No Dinosaurs Here

My dear jewelry friends and colleagues, I think it’s time we had a talk. A serious talk.

But first, please read this article, and take a few moments to give it some thought. Don’t worry, I’ll wait right here.

… All set? Welcome back. Now, let’s have that chat.

Did you notice the emphasized pull quote? If not, please go back and read it again (carefully this time).

In a single sentence, the primary issue facing the industry has been neatly summarized. The cause of those staggeringly bad statistics is staring us in the face. Few seem willing to admit it, and as Ms. Graff points out, nothing is going to happen unless businesses”change their business model to adapt to the demands of retail today.”

Are you paying attention, yet? Have you taken a long look at the sustainability of your current plan, your client base, the increasing demands for innovation? Most importantly, have you decided what you’re going to do about it?

I have long been known as a realist, with very little patience for a glass-half-full outlook (cockeyed optimist I am not). But I’m going to break from my own tradition here, and tell you all that this is not the end of the world. Well, it’s the end of the world as we’ve been operating it for the past several decades, but that not a bad thing. It’s a very, very good thing.

The jewelry industry is not going to die off in the manner of the dinosaur, comically staring down destruction as it hurtles towards us in a fireball of death. If we were to go, it would be by way of slow, painful starvation, the way endangered species dwindle and die off in depressing groups of hundreds.

I’m not going to let that happen. So, forget about it. I joined a company that can will help bring about great innovative changes to both the retail and wholesale/manufacturing side of things, but I don’t intend to simply sit back and watch it trundle along. This is not a time for ponderously slow growth, it’s absolutely time to seize the future with both hands and maybe a foot, dragging it along if we must.

Observe your business. Talk to your sales staff, bench workers, designers. Hell, sit down with the interns and the secretaries if you have them. Ask these interested parties what they love about what they do, then ask how they can personally help make things better. Consult your colleagues, and you’ll find willing listeners with wonderful, creative ideas. Talk about change and growth and new technology with some excitement in your voice, rather than the timid fear that so many feel when bringing up anything new.

I’m here to talk about this, too. I have so much more to learn, and I can only do that by being open about what I still don’t know (and need to know).

This post had a lot of talk, and maybe a call to action (can you here me now?). As jewelers, we are all keenly aware that under-promising and over-delivering is the only way to live — so now it’s time for me to do that. Let’s have breakfast at the shows, or Skype over coffee, and let’s begin to adapt and solve problems.

We’re too awesome to die out, people.

Note: not a real picture of a dinosaur. Photo credit to J. 

 

Adrift at Sea

I’ve tried to write (and re-write, and re-re-write) this post over the last week, and I think it’s time to admit something to you and to myself: I’m a little lost.

Changing jobs is always a precarious balance, particularly when we live in a world that often uses occupation to define who we are. Intellectually, I knew this. But I guess I just never thought about what it would feel like to lose my sense of definition and identity for a while.

I wrote just a few weeks ago about having the courage to make changes and sail off in a new direction, but right now I’m more like a rowboat caught between islands, unsure of my direction but unwilling to just row in circles.

As ridiculous as it sounds, I don’t know what to call myself anymore. For a few years I had a title, an easily understood introduction at parties, an actual noun to use when filling in the blank. It was comfortable and comforting to hide behind that title, because it allowed other people to understand me. Now I’ve had to leave that role behind, but haven’t replaced it with anything concrete — no meat, just spirits.

The wise amongst you will counsel me to embrace this lack of definition, and use it to expand my horizons and force myself to look beyond the job titles for something greater. You might even suggest that this is exactly what I should be doing at this stage in my life — loosening up, removing the rigid boundaries I set for myself, exploring the things I didn’t even know existed.

And you’re right.

But that doesn’t make this feeling go away, and it really doesn’t make the more practical consideration of introducing myself any easier. I can’t stop my natural craving for a label, even a strange-sounding one that requires explanation. I just haven’t come up with one yet (suggestions are welcome, creative friends).

I continue to explain to friends, family, and coworkers that I’m still very much a part of the jewelry world. If anything, my resolve to make an impact and breathe new life into this beloved industry has strengthened, and my drive has actually increased thanks to the bold new direction I’ve taken.

Still, I look forward to a time when a few more puzzle pieces of life will fall into place, giving me a peek at the bigger picture of my life.

A Toast to Courage and a New Life

Always dream and shoot higher than you know you can do. Do not bother just to be better than your contemporaries or predecessors. Try to be better than yourself.”
–William Faulkner

There is a longstanding tradition in my family of being asked to present speeches and toasts at various occasions and events. It happens often enough that I garnered an early obsession with Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations, that beloved compilation of all things wise and witty that can be opened at need or stood upon to reach the top shelf.

It took me more than a few tries of random page-opening to find the right words for this moment in my life, but I think Faulkner’s are a simple and elegant summary.

I have a new job and a new home!

Packing up husband, cat, and the million things it seems we’ve acquired over the last five years, we’re moving to a new town in our old home state.

Packing up skills, memories, and my trusty loupe, I’m changing jobs to forge a bright new path in my industry.

I never thought I would come to love the place we’ve been living as much as I did. The small town, slow pace, and ridiculously short commute made daily life pretty easy. I certainly never thought that a job I chose by accident would deliver an industry, career, and passion.

Now I gather my courage, finding myself in equal parts gripped by fear of change and uncertainty and uplifted by the prospect of wonderful new opportunities and a dramatic lifestyle shift. Our new living arrangement will allow for much greater freedom and access to so many things we love (food, art, culture) and my new job marries my love of the jewelry business with my desire to move it forward through technology and rapid growth.

I get a little philosophical I guess (a side effect of all that Faulkner, no doubt), but inside my brain is humming with constant activity and my gut is doing some strange alchemy with lead and butterflies. So much to do, so many changes all happening at the same time, and not nearly enough hours in the day or ink in my pen to keep it all straight. It’s time to be better than myself, to pull back the bowstring and launch. Off we go!

I’ll bookend this post with another Faulkner line, always apropos in times of change and personal growth: “You cannot swim for new horizons until you have courage to lose sight of the shore.