Maintaining 43 in the Single Lane

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

A Diagnosis By Any Other Name

"Would you like a chaperone?"

Odd question, seeing I'm far from being of "chaperone" age. And the fact that I was in the office of my OBGYN this past Monday, preparing to have my annual Pap smear. Seems times have changed in the safeguarding of young women.

My stats were good: blood pressure fine, my weight - get this - a steady, seven-year-consecutive 113 lbs (amidst red velvet cupcakes, mandatory bread intake and four years in rib-drenched Memphis)...

The exam was the typical, refrigerated pelvic exam, complete with a complimentary "ambush" anal exam (aren't they suppose to warn you of the invasion, in lieu of dinner and a dance?!!).

This annual exam was a far more traumatic experience back in 1993. When I was called into my doctor's office to get results of my Pap smear back then, my mother and I heard a diagnosis that was foreign to us; dysplasia. When we asked the doctor what it meant, he explained it as being the presence of abnormal cells in the cervix, which comes in three stages: mild, moderate, and severe. I was diagnosed with the severe stage. When asked what "severe" meant, his response put it all into focus-


Here's my life, in rapid succession of this announcement:

~ One request for a hysterectomy- DENIED

~ A second opinion (with second denial of a hysterectomy)

~ One painful cone biopsy, a remedial diagnosis ONE YEAR LATER, followed by the replacement and complaint letter of my OBGYN

~ One laser treatment, succeeded by normal Pap smears from that point on...

Which is why I am so upset by the angst voiced by the parents of daughters age 9 and up who have the opportunity of GARDASIL, the vaccine created to help guard against HPV, the leading cause of cervical cancer. Even fourteen years ago, my OBGYN referred to cervical cancer as an STD, but I guess society wasn't ready to digest that information. But it is what it is; sexually-active females can easily become affected by the 20 million people in the United States already infected with HPV (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate, as of 2005). And sexual intercourse is not a prerequisite; anyone who has any kind of sexual activity involving genital contact with an infected person can get HPV.

So in this day and age, parents have far more than their daughter's first movie date or dance to worry about; but at least a chaperoned Pap smear has a better chance of a positive diagnosis than mine back in 1993.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Interview With Jacqueline Buker

TWHS: What is the investment for anyone interested in becoming a Footprints International Representative?

Jacqueline: The investment is $600 to $1,000 depending on the shoe selections made by the representative. This investment includes a carrying case, nylon Peds, a purple display cloth- everything needed to get started in the shoe party business - including fabulous business cards!

TWHS: What is the price range of shoes in your collection?

Jacqueline: The prices range of the shoes in my current sample kit start at $26 for flat sandals and up to $65 for boots. The average price of heels is about $48. We have a broad range of selections that rotate with the seasons. There is always something for everyone, and that makes my parties successful. The pricing of the inventory is good for the representative, individual orders are frequently over $100, so the customer gets more of what they love for the money. The representative is able to make a good income from catering to women who want great shoes, but can't spend $300 for a pair and to women who could spend that kind of money, but don't always choose to. I have a repeat customer who never orders less than five to six pairs of shoes every time she orders (thanks Kelly; you rock!).

TWHS: There are many "shoe snobs" walking around in three-figure, four-inch stilettos. Would this group be one that would not be involved in your Shoe Parties?

Jacqueline: Well, first - the President of Footprints International (Margaux Jordan) is a stiletto girl herself! We work with small designers with unique shoes. I have booked parties for people who have called me and said they liked shoes their friend ordered from me and can't find exactly the same thing in department stores or they did find the same thing priced over $30 more. And yes, "shoe snobs" would and have been satisfied with our selection. I have had parties where women were ordering, trying on shoes and it was crazy trying to take orders because of the excitement generated from the women! It is not like buying shoes in the mall! I heard a story about a Footprints representative in Prescott, Arizona, who had a party where guests were saying the shoes looked like $300 shoes. One woman said, "Oh my goodness, I can't believe I just spent $2,000 on five pairs of shoes when I could have gotten these!" So someone who can and has spent that kind of money on beautiful shoes would consider our shoes beautiful, too. I love that story!

TWHS: And how would you explain to this group that your inventory is as of quality, if not better than, their designer brand pumps?

Jacqueline: I know I wear my personal selection of shoes like crazy (good test for quality, I'm hard on my shoes!). The president of the company still wears shoes from the initial launch (four years ago). For someone to be on their feet that much and still be in shoes at the end of the day says a lot to me. In almost two years of doing parties, the feedback is glowing. Footprints International is interested in helping women be successful and look great doing what they do in great shoes.

TWHS: What are the benefits of a shoe lover hosting a Shoe Party?

Jacqueline: A first-time hostess receives a $25 gift certificate towards the purchase of one pair of shoes and a percentage (10%-50%) off additional purchases (based on guest sales). Repeat hostesses receive the same benefit, plus, a free pair of shoes (up to $50). We also have a Customer Reward Program, so even if you never have a party, but are a loyal customer, you are rewarded for it. The company offers special incentives for hostesses during the year which are very generous.

I read somewhere recently that there is a growing trend of women starting their own businesses. One common thread about these women is that they choose what they love first and income second. Shoe parties, for me, is both. I love having the parties and I love making money. I enjoy great support and respect from Footprints International as a company. I have developed an amazing friendship with Margaux Jordan. I never thought I would be a rich woman selling shoes. I am rich in ways I did not expect. I want other women to have that, too.

TWHS: Are there charitable opportunity options when hosting a Shoe Party?

Jacqueline: Footprints International will donate 10% of sales to a non-profit organization of the hostess' choice. The hostess also receives all the hostess benefits outlined above.

I love telling women they don't have to choose one or the other; they get both!

Monday, September 03, 2007

Interview With Cecilie Toklum

TWHS: If you could sum up your collection's style in one word, what would it be, and why?

TOKLUM: I would have to use two words; impractically fantastic. Since I started with designing shoes, this has been the theme I have been working with.

TWHS: Describe the first pair of shoes you created, from the vision to completion.

TOKLUM: My inspiration was the actor Asta Nielsen, a certain feeling of bygone divas, and a little hint of Minnie Mouse. My initial thought was based on a classical stiletto and it also came out that way; with references to dancing shoes and a big bow on the back.

TWHS: If you were a style of shoe (stiletto, ballet flat, etc.), what shoe best describes your personality?

TOKLUM: Definitely stiletto! I rarely go anywhere without stilettos. I love the elegant feeling of stilettos and the power and feminine elegance it gives your personality.

TWHS: What should be in every woman's shoe closet?

TOKLUM: 120 MM silk pumps. If that's too high, 100 will do...

TWHS: Complete this sentence: A pair of Toklum heels makes a woman _________.

TOKLUM: Classic, powerful and complete, with a twist of avant-garde.