Wednesday, September 30, 2009

A brand revisited becomes a new favorite of sorts.

I have been a brand enthusiast and brand ambassador for more years than I can remember. Sure it may have started as a youngster in Cleveland, Ohio, when that brand was probably more ethnic than traditional. By that I mean Hungarian! Huh, you ask? Hungarian is a brand? Well absolutely. Several years ago, I penned an article Made in Hungary -- Not JUST Goulash which celebrates the many high-profile brands that are indeed made in Hungary and in a sense Hungarian. Take a look at ALL of these brands! I think it is quite a remarkable list.
Alba, American Girl, Ann Taylor, Baumler Avantgarde, BCBG Max Azria, Benetton, Berwin & Wolff, Bogner, Bonpoint, Breckenridge, Cerruti 1881, Christian Aujard, Coach, Cornell, CRISCA Escada, Dana Buchman, DKNY, Dries Van Noten, Earl Jean, Escada, Faconnable, Feraud, Harve Benard by Bernard Holtzman, Hess Frackmann, Innocence, International Scene, J. Crew, Josef Seibel, Kishi, Lacoste, Lanz of Salzburg, LaMax Alba, Laura Ashley, Laurel, Levi, Liz Claiborne, LL Bean, Louis Feraud, Marc Jeffries Bronze Collection, Margaret Godfrey, Mark Henri, Marni, Mondi, Oilily, Pez, Pleasant Company, Polo, Portland, Puma, Rene Lezard, Rockport Dresports, Rodier, Sonia Rykiel, Stafford, Stanley Blacker, Stella McCartney, Strenesse, Theo Miles, Thierry Mugler for Mugler Trademark, Think!, Vass, Zippo, and Zodiac.

For the most part, you will notice that these brands are fashion or clothing labels. An exception would be Coach -- I'm sure you are familiar with the Coach Company line of handbags? Those that were produced in Hungary are the more classic and traditional style of handbags which are completely leather.

A couple of Fridays ago, hubby and I ventured to our local St. Johns Town Center mall. This mall has some fabulous brand stores including Brighton, Coach, Swarovski Crystal, abercrombie, BCBG, Bebe Sport, Betsey Johnson, GUESS, Juicy Couture, MAC Cosmetics, Pottery Barn, Tommy Bahama, and last but not the least Louis Vuitton. After an early dinner, we strolled through the mall and stopped in to a number of these brand stores.

judy handbagHubby did not accompany me into the Kate Spade store, but he did do a tour of the Coach and Louis Vuitton stores. Together we spent the longest time in the LV store deciding what we both agreed on would be my purchase if I won the lottery. We agreed on the Judy multicolor white handbag thinking that $2,200 was more affordable than the $4,400 limited edition handbag that I found "under glass" in the back of the store.

Several years ago, we visited Paris, France for St. Valentines Day and made it a point to visit the Louis Vuitton Paris store and the flagship Printemps store. It was a wonderful opportunity to see the luxury brands up close. At that time in my brand ambassador career, I was more of a Chanel and Givenchy brand enthusiast. I even opted for a purchase of a Givenchy clutch at the Paris airport. While I appreciated the many styles, shapes and colors of the Louis Vuitton luxury brand, it really didn't appeal to me as a brand collector.

So it was thanks to the recent revisit to the LV brand that I actually found an interest in that brand to the point that I would actually consider making a purchase ... making a purchase of the Judy multicolor white handbag with all the beautiful hardware. That is, when I win the Florida lottery! Are you a fan of this brand, or perhaps you have another that appeals to you? Hubby told me that I better start saving up my Squidoo monthly royalties to be able to afford this bag. That's OK, a girl can dream.

Friday, September 25, 2009

I am a Brand Ambassador -- How about YOU?

I have been a Brand Ambassador for more than a decade. It is thanks hugely to the impact of the internet and digital, social media which has brought Brand Ambassadorship to the forefront. My previous blog post, I love my brands and love brands in public - neat project, introduced my readers to Brands in Public -- brands that I support. It also discussed how I have been a BzzAgent for many years and that the Brands in Public project is a co-project between BzzAgent and Squidoo. Since that blog post, I followed up with Brands in Public on Twitter to spotlight the buzz on Twitter about this project.

That article is a Twitter List of what people are saying on Twitter -- about brands, branding, brands in public -- and where people are openly debating whether this new project is brand ambassadorship or a form of brand jacking or brand hijacking. When I caught that stream of consciousness, I must admit that I was bewildered to say the least. I wondered if maybe it was sour grapes or someone having an axe to grind with this project or with Seth Godin, Squidoo and/or BzzAgent. It seems that there are always going to be naysayers when there is a 'good' thing or something new or another way of 'looking at something.' And, from my years of online brand ambassadorship, I have seen that many people just HAVE to take the other side of the argument, to agree to disagree!

After another sleepless in Jacksonville night, I was up early to make some coffee, feed the plethora of cats, and then pen a new article, Brand Ambassador. I celebrate the brands; I celebrate what I do; I celebrate BzzAgent; I celebrate Squidoo; and I celebrate brands in public!

Amazon in Public | Crate & Barrel in Public | The Gap, Inc. in Public
Hermes in Public | KitchenAid in Public | L'Oreal in Public
Oracle in Public | Reality Check in Public | Wikipedia in Public

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

I love my brands and love brands in public - neat project!

Something new for me would be Brands in Public -- I Support. You see, recently BzzAgent and Squidoo launched the project of Brands in Public whereas certain Squidoo lensmasters were invited to create brand pages for brands they love. It was a first come, first served basis, limited to 15 lensmasters. Thankfully, I got the go-ahead to participate late on Friday, September 18, 2009. Initially I selected 3 brands, from what was left on the availability list, on which to create an unofficial brand page:
  • Amazon in Public
  • L'Oreal in Public
  • Wikipedia in Public
I have a few more pages to add to the project and hope to get those produced before this Friday! I'm working on Crate and Barrel, Gap, Hermes, Intel, KitchenAid, Oracle, and Guy Kawasaki's Reality Check. A great selection of cool brands!

Have you participated in this project and created your own brand page? Well, you are cordially invited to add it to the special brand plexo list.

For more information on the Launching of Brands in Public, be sure to check out Seth Godin's blog post. There's a lot of great information there about brands in public! And, I would think that there is a pretty cool incentive to participate!
The first 100 brands that sign up will benefit from a share of the $500,000 in house ads Squidoo will run across the site promoting the service and the first partnering brands. Sales are handled by BzzAgent, so you'll be in good hands--please give them a call if you have any questions about the service.

P.S. I happened to see some source code which is interesting! target="_new" -- I've heard all the chit chat about the topicability of target="_blank" and no follow stuff too! But, now "new" -- this is interesting!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Zazzle Shirts With a Bit of An Attitude -- Say What?

So, you've heard the news right? That JaguarJulie finally decided to make that commitment and opened her Zazzle store for her Jaguar Julie Designs! Yessirree Bob! JaguarJulie has over 16 years of online ecommerce experience behind her belt. She's not calling herself an expert or pro seller although she does have the credentials to prove it.
My line of Shirts With a Bit of an Attitude is a complement to my Squidoo lenses. These shirts are a bit of a social commentary on the too much information that is in our lives today, thanks to the internet.

Want to get a peak at some attitude? Some attitude shirts? You'll want to drop by the attitude article, Shirts with a Bit of an Attitude where everyone is welcome. Young and Old! Rich and Poor! Ornery and Persnickety -- hey you get the picture! No one will be turned away. Take a moment to express yourself and say Hi -- keeping in mind that if you have a non-friendly attitude about it all, you er your message can be deleted! Isn't life grand?

But I know this be true -- that working on these shirts with a bit of an attitude has been very therapeutic for me. It's a form of release and a social commentary on the state of affairs today. Old-timers unite! What's old is new again, and all that jazz.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Now you see it - now you don't and I want it - Casual Couture by Green Envelope

Undoubtedly you are familiar with the expression that "now you see it; now you don't!" Gosh, I've been told for years that I live on the cutting-edge, that I am the superlative of trendy and stylish. Some have called me trend-setting, style-conscious, or even a trend spotting, style guru. I have just finished a fifteen minute customer service chat with a friendly rep at Bluefly. You know I've followed Bluefly for some 8+ years; since my Stylehive days. That was before I got engaged to Squidoo ... and then got transported to HubPages!!

So it was the holidays and I was shopping online. I spotted something that I thought I had to have, but I didn't purchase it because $83 seemed a tad bit high for a top. I was debating using a 30% off coupon code should I want to purchase $125 of merchandise from Bluefly. I didn't jump at the 30% off, but waited until today. Upon my return to Bluefly, I did not spot that item in the new arrivals. I went back to my saved email to click through only to find that the item was no longer available.

Drat, I surely hate when that happens. Bluefly tempted me; I waited; it was too late. What's that they say, "you snooze, you lose?" Ah, indeed. So, I asked, "What about me adding that item to a wishlist? You got a wishlist function?" Hmmm, customer service informed me that Bluefly gets in LIMITED inventory of items and they usually sell out fast. Furthermore, the items do not get reordered??? No fair I say!

casual couture by green envelope bustier

So, this is a bit of an unusual post for me. It is a wishlist, want ad of sorts. What do I want? I want this: Casual Couture by Green Envelope black double knit bustier top. This cute bustier is ivory and black, made of a soft jersey knit on the neck and sleeves, with a double knit bustier and bodice. It was advertised with a retail value of $138.00, marked down 40% to $83.00. That still seems high. I would pay $30 for it. You got it? I want it. So, if you bought it and are thinking of returning it to Bluefly, HEY!!!!! Let me know.

UPDATE: September 13, 2014. Oh my, I sincerely can't believe it. Today I was going back through all my blog posts to do some updates and revisions. To check content and to check links. Coming to this blog post, I did a Google search on Casual Couture by Green Envelope and found the brand at Bluefly. Gosh, either I am living right or the world has stopped. You see, I think I found that bustier top I wanted! Take a look at this picture!

Casual Couture by Green Envelope black and white bustier top

Well, I surely wasn't looking to go shopping today, but when I saw the bustier top available at BlueFly, I had to buy it. It was showing an original retail price of $138.00 and was marked down to $24.50. Not too bad a price, only the shipping was a bit more than it should have been at $7.95. This black and white stretch jersey sweetheart bustier long sleeve top has a scoop neck with the black contrast bustier at the bust. It has a pleated styling along the empire waist with dual on-seam pockets. I can't see the pockets, but that's a nice feature. It measures 28-1/2 inches from the shoulder seam to the hem. It says contemporary fit; gosh I sure hope it fits me as I had to order a medium since large was not available. The fabric content is 65% Polyester, 27% Rayon, with 8% Spandex. I like polyester and spandex in my tops. Hand washing is recommended and I am pleased to know that it states made in the U.S.A.

Since I previously cautioned myself with "you snooze, you lose," I had to commit and make the purchase today!

google ads bluefly casual couture by green envelope
UPDATE TAKE TWO: Don't you just love how you can be searching for something online, then you commit to actually buying it, and THEN you get to see it being advertised to YOU ... just in case you didn't already buy it?

That's called being spot-on and relevant with advertisement!

So, as I continue my online session today, to get through hundreds of blog posts that I need to update, I continue to see that Casual Couture by Green Envelope top that I just purchased from Bluefly.

Thank you ... but, "Yes I am happy I made that purchase." And, "No, I don't want to change my mind ... yet!"

Kind of wild that you will visit a site and then see that same thing advertised to you over and over again.

Penguins are in interesting social breed

The latest email circulating through my family has to do with penguins. Penguins are an interesting breed because of their high level of social interactions. And, penguins can be known for their seemingly "agonistic displays ... which are intended to confront or drive off, or alternately appease and avoid conflict with, other individuals." Agonistic is defined as argumentative, aggressive or defensive social interaction.

So, the question posed to me today, "Did you ever wonder why there are no dead penguins on the ice in Antarctica - where do they go?"

It is a known fact that the penguin is a very ritualistic bird which lives an extremely ordered and complex life. The penguin is very committed to its family and will mate for life, as well as maintaining a form of compassionate contact with its offspring throughout its life. If a penguin is found dead on the ice surface, other members of the family and social circle have been known to dig holes in the ice, using their vestigial wings and beaks, until the hole is deep enough for the dead bird to be rolled into and buried. The male penguins then gather in a circle around the fresh grave and sing: "Freeeeze a jolly good fellow." Then they kick him in the ice hole.

Learn more about the penguin from the great Wikipedia reference. Read up on the breeding habits of penguins.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

A Sequence of Events -- well shoot already -- Stop the Insanity!

Yes, for it is a sequence of events that has produced a snowball effect to give me pause and want to holler out that back window, Stop the Insanity ... PLEASE!!!

I know you've probably seen those stress factor numbers where you can assess the stresses in your life with scores that you add up and arrive at a total. If that total falls into a certain range, well you are more likely to be impacted by all that stress. You know it's rather like cholesterol. There is good cholesterol and then there is bad cholesterol. You need a professional to help you understand and sort it out and take measures to rectify it! I'm not a doctor, but hubby thinks he is.

I am certainly glad to see that after losing some 45% on 401k investments, that there seems to be some recovery going on. Heck, the last quarter's envelope remained unopened for weeks! Then, I summoned up the courage to open my 401k statement and was more than a little surprised to actually see a positive figure. A long ways from getting back that nearly half loss on paper.

It was probably the lack of value that I was able to produce for my 401k that contributed to me not qualifying for a FAVORABLE interest rate for that secured loan which was for less than the amount of money that I had in savings in my bank of OVER 16 years. Yes, I had been with this high-profile bank with multiple accounts for over 16 years. Can't remember the last time I asked them for a loan. But, never previously did I actually HAVE the money secured in a bank to want to borrow against. Well, I told that there bank that they could keep the 10.5% interest rate for a secured loan, especially when they weren't even giving me 0.25% on the secured savings. Yesterday, I went in to chat with the cute loan guy. I told him it was pretty disappointing first that the rate STUNK and then the fact that he sent me a letter telling me the bank turned me down. Huh? I said I wouldn't take the loan at 10.5% and then I got the letter that the bank declined my loan. Oh, the cute loan guy said that was simply a form letter. Ha, WRONG form letter to send. "I am closing both my accounts and would like a cashier's check please."

You know, I've got some friends which I've shared our difficulties or shall I say challenges with our tenants! You know, those that have relied on the charity of my dear old hubby to NOT pay rent for over a year. I personally don't know how it has gotten that bad. We are talking over $15,000 that is owed to us for rent. This is so hard to take when lensmasters rely on declining monthly Squidoo royalties too to help offset those bills. So, when our second tenant defaulted on rent, OMG!!! I think I wanted to seriously flip my wig. Did you not hear what I said? Stop the Insanity ... PLEASE, PLEASE!!

For those of you out there who have been kind enough to offer up understanding for our Pug the Cat, thank you! Lately, we have been seeing that Pug is going backwards with her improvement from vestibular disease. I had no idea that this disease would take such a toll on a cat. It makes me think she has a more serious condition than the vet realized. Hubby calls her our CK, crooked kitty. Today, she has gotten more timid, cautious and afraid and is often hiding behind the sofa for no apparent reason. I just can't fathom the thought of putting her to sleep. Hubby is perplexed as Pug was the boldest of all the stray cats we manage.

So, had you heard of the water oak tree that fell over one day without warning? Can you believe that? Our tenant had his white work van parked in front of the tree; oh, it was totalled! No insurance. The totalled van is still on the property. The cement contractor has offered to cut it in four pieces to haul off -- we are hopeful that the tenant will accept that offer. This past Saturday, I got to see the property after the event! OMG. What a mess. Previously to that fallen tree, it was looking like the tenant would be moving. Don't know when that might happen now since the van is out of commission.

Did you know that we were one of the early adopters with the Nissan Murano in our community? Yep, we just finished off our second lease -- 6 years driving one of them. Well, hubby has been looking for several weeks for a replacement vehicle -- this time he wanted to actually buy the SUV rather than lease it. So, we put a lot of thought into what type of SUV would be the next one. Last Saturday, we spent 6 hours in the local Ford dealer showroom. 6 hours that I could have spent making a $1/hour working on Squidoo lenses you all. ;)

At 4pm EST Saturday, we drove off the lot with our brand new limited edition Ford Edge in a white platinum -- pearl like finish. It was the first special car that we have owned. So special, that there is a paint finish package included in the price to protect that pearl paint job you know!

SOooooooo ... Monday ... not 48 hours mind you after taking possession of that Edge ... hubby calls me from work to tell me that he needs to 'warn' me of something. "OMG, you didn't have an accident in that new car did YOU???" I calmly asked. "Ah, no," says hubby. "You see the weed whacker guy [name removed to protect his identity], was weed whacking the property. His wife told him to stay away from the cars. But he didn't. He broke the back window. Oh, don't worry, he probably didn't put too many pits into that paint job!"

Whew! Well, I will stop now with all this insanity because there is more, but I don't want to share -- some of it is way too personal. You don't need to know everything. But, just to know that this sequence of events is a partial list. For me, though, it is enough. I hope I don't lose any of my friends, buddies, and chums -- I think I can count you on more than just my hands and toes. Thank you for being there for me to offer understanding and compassion. I value our friendship.

Stop the Insanity ... PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE!!!

P.S. Thank you friends, buddies, chums for allowing me to vent today! It seems that it is always something. You know?

Friends, Buddies, Chums and Then Someone Quite Special

Friend: that one special person who makes life a bit easier by just being there and listening to your problems and difficulties. -- Friends by Katy
It has been many years, in Columbus, Ohio, that I had a dear friend Joe who meant the world to me. He was a bit of an edgy guy; although he was mayor of a small town, he had a bit of that bad boy about him. Nevertheless, I was able to see the heart and soul of my friend Joe and felt a compassion for him. I've always wondered what happened to him. He used to always tell me that you can count yourself very lucky if you can count your TRUE friends on your hand -- and if you could count your friends on both hands, that would be special.

Friends come and go. Today there is so much going on in people's lives that they don't always think of those people who have become a part of their lives. The internet has surely brought people together from all walks of life and cultures. For me, Squidoo has surely been a large part of my life for some three and a half years. Way too many hours to count have been spent writing lenses, visiting other lensmasters' lenses, mentoring, advising, suggesting. Hubby tells all our friends that I make probably $1/hour for all my time. He thinks I should be working for Squidoo. Well, maybe some day.

Recently, there had been a series of events that have been quite stressful to say the least. Each event taken in the context of that event, might not seem so stressful or eventful. However, it has been the sequence of those events which gave me pause the other day. Like the snowball effect. Some lensmasters would suggest that you write a lens, vent, share your difficulties, and ask for other lensmasters to come and visit. To me, I opted to do twitter updates to get immediate venting. And, I might have lost some twitter followers through that action -- those who just didn't understand or maybe thought I'd over-reacted. Sometimes things can escalate to be a Stop the Insanity moment. Do you know what I mean?

So, what do Friends, Buddies, and Chums got to do with this? Well, simple. There was one special someone who was quite sensitive and responsive ... who was THERE for me in my moment of OMG!

julieannbrady-blackcat-you talking to me

Friends, Buddies, Chums -- Oh My! Thank you friends, buddies, chums -- that special someone in my life. So the next time a friend, buddy or chum of yours is having a bad moment, please don't THROW them under that BUS! Reach out and offer them a hand. A friendly word, a show of support. Who knows, you might be needing that next!