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Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Notes On A Dutch Auction And The Real Reason I Am Shutting Down The Site In June

At the end of each Dutch Auction Sale my brain is a little nuked and the first day after I have lodged the last of the post I treat myself to something. Whether it be a half day off to spend time with my daughter or whether it is a massage or a long yum cha lunch, I don't normally have any exact ritual but it usually will include an early morning walk.

The sales we conduct are always times for pause and reflection. Especially a Dutch Auction, because it is somewhat a catharsis, all that silk and all those bows and things you have cut and made suddenly leave you and you are left contemplating the void and what's next. They are also a time for a very real and raw assessment of what people make of you and your products.

A lawyer ordinarily charges by the hour and has his rates on a card in his office. A doctor is usually the same. Accountants too. But people selling products, especially fashion, fresh food and technology, know that something has a window of which it's ripe for sale, and then the moment is gone and you can't extract the same price. We suffer from this to some extent. I could say we make 'timeless fabrics' and spend our time making 'products that will last for generations to come' but regardless of whether that is my ethos, the general public will make up their own mind. And a Dutch Auction, as my occasional walking companion Satyajit Das reminded me the other day, is the most honest way to establish the true value for something.

On that reasoning alone I am left with a somewhat unpleasant taste in my mouth. It doesn't matter that you designed the silk from the ground up, or how many hours you spent going back and forth with your silk mill contacts in Italy over phone, chat or email. Or how much time you spent with your designer to finalise what was your initial conception. The 5am rises to start cutting work so you could add additional stock to the website for the sale. The opportunity cost that you've spent your best years pursuing an art form that might very well die with the next wave of global capitalism and the next fervour for fast and cheap street fashion. Arrggghhhh! Pictures of Edward Munch's scream circle.... You watch, you wait, you listen and you wait some more.... to see how your customers will behave in the Dutch Auction. 30% goes by, it's uneventful. 40%, you start to sweat. 50% you finally get the tuna circling the bait ball. 60% the attack begins. 70% and what was once a frenzy is now much more calculated, more like a Great White Shark taking it's prey than reef sharks in a food frenzy. And then it's gone. Poof. Was it all a dream?

My late grandmother once said to me 'it doesn't matter how high you go, you must come down for water'. My Dutch Auctions are me coming down for water. A brutal reminder that you don't have the white heat of Tom Ford, you don't have the kudos and heritage of Charvet - you still have a great deal of miles to travel and no rest in sight.

In the end I opted to visit my Russian masseuse for my treat. I'll call him Boris. Boris is just about the craziest Russian residing in Sydney. I was tense from staring at computer screens for 3 days straight. I was tight in my abdomen and tight in my back. You spend half your day sitting in front of computers, designing and communicating, the rest of the day bent over a desk packing and sending.

Boris started pressing his fingers into my back in a way which felt like he was fingering dough on a chopping board, altogether not relaxing in the slightest. I was switching off only I had to start listening to Boris' world view, because that's the price you pay for a discount massage - you have to soak up the masseuse's ideology. Add Russian accent now:

' You see Nickolai, your body is like a city and right now your Harbour Bridge has four lanes, but sometimes in the evening they switch out one lane going this way to get more lanes coming opposite direction. This is the story! Now you get accident in Waverton but this affect traffic trying to come to North Sydney so Bridge might get clogged but maybe not. And maybe all that's needed is to clear car crash in Waverton so that traffic can all start to flow again. This is the story! This, you don't need to know what suburb I am pressing, but this is area causing blockage. Apifstato! Look you see, you hear the stomach. Right, turn over to your side".

Boris doesn't end there. In the forty minutes I end up spending there he tells me about the Rothschilds and their grip on global finance, the fact that the Windsors are illegitimate royalty which is known by many European aristocrats but they do nothing about it. He says the fact that they don't have passports is proof. He also says if you go to town hall in the city you see the traces of where the real city of Sydney once was and that someone altered history to protect us from a great tragedy that occurred some time ago during the Industrial Revolution. Honestly, by the time I leave I feel like I have completely forgotten what the fuck I was ever worried about with my own existence. It was well worth the money.

But amongst all the black coal I was forced to sift through in Boris' discourse about the world we live in, he left me with a superb diamond. It was as we were finishing the ritual of having my back and neck cracked that he said:

"You have to believe in what you are selling. Only the best bullshitters win in the advertising game. It is all false. Its bullshit. These days the make content to sell products. One woman was making You Tube videos, she is fitness guru, this is the story, but when she go on tv show they ask her how she makes the money but in the end 15 thousand a month comes from supplements. But if you can believe in what you are selling, then when you are advertising, even though you are bullshitting, you will be offering some truth to what you do."

I think I understand what he meant. We are subjected to a lot of bullshit and advertising and a lot of content these days, this blog included. But amongst the bullshitters there are those that are just bullshitting and those that genuinely believe in their bullshit. I would like to think that I fall into the latter category. And so, another Dutch Auction ends, and so I continue on, unsure as to whether we have a genuine mandate to continue. And rather than get a holiday I am booking into a self-help course to see if I can unleash more creative and dynamic thinking on this company.... in the vain hope that we will eventually be able to do away with Dutch Auctions completely. :)

The journey continues....

My morning walks in Sydney, a wonderful way to make a break from the day before and a start to the day ahead.


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