On Sunday, I celebrated my birthday.
I actually like getting older, because I like who I’m becoming.
I’m quicker to call bullshit.
My courage grows stronger.
I deepen and grow.
I let go.
I feel like I become more of who I was always meant to be.
For years, I’ve chosen a word (or two) to guide me through my next evolution.
I want my word to embody something that gets me excited when I wake up each morning, and yet challenging enough that I have a few doubts to work through.
When the new year rolled around, I couldn’t find that word.
Last year, it was style & substance.
This year, I was drawing a blank.
Words such as authenticity, adventure, dazzling, powerful…well, they just weren’t cutting it.
I don’t like to force things, but rather, let things find me, so I decided to just let it be.
Then, my brilliant friend, Angela, announced her word of the year: Nordstroms.
Thanks to her inspiration, a lightbulb went off, and my word found me.
My word of the year resides in Paris on 24 Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honore.
It is Hermès.
I’ve come a long way since my days of living like a Wal-mart — packing my life with useless excess, allowing everyone and their mama come through my doors, fighting the crowds and letting my heart be open 24-7 to whoever, whenever, with a sale sign.
Hermès is quite the opposite. Like 180 degrees opposite.
In case you don’t know (because at one time, I didn’t), Hermès is one of the top luxury companies in the world that started in Paris in the early 1800s making horse harnesses and bridles for the English nobleman. Today, their product line includes leather, lifestyle accessories, perfumery, clothing and other luxury goods.
Mention the word Hermès, and you’re whisked away to old-world luxury, where taste, subtle sophistication and refinement reside.
However, choosing this word doesn’t mean I’m going to be buying the Birkin bag (with a minimum price tag of $15,000) or wearing their scarves every day.
Here’s what it means to me to live a year like Hermès:
Take what’s available and make it remarkable
The notable orange Hermès boxes didn’t start out that way. In fact, their first boxes were a cream color. So, why the potiron orange now? Because after WWII, there was a shortage of paper. The house of Hermès was stuck with orange. They took it and made it their luxury brand color. And, to this day, a woman loves to see those orange boxes stacked in her closet.
How to live it: Life isn’t always perfect. Take what’s handed with you and use your imagination to turn it into something remarkable.
Aim for Refinement, not Excess
Even though it’s grouped into the luxury brand industry, Jean-Louis Duman, head of the company, prefers the word ‘refinement.’ They stick to their mission to craft products with the most beautiful materials made by the most talented artisans. They don’t get caught up in trends. They don’t use celebrities in their advertisements. Instead, they focus on their values and stand on the solid backbone of quality and tradition.
How to live it: With so much noise and FOMO (fear of missing out) in our culture, more than ever, I want to be more like Hermès and stay true to my values and offer a quality experience (whether it’s through our company or in my personal relationships) and not be persuaded to follow the masses. When everyone is going right, I want to be sauntering left. Over time, staying true to one’s self pays off.
You may enter, but you’ll quickly be escorted out
When you walk through the doors on 24 Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honore, you’ll notice a well dressed lady or gentleman standing at the front door at attention. They have expectations of anyone who enters the store: that you won’t start yanking things off the shelf without asking, that you’ll greet the salesperson with respect, that you won’t be loud and obnoxious and that you’ll act like a lady or gentleman. Being well dressed is also preferred. Follow their rules, and you’ll be treated with the utmost respect. Be a jackass, and you’ll be asked to leave.
How to live it: You are welcome into my world, but I, like Hermès, have expectations. They are simple: be kind, understanding and respectful. Be supportive and celebrate life with me. Walk into my life with the intention of adding value, not tearing it apart. I will not tolerate you jerking me around, creating drama or being rude. You will be asked to leave…immediately!
Raise your standards and be met there
Hermès oozes high standards, from the craftsmanship of their products, the design of their stores to their customer service. When sales drop, they may change their marketing strategy, but they never drop their prices. If anything, they may raise them. Years of keeping high standards have attracted customers eager to spend 15K on a bag and tie their scarf around it.
How to live it: When people behave a certain way, don’t like who we are becoming, or we feel like we may be left behind, our tendency is to drop our standards to match those around us. Despite the instincts to react out of fear, I intend to raise my standards (and never devalue my worth), and trust that I will attract more quality relationships into my life.
Focus on craftsmanship and quality
Hermès could be cranking out many more Birkin bags per year, but they remain true to what sets them apart from their competitors: craftsmanship and quality. The Birkin bag is hand-sewn, buffed, painted, and polished by expert artisans in France, taking approximately 3 days to make. No cutting corners with cheaper products or labor. And, they definitely aren’t made in China. When everyone around them is focused on increasing production and cutting corners, Hermès is doing the opposite. And, guess what? They are the #2 ranked luxury brand in the world (worth $19 billion).
How to live it: While Hermes makes handbags, we are crafting our lives. Yet, it’s so easy to get caught up in the more is better mentality and rush through our days cutting corners, and thereby decreasing the quality of our lives. Acting like Hermès requires that we meticulously choose the highest quality ingredients for our lives — people, experiences and things. And, then we must slow down long enough to tend to the details of our lives. If you’re afraid your life will fall apart, think about Hermès and remember $19 billion dollars.
Protect your Birkin
For most people, the Birkin bag is admired from afar. Last year, during fashion week, I ran into Hermès to purchase some scarves. While checking out, I noticed a huge line forming towards the back of the store. When I asked the sales associate what was going on, she informed me it was the line for those who were hoping to see the Birkin, but then she whispered, “Only the lucky ones will get to see it, and very few will be offered the opportunity to buy one.” Imagine: people begging to spend a minimum of $15,000 on a handbag. That’s Hermès!
How to live it: My heart is the beloved Birkin. Yet, for too many years, I treated it more like a rugged backpack, allowing anyone to take it off the shelf, play around with it, tear it apart and disrespect it. I thought I was being all evolved and “enlightened” by taking it, but what I was really doing was suffering a lot of fools and hurting my own heart. The woman I’ve evolved into (and continue to) loves fiercely but she protects her heart like a Birkin. Only the lucky ones who are kind, respectful, supportive and intriguing will be able to touch it (but, unlike the Birkin, it’s not for sale, and even if it was, no one could afford it).
I’m wearing my Hermès bracelet, ridded my Facebook feed of the negative cranky pants and cooked Coq a Vin last night served with Chablis. My year of Hermès is off to a fantastic start. I even love how it rolls off my tongue. Say it with me. Air-mez!
How would Hermès behave?
Where would Hermès spend his time?
What would Hermès allow?
What would Hermès do?
These will be the questions guiding me this year.
Have you chosen a word of the year? If you haven’t found that one, think outside of the box of usual self-help speak (can we give authentic a break?).
Maybe this is your year of Veuve Clicquot or Marilyn. Or Paris or Chanel. It could be your year of the bulldog or the poodle.
Rather than adjectives, think about places, designers, icons, animals or an object that embodies all that you want to feel and become in 2016.
Want to share it with me? I’d love to celebrate it with you in the comments below.
(P.S. Are we connected on Instagram yet? C’mon over and join the party and watch the year of Hermès unfold.