Wednesday, September 8, 2010

...So, Perfectionism: Is it a Good Thing?

You may be wondering why I felt compelled to extoll the virtues of perfectionism earlier.  Even if you weren't wondering, I'm going to tell you anyway.  Remember my post about our stay at The Sanctuary resort on Kiawah Island a couple of weeks ago?  Well, what I didn't tell you is that I made them move us to another room after the first night because I noticed splatter marks on the walls around the toilet in the first room.  Gross, right?  Vomit, or... I don't even want to think about what else it could have been!  Soon after moving into the second hotel room, I was grossed out by the discovery of black mold between the marble tiles of the shower stall, and we asked the front desk to have it cleaned.  The black mold remained throughout our stay, as did a dirty tissue from a previous guest out on the balcony.  Now, does this tell you more about the hotel, or more about me?  Are my standards just too high?

One thing I can assure you of is that perfectionism comes in handy in the field of high-end design.  As I was reminded on my vacation, it does not feel good to be paying a lot of money for something and then have to complain about everything in order to get things done right.  That's why I finally looked the other way where the mold and dirty Kleenex were concerned -- I resigned myself to the fact that, no matter how much money I paid, no matter which room they put me in, the room would probably not be cleaned to my standards, and it's not like there was another 5-star hotel on the island that I could move to.  I had to make the best of things, but my memories of the trip are soured by the fact that I paid through the nose to stay in a dirty hotel room.  In my work, I obsess about the details in hopes that my clients will love everything the first time, without having to point out flaws and without having to feel bad about complaining in order to get what they want.

Remember the discontinued embroidered silk fabric that I'm having recreated by a custom embroiderer for my client who was the victim of a house fire?  I got a sample of the custom embroidery today, and I spent the better part of an hour agonizing over every little detail.  There it is, on the left in this photo, with a sample of the original fabric on the right.  Isn't it gorgeous?  The thread color definitely needs to be a darker shade of brown, but as I examined the samples side-by-side, and viewed the embroidery file in my computer software program, I found several nit-picky, minute revisions to request.  This fabric is going to be used for ceiling mounted swags that are going to be seen from across the room; no one is going to get this close to the embroidery once the window treatments are installed anyway.  Yet my client is investing a lot of money in these draperies, trusting me to deliver a couture quality product that begs to be admired up close.  There's no such thing as a perfect design, a perfect drapery, or even a perfect fabric, but the goal is always to leave as little room for improvement as possible. 

I have a feeling that my very talented digitizer, who does beautiful work that I am absolutely awestruck by, is probably whipping up a little Rebecca voodoo doll right about now after receiving my feedback on his design work.  Soon I am going to be experiencing mysterious, sharp pains inflicted by stick pins far, far away...  Still, I'd rather spend more time and energy getting the design right at this stage than have 16 yards of silk custom-embroidered and sewn into window treatments, only for my client to be disappointed by the quality on installation day.  Perfectionism: It's A Good Thing!


Unknown said...

As an occasional client for high-end goods and services, I love to see an attitude like yours. It reminds me (in contrast) of the cast iron wood stove I purchased last year. I chose the Lexus of wood stoves, which worked better design-wise in our country home and promised hassle-free operation. I reasoned that the extra cost would be more than made up for in benefits.

What I received was hostile and shoddy service. They shrugged when I mentioned a problem with the stove and grudgingly came out to take a look several times, always leaving without a solution. I finally had to spell it for the owner, "When I spend $7,000 in your store, I expect you and your employees to solve any issues that crop up quickly and cheerfully."

The fact that you're taking the time to ensure that any little issues are taken care of before the client sees them is a blessing. As a client of the recreated fabric, I might not mention that the new version was slightly different, but I might notice... and remember. Your perfectionism will pay off!

Rebecca Grace said...

Taragl: Thanks for stopping by, and thank you for your sweet words. I hope you finally got your issues squared away with the wood stove and that you're able to enjoy it now. Curling up near the stove with a nice, hot cup of coffee sounds pretty nice, especially with fall creeping up on us!

Ivory Spring said...

It is a good thing, indeed! :)