Wednesday, May 23, 2007

City Views, Country Dreams

A relaxed good evening from New York.

The weather is so mild here and the trees so full of fresh green leaves. By this weekend we may be complaining of the heat, but right now all is perfect.

Yesterday was a long day, full of varied demands.

I went to the shop very early, so as to "receive" our weekly cleaner. In the past, I had a staff member assigned to this early morning, but he was late too many times. It was very inconsiderate of the feelings of the cleaner, so we have now made other arrangements. I and two other staffers, who have short travel times, now alternate these early mornings.

It is a good time to get lots done, before the shop actually opens. Yesterday had some special events scheduled. At 10, we were due for a visit from six or seven folks from the corporate offices of the company, mostly of the financial aspect. They were to visit several of the shops to see more about what shop life is like. A great idea, to cross-polinate. We had a fine time trading questions, answers, comments and laughter. I would like for these visits to happen on a regular basis, because it really does let us have greater appreciation of what we each do every day.

Also yesterday, we needed to "redecorate" the shop with the June collection.

As usual, we are supplied with some directives, visual and written to guide our floor move, but it can be more complex in the doing than it may seem on the paper!

By the time that my corp. financial visitors has departed, the store had been open for about an hour and there were customers all over the shop. We love to have this sort of traffic. makes it more difficult to completely change the store around while still trying to keep the ladies happy. (If it were possible to do these floor changed while the store was closed, it would be good, but that would require having more staff work longer hours, and...I have enough of a challenge getting them to work hard during their regular shifts.)

Anyhow, we did manage to get the job done, and I imagine that within the next day or so, we will find ways to re-merchandise the floor, to make everything flow better in a more inviting way.

Oh, and something else yesterday, we got a big delivery of yet another shoe style that we will be testing. These are from the company with whom I got to meet a few weeks ago. So, getting those cartons unloaded, properly checked in and the sample shoes displayed on the floor was another task. Completed.

Today. A day off. A beautiful day off.

After a light breakfast, I attacked a much needed bathroom clean-up. It is so sparkling in that area now. I am very glad that I gave it top morning priority.

Did some laundry. Grocery shopping. Lunch prep and eating.

Then, downtown to a discount art supply store that I like to wander in. I treated myself to a two new sketchbooks (different paper, size -- for different uses/impulses.) Also remembering a type of colored pencil Milly had mentioned, I looked for them, and got a little sample box to try out. These pencils draw dry, and the colors seem dry and a little grey. But...give them a wash with a brush and water, and brilliant color appears -- almost startlingly brilliant. I had not expected such a transformation. Once the washed bit dries, it is permanent, and cannot be messed about with like watercolors can. So, these will take some experimenting with before I am comfortable with them.

I got two other toys at the art shop, an india ink pen for drawing nice, smooth black lines, and a pair of funny scissors that cut beautiful "provencial" curved lines, like a more stylish version of pinking shears we sewers have used for years. I should have a lot of fun playing around with curved edges, or making chains. Just playing.

And, while downtown, I stopped by the big Union Square greenmarket and got a bright blue-red geranium plant to brighten up my window sill. (Also to draw.)

I got home in very early afternoon, and sat down with my new sketchbook and pencils, pen, brush and paints. It was a lovely afternoon in my very sunny little living room. I did some close inspection of my plants and did lots of studies of their leaves, flowers, stems. Just playing, with no self-editing. It is the best sort of warm up exercise for me when I have not done anything "serious" in a while. Best to edge into creativity, do some experimenting, see what happens.

I did drag myself away in time to prepare a delicious dinner, that finished with some very delicious blackberries in creme fraiche. Yes, perhaps I could have used sour cream, but it is just not the same thing. On a day off, it is nice to be a bit extravagant in toppings!

Tomorrow will be another long work day, but it begins early with one of my favorite bits, the focus group meeting at which a bunch of us (shop managers, design team members, buyers, production team folks, and others) gather to rate the style from the most recent collection. What was good, great, horrible, should never have been produced. And, my favorite, what was missing?

After that meeting held at my old store on West Broadway in SOHO, it is back to my shop to try to continue our selling success. We are having a terrific month, and it looks pretty certain that we will all share in a bonus for exceeding our monthly sales goal. Hurray!

Earlier this evening, I did take a peek at views of the Chelsea Flower Show on the BBC site. I had a lovely visit to the CFS years ago, and look forward to hearing what Blossom and others may think of this year's version. The BBC videos looked to me as if high concept was in the air. But clearly, video is not the same thing as seeing something live.

Pleasant dreams to all.



  1. Dear Frances, thank you for your kind words! Those shoes sound amazing - would love to hear more as I have a rheumatic disease called Scleroderma and one of my symptoms is reduced soft tissue in the sole of the foot and I have a terrible time finding comfortable shoes. Sometimes I feel like I'm walking on marbles - so these sound like they could be great for me. Kindest regards, Woozle.x

  2. The skool art club seemes to be growing, first UPL starts paitning portraits and now you have taken up the art!

    Lovely way to relax, hope you're still enjoying your day.

  3. What a great long blog today francis! I always find you either have to sneek up on creativity as if you are not really planningit or hurl yourself at it before it sees you coming. Never pays to prepare too much. pencils sound good. What are they?

  4. Ditto Un Peu. Creativity is often very fleeting for me; the days when it 'works' are just perfect.

  5. I too look forward to hearing about Chelsea as I have never been!

    So good to see you really enjoying that precious time of-how therapeutic to do something so sonderfully relaxing. You need that when you work as hard as you do.

    warm wishes

  6. I watched chelsea on tv aswell lovely stuff..where the shoes delivered by a charming sales man, this time??? you almost make me miss working in the shop almost...xo

  7. Hello Frances,
    I always marvel inside a shop that sells art material, and wish that I could paint or draw. I would love to see that Blue/red Geranium in photo, that sits so proudly on your window-sill. Loved the Chelsea Flower Show, sadly though this year was only able to view on television.

  8. It sounds like a perfectly lovely day off, Frances. Your visit to the art supply store had my interest. I don't have an artistic bone in my body, but love to look at the 'equipment' - pencils, papers etc.

  9. Thank you again for a glimpse of New York living. I love geraniums and am filling the cottage windowsills with them. I watched CFS too, real escapism and Alan T too! (can you see what we see in him? Is it a 'little boy' thing? :>)?
    You sound very happy and your enthusiasm for your job must be catching to your staff.

  10. I am so envious that you saw Bowie in the flesh I have seen him in a concert at Wembly but he was the size of an ant. He was the idol of my youth my friend and I were besotted with him.