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What a Jewelry Artist Can Learn from Chik Fil A & the Jim Henson

July 24, 2012 , In: Business Tips
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Have you heard the brouhaha over Jim Henson Company “dumping” Chik-Fil-A and posting an official statement of the break-up on their Facebook page? In case you haven’t, I will give you the short version. Dan Cathy, the president of Chik-Fil-A, was interviewed and had this to say about gay marriage: We are very much supportive of the family—the biblical definition of the family unit. We are a family-owned business, a family-led business, and we are married to our first wives. We give God thanks for that.” 

This interview resulted in the break-up between the two companies. I know you’re asking yourself what two large companies suffering a difference of opinions and an ugly social media battle over the issue of gay marriage has to do with you running your jewelry business. More than you might think. 
 
Chik-Fil-A is now suffering some completely unnecessary backlash. Consumers vote with their cash and I’m guessing there will be lots of people saying “no cash for you!” Why unnecessary? Because if Mr Cathy had kept his mouth firmly closed, there would be no issue. He can even be against gay marriage and say something like “we believe God loves everyone no matter what.” The end. That would be smart business.

Nope. In fact, he pretty much slams divorced and remarried people in that same quote. I have no idea how many people in the United States are divorced and/or remarried…but I’m thinking that number is pretty high.  

Jim Henson Company could face a similar backlash…meaning, those who oppose gay marriage will no longer buy whatever toy or movie or whatever they are peddling these days because they came out as supporters of gay marriage. Was the public statement necessary? No. However, it does seem in my internet wanderings that they have more applause than boos over their statement. But it could have easily gone the other way. 
 
As a business trying to make a profit, blogs, Facebook, Twitter, and other social media are not the appropriate venue to rant about your hot button views over religion, politics,  race, etc because there will always be people who are potential customers who disagree with you and will vote with their cash and pass on their bad opinion of you, and therefore your business, onto others. That is not the kind of word of mouth you want. 
 
Also, if I’m visiting a jewelry blog, I don’t want to read about how someone’s religion is the best, who they hate, their political views, their sex lives, or how brown haired blue eyed women are the smartest, funniest, prettiest, most fashionable people and should rule the planet (ok, being a brown haired blue eyed female, maybe I do want to read that…). While people do want to get to know a bit about the genius person (you) who designs incredible jewelry, they don’t want to be assaulted with your opinions.

There may be appropriate times to discuss your views about this topic in a level-headed respectful and professional manner. For example, you sell Gay Pride jewelry. By all means, share away because it is appropriate to your business model and your customers are more than likely going to agree with whatever you have to say on the subject.

However, if you sell handmade rosaries and you support gay marriage or even birth control…you might want to keep your personal views just that…personal.

If you feel so strongly about something you don’t care what the backlash is, share. But remember to use professional respectful language. There is never a good reason to be hateful or hurtful even if those with an opposing viewpoint act that way.

Before you decide to share your views on a hot button topic, ask yourself why you need to share. If you think you will change someone’s views…well…that’s about as likely as a Mormon showing up on the doorstep of and converting a Southern Baptist to Mormonism. Not bloody likely. If you think what you have to say needs to be said, then say it.

Try to leave the brouhaha business to others.

 

Jennifer Cameron

Combining fire and glass since 2005, Jen Cameron discovered jewelry making after realizing a small child could disappear in the growing collection of beads sitting around the house. Jen is the adoring mother of two, jackpot winner in the husband category, and zookeeper of several pets. Jen is also the instigator for bringing together this team of innovative, talented, passionate and dynamic women to write for Art Jewelry Elements.
  1. Reply

    I agree with you 100%. It's nice to get a little information on a blogger's life, but I don't want to hear about her marital issues, or any of the negative stuff, no matter what it's related to. The one exception would be with the blogger's very serious illness; someone going through that deserves all the support they can get, and if they choose to share that information, that's fine with me. All of us have strongly-held opinions about our faith, politics, etc. But a blog that was created mainly to support a business needs to be mainly business. Political/religious statements made in other forums have their risks, and the individual must examine his or her priorities before speaking out.

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    I like to spend my money where it will flow to a world view that includes me. If a business owner thinks I should not exist, have equal rights, or be killed I think it would be wise to put my money elsewhere. At the least I boycott companies that use my money to promote policies I am strongly against. As you mention, people can just be quiet about their beliefs. For some people blogging is a journal and that is for them a personal expression -so they talk about everything. I can choose to read or not read their blog and to buy from them or not. Good topic. JT

  3. Reply

    Well said! Excellent post!

  4. Reply

    I couldn't agree with you more.

  5. Reply

    I totally agree! I have had many so called friends on FB that just slam me with all the political, social, and religious views they have and while I do totally respect their rights to have them and voice them I do not want to be beaten over the head with them. I still live the philosophy that if you can't say something nice DON"T say anything at all!

    • Reply

      Couldn't agree more!

    • Reply

      I'm so glad you wrote this, Jennifer! I was grumbling (to my family) the other day about this issue. I've been getting a lot of messages coming onto my FB page of late dealing with issues of politics, religion, and other things, that I find so offensive and they are "right in my face." I didn't go looking for them. Then I am forced to decide whether to respond and how, or to let it go by. Frankly, I would rather not see so much of this to begin with.

      I think some people intend to shock others with their rhetoric. Others just assume everyone thinks as they do and don't consider that others might be offended or uncomfortable. I try to watch what I say or don't respond, but I'm sure I've taken the "least best" path a few times…

      I think Sew(very)Creative makes some good points I hadn't considered either. It's always good to take a look at things from more than 2 directions!

      Glad to see the issue addressed! –Sharyl

  6. Great advice. And now that Chik-Fil-A has felt the need to share their views, they won't get my business. I already knew they had a strong religious affiliation because of being closed on Sunday. I could respect that. This I can't. U-Line also doesn't get my business because one of their catalogs had a letter from some high up person in the company who shared a political viewpoint that I disagree with. So for those companies who choose to share these things, be prepared for the repercussions.

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    While I agree that it's safer to keep one's personal views separate from one's business, I don't have a problem with Jim Henson or Chik-Fil-A voicing them in their own venue.

    For one thing, their personal views are just that. Theirs and personal. I don't think it really defines them as a company, any more than mine define me. If they put out a good product, are honest, and competitive (while being ethicial in their methods), it's got nothing to do with me as a consumer. Just as I'm free to support LGBTQ rights, they're free not to. And unless they do as Target Corp did, and actively financially (with millions of $) support anti-LGBTQ groups or political candidates, it has nothing to do with me personally. Because it's not personal, it's business.

    I think I look at it more as a two-way street: I would think it unfair if Chik-Fil-A banned ME from their stores because I'm wearing a PFLAG t-shirt (I usually voice my support physically rather than vocally because I sound like an idiot in person) or have a PFLAG bumper sticker on my car as I drive through the drive-thru. So I'm not going to ban or boycott *them*.

    But mainly, I'm a "live and let live," "you do you and I'll do me," kind of person. As long as they're just talking, it's fine. And since my personal views tend to be off-kilter as a rule, I figure if I stopped shopping at all the places whose views I disagreed with, I'd never be able to shop at all. ,')

    As for the money I spend going towards companies with counter-views, I think more about the money going towards the employees' paychecks. Even though I may disagree with the company, I don't disagree with the employees ~ and often, these are people making only a tad more than minimum wage, if that. I believe that if we stop supporting that company to the point where it has to cut back on employees, those employees are the ones hurt the most. In our economy, they can't always find another job.

    And lastly, to a degree, I give CFA and Henson credit for voicing their views. At least, they're giving their consumers a choice about whether or not to risk supporting their views. Target Corp, to name just one, had to be exposed for their financial support of anti-gay legislation and politics. I would have liked to have known where my money was going *before* I spent it, if I had to know at all. If I'm going to know at all where a company stands, I'd like to be told by the company in an honest, up-front way, rather than via an exposé.

    Just my opinions as a consumer. Nothing more, nothing less. 🙂

  8. Reply

    While I agree that it's safer to keep one's personal views separate from one's business, I don't have a problem with Jim Henson or Chik-Fil-A voicing them in their own venue.

    For one thing, their personal views are just that. Theirs and personal. I don't think it really defines them as a company, any more than mine define me. If they put out a good product, are honest, and competitive (while being ethicial in their methods), it's got nothing to do with me as a consumer. Just as I'm free to support LGBTQ rights, they're free not to. And unless they do as Target Corp did, and actively financially (with millions of $) support anti-LGBTQ groups or political candidates, it has nothing to do with me personally. Because it's not personal, it's business.

    I think I look at it more as a two-way street: I would think it unfair if Chik-Fil-A banned ME from their stores because I'm wearing a PFLAG t-shirt (I usually voice my support physically rather than vocally because I sound like an idiot in person) or have a PFLAG bumper sticker on my car as I drive through the drive-thru. So I'm not going to ban or boycott *them*.

    But mainly, I'm a "live and let live," "you do you and I'll do me," kind of person. As long as they're just talking, it's fine. And since my personal views tend to be off-kilter as a rule, I figure if I stopped shopping at all the places whose views I disagreed with, I'd never be able to shop at all. ,')

    As for the money I spend going towards companies with counter-views, I think more about the money going towards the employees' paychecks. Even though I may disagree with the company, I don't disagree with the employees ~ and often, these are people making only a tad more than minimum wage, if that. I believe that if we stop supporting that company to the point where it has to cut back on employees, those employees are the ones hurt the most. In our economy, they can't always find another job.

    And lastly, to a degree, I give CFA and Henson credit for voicing their views. At least, they're giving their consumers a choice about whether or not to risk supporting their views. Target Corp, to name just one, had to be exposed for their financial support of anti-gay legislation and politics. I would have liked to have known where my money was going *before* I spent it, if I had to know at all. If I'm going to know at all where a company stands, I'd like to be told by the company in an honest, up-front way, rather than via an exposé.

    Just my opinions as a consumer. Nothing more, nothing less. 🙂

  9. Reply

    While I agree that it's certainly safer to keep one's views to oneself, I don't have a problem with Henson and Chik-Fil-A expressing their personal views publicly. And as long as it simply remains a view ~ and not a course of action ~ it's their right. And as long as a company puts out a good product, is honest and ethically competitive, I'm happy to patronize them.

    I see it as a two-way street ~ I would think it unfair if they banned ME simply for wearing my PFLAG t-shirt, or refuse to serve me via the drive-thru because of the PFLAG bumper sticker on my car. So, as long as their views remain personal and remain simply views, I won't boycott them, just as I expect them to respect MY views (I don't ask that anyone agree with my views ~ I only ask that they be respected).

    But then, I wouldn't boycott a company for being vocally in support of Satanism, even though I'm a Christian. Just as I'm free to be a Christian or a PFLAG supporter, they're free to support whatever they wish. Considering that my personal views can sometimes be off-kilter (or as my family often says, "weird") I won't judge them for who/what they support. If I want others to respect MY views (again, not the same as agreeing with them), I have to participate in the cycle of respect, if not initiate it.

    (I did boycott Target Corp for *actively* financially supporting anti-gay legislature and political candidates. That was (and still is) a case of a view no longer remaining simply a view.)

    And I can actually respect Chik-Fil-A and Jim Henson for being forthcoming in their views. I'd much, much, much rather discover (if I have to know, at all) a company's views through honesty and candidacy, rather than by exposé, (as in the case with Target). I'm still furious (if you can't tell) that I supported Target all these years, not having an inkling of where that money went. At least, CFA and JH give you the *option* of whether or not to support them and their views. Very few companies do that. And I really, really, really respect honesty.

    Though I do boycott Target, I do feel horrible about boycotting any company. Simply because when sales fall, employees are laid off. My issue with Target is with the uppermost management, not with the lower tier employees. And with the economy as it is right now, the majority of those employees won't be able to find new jobs. I'd hate to think I played a part in a family going without.

    Just my personal views as a consumer. Nothing more, nothing less. 🙂

    Peace to you all! <3

  10. Reply

    Wow what a fabulous post.I loved it……………………!

    Thanks for more sharing……

    Faceted Beads

  11. Reply

    Very well said! In daily life, we tend to surround ourselves with like-minded individuals, who will agree with our views. Too many people assume that all and any of their online associates also agree with them. I've seen so many political & social posts lately that I have started blocking people from my feed & have unfriended a couple who were over the top…this is a shame because now I won't see their other updates about their creative endeavors.

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