Monday, July 26, 2010


The alarm went off at 6:00am Sunday morning. It’s one of those alarms that activates with light not noise. My eyelids have always had the consistency of parchment. It was never the crow of the rooster but the crack of dawn that would wake me each morning. It’s what makes me more a winter person than a boy of summer. The light had already started to part the slates on the white wooden blinds in the bedroom at around 5:30. Anxiety hadn’t been my bed partner that night. I woke up rested and ready to put on yet another hat, one that might pull us closer to recovery. Sometime in March or April when there was still snow on the ground and Emmy was still participating in her skin research study, Rick and I stopped in at Madison’s Pottery Barn. We only had a few minutes before we would have to return to pick Emmy up from her session but it was enough time to go and introduce ourselves to the people at PB. We drove over to the West Towne Mall,. The Pottery Barn is located next to William Sonoma and across from Banana Republic.  This would make the West Towne Mall Madison’s upscale venue. You’re not going to find Armani or Donna Karan here but the vendors here are a step above Walmart and Sears. You are going to have to go to Chicago for real high-end.
We walked in with our portfolio and a couple of brochures. We had heard that the Pottery Barn periodically hosts lectures on everything from arranging flowers to planning your wedding. This was another of my cold call attempts at trying to see what might happen. This time my intuition was right. We met with Jenna, the assistant store manager, and she was thrilled to offer us the chance to do the color and pattern lecture coming up in July.
After the light of the alarm went off my other senses woke as well. Rick was there hacking to beat the band. In the time it takes to go from Saturday night to Sunday morning he had developed the worst summer cold. I was going to have to mount the podium all by myself. After a quick shave and shower I was off to lecture a class of fifty on how to use color and pattern. Here’s how it went:
I arrived in time to stop by McDonalds and treat myself to medium caramel frappe, no whip. Then I met one of the PBers outside the store at our appointed time of eight o’clock. The lecture was scheduled to begin at nine. I spent the hour between arrival and spilling my ounce of knowledge running around the store gathering props to detract the attendees from how much I really didn’t know. Satisfied I had accumulated every pillow in the store I sat back and waited for them to lift the gate to let the women in, well forty-eight women and two men.
I started with a bit of puffery blowing smoke so they wouldn’t see my nervousness. I pointed out our book and told them they could look at it after the lecture, hoping a few of them would still be there and hadn’t collapsed from boredom. Then I dug in my heels and went through what I had rehearsed and outlined.
Color paints the emotion within a home. There are now colorstologists, Michele Bernhardt being the most famous (her website is Benjamin Moore actually consults with her on new seasonal color trends. I mentioned BM a lot since they are partners with PB. Then it was on to color vocabulary and pulling out examples of color schemes: monochromatic, complimentary and analogous. This is where I got to pull out the props and do some pillow play. This kind of loosened up the whole session. The tongues started to wag and hands started shooting in the air. By the time I got done with color and how it relates to paint and light I was ten minutes away from my allotted hour and I hadn’t even touched on pattern. I did a quick overview of scale and how to mix and match and the lecture was over.
Questions took us way past the hour of scheduled chatter. By the time I left, the store had opened the till and added a tidy sum to the Pottery Barn coffers and I had handed out a half dozen business cards to people interested in consultations. The boys seemed to be my biggest leads.You have to start somewhere. I think we’ve finally started the ball rolling.

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