Thursday, January 8, 2009

TCO - True Cost or True Value?

America loves acronyms especially 3 letters ones, so I was not surprised when I was introduced to TCO - Total Cost of Ownership. Total Cost of Ownership or should it be True Cost of Ownership? I had heard of it and was reminded of it just before Christmas when discussing badly manufactured items. Often these items break right away and can't be fixed, creating hassles, loss of time, waste and pollution, plus adding the cost of having to replace them...

Contrast these items with objects made by local artisans. For example a pair of earrings designed and handmade by me. They transcend fads and current fashion so they will last. They are great conversation pieces as they are unique. They are recognizable. If you buy them and the post breaks, for example, I will fix them as I guarantee them. Or if you lose one earring, I will make a matching earring at half the price of a pair if the materials are available. Essentially you get some value for your purchase and service if needed after your purchase. I find this to be true from most of the items purchased from fellow artists.

A Neckpiece's Journey

Last summer I sold this one of a kind neckpiece at a small show in my hometown of Redwood City, CA. (Shown here with rings and spools of C-Lon Bead Cord and Thread SizeD). The newly constructed town square in front of the Old Courthouse had just won a prestigious prize as best new public place in the U.S. A live band was playing on the square. Lots of people were enjoying a late afternoon and early evening listening to music, having their dinner al fresco with a glass of wine or beer and looking at art by local artists, myself among them. The woman who bought the neckpiece seemed very enthusiastic and happy, left my booth wearing her new purchase around her neck.

Many month later I received a call from a woman who had bought a piece of jewelry. She was not wearing it and wanted to return it, but she did not want a refund nor an exchange. She just wanted to donate it back to me as she deemed the piece too beautiful to be donated to Goodwill. She indicated that she was among a group of the population who did not have any problem paying insurance co-payments, so she felt perfectly comfortable donating things she did not wear. I thought we were talking about a small bracelet and told that I would donate it as a door prize at my next show in her spirit. She replied that it was not a good idea and kept insisting that I should keep it or resell it as she had never worn it. We arranged for her to drop it at my studio. Imagine my surprise when I saw the neckpiece back. I was deeply touched and humbled by her thoughtfulness.

On the winter solstice my yoga group got together for an extra long yoga session with a extended meditation and a solstice celebration with a lunch. Several women in the group had asked me to bring some jewelry as they were looking for gifts. I brought many pieces from my collection on trays, no display... And one of the woman in the group immediately got attracted to the neckpiece that had just been returned to me and decided to purchase it. It looks beautiful on her, as if designed just for her. It just needed to be shortened a bit.

Whenever I think of this neckpiece's journey, I smile and wonder...