Sonja is thrilled she left Carole's party lizard-less and discusses her ideal business relationship.
I knew of all the people at that table Carole has the time to nurture the lizard and give it a home. Frankly, I am not sure what anyone else would do with this poor little guy and I did not feel I could handle taking home another animal if I did not have too. I already feel like Dr. Doolittle with the hurricane damage and slew of workers, repairmen, playdates, business appointments, shoots, my interns, and the menagerie of pets I already have coming and going. In fact, we still do not know where our hamster is at the moment and the cat knocked the goldfish out of the bowl. It is a constant battle of scheduling. dentists, vets, grooming, new roof, cracked sidewalk, toaster oven demos, catering clients, board meetings. It's Grand Central until my daughter gets home from school. Then the HOMEWORK. How can anyone squabble at a cocktail party???
I don't know what all the fuss is about. Heather and I are two creative women, she is a designer and I am developing a home and lifestyle collection. We have both done many photo shoots over our many years in business. Heather has business partners that invest in her company so she understands as I do that I will have investors to confer with and buyers down the line as well who will like the packaging with the six pack or not.
We do not make all the decisions by ourselves these brands come together as a team.
I had a branding and packaging guy AND photographer who was dying to be in the limelight as well. But Heather insisted I wait until after London to use hers -- so I provided the studio, hair, makeup, stylist, borrowed dresses, accessories, and set props as part of the team
We were two friends working on a creative project bringing together our resources who were all excited to be involved. I didn't want to limit myself to the Samsung microwave concept that Peter Arnell, world renowned brand strategist and marketing communications expert did it 10 years ago because:
1. It did not look original, it looked very Abercrombie.
2. I can't be sure that the investors/ buyers/shopping networks will go for it.
I like to be cautious and cover my bases. I suggested after seeing James' storyboards depicting one with the shirtless man and one without, we did both because I wanted to have an open mind to their first concept. But at the same time be safe and do the second one as well.
At the end, when I was saying both of James' concepts photographed well it was not to take away from the spirit and time Heather had spent with me on the project. I was talking about the shoot. There is much more to do!
I looked at the time I was spending with Heather not only as a finished outcome, and, yes I had a brutal timeline in general to get this toaster marketed and on the shelf, but once we mapped out 8 to 4 pm to a single photo shoot we had plenty of time to bond as friends with a love for the creative arts and business
In my experience two set ups is nothing! Especially in a studio, I have done several inside AND outside locations in half the time. Heather made a comment behind my back that she had no idea what I had planned for the shoot without the man when it was James who had already presented the storyboards one with and one without. And we both agreed we would streamline it so we had a piece of furniture to hold the toaster rather than the man.
I kept the same look other than an apron which my stylist tapped down to the gown. I couldn't resist wearing my tiaras and headbands! Signature Sonja. Voila! In ten minutes we were ready, once I set up the dishes with the food James' college friend who did food styling had prepared earlier.
Same food! Same toaster! Same girl! I have to tell you when they do these shoots I'm a real trooper, but I always wonder if the tables are going to collapse or something silly like that, but I'm game!
I like to enjoy myself and the people I work with. I know my brand, their needs and wants, and I have to say true to that or there is no point in doing it.
James and Heather told me that they specifically did not want Ramona at the shoot. I did not want anyone at the shoot -- not that I was particularly excluding Ramona. I don't think it was intentional, but Ramona had it in her head that I wanted her there and they refused. I did not request Ramona's presence at the shoot. I know I can handle the shoot with this awesome photographer Gian Andrea Di Stefano and a little digital LOL!
But the fact that Heather and I put the team together means, of course, she would be there with me to complete the mission.
I had Ramona at the second meeting because I felt Heather was not listening to me nor understanding my brand. I was so nervous under my own pressures and investment and Ramona knows me well and my brand is my lifestyle. Heather is a new friend and James hadn't even looked at my website. I was worried.
When I complimented Heathers Yummie Tummie logo she offered to help me with my mine because I was not sure that my symbol (logo) the "city girl" would work across the board. I thought it would be too limited to use across the board with Sonja Home, Innovated Living, and Sonja In The City Special Events and Catering.
Therefore when Heather offered to help me I was not expecting to see only a new font (also part of the logo) but a new symbol (logo) I insisted at the first meeting that I needed a larger "J" and decided to go forward with the original girl due to time constraints since they had offered no real change to it. Ramona popped the capital J in the Antiqua font that that they offered and that I had on my bath towels for over 25 years! We separated the girl, as I had said and I think it looks very good for now. As Heather said she changed hers over the years.
Next was the photo shoot. Breezy easy! I do these photo shoots in my sleep! And so do they! When the concept of two setups being too much came to play I was baffled. We also had discussed head shots, food shots, and separate toaster oven shots. Heather had agreed she gets as much as possible at one shoot.
I think the underlining tiff between Ramona and Heather made the pressure more intense and also the fact that Heather is a very public business woman also adds pressure. The bottom line is when a friend offers to work on a project with another friends -- one should never rub it in their nose that it's comped or very expensive. It's a gift between friends, whether it's material or intellectual. I was not complaining about James' ideas. I was gracious but wanted to have both of James' concepts to be safe. Heather's motto is to empower woman and make them feel good about themselves. When I produced the film The Marsh, with a $7 million budget we had many trade outs for exposure and super star actors who agreed to work for less. When there were creative differences on the set the Oscar winning actor, artists, and professionals did not resort to complaining about what their pay is or the fact they donated free cars, watches, laptops, etc. for exposure
Sonja in The City throws many comped parties where not a dime is paid and I take the complaints along with the compliment -- but I never say one never paid.
Heather changed her tune at Ramona's red wine party. I think out of the heat she realized I respect her a lot and look forward to a long friendship. She and I are strong minded, but never did I not feel her love and want for me to succeed. She says what she means. And she sticks with it. I respect that. I don't like two-faced. I like to know what I'm dealing with.
I never did request Ramona at the shoot. I think she misunderstood that one.
Janna Bullock's was a Sonja in the City event and used my caterer rather than her usual Italian caterer. I was thrilled she trusted me. Janna has the finest most worldly taste. I had to find a last minute location because her building wouldn't allow it, but R. Couri Hay who I have known almost 30 years pulls through with his beautiful townhouse. There is always a last-minute glitch!
Ramona is hilariouuuuuuus when she is behind Heather talking about her mocking Jacques accent as fake behind her back after saying its not good to talk behind anyone's back. Everyone does it. Heather's says some things behind my back that she doesn't say to me. I call it venting. Of course I care about my brand more than she does. It's how I support my properties, which are businesses in themselves, and how I support my daughter since child support alone doesn't do that.