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So far Tom Styrkowicz has created 6 blog entries.

Before the internet a store concept that simplified a woman’s shopping experience.

The internet changed everything about shopping. But before it was ubiquitous, I, along with my partner Deborah Exum, came up with a store concept as a way to shop for a woman who was interested in fashion, but with family and work obligations had little time to actually shop. See what we did to RETHINK shopping.

MYA ads

How many clothes really need to be in a store

From my time with The Limited stores, and my “chapter 5 experience in retailing, I knew that clothing presented as outfits sold better than individual items. Working with merchandise expert Dennis Horstman, we crafted a complete collection of a wardrobe using 20 items.

In MYA store, how many items?

In MYA store, how many items?

Focus the customer

To focus the customer on our offering we redesigned the typical mall store to have 15 complete different outfits clustered in the “3rd window”/AKA the front of the store. Even walking by, a woman could scan our offering and see if something caught her eye. If she was interested enough to come in to the store, information tags told her what items made up that outfit. Those individual items were clearly displayed on the nearby wall, with additional colors to offer the customer more selections.

 

Mya store layout

Mya store layout

MYA merchandise identification system

MYA merchandise identification system

 

Acceptance of the concept.

Focus groups we did gave rave reviews for the concept. Mary Lou Quinlan, who had been CEO at N. W. Ayer Advertising, then led a woman-centered marketing agency JUST ASK A WOMAN, singled out the concept with the quote, “No other store talks to women this way.”

MYA no other store talks to women this way

What happened to it

Timing. Our first store was set to open in Spring of 2002.The terror attack of 9/1/2001 essentially stopped any new business concepts while we all readjusted our priorities. Our backers decide that they would not be willing to test this concept in that environment, so MYA never got to see the light of day and be tested.

I still believe it would have revolutionized shopping. But then that was just before the internet started to be the tidal wave that would truly revolutionize shopping.

By |2022-07-26T15:54:34-05:00July 26, 2022|rethinking retailing|

I can guarantee that your company group photo will never be obsolete.

I was inspired by the Richard Avedon photos of Pentagon officials during the 60’s. That sparked me to use the individual photos I’ve been taking of executives and create a group of them in my computer. I loved the result, but then I realized there was another, more opportune us for this method.

Richard Avedon group photo

Richard Avedon group photo

 

 

 

 

 

 

An endlessly adaptive group photo

With this method I could create a group. I could create a group with just some of the members. I could create different configurations of the same group.

Merrill Lynch group 3 different configurations

Merrill Lynch group 3 different configurations

The REALLY golden use

The BEST THING I realized is that I could add or subtract people from the group! If a company added a person, I could add them to the group. If someone left, I could delete them from the group. All with a click of my mouse.

Steps to create a "never obsolete" group

Steps to create a “never obsolete” group

OK, it’s not quite that easy

No, anyone can’t take a number of full length shots of people and throw them together. It takes me a while to adjust everyone’s position, slightly forward or slightly back, to make it look like they really are standing together. And height! That’s so important because when I have a photo of a person on a white background I have no reference as to how tall they are. I’ve developed a method where I have a reference point recorded in the original photo which tells me how tall anyone is.

Here’s a few examples, but there is a whole section on my website, here to see more versions.

This works for families too

Oh yes, this works for families too. I’ve done several using this tehnique, including one with 29 people.

Family group photo

Family group photo

Museum uses photos of over 300 of their guests, created during my ONE by ONE Community Portrait events, to populate an entire branding campaign.

On the 3rd of July I got a call from Mary Beth Smith, Director of Marketing for the Oakland Museum of California. They were throwing a museum wide party to kick off their 50th anniversary, and she wanted me to capture as many portraits of their guests as possible, for use in the accompanying branding campaign. 

Only catch was, the event was NINE DAYS AWAY! No problem. Loaded up all the gear and got on a plane to Oakland a week later!

Big event was setting for my Community Portrait

Big event was setting for my Community Portrait

Working with their design agency, Image Design Works, I tried to explain what they’d get, saying I would provide them “over 300 photos” to use for their branding campaign. Their creative director replied, “Our photographers always give us 300 or more photos.” “No,” I corrected her, “we were going to give her over 300 photos of 300 DIFFERENT PEOPLE!!!’

Later, during the actual photographing she came to me and apologized, and said she had never seen a photographer capture so many great photos of people so quickly.

Photographing over 300 guests in one evening

Photographing over 300 guests in one evening

I shot the photos in color, for their branding campaign, but delivered black and white prints to the subjects, and for the wall.

Photographed both in color and black & white

Photographed both in color and black & white

I came back two months later to do a follow-up Community Portrait and I was amazed by how far reaching the branding campaign was. Street banners, subway posters, website, video, a picture filled brochure. The images seemed to be everywhere, which provided me with quite a fulfilling thrill.

My images EVERYWHERE

My images EVERYWHERE

Here was and organization who found use for the immediate community building results of the photos and the “wall,” but extended their value by asking the subjects if the museum could use their photos for the branding campaign. Everyone wholeheartedly agreed, so the museum ended up with this extensive library of photos that underscored the museum’s mission of being “the museum of the people.” 

Inventing a new way to use photography that utilized my unique ability

A conversation with Kimberly Young about a grant that the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, in Kansas City, received led me to proposing a concept to them.

Photographer Rankin, in London, had just done “1000 Britons” where he took everyday Londoners and made them into fashion models. I wanted to do lots and lots of people like that, but I wanted to capture them just the way they were.

When I suggested this to the museum they wholeheartedly got behind the idea. And so “500 Portraits in 5 Days” was born.

I contacted an old friend, Wilbur Montgomery,  a photographer himself in Indianapolis, and enlisted him to be my technical director. My idea was to take someone’s portrait and almost immediately give them a print. Photo printers were too slow, but Wilbur reminded me of our experiences with office machines, and we realized we could use a color copier for the 8 1/2 x 11 prints. A print in 15 seconds, instead of the 3 minutes an ink jet printer would take.

Signing up at the Nelson

Signing up at the Nelson

I also wanted to display a copy of each print, so I had the museum construct a display wall made of 4×8 sheets of foam-core. It would take 6-4×8 panels, using both sides, to hold the anticipated 500 prints.

Building the wall at the Nelson

Building the wall at the Nelson

We started on a Wednesday, then on Thursday Kansas City experienced a city-shut down blizzard for two day. I had no idea if people would turn out Saturday and Sunday, but the event had acquired quite a buzz, and by the end of Sunday I had photographed 816 people!

Photographing at the Nelson

Photographing at the Nelson

64 of the 816 Nelson portraits

64 of the 816 Nelson portraits

All this had been created in my mind, so I didn’t know if any of it would work. Turns out I discovered that I had an ability to very quickly size up a subject and direct them to an interesting pose. In fact, 80% of the photos I created IN ONE SHOT! The people loved them. And even more…they loved the wall. Seeing themselves, their friends on the wall proved to be the most popular aspect of the whole event.

How did it change  my life?

I created a book about the event, and when I started sending it around I received inquiries from other museums to do similar events with them. I will write about this in coming posts, including the one where I photographed 1246 people over 3 days!

A book, and the start of a new chapter

A book, and the start of a new chapter

Creating a way to present a client 35 different design ideas. Innovation or heresy?

I was asked by Richard Bird, of the package design firm R.Bird, to help them rethink their design process. Since I had never worked in a design firm I only had my own methods.

The firm consisted of 4 designers, a creative director and Richard. Their typical process was for the creative director to assign a new project to one of the designers, and to approve two or three designs to present to the client.

Throughout my career I have switched between being the client and the designer. I knew from being the client that the outside designer rarely could absorb all the shifting needs of the client.

What I created for R.Bird, which they named PROCEDE, was a start to finish series of design exercises that gave them an insight into the client’s product that was broader than even the client’s thinking. 

How did I do that? I had the whole design team work together on the project.

  

Tempur-Pedic in stores

Researching Tempur-Pedic pillows and their competition.

 

First they all went out and researched the product in stores. 

Next we went through an exercise called “expanding the brief.” Everyone brainstormed about who else might use the product. In the case of the Tempur-Pedic client, the brief said the product would be for a 40+ woman with neck problems.

The brainstorming session led to two other areas…following the trend of “wellness.” And because it was the most expensive pillow on the market, treating it as a luxury item.

Tempur-Pedic design process

Tempur-Pedic design process

The design process

I then encouraged the designers to, in one half a day, generate 20-30 designs. GACK! They all responded. We can’t design 20-30 total package designs in half a day. Sorry. My bad. Not total design…just a logo and visual concept. Print them out and stick them on the wall. By the end of the day there were over 70 designs scattered over every wall space in the R.Bird office!

Tempur-Pedic quick design sketches

Tempur-Pedic quick design sketches

How to decide what to show the client? I gave everyone  a Post-It pad and told them to mark any designs that they liked. That ended up being 38 of the designs. 11 x 17 printouts were put into a bound book, but upon looking through that many designs one kept wanting to refer back to previous designs. Stratton Cherouny, one of the designers suggested putting each design on a 5×7 card. Brilliant! Now they could be shuffled and moved around and compared.

How the client reacted

The client was taken aback when presented with 37 choices, but when the individual cards were spread out one of the clients chose one of the cards. Then another of the clients picked a different card and said, “I like your choice, but what if it had more color like this one?” A third client said, “Yes, but what if we added an image like this one?”

Presenting to the Tempur-Pedic client

Presenting to the Tempur-Pedic client

Magic

Tempur-Pedic the final choice was chosen because of the PROCEDE process

Tempur-Pedic final choice came from the PROCEDE process

What was happening was that the client was engaging in the design process! They were reacting to actual possible solutions, including ones they never though of. In the end the design that was chosen was from the “wellness” category” and not the “40+ woman with neck problems.

In opposition to traditional design firm thinking

Most design firms would never dream of presenting clients with 37 different design choices, presuming that they would get confused and choose “the worst design” (hint…don’t show any designs your wouldn’t be proud of!) Because clients, like all of us, are time pressured, they don’t have time to think through all the possibilities of their product. How valuable is a design firm that does that for the client?

Postscript

R.Bird and I used the PROCEDE process for another client, Avon. When they went to present their multitude of choice the client informed them (only then, not before they did all the design work) that the brief had changed. No problem…19 of their 40 designs addressed the new brief with relevant solutions.

To this day R.Bird still uses the Procede process that I developed with them.

By |2022-07-24T11:22:44-05:00July 19, 2022|rethinking creativity|
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