Branded

(Actually, this is not really an example of far-out branding, as Hermes is a sponsor AND makes top quality saddles and equestrian equipment) Hampton Classic, Bridgehampton, New York

Tuesdays Thoughts On Famous Designers Designing Different Things (all in good humor!)

Tuesday afternoon I decided to scope out the Wedgewood website. Not because I was looking to pick up some duck print fine-bone china or a pair of crystal goblets to that cost more then my car. Just idly browsing. I enjoy homewares.

The homepage displayed some nice wares, with the stamp “Vera Wang”. Underneath the block Vera was “Wedgewood”, as if we needed reminding whose page we were on, and then below that in microscopic print: England 1759. Wedgewood, an English institution, who has made china literally fit for a Queen for actual centuries. Using a famous, celebrity-like designer who creates custom wedding gowns? Sounds like an odd… marriage.

I sat there, not clicking away and switching panes, but staring at her big Times New Roman plain font. When did the human race become so gullible that they’d buy anything as long as it had some recognizable designer name on it, even if that designer did NOT gain fame in that field?

What did Vera know about china? I’ll admit, I would give an arm and a leg and maybe a few eyeballs (no, not my eyes. I love my eyes) to be able to don one of her delectable creations on my non-existent wedding.  Her gowns are top-notch; that can not be disputed.

But what does the Queen of satin and silk, tulle and lace know about crystal stemware? I’ll admit, the pairing seems ideal. A fluted Vera dress and matching flutes to toast to your nuptials might definitely appeal to a specific character, with her happily ever after fantasy and colour coordination down to her bridesmaid’s underwear.

Still, the garment industry and the tableware industry are two distinct separate industries, for good measure. Just because you can design a dress does not grant you the authority nor knowledge or ability to design a tea set. Yes, the pottery was quite pleasant, no garish prints (I mean this WAS Wedgewood), but I was still irked.

Even if you can, do you WANT a Vera Wang white porcelain sugar container, at $135 a pop? Does the bride really need to receive all her new china from someone whose name is eponymous with weddings and dresses? Weddings are fun and all, but I don’t think the marital bliss will remain simply because every time I look down at my scrambled eggs the plate boasts Vera’s name.

Just because she was good at gowns, she could just plaster her name on anything and think it would sell? That countless advisories and marketing analysts and financial consultants all agree with this mindset? I know there’s months, years that goes into getting that goblet on the go, but still, couldn’t she leave it up to the specialists, such as Wedgewood? Why did everything have to intermingle? I always felt like products as such were cheapened somehow, even though I’d never utter a word of that nature in direction of her dresses.

I’m not going to even touch in this article about the whole over-saturation of a brand name and how that can drown a company that was previously Titanic –quality in its respect.  I’ll save that for my next post.

In the meantime, for some quality, handmade, unbranded, vintage porcelain made by dinnerware artisans, head over to www.etsy.com/shop/japonicanyc !

Exposing Your (Creative) Bones

(Don’t flat out refuse like this cowboy) New York, New York

Friday musings about being torn between the reluctance to share and desire to protect.

Exposing Your (Creative)Bones

In college, I took an intro to entrepreneurship class. We were required to present a business idea to the class. I, always brimming with ideas (usually as a result of my own frustration with some aspect of daily life), piped up.

“What if someone steals it?”

My professor didn’t miss a beat, even though he often would pause before speaking.

“You will be doing yourself a disservice. Keeping it to yourself will not prevent anything. It is your idea, your passion. Other people may listen, and like the idea, and yes, they could take it and run with it, but it burns brightly within you, with a fire that they do not possess. If you truly believe in it, and work for it,  it will belong to you.”

(I am paraphrasing this, as my memory has not improved with age, fancy that!)

I pondered this. Did I want to divulge my (what I thought brilliant idea) to a group of young eager students all dying to make money?

Reluctantly, I took his advice. Some of their eyes brightened, a few less had a bone to pick, thus of course driving me crazy, and he himself enjoyed it, but had some reservations, as he did with most of the others too. And that’s when I realized.

You need feedback. Secrecy does one no favours when it comes to developing an idea- we humans are not meant to operate alone; most mammals live in packs or groups. Scores of great things never would have been built/achieved/discovered if it hadn’t been for teamwork.

You need a fresh outlook, a different perspective other then your own. When you love something, often you are too close to it to see the imperfections. You overlook the flaws and focus on the favoured.

With the age of technology and social media, a lot of artists put their work out there. I often ponder this with my own Instagram account- I want people to see and like them, but at the same time, with all of the re-posting that goes on, I am so afraid of someone taking credit for my heart and soul as their own.

Yes, there are selfish people, who are in higher positions and may use the ideas of those less powerful, to spin them into something better, or blatantly copy for higher gain. This is a risk, but unfortunately this can’t always be avoided. A creative idea is almost like a child- you give birth to it, you love it; it’s your creation. The pain of having it stolen away is unbearable. Fight for it back; you can’t let them win.

So, do we shield our ideas from view? If you hide, no one will ever know you are any good, and you will most definitely never get discovered. The written word is especially hard- someone may not copy every line, but steal fragments here and there that sound suitable. But, if no  one ever reads your work, no one will definitely ever want to then read your work.

What do you think? Are you hesitant to expose your ideas, bare your creative being? Not for fear of ridicule, but because it will no longer be yours if it is out there? Or are you all for sharing, growing, editing- confident in the fact that it will remain yours?

10 Ways To Justify A Purchase

(This was over the course of a year, I swear! Or was that 365 minutes?) Brooklyn, New York

The things that you try to tell people when you know you shouldn’t have bought something (All in good humor)

10 Reasons You Justify A Purchase

  1. Time. “I’ll have this replica of Big Ben until my children’s children’s cousin’s ex-wife has children! The test of time….”
  2. Quality. “But…its four ply cashemere, the other sweater was see-through…”
  3. “It’s $3 off of $150 for this vial of sand from Egypt! You know it’ll never go lower then this!”
  4. “In HomeGoods they were $40, but this cute little old lady in Missouri is selling it for $4. You know replica flowered milkcans, theres a lot of details in those flowers….”
  5. Can’t Find it Anywhere Else. “Where else can I find a pair of earrings consisting of a frying pan and a slice of toast with eyes? Sold!”
  6. Aspirational Shopping. “I know, I know, I am a size six and these are a zero from 1996; but I went jogging for ten minutes with Jen the other day….”
  7. Once In A lifetime opportunity! “They never carry vacuum cleaners in pink- who wants boring gray?”
  8. It’ll go perfectly with…. “Those green burlesque Betsey Johnson pumps I picked up at her Hamptons yard sale five years ago!” and never wore.
  9. One of A Kind Item. “I’ve never seen a kitty litter box that the cat has to jump into before….mess free! Must buy”
  10. I’m Indulging My Whims. “Oh, I got a C on that assignment the other day, I definitely deserve this antique Moroccan kohl container…. Oh c’mon! It was statistics!”

 

So you go on https://www.etsy.com/shop/JaponicaNYC and shop for vintage porcelain items until your hearts content….

Nostalgia & Quality

(I think the graffiti only adds to the character, don’t you?) Bushwick, Brooklyn New York

Monday morning musings about the tie between nostalgia and the quality of products

“Antique-design table”. “Retro hand-mirror”. “Converted radio flyer planter”. Every which way you turn, something harkens to days past, when it may in fact be brand new.  Nostalgia for days gone by, your younger years, has always been present. However, I feel more and more, in pop articles and articles generated by the bunch, that people are yearning for yesteryear. Why does this seem more prevalanet? Times were always simpler, inventions and such have always existed.

This is a topic that has been long debated, and I won’t profess to having any answer. However, in terms of nostalgia pertaining to home products, this is a lot easier to pin down.

Quality is the key word to this nostalgia for old products, buildings and designs. As I walk along Fulton Street in Brooklyn, I see so many old brownstones being gutted, just empty shells standing, while other less desirable structures are merely bulldozed and new, generic, bland looking buildings are erected in what feels like mere minutes. No decorative detailing, and everything looks eerily temporary, despite the steel beams and cement.

Technology, although wonderful with all we can accomplish, has made the process of mass production possible. The more of something that exists, the less desirable it becomes, as it is not rare, unique. We humans seem to crave uniqueness, why, maybe because we have less and less to worry about. “Too much of a good thing” is perhaps true. If you were to all of a sudden possess 300 Sailor Moon Sculptures, the original would immediately lose its value, its prestige, when before it was as rare as the “Heart of The Ocean” (diamond necklace from Titanic, duh!)

When something is handmade now, we see it as a gift from the heart, something special, something that will ultimately cost more money because it took much more time and skill to produce.  It is something unique, as no mold is being used, no two products can be completely identical.

As time goes by and the technology is honed and perfected, it somehow makes products less and less respectable, despite often improving certain aspects about them. New materials and ways of using old ones to maximize profit and minimize costs are being produced. For example, polyester is cheap, and man-made, and although can imitate silk, it does not hold a candle to the quality of silk, no matter how nice the drape is.

The items hailed from simpler times, when the current worries of the modern world did not exist, or were just a far off future issue that were not actively on our minds. With worrying about whether your Instagram post was filtered enough or if the Starbucks new drink is going to have too many calories, it is nice to rest your eyes on something from a time where you had to wait by the landline phone to hear back from someone and milk cost 10 cents, not 8$ at WholeFoods. Sub-conciously, they sooth us.

Maybe when all of the similar looking brownstones were developed, people felt the same way about them .”Oh look, another 3-window façade with a flowered scroll etched in the cement above them. Not again!” Just because we see NOW that they were quite beautiful structures, doesn’t mean that when they were new, people thought the same thing.

Perhaps it takes a lot of time to pass to realize what we had, to adjust, to accept, to realize that something is not all that bad. Maybe sixty years from now we’ll think that that clothes from Forever21 are something to clamor for, but in the meantime….. I’ll just shop for vintage porcelain dinnerware and other cute vintage items on www.etsy.com/shops/japonicanyc

10 Reasons You Shop Online

(When waiting online, you sometimes feel like the lion, but mostly feel like the seal) Sagg Town Coffee, Sag Harbor, New York

These may seem obvious, but gone are the days where you will wait online behind an old man counting out his dimes while you count the minutes that your boss is going to spend screaming at you for being late again, despite the fact that said line is for the brand of coffee he insists of having in the office (and having the employees pay for).

  1. There’s no people. Who knew you were such a hermit? Sitting the in the confines of your house/car/cubicle, you are blissfully separated from the haggling moms and their perpetually runny nosed kids.
  2. You can do it wherever, whenever-kinda like the Shakira song. Without all the belly dancing and stuff, although you did always think that looked pretty cool….
  3. There’s no salespeople. No “Oh my god, red is so your colour!” When red in fact washes you out and somehow clashes horribly with blonde hair/blue eyes. What does she wearing the blue eyeshadow know anyways?
  4. You can actually think, no peer pressure. For some reason, and you know you’ve been there, I always feel pressured to buy something, even if it is a pair of trendy overalls that make me look more like a roly-poly Minion then a model.
  5. You can get deep discounts. Forget the 80% off signs they place every two feet in the stores. They sold out of your size two months ago. Online is where the real bargains pile up- literally; you missed a potential job interview because ‘We Want You!’ Was the slogan of a million other junk brand emails trying to get you through the door.
  6. No dealing with shopping bags and a commute/ or traffic. You haven’t lived yet until you’re wearing a fur coat on an unexpected 60-degree day while trying to hoist an extra large printer over the tourists heads and cursing the fact that a one-train ride became a three-train (damn Weekender service). For those lucky enough to drive, do I even need to touch on the traffic?
  7. More options. In the store they have two colours, online they have twenty. Who wants brown or orange anyways? Don’t they know that in New York you wear black, off black, and jet black?
  8. Can actually make educated decisions; price comparisons. Unless you are the Queen of England and have all of the time in the world (actually, she probably has quite the social schedule for an older lady, more so then you- when was the last time you had girls brunch!? Yeaaaah), you don’t have time to go to each store and then muse over which deal was best. Online, all of that comparison is a click and pane switch away.
  9. You can take care of your dogs/cats/babies/spouse. Because strapping a screaming child into a car seat, or trying to convince your daschund that the mannequin in the hideous pizza print dress is not going to eat him, can get strenuous. At home, you can shop more efficiently, although you’ll still have to shove your (overweight) cat off your keyboard. Why they insist on perching themselves on top of the most uncomfortable places, you have no idea.
  10. You can multitask. Time efficiency! Eat pita chips, drink a bottle of merlot, watch re-runs of Law & Order SVU, chat to your friend about next new years plans (it’s March)…whatever it is that you have on that laundry list to do, you can do so and still navigate the world wide web to make your purchases. Who can say no?

Visit www.etsy.com/shops/japonicanyc to shop online for vintage porcelain and other gifts to your hearts content!

Top 10 Things That Cross Your Mind Shopping on Etsy

(yes, I think somewhere in my pink tool kit I have all I need to repair this dolly…Sold!)

Sag Harbor, New York

You decide to check out Etsy, the rabbit hole of all things crafty, creative, and dust collecting. The 10 thoughts that run through your overwhelmed noggin, from start to finish… 

  1. I could make that. I mean, seriously? I took Home Ec. How hard is it to whip up a stuffed tomato with googly eyes? Or a King Tut the 3rd plushie? Yeah, I definitely can do that King Tut…wait is that CROSSTITCH?
  1. Who needs a resin Wizard of Oz Plate that plays music? I mean really, I’ve been sneaking plates OUT of grandmas house every time I go to visit, I don’t need to ADD to her collection (of 5,000). Last time I bumped into one, she spent an hour sobbing and telling me I’ll never be dainty enough to find a husband.
  1. Where am I going to put all of this ? Of course I’d love a lifesize shiba inu statue, but shouldn’t I be using that space to store my air conditioner, so I don’t have to go to bed each night dressed in an old fur coat and a scarf to combat the breeze (never took it out of the window in the fall)?
  1. My mom can do so much better. I mean, her cheesecake is the best on Long Island. Why would I buy someone elses secret recipe? What a sell-out. I mean, what if one of my friends buys it? I won’t be the stand-out baker at our next (non-existant) potluck.
  1. Wow, Jim really has a lot of time on his hands! I mean, it takes some skill to make old knives and forks really look like a roadrunner…oh, I see here it took 20 hours…20 hours?!
  1. Craft supplies galore- I can be the crafty mom now! Oh wait…I forgot to have kids. Crafty aunt? My sisters going through a divorce. Crafty babysitter? No one I know has kids. Darn! Ok, I’ll just pretend I AM still a kid.
  1. OMG, I can do all of my gift giving. For that uncle I can never remember the name of who plays checkers 20 hours a day, and my cousin who no longer bothers to pretend we are related, and to that frenemy Leila who is always making nasty remarks about the gift cards I give to starbucks. Maybe I like being basic. Well, Basic begone!
  1. I need to freeze my credit cards. Otherwise, the vintage Dolce and Gabbana denim jacket? Mine. I don’t care if I can’t pay my Metrocard and have to walk to work. Don’t I want to fit into the itsy bitsy teeny weenie bikini that supposedly Brigitte Bardot wore (according to Jo Anne Smith, 43, Louisiana, homemaker and storyteller extrodinaire)? The A train is so passe.
  1. Now my dog and I can match- look at these owner/pet cat ear headbands! Wait, dog? Whatever, me and my future dog (down the line when I move out to the suburbs and raise a family…aka never) Sold!
  1. Wait…I do need that! So I give in and buy everything and spend a week in sitting on boxes and trying to find my computer to SOS for help. Visit etsy.com/shops/japonicanyc to buy vintage porcelain dinnerware and other treasures. Shop to your hearts content!

10 Things To Distract You From Making A Purchase

 

(Go somewhere with absolutely no internet connection or stores. That island in the middle looks like a good bet, no?) Kotor, Montenegro

Do not watch American Pickers; it will only make things worse. Note: all our posts are in good humor, intended to brighten your day:)

  • Play that Neko Atsume cat game. Completely effortless, but who knew collecting kitties and feeding them could make you forget larger responsibilities like feeding your own kitties and paying the rent, let alone buying that vintage Hawaiian cat-hula girl?
  • Spend a day cleaning your parents house. By the time the day is over (read: 10 minutes) you’ll be so exhausted hearing “don’t break that” and “watch that, I got it from your great-great grandmother Edie, she drank from that Coke bottle on her first date with your uncle Benny” that you’ll vow you’ll never put your own kids through having to do this with your junk
  • Look at your best friend’s photos of her recent sojourn to Europe. When was your last trip? That boozy resort in Jamaica that you never ventured off the property, and could have been in Florida for all you knew? Right. Get that jar out and put the money in it- the antique dog house can wait (you don’t even own a dog). Woof.
  • Watch Hoarders. You’ll be so repulsed by the overflowing stacks of moldy newspapers that are breeding bugs you didn’t even know existed, that the thought of purchasing some old mans entire library will seem off-putting.
  • Buy a bottle of rakija (for those who don’t know it, it’s a grape based drink of the Balkans that tastes like licorice.) You mix it with water and sip it slowly, consuming nuts or seeds on the side.  After a few, (consumed quickly), that collection of Steiff bears from 1912 that supposedly survived the Titanic will survive not having a voyage to your house.
  • Go mountain climbing. No need to purchase those wannabe Spice Girl spangled platforms when you’re on crutches for four weeks (you knew flip flops do not constitute as hiking boots!)
  • Browse through the junk mail. Find the charity invitations. Read the stories, and decide you have more noble places to spend your money (Giving is good!) These lovely causes actually deserve your money, not some dude selling handmade Jack Daniels wind chimes in Tennessee. He probably consumed them all himself.
  • Hire a housecleaner, and eavesdrop. You’ll be so ashamed listening to their remarks on “does he have enough junk?” as she dusts your 80’s matchbox car collection that you’ll instantly want to live like a monk and eschew all physical property in life.
  • Read a blog. One about travelers who bask on beautiful beaches, only owning a backpack, and become so immersed in the idea that you begin selling off your collections, forgetting all about buying you 299th Iive.laugh.love plaque.
  • Go on Etsy, just to browse, as your sister holds your credit card, realize that you can’t, absolutely can not resist that lamp that looks like the burlesque leg lamp in that funny cult movie “A Christmas story”, arm wrestle the card out of her (weak) grip…

….And realize that shopping for goodies is fun, and you can’t go without it! Shop for vintage porcelain and presents on http://www.etsy.com/shops/Japonicanyc

HoliDAZE (The Relay Race Of Gift Giving)

(No rushing the holidays in Czech Republic- this photo shows Christmas stands bustling with business a week after the big day) Prague, Czech Republic

 

(Am I getting the lineup of the holidays confused? Always with a touch of humor)

I’m cutting straight to the point. Mothers day blog posts. In February. February (in New York at least) is known for being the most miserable, darkest, coldest months of the year (usually). Blizzards that bring snow that doesn’t melt and sits in heaps taller then an NBA player. Wait, isn’t the next commercial holiday up Easter? I am so confused.

No where wading through this mess of snow, sappy V-Day cards and shoe-destroying salt am I thinking of warm weather, flowers (well, in my commuting fantasies, but not concrete) and …mother’s day. Worse, my heartbeat starts racing (and not from the two coffees I already consumed), but from the prices…are people really falling for it, and buying mom a $200 candle? That;s my health insurance for a month- and I don’t know if I want to tempt fate just so mom can smell gardenias for the 50 hour “burn time”.

Doesn’t mothers day fall somewhere (I just had to look this up, proving I’m a dreadful daughter) around May 8th? Yes, May. You know the ditty “April showers bring May flowers”? I’m still bundled up in my long super warm shearling coat here. And I’m already fielding my way through posts about personalised gift bags and handmade cards made by nuns and other things about what to get the woman who always says she wants nothing, raises her voice like an opera singer the thought of having to give a gift?

The word holiday is used in Britain the same way we use the word vacation. A vacation implies(ha ha ha) a time of peace, relaxation, celebration, enjoyment, happiness. So why does the word holiday in America bring so much stress? Impatience.

As Americans, we are an impatient people. We get our coffee on the go, eat lunch standing in the pizza shop, buy have drive through weddings with an Elvis priest. Why does our impatience have to spill over to holidays?  Whatever happened to the E.B White quote “never hurry, never worry?” As soon as one holiday is over, stores rip down the displays as if some secret holiday police were going around handing out fines for keeping the marshmallow peeps out an extra day (I personally would eat them all year). As a child I used to get melancholy in mid January, begging one more week for our Tannenbaum to stay put (foot was put down on that dream, with the threat that my toys go up in flames, dry needles and all).

As soon as one is over, we have to be assaulted- visually (tacky bright displays) , aurally (Christmas songs by some horrible pop singer instead of Sinatra), even orally ( I can even taste the Halloween candy when I walk near it, the mass of sugary treats wafting through the plastic like some radioactive toxin). Can’t we have a few moments rest to see what we really need in Duane Reade like breath mints and Tide (who goes in there to buy heart chocolates and stuffed bears anyways?)?

We need to learn to relax. Life is too short for this constant rushing. Take each holiday as they come- maybe a month before the actual date. Search for a gift, but not with the rabid aggression of a childs maiden version to DisneyWorld. Buy what you can afford, not something you’ll spend three months paying off, for the friend you see only once a year (begrudgingly).  Enjoy what we are celebrating, as it comes, not raise our blood pressure levels fretting over the Frette bathrobe or the discount one at Bed Bath & Beyond months before it will be given.

Being in the marketing/selling world, I am not advocating to stop gift giving. I have a degree in merchandising; I hope I understand the monetary value that holidays bring. What I am advocating is, enjoy the day. Get mom that gift, but enjoy the day with her. Lavishing her with some “curated all natural local farm produced handpicked hand mashed gluten free face wash” bag is nice and all, but it doesn’t make up for being a terrible daughter who doesn’t see her 8 months out of the year and groans and at the thought of listening to her anecdotes about her dogs.

When the end of April rolls around, maybe I’ll take a journey out east and see my mom that weekend, IF the weather is warm and sunny. Or, I’l just send her flowers. Or buy her some porcelain at http://www.etsy.com/shops/japonicanyc.  Either way, at the end of the day, she knows I love her.

Apocalypse- Or Divine Paradise? Begone, Gift Giving!

  1. Work would actually get done because you’re not surreptitiously checking out tickets to Metallica on StubHub for your husband instead of writing that recommendation on why John needs that Liver transplant.
  2. Little Ruby wouldn’t need that nose job after all, since she wouldn’t be slugged for taunting Little Miriam for being too poor to receive brand new clothes for her birthday.
  3. You wouldn’t have that avalanche of a closet (stocked with old Cabbage Patch Dolls and ceramic picture frames from your Aunt Fifi )that causes a 3rd-world catastrophe just as referenced Aunt Fifi goes snooping for an extra bow for this years china rooster (cock-a-doodle doo!)
  4. Santa Claus would lose all of that weight from being left the vegetables you hid in your napkin from dinner, not Tate’s Bakeshop cookies. Didn’t he know gluten free is the way to be anyway?
  5. The Chinese wouldn’t have to buy bottled fresh air from some enterprising but Canadians, having no need to pollute the air with waste from  plastic Easter baskets, Mets Monopoly Games or ginormous Valentines Day stuffed animals that scream I WAS CHEATING from the roof of your old beat up Honda.
  6. We’d be forced to go run around outside, maybe lose the holiday poundage from your mom’s famous flan, or eek, converse with each other and find out you have absolutely nothing in common, as television would cease to exist during the holidays for a lack of gift advertising. Following with divorce, splitting the boat no one ever used in two just for spite, lighting your wedding dress on fire, etc. etc.
  7. The world would flourish with trees like your unmarried Aunt Margie’s garden, where she toiled away her sexual energy with her greenest thumb ever. Why? No more wrapping paper to be used and discarded. It would be like living in the Brooklyn Botanical Garden.
  8. Rivers would be plain old blue or worse, run clear, instead of all of those uber cool, pretty rainbow shades from all of the toxic waste. So dull.  I personally prefer a bright orange, didn’t they know it’s the new black?
  9. The vets would require less Xanax to deal with the hysterical owners who come in because little Fluffy or Spot once again consumed too much bubble wrap and can’t go number two.
  10. Christmas, Hannukah and Easter would actually be religious again. Oh yeah, that guy Jesus. Wait, what are the three Wise Men bringing then if not gifts?! Food? Good cheer? Pfft.
  11. People would walk through the malls on Black Friday like they were some mute version of the Walking Dead, sluggishly pattering along, no baggage except, you know their brains.
  12. There would be no entertaining of (insert weird spelled name here) proclaiming he only stole the bling for his baby mama’s birthday. We’d have to read mundane stuff about World events.
  13. People would realize their houses were too organized, so they would try to create some chaos, so they’d go to the mall……

And it would start all over again.

Buy gifts! Gifts are good- we don’t want boring rivers, we want rainbows……