Add Mood with Nostalgia…

There may be nothing quite like roses and soft autumn leaves that brings forth sweet nostalgia for me… Roses past their prime or pink tinged rosebuds that are still full of promise. And I tend to prefer the softer side of Fall with the pink and red leaves.  A basket full of roses cut from my own, set by our picket fence are precious to me because I know they’ll soon be gone. Then as they wilt and dry, the soft scent is a reminder of a good season of blooms.

Old roses tend to be destined to be pressed or dried- held within the pages of a well loved book. I found an image of beautiful autumn leaves….there may be no more nostalgic image you could offer than a carpet of fallen leaves. Still. A wedding bouquet and the memories of a romantic getaway. We want to keep them all gathered in our imagination.

Mood. One of the most effective design tools we have. To create responses from our life’s imagination of simpler sweeter times. Sweethearts, proms, weddings… Nostalgic mood enriches emotional appeal- a sense of safety, security- of meaning and of times we felt loved and part of an affectionate community. To bring forth the ‘then and now’ – recreates pleasant moods.

In design, Mood is best used to stimulate good emotions. Recollections of sweet scents and exquisite events- puts us in a positive frame of mind. As a marketing tool- make the customer feel good, make them feel a stronger connection to your brand- form closer relationships to you through kindness, sentimental and pleasurable emotions. Folks are drawn to a more personal shopping experience these days. You might say- marketing and branding has joined the ‘slow food’ and ‘slow clothing’ movements, with thoughtful production of resources.

Good marketing sets aside the ‘overwhelm’- the tyranny of urgent demands on our time. Take your readers, your customers on a sentimental journey. Give them kindness, beauty and positive nostalgic mood. They’ll love you for it.

What better way to flourish and grow, than with a nostalgic sentimental mood? Creating Mood is a Design Principle you’ll want to employ over and over again.

Love y’all, Brenda

Indigo Blue…

Blue is the most beloved color around the world. The color of loyalty, honor, order, calm and healing- Blue is the color of the sea and sky. Classic Blue inspires trust, respect and invokes responsibility. Blue was named the Color of the Year 2020 by ™Pantone- the leader in predicting color for fashion and home decor. If you’re wondering how to spruce up your wardrobe, your home even your online catalogs- look no further than the Color Institute for inspiration.  For fall and winter, the blues are darker and classic. Even the green of this season’s color story has a hint of blue. The whole year has had several shades of Blue. Take a look at your catalogs- chances are you’ll find a hue for you!

Indigo is grown on almost every continent in the world. Here in the USA, you may be surprised to learn that the most successful grower and producer of dye was a young girl named Eliza Lucas Pinckney of South Carolina. Educated in London, her favorite subject was Botany. Eliza’s father, a British soldier based on the island of Antiqua, had brought his sickly wife and their two young daughters to the colonies believing the climate would be better suited to his wife. He was dispatched back to Antiqua, leaving 14 year old Eliza in charge of the family estate. He sent indigo seeds from Antiqua to Eliza to experiment with growing. After three years of experiments- the 17 year old had perfected, not only growing indigo- she was producing dye cakes. There was a great demand for the dye in England for military uniforms. During the course of her production in years to come- it has been said that the Emperor of China preferred the color of Eliza’s dye above all others, for it’s unique luminous color.

Eliza also revived the culture of silkworms, indeed her signature look was a Blue Silk Dress. Tens of thousands of pounds were produced by her estate. She married young, had two sons and her husband died while Eliza was still considered a young woman. At this point, Eliza was running her father’s estate and her husband’s as well. She had become a patriot. One of her sons signed the Declaration of Independence, the other became a Diplomat. Upon Eliza’s death at age 71, in 1793, George Washington, at his request, served in Eliza Lucas Pinkney’s funeral as pall bearer.

Indigo dyed fabric, the robes of Kings, became widely used in the States, as the common dye of Denim- the fabric of farmers, pioneers, working folks and of course for uniforms and business attire. Indigo is no longer widely grown in the US, yet in recent years, a revival of sorts, to make and use natural plant based dyes has occurred, among them is small batches of safely harvested indigo. Though, India produces what has almost always been considered the finest.

Be inspired by Eliza, use Blue in your own artwork, backdrops, designs and yes, even in business. This young lady used her love of home, family and botany to build a life through wars, crisis, loss and upheaval. Perhaps the need- or perhaps the color Blue inspired her!

I’m a believer that Color tells a story, before you read a word. Color is one of my top 9 Elements of Design. Make seasonal shifts of your own- with a generous amount of Blue!

Love y’all, Brenda

*Indigo was produced in Eliza’s day under very harsh conditions in my country, which began in the late 1600s and early 1700s.  The story of Eliza is told to inspire not to laud the production practices of Indigo.*

*This post went out recently and somehow disappeared from my feed! Please excuse any inconvenience this may have caused!

Light…

The gleaming car pulled up to the lamplit curb. A doorman saw the glint of a diamond stud as a bejeweled slipper gracefully stepped out, the satin ball gown caught the sheen of moonlight- he caught a whiff of jasmine and gardenia. She glided into the ballroom. Chandeliers reflected in the mirrored walls throwing sparkling light which competed only with champagne flutes and silver trays. A fountain splashed crystal droplets. And, holding court on the buffet table stood a shimmering ice sculpture. The twinkling of laughter, swirling sequin dresses and glittering jewelry created flashes of shimmering glimmering delight. Taking a flute of bubbly champagne, surely she would never forget this delight-filled night.

Okay I made that up Still. Even describing Light lends sparkle to the written word. Of the design principles I follow, there is none more important than light. Light. Number 1 of my 9 Elements of Design, stands alone.. Every other principle depends on light. Color, Texture, Mood, Shape and Form. Perspective, Balance, Space and Time. All of these principles depend on Light.

How do you describe a sunrise without light? or when the curtains close after a play- describe the darkened theater? The play of shadows on a wall. We sense color only by complicated systems of refraction of light (Please don’t ask me to go into all of that! It’s way above my pay grade.) The list is endless of how Light changes things- everything in fact. 

Whatever you design- art, interiors, landscapes, gardens, jewelry, floral displays, your online shops, catalogs, even your blog or social media sites. Light- my number 1 Principle of Design when Designin’ Your Business. Light is your most powerful tool and- The Crowning Glory of Design. 

Love y’all, Brenda 

To Write Better, Read…

I’ve always believed that readers make the best writers. Any skill I have has come from reading books. I’m a collector of books. I treasure them. I also treasure handwritten notes and am especially proud of the few recipes I have which are written in my grandmother’s hand. It’s like having a bit of her still with me- unique to her and I would recognize her handwriting anywhere. I have a handwritten Cheese Sauce Recipe which has stood the test of time too. Written after World War II – it helps me realize that while ‘oleo’ was almost never used- it was during the time when supplies were rationed.

I also think journaling is a worthwhile pastime- in fact, I’m still surprised by what I was thinking or learning at the time…

My 6 year old sister taught 4 years old me- how to read and write. It set me on the path to being a lifelong lover of words and phrases. I collect them with no rhyme or reason except I like the way the sound or look on a page. I’ll take a few pages out with my hodge podge of phrases and words- then it’s almost like shaking them in my fist, then casting them on a page until I like how they look and sound.

Here’s a few notes from what I’ve been reading-

  • Alabama is filled with Dollar Generals and Church Spires.’ (It’s true you know!) and I could add- ‘we still have snake handlers and a Rattlesnake Rodeo. They’ve figured out how to season it up and fry it. I guess, that’s truly the safest way to take up the serpent and live.’
  • From southern author, Michael Lee West there’s this- ‘the bayous twisted off like spilled cane syrup, thick, moss choked woods formed a canopy over poisonous snakes and man eating alligators.’ Now, that! makes you want to visit my home state!

Reading made me want to draw a plan for an herb garden, I pored over that one for a month- it was partially laid out, then a tornado came through- the best laid plans were set aside- indefinitely.

I love true ink pens and grumbled that cursive writing wasn’t going to be taught- it’s an art form you know. A signature is a treasure, an identification, as unique as a fingerprint. Even a short handwritten note, a sketch or a snippet of calligraphy speaks to me.

Pat Conroy started everyday with poetry to get the rhythm of words, then he read 200 pages in whichever book he was reading at the time. Only then, did Conroy start his full day of writing. Mr. Conroy wrote by hand, on a yellow legal pad- five pages toward the book he was working on! Can you imagine! Perhaps that why Mr. Conroy was able to make a living writing books!

Creating content is an absolutely necessary skill in today’s world. If you fear you simply cannot write posts- Read! Then write, just as if you’re speaking directly to someone else or even your best self!

I repeat, ‘I’ve always believed that Readers make the best Writers.’

Love y’all, Brenda

Here’s Mimi’s Cheese Sauce recipe- because I know you want it!

Always Protect Home Plate…

Always protect Home Plate. That old baseball term, still holds true. Home Plate, home base whichever you call it- it’s where your true base of support resides. No matter where you live or work, there’s always a certain amount of uncertainty, yet generally we know where our most consistent support resides. In the South, the weather is almost on our radar. A tornado or hurricane can destructively come through certain times of the year. When bad weather is in the forecast, if we have a bit of warning or just feel it in our bones- we always protect home base. We board up windows and secure the doors. We round up our loved ones, we know instinctively where ‘to get’… the safest places to stay until the storm passes over. Then, when the danger’s passed, we assess the damage, then set about rebuilding- doing what we can to get our homes and businesses back up and running.

In this current crisis we’re in, the rule- to protect home plate, holds true yet in different ways. I sense a certain exhaustion, an anxiety and even a bit too much of ‘We can do this’ and ‘I’m fine’ going on. Dare I say it? How do we sustain this current crisis? It  sounds good to try to ‘maintain a work/life balance’. Still. I’m sensing that folks are keeping a stiff upper lip, whistlin’ in the dark and are downright weary. Frenetic. Worried. Overwhelmed.

I don’t know about you, but I feel like I’ve got brain fog. And! In danger of getting cataracts from looking for hours at whatever our favorite ‘screens‘ are.  I have to say it, many are making the mistake of- Posting too much and too often.

Now, you know I don’t have all the answers. I’m looking for answers just like you are. If you are a local or retail business, these are very stressful times. Protect your home plate too. Please keep your loyal customers up to date with your information and hours of operation.

After years in retail, even owning my own business- here’s what I know for sure..

  • Keep your information clear and easy to understand.
  • Please don’t overwhelm your loyal customer base or new contacts.
  • Post the most pertinent information on the social media platform where your highest following resides.
  • And keep the information fresh and up to date.

Now. This may go against conventional wisdom, yet I do know this is true- Don’t Overwhelm!

  • The more often you call, email, post on social media- the more likely it is that folks will stop seeing it, ignore it and ultimately stop following or unsubscribe.
  • Once a day may actually be too often, more than once? A surefire way to lose customers.
  • The same is true for whatever ongoing interest you may have, especially on social media.
  • Folks get information overload in normal times, now? When they are doing more essential business, helping their family or working online- believe me- less is more.
  • Think of it as preparing a garden, planting seed, giving it time to grow…
    • If you you have a loyal customer base that follows your social media sites– now is the time to develop personal contacts. Social Media has taken on increased importance- So here’s a few suggestions:
    • Follow them- leave appropriate non-sales-y comments.
    • You can even discover their interests and offer an encouraging word or phrase.
    • If you have a product or service – the conventional wisdom is to post every third or fifth post. In between, share something about yourself, a quote that keeps you going and tell them how important or amazing they are!
    • Building connections now actually is protecting your own home base.

    Appropriate interest in your customers now, is like planting seeds for a future harvest.

    Knowing your customers will help you form a business plan for meeting their ongoing needs, later. Folks have been trending toward more personalized shopping experiences for years now. This is your chance to develop those skills. And while you may be near panic over your profits, remember the principles in this post.

    If you tailor what you offer to their needs, and in their price range you will have more sales. Find that perfect place where their needs, your product or service overlap into what they’re willing to pay for Support + Service = Sales. The most successful folks I’ve ever known-

    • 1. Have portable dreams and..
    • 2. Make adjustments as quickly as possible.

    Jane Goodall, had a long standing career observing chimpanzees. Did she set out to make a huge impact on the world? Probably not and yet she did. The small things she did everyday educated, informed and endeared her to the world. Here’s what she said:

    Do what you can to protect Home Plate. Then, expand your circle of influence. Believe that you make a difference. Believe me, you will impact your world. It’s up to you how you choose to use your influence. Here’s wishing you, all the best and as always-

    Love y’all, Brenda