Being in bed for two days solid allows you time to think. I’m not sure if all of my recent thoughts have been completely coherent, as I was running a 102 degree temperature (hence my ass being in bed, because otherwise you know I’d be at work). Regardless it allows time for the mind to wander aimlessly. Thoughts come in and flit out as if you had the attention span of a rabbit, but every once and a while something solidifies and grows into some sort of worthy conversation (with yourself of course).
But I’ve always been a fan of talking to myself. Half of my conversations are with myself. My written ramblings are nothing more than that-a conversation with myself. Take those comments as you may. These could be early signs of insanity. But then again, I don’t know too many “normal” people. And these days “normal” to me is nothing more than a setting on a washing machine.
The dictionary has a plethora of meanings for the words we overuse, don’t use enough, or even misuse. But authentic-that’s not a word I hear that often anymore. Many times when I do hear it I don’t believe it, or it’s being misused. Many times the context in which the word “authentic” is being used in is nothing more than a lie. Well, that’s not very authentic now, is it?
1 not false or copied; genuine; real
2.having the origin supported by unquestionable evidence;authenticated; verified
3.entitled to acceptance or belief because of agreement withknown facts or experience; reliable; trustworthy
I remember walking the streets of Florence late at night while the men peddled “authentic” Fendi and Louis Vuitton bags, hocking them from the darkness under the antique stone arches of 400 year old buildings. “Authentic?” I asked one of the men once. “Certo, signorina. Il Cento per cento autentico. E genuino.” He answered me in perfect Italian laden with a thick accent from another faraway land. “Of course, miss. One hundred percent authentic. It’s genuine.” It was easy to see he was blantly lying to my face. The “LV” marks on the bag weren’t even those letters. They were either “CV” or “LC” or some other odd version of Vuitton’s trademark stamp.
My constant search for all things authentic throughout my life hasn’t always been the easiest road traveled. I seem to never take the “easy” path. Maybe the easy part of my path is the fact that my choices have been easy. They’ve always been very distinctly different from the other routes I could have taken, but those paved and easiest to walk have never been the ones I wanted to walk. I’ve wanted to meander through cobblestones with four inch Chanel heels on.
Hey, at least I look good while I’m getting to where I’m going, right?
While running my business I’ve always strived to be authentic-what you see is what you get. What do you see? A young girl working lots of hours and making sure she stays on top of her game? Yep, that’s truly what you’re getting. There isn’t anything different than that simple fact going on. I have certain ethics that I keep to, which in many ways hurt me financially, but keep me sane and my morals sky high.
For example I have lists of people that want beaver fur felt mens hats-which I won’t carry. “Why won’t you make countless 800 dollar sales, you crazy person?” I have heard this question in not so many words before. The answer is simple-I’m a vegetarian and have been for 20 years and it goes against my ethics. “But why don’t you want to carry more inexpensive hats made in China?” This answer, although seemingly simple, goes deeper that the pristine surface-I want the people that supply us to get paid, to be happy, to be healthy and not driven to make cheap products for nothing. Slave labor or a tortured workplace hold no integrity to me. I’d rather buy less and have it made in a perfect authentic manner, paying homage to the days of yore when people took time to make it perfect. My vendors are artisans. They are masters and manufacture with the highest quality materials and get paid for what they do. Not because they’re overpriced, or egotistic-but because their product is actually worth it. What a concept?! Getting paid for your time and expertise. Getting paid for what’s due instead of the quick immediate fix.
But these days a lot of what moves the marketplace is the quick fix. How can trivial consumer products like the Hermes Birkin bag be a status symbol anymore when half of what you see being sold on the marketplace is a fake? Where is the artistry in that? I would prefer to not have that bag instead of carrying one that wasn’t real.
But my major question to the consumers out there, both the big and small, where is the integrity? Where is the authenticity? The honesty? Do you feel better because you can consume more for a small price while the economy declines? Are you happy? I knew I wasn’t. So I changed, but trust me-retraining yourself to be conscious as a consumer isn’t easy. It does allow conversations to open between you and your sources-find where your food comes from, where your shoes come from, where your hats come from.
Those ideals are what makes me tick. I strive to be an authentic person owning an authentic business. We’re so real in here that sometimes I don’t know what to do with myself. So maybe we make less money-but I’ll tell you, when I finally fall asleep at night after having countless other conversations with myself, I sleep peacefully because I know that one can make a difference in this world.