This year has been to date 7 months of trial. It is effectively such a close series of trials that they have morphed into an exercise in endurance, patience, a battle of perspective. Digging deep into whatever it is that keeps you going when all the voices in your head tell you to take the bench, hide under a rock or as my grandmother so poetically used to put it “crawl in a hole and pull it closed after you”. In the midst of natural disasters, political firestorms, polarizations that are unprecedented, and a virus that has challenged every pollical and humanitarian system to its core globally, we find ourselves trying to maintain some sort of normalcy. But this year is anything but and is posing a challenge to everyone, not excluding those of us who are creative.
“How do you decide what products to create?”
....We are often asked at markets by inquisitive buyers as our shelves are lined with newness and what we hope will be the new fandangled fabulosity that the end consumer beats the door down to buy from our retailers. I wish it were a cut and dried process - something you could write a “how to” book about. If we could, we would all have amazing product lines, and no one would ever close their doors because they lost touch with their clients because they just weren’t able to coordinate the trends to the production and retail cycles of their company.
At Rizzy, designing product is like peeling an onion. There are always many things in the hopper - in the plans. We look two years ahead at global trend gurus and their prognostications, weigh them against what our design team in India is seeing globally and tailor ideas to where we are as a company. Where we hope our current client list wants to go, what we hope will entice clients we haven’t landed to want to take a spin on our rocket ship instead of a competitors’, and what seems to be the logical next step – a growth ring expanding what is already working and working very well.
There are also those things that no one is doing or asking for. As a designer - an inventor - you are going to try, but the timing has to be RIGHT and who knows when that is. For example, we have brainstormed and planned for a line of pillows that would be rather boisterous and tons of fun, but every time I run up to the gate with them, I stop short. They seem very noisy in the current environment and I end up pulling them back. They have been sitting on my desk now for two years. I pull them up and tweak them, make subtle changes, and RIGHT before I hit the “send” button to transfer them off to our amazing India artists, I choke. I pull them back again. It just isn’t the time. . .yet.
In this season of global uncertainty, one common thread appears to be the need by everyone to move forward but to do so with methodical and sure-footed steps. The climate for businesses who have been shuttered for a few to several months now is to go forward without stumbling and that is done by running the horses that have been consistent and persistent winners. It is not that we have lost our nerve; it is however that the act of plowing forward into an uncertain future is in itself as daring and brave a foot forward as there is.
If this year had an emoji, it would be a bop-it. The game is when the bop-it bops up, WHACK it again.
A call from pop’s care facility confirmed a positive case of coronavirus in one of its amazing staff, and two of my three daughters were exposed in one week to positive virus sufferers at their places of employment. I’d finished a statement to the sheriff’s deputy about a theft at the farm. And the person who usually contracts to cut the hay didn’t want to this year.
I heard the humming of unfamiliar machinery as the deputy made his way out the maze that is the farm driveway. It was the arrival of a new hay contractor - and this one was $3 a roll cheaper, brought additional workers and didn’t give me a lecture about what I should have done differently by spraying chemicals that will kill everything he didn’t think should be in the hay, including our honeybees. This farmer didn’t talk at all - he threw up his hand in greeting and began his work.
There is little more comforting than the smell of fallen hay drying in the summer sun. It tells us this year is half over. It is the foreshadowing of winter, a time when our animals will enjoy this summer’s bounty as much as I enjoy watching it fall to the ground. There is something to be said for being able to see where you have been, to be sure footed in what has worked for you and what you are able to do now. Sometimes we endure events that stop you dead in your tracks. That is what has happened to a lot of us. My father used to call it “hitting a stump”. He used that analogy when plowing with a team of mules and a dead tree had been often long gone but the stump remained not visible beneath the surface of the dirt. When the plow engaged it, it stopped resoundingly and abruptly.
That is where we are. The plowing stopped but only long enough to access what had happened, determine the damage, adjust goals, align ambitions, and regroup. The stump, exposed, was lit on fire and the team of mules moved forward, collectively, together, continuing to work in preparation of a consistent persistent plant. It doesn’t matter, I don’t believe, how fast, far or high we move. Sometimes the sheer grace of moving forward is success.