Holiday Giving: Pajama Program

December 12 2014

We happened to hear about The Pajama Program on NY1 the other day. This incredibly worthy program provides new pajamas and books to abandoned, abused and neglected kids who are living in shelters or waiting to be adopted. Many of them are sleeping in their clothes, and certainly have never had a bedtime story.


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Like many other people and companies, each year we look for a charity to support. This year, we are going to direct our efforts towards The Pajama Program. In fact, last night I marched right off to Barnes & Noble and bought "The Lion Who Lost His Roar" to start my donation pile. We work with our clients to manifest their dreams, and we’re eager to help children everywhere to begin to dream their own dreams, too.

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Pumpkin Spice and Everything Nice: The Pumpkin Spice Trend

November 20 2014
The end of summer and the month of September can leave us unhappy and moody and looking for something to be excited about. Once September ends, the month of October always picks up our spirits up, since we can feel the Fall season approaching. The little things get us excited for Fall: sweater weather, boots, the autumnal colors, football, and of course, pumpkin spice. Pumpkin spice brings a sort of cozy feeling to the season. The taste and smell reminds us of the holidays to come.

This Fall season was all about pumpkin spice, which really rocks our world – in moderation, and appropriately applied. Starbucks first came out with a delicious Pumpkin Spice latte for the Fall kick-off last year The smell and taste of that latte is like pumpkin pie in a cup – therefore, perfection. But this year, the Pumpkin Spice trend is oversaturating the market. Not only does Starbucks have a latte, but also other mass-market chains such as Dunkin Donuts and McDonald's have a pumpkin spice coffee of their own. Keurigs seem to be a popular for those who prefer to brew coffee at home. We’ve even noticed that Starbucks, Dunkin' Donuts, and other coffee brands have been selling boxes of Pumpkin Spice flavor k-cups to carry home with you.

In an explosion of pumpkin overexposure, lots of other products are hopping on this trend. There are Pumpkin Spice products in the sweets category; such as ice cream and m&ms. Bars and restaurants are also whipping up fragrant Pumpkin Spice cocktails, shots and martinis. Pinnacle has even created its own Pumpkin Spice flavored vodka.


And it doesn't stop there. Now there is Pumpkin Spice chips, bagels, jello, butter, yogurt, and beer. Americans love Thanksgiving – it’s part of our national identity. Of course, so do we, but we are drowning in a sea of spice! It’s just too much of a good thing, and maybe not so thoughtfully applied in terms of product development. Meanwhile, we are off to Starbucks for an afternoon coffee break – with a Pumpkin Spice latte, of course!

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Blog

The Fall Photo Season, 2014

November 13 2014
I wanted to take a moment to write about the two events that I participated in this past month – Hasselblad’s ShootLDN event in London, (where else), and the Palm Springs Portfolio Reviews at PhotoExpo in NYC.



Over the past three years, ShootNYC became an important destination for professional photographers, particularly those in the higher end part of the market, as Photo Expo has taken on a broader role in the photo world. Sadly, ShootNYC is no more, but this was year two of ShootLDN, and they have admirably taken on the role of serving up great suppliers and seminars for the UK photo community. The organizers couldn’t be more gracious, and I was assisted by the swoon-worthy head of PR for Hasselblad. I would brave the cold of a Swedish winter just to hang out with him.



Jeff Dunas has built the Palm Springs Photo Festival into a must visit event that takes place in Palm Springs. The mixture of talks, seminars, reviews, and lush, delicious dinner parties held outdoors in the soft Palm Springs evenings is totally seductive. Everyone comes together from all sectors of the photo business, from curators to art buyers to fine art photographer to commercial shooters to agents. It’s an amazing event, and it’s great that Jeff has pulled together corollary opportunities for portfolio reviews at the Expo for photographers based on the east coast who cannot attend the festival. It’s always an honor to review for them, and the level of photographers that I meet and review for is deeply impressive. Two different kinds of events, both equally important and pleasurable. I’m grateful to participate, and thankful that the organizers invite me to take part. Photo world people -- please consider attending yourself in 2015.

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In London: At the Frieze Art Fair

October 21 2014

I arrived in London early Saturday morning and ran over to catch the wonderful zoo that is Frieze London. This year was a different mix of players, with some interesting galleries from places like Mumbai and Sao Paolo. Trends included conceptual installation art, performance art, lots of images with applied language, and a number of galleries from different countries presenting work from the same select group of German photographers.


Among my favorites was Jonathas de Andrade’s photographic installation entitled, “Looking for Jesus,” where he photographed a selection of faces of men from Amman, who look more like the artist, and who might look more like a non-Westernized face of Jesus.


He says, “Where I came from, Jesus is a blond man with blue eyes, Wandering around the river of Jordan, I realized that he could hardly have looked like that. Silent, observant, dark-skinned, fragile, full of vitality, what could be the nature of this young man?” Very thought-provoking to photograph people from a culture where the art never contains a physical image of the Prophet. Other great pieces included Takashi Murakami’s “Cosmic Truth,” Alex Prager’s “Untitled (Parts 1), which is a provocative use of the photographic medium and vocabulary, and a lyrical group of photograms from Thomas Ruff.


All in all, there were few moments where my heart beat fast as there have been at other Frieze fairs, but it was a terrific immersion in the crazy business of art these days.


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The Primark EXPERIENCE!

October 09 2014


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by Kyrie Chamberlin, Mercurylab staff

I went a little bit before closing time, which was my first mistake. When you walk in, it’s like a mad house. There are people everywhere, there are clothes all over the floor and there never seems to be enough staff. Everyone looks slightly lost and is constantly bumping into one another.

I went originally to get a gift, but I stayed to buy some affordable fashion for myself. Primark has so much on offer that it’s almost dizzying. Everything is cheap, and cheaply manufactured, but you get what you pay for. That's part of the Primark Experience. You don't go to McDonalds expecting a steak dinner; you go for a super cheap, sometimes questionable burger. Primark isn’t trying to seduce you with nicely crafted, high-end goods—that's not what their brand is about. Their brand attributes: disposable, trendy and fast. Likely not ethically produced, either. This brand has nothing to do with quality. They want you to buy a lot, and you want to as well. That’s part of the sense of urgent anxiety that starts to churn when I’m in their stores.

I ended up buying a couple of dresses, a jacket, and my gift items. The jacket is actually very chic, and you would never know it was from Primark. That’s the good news. Anyway, my second mistake was not trying anything on. I ended up having to return one of the dresses (pink with a crisp white collar) because the collar was not even close to being centered. Don't be too shocked!

The checkout lines are unsurprisingly very long, but they move relatively quickly. This is key because once you are ready to pay, they need to get you out of the store as fast as possible before you reconsider. The clothes are not worth a long wait in line, which they know.

Of course, the returns line is separate from the cashiers. It’s almost like a secret place (hard to find, so hard to return – classic customer manipulation). It’s tucked away on a different floor in a corner on a different, airless floor. The line is deceptively short, but since everyone is returning many items, a complication always ensues. Customers were hot, angry and impatient. Again, this is not surprising, as a store hawking cheap, disposable products is frequently unconcerned with providing a good customer experience – Primark is a fast food shopping experience.

I have to say, I would go back. Primark is so inexpensive, and so well stocked, it’s almost addictive. Although, I never want to return another item, so next time I will have to gather up my courage to attack the dreaded fitting rooms. Help!

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Upcoming Event | Georgetown University Alumni Webinar

September 19 2014

September 23, 2014. 12:30pm – 1:30pm EST

Join us online this Tuesday, September 23rd for Beth’s webinar on: How does your Business Become a Brand, Learn How to Discover, Define and Implement Your Brand to Gain Market Share. This presentation will be hosted by the Georgetown University Alumni Society.
Click here to register for the event.

In this inspiring and thought-provoking interactive seminar, Beth will provide a primer on brand definition. Whether you're expanding, starting out, or looking to reposition and refine your products, business, or organization, this seminar will...
     - show you how to define your brand
     - provide analysis of how other global brands successfully communicate and manage their brands
     - teach you how to thrive using your brand as the center of all you do and communicate for greater impact, happiness and success.
You will come away thinking like a brand strategist, and with some practical tools to use in looking at your own brand, no matter what business you are in.
Click here to find out more about the event.

Also be sure to check out Beth’s guest blog post on the Georgetown University Alumni Career Services Blog! It's a great intro into the webinar presentation.

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9/11

September 11 2014


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Mercurylab’s studio was on Hudson Street, near 7 World Trade Center. We were there for the tragedy and resurrection of our wonderful neighborhood.

This mural has just been installed by Mr. Brainwash for Century 21, the department store that is located facing the original Word Trade Center. Thank you! xo

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Go Forth! Mercurylab in London (Part Five) | Fruit & Veg at the Borough Market

September 10 2014

On a recent visit to the Borough Market, the food market for the ultimate foodies in London, I happened to notice this cute truck attached to a bicycle for wholesale and retailer Turnips. They have one of the first and most beautifully merchandised stalls you see when entering the market, and I’ve been admiring their offerings over the past few years. I was struck by the historic, almost Elizabethan quality of the type and the logo on their truck, and of course by the low-fi delivery aspect of things.


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It turns out that Turnips is not named for a veg, rather for a football (soccer) team, and it neatly cleaved with the owner’s business interests. Turnips began as high-end wholesalers to the top-end chefs in London at a moment when food quality and interest in special ingredients and sourcing was on the rise. They write a great deal about the advent of supermarkets and their impact on the demise of the market stallholders before the resurrection of the Borough Market, and how it coincided with the high quality and standards of their wholesale business. The also had the great good luck to affiliate with Jamie Oliver, and you all know a bit about him and how ubiquitous (and important) he is these days.

The tone and look of their site also has the quality of a well-told yarn, one that is unfurled by the fire on a cold night. These days. they are focused on provenance and quality for both wholesale and retail, sourcing from British farmers, with forays into Europe to find the best of the best. This cute truck is used for deliveries, likely in the East End where people are obsessed with food, as they seem to be throughout London. Anyway, they deliver throughout London, so all I need to do now is make the time to have a dinner party before I head back to Brooklyn!

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Mercurylab/Go Forth! | Mercurylab in the Veneto, Italy (Part Four): The Allure of Presentation

September 05 2014

We all know know that there is an art and craft to effective merchandising display. I was really struck by the divergent displays I found on a quick hit and run trip to Italy. The Veneto is a hotbed of medieval towns and cities, Palladian architecture, and extraordinary masterpieces by Giotto and Tintoretto. It’s also an incredible place to experience truly divergent approaches to merchandising presentation, ranging from controlled vintage to sleek contemporary Italian design.

Cases in point:


An up-to-the-minute gourmet shop built on top of a wine cave built on top of exposed medieval and Roman streets in Vincenza. The prepared food was incredibly light and offered an alternative to a conventional pasta lunch, the product selection a sophisticated mix of carefully chosen artisan made foods, and the display a contemporary approach in its repetition, form and colors.


An osteria in Verona. Osterias serve simple, well-prepared food, and can be known for their wine list. This particular osteria utilizes the complete vocabulary of what was considered by Americans in the 1950s to be the ultimate in traditional italian restaurant design, including checked tablecloths and wine bottles covered with candle wax. The atmosphere is personal and welcoming, reflecting the sense of being invited into the owner’s home. And you could easily buy a bottle of wine to take with you, reinforcing the idea of taking Italy home with you, no matter where you live.


A historic candy shop in Verona, displaying traditional glass jars and product design associated with the past.


A local fashion designer in Verona, one with a quirky Italian aesthetic perfect for a girl from Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Her collection encompasses natural fibers and simple shapes for the bookish girl — slightly boyish, referencing school uniforms, but with sleek and natural details.

All are strong local brands with clear and successful brand messages.

H&M, COS, & Other Stories

August 26 2014

Did any of you know that H&M has launched yet another sub-brand? I was having a meeting with two very chic photo agents, both of whom happened to be wearing the same jumpsuit (they had gone shopping together at & Other Stories on Regent Street in London, and hadn’t checked in with each other that morning before going to work. Hence the twinning element in their clothes that day).


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Anyway, I loved that pantsuit, and so they both fervently suggested that I go shopping at the store, and described it as the mid-range brand between COS and H&M. I wonder if they knew that it is owned by H&M. On their corporate site, H&M states that, “& Other Stories was launched in March 2013, offering an extensive selection of clothes, shoes, bags, jewellery and cosmetics. The brand is all about fashion, with particular focus on quality and design details as well as personal expression and styling.” And they describe COS as “Modern, timeless, tactile and functional. Exploring the concept of style over fashion,” and "high-end design and quality that lives beyond the seasons is available for women, men and children.”


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What I get from their communications writing is that COS sounds more expensive, and has more design integrity than its sister sub-brand. In reality, the clothes are beautifully conceived, well-cut, restrained and chic. The store design feels deluxe and sleek, reinforcing the clean lines and clarity of the design palette. It’s hard to leave the COS store without purchasing something, no matter how small. The retail experience at & Other Stories, on the other hand, felt decidedly down-market, despite the prices. Sharp lighting, cheap display, strange stand-up price markers on the metal, free-standing racks. I was completely underwhelmed, yet the brand is building up speed very quickly. It’s not quite fast fashion, as it’s too pricey, and that position is held by the parent brand in the H&M structure. I can’t even put my finger on their brand, which either means I’m not the target audience (shouldn’t make a difference, as I don’t drink coffee but I understand what the Starbuck’s brand is about) or that all the pieces haven’t yet been knitted together between the clothing design, store design, signage, variety and quality of product. As a self-respecting shopper, I’m happy to stay tuned to see how the holes in their brand are resolved.

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