One of the topics at this week's TEDxSF conference was the Millennials and their effect on contemporary society. This population, made up of the children of Boomers, is forging such a new path through our world, and I think many Boomers have a mixture of Millennial-envy and a funny kind of identity with them. I know I do.
I found myself thinking about this as I recalled the uncannily parallel paths my daughter and I are on, though I am well aware that she will shortly overtake me and go on to much greater heights in her career. I trained as a fashion designer 35 years ago; she is a rising fashion star at age 22. Just this past week, she and I were both at our respective photoshoots, she shooting images of the Fall 2011 collection of her eponymous Zana Bayne line of edgy contemporary leather accessories, me shooting images of artful clothing for a more mature audience, for my contemporaries. Parallel lives, similar paths, you might say. In fact, Zana used to describe us as “Apple and Tree”.
But the reality is that how she is doing what she is doing is so wonderfully Millennial. Here is a business which was born through a blog (garbagedress.com), born through the magic of social media and Zana’s creating a personal style, a following, an international network of interested parties who converted to customers once she launched e-commerce. No backers, no advertising, no hype, just the power of a smart talented entrepreneurial young woman using the tools of her time to create zanabayneleather.com and landing with her work on Lady Gaga’s dancers just a few weeks ago.
My business at artfulhome.com is far more traditional. While it is an online business born in the first bubble with an interesting non-traditional model, it is fueled by more traditional direct marketing techniques and vendor relationships. The clothing part of the business is reaching out to boomer women with styles that celebrate all that a mature woman is: gutsy, unique, experienced, but maybe a little thicker around the middle than she once was. And it is hitting a chord with my contemporaries as much as Zana’s business is with hers.
I often think that were I to start a business today I might do it quite differently, but I suspect that is better done by Zana and her generation. Her generation makes up the consumer group that responds so differently from my peers, and therefore will continue to explore and change, and I, Boomer that I am, must admit that it is her time.