Houston

Watching the Charming Charlie comeback

Charming Charlie is reviving. Social media has been activated. The new store locations have been announced. A new web site collects together all the positive press that founder Charlie Chanaratsopon has had in the past, but the e-commerce web site is not available yet. The projected launch date for both physical retail and online sales is early 2020. 

A few months ago, Chanaratsopon did an interview with the Houston Chronicle after he was approved to buy the intellectual property and customer database at the bankruptcy auction. He stated that online sales will be more important, and physical storefronts will be fewer and half the size of the old ones. They may also create 'pop-up,' or temporary stores. 

Chanaratsopon is banking on customer loyalty and data to drive the reboot. 

Houston Chronicle: Founder plans to resurrect Charming Charlie after trademark sale, 2019-Sep-16 by Paul Takahashi

“Charming Charlie has over 10 million passionate and brand-loyal customers,” Chanaratsopon said. “In this age of retail, we still see an opportunity for the brand to thrive in the online ecosystem.”

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Learning to use social media wisely, with Amy McGee

I've known Amy for a long, long time, although I haven't seen her face-to-face in years. She used to send the most fabulous emails--she probably still does--but I see her on Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram now. 

What I enjoy about following Amy is that her use of social media has evolved over the years. If I had faced what she faced a few times, I'd have thrown in the towel. I'll never be as outgoing and open-hearted as she is, but I hope I follow her in using social media to enrich our lives. 

Go follow Amy somewhere: 

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Visiting The C. Baldwin hotel, which commemorates discrimination against women

Yesterday I attended a networking meeting at a hotel in downtown Houston called "C. Baldwin." Since the massive renovation, the space and furnishings are quite beautiful. I really enjoyed meeting everyone with Sesh. However, the hotel disappoints me in several ways. 

  1. It makes me feel cheap. Everything seems over-the-top expensive. At The Houstonian, I can see value in the money I might spend, but at "C.Baldwin," I feel pressured to throw money around for show. 

  2. The name is from an important woman in Houston's history, Charlotte Baldwin Allen, the wife of one of the city's founders. When her husband left town (permanently), she had to manage the family business, and because women weren't allowed to sign business contracts, she signed "C. Baldwin." So they're commemorating discrimination. 

  3. The designers try to make it 'honor Houston,' but it feels like Dallas. There's a big image on the wall in the reception area that shows Charlotte's face imposed over a map of Houston, but it's apparently not a work of art because there's no credit to the artist. Why couldn't they have thrown some money to a local artist to do something special??? 

Anyway, I like all their decorative moss. I will be referring to this hotel as The Charlotte. I expect they will have to make some changes. 

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What makes people choose Houston?

Life Storage Blog: 11 Reasons Why People Are Moving to Houston, 2019-Mar-22 by Lindsay McClelland and Lauren Thomann

What makes Houston more desirable than other Texas cities like Dallas, Austin or San Antonio? H-Town is progressive and may be attracting almost as many millennials to its city as Austin. It’s also one of the most rapidly growing cities in the country, which isn’t just by happenstance. Perhaps the reason people move to Houston boils down to the fact that it is a well-rounded, desirable place to live. Ask any Houston resident—native or transplant—and they’ll beam with pride and explain just how much living in Houston has influenced their life for the better.

We’ve come up with some of the top reasons to move to Houston based on some of the city’s most advantageous pros. And just so you have a full picture, we’ll also be discussing some of the drawbacks if you decide to move here. Already made your decision to relocate to Houston? Skip ahead for some sound moving advice and resources.

    1. Living in Houston is more affordable than other large metropolitans.
    2. Figuring out where to live in Houston is simple.
    3. It is possible to buy a house in Houston on a modest income.
    4. The populations in Houston is booming thanks to the job market. 
    5. You can bring your car when you relocate to Houston.
    6. Students have access to all of Texas' top universities.
    7. The food in Houston is diverse and world famous. 
    8. And there's not shortage of places to work out. 
    9. There are thousands of things to do in Houston. 
    10. Being outside in Houston is enjoyable most of the year. 
    11. People in Houston stick together in tough times. 
    12. Moving to Houston is a breeze with the right resources.

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Why does U.S.News "Best Places to Live" report rank Austin #1 and Houston #30?

It's challenging to try and compare Houston to all other American cities, but comparing Houston to Austin is helpful, especially if Austin is 'the best' according to U.S. News and World Report. Creative professionals in Houston usually have some direct experience of Austin, so personal knowledge can come into play. 

HoustonAustinHere are some things to consider:

  1. Should Houston try and become more like Austin? 
  2. Are the differences in geography always going to hold Houston back? 
  3. Is the general American perception of Austin any more accurate than the perception of Houston? 
  4. Are there subtle differences between the way the general population sees these two cities and how creatives, entrepreneurs and innovators see the cities? 
  5. Has the popularity of Austin among employers (especially technology companies) created a momentum that forces Houston to fight back against a 'rising tide'? 
  6. Is Houston doing as much as it should to leverage its University communities? Does having two well-known but different schools (U of H and Rice) lead to a less focused image? 

Hacking the Data

U.S. News's Net Migration number is based on U.S. Census data, but the Desirability is based on an online survey. Their Quality of Life Index is has many components and sources, and you can read about it here: https://realestate.usnews.com/places/methodology 

U.S. News & World Report: How We Rank the Best Places to Live & Retire, 2019

Desirability Survey: Using SurveyMonkey, we polled approximately 2,500 people across the country to find out in which of the ranked metro areas they would most like to live. The metro areas were then ranked according to the percentage of the total votes they received.

By the way, Houston was 26th in Best Places to Retire, and Austin was 4th. For retirees, we get closer together. 


When Houston is transformed

Houston's continued population growth despite the oil bust is a source of amazement. Transformation happens. We plan, it happens, seldom the way we planned. The changes are hard to follow and comprehend, but the key is to keep trying. If we keep thinking that Houston is the same as it was, or is changing the way we intended, we'll definitely lose sight of the way it really is. 

Offcite: The Houston Transformation and the Hubris of I-10, 2016-Mar-9, an interview by Raj Mankad of Andrew Albers and Ernesto Alfaro

Our new mayor, Sylvester Turner, has recognized that. He has called attention to the history of our I-10 corridor. We had a problem. We said I-10 inadequately handled the traffic load it had. How did we solve it? The Texas Department of Transportation spent billions of dollars to create the widest highway in the world. And within 10 years of spending all that money, you have recreated the same problem. An even bigger traffic jam. The planning addressed the problem they had and not the problem of the future. You need to address future problems. Designers, traffic engineers, landscape architects, architects, public officials, and citizens who understand this can work together. We need to address the problems of today and the problems of tomorrow.

photo
Overgrown railroad trestles by Patrick Feller, nakrnsm on Flickr