Tuesday, April 28, 2009

the times, they are a changing.....

As a long time furniture schlepper, I've seen change that would make another "Back to the Future" movie. Of course, when I started in this industry, the wind blew in my face both ways going to, and coming from school. Somehow, the walk was always uphill. And, of course, my one pair of shoes had more holes than leather.

In those days, we talked about how the fabric wore like iron, how the frame was glued, screwed, and corner blocked and either oak or ash, and the cushions, well they were really good. We never talked about the furniture made us feel. We talked about how long it would last.

Today is different. With a disposable society, we're now about how it looks and things more personal. Furniture is no longer about sturdiness, but more about lifestyle.

I'm one of those more sturdy, less lifestyle guys, so it's taken me a while to "get it". I think I get it now. Since I've been working with a popular designer, I've seen how people react to furniture when it reaches them in a different way than just plopping your butt down to watch TV.

I've seen that having the right furniture can change your outlook on life. It can make you happy. It can calm your nerves. It has all kinds of functions that I never knew existed.

In a meeting with a social networking expert, it was explained to me that, outside of your clothes, furniture is the next thing you touch. So, it is personal. And the things that happen on furniture are your life. So, furniture is therapy, a place to go, a place to be, by yourself, or with others. It can be a sanctuary, or a place to party.

I think I understand now that a dream doesn't start with "50% Off!", or "Everything Must Go!", or some other fake savings event with an exclamation point, but "Welcome to my home". It's been 30 years. I'm a slow learner.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

a high point

If you ever wonder why you do what you do, sometimes I do too. The travel, nights away from home, long hours, the general disruption to my life, all lead to this....lifelong friends.

My work leads me to people who have similar interests. Our dreams intersect all over the place like a road map that crosses east to west, north to south, with common ideas, disparate routes, but all interesting nonetheless.

Pictured with me are Angelo and Bob, a couple of guys who didn't know each other before tonight. I wanted Angelo and Bob to know each other because both have a passion for what they do. Both are really interesting and talented, and more importantly, good guys.

One lives in L.A., the other lives in Shenzhen, China. Neither started there. Both made a commitment to follow their own life path, their dream. Each pulled up stakes and made a go of it.

I admire the courage it takes to do that. Boom or bust, good or bad, and I'm sure sometimes a little of each, it's the journey that requires a strong heart, desire and conviction.

Tonight, we stopped for a while and had a great dinner, great conversation, laughed out loud and ate cake. And, the reward at the end of all of this is a memory of friends, good times, and a reason to go to that far away place...again. Thanks Angelo and Bob. You made it all worth it.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

learning through baseball

It's supposed to be 70 degrees today (21 to those of you who don't use Farenheit). And, that means one thing to me, baseball. I love baseball.
To many, baseball is a boring, endless succession of spitting, scratching, and slow moving action. To me, a baseball field is a dirt and grass chess board with people of all speed, strength and skill displaying their particular skills, where personal sacrifice for the betterment of the team is rewarded, and the selfish strike out.
It's a game of endless preparation, a game where the small guy has a chance against the big guy.
I coached baseball for a lot of years. I wanted it to be fun. I wanted it to be a learning experience. It was for me.
So often, I would hear parents and other coaches talk about winning, as if winning was the only thing that could validate them, their children, their family, their life. I would always explain that winning could happen, and so could losing.
It was my job to prepare their kids to be in a position to succeed, but not succeed at all costs. We were going to do things right and we were going to do the best we could to win. But, we weren't going to take shortcuts. We were going to be better at the end than we were in the beginning.
But, we were also going to prepare to lose the right way. We were going to respect the opponent. We were going to congratulate them on their good play. And we were going to mean it.
You see, to me, baseball is a metaphor for life. You prepare. You win some. You lose some. But, in the end, you can lose yourself in winning. And, sometimes you can win yourself in losing. It's pretty simple.

it's three in the morning!

It's three something in the morning and I'm reading blogs. There is something wrong with me.

Like the clown with the never ending string of kerchiefs flowing out of his arm, wandering this newfound buffet of streaming thought is just what this word crackhead is craving.

No wonder people don't read newspapers anymore. Ruled by....well rules, newspapers don't bite anymore. A blogger can speak to a small audience and be satisfied. The only rule is to satisfy him or herself. And boy, does that happen, and often.

A word by itself is usually harmless. Mixed in a cocktail of a little of this and a little of that and suddenly you have something lethal, something that will cause people to fight to the death, or laugh until they can't see anymore.

Thanks for having an opinion. Sometimes I agree, sometimes not. But, it sure is fun to read something so politically incorrect that Bill Maher would cringe.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

changing the paradigm

I love ice cream. I love bacon (it is the perfect food, isn't it?). I love big, juicy hamburgers. I love every cream sauce ever made.

I love leather. I love sitting on leather. I love the feel of leather. I love the smell of leather.

What do these things have to do with each other? They are both indulgences. They are both wants. But, both have side effects that are not so good for its hosts.
In the case of all of those foods, these selfish indulgences will come back to haunt the body. In my case, I'm fat (a blog from earlier). In the case of the leather, there are environmental impacts that are just not great for the earth.

I've made a choice to change my life eating habits, substituting less harmful, yet still satisfying foods for the aforementioned gastric gluttony. I've also made the choice to do the same with leather.

So, I introduce you to renu Leather. Like those sugar free soft drinks that taste very close to the real thing, renu Leather looks and feels like the real thing, and actually performs better. It's supple, beautiful, and comfortable.

So, what is renu Leather? Think of it as a sort of "Leather Lite". It's made by using "waste" pieces of leather that would normally be landfilled and repurposing them as leather fiber used in this new fabric. By using these leather fibers, the suppleness and weight of the leather is retained. The leather fibers are combined with polyester fiber, allowing this new leather product to breathe and be more comfortable.

Is it like real leather? In most aspects, yes. There are two major differences. On the negative, renu Leather doesn't age like real leather. Real leather will show character over the years. There will be scuffs and mars that actually add to the beauty. renu Leather doesn't scuff or mar like "real leather".
But, on the positive, the stuff is really durable. Most people can't tell the difference between real leather and renu Leather. You can take a quarter and try and scratch it. It just won't. So, your new piece of furniture will look new longer. For most, that's a good thing.

Is renu Leather the perfect leather solution? No. But, it is a responsible substitution for something we all love. Like that extra piece of bacon, or that extra scoop of ice cream, we don't need to have everything. But, we want something good. And, renu Leather is good.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

headin' to High Point

30 years. That's how long I've been going to the High Point Furniture Market. Most of that time has been spent in showrooms waiting for that big retailer to come in and make my year. This industry has become my life. I've made a lot of friends and acquaintences. Saturday I'll be having dinner with a friend from Hong Kong and another from L.A. How cool is that!

Lately, I've been on the outside, looking for ideas. How can I incorporate my vision into an industry so ingrained in tradition? Everyone does it this way. So that's the way I should do it.

Well, not anymore. I'm bored with convention. I'm too young to die and too old to start over, or so I thought. I've decided to turn right when everyone turns left. There is no such thing as a one way street anymore. The wind does feel good when it blows in my face.

So, here's to new ideas. Here's to fresh looks. Here's to new beginnings.

Monday, April 20, 2009

this is how it happened, really!

So, I can't sleep. It's midnight or some hour like that and I'm flipping channels on the TV. That's my version of counting sheep. Flip, flip, flip, what was that? Was that my chair? What channel was that? Flip, flip, flip again until I refind the channel.

It's a room makeover show and they're doing this living room. Well, I'd better watch. Maybe they'll show it again. About 20 minutes pass and it's there again. I'm pretty sure it's my chair.

Research time. It's one in the morning and instead of counting sheep I'm doing research. What was the name of that show? How do I get ahold of these people? Found it. Send an email and see where it goes.

That is the start of the partnership of Angelo Surmelis and me. It was September of last year. Just seven months later, we're about to launch a new product line, angelo:HOME.

There is a lesson in this, and that is to think in terms of the possible, to reach, to never ignore your instincts. You never know when it might happen. Opportunities happen at all times, not just when you're punched in. The night I couldn't sleep changed my life. So, the next time you can't sleep.....

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Where am I?

It's Saturday. According to my drawing, I must be in Los Angeles. And, this week, I almost need this drawing to figure out where I am.
I'm not complaining, just explaining. I can't tell you how many phone calls I get asking where I am today, or where do I find you? Or, when will you be home? And, I thought, how about I do an itinerary map a person could see.
When I saw my own itinerary map....well, pictures, in this case, do speak louder than words.
Now for the kicker. I loved every minute of it, except for when I fell off he truck and scared everyone. There were cool people everywhere I went this week. Tired? Exhausted! But, a good exhausted, the kind where you look back and think, "That was worth it!"

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

I AM FAT!!!!

Do you ever look at a picture and wonder who the fat person is, and find out it's you? I believe I've just gone through that experience.

Humungous, Ginormous, Super Sized, Rotund, Portly, Plus Sized...those are words that I believe describe the rather large individual on the left side of this photo.

Do you think I could have my own moons, outside of the obvious? Do I have my own gravitational pull. I don't think "my pants shrunk" will work for this.

So, it's time to come to the realization that I will have to lose some, no a lot of weight. When even kilograms gets into three digits, it's time to notice. And I noticed. If I wear a white shirt, please don't show movies off me.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

It's awesome...really!!

It was brought to my attention in a recent blog that I used the word "awesome", a word that has been ground into the dirt past being meaningful.

And then, I thought, awesome is an awesome word. The problem is prior use. How do I make everyone forget all the other times when awesome was used to describe something that was...well let me say, less than awesome.

The dictionary tells me that awesome is a word that means awe inspiring, amazing. The problem is it's been used to describe things that are pretty nice, or good, but not awesome. The Grand Canyon is awesome. A car is cool, or nice, or fun or anything but awesome.

I think I'll reserve the right to use the word awesome when what is being described is awe inspiring or amazing. I don't want to lose the use of a tool from my tool box just because others have used a sledge hammer when a mallet would have been the appropriate tool. My sledge hammer is only used for special occasions.

The English language is difficult, but also full of choices to give the right texture, tone and meaning to the spoken and written word. And, what an awesome gift that is.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Washington, D.C.

I spent the last few days looking totally like a tourist. Notice the flashy looking hat? Luckily, cameras come in a size where I can put them in my front pocket, making me look a little more endowed than the average guy. I think Mae West would have to change her old line from "pickle in your pocket" to "camera in your pocket". And yes, Washington, D.C., I am happy to see you.
But, more than being a tourist the last few days, I got to be a dad. There isn't a more important job in the world. I still worry about her. I want to make sure she doesn't fall and scrape her knee. I want to help her with decisions, sometimes forgetting that she's and adult who can make her own.
Cortney, I know you read this, so I'll tell you and the world something you already know, that I'm more proud of you than you could ever imagine. This smile's for you.


We should have known something was up when we went to the Metro to go to the Mall. Every train was packed, not packed like Americans pack, but packed like Chinese pack. Elbow to elbow, pushing to get on the train, holding onto whatever device we could to keep from falling, we maneuvered our way to the Capitol Mall.
Getting off the train was almost as interesting as getting on. Every escalator was packed with people, again pushing, nudging, cajoling. For a boy from the country, this is all very unnerving.
The Mall is a big place. It will get better when we get there....NOT! People everywhere. While those who saw the Obama Inauguration might contend they went through more, and I believe they did, this was ridiculous....for little flowers on trees, not for the installation of the leader of the free world.
Was it pretty? Well yes. But, somehow I felt duped, kind of like going to Disney World to wait in line all day. I learned one thing yesterday. Go when other people don't. So, where exactly is "Small World"?. Now that song's in my head.