I am not a stylish person.

If you have never met me, this fact may come as a surprise to you. I work in an industry where a sense of style is an unspoken requirement. Generally the more stylish the designer, the better. I think it’s wonderful that some designers equate fabrics and furniture along the same lines of clothing and fashion. And as much as I might salivate over a hot pair of heels or a dress made just right, I have never been a fashionable person. No one has ever looked to me for the hot new trend. In fact, I think people want to avoid looking like me at all costs.

My hair is what my stylist calls “virgin hair”. It has never been professionally permed, straightened, or colored. I do a good job to get it cut once every 6 months. It is wavy and unruly and has a mind of its own.

I don’t wear make-up. A splash of cold water on my face before I leave my house is as good as it gets. And if you are a regular client of mine (or have seen me at the office at least 5 different times) you will know that I own less than 5 different outfits. And none of them are stylish. In fact, most of them aren’t even what most people might call “professional clothing”, being that I live in an absurdly hot and humid climate. I dress “comfortably” — an evil term in the world of fashion.

So it will come as no surprise when I mention that I don’t get my nails done.

Although I can’t recall who said it, I remember being told once that it is vitally important to your professional image to be well-manicured. I can understand why a good grooming would be necessary for maintaining a professional image. But I specifically remember this advice being related to hands. That’s right – manicured hands.

I love a french mani just as much as the next girl. In fact, I used to get my nails done frequently before I got married. The pampering is wonderful, and the pretty, shiny nails are a nice reminder of that pampering. Since I commit the unforgivable sin of picking and chewing my nails, I always had to get the more expensive and labor intensive acrylics. But I could only abstain from chewing my nails for so many days, and usually my pretty acrylics were also chewed off my hands before I had them a week. So I gave up on spending the money.

However in light of the business world, I must disagree with the nameless mentor who informed me that design professionals should have nice nails. I must emphasize that I have never lost a sale because of my sorry, stubby digits. Very rarely do my clients even mention or pay any attention to my nails. Perhaps once in eight years did a customer say to me, “Oh, honey, you really shouldn’t bite your nails.” But I can say with certainty that no one has ever taken such offense to my ugly hands that they refused to buy product or services from me.

I knew some business women who actually claim their nail salon bills as a business expense. This is fine by me. I would love for my haircuts to be claimed as a business expense too. Perhaps a monthly massage for my mental health. Maybe I should talk to my boss about that.

No, my broken nails have never broken a sale.


The 4 Cs

I know more than I ever wanted to know about rocks.

At the showroom where I work, we sell a lot of natural stone. Travertine, limestone, shell stone, slate, marble, granite, and other various formations of stone are quarried, cut, sometimes honed & filled or polished, packaged, shipped, and delivered to our beloved customers. We put it on their floors and in their showers. We cut it into slabs for their counter tops and tiles for their back splashes. It goes in niches, around fire places, and surrounds pools. Stone was the super-star of new construction for years in Florida, and it is now the super-star of the remodeling boom. When clients come to us looking for stone, we review with them the 4 Cs of the natural stone world: Color, Character, Clean-ability, and of course, Cost.

I often encounter customers who know a lot about rocks too. But their 4 C’s are a little different from mine.

I’m talking “a girl’s best friend”. I’m talking diamonds.

How could I not love diamonds? It is my birth stone, after all. I should have more of them… (I hope you’re reading this, Hubby.) They are the gloriously glittery super-stone: colorless, classy, harder than granite, and not to mention valuable. They are the most desirable stone I know of.

Sometimes I meet people who have really big ones. So big, in fact, that they need to carry an insurance policy and social security number on them. I can sometimes see my reflection in them. If they are cut just right, I find myself temporarily blinded by them. I am talking about huge rocks here.

I often wonder why I didn’t get into that kind of stone business. I imagine it is much easier to sell those rocks than it is to sell my rocks.