Wednesday 6 May 2009

Selfridges, Real Entrepreneurs ... Yellow - no I don't think so ...

Dear Mr Postman .. thanks so much for letting us have our letter .. my mother will be delighted to have her story .. today is a good day .. Janice, her healer, who has become a 2nd daughter to my Ma is able to visit this afternoon, and it's been agreed that the operation will go ahead tomorrow = thank goodness - it will be wonderful to get my Ma out of the hurly burly of hospital. This story amused me and I'm certain it will my Ma ..

It is reprinted in The Week and was a letter, entitled Managers' Pay, written by Carl Mortished to The Times: "Once upon a time, a managing director was just a superior manager. Today they are rewarded like venture capitalists, risk-takers who claim a big return for taking a personal financial risk. This is absurd because Sir Fred Goodwin and other Chief Executive Officers have no skin in the game: they are staff. An entrepreneur is someone who might mortgage his house, his spouse and his own sanity in pursuit of some mad scheme to make a better umbrella. An entrepreneur does not yearn for the key to the executive loo."

I just liked this story .. my mother was an entrepreneur .. she bought a hotel, converted it into a Care Home, got bored with that .. knocked some of it down and built a wing one end, and a flat and extra rooms the other - doubling its size .. and owned it for 20 years before selling it a few years ago. 

Just so you know the extra wing .. had to be shored up into the granite cliffs of Newlyn, Penzance with enormous bolts and I mean enormous!! It was a labour of love for her and her patients .. she loved them and nursed them to the end - that's what makes these weeks so incredibly unfair on her ...

Another icon of London's West End celebrates 100 years of existence .. Selfridges .. the Yellow shop .. they've chosen the most wonderful rich deep colour yellow - pantone -109 yellow .. as their brand colour - and this May are offering some limited edition items .. I'm rather taken with the watch by Toywatch! Though there is a Fender guitar, a Marc Jacobs handbag .. etc.

Harry Gordon Selfridge went to work for his cousin's store in Chicago, at less pay than elsewhere - but encouraged by his mother, he took the job. 

He found his passion for retailing and with his imagination he gained promotion becoming retail manager in 1887. His holiday time was spent studying other luxurious stores and bringing their innovations in the Chicago store.

Selfridge had his first trip abroad in 1888 and wanted to take his cousin's business into the international arena .. Marshall Field, his cousin, wasn't that keen and decided the easiest way to retain Harry's interest in the Chicago store was to give him a large salary increase, and loan him $250,000 to become a junior partner. He carried on for 13 years .. opened a rival store in Chicago .. but wasn't happy and set off at age 50 to explore pastures new.

London became his stop off point .. while a Jewish banking friend suggested the 'dead end' of Oxford Street .. it is the Marble Arch, Hyde Park end of Oxford Street. 

It was at this stage that the Selfridges monogram was devised: the sign being a combination of the pound and dollar signs. So he had his store, he had his logo, he had his passion - his retailing and his international knowledge .. and the rest is history ... 

... he did however try for one other icon - which would have made his day: that the underground would stop at the shop and the station would be called Selfridges! Marble Arch and Bond Street as names and places won that battle.

Bathing machine and "sea costumes" c 1910

I've just spotted an advertisement that would amuse my mother too .. one of their first ads is entitled "Some Charming Sea Dresses" .. I can't find the image .. which is frustrating me, but have inserted another ... but that's that ... just imagine putting on a dress to go swimming - how times have changed!

Just a note on the colour yellow ..the word yellow comes from the Old English geolwe which derived from Old Germanic. The oldest known use of this word in English is in the poem Beowulf, in a description of a shield made of wood from a yew tree. 

Yellow has traditionally been associated with jaundice and cowardice. Yellow usually refers to "caution" and is the second light on traffic lights or stop lights; in American slang, a coward can be said to be "yellow-bellied" or "yellow". 

The colour is associated with ageing as well, for both people and objects (e.g. "yellowed" paper). "Yellow" ("giallo"), in Italy, refers to crime stories, both fictional and real. 

This began in about 1930, when the first series of crime novels published in Italy had yellow covers. I love Selfridges' yellow .. however entrepreneurs are not yellow!

Thank you Mr Postman for dropping by .. it will lighten my mother's heart .. I can at least show her the picture of the "Charming Sea Dresses" and she will laugh .. and we can remember the times of her start up with the Care Home - Mr Mortished's letter does seem to put things into perspective doesn't it?

Pantone Yellow Guitar and ToyWatch are courtesy of:
Selfridges 1909 picture is from the Bedford Lemere collection, held as an Archive reproduced by permission of English Heritage.NMRReference Number: BL 20507

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories


Liara Covert said...

Hilary, a friend of mine is a home care nurse who has invested in a retirement home. She runs this while she also works part-time for another home care company. It can certainly keep one on his or her toes. A few films came out about running nursing homes over the past few years. Have you seen any?

Daphne @ Joyful Days said...


Lovely post, and I'm impressed by what your mother has accomplished in her lifetime. She's quite a go-getter, and seems full of compassion. What a wonderful woman. I'm glad she's having a good day!

positively present said...

Another great post! I really enjoyed it -- and the images you used were real attention-grabbers. Yellow is an interesting color indeed!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Liara .. re the films .. I don't think I have ..

but I've always thought that a tv series or similar could be made in due course .. of our experiences

Your friend must be pretty busy running and owning one .. and helping out others .. good for her.

We have so many rules and regulations now .. my mother always liked old people and wanted to help them .. she was training to be a doctor before the war .. sad she got no further ..

Thanks very much .. it'll be interesting to hear more at some stage from you and your friend re this and other subjects ..
Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Daphne .. thanks for visiting .. it's great to see you .. yes she did a great deal .. in some ways perhaps the Care Home was another part .. she did so much more.

She was really touched when I read 'her' paragraph out to her .. said she was flattered .. as she lay in her bed today - and it brought a happy smile to her = so important

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi PP .. thanks for visiting .. I'm pleased you liked the vibrancy .. yellow always does one good .. - perhaps it helped blow your gloomy days away? I hope so.

It's great to see you here ..
Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters

Giovanna Garcia said...

Hi Hilary
You're mother should be proud of all that she has done. You should be proud of youself too!
Hope you're having a wonderful Wednesday.
Giovanna Garcia
Imperfect Action is better than no Action

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Gio .. thanks ..I'm sure she is .. she certainly thinks of it occasionally, though she is the kind of person who moves on. We're coping and we hope today is successful.

Thanks so much ..
Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters

Marketing Unscrambled, Home edition said...

Hilary, Thank you for another great post. All those beautiful colors. May all go well with your mother. Her fans are pulling for her. Take care of yourself as well.
Dan and Deanna "Marketing Unscrambled"

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Dan & Deanna .. many thanks for visiting .. they are certainly vibrant. I too hope all goes well today for my Ma .. I am trying to keep myself in order and not over doing things ..

Thanks for your concern and interest -
Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters

Jacques said...

Yellow! What an amazing piece. You amze me Hillary!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Jacques .. so glad I do amaze you!! .. that gives me an enormous amount of pleasure & glad you enjoyed the info ...

Thanks for visiting ... it's good to see you here ..
Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters

Peter Baca said...

Dear Hilary,

Very interesting information your mother as an entrepreneur with the care home. She must be quite a woman!

Thanks for your interesting post!

Pete Baca
The Car Enthusiast Online

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Pete . yes she was .. and she is quite a woman .. and is still going strong & as spunky as ever .. and now through the operation ..

Thanks - glad you enjoyed it ..
Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters

Jannie Funster said...

Oh WOW, yes I see the yellow guitar. Brilliant!! Thanks for the link here from my Yellow post.


Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Jannie .. thanks for coming over from your own Yellow post ..

Selfridges outdid themselves I think here - & his story from Chicago to London was so interesting ..

Perhaps I should have put a yellow tambourine?! Cheers H xoxoxox