Life Lessons At Saks Fifth Avenue

One of the nicest compliments I’ve ever received was from a former employee, an amazingly talented graphic artist and illustrator. I had just rented a storefront off the Pearl Street Mall in Boulder, Colorado and had exactly one month to paint, sand floors, rip up carpet, make signage and the list went on and on. As we worked, she would laugh and tell me it will never happen on time. 
As the public piled in that night and the band played, she said, “You know, when you decide to do something, you just do it, regardless if you’re ready or not”. She told me how on the other hand perfectionism got in her way to see something through. 
I think lately with three long hard years through a pandemic, how many times do our minds get in the way of our hearts taking action? "I’m not ready, It’s not good enough, the world has changed, too many choices, I don’t know enough yet" and on and on. 
There’s even a term for it these days…analysis paralysis. 
Case in point, flashing back to my mere beginnings as a jewelry artist 35 years ago, I had packed up my newborn daughter into the stroller. In those days, I was experimenting with my style and longing to get it out there to see what I could do, since there was no such thing as internet and I wanted to get out there to make my mark. Do what, I didn’t know, but I was driven. We walked down Michigan Avenue, her in her Graco no frills stroller, (after all, there was only one choice then), and me carrying a bag of my life’s work: exactly ten pieces. I loved looking at all the galleries and then we went into Saks Fifth Avenue. Looking down at the cases, I was completely underwhelmed instead with the sterling jewelry. I became intrigued and inspired, so I went home and began calling the Saks store in Chicago. 
I remember being thoroughly intimidated and quaking in my Keds you might say. Finally, I got through to the “yes” woman, you know, many screeners and finally in the inner sanctum of the jewelry buyer herself. I quickly told her that I was a jewelry designer (I was?!), and wanted to show her my line, (what line?!). She listened for a brief moment and then shot me down and my hopes dashed, saying that they had enough sterling jewelry. 
Not knowing where it was coming from, I heard myself say, “If I could just have twenty minutes of your time I will show you something completely different. To my shock and awe she thought about it for a few seconds and said, “Okay, how about this Friday at ten? 
Friday rolled around and I once again packed up my daughter and my ten pieces to my name and headed back into Chicago, straight to Michigan Avenue, strolling into Saks Fifth Avenue, and down the escalator to the jewelry department. I remember feeling like Rebecca of Sunnybrook farm with my shabby clothes, still expandable waist pants, a baby and my ten pieces. To add to things, the jewelry buyer was decked out in her smart pant suit escorting me down the hall to my demise. I was terrified. I walked in and began laying out each piece one by one. I thought, she’s going to escort me right back out the door when she sees this stuff. As I laid them out, she became silent. Oh God, she hates it. Then something life changing happened. She got on the phone and called a few other employees down to the jewelry department saying how they needed to see my pieces. They purchased everything I had and asked for more! And from that landed about six more Saks stores. And that led to participating in trade shows, selling my work nationally in galleries and shops for decades. As my daughter and I drove out of giant Chicago, I remember feeling like someone just handed me the keys to the city.
Looking back now after 35 years, in a way she did hand me the keys to the city. She confirmed in me a belief in myself, and most of all to have the tenacity to go after that which I love. Even though I don’t know who she is now, she was a midwife to the birth of my career, my calling still to this day and she will never know it. I also wonder, if I had not had the tenacity to not take no for an answer on the phone that day if I would have pursued my lifelong passion as an artist…
What in your life are you possibly shooting down or waiting for perfection to get going on, instead of making that courageous call to say, “This is me, won’t you take a closer look?” Sure, it’s scary being turned down, but what’s scarier and much sadder are the unrealized dreams of never trying.
Make the call, it only takes twenty minutes….