The Lobster Dock, Boothbay Harbor, ME | In My Travels

by Jamie Sanford on September 19, 2016

To see all of my travel posts, click here.

All images taken with the Sony NEX-6.

We were super excited to be invited for a quick weekend trip to Maine by our friends Sara and James. On our first day, they suggested stopping at The Lobster Dock for an early dinner. It did not disappoint.

These buoys are a major staple in the decor of coastal Maine.

I was excited to see a hot lobster roll on the menu, and so ordered one. Also, Maine seems to have no lack of root beer, which I also really enjoy.

The smell around this area was of the sea and cooked seafood.

The stunning view of the harbor from our table was quintessential Maine. Naturally, we scarfed down all of the food, including my amazing lobster roll, before I had a chance to take a photo.

More views before we left!

This was the line as we were leaving. We arrived at just the right time to avoid a long wait. However, I understand why it was there, our food was delicious. I definitely recommend a stop at The Lobster Dock if you are ever in the Boothbay Harbor area.

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This was going to be a product review, but my experience created questions that I think are better fitted to a brand experience post.

I am a big fan of Kat Von D Beauty products. I have a number of eyeshadow palettes and powder foundation, all that I greatly enjoy. During a random trip to TJ Maxx a few weeks back, I was super excited to see some Kat Von D Shade & Light blushes in the beauty section, and quickly scooped up a “Bonnie & Clyde” blush.

Here’s where things get unfortunate.

So much promise.

The focus here is questionable, but you can see the swatches of these 2 blushes on my arm. I expected a LOT more pigmentation than this.

Wow. This is how they looked after I blended over them with a brush. Where did they go? This is a major quality issue.

Beyond this, the product packaging was also a bit disappointing. I am going to directly compare the packaging of this blush with my Kat Von D Lock-It Powder Foundation.

It certainly looks like a lot more thought went into the packaging for the foundation. There is a lot more detail.

The sticker is actually pretty good on the blush, especially with 2 shades of product in the compact.

The packaging quality on the foundation looks much more expensive.

So, if I were reviewing this blush, it would be 0 stars. If I try to put it on my face and it just disappears, is isn’t actually blush. I went online after discovering the issue with this product, and found out that it had actually been pulled from both Sephora and the Kat Von D Beauty website.

Also found this on Reddit:

Here’s where I get to the heart of my issues with my experience.

Why did this product that had CLEARLY been identified as sub-par, get sold to a discount store? As a Kat Von D Beauty fan, I was excited to see what I figured was just excess stock being sold to TJ Maxx, and so I scooped it up. It didn’t occur to me that I should be looking online to find out that this is crap. I know what they say about assumptions, but I didn’t expect a Kat Von D Beauty product to be this terrible.

This makes me REALLY wonder who at Kat Von D Beauty decided to let this product into the wild in discount stores. Excess stock is one thing, but to release product of terrible quality to a discount store is a huge miss. Shoppers in a discount store might be really excited to see Kat Von D Beauty products at a discounted price. This could be a gateway product for someone who is interested in the brand but doesn’t think that they want to spend X dollars on a makeup product, and that opportunity to convince them that the cost is valid would be ruined by this product. The idea of samples from Ulta or Sephora, and perhaps even selling excess stock to discount stores, is to increase exposure of those products, to convince a shopper who isn’t sure about the brand or who isn’t sure about the price that the quality of the products is well worth the attached dollar amount. This blush is going to have the complete opposite effect.

I would love to hear comments from anyone on what you think about placement of problematic products into discount stores. Do you shop in a store like Marshall’s or TJ Maxx with a thought in your mind that you might be getting X product from a well-known brand because it might be of lesser quality?

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To view all of my content about brand experience, please click here.

Another quick Brand Experience Project post today, after an unfortunate experience with a brand that is new to me.

During the Olympics, I became enamored with Sarah Robles, a badass weightlifter from the US, who won a bronze medal!  As is standard procedure now, I searched for her and started following her on Instagram. I was even more excited when I saw that she had a brand partnership with 360 Stretch Denim by Svoboda. (Total props to Svoboda for this. 1, Sarah is an amazing example of a plus-size woman killing it, and 2, having her lift in the jeans to show their stretch power is genius.) I couldn’t remember having heard of the brand, but I made a note to check them out, since I am fairly obsessed with finding the perfect pair of jeans.

I went on their website and was sold on the shape and the dark wash. The website was standard, so I won’t review that, but the shipping experience is where I start to have issues.

My order is shipped! This is great.

It starts to go downhill when 6 days later, the tracking link tells me that USPS hasn’t received the item yet, and I expected it to have been delivered.

More upsetting is that no one writes me back until September 2 – after I send another email, and then post a comment on one of their Instagram photos asking for someone to get back to me.

“I got this series of emails now. They were in junk. Sorry.” This is not the tone I would expect after having to reach out to a company multiple times about where my items are in the shipping process. You’ll note also that while the first email indicates that I will receive an update in an hour, I do not receive said email until the following day. An update email with a message of “My apologies again for the delay, I am now waiting to hear back from USPS and will get back to you as soon as I hear from them” would be preferable.

The second email is much friendlier. I appreciated the second shipment, but was surprised that Jessica didn’t indicate to me that the shipment had been upgraded to priority, which meant that I received my jeans in 2 days.

In addition to this unfortunate correspondence, I went back to Instagram to get a screenshot of my question, only to find that my question has been deleted.

This is the image I commented on. It isn’t there anymore, because it was deleted. My question was pretty innocuous, so I am baffled as to why they deleted it, instead of taking the opportunity to show how quickly and well they could respond to a customer issue.

In my work for Noritake, we have only ever deleted one Facebook comment, and that’s because it was HIGHLY offensive and inappropriate. I am a strong believer in addressing customer issues publicly – not only because it is vital to answer customer complaints, but it creates a public record of service. In addition, if I was irritated enough about a deletion, I would probably feel compelled to post MORE about my experience, creating a bigger issue. This is a miss by the Svoboda social team.

Tweet me with your thoughts on companies that delete customer questions!

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Eloquii Preview & Waitlist | Brand Experience Project

by Jamie Sanford on August 31, 2016

Click here for all posts in the Brand Experience Project.

I get lots of emails from retailers that I frequent, as I think we all do in our current time. The marketer and strategist in me cannot help but to analyze the contents of these emails and the websites they link me to. In this instance, it was a pleasant surprise.

Eloquii has a new line of fall shoes coming soon to their site, and instead of waiting until they are ready, they have a waitlist opportunity.

Fall shoes are coming, so I’m clicking through to take a look.

It does seem a bit repetitive here to see all of the images with the same waitlist message, but I’m guessing that this is so these shoes can also be included in regular site results for shoes, while still relaying the “coming soon.”

I would prefer that this button not say “add to waitlist.” Since these haven’t been available yet, it isn’t so much a waitlist, but a “Email Me When This is Available!” opportunity. It’s fine, but the messaging could be slightly improved. It’s also mildly annoying that the “Coming Soon! Get on the list” message is still on the image, because my initial instinct was to click the image again to sign up, which is not the case.

This pop-up is fine for me, and I especially appreciate the confirmation that I will only receive emails regarding the item I am interested in, that I’m not being added to their general mailing list.

Again with waitlist being a bit of a misnomer in this instance. This is nitpicky, but something I would look into editing if possible. I’m guessing that the waitlist functionality is primarily for items that are temporarily out of stock, not for “coming soon” items, which may mean that editing it in one place could affect all instances of this feature. If this is a successful venture, it would potentially be worthwhile to look into developing a specific function for “coming soon.”

For the most part, I’m totally into this idea. Eloquii does a majority of their sales online, and prompting their audience to indicate in advance what they would like would assist in product ordering and sales projections. I do think some edits or rethinking could be done, but that is the case with almost everything.

I am often reminding people that e-commerce websites are never actually “done,” that they are always a work in progress. Businesses that are growing, developing new types of product, increasing the size of their customer base, always need to revisit the functionality of their sites and determine what changes will improve the experience and ultimately lead to happier customers and more sales. Eloquii‘s team clearly shares this view, and I look forward to seeing their future growth and updates.

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Tyme Iron Review | Product Pick #14

by Jamie Sanford on August 24, 2016

Check out all of my Product Picks here. If you want to see all of the products I’ve reviewed (not just the ones I like), click here for Reviews.

I can’t believe I haven’t written this one earlier, because I have been raving about the Tyme Iron to anyone who would listen for the past few months.

I have owned at least 10 curling irons since my teenage years, and it’s always been something I never got the hang of. I have thick hair, and to get it to hold a curl required a lot of product and a lot of commitment. I needed to curl tiny sections at a time an then spray them a lot to get them to last. I had also tried the “curling with a flat iron” method, but that didn’t work for me at all. It was just another situation of needing to take at least an hour to curl my whole head, and for that great effort, I would generally have curls that would be mostly gone by the end of the night. I’m not desperate enough for a perm—the spiral perm in 7th grade was enough to turn me off of that idea for life.

I started seeing sponsored posts for this hair tool on Facebook at least a year ago, and quickly clicked through to check it out.

It’s a bit strange for a hair iron, particularly when you are used to seeing more traditional flat or curling irons.

Here’s a look at it laying down. Still weird.

Anyway, it took me seeing the ads again and again, and watching videos multiple times, before I took the plunge. The price of this device is $190. I paid over $100 for my last CHI flat iron, so I was obviously not averse to buying expensive tools. This just seemed like a lot of money for a mysterious tool. However, there was a return policy, so I decided that if I received it and would be able to do my own hair for an upcoming wedding, instead of paying someone else, that I would be able to justify the price. If I couldn’t figure it out, I would just send it back.

I clicked the purchase button and patiently waited.

Soon enough, my Tyme Iron arrived! I sat at home that night, and watched instructional videos while trying it out. Having used traditional flat and curling irons for years, this is a totally different process.

This video is good, but I was doing something wrong, because my piece of hair was coming out a frizzy mess.

I looked around for another video.

This is a funny video of the Tyme founder having a Skype call with someone who was having trouble figuring it out. I found this one to be the most educational, and I immediately started getting amazing curls in my hair. Better yet, they lasted until I washed my hair again, without requiring any hair spray. (The only thing I have been using is a heat spray before I get started.)

While I was most excited for the curls, the Tyme Iron is also the best flat iron I have ever used. I still have the CHI, but it is stored away. I don’t know if I will ever go back to it again, because the Tyme Iron straightens my hair on the first pass, and it looks much healthier than when I was using the CHI.

Proof!

This particular day, I used the iron quickly to turn the ends of my hair up after straightening it. Not “curls” exactly, but a quick and easy way to add a bit of messy texture.

Straightened, but you can see a little bit of curve in my bangs there.

It’s a bit dark, but you can see it from the side. I largely curled here from the middle of my hair to the bottom. Next to me is my lovely sister Robyn, who I totally sold on the Tyme Iron during this weekend.

This was the event I mentioned earlier, the wedding of my brother-in-law. I did my own hair for the wedding, and this was how great my hair still looked, even after riding a ferry over Lake Ontario to get to an island! Full disclosure though, I did spray these for insurance. I can promise that my previous efforts at curling, even with spray, would not have survived a windy ferry ride. These held up perfectly all night.

The Tyme Iron does have a learning curve, and I have tried to be honest and forthcoming about that with everyone I have told about it. Once I got the technique down though, I had it, and I have only been getting better at curling ever since. I can now do a quick curl in less than 10 minutes. This is largely due to the fact that I can curl much bigger pieces than I ever was able to in the past.

Click here and buy the Tyme Iron right now.

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