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mindfulness

if eileen fisher had a cult, i'd join it

if eileen fisher had a cult, i'd join it

Early on in my styling business, I had a friend who has similar style to mine ask me what I thought about Eileen Fisher (the clothing, not the person). I replied, “I think I’ll be really excited to wear it when I’m older.” Statement retracted, buried in the dirt, gone.

photo: Marc Mahaney, via Inc.com

photo: Marc Mahaney, via Inc.com

A few weeks ago, I was in the middle of listening to Eileen Fisher on Dan Harris’s podcast, 10% Happier, and I literally had to stop what I was doing and sit down to write down my thoughts. I have always appreciated the simplicity of Eileen Fisher's clothes, but what I didn't realize was that she built her entire company around values I share. 

I’ve had too many jobs where employees weren’t treated well. Now, my parents were union organizers, so I know about extreme situations like not being paid or forced to work in dangerous conditions, and that's not what I'm referring to. I’m talking about expecting people to work at all hours, for low pay, with no regard for their physical or mental well-being. Not realizing that the people working for them are humans and need some type of support or encouragement or recognition in order to do their best work. 

Eileen Fisher has worked as hard to build a nurturing work environment as she has to design great clothes. She profit shares with her employees - if the company is profitable, so are they. She gives them each $1000 a year per employee for "wellness", and another $1000 a year for any other education they'd like to do for personal growth. She appears to really listen to input and ideas from staff who are interested to create new projects for the company. Mindfulness bells are rung at the beginning of every meeting. The Westchester Buddhist Center holds meditation meetings at the Eileen Fisher headquarters. 

When Dan asked her if she thinks it would be better for her bottom line if she didn’t do all these things to empower and fulfill her employees, she paused. While she was pausing, I was thinking “of course it would be better for her bottom line if she didn’t do those things!”. To my surprise, after the pause, she answered no. She said that she truly believes that if employees feel that what they’re doing is meaningful, they are more engaged and do a better job, which results in a better product. If customers know that the company is working on ways to improve the environmental impact of the supply line, they’re going to be more loyal, which results in more sales. She has literally created a tribe of people who have similar values. 

Then just as I’m thinking she’s some sort of saint, Dan asks for parenting advice. Fisher’s voice changes and she says that’s an area that she has regrets in. She says she was so busy building her business that she didn’t spend the time she should have with her two children when they were growing up. I love how she’s able to be honest about and aware of her failings. It makes me more resolved to stay unbusy, especially while my son is small.

Now add to all of that the fact that I truly love the clothes. They're not for everyone, but for my all-neutral, loose-fitting, drapy aesthetic, they're perfect. 

If Eileen Fisher had a cult, I would totally join it.

So here's the great part - the lovely women who run the Eileen Fisher store here at Plaza Frontenac found my website and got in touch because they thought we'd be a great fit. We're going to work together on an event on December 17th - more details to come, but mark your calendars!

a few thoughts about mindful holiday shopping

a few thoughts about mindful holiday shopping

It's that magical time of year. The time when all practical considerations go out of the window. When we get caught up in the hysteria created by marketing teams to make us feel that we'll regret it if we pass up an amazing deal. I posted last spring about mindful shopping tips, but at this time of year, sometimes all rational thinking deserts us. 

My thoughts: prepare as much as you can. If you have a list, stick to it. If you don't have a list, make one. Now. My list includes a leather jacket (has been on the list for years), a winter coat (I've had mine, which wasn't expensive to begin with, for about 6 years), a warm sweater with an interesting shape, the elusive lightweight bag, and replacements for my taupe suede booties and black suede wedge booties. If any of these show up with amazing deals this weekend, I'll know I'm buying because it's something I need, not because I'm seduced by the sale.

If you succumb to the excitement, keep your receipt and follow through on returning. (BTW, I returned the tank I got for 92% off from my last post. It didn't even fit well. I got sucked in by the deal.) Yes, I know it can be a hassle, but if you don't, not only do you lose money, but you're stuck with physical clutter. Either you return it now, or have to deal with it in a few years when you finally clean out your closet. Keep items that need returning in your car with the receipt taped to them and you'll be ready next time you're running errands. 

Talk to friends and family about gifts. I feel grateful that my family has never gone crazy with gifts. We send an email every year asking what we should do for gifts. Some years we've set price limits. Some years we've sent specific wish lists. One year we did a white elephant gift exchange. This year, we decided to just give small gifts to the kids. The real fun is watching little ones open things anyway. When I'm going through clients' closets, it never fails to amaze me how many things are given as gifts that the recipient would never even consider wearing. I understand that not everyone's family is open to discussing a plan for gifts, and if that's the case, genuinely and gratefully accept what you're given. The pleasure is usually in the act of giving for the gifter. That moment is really the gift, and it often doesn't matter what happens afterwards (i.e. that item doesn't actually have to live in your closet).

Hope this helps you shop a bit more mindfully this week.

P.S. a mindful closet gift certificate is always a great idea!

why mindful closet?

why mindful closet?