Friday, April 30, 2010

Wickedly Chic Mother's Day Gift Guide

Here at Aesthetic Design Style we are all about promoting independent designers in any way possible. Wickedly Chic is one of our very favorite blogs and we'd love to share their Mother's Day Gift Guide with YOU too.

You know what so-so stands for? Same old same old. Does that pretty much describe the gifts your mom typically receives on her special day? Go visit Wickedly Chic's Mother's Day Gift Guide and get your mom something that makes all the other moms want to be her when they grow up. Wickedly Chic's philosophy is all about saying no-no to the so-so!

Some of the participating businesses include: The Elegant Bead (custom made jewelry, handcrafted sterling silver), Neda (trendy jewelry from a Brooklyn boutique), Pharmacopia (natural and organic body care), Ayurvastram (fun accessories), and Miss Malaprop (handmade and eco-friendly goods).

The guide will run through May 29 and is open 24/7. Get your credit card out and start clicking away without stepping foot in a mall.
Until then: "A mother is a person who seeing there are only four pieces of pie for five people, promptly announces she never did care for pie." - Tenneva Jordan

Monday, April 26, 2010

Customer Service - A Lost Art Form

If you're my friend on facebook you already know how upset I am at the world's customer service or lack thereof. So much so that I feel I need to write about it yet again!!!

Personally I have, inadvertently, made customer service my life and my entire professional career. Starting at 13 when I began babysitting for cash, then at 15 when I got my first job at Brown's Flooring, then on to L.S. Ayers at 19 to work for Estee Lauder, up to Chicago at age 20 working for Lancome then Christian Dior at Lord & Taylor, back to Indianapolis to Parisian with Dior and Elizabeth Arden, on to Jacobson's working for Laura Mercier cosmetics, into the Spa industry at 24 as Retail Manager/Head Make up artist at David & Mary, and finally the end of my tenure working for others ended in Corporate America as an Executive Assistant. Whew! I say this to reiterate that EVERY position I've ever held is in some way giving people a service, filling a need, or fixing a problem in order to make someone else happy (whether it was my fault or not!).

Not quite sure what has happened to customer service or maybe I'm being too hard on people because I know what I should expect in regards to good customer service. I'm not even striving to receive GREAT customer service anymore - good would be a huge upgrade! Didn't any one's mother ever tell them that "you can catch more flies with honey than vinegar?" or "actions speak louder than words?" Apparently not.

Customer service does not only apply only to fashion or to retail. I'm talking grocery stores, salons, government offices (one of the best places for HORRIBLE customer service by the way!), Starbucks, Real Estate, school administrative offices, heating and cooling, carpet cleaning, etc. You get the point. defines customer service in this manner: assistance and other resources that a company provides to the people who buy or use its products or services. Let's just focus on the first word here - assistance. Does anyone help you or even ask you if you need help anymore? Rarely but it's not the norm. On to the word resources. If you are assisted and you can't find the dress you want in gold at that store does anyone call another store to help you find your dress? Again, not often. It's too much work for the person who's getting paid to help you but doesn't have the time or energy to do so. It baffles my mind, seriously.

What happened to "the customer is always right?" Now I KNOW for a fact, from personal experience, that the customer isn't always right. BUT one must do everything in their power to fix the situation and retain customer loyalty no matter what business you are in. Being a small business owner now I know how important reputation and your word is in business. Like I stated on my facebook page customer service will make or break your business in seconds.

There are so many options for customers these days and so many places of business doing the same things. How do you set yourself apart and how do you keep customers coming back to your business specifically? People pay hundreds and thousands of dollars for marketing firms and PR firms to answer this question for their businesses and I'm giving it to you at no charge. CUSTOMER SERVICE!!! That's your answer! Treat others as you would want to be treated then even go above that another 10%.

A few tips:
  • Assist your customer throughout the entire transaction but know when to back away if they need time to make a decision. That's common courtesy.

  • Respect their feelings. If they really don't care for the earrings you've designed and took you 52 hours to create then just chalk it up to everyone has different taste and find them something else they like. You can't take anything personally when it comes to sales or service.

  • Smile and be nice. Don't be fake because people can see right through you. Find a job you enjoy doing because it shows in every aspect of your job. Your boss, your co-workers, and your clients can tell if you like what you do by your attitude.

  • This leads me to another point - if you are unhappy and hate your job, your boss, and your co-workers then you probably will take it out on your clients in some form. I know it's a hard job market out there right now but for the love of God please find something else you like to do and stop making others around you miserable!!! It's easier if you figure this out before your boss does!

  • Your livelihood rides on the service you provide and client retention. Think of every person who walks through your door or visits your web site as a potential meal for your family. If you lose them you may not eat. That's extreme but you see where I'm going with this.

  • A compliment goes a long way. Again, don't be fake but use compliments to gain rapport with the client. You don't know what that client has been through that day and you could be the one person to change the direction of their day for the better - sometimes their life if you're really good!

  • Be helpful. If you are explaining your return policy to a client and they just aren't getting it then you keep explaining it and explaining it until they do understand - and be nice about it. Rolling of the eyes or an exasperated sigh helps no one.

  • Exceed expectations. This is a big one and this one will set you a part. Not only meet your client's immediate need but add in a little extra. A free gift. Deliver an order to their door yourself. Provide refreshments during work hours (all sects of business can do this). Help a new mom with her baby while she tries on her first post pregnancy outfit. Offer discounts on their next visit. Find that "something extra" that fits your business. It doesn't have take any money out of your pocket.

  • Make your client feel as though they are the only one you have (even if they really are). Make them feel important.

  • Do your research as a business owner and hire really good people. You may spend a little more money up front for good research but in the end you will get a return on investment that is 10x what you first paid. If you wouldn't leave your kids with them, don't hire them. It's true. Again, your business is your life. When you bring someone in to help you that person needs to know how much you have at stake by trusting and hiring them as well as how their attitude and aptitude can make or break YOUR business.

These are just the tip of the iceberg. There are so many other things you can do to give great customer service. Each segment of business is different but at the end of the day all any of our clients wants is exceptional customer service.

Until then: "You'll never have a product or price advantage again. They can be easily duplicated, but a strong customer service culture can't be copied." - Jerry Fritz

Photo courtesy of

Monday, April 19, 2010

Only the Strong Survive

I consider myself a very optimistic and a "glass half full" kind of person. My passion is to venture into the world and fit independent designers with boutiques and clients that I believe are perfect for their lines. Lately I've been a little discouraged and I need to shake it and move forward ("half full, half full, half full . . .)

One huge difference I've found between independent fashion and established labels is simply name recognition. True story, I had a client say to me "why would I buy a handbag for $300 from you when I can get one for a little more that says Louis Vuitton?" My answer to her was, nicely "because you make your own way and your own style and that's what sets you apart." The quality, time, value, craftsmanship, and uniqueness in independent designs are second to none. Not to say that I wouldn't fall over for a Valentino gown in his signature Valentino Red BUT there are only certain fashion houses on the entire planet (Valentino being one) that can truly boast Haute Couture and the art of it. So in a way Valentino can kind of relate to independent fashion. Personally I decided to help independent accessory and fashion designers with getting their name out there because I don't want what everyone else has. I thought more people felt the way I did but I'm running into brick walls at every turn (and I am a very likeable person!!) with boutiques.

IndySwank in Indianapolis, Indiana has welcomed us and Catherine Fritsch's line, Sweet Revenge Lingerie, with open arms. Jennifer Von Deylen owns this wonderful boutique and really focuses on special pieces and independent designers (as well as the most fantastic Vintage). I contacted her and she immediately replied and set an appointment. I realize not all business transactions are this easy - I guess I just hoped everyone would fall in love with my designers as fast as I did and it would just be that easy.

One boutique (I'm not naming names) said to me after I had contacted them regarding one of my lines "oh we don't buy independent designers so we're not interested." I said "may I ask why?" They said "just past experience we've had with them and their stuff takes too long to get here and it's usually one piece here and there and it was just a headache." I said (again, very nicely) "I'm sorry you've had bad experiences with independent fashion in the past but not all independent designers operate in that fashion." Needless to say they still wouldn't budge. Fashion is completely and absolutely personal so I have to understand the way they feel. It's unfortunate, though, that they are missing out on so much talent and so much creative genius that lives right under their nose.

I bring all of this up for one reason and one reason only. I'm not a quitter and my designers are so awesome and I believe in each and every one of them to my core - or I wouldn't be so vested in their success! Before I take on a line or designer I literally have to fall in love (going back to the whole fashion is personal thing again) with them. Every line and every designer we represent I would wear personally. You have to have a very open mind and not follow the crowd when it comes to expressing who you are through your own style. It's funny but looking back at my 34 years on this earth I find that fashion has been a constant for me. Something that always got me through good and bad times - an outward expression of who I was/am at certain times in my life. One can be insecure about many things in life but when you have your own style and feel confident in who you are and what you do - your insecurities don't show and no one would ever know about them and isn't that the point?

Independent fashion is me, it is Aesthetic Design Style, and it will be in your closet - THAT I am taking full responsibility for right now! So, ONLY THE STRONG SURVIVE but I am also saying that ONLY THE STRONG WILL THRIVE and that's us!!

Until Then: "Make the most of who you are for that's all there is of you anyway."

Monday, April 12, 2010

Indy Fashion Time

Networking is really an incredible thing when done properly! I have met the most wonderful, smart, creative, and powerful individuals just by going to things and doing the things I love. One perfect example of this was when I met Denisha Ferguson AKA DLANG. Not only is she a designer but she, like us, is devoted to changing the landscape of fashion in our very own backyard. She believes in and knows how much talent we have right here in Indianapolis and wants to showcase that talent.

But it doesn't stop there and this is not just another fashion show!!! Denisha created Indy Fashion Time to educate, spotlight, and encourage designers and make them more successful in their futures. Aesthetic Design Style is so excited to be able to help out and be a part of Indy Fashion Time this year! This is the 3rd Annual launch of this event and it is shaping up to be the biggest and best so far.

Denisha breaks down the IFT Experience in three categories:
  • Mission - To create learning, networking, and economic opportunities for the creative mind
  • Vision - Dreamers platform into reality
  • Goals - 1. To obtain dreams through artistic expression 2. To empower youth through workshops that introduce basic principles of the arts, while also focusing on self-esteem and life skills 3. To provide marketing opportunities for the novice and experience creative professional 4. To promote cultural diversity in the arts 5. To increase tourism by providing creative events in Indiana

There really IS more than corn in Indiana - PROMISE!

IFT offers a design competition with a CASH prize for the winner! This is something that is rare for fashion events in the city so I applaud her for this offering.

  • The competition is open to any resident or non-resident of Indiana, student, entrepreneur, or professional
  • Requirements: 1. Present four original designs 2. Follow rules outlined on registration forms 3. Submit $189 registration fee
  • To enter simply email IFT Week at with your name and mailing address and you will be sent the designer registration forms
  • Deadline has been extended to April 21, 2010

Tickets for IFT are very reasonable as well. $15 for general admission and only $25 for VIP tickets which includes access to networking reception, lite Hor' D' oeuvres, preferred show seating, and MORE surprises (are you kidding me? VIP all the way baby!). CLICK HERE to purchase your tickets NOW!

For further details on how you can join the competition, volunteer, or get the schedule of events visit IFT Week and get connected.

See you there!

Until then: "Creativity is the ability to see that which is waiting to exist"