Sunday, March 31, 2013

ArtHouse: Abraham Cruzvillegas

ArtHouse: Abraham Cruzvillegas

Monday, March 18, 2013

Knowing Something About Your Customer Is Just As Important As Knowing Everything About Your Product

Knowing something about your customer is just as important as knowing everything about your product. Take politicians, for example. A politician will support your proposition only as long as it is politically popular or uncommonly rewarding.

That isn’t to say that pols are any less honest or reliable than the rest of us. It’s just that politicians must shift positions constantly to keep up with the people they are supposed to be leading. Legislators, particularly in faraway places such as Washington, tend to be a little less reliable than governors, who are under closer local scrutiny, but the same principle holds. It is the duty of someone who wants something from a politician either to (a) create the public climate that makes supporting that position attractive, or (b) do whatever is necessary so that a politico will return a favor from time to time—like fundraising or even organizational work.

Read more: Knowing Something About Your Customer is Just as Important as Knowing Everything about Your Product | Harvey Mackay

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Glendale woman’s T’s and trinkets are star-studded

Cha-Cha the Chihuahua doesn’t know it, but somewhere out there, a celebrity might be sporting his mug on a T-shirt. Fashion hounds scattered around the continent don Glendale resident Cathy Garcia’s handiwork under her Cha-Cha Chic label, an accomplishment that draws both a broad grin and stray tears.

As a child, Garcia sold vegetables door to door to help her single mother raise her and her three siblings. As a 56-year-old woman, she sells clothes for as much as $69 for a long-sleeve shirt and sends her goods to the gift lounge at the Latin Grammy Awards each fall.

Her most recent break involved her shirts landing in gift bags at last month’s Grammy Awards in Los Angeles and this week’s Oscars. The swag — from a resort vacation in Australia to a $5,000 face-lift — carries a retail value of at least $45,000 at the Oscars and $60,000 at the Grammys. All free to nominees. ‘You’re creative. Create.’

Sitting in Garcia’s office in north Phoenix is like reclining in a giant jewelry box. One couldn’t begin to count the rhinestones twinkling from the shirts hanging on the walls or the calculator resting on her desk. She leans back and peers at a T-shirt featuring her Chihuahua, Cha-Cha. The pooch is wearing a headdress inspired by the late samba icon Carmen Miranda’s head wraps adorned with bananas or pineapples and flowers.

That T-shirt is one of eight she sells, with four more designs on paper awaiting production.

“I think I’m supposed to be out there making everybody pretty and colorful,” Garcia said. “As stressful as everything is, if you have a little bling, you’re ready to face any challenge. And if you can’t handle it, at least you look good.”

Behind the fabric, the glitter and the gems is a folder containing random designs and art elements that Garcia began collecting from magazines, newspapers, restaurant menus or posters years before she started Cha-Cha Chic.

“I was saving this folder for years with things I didn’t know what I was going to do with,” she said. “I just felt like I should save them.”

In 2009 she figured out why.

She had been out of work for a few years, spending time with her daughter, grandchildren and her husband when her granddaughter, Angelina, challenged her. She said: “You’re creative. Create something.”

Garcia started drawing designs rooted in her Mexican heritage. Some were inspired by the clippings in that folder: a guitar or a beach scene. Some developed in memory of family: her deceased uncle who played in a mariachi band. Her husband, Jimmy, lent her money to get started.

She picked up the phone and cold-called the Latin Grammys in Miami, which put her in touch with Distinctive Assets, a marketing firm that coordinates gift bags for such events. Would they use some of her shirts in the Latin Grammy Award gift bags? The firm said yes.

“The (celebrities) can afford anything and here they are looking at my stuff,” she said From that point, she has been a mainstay in that gift lounge. She got a contract with a clothing factory in California to produce her designs. She took online orders. She made more phone calls. While she pitched her merchandise to area boutiques, the Arizona Latino Arts and Cultural Center in downtown Phoenix called. Customers were asking for her. “She’s sort of a local celebrity,” said Marcelino Quiñonez, the center’s program director. “She’s a good role model for all other artists, that if you work hard and persevere, your talent will be recognized at a national level.” Quiñonez said Cha-Cha Chic products make up the top5 percent of merchandize sold at the center and Garcia’s recent publicity has boosted that interest.

That shop is the only bricks-and-mortar place where Garcia sells her products for now. She has about four prospective boutique buyers at the moment, she said.

Garcia doesn’t get reimbursed for the clothes she sends for celebrity swag — she sent 65 shirts to the Oscars and 170 to the Grammy Awards — but she does get exposure.


The Los Angeles-based Distinctive Assets spends a whole year searching the world for products worthy of the celebrity gift bags.

The company looks for a wide range of products so there are gifts to suit anyone from the “20-somethings to the silver foxes,” founder Lash Fary said via e-mail.

“It’s the way a lot of celebrities are able to shop without paparazzi or fans,” he said.

And it’s the way designers who can’t afford to hire a celebrity spokesperson have found an in with Hollywood. Beyoncé once wore a T-shirt from her Grammy gift bag on a magazine cover.

As for the Oscars, only the nominees who did not win got Distinctive Assets gift bags.

Garcia imagines seeing her clothes in glossy print someday.

“Even if not a famous person ... didn’t get photographed in Cha-Cha Chic, that’s just more territory where people are wearing it, even if it’s just the housekeeper or the nanny,” she said. “I’m just adding a little more color to somebody’s day.”

A ‘flashy’ grandmother

“If you can’t see me coming, you can hear me coming,” Garcia says, tugging at one of her large hoop earrings. Her grandmother would be proud.

Garcia imagines what her “nana,” who died before Cha-Cha Chic opened, would think. “She’d try squeezing into one of these shirts,” Garcia says.

Garcia’s grandmother, Nacha Espinoza, moved to Arizona from Sonora, Mexico, and brought her lively style with her and always valued Garcia’s eye for bling.

The two were inseparable, bonded in a close relationship important to Garcia during tough times.

Garcia’s father sold insurance door to door and would disappear for weeks at a time. He owned a pool hall and a bar, which the family lost when he left for good. Her mother turned to beauty school and cut hair, often depending on her children to sell a relative’s vegetables door to door for extra cash.

Her mother always told her children that not having a father in their lives shouldn’t hold them back.

Garcia has worked different jobs, whether in department-store cosmetics or interior designing. Decades passed before she conceptualized opening her own business. Four years into the venture, she hopes to expand her line to include dresses. Customers have requested dog clothes and children clothes.

She attributes much of her success to the people around her who loved her, such as her grandmother.

She ponders what a shirt tailored to her grandmother’s taste would look like and tears immediately rush from her eyes. “I don’t know if you could see it, but it would be a lot of love,” she says.

Pausing, she smiles.

“And maybe a bottle of Kahlua.”

by Caitlin McGlade The Republic Mar 1, 2013

Glendale woman’s T’s and trinkets are star-studded

What they don't teach you in school - Harvey Mackay

As many college graduates are scrambling to find jobs, one of the most important things for graduates to understand is that you’re in school all your life. In fact, your real education is just beginning.

I’d like to pass on a few lessons, which weren’t necessarily covered in school. If you’ve been out of school for a few years—or a lot of years—this advice is still for you; consider it a refresher course.

Develop relationships and keep networking. If I had to name the single characteristic shared by all the truly successful people I’ve met over a lifetime, I’d say it is the ability to create and nurture a network of contacts. Start strengthening your relationships now, so they’ll be in place when you really need them later. In the classroom it was mostly about your individual performance. Success in real life will require relationships. Who you know determines how effectively you can apply what you know. So stay in touch.

Find advisors and mentors. Advisors will not be assigned to you, as in school. You should actively seek your own mentors. And remember, mentors change over a lifetime. Start connecting with people you respect who can help you get a leg up in each aspect of your life, personal and professional. Make it as easy and convenient as possible for them to talk with you, and always look for ways to contribute to their success, too.

Build your reputation. Nothing is more important than a good reputation in building a successful career or business. If you don’t have a positive reputation, it will be difficult to be successful. All it takes is one foolish act to destroy a reputation.

Set goals. Ask any winner what their keys to success are, and you will hear four consistent messages: vision, determination, persistence and setting goals. If you don’t set goals to determine where you’re going, how will you know when you get there? Goals give you more than a reason to get up in the morning; they are an incentive to keep you going all day. Most important, goals need to be measurable, identifiable, attainable, specific and in writing.

Get along with people. Ask recruiters from various companies to name the number one skill necessary for new hires, and many of them will say it’s the ability to get along with people. Co-workers share office space, facilities, break rooms, refrigerators and coffee pots. They arrive together, take breaks together, eat lunch together and meet to solve problems together. All this closeness and familiarity can wear thin at times. Everyone shares responsibility for making the company work, run smoothly and stay profitable.

Be happy. We are all responsible for our own happiness. Don’t waste time and energy being unhappy. When people aren’t happy doing what they do, they don’t do it as well. Life will always be filled with challenges and opportunities. Both are best faced with a positive attitude.

Smile. A smile should be standard equipment for all people. I learned years ago that one of the most powerful things you can do to have influence over others is to smile at them. Everything seems much easier with a smile.

Sense of humor. I’m a firm believer in using humor—not necessarily jokes. A good sense of humor helps to overlook the unbecoming, understand the unconventional, tolerate the unpleasant, overcome the unexpected and outlast the unbearable. There are plenty of times to be serious, but I believe that keeping things light and comfortable encourages better teamwork.

Be yourself. We all have areas that need a little work, but accepting who we are and making the most of our good points will take us much farther than trying to be someone we aren’t. Be content with your abilities and comfortable enough in your own skin to trust your gut.

Volunteer. It might be hard to do a lot of volunteer work at first, but people who help other people on a regular basis have a healthier outlook on life. They are more inclined to be go-getters and consistently report being happier. Volunteering is good for everyone.

by Harvey Mackay

What they don't teach you in school - Harvey Mackay

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