Instagram Message: I take classes from Jen University. I finally get what it's all about.

Instagram Message: I take classes from Jen University. I finally get what it's all about.


I’m sharing the following information with you not because I am one of those people who blame their short comings on their parents but to give you background as to why I'm deficient in the interior design and fashion world.

I guess since my dad was in the Navy, I can only imagine that it was hard for my mom to feel settled because they had to keep moving. After the Navy, I was old enough to remember moving to Cockeysville, MD.  I have fond memories of a modest, somewhat decorated home. Everything in my room was green and white - the comforter and pillow shams were green and white gingham. I remember my dad hanging the green and white wallpaper (Side note: Is anyone else excited that wallpaper is making a comeback?). Our house was colorful with typical early 1970’s orange velour chairs and we had a real life cigarette vending machine near our pool table in the basement. Insert coins into the slot, pull the lever and out popped a box of Marlboro Reds. Because that’s normal. By the time I was nine years old, we moved to California. The cigarette machine didn’t make the cut.  Similar to the Jeffersons, we were moving on up, to the Yorba Linda East Side.  I think my mom finally felt like we found a place to settle down so she took the time to make our house our home.  Some families have traditional interior design, some have modern decor, some have southern or country details, some have art deco, some are minimalistic, some are formal etc.  If there's such a style as "Nothing Full Price" decor, then that's the style we used to furnish our house. Bargains were the only items my mom would buy. Lamps, couches, bed sets, dishes - you name it. In that regard, nothing ever really matched or completely came together.  I'm not at all complaining. Some grow up in a Better Homes and Gardens' featured houses and some don't. I’m merely illustrating that my taste in decor needed a bunch of soul-searching and hand-holding to get to where it is today. 

Two years ago, by chance, I was looking thru catalogs before my son’s basketball game started. A woman I just met because our boys were on the same team, peered over my shoulder and asked me what I was shopping for.  I told her a mirror for my dining room.  She asked another question: what size was the console table that the mirror would hang above? WTF? I’m thinking, why does that matter? Let me tell you, SIZE MATTERS. And that was the beginning of Jen University which is what I affectionately call her "service" when she comes over to help me figure out what is bugging me about a certain room in my house. Jen knows things off the top of her head that I'd never heard of like caning and which metals can mix with satin nickel cabinet pulls.  

Speaking of mixing, I'm not the best at mixing it up when it comes to fashion styles either.  Again, growing up with the bargains of last year's fashion trend, I was not the best dressed kid in school.  Oh well, I may not have had the latest trends but I had an abundance of clothes because bargains typically meant that the more you bought, the better the sale.  Most of my high school years I never wore the same thing twice. So there, take that high school trendy fashionistas! This habit of curating a wardrobe full of bargains stuck with me for the first twenty years after college. If the Gap had a sale on t-shirts, I bought all 7 colors they had, saving myself ooodles of imaginary money. My closet always looked like a circus tent and yet I never had anything GREAT to wear.  I started asking my friends for help and shopping at places where sales reps conveniently put outfits together for me.  Eventually, I moved on and used a personal stylist which was very convenient and nice. But since I refused to go shopping, she could only do so much with what she had. She was a saint.  Later, it evolved into subscribing to a fashion subscription box (Le Tote, Trunk Club) which I liked but had to quit because I felt very guilty:  1) I do not work so why I needed all these clothes each month was questionable and 2) since I don't work, I should be able to get my ass into a store to shop for myself!!  Over these past couple of years, I have just shopped and hoped for the best. 

As fate should have it, my son played flag football with a boy named Finn this Fall. Finn's mom and I quickly figured out that we share some common friends. OMG! She's the gal who literally went into my friend's closet and did a major overhaul.  Ooooo, was I ever so happy to make this connection!  It turns out Finn's mom Bec, has an impressive, eclectic background of fashion, jewelry and styling. Bec has a passion for fashion.  

I listen, in total admiration, to both of these expert friends of mine as they speak about their respective hobbies. No offense to them, but I don't care about interior design or fashion enough to be jealous of their vast knowledge. What I am jealous about is that they live and breathe their hobby every second of every day. I wish I had a hobby that I was good at too!! Both Jen and Bec have expressed that they want to use their talents to help their friends. This type of help is considered thoughtful pinches. They have showered me with many thoughtful pinches over the past few weeks.  My thought about friends helping friends is that it is very sweet and nice for one or two projects, but ultimately, unless there is money being exchanged for services, no one really ends up a winner if it's more than two projects.  True, it's a hobby and people experience great pleasure in helping their friends shine.  But these women are parents and wives so sooner or later, their "free time" isn't free if they are helping out their friends.  At some point, something will get less attention because it's difficult to be thoughtful and generous to their "clients" at the expense of their family. Or worse, they don't meet their own needs. 

My business mind starting churning. I know there are plenty of people out there that feel the same way as I do.  I want to be educated in these fields but I don't want to completely overhaul my house and wardrobe. For one, that would cost a lot of money and two, we're not really learning anything if we're always hiring someone to do it all for us and three, we may not have the time to invest in multiple appointments.  Many hobby enthusiasts are in a position where they feel extremely awkward charging their friends when they help them because maybe they aren't officially licensed or don't have a degree in that field. Now, consider a completely different angle: the friend who is receiving the free service, can't expect too much from their expert friend because it's only a favor.  I recently said, "I am at your mercy. It's your time table, your schedule, because you are helping me and I know nothing about this project. If I was paying you, then there would be expectations, boundaries, timelines etc."  I think it's even more awkward for the friend who isn't paying for the help.

I have proposed to host dinner and drinks at my house for twenty guests.  My interior design friend Jen and my fashion friend Bec (who haven't met each other yet) will be the featured guests and they would share basic tips that they would pass along to any of their clients. The guests would be given a head's up that they could potentially spend a max of $100. That's a steep price to pay but it includes:  1) food and drink  - you'd spend over $20 at GNO, right? and 2) each guest would have the opportunity to learn a total of 10 tips in interior design and/or the fashion industry.  Here's how it would work: At the beginning of the party, guests could look over the list of tips being offered for the evening. If guests opt out of hearing the info on a specific topic, they can enjoy conversation, drinks and dinner during that time. Meanwhile, in another room, designated for the "classes", there would be a jar to put $10 per guest who comes to learn that tip.  In the end, ten dollars a piece for ten tips, dinner, drinks and girls night out all for $100. Everybody wins.  

You may have an expert friend who knows a whole heck about a subject/hobby/field. For example, photography, flower arranging, betting on horse races, hip hop dancing, social media, knitting. They want to share their knowledge (thoughtful pinch). You want to help them get over the hurdle of charging their friends. Throw a party for them (thoughtful pinch). It doesn't have to be dinner and it doesn't have to be $10 a tip. Just reassure your expert friends that their time and knowledge are valuable. 





Jar, Turkey or Tree

Trick or Pinch