Last year, I explained that fame doesn’t necessarily equal fortune. Many people are surprised by that. They think magazine credits and awards mean you’re doing big business; in reality, a small designer thus recognized might not even able to get appointments with stores, let alone sell anything to them. The lead story in today’s New York Times Sunday Styles section — “Wooing the First Dresser” by Bee-Shyuan Chang, about the influence of Michelle Obama on the fashion industry — provides a good description of this experience. Here are the first four paragraphs:
“The designers Carly Cushnie and Michelle Ochs, known professionally as Cushnie et Ochs, have been critical darlings ever since starting their business in 2009, just a few years out of college. They have been prominently featured in WWD and Vogue, have won prestigious honors, like the Ecco Domani Foundation Award, and were one of 10 finalists for last year’s CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund Award.
But even with that acclaim, they were still having trouble getting some prominent retailers to buy their clothes or even grant them a showing.
Then Michelle Obama was photographed in one of their designs: a forest-green crepe dress for the ‘Christmas in Washington’ television special in December.
Suddenly, their phone calls were being returned. ‘Stores that thought we were too risqué before have booked market appointments after seeing Michelle Obama in our dress,’ Ms. Cushnie, 28, said in a recent phone interview. After a quick tally, she later e-mailed, ‘We booked approximately 25 additional appointments for the upcoming fall collection, including Harvey Nichols Hong Kong.'”
It’s just like I said in my recent Huffington Post piece, “The Agony and Ecstasy of a Small Business ” — the right celebrity can make all the difference. Clearly, I need to entice Barack Obama to buy a wonderful Valentine’s Day gift for his wife. Hey, Barry! Call me today. I’ll be happy to fly to D.C. tomorrow and hand you this beautiful aventurine brooch personally.
The brooch is my pick for Day 12 of my Valentine’s Day Jewelry Countdown because it’s perfect in every way for Michelle Obama. Based on the New York Times story, we know she likes green. So, color? Check! The brooch was handmade in New York City. Made in the USA? Check! It can also be worn as a pendant. Versatile? Check! Plus, it was made several years ago, before the price of gold soared, but I never raised my price to match. I should be charging at least $20,000 for this design, but I’m still charging $12,500. Thrifty? Check! Finally, this is a one-of-a-kind piece — I’ll never make another. A singular jewelry design for a ground-breaking first lady? Check!
If you’re interested in this brooch and you’re not President Obama, I may not personally get on a plane to bring this to you, but I’m happy to send it express tomorrow. You’ll be able to present it to the first lady in your life on Valentine’s Day. If you need help ordering or have any questions, email me at wbjewelry at hotmail dot com.
P.S. to the President — help a fellow Columbia College graduate!