get it" and understand the whole story attached to this article of clothing.

The surgery was a complete success and Pattie Boyd's jacket fits exactly like Faith Cohen's jacket should fit. It's so true that the culture of The Beatles is being passed forward through time. This little wearable snippet of history has many more years of fashion fun ahead of it. I think a much happier Faith agrees and is drinking to that!