The artist of Alcatraz of Emotions is Imed Kolli. Kolli is twenty-five years old and is from Setif, Algeria. By the time Kolli was sixteen, he found that his real education came from observing what was happening around him. He observed that richness doesn’t come without struggle and was looking for a way to translate what he was seeing. Photography became Kolli’s voice in this very big and confusing world, and he started to realize that photography has the power to change one’s perception on life. Photography can surprise people with something they don’t usually see or may not have had any idea existed. It began to push Kolli’s life in such dramatic direction towards telling the larger story of what it means to be a human. After buying his first camera, it started to make him feel alive, sometimes emotional, and the most important; connected to this world.
Kolli was always looking for a way to stand in front of more interesting material. His goal was to find subjects for his work that he genuinely cared about, because he knew that this would be the source of his greatest work. His sense of humanity is what drives him out to the street to photograph. Kolli photographs emotions, but what interests him most is developing personal relationships with all his models. Kolli often states that in a strange kind of way, he falls in love with the people he meets, feeling that they often sensitize his own pain. The deep personal connections that Kolli is able to make with the people he meets leave a lasting impression.
You will find that Kolli uses black and white, light and shadow, in his photographs. Through these methods Kolli is able to physically enforce emotions like faith, empathy, spirituality and even hope. Being able to photograph people in this way allows for Kolli to feel like he knows them through their spontaneity that has clarified their state of mind. Kolli’s inspiration stems from people who have experienced the bitterness and roughness of this world. Injured people, homeless people, beggars and poor, underprivileged people that he has coincidently met during his own personal journeys in life are the models in his photography. These people can portray his compassion and empathy to the world.
Kolli’s brief through this project Alcatraz of Emotions was to document the human condition, particularly the people who were left having to live under the red line of tenderness. There is great stigma with these kinds of people having rough circumstances, and the struggles that his subjects had to endure during their existence. Kolli believes that this project can show how he has brushed shoulders with homeless people and captured the surreal, beautiful time he spent with his subjects. Kolli is able to represent the tremendous emotional weight that comes from the self-photographing of these portraits, and this is what fulfills him the most.
It is a powerful, spiritual iconography by Kolli which he intends to give his subjects a glimmer of light in their eyes, to bring joy to their broken hearts and to give them hope. Kolli intends to honor them for surviving the cruel struggles they have been through, to make them believe that they matter, to remind them that they are human and that they are not forgotten. There is a great stigma with the subjects of Alcatraz of Emotions due to them having rough circumstances and struggles throughout their existence. Even though they have this sort of gloominess and went through an extremely unfortunate life, Kolli explains that he found them so uplifting and inspiring. With Kolli’s subjects, he found that they had this sort of joy and pleasure of being alive, even though they were in these seemingly terrible situations. Someone who has that kind of resilience to be able to still have a smile on their face is what attracted Kolli in some sort of emotional way to document their lives.
See below for highlights from the panel as well as a link to view the interview in its entirety:
Pharrell Williams on how he thinks about philanthropy and what his goals are:
“When we think about the African diaspora and people of color and what people who are deemed ‘minorities’ – which we are actually not—but that’s just the saying. There are three pillars that affect us the most—disproportionate access to education, disproportionate access to healthcare, and also disproportionate access to legislation. I think the first two are the ones that I want to focus on because they’re the ones that I feel like I can, through my resources and even my likenesses whenever needed, that I can actually make a difference in education and healthcare. These are the things that hurt us the most.”
José Andrés on why he focuses on food insecurity:
“I am one more cook in the universe of people that feed people in America or around the world. But people like me, we only feed the few. I am in the power, when you began thinking, we can also be a part of feeding the many. And where we can join forces to the many around America, and around many places in the world, in the most difficult moments, to be able to bring solutions. For me, food is my way of doing it, but what we do is only a drop of water in an ocean of empathy. It requires a lot of props of empathy to make things happen. Obviously what I do is more focused on emergencies, I don’t like to see people in mayhem; people who, already in the good times forgotten, that are voiceless, that nobody takes care of. It’s even worse when a hurricane, an earthquake, an explosion of fire, a pandemic, hits their communities even further. That’s the moment that I feel the urgency of now being yesterday, and I love to bring my community and try to be nice to as many people as we can in these moments of mayhem. At the end of the day, one plate of food at a time won’t solve every problem but at least you buy time. And you give hope to people who need it the most.”
Pharrell on how he and Jose met and joined forces:
“Catherine Kimmel – the great connector – took me to an event. Here’s a guy that you really need to meet because, like you, he takes what it is he does and puts it to better usage and thinks about others… [at an event in New York] I was so impressed because there were so many chefs there but this guy – it was different. Yes, he’s a chef and he’s all about his ingredients and recipes, but his greatest meal was his operation and people and his ability to galvanize. It was really apparent that everyone was centered around him and all he wanted to do was feed people and bring people together and help people see that through our differences and our challenges are actually a lot of solutions and we can make the world a better place and I was really blown away… Then we met and we realized there were a lot of things he was doing that I could be instrumental in helping him.”
José on meeting Pharrell and what attracted him to Pharrell:
“I go and meet Pharrell and he’s even better, he’s the better half. What you get is a good vibe – it’s very difficult to describe. You know, you read about people, NBA players, amazing musicians and I’m not only looking for the amazing things they do, which I love, but what’s behind. When you see that behind is something very powerful that they’re putting at the service of others – their power, their money, their contacts but something even more powerful is their brain connecting with their empathy within their hearts… We wouldn’t be able to do what we do without people like them. Pharrell knows and more importantly loves his community. We were able to do it in Virginia Beach and be there because Pharrell opened to us the doors of being that community without being foreigners. We were able to partner with local people, with local restaurants.”
José on how his family impacted his values and his metaphor on life:
“My mom and dad always believed in longer tables, not higher ones. The table will always be ready for whoever showed up… My father would put me in charge of making the fire. I did that since I was young, and I would become very good at making the fire. But my father was very particular, and he would never let me near the chicken… [he would say] ‘My son I know you wanted to do the cooking, but actually doing the fire and controlling the fire is the most important thing, everyone wants to do the cooking without understand the fire. My son you already have the biggest gift. Control the fire, master the fire, and then you can do any cooking you want.’ (I don’t know if my father told me that story with that idea or I’m making it more romantic along the way as the years pass by). My father was giving me a mantra for life itself: find your fire, control your fire, master your fire, and then you can do any cooking you want in your life.”
Pharrell on his foundation YELLOW:
“For us, we want to even the odds. I know that I was a very lucky person who benefitted from my teachers seeing something in me. They didn’t know what they were telling me or which way the way to go but they kept telling me to keep going. I think that had a profound effect on me because essentially education is the toolbox that every human being is going to need out in the world just to function… What we wanted to do is look at a curriculum that could assess these children and figure out how they comprehend information best. Then eventually make a curriculum that is sensory based and not sensory biased. If you learn differently than how the curriculum is being taught, then automatically you’re deemed as remedial… with the YELLOW hub, it’s the space where kids can learn based on their way they process their information.”
Pharrell on the education system:
“I love public school teachers and you know, love the unions as well, but the education the educational system is antiquated. I mean just ask your favorite Fortune 500 CEO – they might not be the best, they might not be well read, but that does not stop their genius. And this is what we want. We want to make sure that we reach every child by properly assessing their learning potential and comprehension preferences, and making sure that they have a curriculum that is based for them. Sensory bias is an issue, but sensory based learning special educational systems is the future. That’s how every child slip through the cracks and we get to eventually even the odds.”
José on how the pandemic affected and influenced his philanthropy:
“I think this year has changed all of us profoundly… Fundamentally has changed me. First, obviously take care of your family. I tried to be a father who took care of his daughters and my wife and trying to keep them safe. Every mother and father tried to do that. But then I began thinking that to take care of my daughters, it’s not putting them behind walls, to take care of my daughters, is bringing down those walls and trying to work as hard to provide for the other daughters and sons of other people I don’t know that they are trying to achieve the same for their children. The way I’m going to keep my daughters safer is not behind walls but with longer tables, where I work as hard to provide for my daughters as I’m going to work to provide for the daughters I don’t know. Fundamentally this is what changed me.”
José on what people get wrong about philanthropy:
“Robert Egger, my favorite food fighter, he said that it seems philanthropy is usually about the redemption of the giver, when philanthropy essentially needs to be about the liberation of the receiver. It’s nothing wrong to give and donate time or money or your brain and feel good about it, but fundamentally in this pandemic, I learned that to give, it’s not good enough, that we must do good, yes, but we must do smart good.”
Pharrell on the changes he has noticed this year:
“Empathy is at an all-time low. It’s not where it needs to be. There’s a lot of sympathy and pity, but there’s not empathy. And we need more of that, we need more empathy, we need more humility, we need more gratitude. I think the pandemic, for me, has taken me to that place where that’s the only thing I can think about.”
Customer Service Tips Every Boutique Retailer Should Try
By: Joseph Heller, small businesses expert and CEO of Supplied!
Supplied makes it easier for small boutique owners around the world to access high-quality, affordable wholesale boutique items, whether to stock their physical store or IG shop.
Do you remember the last time you had a truly fantastic customer service experience?
Maybe a cashier complimented your earrings, or maybe the person at the drive-thru unexpectedly threw an extra taco in for free. Or maybe you were just really vibin’ with the enthusiasm you could hear at the other end of the customer support line. Whatever it was, chances are it made you more excited to return and support that company with your business in the future.
Now… think back to the last time you had an awful customer service experience.
Was someone being unnecessarily difficult while you were trying to return a sweater, you’d bought a week ago? Or did someone leave you on hold for hours and hours? Or maybe someone just would NOT honor your coupon, even though you received it in an email yesterday?
Whatever that bad experience was… I’d be willing to bet it made you a whole lot less likely to go back anytime soon.
As Vince Lombardi famously said, “It takes months to find a customer and seconds to lose one.” One poor customer service experience could cause you to lose all of a valuable customer’s future business.
If you haven’t been making great customer service a major priority in your boutique lately, now is the time to change that.
Read on to learn 25 powerful (but easy!) customer service tips every retailer should try implementing in their business.
(If you’ve hired someone else as the main customer service rep for your boutique business, send this article along to them as a reminder!)
Top 25 Customer Service Tips
Focus on the customer in front of you
As a boutique owner, you’ve constantly got about a zillion and one thing that need your time and attention. But when it’s a customer you’re dealing with, zero in on them and their needs. Nobody likes feeling unimportant – make sure you give them your undivided attention while they’re talking to you, whether it’s over the phone, in person, or in your site’s live chat.
Chances are, you’ve been in the exact same situation your customer’s in right now – whether they’re trying to figure out what size shoe to purchase or they’re trying to initiate a return for something that didn’t turn out the way they’d hoped. Do your best to see the situation from their perspective. You’ll be able to provide a better customer experience if you’re in touch with their needs and emotions.
Make an extra effort
Work tirelessly to solve your customer’s problems. If a customer wants a certain size that’s out of stock, double-check your inventory, let them know when they can expect that item to come back, offer them alternatives, or give them a discount code for their trouble. Your customers will appreciate you going the extra mile for them.
Customer service isn’t just about making your customer feel valued while you’re speaking to them – it’s also about providing a great all-around customer experience. Do a quick audit of your website and make sure it’s user-friendly. Is it easy to check out? Browse new arrivals? Search for specific items? Purchase using the payment method they prefer? If not, set aside some time to make some adjustments.
Identify their needs
There might be all sorts of things you could be doing to provide a better customer experience that you don’t even realize yet. Put together a short survey to send out to your customers about the checkout process and their past customer service experiences. It’ll show you what’s going well and what you could improve.
Use their name
Simple, but effective. Whenever a customer reaches out to you, take note of their name and use it. It’ll give your communications a more personal touch. (Don’t forget to introduce yourself by name, too!) Bonus points if you remember other personal details about them for next time.
Yes, even if you’re not talking to the customer in person! Make an effort to be friendly and positive, even if you’re just sitting at your desk at home – you can totally hear a smile through the phone, and it makes a difference.
If you could spend $5 to secure a customer who’s loyal to you for life… would you do it? Sometimes, that’s all it takes. When a customer reaches out to you, your priority is to make them happy – offering free shipping or accepting a late return can do just the trick. And that’s not just common sense – research shows that accepting someone’s generosity makes you feel indebted to them, which can translate to return business.
Don’t say “I don’t know”
Sure, you’re not gonna immediately have the answers to every single one of your customers’ questions… but it’s kinda your job to know. So, when you tell a customer “I don’t know,” what they hear is “I don’t care.” Not exactly the message you’d like to get across when you’re on the phone with a customer! Practice saying “Let me check on that for you” instead.
Acknowledging your customer’s birthdays is a surefire way to make them feel valued and appreciated. Ask your customers for your birthday as they sign up for your mailing list, then send them an email with a promo code for a free gift or a discount right before their special day.
Be clear about your policies
Your customers aren’t mind-readers – if you don’t let them know, they have no idea about how long shipping should take, where you ship to, or under what circumstances you accept returns. Be sure your shipping and returns policies are clearly stated on your website to avoid confusion. It’ll answer some questions before they’re ever even asked!
Honor your promises
Your customers need to know that they can trust your boutique to deliver the value it promises. Stick to the shipping and return policies you have listed on your website (unless you choose to go above and beyond them, of course!) Honor coupons and discount codes for as long as you said you would. Post any giveaway winners publicly in your stories. Trust is key!
Acknowledge frequent customers…
Let your return customers know how much you appreciate them! Whether you throw a quick handwritten thank-you note into their next order or you offer a discount code that’s good for their next purchase, it’ll definitely make them want to keep coming back.
But make sure new customers feel the love, too!
It’s a big leap to order from a company you’ve never purchased anything from before – make sure new customers feel super welcome. Acknowledge new customers by offering free shipping on their first order, sending a promo code when they sign up for your mailing list, or even sending a quick thank-you email for taking a chance on your shop.
Running a business is tough, and sometimes extenuating circumstances make it even tougher. Be open with your customers about the hurdles you’re currently going through, especially if it will affect shipping times or restock dates.
We all make mistakes – especially when we’re doing huge, crazy difficult things like running a business. If you’ve made a mistake on a customer’s order, own your error, sincerely apologize, and do whatever it takes to make things right. It’s much more professional than shrugging off responsibility or blaming someone else. (Bonus points if you reach out and own up to it before the customer even notices!)
Make it easy to get in touch
Have you ever sent an email to a company’s customer service team… and then never heard anything back? Yeah, that’s the worst. Don’t be that company. Let your customers know the best way to reach you, whether it’s through Instagram DMs, email, or over the phone. If you want to go the extra mile, include a live chat feature on your website that’s available 24/7. (Also, word of advice: if you have a contact form on your website, make sure to check it every so often!)
Offer self-help customer service
If your customers can find their own answers to their questions, it makes their lives easier AND your life easier. Include a comprehensive FAQ page on your website that answers common questions about shipping, sales, returns, and more. For more complicated questions, you might want to write up an entire blog post to give your customers more information. Just be sure your customers still know that they can reach out to you with any questions they can’t find the answers to.
Plan for the holidays
Here’s a hot tip: over the holidays, things get BUSY. Even if you usually don’t have very many people blowing up your inbox about shipping questions, there’s a very good chance you will during the holidays. Make sure you’re prepared with multiple customer service reps helping respond to questions (if need be) and detailed holiday shipping info displayed on your website and social media pages.
Make it a goal to respond to all customer emails within 48 hours whenever possible. No matter how busy you are, customers want to feel like their concerns and questions are a top priority. As for Instagram DMs, Facebook messages, and comments, try and get in a habit of responding to those right when you see them. (Your customers will like that and so will the algorithm!)
Hire the right people
If you’ve only recently opened your boutique business, you might be the only person your customers ever interact with. But as you grow and add more people to your team, make sure they’re people who are kind, friendly, and pleasant to interact with. Nobody’s perfect, but a positive attitude can make all the difference.
Pretend you’re at the dinner table with your strict aunt – say lots of pleases and thank yous. Not only is it common courtesy, but it’s also good business. It’ll also help you still sound friendly and polite even when you’re communicating via messenger or text.
Set clear expectations
Sorry, but you’re not superwoman. When your customers approach you asking when they can buy an item you aren’t planning on restocking, or when they ask if you can make sure the package, they just ordered gets to them by tomorrow, sometimes you just can’t give them the answer they were hoping for. Be realistic in your responses and don’t make promises you can’t keep. Setting clear expectations is also helpful in responding to emails – sending an automated email letting a customer know when they can expect a response is also helpful, even if they were initially hoping for a reply right away.
There isn’t a robot at the other end of all of those incoming customer emails – it’s bright, bubbly, sparkly you! Don’t be afraid to infuse your communications with your genuine personality. Strike up a conversation with a customer on the phone, ask about their day, say “top of the morning to ya” instead of “hello” when you feel like it. It’ll help forge a relationship with your customers!
Have you ever asked a waiter what you should order, only for them to respond, “I love everything on the menu equally!” Yeah, that’s not helpful – don’t be like that guy. When your customers ask for your opinion, politely give it. You’re the real expert on the products you carry – use your insider knowledge to guide your customers to the right decision for them.
People in relationships have different ways of showing their affection. The way someone shows love is often a sign of the way they would like to receive it. For instance, someone who likes writing romantic messages often expects to get the same.
Most people in relationships don’t have the same language. Knowing your love language as well as that of your partner can have many benefits. It helps you to explain what you consider most important for meeting your emotional needs.
Also, by understanding your partner’s language, you are better able to satisfy them emotionally.
What Are the Five Love Languages and What Does Love Language Mean?
The idea of love languages can be traced to the works of Gary Chapman, a professional marriage counselor. Based on his anecdotal research, Chapman discovered there are 5 basic emotional love languages. These are the five different ways through which people communicate and understand affection.
The most important thing is to learn how you can speak the love language preferred by your spouse. This will enhance your communication and strengthen your relationship.
Now that we have considered the love language meaning, let us delve deeper into the issue.
Explaining the Five Love Languages
When two people understand how to show affection according to their partner’s love language, they stand a better chance of enjoying a happier and stronger relationship.
On the contrary, when partners allow each other’s love tank to run dry, misunderstandings are bound to occur. In this case, online therapy can help save your relationship.
Here are the five languages to help you unlock profound levels of love.
As a love language, quality time means that period during which a person receives undivided attention in a way likely to make the relationship stronger. In this sense, quality time relates to being together, not distracted by technology or other people.
Your entire focus should be on your partner.
People who prefer this language of love understand that time spent together is important in making a person feel special and loved. To show affection to them, you need to intentionally set aside some time just to be together with your spouse.
The main challenge is that thanks to technology, spending quality time with those we love is becoming more difficult. Even when we are close to each other, numerous distractions make us be easily carried to somewhere else within cyberspace.
Being nearby without connectedness can leave our partners feeling alone and empty.
Here are some tips on how to show affection using this language of love:
Make eye contact when engaged in a conversation
Make use of active listening skills
Keep technology away when having time together
Take time to enjoy each other’s company, focusing on quality
Plan something to enjoy together
Create a routine of small ways to enjoy each other’s company
Words of Affirmation
Another category in the five languages of love is words of affirmation. People who prefer this love language want to see through words or text that they are cherished. It will be even better if you tell about the reasons behind your affection, too.
For instance, you can leave random written notes of love or voice messages. You could also create time to talk to the person directly, using sincere words showing kindness and affirmation.
If words of affirmation are not your preferred way to receive love but it’s your partner’s preferred love language, follow these steps to keep their love tank full:
Be empathetic and encouraging during conversations, consistently sharing sentiments
Express your admiration using words
Leave notes and written reminders expressing your affection
Send texts regularly when not together
Create and share a custom playlist, reminding your partner of your feelings
Tell your partner how good they make you feel
Of the 5 love languages in relationships, receiving gifts remains one of the most misunderstood. Often, and unfairly, people who speak this language are considered frivolous, materialistic, or shallow.
However, this is not always the case since what matters to these people is the thought and care that goes towards selecting the gift, rather than the price tag.
Such a person feels appreciated, understood, and loved thought presenting the gifts. So, don’t rush to purchase a fancy dress just because it comes with a hefty price tag. The truly valuable gift is not prized because of the cost, but rather because of what it symbolizes.
Therefore, the secret lies in choosing something that your partner will interpret as signifying your affection. Consider gifting something that your partner has been asking for or would find useful.
Acts of Service
When it comes to intimate relationships, the language of acts of service means doing things that you know your spouse will enjoy. This could be as simple as feeding the dog, filling up their gas, preparing dinner for them, or watering their plants.
Acts of service as a love language mean that you give up your time and put effort, which can be demanding. However, if it is what is needed to spice up your relationship, the returns will be worth it.
Consider anything that you can do, which will ease the burden of responsibility on your partner. You can also ask them for ideas for those things they would like you to do for them to make their life easier.
If you have determined that your spouse prefers acts of service, then there are tips that you can use to make them feel loved.
Here are some tips to get you started:
Focus on those small things and details like what the person likes. How much sugar is in their coffee? What are their favorite programs?
Consider those routine tasks that your partner doesn’t like doing and help them
Pay attention to those acts that can be easily accommodated in your schedule
Choose acts that work to your strengths
Although sex is an important aspect of romantic relationships, physical touch as a love language goes way beyond it.
Given the physical nature of this language, many people assume that it’s only intended for the satisfaction of sexual desires. In truth, physical touch is more related to making your partner feel seen and safe.
This love language can include hugs, holding hands, or even a pat on the back from time to time. Cuddling up when watching a movie can be a great way to show affection to someone who likes physical touch.
Yes, for certain couples, physical touch may not be possible because of distance. Maybe your partner traveled on a business trip or to study abroad. Or, you’re practicing a long distance relationship because of the lockdown.
In such a case, video chats can help you to remain close. You can also share personal items or synchronized experiences.
Here, we have presented information to help you discover your love language. Knowing the differences can have a great impact on how you relate with your partner, enhancing empathy and attention.
However, some challenges in relationships may not be solved just by understanding your partner’s love language alone.
If you are having some emotional problems in the relationship, consider getting counseling help. As an example, you may consider starting therapy on Calmerry. It’s a teletherapy platform that offers affordable and convenient access to licensed therapists and the support you need.
Take care of your partner, yourself, and your relationships. Give love and feel loved!
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