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No One Craves The Ordinary

When I first saw that famed-shoe designer Christian Louboutin, created a nail polish in his signature red, with a SEVEN-inch cap that looks more like a dagger than a nail polish cap and a $50 price tag (That’s right. Fifty smackaroos for a tiny bottle of red lacquer.), I just about fell off my stilettos.

Now, before you also fall off your stilettos thinking about paying fifty bucks for a teeny, tiny bottle of nail polish – take a moment to think about what Christian Louboutin did.

Like all great designers, he created a fantasy.

Something that removes you from the everyday, and transports you to the world of Paris Fashion Week, where you’re sitting in a front row seat next to Anna Wintour and Kim Kardashian while waves of chiffon strut by.

Side Note: Did you know that Kim Kardashian had ‘attend Paris fashion week’ on her vision board for years? INTENTIONALITY MAGIC.

Just like Christian Louboutin shoes, and their $1000 plus price tags, his nail polish embodies feeling special. Rich and luxurious.

Whether you’re rich or not, paying $50 for a nail polish will make you feel that way. You’ll apply the polish more carefully. You’ll admire the bottle more completely. You may avoid chipping your nails for just a little bit longer.

It’s a totally different feeling from that $2.99 bottle of Sally Hansen Heavy Metal nail polish from the drugstore.

Christian Louboutin understands the incredible value of what he’s created.

Which has nothing to do with an incredible value like buying bulk panties from Walmart.

______

Don’t get me started on the time I went on vacation in a small town and I forgot to pack my undies.

And while I’m into a lot of things, going commando isn’t one of them. So I had to buy what was available – a Victoria’s Secret knock-off version of my favorite underwear Hanky Panky.

Let’s just say that even at $11.00 a pair they were itchy, scratchy, and the cheap lace tore on the first day I wore them. As soon as I got home, off came the imitations and on came my $25.00-a-pair of Hanky Panky. Worth. Every. Penny.

Christian Louboutin wants you to feel exclusive, expensive, and lavish. Even when it’s just a bottle of nail polish. So he went one step further than the price. And launched his nail polish line as a limited edition. With just ONE color.

RED.

You might think that launching a product line with a single product at a premium price would lead to a spectacular failure.

But guess what? The first run sold out. And there was a wait list for the next production.

Here’s what Mr. Louboutin said when questioned about the price by The New York Times’ Style reporter Ruth La Ferla:

‘There is no need to add an ordinary product to the beauty category. This is extraordinary.’ – Christian Louboutin

I never knew I wanted a stiletto with a red sole, or a $50 bottle of nail polish with a seven inch cap that could double as a weapon. Did you?

His vision, his voice, his viewpoints. Crystal clear.

Think about this … when you go to Walmart, the shelves are filled with the ordinary. It’s what Walmart does. It offers you all the ordinary stuff you have to get, in one convenient location.

But you’re not an entrepreneur because you want to be Walmart.

You’re an entrepreneur because you want to create something unique & special.

And Christian Louboutin is a great example of not just doing something special, but pushing the boundaries of an industry.

He made people – lots and lots of people – want $50 luxury nail polish.

So scrawl it in lipstick on your mirror: No One Craves The Ordinary.

Oh, and while you’re at it? Scrawl it in Louboutin Red Lipstick.

That’s right. After making a splash with his $50 nail polish, Louboutin came back with a $90 lipstick – that you can turn into a necklace. With a single beautifully crafted jump ring, Louboutin changed a product into a statement piece.

And that isn’t just good design, that’s genius marketing.

In less than one year after putting out his $50 nail lacquer, the reception of his lipstick was completely different.

BAZAAR.COM: “Get ready to make room on your vanity … at $90 they don’t come cheap, but the best things rarely do.” 

REFINERY29.COM: “Listen, we’ll try to find a way to justify this purchase by any means necessary, okay?” 

ESSENCE.COM: “. . . it looks like we’ll be pinching pennies the rest of August in preparation for the collection. Are you with us?” 

Do you know what this all means?

Christian Louboutin actually changed the beauty marketplace.

Yeah, the press may have jumped on the Louboutin bandwagon, because everyone loves success. But the real story is that Christian Louboutin made people want to spend money on his products. His objects.

He didn’t look at what’s going on in the marketplace – and figure out how to fit in with customer avatars and demographics.

Which is what mediocre companies do. 

  • Christian Louboutin made what he wanted to make
  • Priced it how he wanted to price it
  • Let buyers decide if they wanted it

And buy they did. Because we crave beauty. We crave individuality. We crave unique experiences.

Christian Louboutin never pretended he was creating anything but a luxury object. The same with his shoes. Even when he was only selling 200 pairs a year and in danger of going bankrupt. He sold exclusivity from the very beginning. 

Christian Louboutin shapes the market according to what he wants to see in the world.

Don’t you want to do that too? People lining up to buy THE WORLD ACCORDING TO YOU?

The peer pressure to be average is intense. But when you develop strong viewpoints, you know what you believe. You know what you stand for. And you have the courage to do things your way. 

The world doesn’t need any more ordinary products & services. NO ONE CRAVES THE ORDINARY.

XXXO

The Customer Edit

When I first started my business back in 2005, I would work with anyone.

And I mean anyone.

If you had a pulse, and money in your pocket, you could be my customer.

I was clueless about who my perfect customer was and how to find them.

Check it…

: I drove around to spas and left stacks of my brochures at the front desk for their clients (without having any clue who their clients were!).

: I rented booths at trade shows, networking events, and expos of all kinds. (And handed out my “girlish” pale pink note cards, notepads, business cards, stickers, and brochures – which you can imagine went over BIG at commercial real estate trade shows).

: I placed ads on the back pages of alternative newspapers. (Only realizing this was a bad idea when a man called asking me if I could help him find a Christian wife. Even though I was clueless about my target market, I was confident Christian matchmaking wasn’t it.)

Even after hiring a top business coach and attending countless workshops on how to create a customer avatar, I was still clueless. 

None of the mainstream advice made sense to me. It felt formulaic and out of alignment with how I naturally moved through the world.

For someone like me who designs products and services from her heart & soul, boxing myself in with ideal customer profiles, avatars, and demographics was the kiss of creative death.

And get this, at the time more than 50% of my clients were men. Now there’s nothing wrong with men. But when I was working with men, I never felt like I could be totally myself. 

There was a new, more vibrant Erika who wanted to come out. 

On my blog and in my emails I wanted to write about stilettos and all things glam. I also struggled with my writing voice as I was crafting Think Like A Stripper. 

I wanted to have clients I could go to happy hour with. And hang with women who wore skinny jeans & stilettos, loved green smoothies, and read Fast Company. 

I knew I had to make a major shift in how I was showing up. 

Now, I’m not a “hype” gal. I just take care of what needs to be done.

So I didn’t make some sort of a grand announcement. Instead …

I took three small – but very effective – actions that made it clear who I was marketing to and what I would be sharing with them.

  1. On my blog, I used the pronoun “she.” I referred to my audience as women. I talked about stilettos, makeup, and lip-gloss. 
  1. When I was writing Think Like A Stripper, I imagined that I was writing the book to one of my besties. And I pictured groups of women sharing their favorite stripper tips while sipping green smoothies.
  1. I started networking almost exclusively at women’s events & conferences. (Oh, and of course I ditched the pale pink “girly-girl” branding in favor of a look that reflected my BOLD personality!) 

As I rolled out these changes, some of my male readers wrote to me and asked, “Hey, do I have to be a hot lady to read your blog now?”

“NO!” I replied, “But you do have to put on red lipstick before you open up my emails.”

Before long, I’d narrowed down my client base to women who were interested in my BOLD viewpoints and voice – and who wanted to grow their businesses with sales & marketing that was FUN.

Years later, I love my audience (that’s you!). 

I love my clients.

And all from three tiny, but mighty, shifts.

XXXO

It’s A KKW World, We All Just Live In It

You know I love a big bold business move.

And you know the kind I mean…

Lil Nas X releasing a custom Satan themed shoe in tandem with his Montero video? The limited edition of 666 pairs at $1018 a pop sold out in less than a minute. Baller!

Allure magazine opening an experiential store (that’s IRL shopping, baby), just as big business is saying online is the only way to go? With high end beauty products curated by trusted editors, you know they opened their doors to a line around the block. Baller!

Stella McCartney partnering with Bolt Threads to make a sustainable leather substitute from…mushrooms? You can practically hear the fashion world shaking its head, “Oh, Stella.” But with sustainability being THE hot topic, along with the mushroom-leather Falabella tote selling like a 1700 dollar hot cake, guess who gets the last laugh? That total bad-ass baller, Stella. 

You know who else is making a seriously bold move?

Lady boss Kim Kardashian. 

You don’t have to like Kim – because she doesn’t care if you do. You don’t have to like anything about her. But to ignore her is to miss out on some serious business smarts.

Serious Business Smarts. #SBS. The woman is worth a billion dollars. Just ask Forbes. 

And what is Kim doing even as we speak?

She’s shutting down her KKW Beauty business. 

That’s right. Kim’s putting all her products on sale, then shuttering her site in order to, according to her IG post: 

“come back to you under an entirely new brand with new formulas that are more modern, innovative, and packaged under a sustainable new look.

“I’m excited to continue to develop and expand my product range and for you to finally be able to experience it the way that I have always envisioned,”

Swoon!

Okay – who knows what’s really going on behind the scenes at KKW Beauty. People speculate…

  • She’s selling more shares to Coty
  • She’s dropping the ‘West’ from her brand
  • She’s changing the company that creates her formulas

Or she’s getting sued.

But really, who cares? Because she’s doing something So Baller on a business level that it almost makes me scream. I’m actually screaming right now, can you tell?

Let’s break it down. 

Kim’s closing KKW Beauty. No apologies. She wants to do something new and different, and she’s not afraid to just cut the old, insanely successful brand out of her life. Boom, end of story.

She’s not pussyfooting around, asking her customer base what they want or what they’d like to see next. She’s got a vision, and she’s going to execute it. She’s going to tell her customer base what they want, just like she always has. 

She’s creating excitement. Every loyal fan is going to be hyperventilating and hitting their refresh button the day she rolls out her new brand. Even the haters are going to be there, because they can’t help themselves.

She’s creating a feeding frenzy. All her old products are going away, and her customers only have until August 1st to stock up on their favorites. You bet she’s going to sell out of everything.

And most important…

She’s controlling her own narrative. Again, who knows what’s going on behind the scenes. What we’re seeing is a powerful entrepreneur unapologetically making the choices that serve her creative vision best.

You can do all these things too, fancy lady. Trust me. 

You can change your branding on a dime. Your products. Your offerings. Anything you want, all it takes is making the decision and doing the thing. 

Make the bold move – it’ll look good on you!

XXXO