When to Celebrate Mediocrity…

Back in April of 2015, I found myself eager to take care all those little, annoying, but necessary tasks that one avoids or doesn’t have time for while working full time. One in particular errand I was determined to tackle was having my Cartier watch serviced by Tourneau – yet again!

3-tourneau-bryant-park-entrance-1200x800

I had this luxurious pre-owned timepiece for 11 years now; an impulsive purchase I made while on vacation in Las Vegas – after being handed a few cocktails at the Tourneau store. “It’s my birthday! Why not?” These words would haunt me to this day. The deal was: pay nothing upfront, instead in monthly installments, and this beautiful mother-of-pearl with a light pink face, sterling silver watch that resembles a bracelet and makes your arm feel like Kate Middleton’s arm. I bought into the fantasy with the aid of alcohol. Yes.

When I crashed landed into reality in NYC, a few months had passed, then years – only to discover my beautiful refurbished “heiress-like” watch was always 15 minutes behind. “I have to replace the battery again?” I thought. Who really made this watch? Fisher Price?

After replacing the battery countless times for over a decade, I took it in and had the Tourneau people look into the problem. A knowledgeable and charming Spanish female employee told me I could trade it in and receive a $1,600 – $1,750 credit toward a new watch or have it repaired for $575. I was given a hefty and shiny Tourneau catalogue filled with fancy watches waaaay out of my price range. A refurbished $12,000 Rolex – Wow! They’re just giving it way. I didn’t want to think how much the original asking price was. I told the Tourneau employee I had to think about it. I didn’t want to invest any more money into this watch, although vintage now – I was annoyed that it never really worked properly for me.

After a few weeks, the Tourneau associate and I exchanged emails. I was torn. She was insistent on me making a decision. Commission, I thought. That’s her motivation to stay in touch!

Month 2 – I went in to the store and decided I wanted to repair the Cartier and forego buying a new timepiece. “Hi, I’m looking for Danielle.” “Who?” The person behind the counter answered. I fumbled for her card and asked for her again with her last name. Baffled, the employee went to get the assistant manager, Rosa. She apologetically told me Danielle was let go. I was a little shocked as Danielle didn’t mention anything in our email exchanges and we had about 5 of them. After I explained my situation, the assistant manager said I would not receive a trade in for a couple thousand, instead $600. “American?” I said. She chuckled, “Yeah, I’m not sure where Danielle received her information. “Well, since I’m not on any meds or haven’t been diagnosed with a mental disorder, I know what Danielle quoted me. What can we do here?” She advised that I have my Cartier watch repaired. “I don’t want to pay $575 for the watch to be repaired with no guarantees that it will work correctly.” Rosa agreed to reduce the repair cost to: $375. I complied.

Month 3: Four weeks pass by and I contact Rosa. She says it’s taking more time than she thought because the watch technician think it’s a more complex problem to fix. It was sent to the Long Island Tourneau repair plant. I’m okay with this.

Month 4: I was busy with life. Freelancing, interviewing, not thinking about this watch. Meanwhile, I hadn’t heard a peep from Tourneau.

Month 5: I email Rosa few times. No response. I came in to the store, see her there and she tells me the watch has been sent to Switzerland. “I beg your pardon?” I asked. She gives me this matter-of-factly gaze, as if was telling me established life’s truths. Such as: Everybody knows all dogs go to heaven. Or you live on this earth, pay taxes and die; similar to the Geico commercials. “I didn’t consent to that. When did this happen? Why is my watch in Switzerland? I’ve never been to Switzerland!”

swiss_international_airlines.jpg

She shrugged her shoulders and said. “Well, the watch is there and being serviced by the best technicians at Tourneau.” “That’s fabulous, but I didn’t given written consent to have that done. What if something goes wrong or they lose the watch?” I asked. “You have my guarantee that if anything happens we are solely responsible.” She said. I left the store feeling uncertain and not very satisfied, just weary. Continue reading →

Advertisements

The Etiquette of Hairstyling with Carrie Butterworth

At the so close! But-not-quite a teen age of 12, Carrie Butterworth had the career epiphany most us of lack – until a later age or never acquire – of wanting to become a hairstylist. While many of us were pining over the latest music sensation, saving up for the new “it” fashion item or experimenting with a hair color ready to make our parents disown us, she had a clear vision of her chosen profession. This enlightened artist, blessed with hands to create beautiful, life-changing looks sat down with me to discuss her career as a professional hairstylist in editorial, advertising and as part of a celebrity glam squad.

14159054_10154554903614673_1155243858_n

DSMC: How long have you been a hairstylist?

CB: I did a lot of interning at salons in New Jersey, but really got a feel for the profession assisting stylists in NYC since 1997.

DSMC: You knew from a young age you wanted to be a hairstylist. Can you describe that experience to us?

CB: I’ve always lived in the suburbs of New Jersey. There wasn’t much experimentation with hairstyles in my neighborhood and people didn’t have any trend-setting dos. My mom took me to a salon in Ridgewood called New Wave and I was so impressed with the haircuts people were getting. It was 1988 and these individuals had these awesome Mohawks and jagged-styled hair. They looked so artistic. The hairstylist was wearing these fierce leopard pants. It was so cool. I knew this was what I wanted to do.

DSMC: When did you get your big break?

CB: I started working with Patrick Melville at his salon in Manhattan. He is well known in the business and I assisted him on these fantastic editorial shoots and campaigns for Saks, Calvin Klein and Bill Blass. We did some work for MTV and backstage at the New York fashion shows. It was nerve-wracking, but exhilarating at the same time. Having these opportunities and being able to handle them really shows what you’re made of – they can make or break you.

DSMC: Who are some of the hairstyling greats you admire?

CB: I really like Oribe and Guido’s work. Stylists who do lush, gorgeous artistic hair.

DSMC: What are some career highlights you’ve experienced?

CB: Touring with celebrities and being their go-to stylist, meeting incredibly talented people who love what they do and being inspired by them.

DSMC: What do you abhor about the business?

CB: I came from the tail end of learning skills – a professional hairdresser is required to know from the old school regime. It’s important to have mentors and absorb as much as you can from them. A lot of my clients do come from word-of-mouth, and from other colleagues in the industry. A few years ago I thought about having an agent represent me. They wanted 20% right-of-the-bat and expected me to bring my own clients. It’s one thing to get hired by new clients the agency exposed me to, and they take 20%, but not take a percentage from clients I’ve built long-lasting relationships with, on my own. It’s unfair and a shady business practice. I also worked with PR firms that have no clue who some of the top hairstylists are. These are people who are supposedly experts in hair care and selling products for brands – their representatives!

DSMC: What is the biggest misconception you find people have about hairstyling?

CB: You don’t have to disfigure yourself with a crazy haircut to turn heads and be shocking. A new look that suits you will do the trick. It’s important to trust the hair professional. Make sure you research the person. Look at past work they’ve done. See if their work falls in line with the style you’re going for and let them do their job. It’s a legitimate profession. Would tell your dentist how to do their job?

DSMC: What advice would you give aspiring hairstylists?

CB: Nothing comes easy. Tenacity and perseverance is crucial in this business. Keep learning. Improve what you do and constantly see what’s new and stay up-to-date in the profession.

*If you would like to book an appointment to up your fabulosity, or are in search of a hairstylist for your next campaign, please go to: http://www.carriebutterworth.com. Follow her on Instagram @hair_by_carrie_butterworth and Roy Teeluck Salon: http://royteeluck.com

 

Photographer Antonis Achilleos Gives us his Insights on the Love for his Craft and the State of the Industry

 

ham_fontina_hand_pies_muffin_web

courtesy of Antonis Achilleos

Make room for Biscuits and Muffins! This isn’t some new pop group on the music scene or new restaurant that popped up in a trendy cosmopolitan enclave. It’s the latest book project photographer Antonis Achilleos is busy working on. In today’s ever-changing editorial and commercial landscape, there are few that can survive the ups and downs of an industry that is wrought with dwindling budgets and musical-chair appointed creatives at the helm – tasked with executing photography campaigns. I was fortunate enough to land an interview with the always consummate, talented professional to give his thoughts on the business of photography.

DSMC: Did you always have your mind set on becoming a photographer?

AA: I have many relatives that are photographers in my family. My father and uncles had cameras around the house. My father lent me his equipment and I’d bicycle around town in Cyprus and take pictures. I think it was inevitable for me to become interested in photography. You could say: It was in the genes! I wasn’t sure it was going to be a career or just a hobby until I came to U.S. for a Media Arts program in photography. Turns out, I found my passion and I’m still working in the field.

DSMC: What inspired you to become a photographer?

AA: The magic of the darkroom. I remember being part of the photo club in high school and I got a whiff of the developer (developing photos) and saw the images forming in the dark. I was hooked.

DSMC: Did you study photography in the states or abroad?

AA: For me, the states are abroad. I left Cyprus when I was 21 and came to the U.S. I considered the photography programs in England and Germany, but the ones in America seemed more attractive to me. I chose the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. It’s a small school affiliated with the art institute in the city. The program split the curriculum into photo and film. It was a great experience for a freshman from Cyprus. After 2 years, I transferred to Rochester NY at RIT, which has a renowned program in professional photography.

DSMC: How would you classify your type of photography?

AA: I consider myself a still life photographer who occasionally shoots different genres.

DSMC: What genre of photography do you enjoy most?

AA: All types. I follow all different types of photography to see what’s new and engaging.

DSMC: Is there a particular genre you identify with?

AA: I have been photographing food a lot more. I enjoy the collaboration it brings with a bigger team of people. I love making food look pretty and delicious.

DSMC: Have you noticed emerging trends in editorial and commercial photography within the last 4 – 5 years? If so, what are they?

AA: Yes, I have. Photographers are experimenting more with focus on a subject; they alternate between soft and sharp focus on objects. Warm tones from the 90s and cool tones from the 2000s are making a comeback. Donna Hays magazine used completely blue tones a few years ago and I loved it! I use 1/4 blue on with my daylight to turn the shadows blue. There is great work being done now. The development of digital and new technologies has liberated the industry. If you have a vision you can become a great photographer and it’s evident with the emerging new blogs out there. Check out: http://www.ourfoodstories.com/search/label/drinks

DSMC: How do you stay relevant and continually land photography jobs in this changing industry?

AA: Staying relevant in any field is super important. I try to look at the work created around me and simultaneously stay true – and produce – the work that’s important to me. I’m not going to jump on every new trend bandwagon, because it’s popular, if it doesn’t make sense for me to grow as an artist.

DSMC: Is working with an agent more or less advantageous to your business?

AA: Yes, having an agent is important for me. I have been with Big Leo and Mary Dail for two years now. And, I love being part of that family. I like having someone on my side to share the marketing/business side of the job, which is the most difficult part. Taking the photos is easy. Continually promoting yourself and landing new clients is not.

DSMC: What tips and/or advice would you give aspiring photographers?
Don’t let anyone tell you it can’t be done. Be open and willing to do anything and everything in this business. Assist photographers and absorb how they work, learn the trade and stay current. Be a nice person, nobody wants to work with a jerk: at least not at the beginning.

aarev1

courtesy of Antonis Achilleos

From shooting cookbooks with top chefs to beautiful editorial stories and advertising campaigns – that take him all over the country. Antonis has made his mark in the photography industry. The sought-after artist is always eager to learn new tricks of the trade and expand his portfolio. You can find his inspiring and extensive range of work at: http://antonisachilleos.com