Come February 10, I’ll be boarding a plane for an eleven-hour flight to New York’s LaGuardia Airport and that’s after about a four-hour drive to San Jose to catch the flight. Yes, it’s a long commute, but one that I will remember for the rest of my life for sure. That’s pretty much the way it is on the West Coast if you don’t live in either the Bay Area or SoCal and is also the reason that most people here own cars. There’s lots to do in Cali, but you have to travel to get there –especially from here in California’s Central Coast. So you can guess, traveling from left coast to right coast is an undertaking as well. It will certainly be the longest flight I’ve ever been on. Much to the disappointment to my mother (bless her soul) I am not a world traveler, in fact have never been east of Dallas. My only ‘foreign travel’ was to Tijuana when I was 7… This will be my first trip to NYC.
The reason for the trip is because I have been invited as a guest of Brizo, a division of Delta Faucet, to attend their scheduled events for New York Fashion Week. If you’ve seen Brizo’s ads, you will recognize that they are the high-end of Delta’s offerings –the jewels in their crown so to speak. Since 2006 they have been collaborating with young fashion designer Jason Wu. (You might recognize him as the designer that won the competition to design Michelle Obama’s ball gown for the president’s inauguration.) Brizo sponsors Jason Wu’s runway show during Fashion Week: http://www.brizo.com/experience/fashion/for-the-runway/index.html. Their slogan: “Two Brands. One Shared Aesthetic.” If you take a look at Brizo’s ads both in print and film, you notice the beautiful streamlined faucets paired with models in flowing elegant couture dresses –sharing their aesthetic for style and expression of fine design.
So how did this twist of fait come to pass? Last April, I launched PamDesigns after several months of developing a business model for making my kitchen and bath design services available on the internet. With the help of my son, Jason Holland, who is a free-lance web designer www.jasonhollanddesign.com, we created PamDesigns http://www.pamdesigns.net with the unique premise to offer an alternative source for design support services to those in the kitchen and bath industry during a time when many remodeling contractors, cabinet dealers and showroom operators were having difficulty providing enough work to keep full-time staff employed. This concept is unique in that the focus was entirely business-to-business and no products to sell beyond design, illustration and drafting services. Since then, I have expanded the services to include others outside of the industry such as homeowners, interior designers and architects.
Part of the process of marketing my business (at the urging of my interweb gurus) included becoming involved with social networking –first on Twitter and Facebook, then eventually creating this blog. I found that micro-blogging and blog writing have become not just a way to express my love of writing and story telling, but also a way to make wonderful connections with people in the design industry (not just kitchen and bath) and have made a number of great friends as well. This is pretty important, I’ve found, since taking my business life to the spare bedroom I call an office where the only “coworkers” I had for many, many months were my cat and parrot. One of my Twitter connections and new friends is Paul Anater (@saintpetepaul), a kitchen designer in Florida who writes the blog: Kitchen and Residential Design http://www.kitchenandresidentialdesign.com/. Last year, he was the first and only guest of Brizo to Fashion Week that was a blogger/K & B designer as a result of his connection to Brizo’s PR representative Charlie Kondek, Director of New Media Relations for MS&L. If you had followed the phenomenon of last-year’s Fashion Week you would be aware that many of the attendees (front and center on several runway shows) were bloggers from around the world – generally unknown to the press at large and fashion industry. This year, Brizo decided to invite only K & B bloggers, and they chose those that had connections with Paul on Twitter or his blog.
Over the past 11 months, I have come to know several incredibly fantastic people in the industry who’s opinions and advice I’ve come to trust. All of them also “micro blog” on Twitter and Facebook –most write blogs as well. We share information about products and processes related to our industry and have distinguished the sharing of information (even about items that might be profit centers for our businesses) from spamming. I think there are many who misunderstand the process of social media for business as a way to directly create a customer base. From my experience, that’s not what it’s about and it’s not going to happen. While participation in social media venues is a way to get the word out that your business exists and with a little SEO strategizing, you might even show up when “Googled”, direct solicitation for business will get you dropped, unfriended or blocked in a New York minute! So, even though many have asked me to promote (for remuneration) their businesses on my blog, or join them to send out spam, I keep saying NO. Not on your life! I’m having WAY too much fun doing it as a hobby. And who knows, maybe somebody will see me on Twitter who needs a kitchen designed. For now, getting to meet my ‘virtual’ friends in person and this fabulous trip to The Big Apple to share this unique experience with them is more than I could ever have dreamed of. Yes, you will see LOTS of information about Brizo, Jason Wu, New York and all the other experiences I will get to enjoy. It is not a payment to blog. I’d do it anyway –just as I have done regarding manufacturers of other products that didn’t invite me to be their guest anywhere.
Somebody pinch me!