Season 1 Episode 7
August 23, 2023

The Lighthearted Jester

Brands that act as The Jester appeal not to the reason and logic center of our brains, but to the emotional center of our gut. In our personal lives and in business, we often need the reminder to not take things too seriously. Denise Foley, Vice President of eCommerce and Direct to Consumer at The Bollman Hat Company, gives us her thoughts on the role of the Jester and why we could all use more of the levity the Jester brings.

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Brands that act as The Jester appeal not to the reason and logic center of our brains, but to the emotional center of our gut. In our personal lives and in business, we often need the reminder to not take things too seriously. 

Denise Foley, Vice President of eCommerce and Direct to Consumer at The Bollman Hat Company, gives us her thoughts on the role of the Jester and why we could all use more of the levity the Jester brings. 

Finding the Funny

  • {00:03:36 “Just because you're in the corporate world or have an important job, we spend way too much time working to not have fun. There needs to be some sense of levity and fun in the business and the work and it just makes it better, makes it easier to kind of see the humor in things and not take yourself so seriously.” - Denise
  • {00:05:29} “We're a manufacturer, so Bollman in and of itself, while we have a brand line under that is really the manufacturer and the umbrella brand. And we've been around for 155 years. Part of the levity we said was this was our second pandemic that we've gone through and survived and thrived through.” - Denise
  • {00:07:42} - “There's a lot of great history, not just about Bollman the brand and the company, but the people that have built it.” - Denise
  • {00:09:47} “One of the misconceptions I would hope that people would break from around The Jester is that having a sense of humor around the work you do or your brand doesn't mean that you're not serious about making it a success.” - Denise

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Denise: [00:00:00] One of the misconceptions I would hope that people would break from around the Jester is that having a sense of humor around the work you do or your brand doesn't mean that you're not serious about making it a success.

Kristen: [00:00:19] Welcome to Archetypes, a podcast by Future Commerce. I'm Kristen Vencel. Even with just a glance over the course of history, it's easy to see how important and powerful story has been throughout time. We humans thrive on story, whether we are the storytellers or the listeners. We feel connected to others through story. Archetypes is an exploration of the roles that we play in the story of a brand and features interviews with people who create the brands and experiences that are changing our world. It's an investigation into how we as people take part in these stories, ultimately making them our own. No matter who you are in this world, you engage in commerce. Commerce touches every living soul. We all have a role to play. We all have a story to tell. Archetypes is the story of commerce. The Jester. The wise fool. A comedian who persuades through humor. Brands that act as a Jester appeal not to the reason and logic center of our brains, but to the emotional center of our gut. And who doesn't like a good laugh? In our personal lives and in business, we often need the reminder to not take things too seriously. Denise Foley, Vice President of eCommerce and Direct to Consumer at The Bollman Hat Company, gives us her thoughts on the role of the Jester and why we could all use more of the levity the Jester brings. Welcome to this episode of Archetypes. When you took the Archetypes quiz and your result was The Jester, what was your initial response?

Denise: [00:02:13] I took the quiz at dinner with Brian. We were out to a vendor dinner at ShopTalk. So probably not the quietest setting to take it, but I tend to have no patience, so I didn't want to wait to take it. So when it came up Jester, I think I cackled and then kind of read the description and thought, okay, it's probably right. It's probably on brand for me. That was my initial thought, was a little gasp and a laugh. I'm not sure. You know, Brian probably thought it was exactly on brand for me.

Kristen: [00:03:00] So what was the reason you think you identified with that, that you thought it resonated?

Denise: [00:03:05] I think just because my personality. I've always had a sense of humor and tried to find the funny in everything, whether that's work or personal life. And so I remember I had a president of a division when I was first in corporate, and I worked for Lenox China, and I remember him saying, "We sell dishes. Like calm down, we sell dishes." And ever since then, I realized that  [00:03:36]just because you're in the corporate world or have an important job, we spend way too much time working to not have fun. [00:03:44] I mean, at this point, I sell hats or we sell things online. We're not brain surgeons and we're not trying to cure cancer. And so [00:03:57] there needs to be some sense of levity and fun in the business and the work and it just makes it better, makes it easier to kind of see the humor in things and not take yourself so seriously. [00:04:11]

Kristen: [00:04:11] Yes, I love that. And there's whimsy involved, too. Not just humor as in like, ha ha, right? But whimsy and enjoyment, I think also that the Jester brings.

Denise: [00:04:21] I hope, spending eight hours a day at work, it shouldn't be all head down, serious... You can find fun in things. And even when it's a miserable project or task, like just to take a moment and be like, "This sucks," you know? And I think just being able to recognize even when things suck and laugh about it is funny.

Kristen: [00:04:44] We need that. We need people like that to remind us to chill out and not be so serious. When you look at Bollman Hat Company, do you see the company itself also as a brand that could be in the Jester archetype?

Denise: [00:05:24] I think there are portions of our brand or our lines that can be. So Bollman's a little bit different in that [00:05:29] we're a manufacturer, so Bollman in and of itself, while we have a brand line under that is really the manufacturer and the umbrella brand. And we've been around for 155 years. Part of the levity we said was this was our second pandemic that we've gone through and survived and thrived through. [00:05:48]

Kristen: [00:05:48] That's amazing.

Denise: [00:05:50] So I would say, I would probably see Bollman as The Sage just because we've been around in the headwear space over 155 years where the culture of wearing hats has changed, of who wears them for what reason, in what setting and what those represent. But then I think, under our umbrella, we have brands like Kangol, which has been around for a very long time. It's a British brand that kind of grew up in New York hip hop. I would consider that maybe The Outlaw and we have a beautiful luxury brand based out of Sydney, Australia called Helen Kaminski, which is really beautiful, hand-woven, raffia, in a luxury price point. I would consider that The Lover. We have a Baily Western that would be The Hero and then a Bailey 1922, which I would consider The Explorer when I look at the definitions of them. So I feel like we get to touch a lot of different personalities and get to play a lot of different roles in our business, which is great.

Kristen: [00:06:58] That is so neat. I really had fun looking at the company. I love history, so I love when a company has such a storied history. And to think about the changes throughout culture during that whole breadth of time is fascinating to look at.

Denise: [00:07:11] Yeah, there's definitely a lot of history. We have it hung in our corporate office around the initial fire that was in the factory and rebuilt, I mean, back before electricity was a thing is when the factory started and it was powered by water. And letters to soldiers in World War II and their families, stating that Bollman was still paying wages to those in the war effort. So [00:07:42] there's a lot of great history, not just about the brand and the company, but the people that have built it. [00:07:47]

Kristen: [00:07:47] And what are some brands you would say are fulfilling the role of The Jester?

Denise: [00:07:51] I feel like I'm seeing it more in their social media, but sometimes within in advertising usually starts with like a Super Bowl ad. I think Wendy's social media is on point. They're amazing just with how they are relevant to culture, and how they are quick to kind of respond or retweet with a sarcastic tweet. Amazing. Whoever is running their social is amazing. I think I look back at like, while it didn't necessarily help the brand overall, the Kmart, "I just shipped my pants." You know, we were looking at a brand that was becoming very irrelevant. And they did this campaign around trying to rebrand that they were eCommerce. And while ultimately it wasn't enough to raise the entire brand, I thought it got a lot of buzz and they didn't take themselves too seriously. And then brands like Old Spice with their commercials do really well. How do you take seriously deodorant or a male fragrance? A lot of men's brands do humor really well. It feels like unfortunately, it's more accepted in the men's space, maybe. And then, I think back to the Betty White Snickers commercial, which was a Super Bowl ad. I think those types of brands that don't take themselves seriously in some cases are really just talking about a message or not even a specific product that they're selling and just represent their personality well [00:09:47]. One of the misconceptions I would hope that people would break from around The Jester is that having a sense of humor around the work you do or your brand doesn't mean that you're not serious about making it a success [00:10:00] and can really drive it, drive the business or drive what you're doing or working on with a sense of humor and still get to the finish line and reach some goals.

Kristen: [00:10:17] Have you gotten your copy of the Archetypes Journal yet? What are you waiting for? You just have to check out the chapter where we feature The Jester. All you have to do is visit ArchetypesJournal.com and get your very own copy. Archetypes is brought to you by Future Commerce. Discover the world of Archetypes, take the Archetypes quiz, and get the Archetypes Journal at ArchetypesJournal.com. You can find more episodes of this podcast and all Future Commerce properties at FutureCommerce.com.

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