The Daily Grommet
This year I became a member of the Creative Good UX Councils. Creative Good is a small consultancy, and (independent of their consulting work) they also offer a knowledge exchange and networking service that they call The Councils. There are about 450 people involved in total, in about 20 councils with 20-25 people each. The service includes Special Interest Groups (SIGs), a Request for Help infrastructure (RFH), and two in-person events a year tailored to the interests of each Council. They also offer a very compelling value proposition – 5x ROI on the investment, and increasing value the more you contribute and the longer you remain engaged. It’s a valuable service, and great story!
For me the Council activities have been a great way to get immersed in a new set of ideas and problems. Through the Requests for Help, I’m learning about the challenges that other User Experience (UX) professionals are contending with every day, and continuing to look for ways to bring thought leadership to SAP through my UX team and other means. I’ve participated in a few webinars already, and most of them have been quite good. So far, though, the standout for me has been a presentation, demo, and discussion with Jules Pieri, who is the founder and CEO of a company called The Daily Grommet. A designer and a Harvard MBA, Pieri has built an e-commerce platform and community ecosystem concept to sell meaningful products in a new way. I appreciated the breadth of the presentation and discussion, which touched on diverse career trajectories, design, business strategy, and the supporting tools (e.g. video and social media).
Jules said that 75% of the US economy / spend is on consumer goods and services. Drawing on the idea of citizen journalism, Jules describes The Daily Grommet as a “Citizen Commerce” platform. On the company’s website, citizen commerce is defined as:
If you share the belief that the products we all buy are a powerful force in defining the world, then Citizen Commerce means that each purchase is actually an act of citizenship. … Good citizenship has to do with supporting products that amplify “good” in the world: by preserving craft, providing real innovation, by giving back, and by being ecologically responsible. Not every product can carry all those banners, but in the course of a single person’s consumer life, they can create a “portfolio” of all of these positive effects.
But at Daily Grommet we take this idea a lot further than just buying. We are creating an experience where people can actually help us find the products that support these goals and values, where we can share feedback, and together decide which products get supported. How cool is that?
There are lots of wonderful new products out there that don’t have a retail outlet. The Grommet team introduces the creators to prospective buyers, allows prospects and consumers to engage in dialogue through community tools on their site and third-party services like Yahoo!, Facebook, and Twitter. By putting a face to the product and allowing people to interact, Jules hopes that The Grommet will help bring an end to what she calls “nameless, faceless commerce”. She argues that we have the power to do this, and that there is a choice to be made, because what we buy amplifies things in the world (for good bad or indifferent) every day.
Furthermore, by making the site and surrounding social media interactive, entertaining, and “telling good stories about inspiring and inspired products”, The Grommet team is bringing the best of current marketing techniques to a new market opportunity. Jules’ cell phone was ringing off the hook during her presentation, because she and her team had just received another round of financial backing – surely an indication that they’re doing something right!
In her presentation, Jules described a sculpture (depicted at right) that guided the visual brand for The Daily Grommet. This was one of the ways that Jules design background and sensibility has become so integral to the business concept and site design. On her blog, Jules also says that she writes about cultural anthropology, although it’s not clear to me if she has any formal training and how that informs her business.
As you can see from this post, the story of The Daily Grommet resonated with me. Jules and her team appear to be very passionate about and good at what they do, and it feels to me like Jules is ‘following her bliss’, so to speak. I have been reading a lot more (both books and blogs), and her story could be a case study in any one of the popular management books these days. Her career is interesting and varied, she’s been very successful in different areas, and she’s essentially created a new market – and a new way to go-to-market – by bringing all of her experiences together in a unique way. She’s definitely an inspiration – and if I understand Seth Godin’s definition of a Linchpin, I think she’s that, too!