Sunday, September 23, 2007

In part of my neverending quest to discover why my business does so poorly, I was talking with a friend of mine. She suggested that I'd do better if I had a solid brand image. I'd like of thought I'd had one, but other people's perceptions are what matter here. So, if you've got a few minutes and don't mind answering: what's Miriel mean to you? Thanks.

Also, I'm redoing my eyes. I'm just cleaning up the reflection in them, so it looks bit less MS Paint.

Here's the old reflection:



And here's the new:



It's just a little neater, and sits a teensy bit higher on the eye.

23 Comments:

Blogger Grazia Horwitz said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

September 23, 2007 10:06 AM  
Blogger Grazia Horwitz said...

awwww.. Miriel means to me one of the best jewelers in SL and my crack eye dealer (btw.. the redone ones look even better than the current, although I didn't think that would be (possible)and ok.... I confess.... you share that title with Toast..... Oh did I mention that your gowns look great too... and your hair? Maybe that is part of the problem... in your shop there is so much diversity that is is hard for customers to have your name pop up first when they need something. Hmmm.. I probably just added to the confusion with this comment, but I hope you can work it out and be happy with whatever you decide. Ttys!!

September 23, 2007 10:08 AM  
Blogger Tanya Book said...

Well when I think of Miriel's as a brand I first think of gorgeous jewelry with incredible jewel textures.

But when I think I want a new pair of eyes, Miriel's is the first place I think of. Same thing with Medival/Rennisance style clothing.

September 23, 2007 10:14 AM  
Blogger Rose Farina said...

Tanya posted what I was going to say ...

I did take a friend there recently to get new eyes... they said that the vendors were confusing...

I've personally never found them that way :D I am jealous of them in fact! Thought I would share with you just incase though.

Took another friend past your expo booth and she loved your work

September 23, 2007 11:20 AM  
Blogger elka said...

If you wouldn't have mentionned it publicly like you just did, I would have NEVER guessed you "did poorly" (even if I still doubt you do :P) with your business... Your items are of inimaginably high quality, and the prices are so low it's almost a joke...... And whoever whines about complicated vendors probably lack a few parts in the brain (god I mean, doesn't take a degree, you click on what you want, hello?!) I WISH I had them for my own store because they are the most clever thing ever!!!!!
I think maybe you just had one of those days??? Hehe anyways, so maybe only reason I could see would be stronger logo / brand or whatever, a very distinctive logo always helps a store. And also, maybe less tiny prims. This might sound weird, and I know many won't agree, but I have this thing where I am not too fond of super delicate jewel. Whenever we are zoomed out... do we see them? No. So I tend to prefer bigger things, more bold stuff. Another thing is that you don't release things so often... Now, to me that's not important (I prefer less releases and more unique things to gazillions of releases with always the same pattern over and over...) but unfortuantly these days it seems like those people get more attention. I don't know... Maybe also looks at what's popular outside SL, I know following trends can suck, but the fashionista crowd is really stylish and will look for things that can associate themselves with. Is you make victorian or middle age things, people will associate you to it, like for your gowns or hair. Then they are mixed up... So you either have a "type" shop, with just that in it, or maybe 2 separated lines/stores... Anyways like I said, personally I think you do just fine and I am super suprised to hear the contrary, but if I were to find out why, those are my ideas/opinions for whatever they are worth (about 2 cents LOL) *HUGS* you!!

September 23, 2007 12:02 PM  
Blogger elka said...

Oh and a forgot something... Maybe a few branches here and there, in very trendy shopping spots, instead of just one main store :D

September 23, 2007 12:03 PM  
Blogger Torrid said...

Miriel you have amazing jewelry and you're at the top of my list when I'm looking for something. My suggestion would follow along the lines of elka's last comment. Put some more branches of your store out there, list your items with a SL Shopping site like OnRez (http://shop.onrez.com/), and post wherever possible when you release something new.

Sometimes how often you release can effect your business as well. Maybe think about doing more simplistic/casual jewelry that might take you less time and in turn allow you to release newer items more often.

Whatever you decide to do don't think for one minute that poor business has anything to do with quality of your product! You're a true talent :).

September 23, 2007 12:21 PM  
Blogger Brandy Rasmuson said...

The first thing that comes to mind when I think of Miriel is affordable, classy jewelry. The fact that you have so many other things is icing on the cake, and I'll also go on the record as loving your vendors.

I'm really surprised that you don't do a ton of business. Maybe the suggestions of more frequent releases and a mall shop or two would help you get more people in the door. Once they were there, I'm sure they'd find lots to buy.

September 23, 2007 1:32 PM  
Anonymous Aberystwyth Lane said...

When I think of Miriel, I think beautiful product for excellent value -- like the other commenters, I'm surprised that your biz doesn't thrive. Your store was the first place I bought jewelry (I'd wanted to try something tasteful but, since it was an experiment, didn't want to spend a lot of Lindens), and my first lovely and simple dancing dress. And it's the only place I shop for eyes -- hands down (see: http://www.flickr.com/photos/aberystwythlane/1415010871/ )

I think perhaps a separate room for the Elven and Fairy themed things might make sense. That way you could target different audiences more successfully. Otherwise I'm not sure what to recommend -- I saw your stuff mentioned on Flickr, came to the shop, and got immediately hooked, so... it's hard to imagine others don't do the same. Maybe a freebie set of eyes given away to Newbies in one of the big freebie areas, just to get the word out? Upstairs at GNubies, for example, would be perfect.

I personally like the way the store is laid out and separated into different rooms -- makes it easy to navigate.

I hope you can boost your business and continue to offer beautiful things at reasonable prices. Thanks for all that you do and produce!

September 23, 2007 3:23 PM  
Blogger Casandra Shilova said...

I didn’t realize that you don’t have good brand recognition for jewelry. You are the first jeweler I "discovered". And my inventory proves I appreciate your artistry. You also do a wonderful job on eyes, and create the only ones I wear.

Your home store is so tucked away that it is a destination, not one you can stumble across as you investigate a shopping area. I know you have other shops, but most aren't aware of it.

When I think of brand image, the first I think of is Last Call. They release tons of quality designs on a regular basis, which is impressive in sheer magnitude, and they have the Last Call "look". I too prefer a small release every week. Many designers are very off again on again. Kudos for being usually quite regular with releases. I agree with much of what has been said.

Your vendors are great. Maybe if customers clicked a metal on the wall and then only had to choose stone and copy/transfer that would simplify it enough. Some designers are eliminating the transfer option. I would personally prefer you didn’t though – I have shared a few collections with my alt.

I think you're spreading yourself too thin. It's something I do in RL, so it's easy for me to recognize. I am not well known in my group of artisans, simply because I don't specialize.

Advertising might be a good idea - on a fashionista blog with a big reader base, such as Linden Lifestyles. You're quick to respond to customer needs. Your method of handling of the re-work on your cotehardie is just what I would expect of the professional you have shown yourself to be in every aspect.

You have a very good logo (simple, clean design, with a bit of romantic styling) that you use to good advantage.

Pairing up with other designers on projects might be good for your image. Each of you design what you are best known for. A cozier look to the shop? Sofa, reading lamp, book? Jewelry cases and table displays with the jewelry displayed on black velvet, hairstyles on a styrofoam head – just visual, not a purchase option. A few of the 3-D models someone blogged about wearing clothing, hair, jewelry.

Look at what the celebrities are wearing. Possibilities: 1) Work with the trends at least part of the time. Release one trendy thing for every serious piece of jewelry. 2) Make Miriel Everyday trendy 3) Do photo shoots that show how your piece works with popular clothing, with an inset close-up of your creation. I too love delicate prims, but some of your work is difficult to see at any distance. A RL friend pointed out to me that everything is scaled bigger in SL – houses, furniture (beds), spaces (negative spaces to an artist). Many of us are the same height in SL as RL. Many AV’s are 6’-7’+ they need a larger scale of jewelry to look “right”, just as they do eyes. Our camera shows both us and other AV’s from a distance, so you must zoom in to see any detail work. Think of the 10’ rule – will it have the look you are after from 10 feet away?

I remember my excitement as a newbie when I realized I could pick any hairstyle I wanted at GuRL 6 – any!!! Include two vouchers for one free piece of jewelry and eyes. Along with a nice discount coupon (for after they have $L) in with your freebie to newbies. Replace the freebie at Lone Dove (?) with an easily visible interesting piece (I kept casual pearls for months, but could hardly see the necklace). Interest new AVs in your designs right away.

Casie

September 23, 2007 4:36 PM  
Blogger Miriel Enfield said...

Thanks, everyone. And hugs to you, too, elka. :)

I actually do release things once a week, though I've missed about four weeks total since this summer. Other people have mentioned the itty bitty prims I use, too, and that's something I'm trying to avoid in my newer pieces.

I have about four freebies that I give away at freebie places, but they're all jewelry. Doing some freebie eyes is something I've considered, but it's not quite as simple as doing free jewelry. If I give away a free necklace, there are a lot more necklaces I can make and charge for. If I give away a free pair of brown/green/blue eyes, well, there are only so many shades of brown/green/blue out there. And doing vouchers would drive me utterly insane, I think.

I keep meaning to post on OnRez and SLX, but this involves reshooting a lot of my product images, so that's kind of a pain.

September 23, 2007 6:24 PM  
Anonymous Nor said...

To me Miriel means beautiful, elegant tasteful creations. I've always thought of it as a sophisticated upperclass boutique where everything's so lovely to look at and yet priced rather reasonably.

I'm actually stunned to hear that you don't do well and I can only thing that's either because you don't advertise enough or there just isn't masses of stuff to buy. It's definitely not the quality of your creations.

Being a guy the only things I've bought have been your eyes, but those eyes are my second-favourite in all of secondlife. Since I have this tendency to go impulse-buying eyes and have far more than I know what to do with take that as a huge compliment. The only reason they're not my total favourite is because most of the time I wear 'cartoonier' eyes. But yours are lovely.

Your jewelry is exquisite and I enjoy looking at it, even though there's nothing that I can wear. I'd like to see some elegant male jewelry. I don't think you should change your style though. I love what you make, the delicateness of it all and think it would be a travesty if you started churning out clunky bits of bling.

You have freebies that are of such a wonderful high quality that I often take my friends by to see them, and then we ooh and ahh over the other items there and there's some impulse buys. I'd love to see a freebie set of eyes in your store, since free-eyes would be a perfect reason for me to take newbies there and I've found that they do tend to go back to places where they've found nice things before. It also helps more than the demo-eyes to see if eyes look nice on you. It's difficult to tell with 'demo' written on the eye whether it'll work or not. I got a free pair of eyes as a newbie from Eeron's and loved them so much that it's where I buy most of my eyes from. I think if your eyes were the first ones I'd ever had I might have done the same in your store. Which 'normal' colour of eyes do you sell least of? Perhaps you could give that away? You just need one shade and there are an infinite amount of colours and so many subtle differences in eyes. I have tonnes of eyes, I should know. No two pairs of my purple-eyes are the same and some fit better for different occassions and that still doesn't stop me going "OOOH I love those purple eyes" and buying myself another pair. :)

I do love the look of your store too. It's clean and open, uncluttered and just seems to fit perfectly with all the items you create. 3D models of the jewelry would be nice though so people can see what they're getting.

You have a lovely store though. I just wish you did some more things other than the eyes I could buy.

September 23, 2007 9:15 PM  
Anonymous Choice Sliter said...

Hi Miriel,

I have such respect for your work that, believe or not, I was thinking about your post all day. I didn't feel I had a right to offer advice since I don't design anything or run an SL business, but in the end I decided to throw in my two cents along with all of the other good advice you have received.

1. Consider adding a tag line and then using it on all packaging, land descriptions, signatures, and advertisements. It tell people know what you do in one short phrase. Miriel: Affordable Jewelry, Eyes, Clothing, and Accessories. It's not sexy, but it communicates. A more branded tag line might be, Miriel: Fantasy-inspired jewelry and accessories for women. A tag like that communicates, but limits your range, which isn't necessarily a bad thing if currently customers are confused. Sometimes it pays to specialize and exploit your best niche, until customer get what you do and can't stay away.

2. Advertise in any widely-read SL media, including those dedicated to fashion--but not ONLY on those dedicated to fashion.

3. Do some cross-pollinating. Do you have a favorite skin or hair designer? Perhaps our eyes could be sold in their shop. These are pairings that make logical cross=sale opportunities. Even a well-designed billboard at one of he shops that generates a landmark could be the thing that starts driving people to your business.

4. On that same note, consider partnering with another clothing designer for a shared release and market the hell out of it: "Clothing by M&M, Accessories by Miriel."

5. Know a clothing designer who is doing fashion show? Have his/her outfits paired with your jewelry. Or donate your eyes to all the models in a show and make sure the marketing information, program, and the host state something like, "Our show models' eyes are exclusively provided by Miriel, in Nouveau." Iy doesn't matter if no one can see a model's eyes. What you want is the brand recognition.

6. Your store has a nice layout and though the vendors are different, they are really easy to use. What I think is missing, however, is a clear identity and sense of place. It's bit too open and blank, without the ad posters, shelves, lounge areas and lighting that has started to become standard in a lot of SL boutiques. It sounds silly, but the mood a store creates an impression on the customer, even in the virtual world. Right now, I feel your build doesn't match the high quality of your items or communicate anything about what Miriel is, except blank. Sadly, I do feel this opening sentence from your Linden Lifestyles review accurate, "Your first impression when you visit Miriel is that it seems to be a very small, half-empty store."

7. I am sure you are already doing most, if not all of these, but Alaska Metropolitan has good marketing advice here:
http://tinyurl.com/2jwnrj

Finally, I'll say that some of these things may be time-consuming and you might need some help. If you're interested, please contact me in world. I'd like to help.

September 24, 2007 4:13 AM  
Anonymous Freyja Nemeth said...

I first came across Miriel when searching for medieval/fantasy-type clothing and ended up finding your blogpost about the Elaine gown. Once I'd found that, I was pleasantly surprised to find lovely jewellery and rather unique hairstyles too that worked well with such a look (and that's pretty rare in SL, where most fantasy jewellery or hair is way over-the-top).

It was not, I suppose, as easy a find as one could have wished, so perhaps one idea would be to market your medieval/fantasy-type items to potential markets more heavily. It may be that those markets don't actually look for more realistic/period-accurate gowns, hair or jewellery, but it may also be that it will take a bit of work to get them used to it.

September 24, 2007 5:33 AM  
Blogger Delilah Karas - Style Schmyle said...

Hmm. As a member of a group which constantly answers the questions a) where can I get great eyes and b) where can I get jewelry that's classy and affordable, I can honestly say I answer Miriel to both those questions.

My personal favorite eyes are yours and I have quite a collection

I recently met someone who commented something to the effect that they knew I had good taste because I was wearing your jewelry. :)

I would suggest perhaps pimping the variety of your products a bit more. Miriel..not just jewelry any more, Or something.

And the other suggestions make sense also. good luck!

September 24, 2007 6:22 AM  
Blogger Tanya Book said...

Miriel, if you want some photos shot for OnRez & SLX, I could probably help. I already own over half your active inventory. :)

Also you might consider using a few models in vendor packaging. I know you try to go for a different 'look' in several of your ads so they don't seem as repetitive, but several models I know will work for stuff.

September 24, 2007 9:43 AM  
Anonymous Cyranetta said...

Being rather to to SL, I find most of the artists whose work I wish to purchase through blogs and links from blogs (which is how I found yours and made sure to add it to my RSS reader so I would not miss your latest news.

Perhaps one possibility would be to find an era that has been underserved so far and make that your "lure." (For example, I haven't been able to find anything based on the era just pre-WWI.) Or recreate the crown jewels of various royal houses.

Your work is such high quality that I'm sure it will soon be a "must" destination for the discerning shopper.

September 24, 2007 11:19 AM  
Blogger Miriel Enfield said...

Thanks for the offer, Tanya, though I prefer to model my own stuff.

And thanks to everyone else who's commented. :)

September 24, 2007 2:09 PM  
Blogger CronoCloud said...

Your business does poorly? Say what? People don't love you? To me it seems like most of the fashionistas on the grid wear Miriel Eyes.

To me, Miriel is: Tasteful, elegant, classy jewelry and pretty eyes.

My suggestions:

More cross marketing, people who like your eyes and stuff tend to like certain skins/hair/clothes so cross market with those folks.

Do you have a store in Caledon? Caledonians are the types to go gaga of your jewellery.

Store in the Elf sims?

As has been suggested, maybe different stores with different themes. Miriel Modern, Miriel Medieval, Eyes on Miriel.

Thats all I could think of.

September 24, 2007 7:51 PM  
Blogger Miriel Enfield said...

Elf sims?

No, no Caledon store. I'm a little short on outright Victorian stuff, and aren't there big waiting lists for those sims? But I'll keep it in mind.

September 24, 2007 9:03 PM  
Blogger Casandra Shilova said...

No one has mentioned groups. It seems that the designers who really hype their group generate excitement and more blog reviews (group freebies are frequently blogged) thus encouraging new members.

I've seen freebies for everyone, freebies for two randomly draw names each month, freebies for all when every so many members join.

Freebies need to be distinctly Miriel and something that isn't available in the shop or a color (to die for - or - a color that it obviously should come in such as basic black) just for the group.

I feel that every time there is a new occasion for a freebie, it should be a new freebie. i.e. the freebie needs to be a fresh new one and not the one that was given out at the last show or the one that has been sitting in a huge gift box in the shop for months (less really can be better). Or if it is the same, the note that comes with it should say so, so that the recipient doesn't need to do an inventory search to see if they already have it.

I have a wonderfully extravagant necklace from Kress Kreations that was a one-of-a-kind freebie! It didn't turn out the way she liked, so she popped it in a freebie box. I thoroughly enjoy it and feel very fortunate.

A gift just for joining, the ability to look back over announcements for the past 30 days and pick up any freebies during that period of time, drop something on group members - and - put it out in the shop (well labeled) and mentioned on your blog where they have to activate their group tag to purchase it for 1L.

RL marketing shows that most people don't drop the insurance or magazine or whatever that they were hooked into by a special deal - therefore generating more sales at full price in the long run.

Group getting to know you events: teas, picnics, dances, live music, treasure hunts, unveiling of a new line. It's too easy for us to just let time go by, offer a get together at least once a quarter. Make it something where it won't matter if only 3 people make it. Members that couldn't come will remember that you had a fun event available.

I'm in a couple of groups where the designer is always in the shop after she makes an announcement or drops a gift on us. As people come in she just says hi. They are available for questions. As they get to know you, greet you with enthusiasm. Then every time I run across them somewhere, there's comfortable chat.

September 25, 2007 3:38 AM  
Blogger CronoCloud said...

There's a waiting list for Caledon land, but subleasing is allowed now, (or will be soon if it isn't ready yet). Also, maybe Jackal Ennui has a spot where you can place an item or two.

September 25, 2007 4:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your eyes are the best in SL as far as I am concerned. I change them as often as my hair :))) --Samara Barzane

September 30, 2007 3:33 AM  

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