Stop, Look and Listen

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There is a scrap cabinet in every frame shop I know. Why? Because leftovers are often gems and full of profitable inspiration. In the same way small bits of knowledge I have gleaned from being a past framer/shop owner and by being part of the EPFG or small facts I come upon are often valuable to share. Here's something I've learned:

Stop, Look and Listen was a slogan in my childhood. I think it had to do with avoiding getting squished when you crossed the street or railroad tracks or something. I'm going to use it for something a little less drastic, but it might help keep your business--or you as a designer--from being just a bump on the road.

Some friends and I were talking yesterday about how crazy it is that people spend so much on wedding designers that create an experience, albeit lovely, that's just like the one for all their other clients and cater it to each only by adding a different color.

When you're looking to a design professional, you expect they will keep you within trend and 'taste', but when you pay top dollar, aren't you really hoping for that personal touch? Hoping they'll relate to you?

I know from experience that it's easy to fall into a design rut in a frame shop. You find what works easily, you have pet frame samples or you just get burnt out and aren't fully tuned in. Some designers would defend that repetition creates a signature style their clients seek. Don't worry, no matter what you create, your personal flair will always show through. It is custom, by your hand. It's always yours. So try to focus on making it theirs.

Reach out and refresh yourself by adding some of their creativity. Take your clients from 'Nice' to 'It's better than I could've imagined'.

Stop. Take a look at your recent work. Is it cookie cutter? Uninspired? Are you always choosing the same solution?

Look. The easiest way to get a spark beyond the artwork and your tried and true designs is to really see the client in front of you. They wear their favored color palette. Their haircut, nails and shoes will tell you if they like crisp or organic lines. Whether they're adventurous or like to play it safe. You can often see if they want to impress their friends or have something that sings especially to them.

Listen. This is not routine for them. It's special. Try to take a breath when a client walks in and make some time for conversation. They will tell you their goal for their design either directly or by the worry they express about what they are not sure of. Is it a memento? A showpiece? Something to finish off a room of matching decor except that darn blank wall? Maybe they know the artist or have a group who gave it to them and waiting to get the mat signed could mean the world to them. Suggest it.

This isn't new...It's out of the juicy scraps. It works. Watch your designs come to life, and with them, the energy of your thrilled clients and your rejuvenated self.

-Sheri J. Kennedy, Editor


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3 Responses to Stop, Look and Listen

  1. Profile photo of MollyMolly says:

    Love this! Thanks for the reminder!

  2. Profile photo of SheriSheri says:

    Thanks, Molly! I remember very well how easy it is to get overwhelmed or involved in the craft and lose that extra inspiration sometimes. And people definitely give themselves away by what they wear. I always think it’s fun to see that correlation. :)

  3. Profile photo of RamiRami says:

    Well said, Sheri! It gets insane at the shop sometimes and I just go into autopilot. I will take this advice to the frame counter.

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