On Sunday, Aug. 22, 2010, tv reporter (“Face the Nation”) Bob Sheifer in signing off his weekly show, said, “As for the Internet, remember that what you read there, may not always be true.” My first response was, “and Mr. Shiefer, regarding the PRINT and TV media, what is said there may also not always be true.” The fact that Sheifer left out the media that pays his salary, spoke volumes. As my mom always said, “When one finger points forward, three more point back!”
Sheifer’s statement reminded me of several recent experiences with potential and past corset clients. Last week a former corset client with whom I share friendly emails from time to time, sent a circulating email that started with “Eeeeewwwww” then followed with images of a professional friend of mine, Cathie Jung, wearing different handsome, finely-sculpted corsets, and engaged in various activities from recreational to domestic. I believe Cathie to be the sole living woman with the smallest corseted waist, and the most noteworthy pre-corset measurements of 38-20-38. The email concluded with a note from the author of the email that “this lady removed some ribs!” My client asked me why Cathie did not study waist training and undertake to accomplish her dramatic waist reduction in a more gradual way?
The fact is, Cathie did! She took over 12 or more years to reach her goals, so I let my client know the truth, then asked my client why she automatically accepted as true an email stressing a horrifying thought to most people, without first suspending belief until she could verify the claims as factual?
I’m fairly sure that I am correct because I’ve shared dinner and a few personal and telephone conversations with Cathie and her husband, Dr. Bob, several times in my 21-year history of educating about and purveying fine custom corsetry. In fact, they both contributed to my book on corset waist training and are quoted in it: http://romantasyweb.com/Merchant2/merchant.mv?Screen=PROD&Store_Code=R&Product_Code=book01&Category_Code=moc
Many years ago and before Maury Povich decided to become the ‘new’ Jerry Springer, Cathie and I appeared together on his more ‘Ellen-like’ talk show (along with a young client of Mrs. Ruth Johnson, our recently departed corsetiere; see, http://www.romantasyweb.com/cyboutique/corset/br_creations.shtml). On that occasion I had the opportunity to see Cathie eat a normal meal and engage in normal activities, and the chance to discuss with both Cathie and Dr. Bob in detail Cathie’s corseting history and progress.
No less that two weeks ago I had a potential client hang up on my ear after she called me for corset advice. It happened after only about a minute when I was mid-sentence. I had told her I could chat a bit, but that I would also like her email in order to next refer her to specific web pages that had more detailed advice than I could verbally offer, and then work with her after she provided some initial information and torso images so I could more easily advise long distance. She said that she wanted “to cut through that process, and that I should just tell her what she should order.”
I had no idea of her lifestyle, reason for desiring a corset, size or shape, past history with corseting and dieting, or budget. To obtain this base information from which I could render an informed, helpful opinion, would take far more than just one minute of conversation or even several minutes. I’ve found it is much better to use both, and for the client to take some time to review the informative webpages I cite. In addition, my business is configured in a very different way from just another ‘corset business.’ We offer real choices, not just one choice or two, and those choices are the client’s to make, not mine.
To boot, I rarely if ever, tell a client what to order no matter if we converse for one minute or one hour. It just doesn’t work well for me to do so, because then the client doesn’t understand what he or she is paying for or receiving. The client is then more prone not to take the time to properly season the corset or wear it without discomfort to best effect. When I have let someone rush me in the past or make choices, it has usually resulted in an unhappy client who comes back to haunt me. In sum, it also becomes an entirely unpleasant experience for both of us.
A few days ago, I followed up a brief email inquiry I had received from a potential client with my intial reply and the standard indexed email, then a friendly reminder that I was still available to answer questions or help with an order. He replied that he had moved on and found another corset business because my reply was a ‘form’ one, and not targeted to his questions. In fact as said, as a business practice I reply to initial emails first with a few brief answers to specific situations or inquiries, then I do in fact, include a targeted, indexed ‘form’ answer that focuses the client on precisely what I will need to be helpful as the individual process moves along. The form part of my answer includes a request for measurements, budget, and fabric, corset style, and corsetiere maker preference, with references to the relevant web pages.
Gratefully, this process works well for the grand majority of those who contact me, as well as for me. Admittedly, it seems daunting to some, even overwhelming. However, several years ago I found that my business reality was that as a sole proprietor who is entirely hands-on without secretarial help, I simply cannot find the time to be quickly responsive yet re-write the same answer over and over again. I explained this to my potential client, and wished him well with his other chosen corset business.
The three above experiences convince me of several things. First, despite our education level or intelligence, we still need to be reminded to not accept words in an unthinking way, or accept images for that matter — images which can easily be doctored on the web (however, Cathie’s images had not been so doctored, to the best of my ability to determine that fact). Second, my business is not the best business for everyone who wishes to purchase a corset. Thankfully these days, consumers have a choice where to purchase a corset, and there a sufficient businesses that will advise the client what to purchase to cut short the process. Third, we still live in a want-it-now kind of mass-market world that is not compatible with custom, high quality corsetry, which is a high-touch/low tech business. The want-it-now kind of world is extremely risky for the uneducated client, and I simply don’t want my business to contribute to that risk.
On a final note, the other side of the coin of consumer rights and free choice, is business rights and free choice. I’ve had potential clients express surprise when I thank them and refer them on to another business and opine that my business in unable to answer their needs. In those cases I know that to continue would not be beneficial or pleasant for either one of us. Corsets are a magical product that gives me pleasure to purvey, and I simply want the experience of ordering and wearing one to remain so for everyone involved.