A light diversion from the Kent seaside ... curated by Colin

email: midorinotes@gmail.com

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Nicola Majocchi and M&S Integrity

Continuing my resistance to glossy magazines costing the best part of a fiver or more, I continue to get my photo fix from the internet. I still prefer to read print on paper, but financial priorities dictate and even this something is better than nothing.

Which is how I accidentally discovered the work of top photographer Nicola Majocchi and before we go any further, Nicola is a he and not a she. Italy can be confusing for Britons at times!

Long, long ago I did some promotional commercial shots for two chains of coffee bars and ice cream parlors and a mail-order catalogue. It isn't easy to get all the essential well lit, well posed and correctly exposed, which is why I can really appreciate Nicola's skills.

Serendipity led me to his work for young fashion house Nero Giardini. So called 'serious art photographers' may be snooty about catalogue work, but it really is a skill to do it well.

These examples show the careful construction of each shot which must first and foremost look attractive. As a house that is proud of its Italian origins it is sensible to include a few recognisable references to the location in both background and elsewhere without turning the shoot into a touristic postcard.

The models need to be confident and natural looking although here they are clearly art directed and posed to show off the shoes and clothing which the client is promoting. Attractive ladies may not be
enough to attract male buyers working for the retail outlets, so Nicola introduces hints of the odd triggers to stimulate the masculine psyche ... wheels, cars, boats and, because this is Italy, scooters.

By a bit of diligent Googling and subsequent site surfing around Collezione Nero Giardini I was able to discover Nicola's personal background along with some behind-the - scenes documentary footage. One movie especially shows the company's impeccable commercial
credentials and dedication to perfection.

And so to Marks and Spencer or 'Poor old M&S' as it is known in our house. Apart from its expensive food offerings it seems to be leeching losses year on year. I totally lost confidence when its proud 'Made in England' was shown to be a lie back in the 1970's, which is about the time that prices went up and quality nose dived, leaving the market wide open to competitors.

To me, they lost direction and, more importantly, integrity. They are still at it!

I sometimes use a mid priced after-shave named Collezione Nero. The box and bottle  both proclaim that it is ;inspired by Italy' ... which may, or may not, be true. The implication or perception however, is such that a casual purchaser may believe it is an Italian product. Only when you get to the smallest of small print on the label do you discover that it is 'Made in UK for Marks and Spencer'.
"Ye Gods" I thought, "Male eau-de-toilette from the outfit that built its brand on old ladies knickers with double lock-stitched gussets !!!!??".

Really, how hard would it be to give equal branding prominence to 'Made in England by xxxxxx;, or, better still, actually make the stuff in Italy where there is no shortage of perfume houses that happily supply in bulk for export. Sorry M&S. You just don't get it do you?

Friday, April 17, 2015

5 Reasons for Friday Gratitude

When a visit to the GP has a good outcome and the surgery has a view like this from the front door.
When I have a parcel from eBay to look forward to, instead of dreading the arrival of post starting 'Dear Sir, Unless ...'
That my friendship with Britain's best Life Coach sustains after at least 15 years and we can still work together on various projects for fun and she blogs quotations like this at CurlyMartin.com
That DIY refurbishing our lounge is almost complete after our favourite handyman vanished after ten years of great service.
Just bein' alive and lucky to be livin' and lovin' on the coast.
Here's hoping that you can find at least five reasons for Friday Gratitude in your life. Thanks for stopping by.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Baron Fig - Who?

If I Could Not Fail I Would ....?    Well, what would YOU ....?

This is a tale of three parts which began around five years ago.

Back then, with one of my friends, our conversation veered around to the topic of the way that, as self employed professionals, the available hours in the day limited our earning powers.

Around the same time I was falling out of love with Moleskine notebooks when their quality fell below acceptable for a premium priced product. They had demonstrated that there was a market and I investigated several of the new kids on the block including Field Notes, Midori Traveler's Notebook, Scout Books, Calirefontaine and others.

Part Two of the story was when I emailed Michael, recalling our conversations. 'You need product. Something that doesn't depend on you being there. Something that can sell on line 24-7-52'.  I outlined how he could get a local printer to produce notebooks like Field Notes in affordable batches 'on demand', how I would help him with the branding and his own PR contacts would do their thing and the books could be priced to sell at a very attractive gross profit margin'.

I was having health issues at the time which completely depleted my energy levels and enthusiasm for any new ventures, especially as I was way past retirement, so my own hands-on involvement in doing something similar for myself was not an option.

I cannot recall his exact words, but he left me in no doubt that this was a crap idea when you could buy a pack of three notebooks in the local 99p store. He just didn't get the concept of 'high-end notebooks' for people with disposable incomes who valued their words enough to know that they deserved the best. So it was just another of my brilliant notions to pave the Boulevard of Broken Dreams.

And so to Part Three: On March 4th, 2014, a new company was formed. The three partners named it Baron Fig and they have notched up sales of 30,000 internationally during their first year.

Like Midori Traveler's Notebook company, who stage regular customer involvement happenings in Asia, Baron Fig hit the streets of NY with their Book Board Project.

They nailed a dozen or so notebooks to a big blackboard and invited pedestrians to use a Sharpie Pen and complete the phrase; If I could not fail I would...

I can't help wondering how a British crowd would react and how different their answers would be?

Now that you have read this far, I invite you to click on over to www.baronfig.com where you can watch their short video of the Book Board event as it happened [click on their  Projects link, then view project and click on the big pic of the guy at the blackboard to run the 2 minute vid and see more examples of the responses]. Explore the site further and you'll find out the origins of the strange name and much more.

Thanks for joining me today!

If YOU could not fail, what would YOU do? When?

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

The Magazine That Never Was

London Book Fair Olympia - now on

Oooooops! Had a prob with linking to the pdq blog ... but I THINK its fixed now if you use the link in the 'Elsewhere' column to your right and ignore the address in the text above! Seems I still have some personal discovery to do!
Thanks for your patience.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Published 1912 and still good advice

cia Baron Fig.com
London Book Fair opens today. It is the second largest in the world after Frankfurt. I don't do London any more but there was a time, back in the day, when this was an absolute must-go event in my diary.

This offers me an excuse to mention a book which was published in 2007 although my copy dates from a year earlier as it is an uncorrected proof version. Don't worry. I am not launching into a book review here because you can find several on the interweb.

I feature it because author Joe includes The Optimist Creed which had slipped under my radar of awareness despite having been first published in a book in 1912. It was Your Forces and How to Use Them by Christian D. Larson.

If you would like more and slightly heavier philosophical brain food, take a look at the well researched site www.brainpickings.org

Monday, April 13, 2015

Being an ex

Icon and Ikea on show

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Coffee Break

Traveler's Notebook +RayBans+Midori HK pen+Coffee

The Happiness Café
Both pictures via internet with thanks to cameramen