What Inspires You?
We live in a society where, by and large, businesses are trying to stand out and make an impact. When immersed in a culture where there seems to be infinite options, it’s often hard to cut through the clutter. As a consumer, we’re often overwhelmed, but how do you think small businesses feel? Especially those small businesses that are trying to find their niche to thrive in such an overbearing environment. The key then becomes inspiration. Yes, inspiration, one word that can create a paradigm-shift in the construct of clutter.
There’s always intention behind action, and if you want to survive as a small business owner in this society, it’s imperative that inspiration be presented to your audience. Whether it’s the passion to promote trendy frames with humble intentions (Warby Parker), aesthetically sleek knowledge hubs (Apple), or a tasteful pop (Coca-Cola), it’s the inspiration behind the brands that have garnered their success and large-scale recognition.
There are smaller brands that are also following this model–inspiring national interest with local roots. The Alchemist Brewery, located in Waterbury, VT, has a passion for brewing with a unique spin. Their claim to fame is Heady Topper, an IPA loaded with hops. Although currently a small market, they can’t keep these IPAs on shelf. Heady Topper has established its name all through word-of-mouth marketing, driving visitors to VT with hopes of trying this beverage. Heady Topper keeps inventory low even with high demand because they don’t want to diminish the quality of their product. After all, their motto is to keep the “freshest, hoppiest packaged IPA on the market.”
How does your business create a construct of brand identity in an ever-evolving market?
'The kiss of a refreshing cocktail'…great tagline that has me itching for springtime
The Essence of True Beauty
Various ad agencies have taken appeal to tugging at the heartstrings. In many cases, it can be an effective tactic; this is duly noted in the case of Dove Real Beauty Sketches - deemed by Ad Age as the most viral campaign of 2013.
It’s human nature that we as individuals are our toughest critics. Society tends to judge beauty at face value, not allowing oneself to see the essence of beauty from within. We begin to compare ourselves to the airbrush perfections painted in the media. This societal trend skews perception, taking away the ability to capitalize on one’s features others would notice instantaneously. Dove’s commercial captures the root of this epidemic, showing the contrast between an individuals misguided perception, and the ability of another to shed light on the beauty that individual bestows.
I commend Dove’s approach with this commercial, because it serves a greater purpose than selling beauty products. It creates a slight paradigm shift by empowering women to value their physical features, just as a stranger would. In a culture bounded by media perfections, it signifies the need to educate women on what true beauty stands for.
While in Toronto, I discovered these trees wrapped in translucent (yet protective) pink LED rope. As someone with a knack for seeking grassroots tactics, I couldn’t help but stop in my footsteps. This concept aims to garner attention from people walking by, bringing awareness of tree preservation in urban spaces. The design approach protects tree trunks while making a bold statement in that precious vegetation must be preserved, adding an element of beauty and health to any arena.
In an immensely industrialized milieu, it’s on the onus of individuals to come together and conceptualize ideas that preserve environmental majesty. We become so accustom to our daily routine, that it’s often difficult to break the pattern and see natural beauty that surrounds us. Nature is a precious sentiment to our health and well-being. It provokes tranquility and offers organic character that often times isn’t recognized. This standardized mold begs for greater adherence in bringing peace and harmony into our chaotic environment.
When meeting Melinda for the first time, I instantaneously knew she had one of the most humble hearts and honest intentions of anyone I had ever met. She is a true testament of what is meant by, follow your passions, never allowing the trials and tribulations get in the way. When in India, Melinda saw a need and made it her career to address it. She taught children in a tent community, the poorest neighborhood in Dharamsala, India, of which many did not attend classes because of their parents influence to beg on the streets. It was then that Melinda worked to see a school built by Buddhist Monks, outside of the tent community. This school was a gateway for those children to attend and board at, where they would not be stripped of their education. This was only the beginning. Melinda saw that many of the younger females within the tent community and villages nearby would grow into a culture of suppression. As an educated woman from the states, she feared these women would not be granted the opportunity to live in a vibrant and diverse region where they could apply their passionate skill sets. This paved the way for Melinda to become involved with a couple small artisan groups of empowered women, joined together in designing beautiful jewelry, scarves, and linens (Ranthambore, Bihar, Jodhpur). She saw first-hand the collaborative dedication and skill that went into each of these individually crafted pieces, and wanted this story to be told on a larger level. Amongst these happenings, Dolma Fair Trade was born – garnering its name from a Buddhist Geshe who defined Dolma as “the wave in the ocean that brings the drowning people to shore”. Melinda has built the framework around Dolma as a platform for the ‘empowerment of women – bringing an essence of fairness and equality into beauty’. Everything sold at Dolma is a unique handcrafted piece by one of the three artisans groups Melinda has built a relationship with. Every one of these pieces carries an emotionally impactful story – in terms of the level of detail and tenacity put into the ensembles, but also the inspiring liberation that comes out of them. These women are setting the framework for others brought up in a community where females don’t have equal rights to education and the ability to make a career for themselves. Melinda is a game changer for the movement of women in areas of India where they have been suppressed. She has made it her life’s career to captivate the essence of fair trade through educating the importance of growing opportunities for women to showcase their brilliant knowledge and craftsmanship.
I never used to shop at second-hand stores and within the past year have found a true admiration for them. Thrift shops are great for vintage finds and unique pieces that can’t be discovered at your standard department store. The experience of shopping through diverse style adds an element of excitement, because you are destined to find a distinguishing piece. I also find it rewarding to purchase a used item, as you’re in essence recycling and prolonging the life of that article of clothing or accessory. Along with finding the good, you are destined to find the bad and the ugly – of which are usually outlandish pieces you would never be caught dead in. However, they make for an entertaining fashion show with friends and often come in handy when granted themed-party invites. With many stores offering mainstream styles and high-end apparel being exorbitantly priced, I recommend jumping on the thrift bandwagon. Sure most of my clothes aren’t purchased through thrift shops, but I’ve amassed some unique and great pieces over the past year.
Assortment of vintage scarves & earrings
Gap denim dress with a Hermes silk scarf
To wear something of significance from a certain past season reflects knowledge and passion for fashion
Photographer, Tommy Ton
I’ve come to find the beauty and importance in making time to run in places visited. Running provides an outlet for me to distress and gain momentum. It’s an opportunity to plug into the music and surround myself with serenity. Music becomes my tipping point of inspiration. Lyrics and melodies transcend into thoughts and connections, with unique surroundings bringing those concepts into full circle. Travel begs for the opportunity to take in the splendor of a new or familiar destination. It’s a good excuse to take ‘me time’ and find that niche of ambiance among any location. I recommend capturing these moments. Grab your phone and snap a photo to share the nostalgia. I’ve become a big fan of Instagram, as it allows for the ability to share and tag images, offering filters to enhance the photos. Above I’ve captured my runs on the waterfront of Vancouver, Forest Park in New York, the coastline of Maine, bridges and mountain bases of Vermont, Massachusetts Bay, and the shore of Lake Ontario.
I didn’t seem to be bothered with braces as a kid. In fact, I can remember the excitement that came from changing the color bands to match seasonal themes (i.e. red, white, and blue for the 4th). As I grew up with no support to keep my teeth intact, they shifted and I developed imperfections that I became self-conscious about. I don’t like to think of myself as vane, but it became a blemish that I didn’t want to live with. I grappled with the notion of adult braces, as it was going to add more attraction to my already flawed smile. I decided it was now or never, and took initiative. The perks of technology are options for braces that are less invasive than the traditional metal ones. I was sold into the ceramics, as the most suitable option that would give me the timely results I desired. The first month I talked with hands over my mouth, didn’t want to eat in front of people, and felt like I was back in middle school. I began to gain confidence as more and more people offered encouraging words that they weren’t nearly as invasive as I thought them to be. In fact, some people didn’t notice them and said it was hard to tell in photos. The constant encouragement allowed my guard to come down, and I learned to embrace them as comedic and beneficial. I now will be out to lunch and make a point to flash a ‘food check’ smile. Being part of the young female demographic, there’s a tendency to become fixated on what we consider to be flaws and imperfections. The more we focus on what we consider to be imperfections, the less satisfied we are. Embrace what you consider to be shortcomings and find the beauty within them!
With the automobile evolution, females no longer need to sacrifice height for practicality – described by Christian Louboutin. He defined his shoes with completion in that they “accentuate the body language”. It’s more than just a shoe; Louboutin reaches that female consumer in speaking to their need to feel sexy. Wearing a piece of art begins with her first step, presenting a flirtatious finish with a lift of red. Not only do female consumers purchase the shoe for their own self-satisfaction, they create a story for others to hear. The ™ red sole is an anecdote within itself, but more importantly, how one came to purchase the shoe and how it made them feel. In my mind, Louboutin is not only great designer, but also a brilliant marketer. He paraphrased his career, as, “when you do something you absolutely love, it’s not work”. His passion is evident in each and every creation and with his investment in individual stories shared by consumers. These absolutely breathtaking shoes cater to a lifestyle of art and class, as he recommends that anything you find beautiful be put into your shoe. Charlie Rose ended the interview with Louboutin by asking where he hopes to be in 10 years, and his response was to “remain free”. What a simple yet remarkable answer, as I find many aspire to discovering their niche in what makes them feel completely boundless to opportunity.
Courtesy of Bloomberg