Becoming the belt

March 15, 2012 - 10:29 PM by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Art, design, education, General, Life 

I’ve been wondering about The Guild Tel Aviv for the last few years. Pegged as Israel’s school for shoemaking and accessory design, there have been quite a few shoemakers, bag designers and other accessory makers who have graduated from there in recent years — I’ve written about Guild graduate and shoemaker Kobi Levi several times in this spot — and many of the local designers, shoemakers and accessory designers teach there, helping develop this still-burgeoning industry.

Anyway, I’d been thinking about a four-week hat course for some time, but wasn’t sure I could really commit to four Sundays of making my way to Tel Aviv at the end of the day. (My ulterior motive was that I’ve been waffling over whether to continue wearing hat-like objects to synagogue each Sabbath, since it’s not feeling as exciting as it once did. I figured that new hats, made by me, in the style that I always seek in stores, would extend my hat-wearing, but it also didn’t make sense to base my shul hat gear on a Guild class.)

In any case, when my friend and I heard about a one-shot belt-making class, we knew it was for us. One Wednesday night, for just three hours, and with a NIS 99 price tag to boot, thanks to a special Guild deal being offered on Groupon. We gathered a group of friends who were also interested, including one serious vegan who verified that she could make a pleather belt, and reserved our spaces.

When the evening finally arrived last night, it was down to just the two of us again, after various family events and issues caused our friends to cancel. No matter. We got there within minutes of the start of class, and were immediately fitted out with our leather strips and hardware.

The teacher, a handbag designer, was warm and friendly, but could’ve offered a bit more instruction and direction. I experienced those familiar art class moments of, “Why am I here, I have no idea what to do with this strip of leather.” But after checking out what the three art teachers were doing across the table from me, I gathered my courage and started making holes. There was an incredibly satisfying feeling in pounding silver tools into the leather, creating my own stamped design along the belt’s length and figuring out where to place holes and loops.

Two hours later, with some rushing to finish things off at the end, I had a new belt, made by moi. I liked the fact that you walk out of just one class with a finished product, and at a price that’s a lot cheaper than buying one in the store.

I would try The Guild again, and maybe even consider trying my hand at millinery. And just so you know, most of the teachers speak English, if necessary.

Hairdresser offers unkind cut

January 4, 2011 - 6:54 PM by · 3 Comments
Filed under: Business, Israeliness 

My daughter's no dummy

I’ve written before about how our family has become addicted to GroopBuy, the Jerusalem-based knock-off of the uber-popular Groupon in the U.S. (which just raised a ton of money this week).

The GroopBuy service offers a single “deal a day” with a big discount – say, a coupon for a NIS 120 meal at a trendy eatery for only NIS 40. If enough people reserve the deal to meet a GroopBuy-set minimum, your credit card is charged and you can download your coupon. There’s usually a time limit and a certain number of coupons per person or table. We’ve purchased from GroopBuy several times and enjoyed the results.

But there’s a dark side too. In our case: the Israeli hairdresser. We bought our daughter a coupon for a NIS 200 haircut for only NIS 60. She went in this week to claim her ‘do. But when she presented the coupon at the end of her haircut, the stylist refused.

“The coupon is only for one of my workers,” the hairdresser and owner of the shop bearing his name, told my daughter. “I don’t need to give away my own services, I’m very busy.”

Never mind that the coupon said NIS 200 worth of styling and the shop owner was the only one there who charges that. Was he pulling a bait and switch – pay NIS 60 for your coupon to get a NIS 80 cut from a trainee and maybe the teenage girl won’t notice?

My daughter called me for help and I got on the phone with the hairdresser. “She can get a cartisia,” he said, referring to a kind of “membership” card with 10 cuts for the price of 9. Yeah, like we were ever going to go back to him.

I stood my ground. “She doesn’t have NIS 200 with her,” I told him firmly. “She came in with her coupon and you’re going to honor it.”

Perhaps it was out of a sense that his actions wouldn’t lead to new referrals (true), or maybe the fact that, the way GroopBuy works, he already had the money in his bank account from when our credit card was charged. For whatever reason, he backed down, gave a curt “OK” and hung up the phone.

I don’t have any sage advice here. Some vendors will be honest, others scoundrels and it’s hard to know when you buy. In general, I’d recommend sticking with deals where there is a clear price for an objective service (a restaurant or an annual pass to the Jerusalem Cinemateque for half price, as offered by competing group buy site Baligam).

And avoid any too good to be true sales where ambiguity may necessitate unexpected bargaining – like with a hairdresser aiming to take an altogether unkind cut.


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