In July, 2015 I wrote a note to myself, “In 12 Months, My Life Will Be Dramatically Different.”
Wasn’t sure what that meant exactly.
But I’d outgrown my business model of launching 8 times a year.
I wanted to challenge my own creativity – with my intense schedule there wasn’t a lot of creative space.
I wanted to work with women at a deeper level for longer periods of time and downsize our lives, and move from Minneapolis (where I had relocated after I quit stripping.)
Here’s what happened next …
We sold our house 7 months later – without ever having to put it on the market (a personal fantasy come true).
: 4 months later we moved to Seattle.
: We got rid of 85% of our possessions (I pared down to 28 pairs of shoes).
: I launched a business accelerator.
: I began a creative partnership with @nubbytwiglet and began working on Very Very V, a creative playbook for women who love business.
New house. New business model. New creative partner. In one year.
AND while it sounds very glam…
There was heartbreak. My beloved dog, Max, went to heaven right before our move to Seattle.
There were tough decisions. Like leaving my mother who was diagnosed with colon cancer 3 weeks before we moved. Luckily she beat cancer and lived a full life until her death five years later.
There were brutal challenges. It’s uncomfortable burning your tried-and-true-money-making business model to the ground to create a new one while moving across the country. What kind of crazy person does that?
Six years later, I still grieve for my mother and dog. But not one day has passed where I feel like downsizing, moving across the country, and creating a new business model was a mistake.
It’s scary to make room in your life for the good things to come. But it must be done.
Sometimes I fantasize I live inside a Gucci store. Except it’s not a store, it’s my house, where even the mousetraps are by Gucci.
That being said, there are luxury items so over the top, they seem out of control.
Which is why I never understood the Birkin bag from Hermes – which starts out at $6000 and goes up to $120,000+.
I mean, I KNOW the story behind why it was created – and it’s a cool story.
Here’s the rundown. 1970s model, singer, and icon Jane Birkin had a signature bag. Not from Hermes.
Nope, she carried a basket. Like a picnic basket.
In the early 1980s, Jane was on a flight from London to Paris, and her basket tumbled from the overhead luggage compartment, scattering her belongings all over the place.
The gallant gentleman sitting next to her helped her gather everything up, and asked her why she didn’t carry a handbag. She replied that none of the fashionable bags had an interior pocket, so she might as well be carrying a straw basket.
It turns out that the gallant gentleman was none other than Hermes designer Jean-Louis Dumas, who then created the bag with Jane in mind – interior zip pocket and everything.
Okay, great story. But it’s going to take a lot more than a story and a 1970s icon to make me throw down $6000 (at the low end!) for a bag.
So what’s the REAL deal with the Birkin?
After a little digging around, my research team discovered some things about the Birkin that make the high-end pricing seem like a BARGAIN!
>>> Having high-prices seem like a bargain is the REAL secret to luxury pricing.
NOT slapping on an over-inflated price and hope you get it because you think you’re worth it. You can’t think it. You have to know it. You have to embody your premium pricing.
If you want to be on the Hermes bag fabrication team, you must go through a 3 year apprenticeship.
3 YEARS before you can help craft a single bag.
And the Birkin bag has master craftspeople for every stage in creating the bag.
Master tanners to achieve the perfect buttery soft leather.
Master dyers to give the leathers an incredible range of rainbow colors.
Master cutters, stitchers, and riveters to build the bags from the ground up.
All the rivets, zippers, and hardware are cast by hand, coated with gold or palladium (no peeling away to reveal brass underneath), then buffed, polished, and installed by a craftsperson.
Now, I have a background in apparel design, and I know how to design and sew a fanny pack and a software luggage bag.
If you’re doing it right, it’s time consuming and finicky – this is no bikini you’re whipping up.
So to make a profit on a bag requires nimble manufacturing – which is why so many brands resort to sweatshop labor.
But not the Birkin. There is NO assembly line manufacturing this baby.
Each bag takes about 50 hours to create. More than a WEEK for each bag.
The artisans take so much pride in their work, they instituted a ‘bag spa’.
For as long as you own your bag, you can send it back to the workshop, where they will recondition it, for FREE!
Hermes also encourages its artisans to create freely – and in small batches.
No two Birkins are truly alike. And there are no repeat productions.
So if you see a red leather Birkin with palladium hardware and a unique stitching pattern, you will never see another one exactly like it. Ever.
Hermes considers each bag a work of art, so the master craftspeople and artisans are not held to a production schedule.
The delivery of bags to the boutiques is unpredictable – even the employees have no idea when bags might arrive.
At one point there was a waiting list of up to 6 years of people dying to get their hands on a Birkin.
No other bag has EVER evoked that kind of lust.
The resale price of a Birkin at auction is typically 3 to 5 times over the original purchase price.
TRUTH TIME: DOES YOUR PRICING PASS THE BIRKIN TEST?
: Have you set the standards?
: And are you holding to them?
: Even if Lady Gaga (or her assistant) called you and wanted to get in on what you have to offer, do you have enough pride and confidence in your product or service to actually charge her?
Have you put in the time, energy, creativity, and work that justifies a hefty price tag? Even if no one ever knows about all that work but you?
Just like the Birkin.
Which I now find TOTALLY worth it. And I TOTALLY want one now.
If I ever create a vision board, the Birkin is going on it.