(Side & Top Cuff views from Gerard Yosca - Photo from HairBoutique.com Photo Library - all rights reserved - HairBoutique.com).
Maybe because I have my own designs - Karen Marie - or because I have been buying hair accessories since day one of our Marketplace...hair accessories are my "thing".
Everyone at HairBoutique.com says I have "the eye" for buying great hair accessories. Or maybe they say that because they don't want to be bothered and it is a good way to flatter me into volunteering to do the deed (which I actually love to do).
When the Hairboutique.com Marketplace was first getting started we have a few "hand made" hair accessories from a long haired designer out West. The accessories were very simple in design and construction but all I could find at the time.
After all, I went from telecommunications systems engineer geekette (they actually called me dudette at my last telecom job) to buying all sorts of hair goods and accessories. I knew absolutely nothing about what I was doing. Seriously naive about sooooooooooooo many things it is actually scary that I managed not to screw up more than I did.
While I really loved the first designer a lot, she got a big ole bee in her bonnet for a number of reasons (maybe I will blog about it someday). I tried to make nice over the problems and apologized for the mis-communications but she was unwilling to work things out with me - no matter how hard I tried. Sadly that was the end of that relationship.
We parted ways and I made my way up the next rung in the hair accessory buying ladder. I felt sad about that first accessory bomb because I had bonded with the designer. That was one of my many "business mistakes". Developing any type of bonding with vendors can get you in a major world of hurt. Trust me...been there...done that.
My next stop was with a second so-called "designer" in Dallas who made some of the most god-awful "jeweled bobby pins". I was horrified by the prototypes she prepared which were literally dripping glue and had stones so heavy they almost bent the pins in double.
I managed to politely decline her offer to create an "entire line" for Hairboutique.com. Unfortunately, she was the significant other of my long term holistic health care professional. Which was bad business lesson #2 of thousands. Never do business with the wife, husband, dog, cat, mouse, hamster, brother, sister or whatever of your favorite doctor, hairdresser, acupuncturist...well you get my drift. Besides parting ways with the so-called "designer" I also was forced to part ways with her guy since he was unhappy at my decision not to go with the glue infested designs.
The third stop on the hair accessory trail was yet another "hand made" designer of hair accessories.
I learned lots of hard lessons from that 3rd designer including never agreeing to pay in advance before the designs were at least ready to be shipped. Once you have paid all the money your order becomes less of a priority than other customers who pay after the order is ready than before. Which means you wait...wait..and wait some more...for your shipment while your constant calls about your MIA shipment are ignored by the designer. And this particular designer had quite a temper and could be very vindictive. Not a good combo.Yes...not a fun experience.
When it comes to being a business dummy....I was definitely world class...even after having studied business in school.
Finally...after stumbling through a few more "hand crafted" designer lines and through some blessed accident of fate I found my way to a huge show with so many "real" vendors carrying accessories my head was spinning off.
My budget was in serious danger when I made the discovery but I found "real" designers who worked with patterns, the highest quality adhesives, metals, materials. These were designers who could make the same pattern consistently although one of a kind items were available.
While one-of-a-kind accessory designs may be sizzling hot for consumers to wear, they are a nightmare for online vendors like me. Why? We have to photograph everything that goes on the HB e-store site including pricing the item, writing as detailed of a description as possible so that our customers are not disappointed and then applying a Hairboutique.com SKU number and storing it on our many racks where it can easily be located and picked. Quite a time consuming task. Therefore, it is more cost effective if I have 10 identical items rather than just 1.
Once I found "the real show" my problems didn't go away. They only got bigger and more painful.
You might think you can just wander into a show and buy whatever you want. I did. HAH! Nope. Not so.
In fact, getting into the shows without multiple years worth of financials to prove I was really a "retailer" and not some fly-by-night flim flammer was no easy task. After all, wholesalers are very careful about protecting their retailers by not selling directly to consumers.
Once I was in the show I had a new problem. Most of the vendors did not want to sell to me.
Yes I know. You would think that vendors at a show would want to sell their wares. Back when I was trying to buy for the HairBoutique.com Marketplace the vendors were very afraid of the Internet. This was 10 years ago but the vendors thought the Internet was a fad and would go away. Needless to say, they did not want to sell to an Internet company...which was little ole me.
OK. Now to the tingles part. Thanks for hanging in there for my looping story. Hopefully most of you reading this are women because men hate these looping stories...don't they?
At that first show after I managed to finally get approved to attend - I saw a display by jewelry designer great Gerard Yosca. I spied Gerard's cuffs and immediately had goosebumps from the tips of my toes to the top of my head. I literally had non-stop tingles. Some people have this reaction when they meet a new romantic attraction. I had it when I saw a tray full of gorgeous cuffs from Gerard.
Maybe the accessory gods were feeling sorry for me. To this day I am still not sure why but Gerard's rep agreed to write an order for me. Gerard had a few hair accessories (he no longer does hair goods) along with the cuffs. I "wrote" a small order (as much as I could afford) for Yosca accessories and was walking on air for days...maybe weeks. Somehow I had managed to break through.
Since those first Yosca tingles I have experienced them on a regular basis. The lines I buy that cause me to instantly tingle have all been great lines for me. Bar none. The ones that don't cause me to tingle....not so much. I can tell just by looking at a hair accessory if it will work or not....how much it will sell for and whether it will fly off the shelves or gather dust in a corner.
Also, any of the original designers that agreed to sell to me when HairBoutique.com was still considered an "Internet undesirable" have retained my undying loyalty and are all still in my e-store (if the designer is still in business). As of today HairBoutique.com has over 55 hair designer lines in our Marketplace with another 20 accessory lines (necklaces, cuffs, earrings, toe rings etc.,)
As of January there were really only three designers that were long term anti-Internet hold outs. One of the three just agreed to write an order last week. The other designers.....their loss. Right?
This is an important note since I spent the morning today at yet another "show". I found a relatively new designer and her line gave me instant "tingles". I stopped in my tracks and wrote the entire hair accessory line, even though it was tucked off in a tiny back corner of a massive showroom. The designer was there and I chatted with her. She was lovely. I told her that her line was going to be "huge" and she smiled shyly but seemed to think I had landed from another planet. Maybe. The Planet Of Accessories!
The other cool thing that happened was running into a designer I had met in 2002 at her very first show - ever. She actually remembered me and told me I had been one of her first ever customers. She remembered my late husband Michael, who had been at the show as my financial chaperone. She asked after him and when I told her that he had passed away suddenly three years ago, she flew around the booth and gave me a huge hug. What a nice lady. But no....don't worry....no bonding there.
Meanwhile, I brought back a bunch of great new "tingle" generating hair accessories that are fresh and original. Even better, they are mounted on bobby pins that don't have a hint of glue showing anywhere.Ahhhhhhhhh now's that what they might call transformational.
Please follow us on Twitter at: https://Twitter.com/HairBoutique. I look forward to meeting new people from all walks of Twitter and learning from their Tweets.