Sunday, March 8, 2015

Trendhunter and The Proven Path to Unstoppable Ideas : BETTER and FASTER

By on Sunday, March 08, 2015 2 Comments

As a jewelry designer and a blogger, what I do a lot of  the time is to hunt for ideas. Way back when my blog was new, I also actively wrote for Toronto-based Trendhunter, the world's largest trendspotting blog which was then starting to take off. The experience honed my hunting and blogging skills - see the Trendhunter report and interview about me . During my time with Trendhunter,  I got to write on a wide variety topics  which interested me - particularly art, design and eco trends - and some downright quirky ones.

Trendhunting is not about what is popular. It is about finding today's cutting edge ideas which might turn into tomorrow's new product or hottest thing.  For example, back in 2008, while checking up on a product designer's portfolio, I stumbled upon his idea for an anti-theft lunch bag. These were plastic zip lock bags with  mouldy patterns on it! It obviously caught people's attention and it became a real product a year later.  (Here is one place which sells it)

Even before the Great Recession really hit in late 2008, Trendhunters like myself were already writing about the credit crunch effect - the symptom of what was to come. Making your own clothes and accessories was part of that "credit crunch couture" trend.  Before then, DIY was considered as something people had to do if they couldn't afford to buy things. Knitting and crochet was something your grandma did. Not any more. Now people are not only making clothes, jewelry, crafts and so on, but are proud to do so. The stigma of DIY has long since faded away.

2008 was not only painful for so many but was the watershed for many industries and businesses, big and small. Newspapers and magazines are struggling and the music industry has basically tanked. Retail jewelry stores which were hit hard during the recession have not really recovered.  Technology and the internet are huge drivers of those shifts in consumer behavior.

Yet it is not all gloom and doom. I wrote about "Exploiting Chaos : 150 Ways to Spark Innovation During Times of Change" in 2009 and what it might mean for jewelry artisans like ourselves.  It was Jeremy Gutsche, the founder of Trendhunter's first book, which basically inspires individuals and companies to take advantage of those changes and move forward. It is all about finding and solving an unmet need - delivering a product or services which didn't exist before.

His next book is "The Proven Path to Unstoppable Ideas : BETTER and FASTER" is about to be published.  Check out this link for sneak peeks including emerging trends. It is a captivating and helpful book. This time he writes about changing our mindset and especially our complacency which holds back innovation.  The first part of his book identifies the traits of "farmers" - those who'd rather stay put and continue doing what they have always done compared to the hunter's drive and proactive approach.  7 key tips on how to hunt are extensively covered in the book.

There are many fascinating real life examples in the book. The now defunct Blockbuster turned down many chances to buy Netflix but declined because their retail video rental business model was then working so well. Kodak actually had an in house scientist who invented the digital camera way back in 1976 but Kodak was too obsessed with quality film to take notice. By the time either reacted, it was too little and too late.

The one story which resonated was that of an individual, Robert Lang, a fiber optics engineer and scientist, who gave up his job at age 40 to do origami!  Watch this video about seemingly disconnected topics - paper planes, rocket ships, human hearts and origami. It is a valuable lesson in seeing patterns and potential and jumping on ideas from unrelated fields.

Thinking differently is an ability we all have.  Children especially.  Jeremy pointed out, "Children , with their openness to serendipity and love of play, are naturally gifted at spotting divergent patterns. A famous study, asking how many uses a paper clip can be put to, showed that most adults can only fathom  10 or 15.  Kindergartners can dream up 200.  Unfortunately, those abilities quickly atrophy with education and age."

The good news is creative designers do retain a lot of divergent thinking.  It is also important to be adaptable and to focus on who your customers are. For example, too many jewelry artisans try and make designs which they hope will appeal to many.  It is one of the traps Jeremy writes about in his book, " Target everyone, and you're essentially targeting no one."

Having good social insights and the ability to pick yourself up after repeated failures don't hurt either. Jack Dorsey, a programmer, came up with the idea of broadcasting text messages publicly - and Twitter was born.  After he got booted out from his CEO Twitter position, he listened to his friend, a glass artist, complaining about being unable to process credit card payments. So to the gratitude of all artisans and small business owners like us, he developed Square - a simple and inexpensive system using smartphones so unlike what the banks were offering. He delivered a solution for a huge need.  (Twitter also invited him back).

What Jeremy said in his book is absolutely true, " If you take away only one message from this book, I hope it will be that the only real certainty in life is change."  So it is vital we learn to deal with changes!


Before You Go:
Original Post by THE BEADING GEM
Jewelry Making Tips - Jewelry Business Tips 



  1. Bucking the trend - remember that saying?

    In this day and age, people are focusing more on DIY then ever, and I believe we have to!

    I noticed this last Christmas season at every sale I was part of. In fact - I've never seen so much knitting offered at Christmas sales as I did this past season. At first it shocked me and then it hit me - DIY has come into its own! However I remember the days when knitting was my focus. It's a lot of hard work for little results. Plus - the consumer doesn't even realize what goes into it. For me it was always frustrating and disappointing in the long run and developing carpal tunnel wasn't really worth it in the end.

    The people who are into DIY know that supplementing your income in this way is (not easy) but at least a way to do so.

    I've never gone with the norm myself. I like to be different and my work shows it. I try to be innovative and I'm always on the lookout for a different way to use what is around us.

    In fact - your post a few days ago with the designer who used Nespresso cups really got me thinking. This is exactly what is needed these days - using up what is around us and making it into something beautiful.

    I was not really surprised to learn of your writing on spotting trends. My immediate thought was - of course! You are always on the lookout for the next and for different.

    In fact - I saw a word the other day that suited you perfectly. Trendspotting.

    Now wouldn't it be nice to have a crystal ball that really worked!

  2. Yes- DIY is now huge! It's not just about saving money. There is pride at being able to craft something lovely. And people don't always want something machine made any more.