We sat in a cafe talking about our year. Me, a nobody with a little label. My friend, the founder of a multi-million dollar beauty brand gone global. On the outside, we don’t have that much in common. But we do share the same faith and are guided by common values.
When I asked how 2017 had gone for her, she didn’t hold back on both the good and the bad.
The encounter was brief, but I feel that hearing her story and sharing a bit of mine, was the most healing thing that had happened in the past few months.
The same feeling of relief washed over me when I read Lisa Bevere’s Without Rival just days earlier. A book about embracing ‘your identity and purpose in an age of confusion and comparison’, I found Bevere’s honest and broken revelations incredibly reassuring and empowering.
The fact that she openly and in such a gutsy way, shared her life’s challenges – right down the most intimate of details – made me realise I’d never get anywhere or help anyone if I continued to life and operate in the same paradigm as I am. You know…. Keeping people at arm’s length (because you never know when they’re going to cut you off or use you). Never telling my story (because they’re going to judge you). Generally, not wanting to rely on others (because they’re going to let you down). And that whole thing of pitting and comparing yourself to others (why bother, you suck anyway).
A few days ago, I was riding home in an Uber when I heard a little voice in my heart tell me, “Just drop it.”
It was such a voice of peace and security, not one of fear, desperation or exhaustion. Just drop it.
It being all that you would have read in the previous handwritten post.
Where my word for the past several years would have been ‘escape’ and all the connotations that come with it, I no longer want to escape. I want to live free, untethered, un-weighed down by all the toxic feelings and situations I/we tend to want to take responsibility for.
So done with that.
In 2018, I’m inviting more balance and lightness into my life. In the words of Lysa TerKeurst in Uninvited to ‘live loved’. That is to say, operating with grace, being ok with who you are (and being unafraid to show it), remembering that you’re not forgotten or left out, and to see things as falling in place (instead of merely falling apart). x
Can you read my writing?
IMPORTANT LESSONS LEARNED THIS YEAR
The phone works both ways Never let yourself be guilted or manipulated by people who take and never give, only to play victim when you walk away from their toxic game. As a mentor of mine rhetorically questions, why are we nicer to people who mistreat us?
Just show up Whether it’s for a one month year old’s party, a friend’s engagement brunch, a wake or a wedding, success in maintaining life’s relationships pretty much boils down to just showing up, I think. You may not have the right things to say. You may be internally griping that you’re wasting a perfectly good Saturday morning, or that you’d much rather be in bed. And you can forget worrying about bringing the perfect gift. I learned while looking around me at our weddings, that all that matters is the people in the room with you. Whatever they were feeling that day, they chose to be there for you when they didn’t have to. And if you can’t make it, for goodness sake, send a card and flowers, would you?
It’s all going to come out anyway You might as well just be your real, fatally flawed, deeply feeling self from the start. The truth is going to scare who it needs to scare and ultimately, attract the people who are really unafraid to love you as you are.
What did you learn this year?
We’ve just wrapped another edition of Boutique Fairs for 2017, and what a ride it has been!
The team and I had an absolute ball meeting and sharing more about Mmerci Encore aromatherapy goods with each and every one of you. Thank you for braving the wind, the jams, and the pre-Christmas rush to come support and encourage us! Your presence gives us such good energy.
As with most fairs though, you do get random oddballs who like to test the boundaries.
Some classic liners this time around include:
I’ve visited your stand before. Can I get a discount?
If I buy two, can I get the second one cheaper?
Is this your best price? (Honey, it’s the only price).
And nobody can forget the guest who came over to touch our crystals, mansplain about them and leave us with: “You know, they collect bad energy too.”
Reeeeeeally? After 15 or so years of collecting minerals, I absolutely did not know that crystals are reservoirs and magnets for light and dark energy. I was just collecting them ’cause they’re shiny and I’m a unicorn. Thanks man, for doing what all those crystal guides and textbooks in my house couldn’t do. Thanks for enlightening me and injecting your bad juju on them and walking away.
Takes all kinds doesn’t it?
In the past, I would have been more apologetic. This time – a lot more assured of what it took to get here – I simply said, “No” to requests for discounts. Or nope, knowing me. And here’s why.
- Everything in life is an exchange of energy. All our goods are handcrafted with a lot of care and intention. Not only is it sourced in small batches, it is blended and bottled, labelled and packaged all entirely by hand by someone who spent years educating herself on this craft. Not someone who just saw a few posts on Pinterests and did a coupla workshops and decided to start up a cute business. It is no vanity project.
- All our raw materials are paid for in either Euro, USD or AUD. And to make things fair and competitive, enabling as many folks to try our goods as possible, our markup (if you can call it that!) has always been low for the quality, time, and type of glass bottles we use. Yes, there are always cheaper alternatives but we’re going for quality here
- If you are concerned about our footprint and these raw materials being sourced abroad, please start farms and bring in your cold-pressed/distilling machines, apply and pay for organic cert testing here and we’ll think about buying raw materials from you
- The majority of our bottles are sourced in Singapore, our sticker labels are made in Singapore, our staff are proudly Singaporean
- Once you’ve declared the need for a discount, you’ve also decided you don’t value our work. This makes us want to take the said item out of your hands and place it back on the table, for someone else to discover and truly appreciate
- Importantly, the idea that some entitled people think it’s ok to bargain down a local craftsperson but would never dream of doing this at a doctor’s clinic, fashion label or restaurant whether in Singapore or abroad is appalling. How have you decided that it’s ok to do? Would you go to a cafe and say, “If I order two lobster rolls, can you give me the second one at a cheaper price?” Would you go to a jeweler in New York or Tokyo and say, “I’ve visited before. Can you give me a discount?” Or, “Hey Parisian artist. Last time I bought your sketch, you got discount now?” They’d be like, TF?! And I know, sometimes bargaining is part of the culture. Take Morocco for example where they get insulted if you don’t negotiate (which is why they also have an astronomical opening price when you start bargaining). But this is Not. The. Time. And this is Not. The. Place.
- Not that it matters, but I’m sure you have had pieces of avocado toast that cost waaaay more than our single note oils or jade rollers.
- Staring at our products for 10 minutes only to then declare, “I only use Brand XYZ” is like me going to Fendi and telling everyone, “I only wear Comme des Garcons.” Good. For. You. We’re not really sure what to do what that info, but good for you.
Our clients know us to be generous and giving when we can (we have our ways, none of which we publicise!). We never cheap out on people. In fact, we’re like that grandma who always packs food and goodies in your backpack for later.
It’s embarrassing for you, and for us, to have to continue explaining to the 0.5% of people who ask for discounts this. So if you are at a store or a fair, and are tempted to tell the craftsperson what you think their goods are really worth to you via asking for a mark down, please don’t. It’s not cute or endearing. You won’t win points for intelligence. Don’t embarrass yourself. Project humility and worldliness by pretending to appreciate something truly made from the heart.
That old adage about the customers being right is true, to a point. We’re still going to treat you with kindness and respect, but graciousness you have to bring to the table all on your own.