Magazine Equality: Stuff White People Worry Needlessly About

I get mail, paper and electronic. Today’s winner is this one:

Hey, you sell and ship a lot of stuff, and you write about racism, so I’m tossing this question to you — I don’t care if you post your reply, but please don’t out me. (Outing my stupidity is fine! Just not me!)

My question is this: Is it OK if I use torn pages etc. from publications like Jet magazine as packing material, or is that offensive?

Obviously, this is a white person who is worried about this, right? Right.

My Latest Issue Of Jet: Click To Read My Address As Proof (Posting Stuff Like This Is Why I Get A Lot Of Mail)

Why would anyone else even consider what magazines, newspapers, etc. were used as packing material? As long as it’s not Playboy pictorials or other adult stuff, who cares? Even magazine collectors like myself don’t wince (too badly) at the thought of destroying publications in terms of recycling them rather than collecting the past issues or saving them for future collectors.

This is one of those cases of being so overly sensitive to race issues that you go full circle and become racist.

The underlying premise here is based on faulty and racist assumptions:

1. That all people are white unless otherwise stated. And so…

* Not knowing otherwise, the seller here fears that a white person will be somehow offended by a non-white publication included in their box of merchandise.

* The assumed-to-be-white person receiving this package will now assume the seller is black — heaven forbid!

2. That people of color are intolerant and ridiculously possessive of their culture. And so…

* Should the recipient be a person of color, they will somehow be offended that anyone would ruin a proper African-American publication in such a fashion.

* A non-white person receiving their order with such packaging will assume the seller is also non-white; the seller has somehow misrepresented themselves.

3. That people should only read or subscribe to publications by color. And so…

* Any person of any color will find a white person reading or subscribing to any publications for or by persons of color to be some sort of poser or culture-thief.

These are not only faulty and racist assumptions, but fear based ones which, when given in to, perpetuate stereotypes and limit us all.

So my response is this: In the spirit of saving the planet by recycling, in the spirit of saving the planet by practicing brotherly and sisterly love, please, use any and all of your unwanted publications as packing materials — including your Jet Magazine. Treat your publications as you do people — as equals.

I would recycle my copies of Jet; but I save most all of my magazine back issues, no matter their “color.”

MTV Cared About Your Breasts

Over a decade before Rethink Breast Cancer & MTV News Canada launched (to public outcry; video), and the Women Rock! Girls & Guitars breast cancer benefit too, MTV had the High Priority campaign against breast cancer.  (You can be cynical, and view MTV’s interest as self-interest — be it sexist preservation of the sweater-puppets which jiggled in videos, or a way to combat judgement that rock videos and music television would be the end of civilization, but whatever MTV’s motives, they’re active in PSAs.) The campaign began in 1984, but my thrift store find is the 1987 High Priority album.

(I say “find” because up until spotting for $1 at a thrift shop I was ignorant of this MTV effort. In my defense, we didn’t have cable; our family only managed to get a color TV in the late 70s or early 80s — but we were the first to have a microwave oven. My parents only got a video player after I moved out; and they just got cable two or three years ago. So that tells you something about our family values. And why, even if we had cable, I would have likely opted to read anyway instead.)

The profits from this album went to the AMC Cancer Research Center. The album cover featured unfinished, yet signed, art by Andy Warhol on the front; monthly self breast exam info and other cancer prevention tips on the back; and ten songs from leading female performing artists of the time:

Side One

Sisters Are Doin’ It For Themselves; Aretha Franklin with The Eurythmics
Manic Monday; Bangles
I Can’t Wait; Stevie Nicks
You Give Good Love; Whitney Houston
Time After Time; Cyndi Lauper

Side Two

Oh People; Patti Labelle
Le Bel Age; Pat Benatar
Nothing At All; Heart
I Feel The Magic; Belinda Carlisle
Slave To The Rhythm; Grace Jones
More Than Physical; Bananarama

While the High Priority Campaign holds no “remember when” significance, the songs and artists do.  So I’m lovin’ listening to it. Grrl power!!

Want it? Infrequently posted on eBay; less expensive at Amazon.

Sexy Sanitary Belts?!

I can only tolerate so much. And “Vintage Sexy Women Sanitary belt Panties Lingerie” goes past that place.

Do you still remember the sanitary belt from last century, which was only used for women monthly period, now we have them in new design, some of them are with pure cotton material inside, some are made with rubber inside…. please see below for the difference

You can also put them on as sanitary belt by place sanitary pads on, but more important, they are new underwears making you sexier and more special. just image it!!

1. Condition:100% new, never been wron
2. Size: one size fits more with the straps
belt length:around 17.0″, width: around3.0″ .
3. Color: show as the picture.
4. Packing: simple plastic bag, then packed in dark grey bag when shipment is made to keep private.

Hey, these garments come from China, so I’ll excuse the English as a second language issues — but the garment itself? No way.

I realize there’s a sexual fetish about everything, including menstruation, but really, so in your face about it? Really?!

The old sanitary pads that were worn with sanitary belts were like bricks. I know. I’m old enough to have seen them. First, in that grade school girls only “changing bodies” talk in the gym. And, yup, those thick brick sanitary napkins were on store shelves too. Mom warned me about them, and I, when I reached that special time, opted for the modern marvel of sanitary pads which were both thinner and had adhesive on the underside so they stayed in place in your panties. Even then, I quickly switched sides and became a “cork girl.”

“Corks,” that’s what we called tampons around our house; it was corks or pads. No one opted for bricks, though I’m sure they were still available. On store shelves then too. After all, you can still find them today at hospitals and stuff, so someone is making them, selling them.

Now that I’ve already digressed…

Here’s a horrifying truth from my young womanhood: When my sister, mother, or I had “the curse,” we had to remove our sanitary paper product, wrap it thrice in toilet paper, place it neatly into a small paper lunch bag (kept in supply neatly in the cabinet under the bathroom sink), close the paper bag by folding down the top three times, then carry the whole thing out to the garage — immediately. How’s that for communicating the evils of bodily female functions?

One tradition I did not hand down to my daughters.

Anyway, back to the “sexy sanitary belts.” Elastic strips are not sexy, or comfortable. Hell, that’s why I hate thongs. Adding areas for storing menstrual flow is not sexy. I repeat: not sexy.

I’m not saying women should be ashamed of their monthly cycles (say by removing all signs of it from the household asap). Or that women should feel uncomfortable about using pads rather than corks (that’s just my personal preference). And yeah, you have my permission to love and lust the periods and products of your periods; to each their own includes kink and fetishes. But to market sanitary belts as sexy panties is to clearly not understand what is generally sexy, what the general human population will respond to as sexy, or why people would enjoy this particular kink.

The whole thing shows a lack of understanding about marketing as deep and vast as the complete lack of understanding of taboos as turn-ons.

That is unforgivable.

And the Christmas tree lights border around the whole page?! Oh, gawd, puh-leeze give me a toaster or appliance instead. I know that small appliances are no-nos as gifts for a woman, especially from her spouse or lover, but now that these “sexy sanitary belts” are an option… Well, honey, you have my permission to get me a toaster. No, make that a mixer; I do have a fetish for those.

However, you can buy these sexy sanitary belts for men and women here.

If You Believe “Good Guys Finish Last…”

It’s easy to be pessimistic today, especially when it comes to business. Those of us not in the upper two percent, those of us with little in our pockets but our sweaty palms, those of us who don’t just feel beaten-up by big business but have the financial and even physical marks to prove it, those of us who are the “other” under the heels of the “us” that is Corporate America, we can easily draw the conclusion that the only time virtue comes up is when the fat cats greedily giggle over their “there’s no virtue in business besides money” mantra.

These feelings infiltrate, or, if you prefer “trickle down” (the only time the principal actually appears to work) into every aspect of our world, at every level. From realized fears of neglect and victimization in our political system to the mentalities of school bullies, controlling abusers, and national “pro-life” terrorists., it seems we are increasingly forced to live in a black & white world of virtue — and to consider which side we are on… Should we remain the down-trodden good guy who will finish last, if at all? Or should we give in to the dark side, just to survive?

I hear this echoed in discussions everywhere.  Activists wondering if they should adopt the same tactics their opponents successfully use.  Entrepreneurs who cringe at identifying themselves as such because of what “being in business” implies. Parents wondering how they can continue to teach their children to be “good,” “fair,” and “generous,” when their children see what the rich and ruthless reap.

It seems hopeless.

Enter hope. Or rather enchantment.

Enchantment: The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds, and Actions, by Guy Kawasaki is primarily touted as a business book — a small-business or entrepreneurial manifesto. And sure, it works for that. But more than that, Kawasaki’s book explores the power of enchantment.

Enchantment can occur in villages, stores, dealerships, offices, boardrooms, and on the Internet. It causes voluntary change of hearts and minds and therefore actions. It is more than manipulating people to help you to get your way. Enchantment transforms situations and relationships. It converts hostility into civility. It reshapes civility into affinity. It changes skeptics and cynics into believers.

Firstly, Enchantment is a breath of fresh, good, air; it’s an affirmation that good guys and gals don’t have to finish last. And there are real stories, real cases, of real good people who are examples.

Secondly, Kawasaki outlines the principals of enchantment — sound psychological principals and insights into human behavior that are easy to read and even easier to comprehend.

Thirdly, the book inspires action.  Heart lightened with the affirmation and validation that Good is indeed good, heart warmed by the examples of Good successful people, and armed with the knowledge of how it all works, you, the reader, are inspired to live enchantingly.

It’s good that you are inspired because the author is now going to offer you opportunities to implement the strategies.

Kawasaki provides a checklist of things to consider and opportunities to explore, rather like self-help books do. (In the book’s Coverphon, there’s evidence neither the author nor the publisher would like this “soft” self-help comparison; but I think the work is to be commended for it’s uplifting, affirming, readily understood, easy to incorporate strategies as well as it’s “hard” business acumen.)

And, yes, the author includes plenty of tips and methods for businesses and entrepreneurs to put to work online (i.e. push and pull technologies such as email, Twitter, Facebook, websites and blogs, etc.).

While nearly all stories, prompts and checklists are business related (including chapters on how to enchant your boss, resist enchantment, etc.), there’s no reason the information couldn’t be applied to any facet of your life, including parenting. Where else does one need to model integrity more?

(There are even concrete stories for you to counter wise-ass remarks from kids who dare you to prove that greed and might are the only ways to get ahead — in fact, stories and examples that suggest that life ought not to be viewed as a race in which one must “get ahead,” but rather how to work for the betterment of many.)

In short, Enchantment is just the breath of fresh air that good guys and gals need to reaffirm their vows to be a person of delightful integrity. It gives us the tips to enchant — and the permission to be enchanted with ourselves.

PS If you do buy a copy of Enchantment, you might want to know about this enchanting offer from Guy:

When people anywhere in the world buy a copy of Enchantment in any form (paper, recording, or ebook), they can get a free copy of Garr’s book called Presentation Zen.

Presentation Zen is one of the best books ever written about making great presentations. Seth Godin said this about it: “Please don’t buy this book! Once people start making better presentations, mine won’t look so good.”

Disclaimer: I was given a free review copy of this book. While the free copy was appreciated and enjoyed, the fact that it was free has no bearing on this review or the contents of this post — other than the legal requirement to make such a statement.

The History, Legacy & Power Of Housewives (And Woman In General)

I found this photo of a National Housewives League meeting Detroit, Michigan, in 1945 while researching the Organized Housewives, a completely unrelated group.

The National Housewives’ League of America was founded in the early part of the twentieth century to advance the economic status of African Americans. Its mission was to encourage African American housewives to patronize African American-owned businesses through “directed spending.”

The Rev. William H. Peck and his wife Fannie B. Peck, after hearing Alben L. Holsey of the National Negro Business League and Tuskegee Institute speak about the successes of the Colored Merchants Association and the New York Housewives’ Association, were inspired to create similar organizations in Detroit. Rev. Peck organized the Booker T. Washington Trade Association in April 1930. Mrs. Peck, believing that the support of those women who controlled most household budgets — housewives — was essential to any business success, founded the Housewives’ League of Detroit on June 10, 1930, with 50 members. In the next couple of years, Mrs. Peck went on to organize leagues in Cleveland, Cincinnati, and Toledo, Ohio; Indianapolis, Ind.; Pittsburgh, Pa.; Kansas City, Mo.; and Jacksonville, Fla. By 1932, Alben Holsey, impressed with the response of the women in the leagues, invited Mrs. Peck and the other league representatives to meet in New York City to form a national committee, which Mrs. Peck chaired. The following year, the national committee met in Durham, N.C., in concert with the National Negro Business League, and formally organized the National Housewives’ League of America, Inc. Mrs. Peck was elected the first president of the organization.

I find this notion of housewives, and the purchase power of women in general, quite incredible… Normally we only hear of the economic power of those who control most household budgets in terms of boycotts, not as positive actions and long term change-making acts too.

Some related facts on the economic powers of women, which I heartily suggest you use to best impact social and economic change along with your household budget:

From 2005 Wow! Quick Facts Book, published by United States Census Bureau:

* Women control 80 percent of household spending
* They make up 47 percent of investors
* Women buy 81 percent of all products and services
* They buy 75 percent of all over-the-counter medications
* They make 81 percent of all retail purchases
* Women buy 82 percent of all groceries
* Women sign 80 percent of all checks written in the United States
* They make up 40 percent of all business travelers
* They make 51 percent of all travel and consumer electronics purchases
* Women influence 85 percent of all automobile purchases
* They head up 40 percent of all U.S. households with incomes over $600,000
* They own 66 percent of all home-based businesses
* Women have been the majority of voters in the United States since 1964

For more information on the history of the Housewives League, see Housewives League of Detroit (HLD) and the records at Bentley Historical Library at the University of Michigan (where the images are from).

Learning From The Washability Expert

Inside the pages of Modern Woman Magazine, A Magazine Published By The Ice Industry, (Volume 17, Number 1, 1948), an article on how to wash problem fabrics by Mrs. Jean Robinson, “Washability Expert, White King Soap Co.” This particular Mrs. Jean Robinson is somewhat lost to history, but I was reminded of a few things…

As a collector of vintage magazines, I am continually reminded that not much has changed in publishing over the years — and that most of this should be applied to publishing on the web, including blogging. Today’s example, the “washability expert” and her article.

While a title like Washability Expert seems as made-up as any user ID, it can only be assumed that Mrs. Robinson was employed by the soap company much the way many baking product companies had baking experts — experts who created more than just recipes or kitchen tips, but marketing material.

Every (good) recipe or tip produced was put to use cementing relationships with current consumers or cooking up relationships with new customers. Recipes and tips might be collected for publication in cookbooks and brochures, or they might be offered as informational articles to be published in newspapers and magazines — even, as with Mrs. Robinson’s, in corporate publications performing their own marketing efforts. And each was generally an opportunity for a press release too.

The questions were the same as now:

Are there enough recipes/tips for a publication? If so, is it good enough to sell? Or would it be of better use to offer it to customers for free? In either case, should offers be made via a special purchase, direct mail, etc., and is your offer worthy of a press release?

Would it be best to slowly compile and distribute the tips/recipes over time in your own publication, be the sole source for your knowledge? Or should you reach out to other publications, let them publish your wisdom and increase awareness about your products and services?

If and when you do want to share your knowledge(i.e. a guest blog post) to promote your company/site, how do you get them interested in doing so?

The one advantage larger companies had over today’s self-publishing is that Mrs. Jean Robinson and her ilk only had the responsibility of creating the tip, recipe, or article; someone else decided how to make the best use of it.

That’s probably the most markedly different thing about the low-barrier world of the Internet — it’s no longer good enough to just to be an expert, you have to know a lot about marketing too.

(Insert plug for my marketing and blog tour services here.)

Advertising & Affiliates: The Basics

At some point, everyone working on the Internet faces decisions about advertising and affiliate programs. Some people even start a blog for this “passive income,” believing that it’s as easy as setting up some links and then sitting back to let the income stream in; but that’s not necessarily what happens…

So I’ve got a white paper on the subject. It’s based on my 20+ years of working on the web; priced at $7, that’s less than 35 cents a year!

This white paper is written mainly for bloggers & website owners, to assist them in evaluating affiliate and advertising programs. However, it will also help those looking to purchase advertising &/or promote their own affiliate programs by helping them to understand the sorts of concerns they may encounter along the way.





A Customer Loyalty History Lesson

TWA used to have absolutely delightful certificates to commemorate flights, like this one from 1953:

They used to give these fanciful certificates to passengers as souvenirs — and as a loyalty buy in.  But unlike attempts at ‘keeping’ customers interested with temporary gimmicks, TWA had them take an oath:

Now, Therefore, Know Ye, that this Celestial Dominion herewith doth bestow this Certificate of Flight on said Skyliner Passenger, who doth solemnly covenant forever to keep it unsullied and to use, recommend and support Air Transportation to help foster amity between nations and good will amongst the peoples of the Earth. In Witness Whereof, I have hereunto set my hand, (printed signature) President, Trans World Airlines, Inc.

Wouldn’t it be great if you could find such a charming, creative way to ensure your customer’s loyalty?

*****

What’s this Big Mouth Promotions thing? Oh, OK, now I get it.

Ignore Rude Emails “Offering Links Swaps”

How many times a week do you get the following email:

I’ve visited your website ( url ) and I was wondering
if it would be possible to get a link to my (my partner’s) website on it?

I’ll place a link back to you in X of my (topic or topics, usually unrelated) websites, your link will be placed exactly here:

http://whocares page rank 3
http://whateversville page rank 2
http://bumble-f page rank 2

If you agree, then please link to me using these details:

TITLE: (keyword stuffed)
URL: (a specific page on their SEO seeking domain)
DESCRIPTION: (more keyword stuffing)

Please don’t forget to send me the title of your website after you
place my link so I can do the same in less than 24 hours, otherwise you can delete my link from your site.

Arg!

You can rest assured that these requests are 100% spam, no matter if they correctly contact you about one of your own sites. Here’s the proof:

1) These requests don’t even make sense because, generally speaking, my sites are so far off their topic they do not serve their best SEO manipulating interests. A human would recognize that.

2) The fact that they want you to go ahead and post a link to them first isn’t just rude (the one requesting should always place first and then notify, asking for notification of the recip), it’s them counting on a (however small) percentage of those emailed to place the link, giving their sites either a quick bit of juice &/or, counting on people forgetting to verify the promised link(s), giving them free un-reciprocated links.

Just delete and move along with your day.

Dear Chad, Alltel Customer Service Sucks

A few months ago we switched to Alltel. I love my LG Touch phone, but the other day I had a problem with text messages (a long story) and needed to call for help. You’d think this would be simple, but it wasn’t.

First I had to get another phone so that I could poke, prod, etc. my LG Touch per their directions; then I had to find the number to call. Going to Alltel.com was discovering the first FAIL:

They require you to enter your zip code to get the “offers” in your area before accessing anything on their site.

Since I’m already a customer — a customer with a problem, no less — this is an unwarranted frustration. To help you, here are Alltel’s numbers:

Personal: 1-800-alltel1 (1-800-255-8351)
Business: 1-888-4AT-BIZZ (1-888-428-2499)

Once I call, go through all the prompts — including entering the digits of my Alltel cell phone — eventually reaching the place where I get the prompt to speak to a person. “Hip-Hip-Hooray!” right?

Wrong.

Once you press (or say) that magic number, Alltel forces you to agree to one of those satisfaction surveys. “Press 1 if you’d like us to call you back in an hour or, if you’ve called after 9 PM, call you back after 9 AM tomorrow, on the number you are calling from; or press 2 if you’d like us to call you back in an hour or, if you’ve called after 9 PM, call you back after 9 AM tomorrow, on your Alltel phone.”

Wait a freakin’ minute.

I have to agree to a “How satisfied are you?” survey before I even get any help?!

WTF!

My already frustrated brain was certain that my transfer to a person had been lost and that the system had bumped me ahead to the post-call recording.

I mean, why would they hold a customer hostage like that?

But I angrily spit-out the vocal response and was finally patched-through to a human, a human who — yes, you guessed it! — made me give my Alltel number out again before she could/would help me.

I get that we live in an age where everything has to be as automated as possible because even outsourced jobs cost more than robotic voices and technologic routing. I get that data is at a premium in your competitive business. I get a lot of things about business — your business, and business in general.

But really, Alltel, do you have to hide your contact information?

Do you have to add more layers of insulting behavior to the process, holding human interaction (the very essence of the wireless business) hostage to the tune of promises a frustrated customer must keep?

All of this is like layer after layer of frustrated-icing on a bullshit cupcake.

Here’s a business tip you obviously don’t know, Alltel: It is cheaper to retain a customer than to go out and get a new one.

You don’t retain customers by keeping contact with you at bay, especially when they are already frustrated and calling customer service. So take that advice and stick it in your circle.

Because My Husband Is Mr. WalMart…

OK, maybe so he’s not-so-much Mr. WalMart… But he is Derek — The Derek — of Derek’s Big Website of Wal-Mart Purchase Receipts. (Yeah, I married Internet Royalty — Old Guard Internet Royalty, not a dot.com bust-er, or a guy with some money to buy a presence.) Anyway, because of hubby’s history, I keep an eye out for amusing WalMart stories.

So who could resist an open letter to WalMart entitled, Hey, Wal-Mart, your new case-less milk jugs are retarded:

Dear Wal-Mart,

Congratulations on your latest successful accomplishment in the dairy retail industry. Assuming, that your goal when redesigning your plastic milk containers was to have me spill milk all over my kitchen counters.

You can let the letter’s author, Chase Roper, tell you all about the new product; all I know, is after reading what Roper wrote, there won’t be any new case-less jugs of milk on our WalMart receipts.

While I could just thank Roper for his consumer report, I really enjoy his classy retorts. Like his exit line: “Also, your stores all smell like maple syrup and old people.”

Clap(ton) On, Clap(ton) Off

When I saw Eric Clapton hawking the new Fender Limited Edition of T-Mobile’s myTouch 3G I had a thought — well, actually, I had two thoughts. The first one was, “Oh my gawd, when did Clapton get so old?” But that one just sent me on the how-old-am-I? spiral of denial, augmented by defensive tirades and rationalizations regarding ageism. And those serve no purpose, really.

So my real thoughts were about the collectibility of cell phones.

It’s a pet peeve of mine to see things mass produced and mass marketed as “Limited Edition Collectibles.” It’s not only rather meaningless from a numbers point of view, but when it comes to collectibles, there’s gotta be something else besides words printed on a box or spoken by celebrities to drive collectors.

But then I started thinking about how ephemeral cell phones really are…

On average, we each discard one cell phone a year. If we are nice, we donate our used ones to shelters, but most of us — too many of us — just toss them into the trash like yesterday’s newspaper, thinking they are just as obsolete. (Yes, the “technology advances,” but let’s not overlook the role of throw-away consumerism plays in the competitive world of selling cell phones and their plans.)

All of this means that cell phones are as ephemeral as newspapers.

Yet newspapers are collectible. So maybe cell phones will be too. Other old phones are…

While the Limited Edition Fender myTouch 3G features the beauty of a Fender’s sunburst-finish, I doubt this, or Clapton’s endorsement, will be what might make this phone collectible. What will drive its collectibility is what drives most any other item’s collectibility: nostalgia.

If people are motivated to purchase the Fender myTouch, they’ll need to use it in order to create memories. They’ll need to spy one 20-30 years from now and exclaim, “Oh, I had one of those!” and instantly be transported back to those days…

Because while 20-30 years from now, we’ll be receiving calls like Harry Solomon — “Incoming message from the Big Giant Head!” — and cell phones will be as old fashioned as rotary dials, cords, and asking Sarah to connect us to someone in Mayberry, we’ll want the phones we once had. Not necessarily the ones that looked like pretty wooden iconic guitars.

Though, by that time, guitars of any sort may also be a thing of the past too. So who the hell knows?

Big Bottom Girls Are About To Make The Fashion World Go ‘Round

In 3,500 stores, Walmart will be doubling the space given to Hanesbrands’ plus-sized apparel line Just My Size — an extended line of Just My Size women’s clothes, including dress pants, sweaters and other merchandise beyond the underwear and jeans.

Hanesbrands research found that 60 percent of women shopping at Walmart fit plus sizes, said John Marsh, senior vice president and general manager of the manufacturer’s casual-wear division. About 40 percent of overweight women are comfortable wearing clothes designed as plus size, rather than buying extra-large of regular garments, he said.

Average sized women (for that’s what size 12 and up is!) are comfortable with the “plus size” label because we know that honest-to-goodness clothing designed at a plus size is made to fit bigger bodies; you don’t just add an inch or more all over and think, “Well that’s that! Now it will fit.”

This reminds me of last week’s episode of Shark Tank

gayla-bentleyWhen fashion designer Gayla Bentley appeared, asking for a $250,000 investment (for a 20% stake) in her company so that she could make beautiful clothes easily accessible for large women by expanding her business to include a store to cater to them (and better brand herself), she was met with the a-duh moment from a supposedly savvy investor.

Kevin O’Leary, ever-arrogant (and admittedly the show’s love-to-hate guy), said, “Is it possible that larger sized women (and don’t beat me with at stick) don’t care about fashion as much?”

As if a 60% market share were just that easily ignored (that is has been is an enigma wrapped in a bitter wienie coating), Bentley (completely charming as well as intelligent and talented) continued to educate he and other doubters with  the facts, including her own success; currently the designer sells her products wholesale and online and last year her sales were $500,000. (Yet no bank would give her a loan.) You can watch the episode here (and find out more at Wallet Pop, but the final outcome was that Barbara Corcoran and Daymond John (of FUBU fame) went in 50-50; now we just have to wait to see Bentley’s efforts to bring real plus size designer fashions to department stores near you & I.

While I’m in no way comparing Just My Size &/or Hanesbrands to Gayla Bentley’s fashions or those by any actual designer, I am encouraged that big business is beginning to see big T n A as a way to fatten their own bottom lines.

Stamps Of Approval

Don’t ask me how I found this post by Paul Overton of DudeCraft (it’s not that I wouldn’t tell you, I just haven’t a clue), but once I did, I had to share the story his lessons in postage stamps. See, he didn’t want to spend the extra money on putting postage on the postcards they were giving away at their festival (they were already 5K in the hole), but she did. And she was gonna do it, regardless of what he said. This is what happened:

Then, day one of the camp hits. People register, they get their packets, and that’s when I heard a girl say this: “Cool, free postcard. No way, it’s already got a stamp on it! Nice!”. I was furious. Furious in the way you are when you know that you’re learning a valuable lesson against your will. It didn’t stop there though. It became like my own personal nightmare. Everywhere I went people were either talking about the damned postcard or stopping me to thank me for including the stamp. At the first lunch, everybody was sitting on the lawn, and probably half of them were writing on postcards. Sharon was as right as she had ever been about a business decision and I couldn’t have been more wrong.

It’s funny because Sharon claims that she knows nothing about marketing, branding, or business really. I disagree, but I let her keep her Bohemian front because I think it’s cute. Whatever the case, she taught me one of the most valuable lessons I’ve ever learned during that festival. Give extra, and when your back is against the wall, give more.

I love not only the lesson learned, but the way he writes it. And I love all the letting writing/postcard sending that went on.

Direct Marketing Crank Response, 1917

An amazing entry I found in The Journal of American History, Volume XI, January-February-March, No. 1, (copyright, 1917, The National Historical Society) which speaks as much to direct marketing responses as it does to attitudes about media. The National Historical Society, seeking to increase membership and circulation of the journal, had been “prosecuting a very extensive postal card campaign.” One of the recipients of the direct marketing response cards sent in a reply:

Dear Sirs:

I respectfully decline to become a member of your society. I have absolutely no faith in American History. When the history of this great war will be written then you will have to take your information from the American newspapers, which have published more lies during the last 2 years than have been published since the beginning of the world. Yours truly,

C. SEITZ.

The journal also notes that the correspondence was sent to the New York Tribune, where a representative of the newspaper tried interview Mr. Seitz by telephone. All Mr. Seitz would say in reply was, “You are all liars. I would not speak to you.”

the-journal-of-american-history-page-220

Topless Women Circle Skirt

This vintage circle skirt with a Hawaiian tropics pattern featuring topless women amuses me.

hawaiian-novelty-topless-women-full-circle-skirt

vintage-hawaiian-novelty-topless-women-full-circle-skirt

This also serves are a reminder for you to check out Here’s Looking Like You, Kid‘s circle skirt history lessons — especially the expose on why the poodle skirt was the first “too young for you” fashion. Here’s my favorite quote:

The poodle skirt craze among teens is often attributed to those new rock n roll dances; teens found the big circle skirts enchanting while dancing. But it’s quite probable that mom & dad preferred their Kitten to wear a longer full skirt that hid at least part of her figure (especially when stuffed with crinolines and petticoats to prevent anything more being seen) to the more fitted along the hips structured fashions; watch Kitten’s skirt swing, not her hips sway. *wink*

(Of course, the irony was that fuller skirts looked like fuller, more womanly, hips and that boys dreamed of ladies’ underthings, so…)

But let’s not overlook the marketing machine in all of this either…

Change Starts With Your Underwear

That’s what PACT, a new underwear company that launched yesterday says.

change-starts-with-your-underwear-pactAccording to their website marketing & press releases, at the core of PACT are “deep partnerships” with nonprofit organizations that work to create social and environmental change; each underwear collection is aligned with a nonprofit, with 10% of each sale given to support the matching organizations. “Internationally recognized artists and designers create graphic visualizations of each organization’s mission with underwear as their canvas” — with Yves Behar behind the first collections.

“In building PACT, we re-thought everything about the way underwear is made and marketed,” said Behar. “We’re not doing anything artificial or superficial, not with the body, not with the packaging and not with our partnerships. Our vision is to unite fashion and design with doing good in an authentic way, building a company that truly embodies 21st century needs, showing a new way for businesses to operate in the future.”

Unless, say, that business is in the United States…

Beginning with the farmers and ending with the final package arriving at your door, PACT strives to be as environmentally and socially responsible as possible. The farmers and cotton pickers involved in the growing and harvesting of the organic cotton were paid a fair price for their product. All fabric is dyed and printed using dyes and inks that are low-impact and free of heavy metals. Before it is shipped to PACT’s fulfillment center in Illinois, every element that goes into making your PACT underwear – growing the cotton, processing and spinning it, knitting or weaving, dyeing and printing, and cutting and sewing the final garment – occurs within a 100-mile radius in Turkey.

This is truly a regional manufacturing model that vastly reduces the carbon footprint of our supply chain. In fact, by manufacturing with a regional supply chain in Turkey and shipping the product in bulk to the US, our overall environmental impact is smaller than if we tried to manufacture the same product with a geographically fractured supply chain in the US.

I don’t mean to be a party pooper, but it seems to me that it would be most beneficial for “a company that truly embodies 21st century needs,” giving percentages of sales to US nonprofits, to have that company make their product in the US. Claims that this cannot be done in the US due to a “geographically fractured supply chain” are met by me with by assertions that there are many areas in the US (hello former textile towns!) which once did such things & would, especially in this economy, be only too happy to do so again.

Would it cost money to revamp old buildings? Yes. But it couldn’t be any worse than the cost of using the new colonialism of business abroad — until you factor in the long term wage differences. And that’s the key, isn’t it. That’s why you’re not peddling your fantastic “green” undies to people in the same 100-mile radius in Turkey — with the matching local nonprofit organizations, of course — because they probably couldn’t afford it on the low wages you pay them.

And are these really “green” undies? You want to make everything so green & wonderful over there — and then ship it here via freighter. (Didn’t we learn anything about the carbon footprint of shipping “green” cars & batteries?) Besides, once it gets to the docks, it’s gonna have to be trucked to Illinois, and then to individual homes.

See the problems here?

Change may indeed start with your underwear; but I think, especially in a case where you’re boasting of such a new way to do business — and green business too, that you’d be better to invest in the people & communities where you expect to sell your product. That’s sustainability. Of your target market, your company, & the planet.

Search Engine Strengths

Let’s take a look at the widely excitable ecommerce community & the impact that search engines have…

Each year the ‘holiday numbers’ are big news in the web world. Proof that we exist, I suppose. Some sort of ‘I shop online, therefore I am’ sort of a thing. Legitimizing the strength & position of the internet, as both commonplace tool, and proper place for corporate entity. But aside from that, there is gold in those glittering holiday numbers, so let’s take a look:

According to Hitwise, an online competitive intelligence service, the market share of all U.S. visits to Shopping and Classifieds sites reached their highest weekly levels during the week ending Dec. 11, 2004, reaching 9.73%. This broke the prior record set Thanksgiving week 2004 (9.72%).

And these numbers are, in part, due to search engines.

Of that record setting high week, ending Dec 11, 2004, this is the percent of that traffic contributed by search engines to those shopping sites:

Google 4.26%

Yahoo! Search 2.24 %

MSN Search 0.54 %

“The holiday shopping frenzy is continuing strong on the Web, with search engines becoming ever more integrated,” said Bill Tancer, vice president of research, Hitwise. (And this here is the super important part: ) “While Google dominates overall referrals, it is important to note that the leading search engines vary in their strength to refer traffic to certain categories versus others. Marketers should carefully consider the nuances of each engine in order to maximize their search strategies.”

While all three of the big search engines contribute to the traffic (& therefore sales), they seem to do so differently.

While all three major search engines seem to send to the same categories* they have different areas of strength:

– Google sends a higher share of its downstream traffic to Books, Sports and Fitness, and Music.

– Yahoo! Search is stronger in sending its shopping referrals to Video and Games, Automotive and Classifieds.

– MSN Search sends a higher share of its shopping referrals to Apparel & Accessories, House & Garden and Appliances & Electronics.

What does this mean to you?

It means you may want to rethink your ad campaign on Google if you are in the video or gardening business.

Or it may make you think a bit more about the ‘why’ the numbers are that way. Perhaps the ‘kids’ are using Yahoo! (on their parents’ pc/ISP with those free Yahoo! email accounts), and so Yahoo’s audience is younger…

Who knows? Not me. Yet anyway. But you can bet I’ll be thinking about it!

* The top three downstream retail categories for the three major search engines were Rewards & Directories (mostly comparison shopping sites), Auctions, & Department Stores.