08 December 2009

so what I am trying to say is . . . heavy on the one

jb here, posting on Kitchen and Residential Design. Yeah – I will admit it; I don’t know how it happened either. I certainly have very little formal design knowledge, and . . . I am pretty certain, too, that I am not as well traveled or as well versed as our host, Paul. But here we are, and I am, again . . . freewriting.

For those of you who do not know me, I am in the early stages of launching a business. My business targets what I see as a void currently found within the home improvement market. I bring this up less to sway you any which way, but more, rather, to lead you into what I am about to say.

While I have thrown my hat in, I have also chosen to do so in a slightly different way. In deciding upon that path, I have faced, and still expect to face, many challenges. None so far have been bigger, though, than simply trying to find the words that I need to effectively communicate what it is exactly that I envision.

In the course of planning, of course, I looked. I looked at the industry. And I found that these days there are companies and individuals doing remodeling, restoration, rehabs and renovations. Some businesses offer home services; others offer solutions. Some homeowners do design and build; others focus on maintenance and repair. All exist within a marketplace that is mostly divided: do-it-yourself or do-it-for-me, and to which caterers do I give my patronage?

In looking, I spent some time on the phrase – “home improvement.” It means, and I think we know it to indicate, any enterprise that effectively upgrades, fixes or otherwise improves a house. The act of doing and done. “Home improvement” as a discrete phrase, however, may exist, too, not only as the high level descriptive, but also as a sub-set of itself.

OK . . . I know that there are slight nuisances associated with each of those sub-sets of activity. In terms of a business you may call, for example, you may expect a “home improvement” company to offer a wide and blurry array of home services. With these organizations, too, you may expect a limited amount of design service and/or only a few aesthetically-oriented questions.

The phrase “home improvement,” you see, has been utilized by many. And over years, some have claimed it and used it for good. Others, though, have helped to cultivate a sense, adding meanings, of maliciousness and mistrust; no? Be it the tonic salesmen with their overpriced door-to-door pitching of wares, or the hypnotists who have taken on clients only to leave them in the end in a daze.

From that, I often avoided the phrase as if it were a four-letter word. But I have come around and I have come to use it, sometimes, more as a matter of convention. Still I do not attach it to my business, specifically.

I feel in some way that I must apologize now not only for writing some those words above, but also for any negative meanings that I myself may one day add. They are, after all, only two innocent little words, natural and attractive.

Heavy on the one, they say – Home is the focal point of life, and I am not talking only of those things attached to the house. Think about it – is there any other place you spend more time; is there any other place that you know so well, or care so much about?

And perhaps as a phrase today, home improvement, more so than rehabbing or designing and building, actually offers an opportunity to take back a little something for ourselves and others. Am I so bold, yet, to do that alone; no!

Or could I maybe just modify it to fit my needs, instead, calling it something like -- life improvement? A new business sub-set, no; no, I can't. After all, I do fear a steep fall into the pit of either misrepresentation or, worse, of self-help freakdom.

I go instead, at least in marketing material, with “Home Project Services” or “Home Project Support.” These phrases are meant to denote non-standard, and somewhat non-descript, construction services. Not design, per se, and still I wonder what I am trying to say.

Now . . . did this little tangent accomplish anything for anyone? I don’t know; sometimes, these things are hit or miss. But I do know you may notice me here and there, trying to find the words that say, “My business (and more should follow) may really be less about home improvement, and more about helping people find the means to improve their most important asset … themselves.”


Thank you for reading, thank you to Paul, and Happy Holidays to all:

jb @BMoxieBMore
Blogging for now at :: http://www.agentsofmoxie.com/

How-to/self-help photo shot by Barry Morgan at Barry’s Big Blog of Building @blogofbuilding (check him out for a daily visual log of building and other things): http://bigblogofbuilding.blogspot.com/

and ps. Here is a great little story about both moxie and the work of some home improvement contractors, courtesy of Mike Hines @eXapath :: Forgotten...But Not Gone


  1. I am definitely intrigued. But not sure I got it. A Holistic approach to the creation,maintenance and modifications as they relate to a home? Close?

  2. mypoliticalexile thank you for the comment

    well, I do have a tendency, at this point, to be -- angular (more now from habit than practicality). Visiting me would provide more detail (and honestly that was not the intention of the spiel).

    Way see it doesn't make sense to me -- here is a good example -- home depot is someone putting home services and do-it-yourself in the same building -- they provide on the shelf literature -- why not only include "why buy the product" but also "who could put it in" too -- (ok I know there are a lot of issues with that). Use for illustration.

    anyway -- it is holistic in so far as -- sometimes diy is simply right; sometimes, frankly, it is not ideal. My proposition (and trust me I am still testing) is why not put the two traditionally polar opposites side by side. You want me (or someone else) to do it for you, fine; You want to do it yourself, fine (more pros could take this approach too) -- I can help on both fronts.

    It is about defining what is best for you in any given situation -- and this point: you can do more for yourself than you think.

    Thank you thanks, jb

  3. I found it all a bit hard to read because there were about 70 too many commas in the piece! It made it so confusing.

  4. sorry you didn't like it style police -- (notice the em dash) admittedly, I can get, well, a litte comma heavy. thank you for the critique. I will think twice before hitting take key again. Great! commas can be an effective tool. thanks, jb

  5. Here is a thought, you might think of classifying yourself as a Home Diagnostic Technician offering such services as ...... blah, blah, blah. Sound good? :)

    Wishing you all the best in your Business venture. (Now off to read previous posts to see where Paul is.) -Brenda-

  6. mrsben -- thank you for the well wishes. see paul's post immediately below/above . . . guest post week and half on k&rd.com thank you again for checking in. jb

  7. ok -- just made a few more tweaks in time to put my first ever guest post to bed. (And yes, I removed some of the frivolous comma usage.)

    In general, this was probably one of my more difficult pieces. The subject matter is close to my heart and it does detail some of the frustration I have faced with trying to name something that does not have a name.

    It should be said, too, that any difficulty I may have had with it was easily counter-balanced by Paul's graciousness.

    On to the next -- can't wait to see the rest of the guest posts this week and half. jb

  8. I found this post slightly difficult to read which says a lot about how difficult it was to write. I have noted from you a certain lack of satisfaction about this piece as well which makes perfect sense if you are still not satisfied that you said what you set out to say.

    I‘d venture to say that the act of freewriting for you is a part of the process of figuring out what the business is all about. As my friend Beth would say: “that’s why we’re doing this!”

    What I find fascinating about your communications to the world is that they typically contain the types of soul /goal searching that most businesses keep carefully hidden behind closed doors.

    I like it all out in the open. Keep up the good work.

  9. Hello JB: I, for one, enjoy your writing style. It is, somehow, self-depracating and toung-in-cheek while, at the same time, honest and straightforward.
    (I, too, am a recovering comma freak.)

    As a kitchen designer, I have considered marketing myself to diy'ers (the IKEA set) because I'd just love to help! Alas, for now I try to keep things simple for myself, but continue to admire your moxie :)

  10. barry and kit, thank you for the comments and the support. first Kit, I hear that sentiment from many pros. "I let my client do that once -- they only messed it up, and I had to make the time to fix it for them anyway." I am building for this. -- I hope to be able to budget for such contingencies.

    Now second -- you are right Barry; it is part of the process. In this case, and I have done it 2 or 3 times now -- I set out to "freewrite". In other words -- I started with no agenga, only the phrase "home improvement", and let it go. I hope that in taking this approach it ultimately reveals, for both the reader and the writer, something more than what is simply on the page.

    That said -- what troubled me most, and you know, was what came out in the last few paragraphs -- I felt it may haved ended up sounding a little too self-serving, if you know what I mean.

    On editing it (which btw occurred mostly while I had a 4 and 6 yr old screaming at me) I made an effect to be concise, but in doing so I may have stripped the piece of some of its visceral energy. I see the irony in this all of course. My business, as with this essay -- is about addressing doubts -- and having the moxie to simply trust yourself (no matter who you are) -- maybe I got that across maybe I didn't.

    Anyway, it's all a work in progress and we (I) will let you (general) dictate where it should go. jb


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