Last week I got a phone call from a very loyal customer who asked me to join her for lunch. This wouldn't be something so unusual since many of my customers invite me to dine with them or attend special events except this customer is notoriously private and would never be mistaken for a social butterfly. She's quite proud of her exclusive life and enjoys the privacy that she works very hard to maintain. She became my customer because a close friend (also a customer) told her I designed custom jewelry and that she would never see anything I created especially for her on anyone else. I have kept my word and she has continued to commission me. Over the years, we have developed a very cordial relationship, one that is business oriented, has room for occasional light-hearted frivolity but I would not say was any more than an artist and a client connected by our love of fashion.
So imagine my surprise when I met her yesterday at one of those fabulously hot NYC restaurants that's booked solid for the next year and as we were feasting on Tomato Sorbet and Grilled Corn Cakes, she told me that she gets great pleasure from just talking to me. She told me her reasons, details of which are much too personal to share here, but that gist of it all is that she rarely gets "listened" to. It turns out that contrary to my belief, my creative process held special meaning for her. Before I can even conceptualize her jewelry, I want and need to "hear" about what she wants and needs. As with all of my customers, its important that I really listen to what they are saying in order to give them a satisfying end result. I've always felt that the more I know about a person, the more personal the design I create for them becomes. I also want them to know that they are important to me, not just because they are paying for my work but because I appreciate them as people.
Jewelry is such an intimate piece of art and it is my opinion that through its beauty it can speak to you and for you as it can evoke a visual image of your essence. I really enjoy hearing the stories of grandchildren being born, the marriage proposals and the trips abroad. I also hear about the deaths of loved ones, the divorces and the vacations that can't be afforded and that's OK too. It all helps me to connect with who I'm designing for and what will make them happy. Sometimes these connections last. Sometimes they fade away. Regardless, I hope that my jewelry can brings smiles and joy to all who receive it. The lunch turned out to be my customer's way of saying "thank you" to me for caring enough to make a real connection with her. I was truly honored. In this manner, it will always be my pleasure to please.