Don't Pretend to be Something You Are Not

Hi again!  It's me, Elizabeth Brightfield.  Last week I told you that I was working on something really BIG.  I didn't want to tell you anything specific because well, you know how this business can be.  One day you are riding high and the next you're back on first base. It's not that people exactly lie, but sometimes they say they are going to do a really big project with you and the next thing you know you bump into them buying a new sofa at the local furniture store and it is NOT the sofa you had selected!  Granted it was cheaper and had cupholders and reclined which the one I chose definitely did not. Anyway, back to my news.

Last week I got a call from a very major celebrity.  This is the sort of client that can make a designer's career.  Visions of a 4 page spread in Architectural Digest danced in my head the minute I found out who was on the other end of the line.  Although I can't tell you this person's name, let me just say that anyone from Pittsburgh would die if they received a call from this athlete.  Oops, did I reveal too much?  

They wanted help redoing their living room and a friend of a friend of a friend referred yours truly.  They particularly were looking for someone who was from out of town and would be discreet.  (I hope they don't read blogs...). 

After getting the necessary information about their style, photos and dimensions of the room etc... we scheduled an appointment.  They would pay me to come meet with them and show them a preliminary plan.  

Pulling the plan together was a breeze.  I had been dying to use this color palette and given that their house was in the woods somewhere, I thought it would be perfect:

Untitled_Artwork.jpg

I am going to show you the rendering that I planned to show them in my meet and greet. Normally I like to kind of build up to this but the main part of my story is not the design this week.  Here is my design:

 My design for the celebrity living room.

My design for the celebrity living room.

The funny thing is that I was not at all nervous about presenting my design or talking to them about their options.  What I was really sweating was what to wear!!!  What one wears to one of these first meetings speaks volumes about so many things. You have to really think it through. Do I want to communicate that I am classically elegant?  Intellectual and well travelled?  Quirky and eclectic?  Glamorous and sophisticated?  Preppy and country club-ish?  Sporty and casual?  What to do????  Thankfully, my husband SP is from Pittsburgh so I thought I should run my outfit past him. 

After I got dressed, I popped my head into the studio where he was rehearsing (he plays lead guitar in a band called The Wreckers).

 SP Brightfield

SP Brightfield

"Honey, how do I look?  I am ready to go to my meeting with Mr Pro.  Will this vintage Ralph Lauren work in Pittsburgh?  Will they get it? Or does it make me look like Cindi Lauper?"

 Me in my vintage RL outfit

Me in my vintage RL outfit

"You shouldn't wear that.  Its all wrong for "BLEEP" (I had to bleep out the name to protect his identity).  You should wear a team jersey.  Everyone in Pittsburgh wears them, even to important events.  It shows your team spirit!" he said.   "You have got to be kidding", I gasped.  "Are you just saying that because you have been trying unsuccessfully to get me to wear one of those things ever since we got married?"  "We had a counseling session about this.  I told you that I would not don one of those team shirts.  Ever. It's just not my thing and you said you were OK with that."  "No babe.  I am not kidding.  He will love that you wore a Steelers jersey.  You will get the job.  Trust me." said SP in a very earnest tone.  "I have one you can borrow but DON'T LOSE IT!!!!" 

I pulled up to the gate feeling very nervous in my team jersey and leggings.  I did try to jazz it up a bit with some over the knee boots and some jewelry, however.  When I saw the team's logo painted on the side of the house, I breathed a little easier about my outfit.  "Well, if they paint logos on the side of houses here maybe it is normal to wear a football kersey to a big meeting?", I nervously tried to reassure myself.

 Mr Pro's Crib

Mr Pro's Crib

I pressed the button and my voice sounded like a 10 year old's as I gave my name to the person on the other end of the intercom. What is happening to me???? I knew I shouldn't ever wear one of these shirts.  I feel so NOT me.  This isn't good.  Maybe I should just leave and say I had a sudden case of the shingles.  Too late, I could see someone out on the front porch waiting to greet me.  Oh boy.  How humiliating.  He and the wife look like they just stepped out of a Town and Country ad.  This is what they saw when I stepped out of my rental car.

 The face of humiliation

The face of humiliation

"Interesting" was the first word out of Mr Pro's mouth.  For a split second, I wanted to cry.  But then I rallied and acted as if I were still wearing my vintage RL.  Full of confidence I thrust out my right hand, smiled my biggest sparkly smile and said, "Hello. I am Elizabeth Brightfield.  I am soooo excited to show you what I have put together for your living room.  You are going to die it is so fabulous!"  

The good news is that we all had a big laugh about my outfit.  Thankfully, I had brought my original outfit to change into after our meeting so I  asked if I could change before we continued.

I ended up getting the job.  SP is very lucky because if I hadn't, he would be wearing whatever I decided he should wear for the next year!!!!!  Today's takaway is don't let anyone tell you what to wear to a client presentation.  Be yourself.  See you next week!

EB

 The moral of the story is: Always Be Yourself!

The moral of the story is: Always Be Yourself!